What Does It Mean to Live in the Holy Spirit?

Hi, friends. In my Sunday School class, we are reading a Pentecostal book on the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), though our denomination is Methodist. In the chapter on joy, the authors speak of being filled with the Holy Spirit as being akin to a wave of electricity. I found that description debateable.

If the Holy Spirit has ever emboldened or impassioned you in a dramatic way, praise be to God! But the analogy between the Holy Spirit and a literal wave of electricity was drastic enough that I felt compelled to add my two cents.

I responded that yes, the Spirit is a powerful force, but their analogy makes the Holy Spirit seem inaccessibly mystical. I believe that fantastical descriptions can discourage believers; those comparisons make people think that they haven’t encountered the Holy Spirit if they don’t have an intense, borderline-miraculous experience to share.

Living in the Spirit is a lifestyle that we choose over and over, every day. Seeking God’s Spirit is a discipline. It is the manifestation of “praying without ceasing.” It is deliberately thinking “Lord, guide my steps” in all the little situations of the day–

  • when a family member/friend/coworker/etc. talks our ears off
  • when a coworker or customer is rude
  • when we get behind someone driving slowly
  • when someone’s riding our bumper
  • when the stress is about to make us explode
  • when we get annoyed with our significant other
  • when our significant other is annoyed with us
  • when we have the opportunity to do someone a favor

“Lord, give me patience.”

“Lord, give me self-control.”

“Lord, help me forgive.”

“Lord, help me be bold to share my faith.”

“Lord, make me a servant.”

Above all the fruits of the Spirit is love, and in all these instances, the root of the prayer is to make us more loving.

Living in the Spirit is living out God’s love. That love feels like an electric wave sometimes when it “hits” us through some epiphany, such as hearing a worship song that stirs us deep inside, feeling like the preacher is speaking directly to us, suddenly having a moment of perfect clarity where we see our own sin, etc.

But living in the Spirit in practical terms is a simple surrendering to His will, over and over, every day.

Thanks for reading! How would you describe living in the Spirit? What is your take on the comparison to a wave of electricity? Let me know in the comments.

51 comments

  1. I have had several waves. During a very bad wreck the car felt like it was going so slow, I thought God was deciding if I lived or died. Once I left the hospital it all hit me, I could hardly believe I came so close. Not quite the example but it was an earth shattering moment for me.
    The most moving was holding my grannies head as she was dying, I said take God’s hand it’s time to go home. I could feel her hand being taken away from mine. God touched me in that moment.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It is interesting for me to note the parallel between what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5 about Be Filled with the Spirit and what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:
    “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
    In both passages Paul write about psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. This indicates that in Paul’s mind there is a connection between our minds being filled with the Word of God and Being Filled with the Spirit. Our faith is not only experiential. It is based on God’s word.

    The Holy Spirit is a person not an it force. Jesus used words like helper, counselor, comforter in reference to the Holy Spirit. There are small ways the Holy Spirit interacts with us such as that twinge of conscious, someone coming to mind to pray for and contact, a bible verse coming to mind to encourage for a few examples.

    I don’t doubt that there are powerful moments too. My concern is to seek the giver not the gift. Following Jesus is not about a thrill ride of experience. It is about following him in obedience under the guidance of our other helper the Holy Spirit.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I love everything you said! Good point that the Holy Spirit is not simply a force, he/she/it is a person. It makes me think about the language I use to talk about the Holy Spirit; I see that my thinking has subtly been influenced by the way others dramatize the Spirit as if experiencing the Spirit really is a thrill ride. As you said–we should focus on the giver, not the gift. I also like how you point out the connection between God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. I can personally testify to that connection because a million scales fell from my eyes when I started reading the Bible for real rather than just going to church with no real personal commitment to pursuing God.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. His spirit is quiet and whispers every nano minute. As we praise and worship He will give us His Joy as each knows him. No one is alike, we are unique and He touches us thus. :))

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great question! I have felt the electric wave of God overwhelm me. I grew up in the Assembly of God denomination, but didn’t have any encounter until my mid-twenties. It was incredible and it is available to all.

    The other side of the coin that is so incredibly important for Christian living is knowing that no matter how I FEEL, God is with me. The Holy Spirit is given and indwelling in me right now. It doesn’t matter if I feel like death warmed over after a bad night of sleep. It doesn’t matter if I’m discouraged. God is with me.

