Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant (1 Corinthians 12:1, King James Version).
The manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit is one of the many ways God's grace is released to work. God's grace, when in operation, does great and mighty things. By allowing the gifts of the Spirit to function in your life and ministry, you make room for the Holy Spirit to pass through you to bless people and reveal Jesus to the world.
The gifts of the Spirit are given to help advance the work of the kingdom. When gifts are not in operation, signs and wonders do not manifest, the flow of the 'common good' that is for the church is limited and the scriptures appear as weak and dead. It was Paul who said, And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
This is why as a minister, you must not be ignorant of the gifts of the Spirit and should covet them; God does not want you to be ignorant of them. He wants you to know about the gifts of the Spirit, the purpose the gifts serve and how to operate in them. Satan wants believers to be ignorant of spiritual gifts, because he knows that it is only in the use of the gifts that you can really see God bless your ministry, and it is in the operation of the gifts that you can really be a blessing to people.
The Bible says your profiting starts to appear to all as you function in the gifts (1 Timothy 4:14-15). The gifts of the Spirit are different from ministry gifts. There are five ministry gifts as can be seen in Ephesians 4:11, while there are nine gifts of the spirit as we can see in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. Whereas not every believer is called into the five-fold ministry, the nine gifts of the spirit are available for every believer. The Holy Spirit gives the gift of the Spirit to every believer as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:7, 12). However, anyone can desire and ask to operate in any or all the nine gifts of the Spirit and he can have them (1 Corinthians 12:31).
The primary purpose for the gifts of the Spirit is for the edification of the body of Christ and to enable the minister to be profitable. One translation expresses that the gifts are given for the common good and another states that they are given for us to help each other. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7, New International Version). A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (1 Corinthians 12:7, New Living Translation). The gifts of the Spirit are the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, not the design of man. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given ... (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Understand that spiritual gifts are manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people. It is the Holy Spirit that manifests the gifts at His will, and that means no one can operate in any gift of the Spirit at any time he wills. You cannot choose to prophecy, heal and perform a miracle whenever you want, you have to understand that. You have to also understand that it is possible for the Holy Spirit to be present to heal or to prophesy today and not be present the next day and sin might not be the cause of it. The Holy Spirit moves only when He wills. The Holy Spirit can manifest in any gift, through anyone, whenever He chooses to or wherever there is the need to reach out to meet someone's need to glorify Jesus. What I am saying is, just because someone has experienced the manifestation of one gift of the Spirit in his life, does not mean that he has that gift, as it is also possible for the Holy Spirit to manifest in a particular gift through someone only once in his lifetime. Such a gift will be released to manifest through a person, when he is positioned in a place where an individual needs to be blessed, so Jesus can be glorified. However, this person may never operate in that particular dimension again. It is also possible for a believer to experience a frequent manifestation of one particular gift of the Spirit in his life, such that over time it becomes his identity or his area of specialty. It is at this level of the manifestation of the gift of the Spirit that one can be said to be having that particular gift.
A gift can become someone’s area of specialty, in the sense that, as a result of the frequent manifestation of that gift in his life, he becomes more aware and sensitive to how the Holy Spirit moves in that dimension in his life, he can easily sense when the Holy Spirit is seeking to move with him in the gift and minister to meet someone's need. Moreover, by reason of practice, this believer is also now able to easily step out and act in faith for the gift to operate through him.
The gifts of the Spirit cannot be manipulated; the gifts of the Spirit are available to every believer and any believer can desire to have and to operate in any or all of the gifts. Yes, you can desire and ask for any particular gift to be in operation in your life. However, although you can be blessed to operate in any of the gifts, the truth remains that the operation of the gifts comes as a result of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. As such, you cannot use the gifts at your will, whenever you want to. If you can, it stops being the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, because no one can manipulate or control the Spirit. He is the Lord, He does everything after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). The Bible says it is God who is at work when the gifts are in operation.
