“You always resist the Holy Spirit!” –Acts 7:51
When it comes to my relationship with God, my Christian life, most of the time I’ve been focused on myself: meaning, that I’m focused on how I’m doing with God: is my conscience clean?, etc, or to consider if evil influences are coming against my spiritual growth. It’s at those times, when I consider evil influences, that my attention turns towards the people that are producing those influences; and by turning my attention to them, I tend to pray for them to change, or will preach to them, explaining what the Bible says about such an issue, usually with the same result that Jesus said would happen to those who throw pearls to swine: they turn against me and rend me to pieces with their words. And in the course of such contradictory conversations, I suppose, it becomes evident that they are pigs of the spirit, wallowing in the mud of their sins, having no desire to be washed by the water of the Word. To put it as plainly as possible, there is only one main reason why people don’t get baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit: they love their sin and have no desire to get rid of it. There are as many reasons for why people are not Spirit-baptized as there are numbers of sins. The ten commandments named the top ten sins that are the most offensive to God (Exod. 20:1-17); and I suppose it is from here that all the other specific sins, both major and minor, grow out from: the sin of paganism, the sin of idolatry, the sin of blasphemy, the sin of avoiding church or devotional activities, the sin of dishonoring parents, the sin of murder, the sin of adultery, the sin of stealing, the sin of false accusation, and the sin of jealousy for another person’s possessions.
In my personal life, I have seen a number of people, in a number of situations get trapped in any of these sins, or their offshoots, and get locked into one of them, so much so that it seemed to prevent them receiving the Holy Spirit in the fullest measure; or at least in the sense that they were capable of having Pentecostal experiences. Each person is different and that means that each one usually has that one sin that dominates over the other ones. Human minds are too simple to carry too many sins at once: it seems that its usually just one dominating sin—a sin that so easily entangles, a besetting sin—that entraps certain people, and prevents them from entering in a fully mystical life, complete with supernatural experiences, even if they are occasional. Such things as feeling the presence of God, speaking in tongues and the joy that comes from that, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, dreams and visions, the voice of God, visions of angels and demons, successful prayers for healing or casting out demons, experiences with prophecy being foretold and then seeing a fulfillment of it, even if its minor, Biblical and personal coincidences seen as signs from God, confirmations, directions, divine interventions, guidance, financial providence of a dramatic nature, etc. This whole element of the supernatural, Pentecostal, and charismatic aspects of life in the Holy Spirit are cut off from them; and I have often wondered if there are main reasons why these people don’t experience these things.
I’m inclined to think that UNBELIEF is the main reason why people don’t have supernatural experiences, which I guess is a form of pagan idolatry, and would go against the first two commandments that offend God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Unbelief puts people into a spiritually unreceptive frame of mind. That is, an unwillingness to believe, have faith in God, or trust in the Bible for what it actually says, particularly what it says about supernatural phenomena. Part of this could be unintentional, due to upbringing: 1. Liberal mainline Christians have a very rationalistic, naturalistic, materialistic, deistic, science-based view of the world; it is natural for them to give a “natural explanation” to paranormal phenomena every single time, for fear of being considered superstitious or unwise. Rudolph Bultmann is leader of this view: he popularized the idea among liberals that the supernatural things in the Bible were just legends or a kind of Judeo-Christian mythology, like the Greek myths. Since Jesus pretty much made it a rule that faith was necessary for healing and casting out demons (Mark 16), it follows that this rule of faith would apply to pretty much every other miraculous gift that could come from God to increase that level of faith. The apostles asked, “Increase our faith!” and so Jesus will for those who really mean it; but not for those who persistently take the opposite stance. 2. Scientific people who advocate scientism: “I believe in science;” those people are generally Darwinists, or atheistic evolutionists, like Richard Dawkins. They only believe in the physical world, their churches are museums of natural history, their prophets are evolutionary biologists; and since God is part of the non-physical world, they reject Him and everything spiritual. Again, it could be due to upbringing and environment, but there are also plenty of people in this category who have seen the true Gospel preached on TV and they have turned it off every time. 3. Fundamentalists, or Calvinistic evangelicals who believe in the doctrines of dispensationalism and cessationism, as taught in B. B. Warfield’s Counterfeit Miracles and John MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos. They are unwilling to accept any testimonies of miracle stories, both ancient and modern, both Catholic and Pentecostal, simply because they hold to a theological belief that the first century was the only period of time in which the miraculous gifts were experienced by people. That is, during the time of the gospels and the book of Acts. They say this because they believe God gave these gifts to authenticate the original apostles of Christ as sent from God and as being given authority to write the New Testament, such as Paul, Peter, John, etc. Although the New Testament does not state this as the reason for miraculous gifts, it is the best explanation that fundamentalists have come up with for why people never see any miracles happening in their churches today. But to point out a few holes in their belief, if only in passing, see Thomas Boys’ The Suppressed Evidence; it shows that although Augustine, Luther, and Calvin all went through periods of doubt in the supernatural works of the Holy Spirit in their lives, it also shows that later in their lives they experienced supernatural things and changed their minds. It also shows that the first Presbyterian group, known as the Covenanters and then led by John Knox, were very open to charismatic experiences, particularly visions that revealed the locations of and manners in which divine retribution against their enemies would be carried out by God. The fact that Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Knox all received supernatural experiences of the Holy Spirit at some points in their lives; and the fact that many healing testimonies are mentioned in Augustine’s City of God, book 22, chapter 8, is to basically cut down the entire tree upon which the theology of cessationism has grown.
That leaves occultists, Catholics, and Pentecostals as the remaining groups of people who experience supernatural things. I will allow that both Catholics and Pentecostals can be filled with the Holy Spirit and have miraculous gifts; but in the case of Catholic charismatics, they would have to be the types that put the Virgin Mary on the shelf of their devotional life and allow Jesus to be the center of it. When it comes to occult people, New Agers, and Wiccans, at least these people are supernaturally minded and are open to “ESP” or “psychic” experiences. They just need to embrace the Gospel and repent from witchcraft; and when they do that, they should make a pretty smooth transition into Pentecostal experiences, because they are not the types of people to just be loaded down with scientism and unbelief about the supernatural. I think in one way or another that was the category I was in when I gave my life to Christ when I was 14. I had been primed into supernatural ideas by Goosebumps books and Stephen King movies; and was fascinated by supernatural ideas, and I believed in their reality. You just have to be the mystical type to let the door swing open to these things once you come to Christ. If there’s anything keeping you from this, then it would be an area of your life you should get straight with God about.