    Yes, I love the dramatic encounters I’ve had, but I love the faithfulness of God at all times.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Awesome! It is such a great point that God is with us regardless of how we feel. That’s one reason why it is tragic to me when Christians do not read their Bibles; if we are not grounded in truths and promises, we are more likely to be dictated by our feelings–did the preacher make me feel convicted today? Do I feel like God is close or distant? Did the worship song make me feel good? A bit of a tangent but now I have a post idea. 🙂

      In the meantime, I will stay open to the electric-wave-esque experiences. Thanks for your comment, Sullivan.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. With time I’ve come to focus on the cross. The suffering of Jesus as a substitute for sinners, to give life through faith. The experiences that can occur, the feelings we have, they never mean more than faith in the finished work of the cross.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi Lily. An interesting question, and I love the way you’ve answered it. In fact, while I was reading this I was reminded of the hymn ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’. I have reblogged this article on Introverted Evangelist and have added a video of the hymn. I hope you don’t mind?

    I developed a relationship with the Holy Spirit after being brought to a very low place by the world. The Spirit brought happiness to my life. Now everytime I turn to the Holy Spirit that same happy feeling is brought right back to me, and this is indeed something which needs to be shared with that world which deals out stress and pain.

    Hallelujah, God is truly with us and it feels marvellous!!! God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lily very well said as always. I can’t say I have felt the electric wave my self but I do know the feeling of the Holy Spirit in my own way. The peace I feel when Roy is in the Hospital, when things may not be going just right or even when we are Blessed with answered Prayers. I could go on but I know you get the picture.. I have a Peace inside knowing the God is always there for us every day always..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I feel a physical reaction from the Holy Spirit it does have a warmth, static like feeling for me, but I so agree with you, everyone has different experiences. And you’re right, we cannot simply relish His response to us because it is about how we respond to Him (living in Him as you rightly pointed out) which is the most important. The intimacy we have with Him is meant to be a private manner, and by no means would I encourage anyone to experience the Lord the way I do because I’m me, but I’m not them. Maybe God has another plan for them.

    I think everyone wants God’s positivity to be radiating throughout them in some form degree (love in every way) but we must make sure we do not make His power a separate idol of ours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true that our response to God is more important than how He responds to us. That may be an oversimplification since His will trumps ours, but it reminds me of something I’ve heard about worship services–instead of asking what we got out of the service, we should ask ourselves what we brought to the service. We are meant to participate in a relationship with God–seeking Him, wrestling w/ Him, loving Him–rather than just be church spectators. When we are spectators of Christianity, we tend to make idols because our hearts aren’t in the right place–with this issue and with issues you’ve been discussing lately!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I definitely get what you are saying. I can’t say anything He gives me is less important than anything I do. But I think it’s crucial we know how we are looking at His responses. Is it something that sadly becomes about us? Or, does it become something more about, I want more of this because I love Him. I desire more so others can meet Him and know Him intimately. ❤

        I was seeing some parallels in you were talking about to posts God has been putting on my heart 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  8. The electricity description raises a red flag for me. Those red flags, or checks in the spirit, as you also felt, are another way the H Spirit works, in my opinion and experience.

    I fell into some gnostic/mystical thinking about a decade ago. I started down that path after a stranger spoke a ‘word of knowledge’ to me about how I could heal from my child abuse (I hadn’t told anyone other than my husband about the abuse, and this strange woman knew all about the abuse without me telling he — so I presumed that the message had come from God and I ‘listened’ to the woman’s advice. Now I am not so quick to call whatever it was that happened -‘from God’, now I ‘know’ to test the spirits before I believe them, even if they say things no one else could know.) But at the time, I didn’t know better, so I listened to her teaching to me. In time, as I progressed into the things she had told me to do to ‘heal’, I kept having checks in my spirit and eventually stopped and did a u-turn. I am now very leery of a lot of what is called ‘Holy Spirit’ movements or attempts at healing. Anyway, gnostic/mystical/charismatic movements are pretty big into the laying on of hands and being slain in the spirit (things I find suspect), and ‘electrical currents’ is one of the common ways the energy, which is passed back and forth, is described within such movements.

    To sort out what had happened to me, I read a lot of writing at a blog called ‘M’Kayla’s Korner’, she talks about coming out of something similar, wherein she believed she was a ‘prophetic seer’ working through the healing rooms movement (John G Lake originally started it, I think). Another favorite of mine is Warren B Smith, a former New Ager, he has a really interesting testimony of coming out of a lot of mystical ‘stuff’ and finding God’s truth through reading the Bible and applying it.

    Anyway, back to the point of the fruits of the spirit — I think you are on the right track in your assessment. The Holy Spirit working in our lives is often subtle, the still small ‘knowing’, having a check in our spirit regarding a ‘teaching’, are some ways I find He speaks to me.