There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:6, NIV). The manifestation of gifts of the Spirit is entirely God's prerogative. You cannot twist the arm of God and make Him do something when He is not willing to do it. You must always remember that He is a sovereign God, He is in heaven and He does as He pleases. Wherever you see any of the nine gifts of the Spirit in operation, know that it is God who is at work. The person through whom the gifts are in operation has no control over them, but the Spirit does. If at all anyone will have control over the use of the gifts of the Spirit, it would be about him having the ability to hinder the Holy Spirit from using him. However, he cannot determine when the gifts should be in operation, where to use them or who will be blessed through these gifts.
Not every supernatural experience is a manifestation of the gift of the Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is not moving and we insist on having an extraordinary or supernatural experience, we could fall victim to familiar spirits and witchcraft practices. If the Holy Spirit is not moving, do not pretend to be in the Spirit and manufacture something that is of your flesh; the products of your wishful thinking. Doing this will only gratify you, but it will not bless the people or bring any glory to God. Whatever you say or do as a minister, should come out of divine inspiration. Do not make up something when the Holy Spirit is not moving, simply because you want to appear spiritual and impress people.
The people who falsify the manifestations of gifts of the Spirit, do that only to show that they are powerful and to draw attention to themselves, not God. There are many familiar spirits who have gone out and are in operation everywhere seeking to deceive people, especially those in the church, through extraordinary manifestations. You have got to learn not to straightaway put faith on any supernatural manifestation, but to first test the spirit behind it, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). Not all manifestations are manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit, no matter how awesome they appear.
Furthermore, just because someone you have never met before says your name, where you are coming from and some experiences you have had in the past, does not necessarily mean that he speaks by the Spirit of God. Many of such are the functions of familiar spirits. Familiar spirits are spirits that are familiar about people, places and events. They seek to mislead people (believers especially), by revealing to them things about them that are personal and private. This is the type of spirit that followed Paul and sought to bewitch the people he was reaching when he was at Philippi, And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation (Acts 16:16-17). The damsel in Paul's encounter was not saying anything that was not a fact of who Paul and Silas were, yet Paul rebuked and cast out the spirit. Even when what is revealed is an accurate account of who someone is, this is still not proof that the person displaying that ability is of God. You have to test the spirit first. The spirits of witchcraft, divination and familiar spirits are the same and their purpose is to subject their victim to Satan's bondage, through manipulation, intimidation and control. The common thing about their operation is to bring gain to the person who is using them. Many people, through ignorance, have lost their marriage, assets and money through these lying spirits in our churches.
It is very possible to be misled if you are not careful. To avoid falling into error, you need to grow up spiritually and mature in your understanding of the Word. You need to understand the purpose of spiritual gifts. Understand that, although anyone can desire and ask for any gift of the Spirit to operate in his life, it is his motive that will determine whether he will have them operating in his life or not. Many people have opened themselves up to demon spirits in the quest for powers. The Holy Spirit was held back in them, because the motive for their quest was geared towards greed, self-promotion and personal gratification.
I was at a conference some years ago where a man of God called out a certain brother from the congregation and told him his name, his family name, the town he came from and other personal stuffs. When the brother confirmed that all he said was correct, the crowd was stirred and people all over the hall began to shout praise God, hallelujah. As that was Happening, the man of God made out a call for people to come forward to give some money as seed to receive a miracle. In the midst of that, the Lord said to me what just happened was manipulation and not the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. He was using that medium to collect the people's money. The Holy Spirit will not be in operation for personal profit.
Basically, the purpose of the manifestation of the Spirit is for the common good of the church, the body of Christ. The church profits in three major ways when the gifts of the Spirit are in manifestation. The gifts of the Spirit manifest for edification, for exhortation and for the comfort of the people. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3). By ‘edification’, it means that, when the gifts of the Spirit are in manifestation, the church gets taught the counsel of God; the people are strengthened, built and empowered. ‘Exhortation’ on the other hand, refers to encouraging or inspiring someone to do something. The gifts are to push you forward and to get you to do what you need to do. In addition, ‘comfort’ means liberating people, making them feel secured, assured and hopeful.
