Activating Your Spiritual Gifts

Activating your spiritual gifts requires anointing, faith, and persistence. Discover how you can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and begin to operate the gifts in love and bless the lives of others.

Activating Your Spiritual Gifts in the Power of the Holy Spirit

By Don Bell | Reading Time: 12 minutes.

Sunlight Filtering Through Clouds Is a Concept Photo to Portray Activating Your Spiritual GiftsActivate Your Spiritual Gifts
Source: ©3DSculpor/

Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He commanded His followers not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus says, "'But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'" (Acts 1:8).

The Greek word δύναμις (dynamis) means miraculous power. Jesus implies that after you have received the baptism of the Spirit, this miraculous power will be manifested whenever the gifts of the Spirit are exercised.

Activating your spiritual gifts requires the power (anointing) of the Holy Spirit. The power is for service; it's for doing the works of Jesus. It's not to make us appear "spiritual" or to make us feel good at prayer meetings.

The fullness of the Spirit enables you to do the works of Jesus and draw people to Him. It's to build up the Body of Christ, and so advance the Kingdom of God.

Jesus Was Filled With the Holy Spirit

Jesus Himself was anointed from Heaven as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and filled Him to overflowing with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

We read in Scripture, "When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, 'You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased'" (Luke 3:21-22).

Scripture also says, "Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil …" (Luke 4:1-2).

The Greek word πειράζω (peirazō) means to tempt, to entice, to test for the purpose of finding out how someone will behave in certain situations.

Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into a place of solitude where He fasted and prayed and had his faith tested in preparation for His ministry.

And if Jesus fasted and prayed and had His faith tested, how can we can expect to be led by the Holy Spirit into ministry situations without the testing of our faith?

James, the brother of Jesus writes, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).

The Greek word ὑπομονή (hypomonē) means patience, patient continuance, constancy, and cheerful endurance under pressure.

Proficiency in exercising the gifts of the Spirit requires patience, persistence, and endurance. But don't worry. The Holy Spirit will start you off slowly in exercising the gifts of the Spirit and give you greater responsibility according to your progress.

Activating your spiritual gifts is not easy; it comes with a cost:

  1. You must build yourself up in faith by praying in tongues. Scripture says, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 1:20).
  2. You must make yourself available to be led by the Holy Spirit.
  3. You must be willing to step out in faith every time you exercise a gift of the Spirit.

Scripture says, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).

Paul writes, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is IN you? …" (2 Corinthians 13:5, emphasis added).

By knowing beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is IN you, you can also know that all nine gifts of His Holy Spirit are IN you as well. Remember, you don't just have part of the Holy Spirit; you have ALL of Him including His gifts.

Scripture says that after His testing, "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee …" (Luke 4:14).

And after we've been filled with the Holy Spirit and have received His gifts, we have the same power (dynamis) that Jesus had to activate and minister them.

Activating Your Spiritual Gifts by Faith

Receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit is like receiving one HUGE gift with nine smaller gifts inside it. While that's over simplifying, you get the picture. To further clarify, each of the nine gifts is contained within the one large gift!

Activating your spiritual gifts is as simple as opening (exercising) the gifts, one at a time, and you have a total of nine gifts to open.

Each time you begin to exercise a gift of the Spirit you are opening a gift, and Jesus is patiently waiting for you to open them ALL by faith. It's just that simple!

After my father had died, I found among his belongings an old gift box containing a pair of soft leather gloves. After a century of being hidden away, they are in remarkable condition having never been worn.

He had enclosed a handwritten tag with them that said, "Merry Christmas from Auntie Peggy with Love."

His favorite aunt had sacrificed to give him the expensive gloves, and because of sentimentality, he couldn't bring himself to wear them. Sadly, he never experienced the joy of showing them to people.

While he had known about the gloves hid within his belongings, he chose not to wear them and kept them tucked away in a drawer. He didn't show them (manifest) them to others.

Yes, he had unwrapped the gift, but he hadn't used the gift for its purpose, so he hadn't really "received"; he hadn't activated it.

It's the same principle when activating your spiritual gifts. Jesus gave us His Spirit so that we might receive and use the nine supernatural abilities (gifts) of the Holy Spirit to do His works.

He will never force these gifts on us. It's up to us to RECEIVE His gifts.

Sadly, some believers activate only one or two gifts, when they could be exercising them all. They pick and choose the one or two they like, or the ones they think are easiest or less controversial, and they refuse to exercise faith for the rest.

They could be enjoying a more fulfilled, more productive life while blessing the lives of others, but they make the choice not to activate the gifts.

Jesus has made all gifts of the Holy Spirit freely available to us at a tremendous cost — His death on the cross. So let's receive and activate them by faith to do His works in love and bless others.

Questions About Activating Your Spiritual Gifts

Here are some frequently asked questions (faq) that often get raised by Christians who are seeking how to activate spiritual gifts while needing some assurances.

What Happens if You Never Activate the Gifts?

Since the gifts are part and parcel of the Holy Spirit, you will never lose them. The Holy Spirit is IN you, so His gifts remain IN you.

However, if you never use them, they lie dormant and hid within you. It's unlikely you'll openly manifest them, and it's unlikely you'll have signs and wonders following you!

