Hosting the Holy Spirit | 2010-4

 

And you were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13, NIV).
Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (II Cor. 5:5, NASB).

 

And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. (John 14:16-17, RSV).

 

You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred–and you, remember, are the temple. (I Cor. 3:16-17, THE MESSAGE).

Jesus spent much time preparing His disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit into their hearts and lives. He sought to make sure they understood the importance of having Him to keep them on track spiritually and fully within divine purposes for their lives and ministries. Jesus knew that if His disciples failed to understand the importance of their relationship with the Holy Spirit, His global vision for the Gospel would never get off the ground.

The disciples were at first grief-stricken on learning of the physical departure of their Lord. But they listened carefully as He explained the difference it would make for Him to depart in the flesh in order to return to them again in the Spirit. God in the Old Testament had been a presence with believers; God in the New Testament would be a presence in believers.

When Jesus told His disciples that the Father would send the Holy Spirit “in my name” (John 14:26), He meant in my character. The Holy Spirit would be to them another Convicter, another Comforter, another Counselor, just as Jesus had been. The Holy Spirit would not be given to replace Christ, but rather to reveal Christ. In fact, one hour after being filled with the Spirit at His Pentecostal outpouring, the disciples knew Christ much more perfectly than they had before. Christ had been with them; His Spirit was now in them. For the Holy Spirit is truly the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9) and the Spirit of Christ (I Pet. 1:11).

Jesus promised, I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth …. It is by the Holy Spirit that we learn about our Heavenly Father and our Redeeming Christ. The Spirit internalizes truth about God and about ourselves. He helps us form our spiritual convictions, our worldview and our philosophy of life.

As the believer’s Indwelling Guest, the Holy Spirit is our Illuminator and Counselor making truth clear, intelligible and intensely real. As the Author of the Scriptures, He will interpret His Word for the obedient follower of Jesus. He will fit all of the truth into the framework of our lives, knowing just when to hold some of the truth back from us for a time and then knowing just when we are ready to understand, receive and obey it.

Our Lord and His apostles made it very clear that our success in knowing the truth, growing in grace and representing our Lord in power depends on how we relate to our Indwelling Guest. How sensitive, attentive and obedient are we to our Guest who has been sent to us from the Father and the Son? What kind of hosts are we?

The apostle Paul particularly cautioned against improper treatment of our divine Guest. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, he wrote (Eph. 4:30). And again, the apostle wrote, Do not quench the Spirit (I Thes. 5:19). To grieve the Spirit is to cause Him disappointment or hurt. To quench the Spirit is to squelch or suppress His stirrings in us for action or to ignore His promptings; of course, these attitudes and actions preclude His operations within us. The Holy Spirit is a Person, capable of pleasure, disappointment, grief, or even anger. Since it is His purpose to indwell all believers for the purposes of God for perfecting His plan for their lives, we should all seek to be sensitive to all His leadings. As I understand it, the Spirit seeks to do five things in our lives: (1) Reveal Christ’s redemptive works in His life, crucifixion and resurrection; (2) Illumine our understanding of the Bible and help us grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; (3) Cleanse, fill and empower us for prayer, worship, witness and living in holiness and truth; (4) Convict us of sin and all that hinders God’s will; and (5) Preserve us in holiness until the time of the coming of Christ or until our time of death.

From the moment of our new birth (regeneration), we are given the Holy Spirit as a Gift. In fact, the apostle Paul declares, Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Rom. 8:9). In reading our New Testament, the believer who has only the indwelling Spirit should hear the call to the filling of the Spirit. Dr. A. B. Simpson, in a time before the electric or diesel engine, illustrated the difference in the power of the believer who only knew the indwelling Spirit and the one who knew the filling Spirit. He said, “We can understand the difference between a boiler full of water and a boiler full of boiling water. In the one case it is cold water which fills, but which has no power; in the other it is the water converted into steam, driving the wheels of the mighty engine and carrying the train’s cars across the continent along the iron tracks. That degree of temperature makes all the difference in the world between power and impotence.”

In prophesying conditions of the last days, Jesus said, And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold (Matt. 24:12). The revival of supernatural evil powers in our day make it all the more urgent that we guard against quenching the Spirit, or “putting out the Spirit’s fire.” To treat the Holy Spirit as an honored and cherished guest is to guard against restricting and limiting His work within us. Otherwise, He is not free to execute the divine plan in our hearts and lives and ministries. We can stifle the actions of the indwelling Spirit in a number of ways: by ignoring His passion in us for communion with God; by substituting personal interests for the hunger He has created in us for the Word of God and prayer; by postponing His direction to us to minister to someone in need; by giving in to doubt instead of accepting the faith He would impart for some advancement of the Kingdom of God; by forgetting that the Christian life is lived victoriously only as we learn to relate properly to our Holy Guest.

Oh, dear friends, let us in these dark and dangerous days resolve to walk in holy fellowship with our ungrieved Holy Guest! We begin this with His anointing for prayer. The inspired experiences of prayer and the renewing of the Holy Spirit are so interrelated that sometimes we are confused about the cause and the effect. The truth is that only praying hearts are filled with the Spirit. And it is equally true that only Spirit-filled hearts can prevail in prayer. It is the baptizing fullness of the Spirit that sets our hearts on fire to pray. Churches aren’t revived through preaching alone; it takes prayer–Spirit-anointed prayer. Only those Christians who are full of God’s Spirit are enabled to engage in such praying; only Christians who are praying can retain such fullness.

Our Lord left His followers a marvelous legacy of prayer. He spent more of His time in teaching His disciples on the principles, practices and power of prayer than on any other subject. This He did in reference to the promised Spirit who would teach them and us to pray. Until they obeyed the Lord and returned to the Upper Room for prolonged praying, there would be no fulfillment of the promise. When they had prayed, Luke says, They were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4).

The conditions for being filled with the Spirit and relating properly to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis have not changed one iota: it still takes Spirit-anointed prayer!


Jim Tharp with his mentor and prayer partner, Dr. Wesley Duewel, President Emeritus, OMS International

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