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How Benny Tate Went From Selling Spirits to the Holy Spirit

How Benny Tate Went From Selling Spirits to the Holy Spirit

When your family makes a living selling whiskey illegally out of the back door of your house, there is no such thing as a good night's sleep. I can still hear that loud screeching and heavy slamming sound of the old screen door on the back of our cement block house in that tiny mountain town. At all hours of the night, people were coming and going. We all took turns answering the door, taking the money, and filling the order.

Our customers were always the same people, showing up in different emotional states because alcohol affects people differently. Some were happy; others were sad. Some relaxed while others became angry. But they all had one thing in common: wanting to drink. As long as we were selling, they were buying. We eventually got shutdown, and our source of income stopped, but their drinking didn’t because when a person wants to be drunk badly enough, they will find a way to get a drink everyday.

God saved my life and paved a much better path than the one I lived all those years ago. I got saved at sixteen years old and have followed Jesus ever since. I can remember reading about the Holy Spirit in my Bible but having no solid understanding of Him until later in my Christian walk. You see, Ephesians 5:18 teaches, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” By “Spirit,” the Bible means the Holy Spirit. As a young Christian reading that scripture for the first time, I wondered why the Bible would compare being filled with the Holy Spirit with being drunk, but I later began to understand the similarities.

I know this to be true about drunk people: they will go places they wouldn’t normally go, say things they don’t usually say, and do things they would never do only because they are under the influence of alcohol. If you think about it, the same is true for those filled with the Holy Spirit - they go places, say things, and do things they would never do on their own if it were not for the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of them.

At seventeen years old, I felt called to preach, and the Holy Spirit led me into ministry. I didn’t know much about the Bible. I preached out of the book of “Spasms” instead of Psalms for quite some time. There were no preachers in my family to look to or learn from. Before my mom got saved, I didn’t have anyone in my life talking about church, God, or Jesus. I definitely never got to talk about the Holy Spirit. Even while attending Bible College, I didn’t learn about the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t remember much time or emphasis on studying or discussing the Holy Spirit in any of the classes I took.

Aside from not being taught or influenced directly concerning the Holy Spirit, there were a few reasons why I didn’t try to learn more on my own. In the hills of Tennessee where I first started preaching, the only acceptable Bible to preach from was the King James Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I love the King James Bible and I preach from it to this day, but I also realize that other versions can help people understand God’s Word a little better. I believe when we get into our Bibles—whatever version that may be— and truly seek to know God, He will provide the understanding we need at that time anyway. But early on, I would read my King James Bible and come across scripture talking about the Holy Ghost. I’ll be honest, without being taught what that meant, I always associated it with the only other kinds of ghosts I knew about: the spooky, Halloween, campfire-story, scary-movie ghosts. To the detriment of my spiritual walk and that of others, I kept my distance from those scriptures because of my lack of knowledge.

Serving for over 40 years in ministry has taught me that there is nothing worse than a full church of half-full people. I know from personal experience. I certainly have many regrets over the last forty years of pastoring churches, but my greatest regret is neglecting to teach more about the Holy Spirit - not just because it affected me personally as the pastor but because it affected so many other people as well.

It wasn’t until 2016 that I decided to preach an entire sermon series on the Holy Spirit. I studied, prayed, and prepared more than ever before to preach for six weeks on the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know exactly what to expect but I believed the Holy Spirit would come and that great change would happen. He came, indeed! And He changed everything in my personal life as well as the lives of our church staff and congregation!

When you allow the Holy Spirit to fill and direct your life, everything will change: relationships will be healed, self-esteem will be lifted, purpose will be revealed, direction will become clear, hope will overflow, peace will reign in your heart, and the goodness and faithfulness of God in your life will be undeniable! If you have tried for far too long and spent too much of your valuable energy trying to manage everything going on in your life, I encourage you to surrender your strength to the indwelling presence and unlimited power of the Holy Spirit.

To read more from Benny Tate’s ‘Unlimited,’ visit

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