Misconceptions about Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

What exactly does being “filled with the Holy Spirit” mean and how does it affect my everyday life? How do I know if I am filled or not? Can the Spirit be depleted within me so that I periodically need a refill, and how do I get it?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12032

Ellen White learned this lesson well since she herself had once participated in meetings that probably rivaled a concert at a club in terms of noise and confusion.

So true. God ensures the gospel message is simple enough for end time people with comparatively degenerated brains- even through multiple generations and translations. Some feel that by deciphering and understanding bible scripture related to end time prophecy concerning worldly events that they will be among the ‘wise’ mentioned in Daniel 12:10. Jesus said what we should expect in the world before He returned, warned of false prophets and messiahs and told of how He will arrive when He comes back. Some people get so hyped up about end time events that they are distracted from focusing on what Jesus instructs us to do.

1 Like

Small correction: “distracted from focusing on what Jesus instructs us to be.” This seems to be a culmination of a life lived; and that, too, is the working of the HS.

By focusing on the “end time” we tend to ignore the fact that the end just might come for each of us before all this blows up - at which point all the calculations and timelines become meaningless.


How did she anticipate? Impressed by visions or influenced by L. B. Coles and J. C. Gunn? Later is obvious! They spoke about nerves and brain long before her.


In my opinion this claim that God is limited in his communication to humanity only through the "brain nerves” does not represent the whole-body ministry of the Spirit. Scriptures say that “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19). “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you ? (1Cor 3:16). This concept that limits God’s communication to our “brain nerves” leaves millions of damaged brains and prescriptions or drug induced dull minds, away from God’s communication.


Nevertheless, the body functions only through the brain. Nerves, emanating from the brain gives sensation and movement to the body. God can impact our brains, commensurate with the capacity and function of our brains. Without the brains, there is only muscle, sinew, and bone - a collection of organic material - inaminate and disconnected cells incapable of life.

This concept is contrary to Scriptures, which says our “bodies” are temples for the Holy Spirit. The body includes the mind, the heart which is our entire body. Let’s not limit the influence of the Spirit to just our brain nerves. This is not Biblical and makes no sense.

1 Like

This statement is the opposite of what Martin Luther taught, in his book called “Bondage of the Will” (1525).

“No one can achieve salvation or redemption through their own will power—people do not choose between good or evil, because they are naturally dominated by evil, and salvation is simply the product of God unilaterally changing a person’s heart and turning them to good ends…”

Is there a doctor in the house? The entire body functions through our brain - ie: the nervous system. The brain controls through different nerve pathways that run through the spinal cord. If the entire bundle of nerves is cut, you die. There are three types of nerves that run through the spine - motor - controls movement.This is why when you break your neck you become paralyzed from the neck down. There is also sensory nerves that control touch, smell, , taste, pain. The third is the autonomic system that control involuntary systems like the heart rate and breathing.

You do realize when the Bible talks about the body being a temple of the HS it’s symbolic for the idea that the HS controls your life.


You’re taking about, what might be called, a spiritual experience. Yes, the brain is also responsible for that; but physically speaking, the brain runs the body. Try living without the bundle of nerves that runs through the spine. All this brings up the identity of, what’s called, the Holy Spirit. Therein lies the problem.

Following the Bible, the OT doesn’t recognize the HS as an entity. They believed in 'monotheism". The idea that God is made up of three “persons” is a later addition into the NT. It appears only once, and is designated in the margin, as not being part of the original version of the book of 1John.

You must be familiar with the “Johannine Comma,” (1John 5) as it’s called. The history of this statement is actually quite sordid. Originally it (Greek manuscript) states: There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three are one. The Latin Vulgate changed that to read: There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are one. The oldest manuscripts say nothing about “Father, Word, Spirit” being in heaven or earth. The Trinity, as three separate entities, has a murky history.

Regardless, the human body is a collection of different kinds of tissues - all controlled, and are dependant on, the brain function. The brain is also responsible for our emotions and abilities. If I am to believe the HS, as a PERSON of some kind, enters my body tissues, makes no spiritual sense. Even God (Him/Her…self) is described as being SPIRIT, aside, what we talk about as the HS. To make dogma out of all this, is what doesn’t make sense. My faith does not depend on a GOD - a very old version of ourselves, with white hair (a human sign of getting old), sitting on a throne in a heavenly throne room; and a younger version of ourselves, God’s Son; and one other PERSON that is able to multiply HIMELF by a gazillion, to inhabit gazillion human bodies.

