Use and abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
by Lincoln Masters
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Use and Abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
Jesus left His followers with the responsibility to extend the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. The power of the Holy Spirit would help them fulfill this task: But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Jesus did not leave His followers with such a great responsibility without giving them the ability to fulfill the challenge. Spiritual gifts are supernatural abilities given by the Holy Spirit to empower believers to be effective witnesses of the Gospel. The subject of spiritual gifts was one on which Paul taught in the early church. He said: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (I Corinthians 12:1)
This chapter introduces the subject of spiritual gifts. Following chapters will concern the various spiritual gifts available to believers. Guidelines also will be given to help you discover your own spiritual gift. The word "spiritual" means "characterized or controlled by the Holy Spirit.” A "gift" is something freely given from one person to another. A spiritual gift is a supernatural capability given by the Holy Spirit to a believer to minister as part of the Body of Christ. There is a difference between the "gift" of the Holy Spirit and "gifts" of the Holy Spirit. The "gift" of the Holy Spirit occurred at Pentecost (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit came in answer to the promise of Jesus:
The "gift" of the Holy Spirit has already been given in answer to this promise. "Gifts" of the Holy Spirit are supernatural abilities the Holy Spirit gives believers to enable effective ministry: And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:20)
There is a difference between spiritual gifts and natural talents. A talent is a natural ability inherited at birth or developed through training. A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability which did not come by inheritance or training. It is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to be used for specific spiritual purposes.
Spiritual gifts provide spiritual capabilities far greater than the finest natural talents. Although we should use all our natural talents for the work of the Lord, we still need spiritual gifts. The purposes of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed in Ephesians 4:12-15: For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-15)
The objectives or goals of spiritual gifts are that we become united in the faith, develop our knowledge of Christ, develop in perfection, with Christ as our model, become stable, not deceived by false doctrines and lastly to grow spiritually in Christ.
All three persons of the Trinity are involved in empowering believers with spiritual gifts: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (I Corinthians 12:4-6)
The gifts of the Spirit are also given to the Church as weapons of spiritual warfare to conquer the spiritual forces of Satan:* For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Since the battle in which believers are engaged is spiritual, then spiritual rather than natural weapons must be used. Believers sometimes go into spiritual warfare without knowledge of these weapons. Anytime you go to battle without your weapons you cannot expect to win the fight. This is why it is important to understand spiritual gifts. They are part of the spiritual weapons God has provided. Each believer has at least one spiritual gift: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 4:10) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. (I Corinthians 12:7, 11) Because every believer has at least one spiritual gift, we each have a responsibility to discover and use our gift. You will not be judged by how many spiritual gifts you have. You will be judged by your faithfulness to use the spiritual gift or gifts you have been given. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 confirms this truth.
There are many spiritual gifts, but no believer has all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? (I Corinthians 12:29-30)
Any person may have more than one gift, but no one person can possess all the gifts of the Spirit at any given time.
A spiritual gift from God can be abused. To "abuse" a gift means to use it incorrectly with intent to do harm.
You can abuse spiritual gifts. Paul told Timothy: Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (I Timothy 4:14) 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. (II Timothy 1:6)
While ministering in Samaria, Peter and John met a man named Simon who wanted to have the powerful gifts he saw demonstrated. Simon offered money to obtain these abilities. Peter said: Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter... (Acts 8:20-21)
This is a place I have been wanting to get to so that we may very truthfully and painfully look at the abuse of the gifts, the misuse of the gifts and see exactly what happens to those who do it ignorantly, purposefully, willfully and over the course of time have had their consciences seared. Spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit. They cannot be obtained by any other method. You cannot just decide you want to have or use a certain spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit must give it to you. If you were allowed by the very Holy Spirit of God to blow on someone as a onetime method, and then you try to build a ministry on that and then of your own accord start using it as a “promotional” item, you have used and abused the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus used clay and spit to put on a man’s eyes and when he washed then he could see, I feel that the Holy Spirit can use any tactic that He wishes to use and be justified in doing so, and as always anything He does will be based on, rely on and bring forth Scripture and evidence that is permanent. Believe it or not the primary purpose of a faith healing crusade is to obtain new names for the fake healer's mailing list.
