If you’ve ever been to a Spirit-filled, or “Charismatic/Pentecostal” Church, you may have witnessed some interesting behavior. You may have asked yourself, or even God, “What’s going on, and where is that in the Bible?”
Things like, falling, shaking, crying, laughing, speaking in tongues, rolling, shouting, praising God, and more. “Why would God do that? Where is that in the Bible? Is it a demon?” People have asked a lot of questions like these. I’m not going to give a full outline of all these things, but I am going to explain them a little bit from scripture.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
First and foremost, the Holy Spirit is a person, NOT an “it“. He is the third person of the trinity, which makes Him God THE Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17, Genesis 1:2, Matthew 12:28) He is the One Jesus said we needed, and that it was better for us to have Him than to have Jesus with us in the flesh.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7 NKJV
Is that a demon, or the Holy Spirit?
Ok I’m going to explain both of these from scripture, but first let me explain a little about the spiritual world. When a spirit, any spirit, touches a human body, the human body reacts. Some people are more sensitive to spiritual things, and some are less sensitive. The truth is, both demons and the Spirit of God can have influence on humans. Sometimes it takes wisdom and discernment to tell the difference. Here are some scriptural examples:
“Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.” Mark 9:17-20 NKJV
So clearly in this passage, demons can cause people to fall on the ground. But would God’s Spirit do that, and why?
“Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He. ” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He, ” they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:3-6 NKJV
Now you may be saying, “Well, He is Jesus after all, and He’s God in the flesh, so that’s the power of Jesus.” All of those things are actually correct, but they’re missing something. Jesus did not do anything miraculous or powerful as God, He did it as a man. Here’s some scriptures from His own mouth:
“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19 NKJV
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30 NKJV
““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12 NKJV
So clearly Jesus did not do things in His own power, but He was relying on His Father through the Spirit of God. (Elsewhere He refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of the Father“.) So when the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane fell over, they were overcome by the Holy Spirit.
This doesn’t necessarily explain the shaking, crying, and laughing however. I’ll give simple answers for these ones.
Imagine grabbing a live wire filled with electrical power. This is the live-wire power of God.
Sometimes the intense presence of the love of God is too much to take, and tears flow like water.
The joy of the Lord is your strength! Joy is expressed over and over again in the Bible. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. The most common manifestation of joy is laughter. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a lot of joy in church in America. (I’m not slamming anyone.) Sometimes all we really have is a fake smile we put on on Sunday to look good, but really we’re dying inside. Only God can give us true joy. Yes, by experience.
If it’s God, I want it.
If you’ve never had a true encounter with the Holy Spirit, the Bible says that if you ask for bread, He won’t give you a stone, but He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him. (I’m not referring to the indwelling of the Spirit for salvation. I’m talking about an encounter with the manifest presence of God.)
Ask away, and be blessed!