“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” – Luke 24:49
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is often misunderstood. Jesus made it clear that before we enter into the Great Commission, the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives is required. He has commanded us to go make disciples; not an option. But he also indicated that this task is not to be completed by human power. Wait until you receive the dynamic power of the Spirit, the Greek dunamis, the word from which we get the English dynamite and dynamic. It is an explosive power as opposed to authority. A policeman with a badge has authority, but if he also has a gun, then he has authority and power. Jesus has the authority, all authority in heaven and earth. It is by his authority and the power of the Holy Spirit that we are sent on mission. That mission isn’t just to a foreign culture, but also to our immediate neighborhoods.
Everyone who believes and obeys the gospel is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.1
Being indwelt by the Holy Spirit is not the same thing as being filled with the Holy Spirit. Since we leak, we must regularly be filled if we want to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
The initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church took place on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. These same folks who were filled with the Holy Spirit on that day were again filled with the Holy Spirit some days later in Acts 4:31. We are later commanded to “keep on being filled with the Spirit.”2 It is recognized in the Greek tenses to be a continuous action.
What Biblical steps can I take to position myself to be filled with the Holy Spirit as a way of life?
This is how to S.W.A.P. your self-empowered and self-directed life for a Spirit-empowered and Spirit-directed life.3
S. Surrender your life to the Word and will of God
When we repent and believe the gospel, then “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…”4 We change kingdoms. We were under the kingdom of darkness where Satan is king and are moved into the Kingdom of God where Jesus is King. Implicit in acknowledging Jesus as King is the requirement of obedience to our King.
There are two dimensions to obedience to King Jesus. The primary dimension is the Bible, God’s word revealed to us. What it says, we are to do. The secondary, but absolutely vital dimension, is to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The prompting of the Spirit will never be out of sync with the Scriptures. That is why I say the Word of God is the primary dimension to obedience to King Jesus.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.5
Surrendering to King Jesus equates to the grain of wheat dying. We die to our own will and surrender to his will. Then we can bring forth much fruit.
W. Wait on God in prayer.
“Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)
What all this means is you must wait on God to act. The Bible makes it clear that you must be filled. Being filled with the Spirit is a passive posture. God must act upon you. Remember, Ephesians 5:8 does not say, “Fill yourself with the Spirit.”6
In the beginning, after Jesus’ resurrection, he commanded his disciples to wait for the promised Spirit who came on the day of Pentecost. Some days later after some persecution, when Peter and John were released from prison, they returned to the others, and their immediate response was one of strong prayer.
When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed —
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.7
Waiting on God takes time. We Americans have a hard time with that. We want instant results. It doesn’t work like that with God. If we are to live a Spirit-filled and Spirit-directed life, we cannot bypass time waiting on God in worship and prayer. If we are to know God and experience God, it takes time with God.
Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit.
For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”[Luke 11:10-13[/note]
A. Avoid sin.
There is an essential incompatibility between a life directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit and a life that is spiritually lazy and tolerant of the flesh.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.8
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. We all know that theological statement. But do we really latch on to the word, “person” in that statement? He is a person. He can be offended or grieved like any other person.
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
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin). – Ephesians 4:30 Amplified Bible
Two important points need to be made from this verse.
- The Holy Spirit can be grieved, made sorrowful, offended, vexed or saddened.
- In spite of our mistreatment and offending of him, he has still sealed us and guaranteed that we will be saved on the day of redemption.
We are the dwelling place of God the Holy Spirit. We need to practice good hospitality and make him feel welcome in his dwelling place if we expect he will fill us to overflowing. A sinful, fleshly life will grieve the Holy Spirit, so repent of all known sin and walk in step with the Holy Spirit.
P. Pursue the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Our Biblical goal is to be conformed to the image of Jesus, to be like him. How do we know if we are making progress? For one thing, we should look to see how Jesus functioned as a man in complete fellowship with the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit. While we will never, this side of heaven anyway, perform perfectly, we do have his example to follow.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 9
Jesus never did anything independently; he always acted in obedience to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. That should be our goal as we follow Jesus.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:25
I like the imagery that our walk in the Spirit is like a dance. He leads, we follow. To the extent that we follow well, life is a smooth waltz, graceful and full of beauty. I don’t mean by that that we will have not challenges and trials, for certainly we will, its just that we will navigate these challenges by following the lead of our dance partner, the Holy Spirit.
How about a waltz?
- Romans 5:5, 8:9; 1 John 4:13
- Ephesians 5:18 in the Complete Jewish Bible and the International Stanard Version
- The following acrostic is taken from Baptist Missionary Steve Smith’s new book, Spirit Walk. If you want a more complete treatment of this subject, you can pick up his book on Amazon, and I assume many other outlets for good books.
- Colossians 1:13
- John 12:24-26
- Spirit Walk, Steve Smith, 2414 Ventures, Kingwood, TX, pg. 83
- Acts 4:23-31
- Romans 8:5-8
- John 5:19-20