A major source of income for a faith healing ministry is derived from their mail order business such as books, tapes, and love gifts. The big fish are "Covenant partners" that can be deceived into sending in monthly donations, revenue from tax returns, estate sales, and even Living Trusts.
Watch a Benny Hinn faith healing service and you will hear over and over again, "God told me." Fake healers sell their act by giving the impression that they are speaking to God and hearing from Him personally. After all if God talks to them they must be legitimate. Kenneth Copeland goes so far as to stop right in the middle of his speech saying, "Yes, yes, okay, thank you Sir, that’s enough God" to give the impression that God just told Copeland something. Copeland quickly follows this up by interjecting some revelation on planting "financial seeds," with his ministry of course.
Faith healers want people to believe they can perform miracles. To build this false impression they imitate as often as possible the gifts of the Spirit given to the early church. Have you ever heard someone speak in tongues during a service? This is done to show that they are legitimate because they have the "anointing."
If you have seen a Benny Hinn faith healing service you will see Benny blow on people and tap them on the head and they will fall down to the ground. Sometimes Benny blows to the audience and whole sections fall over in their seats. Charismatic’s call this "slain in the spirit." Actually what you are witnessing is a trained emotional response that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. Charismatic’s lack real faith so they seek an outward sign. God is not going to give them a sign so the charismatic movement has been forced to fake tongues, healing, laying on of hands, and slaying in the spirit. Slaying in the spirit is like doing the wave at a ball game. Charismatics practice this and they accept it as normal. Sometimes a fake healer gets someone that won't go down because they have never played the slaying game before. This is when attendants simply give them a little push on the back of the legs while the fake pushes on their forehead to force them to fall down backwards. In football this cheap shot is called a high low tackle. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23)
A great way of selling the faith healer is to use testimonials from celebrities. Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is a favorite of Benny Hinn. Supposedly Benny healed Evander's heart problems. However, It has now come to light that Holyfield was misdiagnosed in the first place.
Unbeknownst to most is that several of the "miraculously healed" at faith healing services are actually supporting actors that travel along with the rest of the cast on the "faith-healing" circuit. These "enablers" help sell the act by presenting themselves as someone cured by Mr. or Mrs. Fake Healer. They are perfectly healthy individuals. But prior to a show they will take up positions on stage or in the audience with their props, typically crutches or a wheelchair. Many enablers put on disguises and dye their hair from service to service to keep from being familiar.
There is no miracle associated with how fake healers "discern" illnesses during a service. Information is gathered in several ways. Primarily data is collected on prayer requests prior to a service. This information is augmented by interviews by an assistant and someone pretending to be a doctor validating their condition and perhaps miracle. All the information collected by the faith healing team is passed on to the fake healer. The team is actually in control of the show. They provide the data required to pull off an illusion of miracles. When you see a group of people all sitting in the same brand of stripped down wheelchair it is because the wheelchairs are owned by the fake healer's ministry. Truly disabled persons spend much of their lives in a wheelchair so naturally they equip it for their specific needs. Assistants "suggest" to some people that they should sit down in the wheelchair so they can be wheeled up to the stage. A skilled faith healer will also use tricks like asking people to raise their arms in praise to help identify those with limited arm movement.
The most popular way to get discerning information to the fake healer is to put it in writing on crib notes. Crib notes are cheat sheets used by cheaters. Many times they will actually leave the crib notes on the podium during the service. W. V. Grant's was finally exposed when his crib notes were handpicked out of the trash.
Fake healers repeatedly use hand gestures to gesture to assistants for data to be used to "discern" an illness of another victim. Following the hand gesture you will see assistants whispering information to the faith healer and bringing a new victim on stage.
