The bible categorically, clearly and concisely says ‘Be filled with the Holy Spirit’. The sense in the Greek (found in Ephesians 5:18) is dynamic and ongoing, literally meaning ‘go on being filled’. God says that this is is what you need. Being full of God’s Spirit is not an optional extra. It’s what God wants for you. So – be filled!
Why? Why does God want you to be full of his Spirit? Three particular reasons are given in 2 Timothy 1:7. It’s because ‘The Spirit… gives us power, love and self-discipline.’
The first reason God gives you the Holy Spirit is to give you power. You need power. You need power to live as a disciple, because naturally we are weak. You need power to speak with the authority of Jesus Christ. You need power to see the sick healed.
Bill Johnson has said, ‘For decades the Church has been guilty of creating doctrine to justify their lack of power, instead of crying out to God until He changes them.’ And he’s right.
I think Sam and me saw an example of God’s power last weekend when our seven year old son David fell off a wall. The base of his spine hit the ground first, landing on the edge of a concrete pavement. After a second’s pause there was this terrible cry of pain and we thought he had done some terrible damage.Sam held him and started praying quietly in tongues over him.Then I prayed and spoke healing over his body, over his back, over the pain and its root source. At the end of the prayer David calmed down, sat up and seemed fine. He walked then for ten minutes back home. Half an hour later I checked his back to see how the bruising was doing, and there was absolutely nothing there. No signs at all. Not the next day, or since!
Now of course it’s possible, despite the bad fall, that he didn’t hurt anything at all and God’s power protected him. Or maybe our prayers released the power of God’s Spirit. I don’t know. But either way, we give thanks to God for his Spirit of power, at work!
If you unplug a laptop, the battery soon gets down to reserve and then it cuts out. It will do that unless you replug it back into the power-source. It’s like that with us. Unless we’re regularly connected and reconnected with the Holy Spirit, we lose power. And we will stop functioning. Do you need to reconnect?
The second reason God gives you the Holy Spirit is to give you love. You need love. You need love to care for those in need. You need love to share the gospel with a stranger. You need love to forgive someone who hurts you. You need love to cover over a multitude of sins.
William Barclay said: ‘The Christian’s only method of destroying his enemies is to love them into his friends.’ I like that.
Heidi Baker in Mozambique talks of the love that Jesus gives her for the poor and the lost.In the midst of so much need she feels God has told her to simply love the one in front of her. One at a time. We must do the same.
When the Scriptures say ‘put on love’ it’s like we take up a massive blanket on a cold winter’s day to be shared so the maximum number of people can enjoy the warmth. God’s love is not just for us. It’s to share his with others. In word and action.
The third reason God gives you the Holy Spirit is to give you self-discipline. You need self-discipline. You need self-discipline to get up early to pray and read the Scriptures. You need self-discipline to stay faithful to your spouse for all your life. You need self-discipline to regularly fast, pray and give. You need self-discipline to stand up against the devil’s tricks. You need self-discipline to persevere, especially when being under all sorts of pressure.
John Stott said that his secret to staying fresh in ministry and not burning out was to have (what he called) ‘a disciplined devotional life, with a determination to meet Christ every day.’
Paul Y Cho, now retired pastor of the largest church in world, said that ‘The lazy Christian is not willing to seek. He never enters into the fullness of the blessing which God has desired him to enter. It take discipline and effort to live your life at the doorpost of the Lord.’
The good news is that this discipline does not just come from you trying harder. The Holy Spirit will give you that self-discipline as he fills you. You then have to co-operate with the Spirit to see that self-discipline worked out in your life.
Being self-disciplined is not about personality types. The self-discipline the Spirit gives is for all people. All personalities. It’s too easy to make the excuse that ‘being disciplined is not my personality.’ If you feel like that, you need to get over it, and ask the Holy Spirit to give us his self-discipline.
As we begin 2012 you and I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so we can be full of power, love and self-discipline. Ask him, day after day, to fill you. And he will. So start today.