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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Does It Mean to Be Slain in the Spirit?

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Don Stewart

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There is an act known as being slain in the Spirit. This occurs when a person is supposedly overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit and faints or falls to the ground in physical powerlessness. Is this an experience that believers should expect to have? Do we find examples of this in the Bible? The following passages are usually cited as examples of being slain in the Spirit:

So when I saw it I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking (Ezekiel 1:28).

Then - when He said to them, "I am He," - they drew back and fell to the ground (John 18:6).

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4).

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead (Revelation 1:17).

These instances, however, do not actually teach that the Holy Spirit overcame them, causing them to fall to the ground in worship. Apart from the episode in Gethsemane, where the people fell back, the other instances can be understood as people voluntarily falling down to worship God, not being overcome by the Spirit. In addition, those who fell back in Gethsemane were not believers, but unbelievers sent there to arrest Jesus.

No Biblical Basis

Though people have attempted to find a biblical basis for this phenomenon, none can be found. The Scripture nowhere advocates passing out while being overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. Quite the contrary, the Bible says that the fruit of the Spirits power is self-control, not some sort of uncontrolled ecstasy.

But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).

When Gods Spirit is truly controlling a persons life there is not a showing off or outward theatrical display. Any act, such as being "slain in the Spirit," is not a work of Gods Spirit but a work of the flesh. Whenever someone calls attention to himself, he is not glorifying God. This is not the way the Holy Spirit works, for His ministry is to call attention to Jesus Christ.

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