5 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship with the Holy Spirit

John 16: 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Jesus told His disciples that it is to their advantage that He go away from them and return to the Father. The departure of Jesus would bring the person of the Holy Spirit to work in each of their lives. Jesus was emphatic about the importance of each believer’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. He had told them in John 14 that the Spirit of God that had been with them would soon be in them (John 14:17). He was clear in His desire for His disciples to have relationship with the Holy Spirit. That remains true today.

Is it possible, however, for a person’s relationship with the Holy Spirit to become unhealthy? Can we actually see this beneficial relationship become harmful? The answer is yes. If we choose to approach or manage our relationship with the Holy Spirit in the wrong way it can move from being our greatest asset to our biggest hurdle. How? Consider the following signs of how our relationship with the Holy Spirit can become unhealthy.

1. Needing to feel His presence to feel His love.

If we find ourselves in a position of needing to feel or experience His presence to know that He loves us then we have stepped into a dangerous place. We must understand that His presence is a result of His love, but it is not proof of His love. It is imperative that we understand that His love for us is secure regardless of what we do or no not feel. This can lead to a very unhealthy place in which we constantly need to feel or experience some manifestation of presence in order to validate who we want ourselves to be. It may even cause us to forego discernment and respond to any feeling as being from God.

2. Wanting others to hear about what He does to or through us instead of seeing what He is doing in us.

If we place more emphasis on outward manifestation than inward transformation then we have stepped into an unhealthy place. Exalting visible gifts above tangible fruit is a major misunderstanding of the person of the Holy Spirit. It is a dangerous place when we want others to see how the Spirit works through us more than we want them to taste the fruit of the Spirit that is being produced in us.

3. Wanting different things for ourselves than we are willing to accept for others.

What a dangerous place to be when we want all of what we perceive to be the great things of God for ourselves or for nobody at all. If we are unwilling to accept God’s graciousness for others if it seems better than what we personally have or experience then we are in an unhealthy place. If we would rather find a way to discount what God is doing in someone else than to rejoice with them, then we must understand that we are not operating in the Spirit of God.

4. Knowing only His acts and not His ways.

If we are only able to recognize what is God based on what we have personally experienced then we only know His acts. This causes us to discredit anything even remotely different from what we have encountered. Psalm 103:7 says that God made His acts known to the children of Israel and His ways known to Moses. Moses was able to flow with anything God chose to do because He knew who He was. The Israelites, on the other hand, were limited by what they had experienced. Anything that did not align with their ideal was discredited as not being from God.

Jesus encountered this often from the scribes and the Pharisees. They were unwilling to accept what He did as being from God, because they were looking only through the lens of personal experience and understanding. It is very unhealthy for us to limit God to our finite minds. The Holy Spirit wants us to know who He is which will allow us to understand that He is much bigger than any one manner, method, or manifestation.

5. Comparing testimonies rather than sharing testimonies.

This relates closely to number three. It is extremely unhealthy for us to need to compare our stories with one another. This leads to competition within the body rather than a healthy and harmonious competing with for the sake of the same Kingdom. Consider when Miriam and Aaron complained that they too had heard from and spoken for God and it was not just Moses (Numbers 12). An unhealthy heart will exalt who it is that God is using more than God and what He is doing. One with an unhealthy relationship with the Holy Spirit would rather God do nothing at all than God do something through someone else they deem as better than what God has done through them.

As you know this is not an exhaustive list and the order is not necessarily delivered in a ranked manner. At any point we can see any of these signs manifest in ourselves or in others. It is so important for us to recognize and take captive every thought that would try and exalt itself against the knowledge of God. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is designed to lead us into all truth and to glorify Jesus Christ in and through our lives. Anything else lends itself to danger. May we never allow our own agenda to replace God’s purpose. May we forever walk in healthy relationship with the Spirit of God and not fulfill the desires of our flesh. May the healthy relationship we enjoy with the Holy Spirit bring all glory and honor to Jesus Christ.