THE WORK OF HOLY SPIRIT
The archangel Lucifer, perfect when created, exercised free will by desiring to exalt himself above God (Isaiah 14:12-15). Eventually he would lead one-third of angels in rebellion and be cast out of heaven with his angels to the earth (Revelation 12:7-9). Known as the devil or Satan, he would rule over a kingdom of evil spirits described by Paul (Ephesians 6:12). Starting with Adam and Eve, this kingdom has been in a state of perpetual conflict with men created in the image of God. Given free will as were angels who rebelled, men would rebel against God’s revealed will starting with Adam. The second person of the Godhead would manifest in human flesh as a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world to make reconciliation of mankind possible with a holy, righteous, and just God.
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
Some teach the only reason the Son of God was revealed in human likeness was that sins might be forgiven by blood shed at Calvary. Limiting Jesus’ incarnation to this one purpose is not only unbiblical. It ignores a greater purpose of destroying works of Satan so man might have the abundant life Satan desires to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). The deceiver works in various ways, some being poorly recognized and even denied by much of the church. One such involves generational iniquities which are unrecognized by most believers although there are very specific illustrations in scripture. One of these involved King David who realized he was conceived in sin and shaped by the iniquites of his forefathers.
“Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5
Iniquity (a mindset or disposition) leading to adultery with Bethsheba also passed to the next generation. His first son Amnon raped his own sister. Another son Solomon manifested uncontrolled lust by accumulating one thousand wives and concubines, many from forbidden cultures who led him to worship false gods from which there is no record of repenting. David and Solomon had the Spirit of God upon their lives when generational iniquity of lust manifested. Another example involved Abraham who lied to the Pharaoh and to King Abimelech about Sarah not being his wife. His son Isaac used the identical lie with King Abimelech about Rebekah when they went to live in the land of Philistines during a famine. Isaac’s son Jacob lied to his father about being Esau to gain his father’s blessing, and Jacob’s sons lied about Joseph beijg killed by an animal after selling him to traders going to Egypt. So a lying spirit manifested in four successive generations of God’s chosen people.
The church has failed to recognize and deal with generational iniquities as if such did not exist. There is no debate about physical characteristics such as color of skin and eyes having genetic influence. Certain behavior patterns are also recognized as inherited dispositions. Now science has identified specific chromosomal markers as associated with both mental and physical disease. For example, depression is often seen in succesive generations, and associated with a specific defect on a second “x” chromosome in females. Breast cancer is often linked to a chromosome marker, and such is used to identify women at high risk. Yet both depression and breast cancers develop in those born again, and are healed at times by dealing with spiritual issues often associated with these conditions.
There is false teaching that Calvary removed consequences for sin having spiritual roots passed from generation to generation. Were such true, the church would not manifest the same diseases and afflictions as those who are unredeemed. Saints and nonbelievers often experience the same infirmities, take the same medicine, and die prematurely of the same causes at the same hospitals. Yet an unchanging God tells us such should not be the case. God says the diseases of Egypt will not fall upon the redeemed providing the latter live according to His ways (Exodus 15:26).
The message of Jesus is not just about lives which change, but about an exchange of lives, about our dying to self and Christ living within. Paul wrote a very trustworthy saying: “For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him” (2 Timothy 2:11). It is an exchanged life whereby Jesus lives in believers by His Spirit. This is why all in Christ become new creations, not just repair jobs (2 Corinthians 5:17). Such an exchange of lives is selcom articulated clearly in churches of any persuasion today.
Paul emphasized an exchanged life in writing the church in Galatia, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is in harmony with Jesus’ teaching that we must lose our lives for His sake if we expect to save our lives (Luke 9:24). However, such is not the gospel preached today in most churches. A “free gift’ of salvation is offered with little if any mention about Jesus saying those who would be disciples must be willing to give up everything by denying self and taking up a cross daily.
“Whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33
Paul did not preach soft messages in contrast to most who occupy pulpits today. The apostle understood what Jesus had meant by saying, “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthes 11:12). The advancing of God’s kingdom would meet great resistance and violence at times; and those seeking to enter into the kingdom can only do so by forcefully resisting not only the world, but those in the church who compromise the purity of His message and prefer to remain “lukewarm.”
Paul often noted suffering for Christ as part of discipleship. “For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29). Of those who preach salvation without sacrifice and suffering for Christ, Paul wrote the following under inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). The meaning of Greek translated as “accursed” is to ban or excommunicate.
Knowing suffering and persecution would be experienced, Jesus commanded His disciples to wait in prayer and supplication “until you be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus realized that those He was leaving behind to walk in His footsteps and advance the gospel of the kingdom were going to need power from on high. Only through power received with baptism in the Spirit would they preach the gospel of the kingdom “with great boldness” (Acts 4:29) as well as have power to heal the sick and drive out demons in His name (Mark 16:17,18).
