Why We Are Not Afraid of the Holy Spirit

Why We’re Not Afraid Of The Holy Spirit

A tremendous amount of confusion and controversy exists about the Holy Spirit today. You can visit churches were people practice hysterical laughter said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, or you can go places where people even growl like animals and writhe on the floor...all in the name of the Holy Spirit. Unbiblical, emotional demonstrations such as these give the Holy Spirit a bad reputation. He is not to blame at all. Demonic spirits find opportunities to deceive people who seek supernatural experiences instead of an intimate relationship with God. Demonic spirits lie about who they are. They tell people they are from God, but they are from the devil who wants to be God. Therefore, evil spirits give people what they want. As a result, people today, who want supernatural experiences, are calling spirits from the dead and seeking other occult thrills, even worshipping Satan.

Because the Holy Spirit seems so mystical, we fear being deceived by our imagination or demonic spirits. We can picture God the Father, because we’ve all seen fathers. We can picture God the Son because He became human, and we can read about what He did and what He’s like. But when we try to picture the Holy Spirit, and we end up with symbols like a dove, or wind, or fire, or a ghost. This is why we need to know Him personally.

I occasionally hear people call the Holy Spirit an "it" or a “thing”, as if the Holy Spirit is separate from God. God is not three separate beings, but a three-part being: Father, Son, and Spirit—called the Trinity. We are made in His image—a three-part being—spirit, soul, and body. The Holy Spirit is God, not an "it". He is God in the same sense that your spirit is you. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

The real confusion comes not in who the Holy Spirit is but in what He does. The Holy Spirit gives us faith in Jesus Christ and conviction of sin through hearing the Word. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the origin of all genuine Christian faith. It is the Holy Spirit who makes God real to us. So it’s not surprising that Christians would differ about what the Holy Spirit does since Christians have different personal experiences with God.

Jesus compared the work of the Holy Spirit to the wind. We can’t see wind, but we know wind by its effects. The human eye can’t perceive air molecules as they move at high speed, but we can certainly see a tree that’s been uprooted by a high wind. In a similar way, we can’t see the Holy Spirit since He is a non-physical person, but we can know Him by His effects and the fruit He produces.

The apostle Paul lists several different kinds of spiritual gifts in his first letter to the Corinthians, which are some of the effects of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

Likewise in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 5:22-23), he described the fruit of the Spirit, the outpouring of the Spirit in our lives and character: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Paul’s point is that every conceivable spiritual gift (this is only a partial listing, i.e. Romans 12) is the work of the same Spirit. We should not be afraid of these gifts, for it is the Holy Spirit, who makes us what we are and His gifts are for the benefit of the Church, not for a personal thrill. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives these gifts according to His own wisdom and judgment. They aren’t determined by me, by you, by the church, or anyone other than the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, we are not afraid of the Holy Spirit because we understand His character and He empowers us to carry out His mission, which is the commission Jesus gave us.

Matt 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

How are we going to accomplish this mission? The key is the person and work of the Holy Spirit. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says Lord Almighty in Zechariah 4:6.

Christianity is hopeless without Him. No church can be the Church without the Holy Spirit abiding in it and empowering it. The degree to which we understand and experience the Spirit of God will be the exact degree to which God’s plan for our church will be accomplished.

Knowing this, we are not afraid of Holy Spirit because He makes the difference.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Without the Holy Spirit, we do not know what to say to people or how to minister to them, we have no power over the enemy, nor can we discern evil spirits. The Holy Spirit is essential. We need Him. We need to seek Him.

John 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

If we downgrade the Holy Spirit—worse yet, if we ignore Him—and even worse than that, if we grieve or quench Him—we will end up being a church that is totally foreign to the New Testament. It is easy to tell men they must be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit; but we have to live and show them what a life filled with the Holy Spirit is like.

We are not afraid of the Holy Spirit because we understand we need Him and we know His origin. Jesus prayed that we would have the Holy Spirit as our Counselor.

John 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Therefore, we receive Holy Spirit as a fulfillment of Christ’s promise. We realize His indwelling is a relationship with a person and not an experience. The Holy Spirit is God. Since God loves us, it is irrational to fear His presence in us or among us. The foundation of Christianity is the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ made inwardly real in us by the incoming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is risen and is alive in us by the Holy Spirit!

Unfortunately, many people have all of God that they want. Just a little religion that doesn’t require much self-denial; something that makes them feel good about themselves. What they don’t realize is that they don’t have God at all, but a self-satisfying demonic spirit.

After all, if we are not being filled with the Holy Spirit, then what religion are we of? The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit was in Jesus. The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to be in us. Without the Holy Spirit, we are not Christians; we do not belong to Christ.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

As we have already seen in Acts 1 & 2, spending time in communion with God is critical to our experience of the Spirit’s power. Our time spent together, in communion with God, is to prepare us to go out and accomplish the mission of the Church. Notice what happened after Pentecost.

Acts 3:1-8 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer-- at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

By the Spirit, Peter perceived that God was about to do something for this individual. This insight is something we need to recover today. We should expect God to give us these kinds of supernatural indications and leadings. The same God, who led Peter, can lead us today to minister to people we meet. Our hearts are to be so in tune with the Spirit of God that we instantly cooperate with what He wants to do. Our role is to obey; the results are God’s.