Code words like saying "Amen, Amen, Amen," are also used to signal assistants when a new "revelation" is required. Elizabeth Popoff electronically transmitted messages on cue from a database to a miniature receiver in Peter Popoff's ear during his faith healing services. This allowed Peter to miraculously "discern" health information. The Popoff ministry was exposed one day when some of these electronic messages were recorded and made public on CNN.
Another method used to create an illusion of discernment is the shotgun technique. The fake healer simply announces that a certain number of people in the audience are being healed of a certain disease, without ever specifying who they are.
A darling illusion of fake healers is the leg-stretching miracle. The fake announces that a person in the crowd has a "short leg" that needs to be adjusted. He brings the person on stage and seats him in a chair. Next the fake performs a simple carnival trick. As the subject sits the fake twists his hand so that one shoe or boot is slightly off the foot (the farther one) and the other shoe is pressed tightly against the sole. By reversing the twist the loose shoe is pushed on against that sole and the two feet are now seen to be the same length.
Another fake is the dramatic healing of the blind. The truth is none of these people are totally blind. This is the clever suggestion implied by the fake healer. These people suffer from limited sight, not total blindness. This type of useful information is recovered in the auditorium lobby before the program typically in miracle requests and questionnaires.
These charlatans always leave themselves a way out. Putting the blame back on the victim covers up when a fake incorrectly discerns. "You do not have enough faith." Someone has asked “How do you get enough faith?” Then and only then does the fake healer define "faith" as putting more money into their faith healing ministry. These guilt trips are introduced on Sunday as "financial seed" sermons give and you shall receive, God wants you to be rich, name it and claim it."
I could continue with Hinn, Copeland, Meyer, DuPlantis, Dollar, and multitudes more such as Crouch, Bentley, Tenney, Browne and countless others. We have seen in the verse before this list of fake items and now we will look at other scripture below to see what happens and why we should never abuse the gifts of the Holy Spirit or pretend we have them, My God...People, wake up! Quit believing these fakes for you as well as they will be held accountable according to God’s Word if you participate with them by TV, radio, cassette, CD, DVD, VHS, in writing or etc.,
On another occasion, seven sons of the chief of the priests saw the miracles of the Apostle Paul and tried to use this gift to cast out evil spirits: And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them and overcame them, and prevailed against them so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:15-16)
It is deadly and dangerous to try to operate a gift without the Holy Spirit's anointing.
In I Corinthians 12-14 Paul deals with proper use of spiritual gifts. To summarize the teaching of these chapters he states:
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace...Let all things be done decently and in order. (I Corinthians 14:33, 40)
God is not the author of confusion. Where there is confusion the gifts are not being used correctly. Spiritual gifts can also be improperly used when you manipulate people, gain wealth, or use them for your own selfish satisfaction rather than in ministry to others. The guidelines for use of gifts which Paul gives in I Corinthians 12-14 prevent confusion.
When you "glorify" your gift, you consider it more special than other gifts. You begin to see the gift as greater than the Giver.
The Bible indicates there are many gifts which come from one source. The source of spiritual gifts is the Holy Spirit. He gives and operates these gifts in the lives of believers:
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (I Corinthians 12:4-7)
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth on teaching; Or he that exhorteth on exhortation: he that giveth let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)
There is one source of spiritual gifts but there are many different gifts. No gift is more important than another. Your position in the Body of Christ is compared to parts of a human body. Just as in the human body, the smaller parts such as the eye have important functions, the seemingly "small" gift is often quite important in the functioning of the church. Some gifts involve greater responsibilities, but no gift is more important than another. Some parts of the human body have greater responsibilities than others. For example, the eye lets you see what is around you. It guides you when walking. It permits you to read and see and enjoy God's creations. The eye has greater responsibility, but it is no more important than the big toe which provides balance for walking. The guidance of the eye for walking is useless if you have no feet with which to walk. The eye's function to permit reading is useless if you have no brain to understand what you read. Sometimes misunderstanding arises in the Church when believers do not recognize the spiritual gifts of others. For example, one person may have the gift of giving and may not understand another believer who does not give as liberally. Or one may have the gift of administration and become very impatient with people who are less organized. Each believer should use his spiritual gifts to work together with other believers who have different gifts. When this happens, the Church functions effectively as the Body of Christ.
