These papers explore how to be filled with the Holy Spirit with the goal of being empowered to live a life that pleases God. This fifth part will look at being filled with the Holy Spirit: wrong motives, right motives, God’s timing, laying on of hands, Jesus’ example, prerequisites, and results.
How to be Filled
[Let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us in this study]
Key verse: “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”1
Reviewing Chapter 4:
- Satan is incredibly powerful.
- But the Holy Spirit is even more powerful.
- Therefore bask in the Holy Spirit.
- Romans 3 through 7 prepare us for the Holy Spirit.
- Romans 8 tells us so much about the Holy Spirit.
I think that all of us want to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. However, we may have a variety of motives.
Unfortunately there are some false reasons for wanting to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Some of them are pretty subtle: [What are they?]
- Want to appear spiritual to my friends.
- Want power:
- So I can do God’s work without having to depend on Him.
- Don’t like to feel weak.
- Want to be better than my brothers.
- Want to impress my friends—be important.
- Want superior knowledge.
- Afraid of friends’ judgments.
- Don’t trust God to know what I need.
- I think I need an experience to be sure I’m saved.2
- Want some excitement.
- Want a formula to follow rather than faith.
On the other hand, there are also some valid reasons for wanting to be empowered: [what are they?]
- Want to know our Lord better.
- Want to see God’s work expand.
- Want our lives to count and have purpose.
- Want to abide in Christ and walk in the Spirit. [We can’t even “walk in the Spirit” without His empowering!]
- Want to be a blessing to the body of Christ. 3
- Want to become more like Jesus.4
- We know there is more to the Christian life:
- Want to experience it more.5
- Contrast between our lives and New Testament.
- Need power in order to do things that please God.
- He is the One who will produce in us righteousness, peace and joy.6
- He is the One who enables us to have victory over our sin nature.7
- He is the one who will enable us to bask in Him.
Motives are key:
- “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”8
- Remember the story about Simon who thought he could buy the Holy Spirit’s power: ‘Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.”‘9
How can we be anointed with power by the Holy Spirit?
There are three ways to be anointed by the Holy Spirit:
- By God’s sacred timing
- By laying on of hands
- The way Jesus taught
- By God’s sacred timing:
- The OT prophets
- The OT judges
- John the Baptist
- Jesus’ baptism
- The Roman Centurion
Laying on of hands
- By laying on of hands:
- Acts 8:17, “Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.”
- Acts 9:17-19, ‘So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened.’
- 2 Tim 1:6, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” It would not have been necessary to remind him if he had not neglected his anointing. 2 Tim 1:14, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure [the Holy Spirit] which has been entrusted to you.” It is wonderful that the filling can be rekindled.
- 1 Tim 4:14, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you [the Holy Spirit], which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” I told you that I had asked our elders to lay hands on me to enable me to lead this study on the Holy Spirit.
- The third way to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the way Jesus taught his disciples:
Let’s look at each of these a little more carefully:
- “…He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised…”10 Obey.
- “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised…”11
- “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”12 It’s His timing. We need to wait patiently.
- “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”13
- This is repeated almost word-for-word: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good [the Holy Spirit] to those who ask Him!”14
- ‘Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water [the Holy Spirit].“‘15
- “…while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove…”16
- “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…”17
- “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find.”18
- Receive (the Holy Spirit is a gift):
- “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds…”19
- “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things [including the Holy Spirit]?”20
- “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”‘ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”21
- Tell the story of Clare’s gift of the beautiful chess set that she mailed to her estranged dad. He never opened it! Some of us are like that: the Holy Spirit is offered to us as a gift but we never receive Him.
- “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”22
- “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” 23
He fills us for His own reasons. It’s not to make us feel good, powerful, famous, etc. [Why does He? He does it to accomplish His own purpose for the Father’s glory. ]
Conditions for being filled by the Holy Spirit
Since we are commanded to ask for the Holy Spirit, what are the conditions for answered prayer? Do we always get what we ask for?