The manifestation of gifts of the Spirit brings liberation, it does not cause confusion and it subjects no one to any form to bondage. When in despair, gifts operate to give you hope. When you are confused, gifts come to give you direction. When you are down, gifts operate to raise you up. When you are ill, gifts manifest to bring healing. Gifts are always in manifestation for the common good. The gifts of the Spirit may operate to expose Satan's devices, but they do not operate to embarrass or to put any child of God to shame; that is what you must always remember. The Holy Spirit will never be in operation in order to disgrace, shame or condemn someone. Condemnation is never the operation of the Spirit of God; Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Romans 8:33-34).
The Holy Spirit not only justifies, He may convict, but He never condemns anyone. Conviction works to make you realise where you are wrong, to show you a way out and empower you to make a positive move. Condemnation makes you feel worthless, like a failure and leaves you in guilt. The perverted gifts steal from people, create guilt, fear and put a load on people. Gifts of the Spirit do not operate to take advantage or manipulate anyone and they do not shame or condemn anyone. They are for the common good of the church. Wherever and whenever the Holy Spirit is in manifestation, He reveals Jesus, He confirms the Word of God, makes the Word come alive and glorifies the Father. It is never about the person through whom He reveals Himself, it is to bring glory to God. Jesus says, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:13-15).
Unless God is out to bless someone and glorify Himself, the Holy Spirit will never be in manifestation. In the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, people are blessed, healed and set free and God takes all the glory. Demonic operations come to embarrass people, lift a man up, not God, take advantage and put the church in confusion.
Walking With The Holy Spirit You will need to develop your spirit and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to enjoy fellowship with Him. You can achieve spiritual development, by feeding constantly on the Word and by exercising your faith, through the practice of the Word. You cannot spiritually mature without constantly feeding on the Word and practicing it. You can develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit only in quietness, the place of prayer, worship and in simple obedience. Obedience is key to walking with the Holy Spirit; if you cannot step out in faith and act in a way He is stirring you to do, you will never walk in His power. As you nurture obedience and become established in it, you will see your intimacy with the Holy Spirit growing.
To walk with the Holy Spirit, you must cultivate a listening ear. If you do not understand His leading or cannot hear Him, you are going to be dwelling in a place called disobedience. That you cannot hear or understand the Holy Spirit, is not an excuse and it does not provide you any immunity from the consequences of not walking in God's will. While walking in ignorance, you will be missing loads of opportunities; the opportunity where you could be mightily used by God will pass you easily.
In ignorance of the leading of the Holy Spirit, you can mistake the devil for the Holy Spirit and become a victim of error. I have seen many believers take a stand in disobedience to what the Holy Spirit is saying for them to do, when it is clear that God will not lead anyone that way. A certain lady went to her senior pastor and told him that she loved him and said that God told her he would be her husband. This certainly was not God; she was in error, because this pastor (who happens to be my friend) is married with children. I once counselled a lady, who severed relationship with her parents and did not communicate with them for years, because she said God showed her that her parents were into witchcraft. I knew she was in error, because such a move contradicts the scripture. God has said to honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:2-3).
Until you learn how to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit, you are going to fall into error and may lead many astray who have put their trust in you. I know a couple, whose marriage came under fire, because a certain man of God told the man that his wife of many years, (who is also a born again, Spirit filled believer; who stood by him through many difficult times) was responsible for a challenging situation their family was experiencing at the time. The man of God told the man that his wife is possessed with demon spirits and she must go through deliverance before any change could happen. The woman would not give in to such lies, because she knew better. However, this experience almost broke their marriage. When I heard of it, I knew instantly that such was not a revelation from God, it was an error.
There is the spirit of error in operation everywhere, looking for its victim, to ruin what God is doing in them. Every child of God must develop himself in the things of the Spirit, and must learn the act of listening to his own spirit, so he can rightly discern the will of God. That voice on the inside of you that makes you feel uneasy whenever you are about to take the wrong step, is the voice of the spirit. Learn to follow it; some people call it the inner witness. Your spirit also speaks through the conscience. Conscience is the spirit's guide to what is right or wrong; it will trouble you and tamper with your peace when you are not going the right way. For as long as you follow your conscience, you will not fall into error, because God will not lead you against your conscience. Paul highlighting the place of conscience in the believer says, I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost (Romans 9:1)
Your conscience is alive, strong and active, only as much as your spirit is fed and nurtured in the Word. Your conscience will be weak, where you are not well fed in the Word and it will be dead or seared when you are not in fellowship with God. To develop the act of listening, you may need to learn to stay in God's presence, in the place of prayer, for a long time and quietly wait. Many do not know how to stay quiet before God, but it is a spiritual discipline that all must cultivate. Know that God will not be in a thing, if you have taken time to wait on Him and have prayed about it and yet your conscience will not rest. And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God (1 John 3:21, Amplified).
