How do I know I received the Holy Spirit?


Good morning,

Thank you for all the helpful resources available through this website. I have found this site to be very helpful.

I have read many of the articles you have regarding re-baptism, and I would like to gain further insight into this topic.

I was baptized at the age of 14. However, I have not lived my life as a Christian should. I've had doubts regarding my baptism for some time now, on and off. I understood at that age that baptism was necessary for the remission of sin. Without baptism, I understood I would go to hell. I believed Jesus was and is the Christ and the Son of God. I knew I needed to be submerged completely under the water. However, I don't think I understood the great responsibility of being a Christian according to Ephesians 4:20-24 and Galatians 5:16-26. I began to live in such a contradiction that I began to wonder if I truly received the Holy Spirit, if I understood what I had committed my life to, and if I had counted the cost of following Christ as stated in Luke 14:25-33.

My life went out of control when I graduated from high school and joined the military. That's not to say I wasn't already in sin. I was living a double life. However, as an adult, I had full freedom and indulged in that freedom. I was getting drunk, watching pornography, smoking, foul mouth, and many other things that I knew were against the way I was brought up and what the Bible taught. I would try to fix these aspects of my life during my time in the military but would fail.

This attitude of trying to "fix things" carried over when I got out of the military and married. Yet I would fail time after time. My wife, who at the time was not a believer, insisted we seek marriage therapy as my struggles were affecting my marriage. I have struggled to make changes that would not have been there had I remained faithful.

I am now in my thirties. Only a few years ago, I began to serve God at the church we currently attend. In previous years I, regretfully, avoided it because of how I was living. I had conversations with the elders and preacher when we started attending this current congregation. They offered to "re-baptize," but I declined because I wasn't 100% certain it was the right choice. I must note that ever since I've been attending and serving, it has helped me eliminate many vices. I have also been transparent with my struggles with pornography and how that has been a major challenge in my walk with God, but nonetheless, I have continued to strive towards being pure. In recent weeks, I wondered, once again, if I truly understood what I was doing. I have held back from being "re-baptized" because I consider baptism and marriage the same as in a covenant. Though I did not fully understand the ins and outs of marriage, there was no need to re-marry to ensure I was married to my wife. My marriage has been improving, but it is not perfect or easy, just like my walk with Christ. As I've mentioned, I've struggled with porn addiction for many years, and only last year have I made great efforts to change. Just a week ago, I slipped and fell after months of not viewing and masturbating, and my doubts seem to linger as well.

So, all that being said, my questions are: How does one truly know if they received the Holy Spirit? How much power does the Holy Spirit have over my decisions? Can God listen to my prayers if I am not properly baptized? And, of course, the million dollar question for me is, should I be "re-baptized"? I hesitate to send this message for various reasons. I do not wish to offend God, but I pray that my message is understood and that you may impart to me His wisdom.

Thank you for your help and time. May God bless you!


Frequently, people expect that when they become Christians, they will not sin because God's Spirit will keep them away from sin. However, reading the Bible tells us that sin remains a problem for Christians. When a person is baptized, he enters into a covenant with Christ. That entrance is only needed once. By becoming a child of God, the past with its sins is removed (Acts 22:16), and the person begins a new life (Romans 6:3-7). This doesn't mean a Christian is prevented from sinning or is expected to live sinless lives. Sins happen to even the best of us (I John 1:8-2:1). That is why there are so many warnings that we must remain faithful (Revelation 2:10).

It sounds to me that you became a Christian. You knew what you were doing and why. However, you allowed yourself to return to the world you had renounced (Isaiah 59:1-2). Happily, you are fighting your way back to Him. You don't need to be baptized again. You need to continue your fight against sin and improve your life so there is no room for sin within it (Ephesians 6:10-18).

You can't let your guard down and think you have conquered sin (I Corinthians 10:12). How do you know you have the Holy Spirit? Look at what you are doing. "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (I John 2:3-6). You aren't fully mature. There is still room for improvement, but the same can be said for everyone. "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

How much power does the Holy Spirit have over your decisions? That depends on how much you give to God. Do you consult the Spirit's teachings before making decisions? Do you follow the Spirit's advice as you learn from the Bible? The Holy Spirit is not going to override your choices, but He does tell us how to make good choices.

God doesn't listen to a person's prayers when he is given over to sin. However, you've left that sort of life behind. See Saint or Sinner?

You've done well. Continue to fight the fight of faith. "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity" (Proverbs 24:16).

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