Navigating the Waters of Faith: Can You Lose the Holy Spirit?

A vibrant, story-telling image in 16:9 format showing a diverse group of people gathered together, with hands united and a dove above, symbolizing the unity and presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian community.

By Larry Billinger

Disclaimer: I just want to say. I am no expert on the Holy Spirit and this is more of a discussion that a statement. This is what I believe right now with the evidence I have before me. I found it interesting so I share the thought process with you all.

Following a guest speaker’s message on the necessity of continually seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit, my wife and I found ourselves delving into an interesting conversation. For the first time in our faith journey, we pondered a question that had never before crossed our minds: Can we lose the Holy Spirit, or are we continually filled with the Spirit? The exploration of this question led us to a deeper understanding of our relationship with God and the indwelling of His Spirit.

Can the Filling of the Holy Spirit be Lost?

The question of whether the filling or baptism in the Holy Spirit can be “lost” is complex and varies by theological perspective:

  • Continual Filling: Many traditions that emphasize the baptism in the Holy Spirit also teach about the need for continual filling with the Spirit. This is not necessarily because one can lose the Holy Spirit, but rather because living in a way that grieves or quenches the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19) can diminish His manifest presence and power in one’s life. In this sense, the “loss” is more about the lack of experiential evidence of the Spirit’s power than the absence of the Spirit Himself.
  • Assurance of the Spirit’s Presence: Even in traditions that emphasize a subsequent baptism in the Holy Spirit, there’s generally an assurance that the Holy Spirit does not abandon believers. Instead, the emphasis is often placed on the believer’s openness and responsiveness to the Spirit, leading to the continual experience of His fullness.
  • Renewal and Repentance: When believers feel they have “lost” the filling of the Holy Spirit, the path back is typically through repentance, renewed faith, and seeking God afresh for the filling of the Holy Spirit. This reflects the relational nature of God’s interaction with believers rather than a transactional or mechanistic process.

The Indelible Presence of the Holy Spirit

Our investigation into this matter began with recognizing a key truth: once the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, His presence is assured for eternity. This understanding is rooted in the assurance of our salvation and the promise of God’s unending work within us. The Holy Spirit’s role as the seal of our redemption is a testament to the promise of God’s faithfulness (Ephesians 1:13-14).

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV

However, this permanent indwelling doesn’t diminish the necessity for a continual, fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Our daily walk with God has revealed that, while the Holy Spirit never departs from us, our experience of His presence and power can significantly fluctuate based on our responsiveness to Him.

Continual Filling: A Dynamic Relationship

Ephesians 5:18, which urges us to be filled with the Spirit, speaks to a dynamic and ongoing relationship with God. This process is not a singular event but an enduring journey. Much like breathing, being filled with the Holy Spirit is essential, life-giving, and meant to be a constant aspect of our lives. It encourages us to keep our spiritual vessels full and our hearts attuned to the Spirit’s guidance and empowerment.

Empowerment for Service and Spiritual Gifts

In reflecting upon the empowering nature of the Holy Spirit’s presence, we turned to Acts 1:8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. These passages elucidate the empowerment for witness and service through spiritual gifts, bestowed for the edification of the church and the advancement of God’s kingdom. These gifts are not for personal glorification but for the common good, aiming to build up the church and spread the gospel.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

The Symbolism and Significance of Water Baptism

Water baptism emerged as a topic of significant symbolism in our discussion. It represents the believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—a public proclamation of faith and a declaration of a new life in Christ. Water baptism is a step of obedience, a rite of initiation into the faith, and a powerful statement of commitment to follow Jesus.

Community, Accountability, and Practical Faith

I can also appreciate my community and accountability in my spiritual journey. The New Testament church model, with its emphasis on nurturing relationships within the body of believers, underscores the practical application of faith. One thing I believe my current church excels at. This community aspect reinforces how ethical living, loving relationships serve as tangible evidence of the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in our lives.

Conclusion: A Journey of Continuous Growth

Our exploration reaffirmed that while we cannot lose the Holy Spirit, our actions and choices can impact our fellowship with Him. The journey of being continually filled with the Holy Spirit is about maintaining openness, responsiveness, and obedience to His leading. It’s about actively seeking His presence and empowerment to live fully in the abundance that Christ promised.

This path isn’t about seeking spiritual highs but about a steady, earnest pursuit of deepening our relationship with God—a journey marked by humility, surrender, and transformation. It’s a path we walk together, with the Spirit guiding us and our faith community supporting us every step of the way.

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