    Regarding the fruits of the spirit in Galatians, someone in our Bible study shared that those are not so much instructions for ‘us’ they are the attributes of God Himself. It blew me away to have it put that way. God is loving, patient, gentle, slow to anger, full of self control, etc. When we focus on how good He is and on His qualities, it has the effect of us not focusing near as much on ‘me’ and when we understand Him better, we end up being more like Him as a natural spiritual outworking, rather than a point of flesh filled effort.

    Hope that made sense, I was trying to be brief, but felt it important to say something about the electricity thing, since you asked!! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing some background on the gnostic viewpoints and your own experience! I have read a bit about gnosticism in the totally different context of discussing Jesus’s physical resurrection from death and why that is so crucial to Christianity. I can see the connection between gnosticism and becoming a bit, err, overly-obsessed with the Spirit as a mystical force. I am glad you helped me learn a little more about that. You should post about that experience! [Link me the post if you already have]

      I love what you said about the fruits of the Spirit simply being the attributes of God. When we pursue God, it seems natural that we would become more like Him. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will let you know if I write that post!

        Yes, I have read things on that as well (regarding Gnostic beliefs)–re: the physicality of Jesus. The fact that after His resurrection the Bible records Him cooking and eating fish, and Thomas touches His body. It seems those specific details are significant and may have been included in the gospel accounts to counteract the early gnostic beliefs. i.e. Jesus was not a ghost or spirit but the ‘first fruits’–the first human to be resurrected from the dead; walking around in a glorified human body. For that reason I am a little leery of ‘visions’ of Jesus or visualizing Him because when He returns it will be as a real person visible to the whole world; not as a ghost appearing to ‘a select few’ (with ‘enough faith’ to ‘see’ Him)

        I have also been listening to a lot of Patrick Doyle videos (he is a Christian counselor and childhood trauma survivor) — something I recently heard him say about the Holy Spirit also struck me. He said that according to Scripture the Holy Spirit was sent to earth to ‘convict the world of sin’ — and to comfort us –so the main roles of Holy Spirit are: conviction and comfort. Whereas, (according to Doyle), people can ‘fake’ the fruits of the spirit, it is far harder to fake conviction of sin.

        I was like ‘AHA!’ that’s SIMPLE enough 😍

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes! The Holy Spirit is a person. Just like any person, we connect with Him in different ways. But it’s also important to remember that the Holy Spirit is still a Spirit. And we connect with Him on a spiritual level, not on a human level, as one connects to a physical person. That being said, sometimes we feel Him spiritually in different ways. And at times it comes in what some would say an “electric” feeling. Others may describe it differently. How people experience the physical presence of the Holy Spirit “feels” different for all people. The issue comes when people use their words to interpret their experience and say that is how it’s supposed to be for all people.

    Does the author of the book feel the Holy Spirit in that “electric” way often? Possibly so. But that is the relationship the author has with the Holy Spirit. It will not look or feel the same way for everyone. This is the liberty we have in having a personal relationship with God. The heart of the author is, I have an amazing experience with the Holy Spirit, and I want others to feel this amazing ness too.

    But like many have said, no matter how you feel, whether it is an overwhelming experience or not, we are still to seek Him with all our heart and desire to be filled with the Spirit to ultimately to love God and love people. This is not an experience it is a lifestyle. Some people search for experiences, and God may give them an experience. But the experience should lead you to give your all to Him. Not to seek out only experiences. Some people do just seek that, and it does not sustain them. Our desire should be to walk in the fruit of the Holy Spirit, to love God, and love people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You make a good point, Rachel, that we can experience the Spirit in different ways, and a quiet whisper is no more or less valid than an electric wave, as long as we are seeking Him with a genuine heart. As you said, we should be seeking God rather than seeking experiences because an experience is just a by-product of what really matters–the intimate and individual relationship. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I wouldn’t say it is an electrical experience. It’s like how God is described in His Word, a Consuming Fire. A power that can only be described as otherworldly. It’s how through Jesus, all of the Apostles in Acts were able to do the miracles they performed. The such is still accessible today. Only if we truly loved Jesus enough.

    It’s awesome you’re studying Pentecostal books. I don’t believe in denomination, but there’s a lot of useful things to learn from from the Pentecostals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that you are implying that we could miraculously heal people if we believed more. Feel free to elaborate your opinion on that because it is a tough question for me whether humans could perform miracles today.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not the humans that heal, it’s the love and faith much like that of Abraham had. He wanted God to use him. Every time God called, Abraham said, “Here am I”.

        If we loved Jesus enough, and truly prayed, asked, seeked and knocked for Him, for His wisdom, knowledge and understanding in all things, we could be like the Apostles of the beginning of the church and be used by God for healings and miracles. The reason these things aren’t happening today is because we’ve collectively fallen away from God and no longer love and obey Him as Abraham and the Apostles did.

        Remember, the Book of Acts is a book that doesn’t end with Amen. Signifying it still remains to this day.

