Holy Spirit or Demonic Spirit? How To Discern The Difference

by Nov 4, 2021Teaching

Before we start discussing how to discern spiritual manifestation, it is important to remember that your relationship with the Holy Spirit is the basis of all interpretations.

The discernment of spiritual manifestations comes from the Bible.

1 John 4: 1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Discerning spiritual manifestations is to ensure that we do not fall prey to deception.

It is important to understand that some spiritual manifestations are demonic, and some are works of the flesh.

Here are seven real examples of manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Bible:

Manifestations Of The Holy Spirit

1. Slain in the Spirit

Slain in the Spirit is known as falling under the Spirit, and it is the most common manifestation. It occurs when the Spirit’s presence causes tightness or weakness to our knees or physical bodies.

In Revelation 1:17, John fell ‘as dead’ in the presence of Jesus. Another example is Paul. He fell at the voice of Jesus in Acts 9:4-8.

2. Feeling of weightiness or heaviness

The Hebrew word for glory is Kabod, which means the heaviness of God.

In 2 Chronicles 7:1-2, the priests could not minister because the presence of God was so strong.

3. Laughter and joy

The fruit of the Spirit is joy, and the fruit of joy is laughter. Rejoicing can be observed throughout the Bible.

In Luke 10:21, Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit, and in 1 Peter 1:18, Peter speaks of rejoicing with joy inexpressible and full of glory. The Bible also says that our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongue with singing (Psalm 126:2,3).

4. Travailing and groaning

This is when people groan or travail under the weight of sin and the burden of prayer.

For example, Jesus travailed in the garden of Gethsemane. Scripture shows us that His groans were so deep that He began to sweat blood. We may not sweat blood, but the Holy Spirit can provoke a deep cry within us, leading us to pray or fast.

5. Overflowing with the Holy Spirit

This is seen in Acts 2 where the disciples were so filled with the Holy Spirit in the upper room that they appeared drunk. They were unable to contain what the Holy Spirit was pouring out on them – it led them to witness to others about Jesus.

6. Trembling and shaking

In Daniel 10, Daniel trembled at the fear of God. Another example is the people of Israel. Scripture shows us that when they were near the presence of God, great fear and trembling came upon them. They all shook in front of the mountain in the presence of God.

7. Weeping and crying out

This generally occurs when huge repentance comes upon people.

While these manifestations are real, we must understand that Satan is a copycat and the duplicator of anything genuine.

For anything genuine that God has created, there is going to be a counterfeit the devil uses.

Thus we, as Christians, need discernment so we do not become deceived.

Here are five distinguishing marks of the Holy Spirit, also known as five questions to ask concerning the manifestation of the Holy Spirit:

5 Questions To Help You Discern If It’s The Holy Spirit:

1. Does it bring glory to the person of Jesus Christ?

2. Does it produce hatred for sin and greater love for righteousness?

3. Does it produce greater passion for the Holy Scriptures?

4. Does it lead people to the truth?

5. Does it produce greater love for God and man?

Final Thoughts

It is also important to remember that just because we have not experienced a spiritual manifestation does not mean it is demonic.

We are not spiritual guinea pigs, so God does not need to try out every spiritual manifestation on us. The unusualness or loudness of a spiritual manifestation does not render it demonic.

Every authentic manifestation of the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus and place the attention on Jesus. But, conversely, when human personalities start getting more praise and glory than Jesus, the Holy Spirit will draw away from a movement.

We also do not want to chase after spiritual manifestations.

Our focus should be on falling in love with God rather than chasing the power of God.

The Bible tells us that signs and wonders follow us (Mark 16:17). However, it’s important that we remember, we are not chasing the manifestation that can occur in someone’s life.

We are after the change that happens to a soul when the Holy Spirit touches them – however He desires.


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