“But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Peter as well as Paul understood the importance of receiving divine power for godly living and becoming witnesses “to Christ” (2 Peter 1:3,4). Emphasis today is that of “witnessing about” Christ instead of being “witnesses to” Him by living as did Jesus. It was Paul who understood this in saying he no longer lived, but Christ lived in him. It was also clear to other apostles that divine power was needed to transform them into the likeness of Christ and reflect His character known as the fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” Galatians 5:22,23
God commands us to put off the old manner of life, corrupt in its deceitful lusts, and put on a new way according to God’s high standards of holiness and righteousness (Ephesians 4:22-24). It is for such that baptism with the Holy Spirit is essential for all who would be true disciples. Some years ago in preparing to teach pastors in Honduras about the baptism, Holy Spirit graciously gave me a passage to use about the provisions which come through the baptism. It was an insight not received from man or a commentary, but from heaven, and dozens of pastors would be filled with the Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues unknown to them as took place at Pentecost. The following is that passage about provisions of the baptism:
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.” Philippians 3:10.
Three aspects of witness to Christ are described in this single verse, the first being to “know” Christ. The Greek ginosko translated “know” means to know intimately. An important role of the Spirit is revealing Christ to us. “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you” (John 10:13,14). Paul later complements these words of Jesus in writing to the church, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation to the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17).
The second provision is to know the “power of His resurrection,” by having the Holy Spirit reveal Christ in us. It is only through divine power that we are able to put to,put to death misdeeds of flesh (sinful nature). “For if you live after the flesh, you shall die; but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live” (Romans 8:13). Scripture contradicts the heresy of our day that one can come to Christ and continue to live according to ways of the old man (the flesh) and still inherit eternal life. Without baptism in the Spirit, many believers remain in a cycle of sin-confess-sin. The character of Christ as revealed by humility, obedience, servanthood, and love is not formed in us and consistently expressed through mercy and grace by personal effort apart from the power which raised Jesus from the dead.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
The third provision is to know the “fellowship of His sufferings” as the Holy Spirit reveals Christ through us to touch the lives of others by destroying works of the devil. Experiencing the power of Holy Spirit working through us to bring glory to God is guaranteed to result in suffering. Not only does the world respond negatively to the Spirit’s manifested power. Satan reacts violently as his kingdom of darkness is invaded by the saving, healing, and liberating power of God. “Lukewarm” believers also react by frank rejection if not open persecution. Those not filled with the Spirit do not understand that unclean spirits influencing their lives are in conflict with the Holy Spirit of a Spirit-filled believer, and cause them to have inner turmoil.
So it is Philippians 3:10 tells that Holy Spirit comes in power with baptism to reveal Jesus to us, in us, and through us for the glory of God. Such a person submitted to work of the Spirit becomes a lovely aroma to those saved, but a stench to all who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15,16). The latter see their worldview and priorities rejected, and it leads to conflict if not persecution. So it is Jesus warns in advance to expect the world to hate all who would follow Him as disciples (John 15:19). Yet we have a lovely promise: “Blessed are you when people persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 6:11,12}.
Many who come to Christ continue struggling with old habits, hurts and hangups. Why is this? It’s because they have not received empowering of the Holy Spirit that enables one to overcome old ways and live as overcomers for the glory of God. This does not mean trials and tribulations cease. To the contrary, it is common for both frequency and intensity of trials to increase as a believer is refined and prepared for warfare in the army of Christ. It is one thing to suffer for foolishness and something else to suffer for the sake of Christ, even though the purpose for suffering may be hidden from our eyes. Saving faith is anything but the ‘easy to be saved without cost’ gospel promoted in so many churches.
Paul suffered greatly, yet encouraged disciples to remain true to the faith, for “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The empowering received by filling with the Spirit enables one to have the strength and comfort to endure persecution and rejection that comes from friends and even from family members at times (Matthew 10:34-36). But gaining greater intimacy with the Father and His Son are the most precious provisions coming with the baptism along with a passionate love for the Word of God. The latter becomes experiential, and one understands why the psalmist says a man is blessed whose delight is in the Word of God and on His Word he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:2).
A lesson Israel was to learn in their wilderness wandering was “that we may know ourselves” (Deut 8:2). God allows struggles and defeat at times so we might realize our weakness apart from Him. If we cling to natural ways instead of a Spirit-led way of life, it will bring us to despair. At this point, many find their hearts prepared for baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Baptizer (Luke 3:16) and knows who has a yielded heart and is ready to accept crucifixion of self (Romans 6:6). It is extremely challenging for most to have self-confidence so broken as to surrender the control of one’s life. But under such circumstances, baptism in the Spirit is often experienced. A carnal nature cannot submit to the Spirit because its desire is to hold to ways of a world ruled by Satan instead of God’s ways. But if we will submit to the lordship of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will work to destroy a fleshly (sinful or carnal) nature so we can enjoy an inheritance of joy unspeakable and full of glory.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).