Soon a crowd gathers, wondering what happened to the beggar. The Holy Spirit gives Peter another convicting sermon while explaining what just happened.

Peter is not wallowing in self-condemnation, because he disowned Jesus three times. This was Spirit-born faith that God gave to Peter, tailored exactly to the unique situation he faced that day. We can be assured that God will give us the same faith and the words to say in our unique situations today. Peter doesn’t try to appease the crowd so they will join the church, but is led by the Spirit to preach the Truth, and another 2000 become believers in Christ. Turn to:

Acts 4:1-4 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

You would have thought everyone would rejoice in the beggar’s healing from God, but this faithful act landed Peter and John in jail. Fear is the reaction of religious people devoid of faith in the Holy Spirit’s power. They rationalize: there must be some other explanation for this healing, for this doesn’t fit our doctrine.

Today, we talk about how godless the country is becoming and how the church is conforming to society instead of transforming it. The only way for things to improve is for us, the Church, to return to our birthright as a Spirit-filled community in Jesus Christ, just like we see in Acts. Then society will be changed as others believe in Jesus Christ and are born again of the Spirit.

What God calls for: is for us to do His work, His way, by preaching His Word, under His power, for His glory. If we do that and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, people will be added to this church—not as a goal, but as a result of God’s blessing and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Skip to vs.8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: Rulers and elders of the people!

Why do you think Luke inserted that extra clause? If Peter and the others had been permanently filled with the Spirit back in the upper room, why bring it up here? If Spirit-infilling is just a standard part of Christianity for all believers, why this peculiar mention? It would be like writing, “then Peter, who was breathing, said to them:” Apparently, Luke, who wrote Acts, felt there was something noteworthy that needed to be pointed out. Peter was not just standing up as a former fisherman to answer his inquisitors as best he could by himself. Instead, he was a man under the control and anointing of the Spirit of God! We marvel at the thought: It was Peter, a man with frailties and weaknesses like all of us—but it wasn’t Peter alone. It was “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,” so that this court didn’t really understand what it was up against.

Vs. 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Peter and John showed no fear, no intimidation before the highest governing body in Judaism. Didn’t they understand that this council had arranged the crucifixion of Jesus and could easily do it again to His followers?

Yes, they understood. However, the power of the Holy Spirit made them fearless.

We must never be intimidated by what the devil tries to do, whether by striking out at us as individuals, or at the local church, or at the Body of Christ as a whole. We must instead, trust the Holy Spirit to give us the words to speak, and to do so with boldness.

Vs. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.

Whether it is a crack addict who has been set free, a child who has been healed, a homosexual who has been turned around, or an atheist who believes—there’s something irrefutable about a brand-new life filled with life, peace, and joy from the Holy Spirit.

Peter and John were released, but warned to not speak about Jesus again. Would this threat make the Church afraid to tell others about Jesus? Not if we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Without the Holy Spirit, we would be afraid. That is why there is no reason to be afraid of the Holy Spirit. What we should be concerned about is evil spirits. The religious spirit, the devil, and demons don’t want people empowered with the Holy Spirit. Every day they try to keep us from focusing on Jesus, denying ourselves, obeying God, praying, and reading the Word. They want us to be afraid to share our faith.  They want to keep us from loving one another. They try to stir up strife between family members, church members, co-workers, and friends. They try to get us to seek supernatural experiences instead of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

No, we are not afraid of the Holy Spirit, and we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices. We remain vigilant of his attacks to take our focus off of Jesus Christ and cause strife among us.

I believe there are many people across the land who are hungry for the Christianity of the New Testament in all its spiritual splendor. They are not satisfied by the contemporary American church culture nor by the fruit it is producing. They are looking for something real, something powerful, something that makes a difference in their lives and their home. Not finding it in the Church, they are drawn to cults, the occult, and Islam. However, the void in their soul won’t be filled by any of these options either. It is up to us to lift up Jesus Christ so they will be drawn unto Him.

There are men and women whose hearts cry out with the psalmist:

Ps 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Does that describe you? Is your faith and the presence of Christ in you so strong that you are willing to suffer for Him? Is the Holy Spirit living in you the most important person in your life, so that you are willing to deny yourself rather than grieve Him, because nothing else will satisfy you, but Him?

Or is there another spirit telling you that this Holy Spirit stuff is passé, for those believers back in the day when they didn’t have Bibles? God is not like that today.

The truth is Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  

Don’t be afraid of the Holy Spirit and don’t start your day without Him. Pray, confess, repent, read, get suited up with the whole armor of God, get filled with His Spirit, and then go out into the world to accomplish His will in every situation and with every person you encounter during the day. Pray unceasingly, and listen to the Holy Spirit telling you what to do and say.

Luke 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Your Father in Heaven is willing to give Himself to you. Are you willing to receive His gift?

If you have never given your life to Christ, then you are like those who heard Peter and said, “What must we do?” You must do what Peter said,

Acts 2:38-39 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."