Are the challenges of current circumstances leaving you weary, depressed and wishing you could quit and go inhabit someone else’s life? Ever felt that way? I did during a season of ministry when non-stop church conflict dogged my husband and I daily. The stress exposed weaknesses in our characters. He overate. I stopped eating. I churned details of the conflict in my mind endlessly. He tried to ignore the situations.
If not for the power of the Holy Spirit, Ken and I might be leading dysfunctional, broken lives right now. We might be like some believers we’ve met who are not connected with any local body and are bitter against the church in general, due to conflict or hurt feelings. Without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, that could be us.
Amidst the conflicts, God used those challenges to put Ken and I through the Holy Spirit’s boot camp. We felt such desperation; our hearts yearned to understand what the Bible meant where it says the Spirit lives inside of us and anoints us with what the Greeks called, “Dunamis,” power. Instead of experiencing power, like scriptures describe, we felt like garden hoses with kinks in them. Somehow, we knew the Holy Spirit ached to flow through us in dynamic ways but, unknowingly, we restricted him.
How did we get our hoses so twisted? For me, it involved control. Deeply buried in my old nature lurked a fear that people who gave way entirely to the Holy Spirit were goofy, out of control. Rather than utterly yielding myself to the control of our dear Comforter, I only allowed him to operate from my driver’s seat occasionally. That kind of Christianity will fail you inside the inferno of an intense trial. “This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD.” Jeremiah 17:5
God does not mince words when it comes to relying on human strength instead of yielding to the power he’s placed in every believer, in the person of the Holy Spirit. Ken and I recognized that we’d been walking out our faith on our own steam, which fizzled fast once we wound up in some trouble. While our flesh screamed, “Just walk away, you don’t need this…” the Holy Spirit whispered, “Don’t you dare let Satan chase you off!”
What a fool I was to try and limit the Holy Spirit’s scope and influence in my inner man. God released him to me as a gift to be treasured, not someone to be feared. He is our teacher, guide and conscience. He is speaking on behalf of God to us continuously and comes alongside us when we pray, particularly when we don’t even know how to pray. New Testament believers are privileged to be in a relationship with him only promised to our Old Testament spiritual forefathers and mothers.
Ancient Israelites could not experience intimacy with the Spirit. He didn’t make his home inside them the way he does with you and me. The best that ancient followers of Jehovah could hope for was that the Holy Spirit might alight on them for a period for a specific purpose. (See Numbers 27:18, Judges 3:10, 6:34, 13:25, 14:6, and1 Samuel 10:9)
In the middle of the book of Joel, immediately after God’s promises of restoration for the repentant, and before the descriptions of the judgment of nations, is a small island of two powerful verses. In them, Joel prophesies a fundamental change in the way humans and the Holy Spirit will interact in the future. For those who lived through this transformative moment it would be like a couple shifting from an online, virtual relationship to marriage.
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
Unlike our OT brothers and sisters, since the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit melds with every believer permanently. Instead of residing, temporarily, with a select few, he will be given generously to every Christ-follower, regardless of age, gender or social standing. One commentator calls it “the democracy of the Holy Spirit.” Likewise, his fruit, gifts and power are equally available to every Christian.
So, when all this power, gifts and fruit are easy access for modern believers, why do so many of us not flow in the anointing that Jesus himself described? “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth?” Acts 1:8 First, ask yourself two questions:
What did Jesus say the purpose of this power was?
Who and what does Satan continuously oppose?
Jesus intended for every believer to be powerfully anointed to spread the gospel like wildfire, as believers did in the early church. Satan will oppose the gospel and those who carry it with everything he’s got, until he’s tossed into the lake of fire. So, who do you think puts negative, squirrely thoughts in believers’ minds about the Holy Spirit and his ministry? Hint- not any member of the Holy Trinity.
Folks, we are running out of time and the lines between dark and light are becoming more and more distinct. If you are not intentionally fulfilling your part, whatever that is, of Christ’s command to carry the gospel, then you are unintentionally serving the causes of Hell. We cannot do our parts if we refuse to yield every day, in every way, to the Holy Spirit’s direction and authority. Is your life a threat to Satan or does he consider you a non-combatant?