Continuing this series of posts on questions about the Holy Spirit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is both a free gift, 1 Thess 4:8, and a solemn responsibility, Eph 5:18. There are certain attitudes which open the way to the blessing of the Spirit. We are to ask, Lk 11:13, to thirst and drink, Jn 7:37, to repent, Acts 2:38, to obey, Acts 5:32, to have faith, Jn 7:39; Gal 3:1-5,14. On the other hand, certain negative attitudes can oppose the work of the Spirit. He can be lied to, Acts 5:3, resisted, Acts 7:51, grieved, Eph 4:30, and quenched, 1 Thess 5:19. ‘It is a great mystery that the creature should be able to assert his petty will against that of the Creator, to turn away from the Spirit’s leadings, and in some sense nullify the Divine. Yet the Scripture assures us that this is indeed the case.’ (Leon Morris, Spirit of the Living God, 97) It constitutes a significant step, or series of steps, of growth in the Christian life, together with a deeper fellowship with God, a greater effectiveness in prayer and Bible reading, a new joy in worship, and a new empowering for ministry.
It cannot be tested exclusively or even principally by emotional excitement or physical effects.
It is linked to a deepening of fellowship with the Lord.
It should not be allowed to overshadow the decisive spiritual change that takes place at regeneration.
It is not a once-for-all experience. Indeed, the whole of the believer’s experience in this life is but the ‘first-fruits’, Rom 8:23; the ‘down-payment’, 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14, of what lies ahead. ‘This is profoundly important. It means that in the gift of the Spirit the believer receives something of the powers and the life of the world to come. His life in the Spirit is literally “out of this world”. It is a preview, a foretaste of the blessedness set before us.’ (Leon Morris, Spirit of the Living God, 96)
It admits of various degrees.
It may include the use of new spiritual gifts, or increased effectiveness in the use of old gifts. Does not always result in speaking in tongues.
It is not a ‘quck fix’. It does not offer an easy short cut to holiness. The Christian life continues to be a battle against indwelling sin.