Is being slain in the Spirit a godly experience?

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By BibleAsk Team


Slain in the Spirit

The phenomenon of being “slain in the Spirit” is a controversial aspect of certain Christian traditions, particularly within charismatic and Pentecostal circles. This experience, characterized by individuals falling to the ground wallowing and muttering under the power of the Holy Spirit, has garnered staunch critics within the Christian community. While proponents argue that it represents a profound encounter with God’s presence, skeptics contend that it lacks biblical support and may even lead to deception. This critique will examine the practice of being “slain in the Spirit” from a biblical perspective, drawing upon scriptural references to evaluate its validity and implications.

  1. Lack of Biblical Precedent:

One of the primary objections to the practice of being “slain in the Spirit” is the absence of explicit biblical examples or instructions regarding such an experience. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, instances of individuals encountering the Holy Spirit are indeed documented, but none parallel the phenomenon observed in modern charismatic gatherings.

For instance, in the book of Acts, believers are filled with the Holy Spirit and exhibit manifestations such as speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4) and prophesying (Acts 19:6). However, there are no instances where individuals are depicted as falling unconscious or being involuntarily overcome by the Spirit’s power.

Furthermore, when examining encounters with God or angelic beings in the Bible, such as those experienced by prophets like Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-8) or John the Apostle (Revelation 1:17), there is no indication that they were rendered unconscious or physically incapacitated by the presence of God. Instead, these encounters resulted in awe, reverence, and a deep sense of humility before the divine presence.

In light of this, critics argue that the practice of being “slain in the Spirit” lacks a biblical foundation and may potentially be a result of psychological suggestion, emotional manipulation, and counterfeit spiritual experiences.

The reason God gives us His Spirit is to restore in us His image-not to rob us of all dignity and self control. “For God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). God is not a Being who either has in Himself or produces disorder, disunion, discord, or confusion. The true worship of God will not result in disorder of any kind. No one who is submissive to the leading of the Holy Spirit will be called to engage in scenes of disorder and confusion.

The worshiper will be ready to express his love and gratitude to God in prayer and testimony, but he will express it with seriousness, tenderness, and a genuine respect for the maintenance of order in the house of God, and not with a desire to interrupt and disturb the dignified worship of God.

The idea that Christians lose control when they receive the Spirit is not in harmony with Scripture. For “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:32). True prophets had control over their own minds and could speak or remain silent at will. Inspiration does not take away individuality and free choice. The human agent expresses, in his own way and thought, the truths that have been revealed to him.

The pagan prophets of Baal on mount Carmel jumped, moaned and cut themselves. By contrast, Elijah quietly knelt and prayed reverently (1 Kings 18:17-46). When Jesus healed the berserk, demon-possessed man by the sea, the man was seen later “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind” (Luke 8:35). God gives the faithful the spirit of sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) that is, good sense that keeps faithful Christians from the extremes of fanaticism and wrong practices.

  1. Potential for Deception:

Another concern raised regarding the phenomenon of being “slain in the Spirit” is the potential for deception or manipulation within charismatic and Pentecostal settings. Critics assert that the lack of discernment and accountability in some contexts may lead individuals to attribute certain experiences to the Holy Spirit without adequate biblical scrutiny.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul warns about false apostles and deceitful workers who disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). He emphasizes the importance of testing the spirits to discern whether they are from God (1 John 4:1). God does not expect the believer to be naive; indeed, He gives the church the gift of distinguishing between true and false spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). The messages of preachers who claim to be speaking for God must be tested by the the Scriptures.

Moreover, Jesus Himself cautions His disciples about the rise of false christs and false prophets who will perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24). This underscores the need for spiritual discernment and biblical grounding in evaluating supernatural manifestations claimed to be from God.

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul provides guidelines for orderly worship in his first letter to the Corinthians, emphasizing the importance of edification, understanding, and accountability within the church community (1 Corinthians 14:26-40). Practices that lead to confusion or disorder are to be avoided, as they do not align with the character of God.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the phenomenon of being “slain in the Spirit” presents significant theological and practical challenges within Christian discourse. While proponents may point to subjective experiences and testimonies as evidence of its authenticity, critics argue that the lack of explicit biblical precedent and the potential for deception warrant caution and discernment.

As believers, it is essential to test all spiritual experiences and manifestations against the standard of God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 5:21). While encounters with the Holy Spirit can indeed be profound and transformative, they should align with biblical principles of truth, order, and discernment.

Ultimately, the practice of being “slain in the Spirit” raises important questions about the nature of spiritual experiences, the role of emotions and suggestibility, and the need for accountability and discernment within the body of Christ. It is incumbent upon believers to prayerfully seek wisdom and guidance from Scripture as they navigate these complex issues of faith and practice.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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