- “You do not have because you do not ask.”24
- “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”25
- “…and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”26
- “God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”27
- “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”28
- “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”29
Results of being filled
What are the results of asking in faith for the Holy Spirit?
- “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”30
- ‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.’31
- “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.”32
- Micah said: “On the other hand I am filled with power —with the Spirit of the Lord —and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin.”33
- Paul said: “For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”34
- Jesus said: “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.”35
In many cases in the Scriptures when someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, they spontaneously speak in tongues (glossolalia]. This is what is often called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was described to me by one of my friends that it is like being immersed in warm honey—a spiritual orgasm.
- Does this always occur? [No]
- If it doesn’t, does that mean you are not saved? [No]
- If we do not experience that blessing, are we second-class Christians? [No]
- Remember the verse: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”36
- Likewise, “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”37 We are to live by faith—not by sight.38 39
- Whatever happens, do not let this become a cause of division between believers. I personally have not spoken in tongues but I fellowship with several friends who have and I totally respect them. It is Biblical.
Unfortunately there is much confusion concerning spiritual gifts:
- Paul spent the whole twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of 1st Corinthians correcting some misunderstandings about spiritual gifts.
- Some teach that tongues is the best gift. This flies in the face of what Paul taught:
- “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.”40
- Some teach that everyone has exactly one and only one spiritual gift. This ignores 1 Cor 12:31, “But earnestly desire the greater gifts.” [Plural]
- Some teach that the gifts were only for the first century in order to “kick-start” Christianity but that they are now obsolete. Evidence contradicts this.
- Some teach that only the gifts listed in Galatians 5:2241 et cetera are the only true gifts. How about “hospitality” and “power” and “wisdom” and “faith” and “hope” and many other true gifts that are not specifically listed. The Holy Spirit Himself is the very best gift!
Now let’s replace that confusion with what the scriptures say about spiritual gifts:
- “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”42
- “So also you, since you [Corinthians] are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.“43
- “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”44
- “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.”45
- 1 Cor 12:31: “But earnestly desire the greater gifts.” [Which are they?]
- Which one is the greatest? Love! Paul spends the whole of chapter thirteen describing love. “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”46
- “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”47
- We’ve examined both good and bad reasons to want to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- We’ve seen why our motives are key.
- We’ve studied how to be filled by the Holy Spirit by praying and asking.
- We’ve listed conditions for answered prayer.
- We’ve looked at the outcome of the filling.
- We’ve examined teachings on the gifts of the Spirit.
These papers are based on a six-week adult Sunday School study at Sisters Community Church in Sisters, Oregon, January 2020, led by Drew Berding. The title of the study was ‘The Holy Spirit Empowering the Life of the Believer.’
Photo Attribution: Morning Brew – unsplash.com
- Luke 11:9-13
- Rom 8:16-17, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
- 1 Cor 12:4-7, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
- 2 Cor 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
- John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
- Rom 14:17, “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
- Gal 5:17-18, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
- James 4:3
- Acts 8:18-22
- Acts 1:3
- Acts 1:4
- Luke 24:49
- Luke 11:13
- Matt 7:11
- John 4:10
- Luke 3:21-22
- Acts 1:7
- Acts 1:8
- Matt 7:8
- Rom 8:32
- John 7:37-39
- Acts 2:26
- Acts 1:8
- James 4:2
- James 4:3
- 1 John 3:22
- Heb 2:4
- Matt 21:22
- James 1:6-8
- Acts 2:1-4
- Acts 10:44-48
- 1 Sam 16:13
- Micah 3:7
- Rom 15:18-19
- John 3:34
- 1 Cor 12:11
- John 20:29
- 2 Cor 5:7, “…for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
- Rom 8:24-25, “…hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
- 1 Cor 14:18-19
- Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
- 1 Cor 12:7-8
- 1 Cor 14:12
- 1 Cor 12:11
- 1 Cor 12:4
- 1 Cor 13:13
- Matt 22:36-40