Exercising Spiritual Gifts

Exercising spiritual gifts enables believers to help build up the Body of Christ and manifest the Kingdom of God to the waiting world through accompanying signs and wonders.

Instruction in Exercising Spiritual Gifts

By Don Bell | Reading Time: 10 minutes

Tumbling Waterfall, Rapids, and RiverExercise the Gifts of the Spirit and Do the Works of Jesus
Source: ©Kirkjufell/Depositphotos.com

Once we believe in Jesus and have His Spirit living within us, we can ask for and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit along with the nine gifts (supernatural abilities) that He supplies.

However, it's only by obediently stepping out in faith and exercising the gifts of the Spirit that we can minister to the needs of those whom we encounter in our daily life.

Exercising Spiritual Gifts in Church

When the Holy Spirit is permitted to operate freely in a believer's meeting, He tends to hover over those assembled and distributes His gifts (charismata) to believers on an individual basis to answer specific needs in the Body of Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes, "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to EACH ONE individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:11, emphasis added).

Scripture also says, "As EACH ONE has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11, emphasis added).

For instance, the Holy Spirit might gently nudge (quicken) someone to give a word of prophecy, and if that person doesn't respond, He'll move on to nudge someone else to give it, and so on until someone obeys and speaks the prophetic word.

The Holy Spirit might also be nudging someone to dispense a gift of healing in the same meeting, and nudging someone else to speak an unknown tongue and give its interpretation.

Sadly, if the Holy Spirit's nudges are ignored or quenched, then the opportunities for blessing are missed, and the church is deprived of potential benefits. By failing to respond, we are depriving people of their blessing.

Paul writes, "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Corinthians 12:7).

The reason for exercising spiritual gifts in gatherings of believers is to unite the believers in the faith and to build up the Body of Christ.

Paul also writes, "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).

Therefore, out of love for our fellow believers, let's arrive at meetings with our faith built up, ready to minister the gifts of the Spirit to meet the needs of the Body of Christ.

Exercising Spiritual Gifts in Ministry

There are times when the Holy Spirit might call on you to minister to an individual. It might be someone in your church, your workplace, your circle of friends, or even your family.

Be aware that several gifts of the Spirit might need to be exercised together because each has its unique characteristics. You might have to exercise two, three, or more gifts at any given time when called upon to answer a specific need.

For example, you might need to exercise a word of prophecy, or a word of knowledge accompanied by a word of wisdom, or maybe discernment of spirits with a word of wisdom followed by a miracle when an evil spirit is cast out.

The nine gifts can be likened to the instruments in a nine-piece orchestra. The conductor will call on one or several instruments at any given time to perform the musical number.

Similarly, you have nine gifts of the Spirit ready for use, and the Holy Spirit will call on one or more gifts at any given time to perform the work that's needed.

Example of Jesus Ministering

For instance, let's consider the miracle that Jesus performed in Capernaum while staying at Simon Peter's house. Jesus was teaching, and the crowd not only filled the modest house, but people gathered outside in the street eager to hear His message.

Home of the Apostle Peter in CapernaumThe Ruins of Simon Peter's House In Capernaum
Source: ©Don Bell

When visiting the ruins of Simon Peter's House in Capernaum, I was struck by its small size: only a few small rooms around two small courtyards. A crowd would have had to spill out onto the street, listening to Jesus through the window.

Houses of that time in Israel often had a flat roof of straw or tiles, reached by outside stairs. The roof was used for extra living space and for sleeping on hot summer nights when cool breezes off the Sea of Galilee about 30 meters distant would have been most refreshing.1

Four men had carried their paralytic friend to the house believing that Jesus would heal him. Seeing the crowd of people, they carried him up the outside stairway and onto the roof where they removed a section of tiles and lowered the young man on his mat down to where Jesus was seated.

Engraving of Jesus Healing the Paralytic Man by Bernhard RodeJesus Healing the Paralytic Man at Capernaum
PD Source: Engraving by Bernhard Rode, 1780

We read in Scripture:

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."

And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" — He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."

Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" (Mark 2:5-12).

Carefully reread the above Scripture and see how many gifts of the Spirit you can identify.

Jesus used at least five gifts of the Spirit on this occasion:

  • Word of knowledge
  • Discerning of spirits
  • Word of wisdom
  • Faith
  • Working of Miracles

The Holy Spirit often ministers to the heart of the matter, so Jesus received a word of knowledge that revealed the man's condition. He forgave the man's disobedience to God (sin) to relieve him of the burden of guilt and shame that he had been carrying. The man could now believe himself worthy to release faith and accept healing for his body.

