Holy Spirit

How Do I Know That I Have the Holy Spirit (Assurance)?

1 John 4:13 says, "We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit." This means that believers can know for sure whether or not they are true believers, because if they are, they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and He will give them the assurance that they need. However, this still leaves room for controversy, primarily because of the many charismatic churches which teach that all believers who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit will necessarily show evidence of that gift by speaking in tongues.

I believe it is a great deception to teach that speaking in tongues is the evidence of having the Holy Spirit. The gift of tongues was a sign gift (1 Corinthians 14:22), and its sole purpose was to authenticate the message of the apostles before the New Testament canon was completed. For complete details on this, please refer to "Spiritual Gifts."

Those who teach that the Holy Spirit is evidenced by speaking in tongues usually also teach that the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer at some point after salvation, so some believers would have the Holy Spirit, while others would not. This viewpoint originated from a misinterpretation of Acts 8:16 where there were some Christians who had not yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was because these believers lived in a time during the first century A.D. which was actually a transitional era from Judaism to Christianity. For example, many people personally heard Christ speak and believed Him, so they became believers at that point. Then, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon (only) the believers in Jerusalem, and He came upon these other believers at a later time.

However, for us (those who became believers after the day of Pentecost), we receive the Holy Spirit at the moment we believe (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit is sealed in us at the moment we accept Jesus Christ as savior, by faith (2 Corinthians 1:22). 1 Corinthians 12:13 emphatically notes that all believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit (at the moment of salvation).

The following passages tell us how the Holy Spirit is confirmed in us: 

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

This passage explains that we can be assured that we have the Holy Spirit if we understand the gospel, and it makes sense to us. Only through the Holy Spirit does it make sense. If we don't have the Holy Spirit, then the gospel sounds like foolishness. Therefore, if the gospel makes sense to you (you believe it), then you have the Holy Spirit.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:21-24)

This passage says that our hearts (our mentality) tells us that we have the Holy Spirit. We know He is there because He Himself confirms it in us.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (Romans 8:16)

Again, the Holy Spirit Himself assures us that He is in us.

I speak the truth in Christ-- I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit. Romans 9:1

We realize this assurance through our conscience (our mentality).

Owen Weber