During my school days, when the class became rowdy and unmanageable, my lady teacher used to shout, “Now boys, don’t behave like animals!” The message was loud and clear. It was a rebuke. We were to behave ourselves.
How can we ever attribute the following scenarios in church to the work of the Holy Spirit? A person slithering on the ground like a snake? A person barking like a dog? A person crowing like a cockerel? A person fidgeting non-stop and jumping around like a monkey? In these instances, the people involved have lost control of their senses. They no longer think rationally.
From a biblical viewpoint, animal-like behaviour usually does not have a positive connotation. *
Animals are lower than man in God’s hierarchy. In fact, in the creation account in Genesis, man was told to take dominion over the animals and was given the authority to name them. Why should we lower our dignity and emulate animals?
Is there any instance in the Bible where a person loses his senses and behaves like an animal? Yes. God punished a proud king by turning him into an animal but this reference has a negative connotation:
When King Nebuchadnezzar boasted about his great achievements, God taught him a lesson. He was driven to the field where he ate grass like an ox. Later he came to his senses, repented and acknowledged God as supreme. Once he humbled himself before God, he was reestablished as king (Daniel 4:28-37).
Doesn’t nature teach us that we shouldn't stoop so low that we suspend our senses and reason to behave like animals? Won’t people think we are out of our mind if we crawl on fours like a dog?
While exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we should be in full possession of our rational faculties. Amid spontaneity and loosening of inhibitions, there should be order and peace, not bedlam and confusion (1 Corinthians 14: 26-33).
There are several reasons why some believers behave like animals and even endorse such behaviour in church:
First, people are naturally hungry for supernatural manifestations. Some are willing to be zapped by any supernatural force – if only they could feel their bodies tingle or shake. Some could have come from a conservative church background and want to opt for a “change”. Their mantra could be something like this: Life is mundane, we want signs, we want power, we want God to “show up”. But are signs and wonders invariable when God shows up? Can He not work in quiet ways?
Second, lack of discernment and understanding of scripture. We need to be discerning – test every spirit to see whether its origin is from the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:1).
Third, lack of vigilance with regards to the prevalence of evil. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour some naïve souls (1 Peter 5:8). Not every supernatural manifestation is of the Holy Spirit. Not all that glitters is gold. No doubt evil spirits do not lurk in every painting, vase or figurine but we have to be alert and be aware of its existence.
Deception is rife during the last days and even the elect (those who are supposed to be mature and discerning) can be fooled (Matthew 24:4,5,24).
However, that does not mean we should close our minds to the manifestations and working of the Holy Spirit.
* No doubt, we have been exhorted to be wise like serpents, bold as lions and to wait upon God so that we can rise up with wings like eagles. In order to fight against the Midianites, God told Gideon to choose 300 brave warriors who cupped water with their hands and lapped it up like dogs. They were tough and resilient like dogs, unlike those who knelt down to drink water. In these four instances, we are to taught to emulate certain positive characteristics of animals; we should not lose our senses/reason and behave like animals.
CAPTIVATED BY SIGNS AND WONDERS
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Are the supernatural manifestations in church today invariably of divine origin?
The battle that has been raging for centuries: Should the believer emphasise the Word or Holy Spirit more?
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