I am referring to the filling of His power.
When we look at the scriptures, we find that the apostles were “refilled” with the Spirit: Paul rebuking Elymas the sorcerer, “But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him,...” Acts 13:9 ESV ” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel,...” Acts 4:8 ESV “ And of the Old Testament prophets, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2nd Peter 1:21 ESV “Carried along” in the Greek is defined as “moved; driven”.
But the apostles and prophets of old were not the only ones who received additional fillings of the Spirit. Let’s look at Acts 4 where Peter and John were approached by the Jewish religious leaders for preaching Jesus and the resurrection. After much debate, the leaders decided to let the apostles go with a stern warning. The two return to their own company of friends in Verse 23. Verses 24 through 40 is their praise and prayer, ending with the amazing verse 41, “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” NKJV These were most definitely people who already had been born again in the Spirit. Some believe the key to why God granted this refilling is found in verse 29, “And now, Lord, behold the threats against them: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word...” The idea is that God filled them with an extraordinary sense of boldness to witness. We cannot read God’s mind. It may very well be that He fills us at times to ready us for a special task or purpose according to His will.
We read of the newly converted Gentiles at Antioch, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52 ESV “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” Acts 6:3 KJV As for Stephen, “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55 ESV Then there was Barnabas, “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” Acts 11:24 ESV
Do you notice how these people were filled and full of the Holy Spirit? The idea here is that these men were not only believers, not only devout believers, but men who continually lived within the power of the Holy Spirit. That means they continually displayed all the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22,23. And added to that was even spiritual wisdom! How many of us can say we even come close to living that kind of holy life? God calls all of us to that level of perfection, but He knows few will achieve it. That’s why He sent His son to be sacrificed for our shortcomings.
Yet, there are things we can choose to do to walk in the Spirit more than we are now. There are ways we can allow the Holy Spirit’s power to manifest itself more in our lives. First we need to look at the walls we may have put up between us and our relationship with God. Yes, even Christians can be guilty of all of these:
* Lack of Prayer Life
* No Desire for Bible Study
* Critical Spirit
* Impure Thoughts
* Loss of Love and Compassion for People
* Legalism and Reliance on Good Deeds
Disobedience to the Word of God can mitigate or even block the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit achieving God’s will in your life. It is not that the power of the Spirit is diminished. It is that our receptiveness to His power is diminished, making it harder and harder to maintain the wisdom and discernment we need in order to do God’s will. His voice gets more and more faint.
Doubt directly equates into lack of faith in God’s promises. The Spirit cannot force us to believe. His power is in “stand-by” mode until we come out of our doubt. Yet, lest we put God in a box, in His infinite mercy, He may intervene in our life in such a way to boost our faith and help us rise out of our doubt.
Guilt and worry are sins of lack of faith in God’s forgiveness and provision. Of course we should feel guilt about our wrongdoings. But the type of guilt I’m speaking of is the type that becomes obsessive and self-indulgent. Fear and worry are closely related. I believe the Holy Spirit is the element of power in the trinity. To deny that power that resides within by through fearing and worrying is to deny the divine office of the Holy Spirit.
We can become lazy and apathetic in praying and studying the Bible. How many of us truly understand that God is just waiting for us to answer our prayers to prove to us how awesome He is? Ephesians 6 tells us we are to pray in the Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit is the conduit by which we are spiritually connected to the Father. And, again, talk about the power of the Holy Spirit? – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 ESV
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV And Jesus at His return, “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13 KJV The Word of God is Jesus. So if we ignore our Bibles, we are ignoring Jesus Himself. But when we do study our Bibles, who is the agent that helps us understand its depths and helps us apply it to our lives? These illuminations can certainly be the result of fillings of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Concerning one with a critical spirit, the Bible makes a clear distinction between observing and helping a believer who has gone by the wayside and judging the eternal destiny of them. The first is to be done in love. The latter is usually done in arrogance, self-righteousness or even spite and maliciousness. A critical spirit has the opposite effect of edification in the church. The Bible teaches we are to build one another up and even consider the needs of others more highly than our own. A critical spirit closes off the flow of love and compassion toward others, because it deems that they are of lesser value to God in some way. Since agape (true unconditional) love can only come from God, and God deals with humankind in love, we can hinder the power of the Holy Spirit from working in us and through us by being deficient in that love with an uncompromising critical spirit.
Impure thoughts needs a little explanation. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,...” 1st Corinthians 6:19 ESV It may surprise some that these thoughts do not only have to be of a sexual nature. They can be any thought that God would find unholy. With some it might be sexual in nature. With others, it may be narcissistic visions of fame and celebrity. Others may have fantasies of power or riches. The list is as long as the number of vices a person can have. The reason these thoughts are unholy is because it proves a person is not content with the blessings God has determined to bestow upon them. He will give us what we need. Many times we have to pray for those things. But He will not always give us what we want (regardless of what prosperity preachers teach). Hear the words of Paul, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 NIV What is the secret Paul is speaking of here? To rely on Christ who gives him strength. And how does Christ give us strength? Through the power of the Holy Spirit that resides in us. If we try to find that strength by any other means, we, and it will fail.
Finally, a legalistic attitude is as bad as a critical mind. The difference is, a critical mind sets the standard by which they think others should live by, while a legalistic mind typically sets the standard by which they themselves think they should live. The most common form of legalism is the belief system that strict adherence to religious codes or traditions will allow the person to attain and maintain salvation.
But the truth is, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” Romans 3:28 NASB Likewise, reliance on good deeds to buy the way to salvation is just as false a doctrine. If the Holy Spirit can indwell in such a person, His power is being completely ignored, because one of the attributes of the Spirit is to refill a person with faith when they ask God to do so. But if the person is not relying on salvation by simple faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot manifest His power in that person’s life as God intends. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8 NLT “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,...” Titus 3:5 ESV
When we find any of the above spiritual flaws in ourselves, we need to immediately pray to God to deliver us from them. I guarantee, most of the time, because we have this stupid human nature, it will take many persistent prayers. “And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NLT You may ask, “If we are guaranteed salvation, then why should I be concerned about trying to live a holier life?” God is holy and He wants us to be holy. Doesn’t every responsible parent have the desire for their children to be obedient and full of good attributes? Also, God knows the only way His children can truly be happy is when they please their heavenly Father.
However, what is more important is that God has chosen His own to be reflections of who He is to the rest of the world in the hope that more may come to Him. We are to be the light of the world...the light in people’s lives...the hope for the downtrodden in this dismal existence. We simply cannot be as effective as possible in leading people to Christ without striving for a continual filling of the Holy Spirit. We must not be discouraged when we stumble and fall. That’s why I have used the word “striving” instead of “achieving”. We are simply vessels to spread the Word. It is the Holy Spirit who moves upon the hearts of those we give testimony to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking to someone, and I have been filled with the Holy Spirit’s power to witness. Scripture came to mind and He gave me the exact words that person needed to hear to open their ears to what God had to tell them. I have the strong feeling that if I were living a holier life, I would have been used a lot more than I have. And, admittedly, on a more selfish note, I would have been living a more joyful, abundant life myself also!