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To the best of my knowledge and understanding, access to the power of the Holy Spirit is an essential and distinctive attribute and privilege of Christians. People from other religions, as well as agnostics and atheists, do not have access to this power. Therefore, it stands to reason that a Christian who is empowered by the Holy Spirit in this unique, privileged way would manifest this reality in ways that would set him/her apart from the rest of the world.

Question: How does the power of the Holy Spirit manifest in Christians, as opposed to everybody else who lacks this power? What are unique and distinctive features through which the power of the Holy Spirit becomes evident and manifest in the lives of Christians, in ways that non-Christians cannot imitate or achieve, at least to the same degree?


Appendix - passages that talk about the power of the Holy Spirit / the power of the Gospel / the power of God

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; (Romans 15:18-19 ESV)

4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor 2:4-5 ESV)

19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Cor 4:19-20 ESV)

11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Cor 12:11 ESV)

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. (Luke 4:14 ESV)

8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:8 ESV)

5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:5 ESV)


Related questions

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  • 3
    Repentance, faith, obedience, mercy, grace, restraint, self-control. What other sorts of thing are you asking for ?
    – Nigel J
    Nov 20, 2021 at 20:18
  • 1
    @NigelJ - Are you suggesting that people in other religions cannot develop the same virtues? Can't Buddhists develop mercy or self-control through their meditations, for example? Nov 20, 2021 at 20:20
  • 3
    Yes indeed. That is what I am saying.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 20, 2021 at 20:21
  • 1
    @NigelJ - Would you say that Matthieu Ricard cannot develop the same level of love as a Christian, despite the countless hours he has spent practicing loving kindness and compassion meditation and his dedication to altruistic humanitarian work? Nov 20, 2021 at 20:25
  • 4
    Yes indeed. That is what I am saying.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 20, 2021 at 20:46

3 Answers 3

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This seems to be a variety of a question often asked by atheists, "What is a good thing that only people who believe in God can do?"

Although not without its own legitimate purpose, I think the question is somewhat misguided given the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:23-30). The Church may declare certain beliefs orthodox and certain behaviors 'Christ-like', but it will ultimately be God who knows the heart of all humanity.

In this age, people claiming to be Spirit-filled Christians are capable of unimaginable good, as well as unspeakable evil. A better and more helpful question would be whether people who come to Christ and are filled by the Spirit, experience a genuinely miraculous change. I think there is ample evidence of this.

  1. Trust in Jesus. 2 Corinthians 2:6-10 describes the mystery that is Christ's incarnation and consequently the death and resurrection of the co-equal Son of God. As a Gen-Z Christian who often struggles with doubts, I do not think that apart from the Spirit's work in my heart and mind that I could genuinely believe and find comfort in the idea that the infinite God took on finite flesh.

  2. Deeds of power. James 5:15 instructs sick believers to ask for prayer from Elders (Spirit-filled, mature believers). Both in Biblical times and today, healings in the name of Jesus, though in my experience uncommon and never guaranteed by human confidence/faith, do occur.

  3. Change of character. Anyone is capable of turning their life around given the right conditions, however putting your faith in Jesus seems to be an unusually common and effective way for people in my life and around the world, to turn their lives around. Lee Strobel provides a sampling of such stories.

