I understand why some people are, to some degree, averse to the gifts of the Spirit, because there has been so much abuse in this area.
Often, the people who claim to be using these gifts behave in rather strange ways. We look at this flamboyant excess and say, “Well, if those are the gifts of the Spirit, then I don’t want anything to do with them.”
In doing so, however, we can actually be guilty of the sin of omission, which is not doing what we ought to do. If God’s Holy Spirit has instilled spiritual gifts in our lives, then it is our responsibility to discover and use them.
The Bible says, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NKJV). To “quench” is to extinguish something, like throwing water on a campfire as you are preparing to break camp.
The sin of quenching the Holy Spirit is when God’s Spirit is prompting us to say or do a certain thing and we refuse. Quenching the Spirit could also be failing to discover and use the gifts that God has given us.
So let’s look at the gifts of the Spirit in a biblical and balanced way. I believe in the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But I also believe that it is a practical power that God wants us to have — the same practical power that caused the early church to turn their world upside down.
Ephesians 4 tells us that God has given us the gifts of the Spirit “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (verses 12–13 NIV).
The gifts of the Spirit are given for the perfecting, or the maturing, of the saints. God gives us these gifts, working through people like pastors and teachers so that believers are equipped.
We also have the gifts of the Spirit so that we might be equipped to do all God has called us to do in the church. God has given each of us a gift or gifts to utilize to bless others. The gifts of the Spirit are not a hobby to play with; they are tools to build with. And they are weapons to fight with.
God has given the gifts of the Spirit to bring unity in the church as well. Again, Ephesians 4:12–13 tells us that the purpose of these gifts is “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (NIV).
As we use these gifts, we discover that no one person has all of them. God, in His sovereign will, has chosen to give certain gifts to certain people.
The gifts are given for the spiritual growth of Christians and the numeric growth of the church. God “makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16 NLT).
When a church is grounded in God’s Word and energized by the Holy Spirit, it will reach out, not satisfied with staying by itself. It will permeate, challenge, and confront culture.
Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV). It is power with a purpose.
Some people get sidetracked with the gifts of the Spirit. But Christians should not follow signs and wonders; signs and wonders should follow them. The Christian life is one of faith.
As commentator A. B. Simpson wrote, “Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord; once it was the feeling, now it is His Word. Once His gifts I wanted, now the Giver own; once I sought for healing, now Himself alone.”Allow God to pour out His Spirit and bring His gifts into your life when and where He chooses. And in the meantime, be preoccupied with following Him and maturing in your faith.