Can You Tell If You Have the Holy Spirit? Does It Involve Feelings?

After you were baptized, did you feel different?  Of course you didn’t!  I remember after I was baptized, I felt the same.  It’s not about how you feel.

~ An unidentified elder

Can you feel the Holy Spirit?  My mother grew up Pentecostal, so if you asked most of my relatives on that side of the family, you might hear the answer, “Yes!  Hallelujah!”  Supposedly, the signs of the Holy Spirit were supposed to include a sense of physical joy, a lot of babbling gibberish and an emotional high.

Can you see why I laugh whenever a certain blogger lies and says UCG is turning Pentecostal, thus showing his great ignorance and hypocrisy?

However, does this mean that the elder I quoted in the opening quote is right?  No, he is not right, either.  I can tell you for a fact that I felt different after baptism, but now I’m getting ahead of myself.  However, I can say that this and some other statements he has made cast doubts on whether or not he was ever truly converted.  Not my call, but my sense of discernment says to not pay attention to anything he really has to say.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

~ Gal 5:22-23

Does love not involve the heart?  The lack of love of those who simply define love as keeping the commandments without an emotional attachment show themselves to be the false ministers they truly are.  What of joy?  We are commanded to rejoice at the feasts.  Both love and joy might involve feelings, but they also require a matter of choice.

What of peace?  Peace itself isn’t a feeling, but the resulting calmness is.  It is tough to remain calm without a sense of peace, if indeed it is possible at all.

So, can you feel the Holy Spirit?  I believe the question is similar to asking if I can feel cheesecake.  Can I feel German chocolate cake?  Well, I can taste these things, but that’s not feeling.  I can feel full, however.  If I don’t eat for a while, I can feel hunger.  IOW, I can feel the effect of eating these things, but once it is in my stomach, I’m not actually feeling the cheesecake or German chocolate cake.  What I’m feeling is the satisfaction of a full stomach.

So, can someone feel different after baptism?  I submit that at minimum, one should feel a bit cleaner.  Once again, it is the effect that is being felt.  Hopefully the Fruits of the Spirit develop and grow, which will increase the effect upon one’s mental and emotional state.

These effects can be suppressed by various things.  We are physical creatures.  We get tired.  We get sick.  A severe trial may even bring on a bout of depression.  We are not totally spirit, yet, and so we are given over to hunger, thirst, weariness, cold, etc.  Those things have an effect upon our moods and emotions.

Again, that is an effect.  Yet again, we have a choice in how much we will allow such things to effect us.

I know someone going through a pretty tough time.  This person has to take certain drugs which affect their mood.  As a consequence, they feel less close to God.  They feel as though they are not retaining the Scriptures they read as well as before.  They even questioned if they had God’s Spirit.

I had to respond, “Everything you said was about how you feel.  I think that is missing the point.  It isn’t totally about how you feel.  You heard of dedication?  That’s doing something even when you don’t feel like it.  It’s about commitment, even like marriage is about commitment.  You stay together and work it out regardless of how you feel.”

People talk a lot about agape love.  They define it as “godly love”, but I wonder if they really understand it.  It is God’s love toward us because He chose to love us.  He chooses to love the unlovable!  God does have phileo love as well, but He has the perfect ability to love the unlovable.  That’s why His love is higher than our own, as He can choose to love unconditionally.  Frankly, human love is not unconditional.  It just does not come natural to us.

After all, Jesus didn’t promise us a rose garden.  He promised persecution.  He promised the world would hate us.  Yet, we were given He and Paul as examples of ones who persevered in spite of hunger, weariness, being shipwrecked and even death itself.

Look again at the Fruits of the Spirit.  One of them is meekness temperance in the KJV.  Other versions call it self-control.  That’s a synonym for self-discipline.  Discipline is doing the right thing at the right time in spite of other circumstances.

Brenda Cannon Henley of The Examiner seems like a pretty smart lady.  She wrote in “What is self-discipline and why do we need it?”:

I read many definitions of self-discipline, some by famous orators and others by friends who were willing to share their thoughts with me. I have combined some of the best thoughts and want to share them with you. I believe that self-discipline is the ability to motivate oneself in spite of negative surroundings, peer pressure, or our own emotional state. The three attributes I associate with it are willpower, hard work and persistence.