        Like

  11. Not sure how to explain this, but I do agree we can over mystify the Holy Spirit so much so we can’t even see him at work. As Christians we over-spiritualize we don’t even realize what we are doing. We don’t even realize the Holy Spirit is God.

    Living in the Spirit is having a relationship with God and agreeing to do what God asks us to do. it is not a feeling, some cloud in the sky experience and then its over. Jesus said, ” You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”John 15:14-15.

    Think about that for a while, and then asks yourself this question, ” who is this unseen person or voice speaking to me about God’s word and who is the voice encouraging me to seek God. Well, it’s Jesus, He said he will reveal his secrets to his friends if you do what he commands.

    The Holy Spirit is Jesus, and Jesus is God, the promise of the Holy Spirit is not God sending someone else to be with you, the language is God saying to us ” I will be with you.” The Holy Spirit is not another person, he is God presently speaking with us and doing what he commands is living in the Spirit.

    For understanding sake, I also say to you, ” we can in no way live in the Spirit, we can only obey the Spirit or obey God” The language in should be translated obey because we will better understand those things that are happening around us.

    Sound unscriptural doesn’t it, but think about it, how do we see God, we see him by the things he does and manifest and those things we see around us is because of the presence of God who is with us walking with us; talking with us. When we obey him we together with Christ are fulfilling his will. So it’s not Christ in us, but Christ with us working together to accomplish his will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your clarification, brother. We tend to oversimplify some things and overcomplicate others. You do a good job of breaking down the point that the Holy Spirit is God, and we simply choose whether or not to obey the Spirit–nothing mystical about it.

      Like

  12. For what it’s worth, I think your description and explanation is spot on. Living in the Spirit is really the Spirit of Christ living in and through me as seen by the Spirit’s fruit being manifested in my everyday living.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree that sometimes speaking too boldly about experiencing the Holy Spirit can scare or even worry Christians that they are doing something wrong. And yes I agree that there are normal everyday applications of the power of the Holy Spirit that everyone can relate to. I spent many years in a church during my teens that made fun of churches that encouraged the movement of the Holy Spirit. I use to stay clear of these churches. I am now a member of one of these churches. There have been times during service that I can feel a difference in the atmosphere. It’s really unexplainable except to say that it was undeniable that the Holy Spirit was making His presence know.

    One thing that I’ve learned is that we can not put Him in a box and say that because I haven’t experienced it, He doesn’t move in this way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing. Good point that we shouldn’t put Him in a box, bottom line. I try not to write off people’s experiences because, who am I to say that someone’s experience was real or not?

      Like

  14. I’ve always thought about it like this:
    I am a fallable human being, and my natural impulses are generally selfish. I try to remember that the Fruits of the Spirit are just that – the SPIRIT. Not me. But the Spirit lives within me as a follower of Christ. So there is, to me, a somewhat supernatural, mystical line of thinking that I have to allow my shallow mind to relax into to tap into those “fruits”. Recognizing that, yes, I can make conscious choices to be a better, more loving person, but if I try to do this on my own, without tapping into the strength of the “true vine”, as it were, my efforts alone will always fail.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Reading your post and some of the comments has been beneficial and inspiring. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to read all the comments. Yet it seems nobody said what I wanted to say. I want to linger a little with the picture of electricity. My experience of electricity is that when I plug in, I can switch on my light or I even can get my computer started. My radio works when it receives sufficient electricity. Sometimes when I have switched on a light there has been a sudden unusual experience: A brief flashing and a strange sound, yet after that my lamp remained dark.

    So it seems to me electricity (or the working of the Holy Spirit) should be measured by its results. When my computer works properly – there may be no unusual excitement, but it is evident that there is sufficient supply with electricity. Unusual emotions may or may not occur. But most happy with my computer when it works properly.

    So I believe the joy – as a fruit of the Holy Spirit – also is meant to become a steady experience in our lives. You can be quietly joyful through the power of the Holy Spirit. There will be times when we feel especially happy. Yet the Holy Spirit would help us retain some of this happiness for everyday living.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Amazing post Lily!
    I describe living in the Holy Spirit with next episode from my life.
    I was a manager of Job center in Sofia. We had a disability center too and worked with many organizations. We contacted Joni and friends , created by Joni Eareckson Tada. She is incredible woman and she help us to give 100 free wheelchairs to Bulgarian people. I read some of her wonderful books and saw her beautiful paintings.
    Glory to Jesus!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I want to share this with you. The same day when I wrote my comment for your post I met Nely. She is a woman with disability who worked at our Center. She gave me the book Joni. I had not met her 5-6 years. This is so wonderful!

        Liked by 1 person

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