1 Like


I lost your post??

I think of the HS as on human terms. When my mom died I was Junior in college. It was difficult at the time; but I felt her with me throughout my life - NO, not as some etherial ghostly being. I had known her love and care for me, as well as her hopes and dreams. My aim has always been not to disappoint her and her influence on me. You could say her spirit has been within me. When Jesus was preparing to leave, that is when he promised the HS. I see it in the same way. It’s too ghoulish to picture another identity actually coming into my being. In any case, right or wrong - my salvation doesn’t depend on my visual pictures of God or His Spirit.


1 Like

I’m convinced that life, or at least some form of proto-consciousness, is possible even when there is no physical component to the cosmos.

I can’t prove that idealism is superior to, or supersedes materialism, however, as mind and matter may very well evolve in lockstep with each other.

But I don’t want to argue about it-and I’ve read enough scripture to know that it lags science by about 2,000 years-so I deleted my previous comment.

After having said what I did, you might be surprised to hear that I agree with you. On the physical level it is what it is; however, matter is just another form of energy. Anything is possible, and probably is.

1 Like

That to me this is the whole purpose of living a healthy lifestyle. The brain is part of the body and anything done in the rest of the body will affect it. I believe the Holy Spirit is in those with physical handicaps and helps them adapt and improve to the best of their ability and does so with mental illness.

An interesting experience that shed some light on this for me was a letter I read from a murderer in prison. He had killed because of voices in his head telling him to do so. When he became converted and understood his condition, he said the voices were still there at times, but he knew the truth and did not take them seriously or focus on them. He adapted and gradually improved as a believer in Jesus.

As for the nature of the Holy Spirit, or even Trinity, believing theologians have been trying to figure it out for thousands of years, and I don’t think any of us have the capacity to do that either. As Genesis uses the term “we” in the creation story, God sounds like a family that made humans in that image. In the NT Jesus talks to His Father in heaven, indicating a being in a different place. The Holy Spirit sounds like a being or energy (like the breeze) that can be anywhere God directs.

If demons can enter the brain as in the NT, why not a Holy Spirit? That is how they described it, and all illness comes from the original sin as portrayed in Eden.

I know that God and Satan are in a battle, and both have entities or energy forces who carry out their differing agendas. But those of Satan are weaker. The Bible says we can reject the Holy Spirit and this grieving of the Spirit is the unforgivable sin. We lose that communication.

1 Like

…whatever anyone wants it to say.

Full stop.


This article fails to recognize that “filled with the Spirit” is a metaphor. It totally ignores other metaphors associated with the Holy Spirit. It ignores the metaphor of “paracletos,” something that exists at our side, not inside us. It ignores other metaphors such as external tongues of fire at Pentecost and an external dove at Christ’s baptism. Any attempt to define the workings of the Holy Spirit is like trying to define the indefinable. Even the Bible writers could not specifically define it and therefore resorted to metaphors. It is better to admit we cannot define God.


Seems you’ve made a good case for apophatic theology, @milton007, which I interpret it to be acknowledgment of the fact that god is at once knowable but also ineffable, in which case perhaps the best way to describe her is to say what she is not.

And yes, to me apophatism implies that our maker is neither a man, nor inherently masculine.

I heard Joe Rogan say recently that it makes no sense to think we were created by a father-type deity as any observation of nature conclusively demonstrates that until very recently, it has never been the male of the species that gives birth to new life!

So who knows who the self-proclaimed, and obviously insecure god of the OT might be, but it seems pretty obvious that he’s not who he says he is and doesn’t have any of the creative superpowers he attributes to himself!



Point well made Bruce. Ascribing gender to God, in addition to any other anthropomorphism, is a human effort to describe the indescribable. The expression “man made in the image of God” belongs to ancient folklore.

1 Like

It is a Jewish tradition that the first Adam was made in God’s image. I prefer the Christian tradition i.e., the second Adam was made in man’s image. Paul brilliantly transfers the focus from the manhood of Adam to the manhood of Jesus.

This is actually one of the biblical myths I’d like to keep.

Not because it leads to the idea that men and women are all-powerful and eternally egotistical but for just the opposite reason; it humanizes our maker and means that he, she or it is as emotionally fragile, temporally constrained and prone to making mistakes as our parents were and we are.

In other words, maybe we understand god best by understanding our own weaknesses and if so, how about paraphrasing that old ‘Stones song, and try showing a little “Sympathy for The Creator”?