How can I recognise the Holy Spirit?
The first thing to understand is that in order to recognise the Spirit of God, we need to have a relationship with God. The Bible teaches us that when we believe in Jesus, then we become children of God (John 1:12) and enter into relationship with Him (John 10:27). We also read that God gives to those who believe His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, Ephesians 1:13-14), and that the Holy Spirit lives within them and helps them (2 Timothy 1:13-14), and teaches them (John 14:26).
However, many Christians are not sure if the Spirit is speaking to them, or if they are feeling some other Spirit. So what can Christians do to know the Holy Spirit better?
We can read our Bibles each day.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that all scripture is God's words to us to teach, rebuke, correct and train us, so that we are thoroughly equipped for every good work! Reading the Bible each day helps us to get to know God better, to get to know what His voice sounds like, and to learn about the Holy Spirit - who He is, how He works and speaks.
A knowledge of God’s word and standards can also help us to understand if what we are hearing agrees with God’s words in the Bible. The Holy Spirit will never say something to us that disagrees with what God says in the Bible, and our first question should always be “Does the Bible agree with this?”.
We can be determined to pray each day.
When we pray we are talking to God, and this is a way in which we get to know Him better (John 10:14). We should not always be speaking, but should sometimes stop and listen for what He is saying to us (John 10:27). As we do so, we will get to know what God’s voice sounds like, and be ready to follow Him, just as sheep know their shepherds voice and follow him (John 10:3-5). Psalm 37:3-4 encourages us to delight ourselves in the Lord, and we should learn to appreciate and enjoy our times with Him.
However, we must be determined to pray each day. The world, our own flesh and the devil, will try to tell us we are too busy to pray, but daily prayer is vital if we want to know the voice of the Spirit. We can also pray about what we think we have heard, and ask God to give us wisdom to see if it is from the Holy Spirit.
We can wait patiently for God’s guidance.
Psalm 40:1 says “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry”, and Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”. Psalm 37:7 encourages us to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him”, and sometimes – we must simply wait and allow Him to lead us in His timing.
We can live lives of integrity before God.
Any kind of sin in our lives can stop us from seeing and hearing God clearly, and creates distance between us and God (Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 15:29, John 9:31). So, if we want to recognise God’s Spirit, and to clearly hear His voice, we must discipline ourselves and get rid of anything that is not right from our lives. Sin (no matter how big or small) makes communication with a holy God more difficult. If we want to recognise the Holy Spirit and feel Him in us, then we must live in integrity before Him.
We can listen to other Christians around us.
The Christians around us are not accidents, but a part of God’s plan for our lives. God often confirms his guidance through the words or actions of other Christians that we know, so listen for what they are saying.
There are other ways that God can guide us, so it is important to first - get to know who God is, and secondly - be open to how He might speak to us. God does not follow our formulas, and we are often surprised at how we hear from Him (Numbers 22:21-34).