Jesus then "perceived in His spirit" that some of the scribes were accusing Him of blasphemy. The Greek word ἐπιγινώσκω (epiginōskō) means to perceive, to gain knowledge, to be fully acquainted in a discerning manner.

Blasphemy could lead to a serious charge that was punishable by death. The Holy Spirit had given Jesus knowledge of the scribes' treacherous hearts through the gift of discernment of spirits followed by a word of wisdom on how to best respond to the serious situation developing.

Jesus confronted the scribes with clever questions followed by a release of faith and working a miracle of healing. It was not a gift of healing since the cure was instant. The miracle sealed His right to pardon the man for falling away from the right path, and it silenced the scribes.

The crowd saw the man pick up his sleeping mat and walk home. They would only have said that an amazing miracle had taken place. They would not have realized that Jesus was exercising spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit to do the miraculous work.

Remember, Jesus did not perform miracles through His deity; He performed miracles through His Spirit-filled humanity.

We read in Scripture, "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).

After you've examined how each gift of the Holy Spirit operates, you'll be able to read other miraculous accounts throughout the Bible and identify the various gifts working in concert to meet the need.

Some people suggest that you cannot define the operation of the gifts; however, each gift of the Spirit is very distinctive. To skirt round their functioning, reveals the lack of understanding that's prevalent when it comes to the nine spiritual abilities known as gifts of the Spirit.

Spiritual Gifts Flow Seamlessly

The nine gifts of the Spirit flow seamlessly the moment they're needed. Yes, you will be conscious of each gift and its operation at the beginning, but as you gain experience in exercising spiritual gifts, and as you sharpen your spiritual senses, the spiritual gifts will start to flow automatically without having to think about them.

When you encounter a sudden need, you won't need to ask, "Holy Spirit, what gift should I use?" You will minister to the need as the Spirit prompts using the supernatural abilities that He has supplied.

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, emphasis added).

Exercising Your Spiritual Senses

The more your spiritual sight and hearing are exercised, the more you'll become acutely aware of the Holy Spirit's promptings. That's why you should seek to operate the gifts in public whenever you get the opportunity, so you can grow in faith and increase your confidence.

For example, when the Holy Spirit gently nudges you to prophesy, don't sit waiting for a bolt of lightening from Heaven or for someone else to begin speaking. God is wanting YOU to speak.

Just step out in faith and prophesy!

You say, "But my heart's really pounding, and I'm unsure whether it's the Holy Spirit or me!" Sorry, but that's normal. That's why it's called stepping out in faith!

I would love to promise that it will get easier, and it will to a point; however, we must accept that faith will always be required when exercising spiritual gifts.

As we read in Scripture, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

So, BELIEVE in God. HAVE FAITH that He won't leave you standing empty handed! He won't let you down!

Begin Exercising Spiritual Gifts

God has made each of us a unique individual, and He will always manifest His gifts through our uniqueness. For that reason, neither I nor anyone can teach you step-by-step how to exercise any of the nine spiritual gifts. Holy Spirit will lead and guide you in operating them.

However, what I can do is share what the gifts are and what they are not, so you can better understand the functioning of a gift. Then, whenever the Holy Spirit nudges (quickens) you to manifest a gift to meet the needs of an individual or to bless a gathering of believers, you can obediently step out in faith.

When you're new to the gifts of the Spirit, it's always best to start exercising spiritual gifts in a small group of like-minded believers and to have someone seasoned in the gifts nearby, so there's support and correction available if needed.

Proficiency in the gifts requires time and practice; it doesn't happen overnight. God will give many opportunities to exercise the gifts of the Spirit, and He will never ask you to do something beyond your capabilities. So, be obedient to step out whenever He nudges.

After instructing on the gifts of the Spirit, Paul writes, "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:37-40, emphasis added).

Above all, don't simply read the information on this website and do nothing. It's no accident that you are here reading this!

God desires YOU to become proficient in exercising spiritual gifts, so you can do the works of Jesus to help build up the Body of Christ and advance the Kingdom of God.


1 "The House of Peter: The Home of Jesus in Capernaum?" biblicalarchaeology.org. Biblical Archaeology Society Staff, 12 Oct. 2023, Web. 7 Apr. 2024.

This completes the 8-part series of articles on an Introduction to The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Don Bell of Kingdom Anointing

By Don Bell, follower of the Christ.

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