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  • 1
    Read some of the items in Hinduism Stack Exchange. Many of those people exhibit far more faith and incorporate their religion far more deeply into their everyday lives than almost any Christian I've ever met. Nov 21, 2021 at 0:33
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    You misunderstand the particularity of my point, I'm not saying Christians display more faith than anyone else, merely that only those filled by the Spirit are specifically and personally capable of trusting in the God-man for salvation. Similarly, other religions claim miracles, but not in the name of Jesus, there are some nuances you may not be missing in this answer.
    – ninthamigo
    Nov 21, 2021 at 0:45
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    the Question was about "in Christians, as opposed to everybody else". This Answer deals with the first part, but does nothing to show how it is objectively different to the corresponding effect in other religions. Nov 21, 2021 at 1:03
  • 2
    I think you are mistaking the specificity of my answer, if it's not clear enough for you then that's my fault as the communicator. I don't think humans who are filled by the Spirit are inherently better/different than other humans, but I do believe that the relationship with God that they have through Christ is itself distinctive and unique from other faiths "as opposed to everybody else". As such, faith in Jesus being divine and human, according to Paul is irrational and not possible for someone who is not Spirit filled to accept by faith let alone understand. (1)
    – ninthamigo
    Nov 21, 2021 at 1:48
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    Similarly, healing that occurs "in the name of Jesus" is also distinctive. Finally, radical changes in the lives of addicts etc. through their faith in Christ and filling by the Spirit, are unique in respect to the source from which the power to change comes. Trying my best to offer a real answer. (2)
    – ninthamigo
    Nov 21, 2021 at 1:50
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The Holy Spirit only has access to Christians when they submit their will to Jesus as Lord of their lives. Before this they are in no different position than are unbelievers. They may profess to believe the Bible and may sound religious even, but until you give up your will and thus submit to be ruled by Jesus, there is no power of any sorts for you, you are just an ordinary sinner.

Now, submitting your will is a day to day moment by moment thing not a once saved always saved thing as many mistake it to be. Don't believe me? Just go look at all the examples in the Bible of people who made shipwreck of their faith (Cain, king Saul, Esau, many of the ungodly kings of Israel, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, etc.). There is a reason why the Bible says that only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 24:13). Endure what till the end? The trial of their faith/trust in God.

King Saul is a good example of a person that started off with the Holy Spirit and His power but ended with with the unholy spirit and death (witch of Endor).

So how does the HS then manifest His power in us as opposed to non-Christians? He leads us to entire renunciation of self and total dependence on Christ for both justification and sanctification.

I found the following paragraph helpful:

The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, "I delight to do Thy will, O my God." Psalm 40:8. The Desire of Ages p.175. Ellen G. White.

So taking John 12:32 into consideration also, the HS manifests His power in our lives firstly to draw us to the foot of the cross in repentance. What is repentance other than the surrender of our will to God? When we repent of sin we also surrender our will to God.

Paul had the exact same experience on his way to Damascus. When he surrendered his will to God he asked Him, What do You want me to do? The same surrender is heard in the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane when He says, Not my will be done but Yours.

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  • +1 I don't quite understand how to put together "until you give up your will and thus submit to be ruled by Jesus, there is no power of any sorts for you" and "King Saul is a good example of a person that started off with the Holy Spirit and His power" - could you say more about that? Mar 24 at 17:25
  • The will is the power of choice. To give up your will means to give up this power to another - either Christ or Satan. We are born naturally inclined to give up this power to Satan. When we do give it up to Christ, we are at that same moment submitting to be ruled by Him. We accept His will (choice) for us. Thus we are 'in Christ' and as such we are under His power. Samuel said to Saul that the Spirit of God will come upon you and you will be changed into another man (new birth). Sadly, he used the power of choice to sin away the Spirit instead of continually chosing to yield his will to God. Mar 24 at 17:34
  • Thanks for this - I think what I'm confused about is "submit to be ruled by Jesus" - did Saul submit to be ruled by Jesus? If not, how can the first sentence hold? Mar 24 at 20:45
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    I see what you mean now. Well, I believe that Saul did know of Jesus but under a different name because Jesus said to the Jews of His time, Before Abraham was, I AM. So Jesus is the great I AM and therefore Saul had to know about Him. Another reason why I say it like that is because the whole purpose of the Sanctuary system with all it rites, feasts, ceremonies and sacrifices was to show forth in type the work of Christ the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Mar 25 at 2:42
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First of all the Holy Spirit acts in simple terms a barrier towards our sin.

When we sin the Holy Spirit dwindles in us. However when we seek God through reading his Word, Worship and fellowship with other Christians, He grows within us.

The first and biggest difference will be (when we are saved) is that we no longer thirst for sin. Our flesh no longer dominates us - although we are still able to sin, we no longer have that inclination to do so.

On the contrary we seek righteousness, peace, joy & love.

Short answer, but I hope this helps you to grasp the understanding on a practical level.

May the Love, Joy & Peace of Christ Jesus always be with you!

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