This is a follow-up post to “Are Manifestations Really From God?” (10/09). The below question was added as a comment and I believe it is worth addressing as I have had this question posed to me more than once.
“Thank you so much for posting on this. I have been feeling red flags towards things I once just accepted as from God. But more recently, God has been teaching me what it means to measure everything by His Word. Manifestations (in the physical sense) have been one of the things that I have always blindly accepted as normal, and yet I can’t seem to find examples of these kinds of physical manifestations anywhere in the God’s Word! When I’ve questioned why I don’t see Jesus or his disciples practicing this kind of behavior, I am told that I am limiting God and putting Him in a box. One of the things that I keep hearing about lately is how physical manifestations are biblical, since the disciples behaved in a drunken manner when God’s Spirit came upon them in the book of Acts. I would love to hear what your take on this scripture is!”
I’m glad you brought that up. That is an argument I have heard others make also. What I see and hear often in groups like IHOP is the idea of building whole theologies around one verse or one isolated event and “canning it” as a justification for whatever they are wanting to defend in their words or actions. There are many reasons that the argument about why “behaving in a drunken manner is a manifestation of God’s Spirit” is a completely invalid one. I will address a few them.
First, remember that there are two specific groups of people who give a response in Acts 2 and for accuracy in reporting, both are mentioned. Group A, scripture tells us, is comprised of believing Jews from every nation (Acts 2:5). So these were observant, religious Jews who fully kept Torah. Group A takes note that each of them is hearing the apostles speaking in his own language (the languages of those present from each region). They marveled and asked how it was possible (vs. 7 & 8). Here’s the part that is often missed: Group B is made up of “others” who are there observing. [vs. 13: But others made fun of them and said, "They've just had too much wine!"]. Who makes up this group of “others” is un-told but they are clearly addressed as being a group other than and separate from the earlier mentioned group of Jews. So this is a group of mockers and naysayers standing on the sidelines. We could make many speculations but since there is no further mention of who were part of this group, assumptions would be adding to scripture what is not told to us. But we can clearly draw the fact from the passage that they were the group that was joking and mocking–not the group who was marveling and in awe that they were hearing their own native tongues being spoken by local men from the area of the Galil. (Galilee as it has been translated today)
Then Kefa (Peter in Hebrew) stands up with the eleven and quickly addresses the mocking by explaining that no one is drunk and he quiets their joking. He quickly brings a serious tone to the situation and explains what is happening. Now let me back up and address the drunkenness issue. Consider what these others (who clearly don’t know the languages being spoken) are observing: men speaking earnestly in a language they have never heard which would have made no sense to them who are full of joy and celebration. The fact that they weren’t understanding what they were hearing but saw these men testifying joyfully to what God had done is enough to have made them judge that the men had been drinking.
Now having said that, read again the paragraph below from Mike Bickle’s book “Growing in the Prophetic” and you tell me if these behaviors can be put in the same category of what the apostles were doing when the Ruach (spirit) of God came upon them:
“Shaking, jerking, loss of bodily strength, heavy breathing, eyes fluttering, lips trembling, oil on the body, changes in skin color, weeping, laughing, ‘drunkenness,’ staggering, travailing, dancing, falling, visions, hearing audibly into the spirit realm, inspired utterances (that is, prophecy), tongues, interpretation; angelic visitations and manifestations; jumping, violent rolling, screaming, wind, heat, electricity, coldness, nausea as discernment of evil, smelling or tasting good or evil presences, tingling, pain in the body as discernment of illnesses, feeling heavy weight or lightness, trances (altered physical state while seeing and hearing into the spirit world), inability to speak normally and disruption of the natural realm (for example, electrical circuits blown).” (Growing in the Prophetic, op. cit., pg. 209)
Do you see the difference?
When the spirit of God came upon people they shared the good news of the gospel, were healed of illnesses and physical handicaps and were made completely whole. Over and over there are accounts which clearly illustrate what is of the spirit of God and what is from the evil one (Satan). Violent shaking, falling into fire, foaming at the mouth, barking, gnashing, etc. were the effects of demonic manifestation when the Lord (or his followers) cast demons out.
As a disclaimer I want to mention that I am not saying that every time someone dances before the Lord or feels the love of God envelop them that they are experiencing a manifestation of the demonic. Keep in mind that when the Lord healed someone it was not to draw attention to himself–it was to bring praise and glory to the Father. He discouraged people from telling others and often asked them to keep it quiet and tell no one when they received a healing. Is this the same attitude and approach that accompany barking, shrieking and rolling on the floor? What does this activity communicate? Is it drawing attention to self or does it glorify and give praise and honor to the Father? What does this behavior produce in the life of the one who participates in it? Is a sign of healing and freedom to shake and convulse or see gold dust on your hands? Think about it and ask the spirit to lead you into what is true–not what you’ve been to conditioned to accept as truth simply because a ministry endorses it.
I’ve heard criticisms such as “to say that these things are not of the spirit of G-d is blaspheming the spirit so you’d better be careful in making that claim.” Knowing what I know to be true of the G-d I serve…the G-d who looks at the heart and knows the thoughts & intentions of all men…I know that He knows my heart and what I intend by what I say. I would caution that the real danger is to attribute to G-d such things as loss of bodily control, meditative trances, contemplative transcendental meditation, etc. A true blasphemy of the spirit of G-d is to insult the L-rd by attributing actions and manifestations to Him that are not of Him at all. Would that not be a far more grieving action than to avoid what does not bear the fruit or characteristics of being from Him? If the Lord knows your heart and knows that your desire is to serve Him in truth and purity of heart and so you withdraw from and stay away from that which you do not believe glorifies Him, is that not what guarding your heart is also about? We are called as believers to walk blameless and holy (set apart) lives before G-d which do not look like the pagan and self-gratifying practices of the world around us. So then, being entangled in things that are clearly part of the occult, spirit-ism, pantheism, new age, humanism, etc. that have infiltrated our culture (including religious cultures) is the very thing we are to guard against.
Let us choose to live lives that are set apart from the practices of the world so that we may glorify the Father with our words, actions and the thoughts of our heart.
Blessings to you!