Spiritual Manifestations: Does the Holy Spirit Force People to Scream, Shout or Shake Uncontrollably?

There is considerable debate among Christians whether spiritual manifestations, like uncontrollable screaming, shouting or shaking, are from God. In his book The Spirit-Filled Believers’s Handbook, bible teacher Derek Prince weights in on this subject

And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (1 Cor. 14:32-33).

In other words, any spiritual evidence that is directed and by God will produce peace and harmony, not confusion and disorder.

Any person responsible for an evidence that leads to confusion or disorder cannot excuse himself by saying, “I couldn’t help myself! The Holy Spirit made me do it.” Paul rules out this line of defense by “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” In other the Holy Spirit never overrides the will of the individual believer and compels him to do something against his own will.

Even when a believer is exercising a spiritual gift, his spirit and his will still remain under his control. He is free to exercise that gift or to exercise it. The responsibility for exercising it remains with him. As we have said earlier in this study, the Holy Spirit never plays the part of a dictator in the life of a believer.

This is one of the main features which distinguish genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit from the phenomena of spiritism or demon possession. In many phases of spiritism or demon possession the person who plays the part of the medium (or other vessel of satanic power) is obliged to yield complete control of his whole will and personality to the spirit which seeks to possess him or to operate through him. Very often such a person is then obliged to say or to do things which of his own free will he would never have agreed to say or do.

In some phases of spiritism the person who comes under the control of the spirit loses all understanding or consciousness of what he is saying or doing. At the end of such an experience, the possessed person come to himself again in entirely strange surroundings after a lapse of many hours, without any knowledge or recollection of what has happened in the intervening period. In this way, both the will and the understanding of the demon-possessed person are entirely set aside.

God the Holy Spirit never acts in this way with the true believer in Christ. Among the most precious of all the endowments which God has bestowed upon man are will and personality. Consequently, God never usurps the will or the personality of the believer. He will operate through them if He ls permitted to do so, but He will never set them aside. Satan makes slaves; God makes sons.

We see, then, how wrong and unscriptural it is for Spirit-baptized believers to say concerning any spiritual manifestation: “I couldn’t help it! The Holy Spirit made me do it.” To speak like this is to represent the indwelling Spirit of God as some kind of despot and the believer as a slave in bondage. Believers who speak like this have not yet come to understand their privileges and responsibilities as sons of God.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage [slavery] again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15-16).

We are thus brought face-to-face with an important principle which holds good in all human affairs whether political or spiritual: True liberty is impossible without good government. The kind of liberty which seeks to set aside all government or control of any kind ends only in anarchy and confusion. The final result is a new form of slavery, far more severe than the previous form of government which was set aside.

We have seen this happen time after time in the political history of the human race, and the same principle applies equally in the spiritual life of the Christian church. True spiritual liberty is possible only where there is spiritual government. The government which God has appointed for the church is that of the Holy Spirit.

We come back then to the statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:17:

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

If we desire to enjoy the Spirit’s liberty, we must first acknowledge the Spirit’s lordship. These two operations of the Holy Spirit can never be separated from each other.

We must also bear in mind another important fact about the Holy Spirit which we established earlier in this study. The Holy Spirit is both the author and the interpreter of the Scriptures. This means that the Holy Spirit will never direct a believer to say or do anything contrary to Scriptures. If the Holy Spirit were ever to do this, He would be illogical and inconsistent with Himself, and this we know is impossible.

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us – by me, Silvanus, and Timothy – was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes (2 Cor. 1: 18-19).

Paul is saying that God is never inconsistent with Himself. Concerning any particular matter of doctrine or practice, God never says yes at one time and no at another. If God has ever said yes, then His answer always remains yes. He never changes to no later on. He is never changeable or inconsistent with Himself.

This applies to the relationship between the teaching of Scripture on the one hand and utterances and manifestations of the Holy Spirit on the other. The Holy Spirit, being Himself the author of Scripture, always agrees with Scripture. There is never a possibility of yes and no. Wherever the Bible says no, the Holy Spirit says no. No utterance or manifestation that is inspired and controlled by the Holy Spirit will ever contrary to the teachings and examples of Scripture.

However, as we have already emphasized, the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is not a dictator. He does not compel the believer always to act in a scriptural way. The Holy Spirit serves as interpreter and counselor. He interprets the Scripture; He offers direction and counsel. But the believer still remains free to accept or to reject the Holy Spirit’s counsel – to obey or to disobey.

This imposes a tremendous responsibility upon every Spirit-baptized believer. Every such believer is responsible to acquaint himself personally with the mind of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Scriptures and then to direct his own conduct and behavior in regard to the exercise of spiritual gifts or manifestations – as in all other matters – so that these harmonize with the principles and examples of Scripture.

If through laziness, indifference or disobedience a Spirit-baptized believer fails to do this and, as a result, exercises spiritual gifts or manifestations in a foolish, unscriptural way, the responsibility for this rests solely upon the believer himself, not upon the Holy Spirit.

In this connection, a special responsibility rests upon every minister called by God to lead the worship and service of a Spirit-baptized congregation. Not only must such a man direct his own spiritual ministry in line with the teaching of Scripture, but he must also allow himself to be, in God’s hand, an instrument to direct the worship and ministry of the whole congregation in accordance with the same scriptural principles.

To do this successfully requires, in a high degree, special qualifications: first of all, a thorough, practical knowledge of the Scriptures, and then wisdom, authority and courage. Where these qualities are lacking in the leadership, a congregation that seeks to exercise spiritual gifts and manifestations will be like a ship at sea in the midst of powerful winds and treacherous shoals with an ill-trained and inexperienced captain in charge. Small wonder if the end is a wreck!

I have now been associated with full-gospel ministry for more than fifty years. During those years I have observed two things which have done more than anything else to hinder the acceptance of the testimony of the full gospel. The first is the failure to exercise proper control over the public manifestation of spiritual gifts, particularly the gift of tongues; the second is strife and division among Spirit-baptized believers, both among members of the same congregation and between one congregation and another. Each of these has its origin in one and the same error: the failure to acknowledge the effective lordship of the Holy Spirit.

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