Speaking in Tongues
Because of false teaching in this area it is well to mention that a baptism of the Holy Spirit is not equated with speaking in unknown tongues. Jesus received a baptism of the Holy Spirit at the River Jordan and on a daily basis, yet we have no record that He spoke in tongues other than His known languages. The Apostle Paul says: “But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching” (1 Cor. 14:6)?
Taking the Name of the Holy Spirit in Vain
For every true gift there are many counterfeits. Some claim a connection to God that gives direction when they may be simply following their own impressions, thoughts and/or desires. Others misapply statements identifying the Holy Spirit as the only power that can bring about conversion, so they sit back and do nothing to win souls. They expect the Holy Spirit to do it all. There are others who claim to have received the Holy Spirit, when their lifestyle does not show the fruit of the Spirit.
Seeking an Emotional High
Though the fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy, peace, the presence of Christ, and all other blessings in its train, Holy Spirit baptism does not consist of working ourselves up to an ecstatic state. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for the purpose of witnessing, rather than rapture.
Gifts of the Spirit are Active
The gifts of the Holy Spirit, and consequently the miraculous power for witnessing, are manifested in the act of witnessing. We claim the promises and receive assurance but the power comes when we employ the gifts committed to Christ in ministry.
“None should wait in idle expectancy for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is given for service. As church members go forth at God’s bidding, the Holy Spirit comes to give efficiency and power” (RH, Dec. 11, 1888).
Holy Spirit is not given for selfish purposes
Simon Magus received a stern rebuke for trying to obtain the Holy Spirit for personal gain and to bolster his reputation as one who was considered “the great power of God” (Acts 8:9-20). Some may attempt to use their experience in the Holy Spirit to coerce others to their way of thinking or force them into carrying out their wishes. We have this inspired counsel:
“We cannot use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the Spirit God works in His people ‘to will and to do of His good pleasure,’ but many will not submit to this. They want to manage themselves” (DA, 672).
“God has poured his Spirit upon his servants, and qualified them to use their ability and talent in revealing truth to those who sit in darkness; but the very ability God has given by which to reveal truth to others, men, perverting their talents, employ to deceive; for they use their gifts as did Satan when he deceived the angels of heaven, and exalt self, causing their God-given abilities to administer to their own glory” (RH, Oct. 23, 1894 par. 6).
Clinging to sinful thoughts and practices
“Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like every other promise, it is given on conditions. There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies” (DA, 672).
Making surrender a meritorious work
It is essential to be willing to surrender every sinful attitude thought and practice in order to receive the Holy Spirit. Yet this is the point where many fail. If we could be saved simply by surrender alone we would not need a Savior. The devil may try to get us to find within ourselves some meritorious quality of surrender that recommends ourselves to God. Surrendering is not making ourselves feel surrendered, but is a choice to ask God to take over our lives. We make this choice by the exercise of faith.
“No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, un-Christ-like self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul” (COL, 159).
Practicing prayer, meditation, fasting as works to earn the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Because these practices are avenues whereby we receive the Holy Spirit the enemy will try to make us think that asceticism is a means to earn the Holy Spirit. He will try to make us focus on these a meritorious works rather than openings for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. He will try to get us to focus on our failures or victories or the foibles of others rather than the promises of God. This hinders the work of the Spirit.
Looking Within for Evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Though we must remain constantly surrendered by faith to Christ there is a danger that the enemy will try to keep us looking within to produce this condition. When we confess wrong thoughts, feelings, and desires, and ask for the mind of Christ, there is most often an instantaneous relief and infilling of the Spirit. However, the enemy will try to convince us that we would not have these feelings if we have truly received a baptism of the Holy Spirit. He will try to get those inclined toward self righteousness to form an elite holiness club and reign up all to their standard of holiness. This can be a trap. He will try to get those who have low self esteem to dwell on their faults and negative feelings and to present this as evidence that they do not have the Spirit. Notice the following statement:
‘There are toils and conflicts, self-denials and secret heart trials, for us all to meet and bear. There will be sorrow and tears for our sins; there will be constant struggles and watchings, mingled with remorse and shame because of our deficiencies”(3T, 187).