Remember the Seven Laws of Success?  I remember one of them was perseverance, aka “stick-to-it-iveness”!  Call it that, call it persistence, commitment or dedication, but they all mean basically the same thing.  You are giving yourself over to a goal, and you are going to keep at it until you reach it or bust!

That requires discipline!  There will be days you won’t want to do it.  There will be days you want to give up.  There may even be days where you wonder why you climb out of bed, but you do it!  No matter how you feel.

16 Though a righteous man falls seven times,
he will get up,
but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

~ Pr 24:16 (HCSB)

We must not forget that carnal flesh also has feelings.  Having feelings isn’t wrong, but what you do with them can be.  The world seeks to satisfy those longings in the belief that the end justifies the means.  “Follow your heart,” the siren song cries out to each and every one of us.

9 The heart is more deceitful than anything else,
and incurable—who can understand it?

~ Jer 17:9 (HCSB)

So, how do you tell if you have the Holy Spirit?  Well, it just so happens that COGWA has produced an excellent article on the subject, “How Do You Know You Have the Holy Spirit?”  It describes the process wherein we are promised the Holy Spirit if we follow through: Repent, be baptized and have hands laid upon us.  It ends with some of the evidence of the Holy Spirit.  In short, we must be transformed by the Spirit.

We are called a “new man” if we have gone through the baptismal ceremony.  We are not a modified man.  We are not an improved man.  No, we are an entirely different creature!

Should you feel different after baptism?  I certainly hope you feel the effects of joy with the knowledge you have been cleansed of your past and forgiven.

However, human feelings will ebb and flow.  We must not be held hostage by our feelings.  Rather, faith is more about a strong belief in the One who is always faithful.  Love is choice.  Joy is a choice.  Not quenching the Holy Spirit is a choice.

Free will is what Adam and Eve were given, and exercised, in the Garden of Eden.  Throughout the history of the human race, mankind has been given freedom of choice.  We can make those choices based upon flimsy feelings that shift like sand, or we can base our choices upon reality (another word for truth).

However, we have to have the discipline to do what is truthful and right even when our feelings want to get in the way.  We must fight against the negative feelings that hold us back and edify the positive ones that propel us onward.  As long as we are grounded in the truth and in God’s word, we will pick ourselves up and carry onward.

God puts us in impossible situations.  Once again, He does give us more than we can bear, but He does not allow us to enter into more temptation than we can bear.  He will show His glory by parting our personal Red Sea, drowning Pharaoh as he pursues us, slaying our own Goliaths, stopping the mouths of the lions that surround us and/or giving us a compassionate friend to pull us out of our personal mire.  He does this to remind us that He is God.

However, Moses spent 40 years tending sheep first, Job lost everything for at least 18 months (if he had a form of smallpox), Joseph was a slave and prisoner for 13 years and David was on the run from Saul for perhaps a decade.  God saw that these men went through a period of refining before handing them their main duties.

We too are in training and refining, but we may not see our main job being handed to us until Christ returns.  That is why we must now wait for that time and behave responsibly, growing in grace, character and wisdom.

Talk about discipline!  Talk about commitment!  Talk about dedication!  Talk about stick-to-it-iveness!

11 I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.

~ Rev 3:11 (HCSB)

3 thoughts on “Can You Tell If You Have the Holy Spirit? Does It Involve Feelings?

  • brethal

    I agree with your article about the Holy Spirit. Its been a long journey since I was baptized in 1973. I was wondering how you figured mathematically that “David was on the run from Saul for perhaps a decade”? Just curious. Thanks for the article.

    • John D Carmack
      John D Carmack Post author

      @brethal: That’s a guesstimate, since no one knows for sure. David was almost surely under 20 when he killed Goliath, since he: 1. Was but a youth, 2. Not yet a soldier (which was for 20 and above), 3. Saul’s propensity to force every man to fight (which was actually against the law).

      Some believe he could have been as young as 15, but that’s a minority. Still, he was probably 17-19 or thereabouts. If he were 17, and if it were 3 years he was with Saul, then he would have been on the run for ten years (he was made king at 30).

      At best, it is a loose approximation, but even 8 years, almost a decade, on the lam would be a long time.

      Sorry for the lack of references. I’m not at the computer at the moment, and this has been covered in previous articles.

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