Is a believer supposed to be able to feel the Holy Spirit?

 feel  Holy  Spirit

Question: "Is a believer supposed to be able to feel the Holy Spirit?"

While certain ministries of the Holy Spirit may involve a “feeling,” such as conviction of sin, comfort, and empowerment – Scripture does not instruct us to base our relationship with the Holy Spirit on how or what we feel. Every born-again believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that when the Comforter has come He will be with us and in us. "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16-17). In other words, Jesus is sending one like Himself to be with us and in us.

We know the Holy Spirit is with us because God's Word tells us that it is so. Every born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but not every believer is "controlled" by the Holy Spirit, and there is a distinct difference. When we step out in our flesh, we are not under the control of the Holy Spirit even though we are still indwelt by Him. The Apostle Paul comments on this truth, and he uses an illustration that helps us to understand. "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). Many people read this verse and interpret it to mean that the Apostle Paul is speaking against wine. However, the context of this passage is the walk and the warfare of the Spirit-filled believer. Therefore, there is something more here than just a warning about drinking too much wine.

When people are drunk with too much wine, they exhibit certain characteristics: they reel, their speech is slurred, and their judgment is impaired. The Apostle Paul sets up a comparison here. Just as there are certain characteristics that allow us to see that someone is controlled by too much wine, there should also be certain characteristics that allow us to see that someone is being controlled by the Holy Spirit. We read in Galatians 5:22-24 about the "fruit" of the Spirit. This is His fruit, and it is exhibited by the born-again believer who walks under the control of the Spirit.

The verb tense in Ephesians 5:18 indicates a continual process of being filled by the Holy Spirit. Since it is an exhortation "be being filled," it follows that it is also possible not to be "filled" or controlled by the Spirit. The rest of Ephesians chapter 5 gives us the characteristics of a Spirit-filled believer. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Ephesians 5:19-21).

Therefore, the born-again believer should not be controlled by anything other than the Holy Spirit. We are not filled with the Spirit because we "feel" we are, but because this is the privilege and possession we have in Christ. Being filled or controlled by the Spirit is the result of walking in obedience to the LORD. This is a gift of grace and not an emotional feeling. Emotions can and will deceive us, and we can work ourselves up into an emotional frenzy that is purely from the flesh and not of the Holy Spirit. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16, 25).

Having said that, we cannot discount that there are times when we can be overwhelmed by the presence and the power of the Spirit, and this is often an emotional experience. When that happens, it is a joy like no other. King David "danced for joy" (2 Samuel 6:14) when they brought up the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Experiencing joy by the Spirit is the understanding that as children of God we are being blessed by His grace. So, absolutely, the ministries of the Holy Spirit can involve our feelings and emotions. At the same time, while the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives can include a “feeling,” we are not to base the assurance of our possession of the Holy Spirit on how we feel.

Recommended Resource: The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life by Charles Stanley.

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Is a believer supposed to be able to feel the Holy Spirit?