What Happens if You Stop Using the Gifts?

You will still have all nine gifts of the Spirit, but by ceasing to use them, the enemy can sow seeds of doubt and attack your confidence. You'll find yourself growing rusty in their operation.

Don't put it off any longer. Restore your confidence and bless others by activating your spiritual gifts!

Can You Lose the Gifts of the Spirit?

We read in Scripture, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29).

God cannot take back the gifts and be true to His Word. The Holy Spirit is in you, and He cannot be separated from His gifts. Make no mistake, if you have the Holy Spirit in you, you have all His gifts.

It explains why celebrity evangelists who have gotten caught up in scandals have continued to manifest the gifts of the Spirit. Eventually, without a turnaround, disobedience to God will impair one's ability to hear the Spirit clearly, and operation of the gifts of the Spirit will become less effective.

Can Both Men and Women Receive the Gifts of The Spirit?

YES! Men and women and boys and girls can exercise all nine gifts of the Holy Spirit equally without distinction. Both male and female are considered equal in the Kingdom of God.

Activating your spiritual gifts has absolutely nothing to do with complementarianism, a theological view held by some (ALWAYS question the manmade "isms").

Scripture says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, THERE IS NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:27-28).

Can the Gifts be Exercised by Believers Without the Baptism of the Spirit?

When you invite Jesus into your life and become spiritually awakened (born again of the Spirit), you receive the Holy Spirit, and He arrives with ALL His gifts; however, they become much stronger and more prominent after you receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Some followers of Christ have exercised the gifts of the Spirit without knowing it or without being aware of what happened despite the fact they hadn't received the baptism with the Spirit.

For instance, some believers have received a word of knowledge and called it a "gut feeling." Some have been overjoyed that a prayer for healing was answered without realizing that they had dispensed a gift of healing.

And some have thought themselves lucky to have made a right decision without realizing that God had given them a timely word of wisdom. God in His mercy is good to us!

Does God Exercise the Gifts Through Us?

NO! It's the believer who exercises the gift, but it's the Holy Spirit who empowers! This is an important concept to grasp and once understood, you will have greater confidence when activating your spiritual gifts and exercising them.

Don't be shocked or be misled by faulty religious thinking and miss this truth. Carefully consider the following:

God did NOT make us robots! He may give us the prophetic message, but we do the prophesying. We are the ones who choose to manifest the gifts.

Paul writes, "For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1 Corinthians 14:31-32).

The spirits of the prophets are subject (under obedience) to the prophets. God gives us the words, but WE decide to do the prophesying or not.

The same working principle applies to all the gifts of the Spirit.

  • Scripture says, "And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him" (Acts 28:8).

    So Who does the Bible say healed the father of Publius? It says that Paul did. "Paul prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him."
  • Scripture says, "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8).

    Who did great wonders and signs? Stephen did.
  • Scripture says, "And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed" (Acts 8:6-7).

    Who performed the miracles? Philip did.
  • Scripture says, "Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: 'Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'" (Acts 3:11-12).

    Peter acknowledged that he and John had made the man walk, but he was careful to add that it wasn't through their own power or goodness; it was through the power (anointing) of the Holy Spirit.

Remember: God the Father does not do the works of Jesus! Why? Jesus said that WE should do His works! So let's stop pestering God to heal or to rebuke demons when He has given us the supernatural ability to do the work!

Jesus says, "'Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father'" (John 14:12).

By activating your spiritual gifts (supernatural abilities), you can do the works of Jesus. Realize that Jesus has placed the gifts of the Spirit under YOUR control, and YOU can choose to manifest them or not.

The Holy Spirit will NEVER control your actions or force you to manifest His gifts.

In contrast, someone delivering a demonic message under forced utterance feels they've no choice but to speak. That's why we must get busy and do the works of Jesus and deliver people from spiritual bondage.

(Once we've examined the gift of discernment of spirits, you will understand how demons counterfeit the gifts of the Spirit by controlling the individuals under their influence.)

The Holy Spirit's gifts are operated in love and by freedom of choice in sharp contrast to the counterfeit.

Scripture says, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:16-17).

We Must Be True to Our Calling

We are ALL called to exercise the nine gifts of the Spirit to do the work of Jesus and advance the Kingdom of God.

We read in Scripture, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). Each of us needs to ask ourselves, "Am I a doer? Am I doing my part?"

Paul asks, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, EACH OF YOU has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26, emphasis added).

By activating your spiritual gifts and doing the works of Jesus as God intended, signs WILL follow you, and people WILL recognize the presence of Jesus and be drawn to Him.

Realizing that they've been heading in the wrong direction, people will turn around and come alive spiritually. And you will see the Kingdom of God advance.

Begin Activating Your Gifts

Begin activating your spiritual gifts, and you'll increasingly find the Lord working through you to meet the needs of those around you. And by doing so, you will find your place in the Body of Christ.

Proverbs says, "A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men" (Proverbs 18:16). You'll be amazed at opportunities you'll have to share the good news of the Kingdom of God and lead people to Christ!

Don Bell of Kingdom Anointing

By Don Bell, follower of the Christ.

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