1 Corinthians 14:32 contains a very important statement about the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul believed strongly that Christians should allow the Holy Spirit to guide and to direct their lives (Galatians 5:16). He also believed that some Christians could speak messages from God by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, Paul insisted that the Holy Spirit did not cause anyone to lose control over their own behaviour.
Clearly, the Christians in Corinth thought that they could not control themselves. Whenever they felt the power of the Holy Spirit, they behaved in a wild manner. However, their behaviour was not the work of the Holy Spirit; it was their reaction to the Holy Spirit. People can learn how to control such reactions.
The effect of that should not be to stop the work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it should aid the work of the Holy Spirit. For example, think about the situation when someone at church declares a message from God, by the power of the Holy Spirit. If everyone’s reaction is to shout for joy, nobody will hear the message. So, that message will benefit nobody. Instead, people should learn to listen quietly to that message. Then God can use that message to teach them and to encourage them (14:29-31).
That is an important difference between the work of the Holy Spirit and the activities of evil spirits. Evil spirits do sometimes take complete control over a person’s behaviour; the Holy Spirit never does that. Some of the church members at Corinth had formerly belonged to religions where evil spirits were active. Then they had behaved in a wild manner - but now, as Christians, they should not behave like that. Instead, God would bring peace to their lives - that is, a calm and content attitude because of a right relationship with him.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.