In a recent Instagram interview with A.R. Bernard, who pastors Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., actor Denzel Washington shared the moment that he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Denzel said that there were three times in his life, when he committed his life to Christ, and on the third time, while attending the Church of God in Christ in West Angeles, Denzel was filled with the Holy Spirit.
He added that this supernatural experience “scared him:”
“Three times…I think we all go through that. I was filled with the Holy Ghost and it scared me. I didn’t want to go this deep…I want to party. It was a supernatural, once in this lifetime experience that I couldn’t completely understand at the time.” […]
“I went to church with Robert Townsend and when it came time to come down to the altar I said, ‘You know this time, I’m just going to go down there and give it up and see what happens.’ I went in the prayer room and gave it up and let go and experienced something I’ve never experienced in my life.
“I remember calling my mother afterwards and asking her, I said, ‘Well, you know it felt like I was going up in the air, and my cheeks were filled’ and she said, ‘Oh no, that’s the devil you’re purging.’”
The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a unique work of grace that takes place after a person is born again. Typically, a person if filled by the Holy Spirit through a laying on of hand (Acts 8: 17-19) and during this supernatural experience, we are filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
This is similar to what happened in the Old Testament, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the people empowering them for service. This happened to King David who was anointed for leadership (1 Samuel 16:12-13). The Holy Spirit came upon Samson, giving him incredible strength (Judges 14:19) and upon King Saul enabling him to prophecy (1 Samuel 10:10).
When the Holy Spirit fell upon people it was not a sign that they were spiritual, because both King Saul, King David and Samson struggled in their walk with God.
But as we move into the New Testament this changes. Because of the perfect redemption of Christ, the Holy Spirit is now able to fully indwell a person (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). And similar to the Old Testament being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a sign of spirituality or maturity, but rather the Holy Spirit’s desire to help and empower us for service in the Kingdom of God.
Denzel knew the moment he was filled with the Holy Spirit, because of what happened to him. And when people were filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, they also manifested different things. Everyone knew they were filled with the Holy Spirit. There was no question about it.
When the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost, people knew something incredible was taking place. One of the manifestation was the gift of tongues, with people speaking in the languages of foreign visitors in Jerusalem at the time (Acts 2:6). Some disciples even appeared drunk (Acts 2:13).
The same thing happened when the Holy Spirit fell upon the gentiles at the home of Cornelius, Peter knew this had happened because of what he was seeing and hearing:
46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:46-47 ESV)
And Denzel even personally benefited from one of the several gifts, gift of prophesy (1 Corinthians 12:10), that the Holy Spirit hands out when a person is filled.
Denzel was at his mother’s beauty shop when a woman from the church they attended came to the shop:
“Ruth Green was known to have the gift of prophecy. She lived in Mt. Vernon where I grew up and my mother did her hair. So she was in the beauty shop when I was sitting in there having been kicked out of school, out of college. And she said ‘boy you’re gonna travel the world and preach to millions of people.'”
Denzel Washington is not perfect. But as we see in the life of King David, the Apostle Peter, and King Saul, we don’t have to be perfect to be anointed by the Holy Spirit and used by God.
READ: Denzel Washington recounts being filled with the Holy Spirit: ‘It scared me’ AND Denzel Washington recalls the day he was filled with the Holy Spirit and the prophecy that’s been fulfilled over his life