There can be potential issues with the filling of the Holy Spirit if we realise that God is all-powerful and anything is possible.
We can move into the area which has some potential pot holes and traps.
I want to explore this subject leaning heavily on the teachings of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones who had a lot more experience and authority than myself! [i]
a) Issues with the Holy Spirit: Wow! That is impressive!
Beware of getting over impressed by ‘phenomena’ which includes signs and wonders.
By saying that, I don’t mean I am against miracles and wonders.
But as a safeguard, let’s remember the Satanic Beast performed a miracle and the world was so impressed they followed him:
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.Revelation 13:3
The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.”
Satan comes as an angel of light and this is an area where we need to be cautious.
It can create all sorts of issues with the subject of the Holy Spirit.
The biggest area of safety is remembering that it is a person’s fruit – their godly character, that is important:
Jesus talking about false prophets said:
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Matthew 7:19-20
Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.“
In other words, if someone performs a sign or a miracle it isn’t any guarantee that the person is right with the Lord, or even that God has performed it!
It is interesting how Jesus follows His teaching about the fruit.
He talks about people doing miraculous things and then He ends with an astonishing statement:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.Matthew 7:21-23
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
Then I will tell them plainly,
‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
So impressive phenomena does not prove anything in itself.
There are many things that can create a phenomenon, so we mustn’t be carried along by it.
Test it and if it passes the checks then praise God!
b) Issues with the Holy Spirit: The fear of unbelief
Another trap is being fearful of showing unbelief and so we then accept anything which seems to be miraculous.
This can lead to weird and wacky things.
I was at a prayer meeting and the leaders had encouraged everyone to ‘open themselves’ and basically go with what you are ‘given’ and don’t question it, even if it seemed strange.
The results were chaotic; barking, crawling around on the floor, etc.
Only myself and another chap weren’t performing and we were told to stop resisting the Holy Spirit.
We mustn’t open up ourselves to anything!
We have got to test things and not be pressurised into a quick decision that we live to regret.
God will not hold it against us if we test these things because Paul tells us this:
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
Hold on to the good.
Avoid every kind of evil.”
And John wrote:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”1 John 4:1
c) Issues with the Holy Spirit: Are the gifts ‘on tap’?
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught that tongues and spiritual gifts were given at a particular moment.
It was not something which we could turn on or off like a tap.
The key is found in the Apostle Paul’s teaching:
All these (gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines.”1 Corinthians 12:11
Notice that these gifts are the work of the Holy Spirit and He determines who and when they should be used.
D. M. Lloyd-Jones said that someone cannot do a miracle when they want to.
Gifts can only be used when a commission is given from heaven.
This is especially important during public meetings, but what about during our personal devotions?
In the present climate on spiritual gifts, D. M. Lloyd-Jones’ teaching would raise a lot of eyebrows!
I have found his teaching interesting considering my own personal spiritual path.
So let’s keep an open mind and look at what Paul said:
I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”1 Corinthians 14:18
Does Paul speak in tongues more than anyone else, because he decides to do that?
It would appear not, because he says ‘I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.’
Paul thanks God – why would he do that if he could speak in tongues at any point in time?
We don’t want to quench any of the Spirit’s work, so what do we make of this?
Perhaps in our personal devotions when we open our mouth to speak in tongues and the Spirit does spring up within us, then we continue with that until the streams of living water seem to stop flowing.
But on other occasions we open our mouth to speak in tongues and it seems kind of ‘hollow’, so this teaching would recommend that we should stop, because the Holy Spirit will determine another time when He will rise up within us.
‘I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.’
d) Issues with the Holy Spirit: Final traps and pot holes:
D. M. Lloyd-Jones also said to never use the word ‘claim’ when talking about the gifts, because the Spirit may give, or not give, just as He chooses.
Desire the gifts but do not claim them:
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”1 Corinthians 14:1
Humility should accompany the gifts, this distinguishes a true experience from a false one.
Every believer should seek to be filled with the Spirit, so that they can be filled with power to be Christ’s witnesses.
That is the motive, to glorify the risen Christ, and not to seek after an experience.
In a letter sent to Dr. Gerald Golden D. M. Lloyd-Jones wrote:
I think it is quite without scriptural warrant to say all these gifts ended with the apostles or the apostolic era.David Martyn Lloyd-Jones [iii]
I believe there have been undoubted miracles since then.
At the same time most of the claimed miracles by the Pentecostalists and others certainly do not belong to that category and can be explained psychologically or in other ways.
I am also of the opinion that most, if not all, of the people claiming to speak in tongues at the present time are certainly under a psychological rather than a spiritual influence.
But again I would not dare to say that “tongues” are impossible at the present time.
Below is a video of D. M. Lloyd-Jones preaching on ‘The Gifts of the Holy Spirit’ – Sermon #8204 (Great Biblical Doctrines, Volume 2):
Your comments would be appreciated.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. Lloyd-Jones preached for the last time on 8 June 1980 at Barcombe Baptist Chapel. [i]
[ii] Photo of D. M. Lloyd-Jones from the cover of his book: ‘Knowing the Times’
[iii] Letter to Dr. Gerald Golden, September 1969
For more info on D. M. Lloyd-Jones see: Wikipedia (opens in a new window)