Stirring Up The Gift Of God Which Is In You Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:6-7). The Holy Spirit inside every believer is the same Spirit that raised Jesus up from the dead. On the inside of you is resident a mighty power: this is why the Bible says, God does exceedingly abundantly, far and beyond what you can ask or think, according to the power that works within you (Ephesians 3:20). Inside you is resident, the giver of the gifts Himself with all His gifts. To get the gifts manifested in your life, you will have to stir up the gift. It is already inside you. To stir the gifts that are in you has everything to do with fear, power, love and a sound mind. You must know where to place them in your life.
Dealing With Fear Fear is one of the fundamental reasons why believers do not operate in the gifts of the Spirit. If you cannot overcome fear, you are going to hinder the move of the Spirit in your life. You need to overcome the fear of what people will think or say. You need to overcome the fear of failing or falling into error. Having power over fear helps you to obey and act in faith according to the leading you are receiving and not worry about what the consequences will be. Always remember, that you cannot heal anybody, only God can, your assignment is to obey Him, do whatever He says to do and leave it to Him. You must learn to simply take a step of faith and leave the rest for God.
Maintaining A Sound Mind A sound mind is the state of being, where the Word has taken over and dominates your mindset. It is the Word that will make you grow to maturity and to a place where you will be able to recognise the voice of the Spirit so clearly, that you can easily tell when it is the devil’s voice and when it is God's. The Word renews your mind when it settles in you richly. You know you have the Word in you richly, when it has become your meditation, when it forms your line of thinking and when you start to interpret every situation in the light of it. You can easily, rightly discern the voice of God when you get there. A sound mind is having the understanding settled in your spirit, of who your God is, who you are and what grace or ability you have.
A sound mind is the ability to prove what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God, see Romans 12:2. You are operating in a sound mind, when you reach that level where you can easily recognise and separate the voice of God from that of a stranger. In other words, you are able to discern the perfect and acceptable will of God. Your state of mind will determine your ability to process and interpret the Word rightly. You operate in a sound mind, when you are able to see the world and are able to interpret your situation, not as other people see it, but in the light of the Word. When you have a sound mind, you will be making good judgments, you will have inspired and godly ideas, and you will be creative in your thinking.
Walking In Love Love is the ability to lay down your life for other people. Love is the ability to relate with people and not harm them. Love is the power to do good to people who have shown themselves to be friends and to those who have treated us as enemies too (Romans 12:21). Love is the excellent way; it is the passage for the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts do not operate where there is no love. You must be grounded in love in order for you to be able to walk in the power of God, And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God's love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody) (1 Corinthians 13:2, Amplified). Without love, you are going to use spiritual gifts to abuse and take advantage of people. If you have power and do not walk in love, you will make everybody that stands on your way blind. The gifts of the Spirit are expressed through love; without love it will be a controlling or witchcraft spirit.
Operating In Power Power is the ability to apply restraint. The Spirit may not move in your life in certain ways if you cannot apply control. You must be self-controlled especially in the areas of anger, pride, greed and the use of your tongue; these quench the fire of the Spirit. You cannot use the same tongue to bless and curse. In addition, it is not everything that God shows you or says that should be said out. You must learn to discern the season for every message and the people for whom it is meant. Some messages are for individuals and must never be said in the congregation. Remember, the gifts are not to be used to put anyone to shame: they are for edification, for exhortation and for comfort. Power is also about having the boldness to face the challenges of life. Life is full of battles and we need to be bold to press through. You need boldness to be able to stand before some people, to declare the things that God will show you. Power is about being bold to follow God’s leading, even when it appears to be unpopular or not comfortable. Power is about being bold to take a stand, even when it means standing alone.