You are only a steward of spiritual gifts. A steward is someone who does not own that with which he works. He uses something given to him by another person. He uses it in behalf of the person who gave it to him. You are a steward for Jesus Christ: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (I Corinthians 4:1)
Part of the "mysteries" of which you are a steward are spiritual gifts. They are given to you by the Holy Spirit to minister effectively for Jesus: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 4:10) As a steward, you will be judged on the basis of your faithfulness to use the gifts you have been given: Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (I Corinthians 4:2)
The main passages identifying spiritual gifts are listed below. These verses introduce the various gifts:
-Romans 12:1-8 -I Corinthians 12:1-31 - Ephesians 4:1-16 -I Peter 4:7-11
Remember that these gifts are special abilities from God to minister in different ways. While there may be some evidences of these in all our lives it does not necessarily mean we have a certain gift. For example, all believers are to give to the work of the Lord with tithes and offerings. But the gift of giving is an unusual generosity prompted by the Spirit of God. All believers have a measure of faith according to the Word of God. But the gift of faith is a special ability to believe beyond that of the ordinary Christian. Some people claim that all of the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible are not for the Church today. They believe some gifts, like prophecy, tongues, miracles, etc., were only for the early Church. These people say that after the Church was established and the New Testament written, some spiritual gifts were no longer needed. They often use I Corinthians 13:10 to explain their belief:
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (I Corinthians 13:10)
They say that when the perfect revelation of God's Word was written, there was no longer a need for tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. They say that once the Church was established there was no longer a need for confirming signs and miracles. What they fail to note is that knowledge is also mentioned in the same passage as being "vanished" or done away with: Charity never faileth: but whether there are prophecies, they shall fail; whether there are languages, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it shall vanish away. (1 Corinthians 13:8)
If we use this verse to say tongues, interpretation, and prophecy are no longer needed, then we must also say knowledge is no longer needed. This passage actually refers to a future time when the "perfect" Kingdom of God is established on earth. Since what is perfect has come, we will have no need of any of the spiritual gifts then, because . And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
We will have no need of messages through prophecy, tongues, or interpretation, for we will be dwelling with the God who inspires such messages. We will have no need of the word of wisdom or knowledge, for we will be living with the source of knowledge. We will not need discerning of spirits, for there shall no wise enter into it any thing that defileth...but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:27)
In the midst of the street of it, and on each side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bore twelve kinds of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
Ephesians 4:12-15. The purposes for which the gifts were given still remain. The saints still need to be perfected; the ministry still needs to be promoted to the ends of the earth, and Christ and the Church need to be edified.
The objectives are that we will: -Be united in the faith. -Develop our knowledge of Christ. -Develop in perfection, with Christ as our model. -Become stable, not deceived by false doctrines. -Mature spiritually in Christ. God would not give spiritual gifts for these purposes and objectives and then remove them without these things being accomplished.
Are all believers united in the faith? Has everyone developed fully in the knowledge of Christ? -Are we all perfected? Are our church members stable and not being deceived by false doctrines? Are all our church members spiritually mature? "No.” For this reason we know all of the spiritual gifts are still for today. God gave spiritual gifts to accomplish certain purposes in the Church. He will not withdraw any of these gifts without these purposes being accomplished. The Bible also says that For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)
This means God will not change His mind and take back a spiritual gift or calling He has given.
I Corinthians 12 & 13 explain the "more excellent way." You can prophesy, have the gifts of healing, faith, giving, etc., but without love in using these gifts, they will not be effective.
Love used here is the Love of truth, of god, of Jesus, of the Holy Spirit and a Love enough of all these with the Word so that you will want to do all that you do and attempt to do and can do as unto the Lord with His glory and power and with Him receiving Honor and praise. Never should we attempt to do this as unto our wallets or as unto the rich or widow alike so that we may take what they have and make our coffers full and running over.
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