I believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I believe that every believer should life a Spirit filled life. Sometimes those who have been filled with the Spirit lose what they had gained because they do not maintain being full of the Spirit. In this article I will demonstrate to you from God’s word how to stay on fire, and avoid some typical pitfalls to the Spirit filled life. As we enjoy our relationship with God on a day to day basis, we need to know how to grow our relationship with the third person of the Trinity.
Gods word gives us balance! I learned a long time ago, that people really are not interested in hearing what I have to say. My opinions are just not that important. But what I have learned is that if I preach and teach from the Bible, it carries with a certain authority. I have been maintaining a Spirit filled life as a believer for most of my life. I have been in the ministry full time for 37 years. I have ministered in various cultures of the world. I have diligently applied myself to understanding and teaching this book. So I feel I have some authority on this subject.
The reason why the Holy Spirit was outpoured is very plain and very obvious in the scripture. It is to empower you to take Jesus to the world. The call for the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a personal call for each believer to fully surrender his life to Jesus for service and for ministry to Him. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
God gave us the baptism in the Holy Spirit so that we could be salt and light to a hurting world. But that will only happen as we keep the following areas in balance.
- WE MUST BALANCE OUR PAST EXPERIENCE WITH OUR PRESENT EXPERIENCE.
I recall very clearly the moment I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I have shared that experience on numerous occasions. I was just a boy of about ten years of age. They were praying for people to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and I wanted to receive that in my life. I was prayed for, began to speak in other tongues, and was filled with the Spirit.
It is biblical to be able to remember the moment you received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Here is an important concept. It doesn’t matter how powerful that initial infilling was you will not be able to live on the power of that experience for long. Here is why: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a one-time experience but rather the onset of a long- term relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is like a good rain. It’s refreshing. It’s wonderful, but we need rain all the time to keep things growing.
Peter is a perfect example of someone who balanced a life filled with the Holy Spirit. Of course, we know that Peter was one of the initial believers to be filled. We know that because he preached on the day of Pentecost. Let’s remember who this was. This was the formerly very afraid, oops sorry Jesus, I deny being one of your followers Peter. After Jesus died, Peter denied Jesus three times, fearing for his life. When the Holy Spirit was poured out Peter was empowered! He stood up and preached powerfully and 3000 people were converted. It was a message that was extremely bold. We know he never forgot that experience. When Peter went to Cornelius’s house and the Holy Spirit fell upon the gentiles for the very first time, Peter remembered his initial experience. Acts 11:15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them, as he had come on us at the beginning.”
Those are some powerful words. “as he had come on us.” Peter obviously remembered. He remembered the day of Pentecost. He remembered his baptism in the Holy Spirit. Here is the question at hand. Was that Peters only experience with the Holy Spirit? Of course not!
It is the same way for us! We cannot live in the power of one experience with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit filled life is a lifestyle to be maintained.
Note how many times Peter had ongoing filling of the Spirit. As Peter stood before the Sanhedrin a few weeks later it says: Acts 4: 8 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them…” Wait, wasn’t he filled on the day of Pentecost? Yep! But here it says he was filled again. Later on in that same chapter, they had a prayer meeting Acts 4:31 says that all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. All of them includes Peter because he was at the prayer meeting as well.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not an experience to be remembered, but rather a lifestyle to be maintained. Peter did that. Peter wrote two books of the Bible which are inspired by the Holy Spirit. All through his life and ministry he depended upon the Holy Spirit. History tells us that Peter was crucified upside down, and I will guarantee you this that the Holy Spirit was with him, giving him strength and power even in that moment! So, you see the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not just a one-time event.
It is rather a gateway to a Spirit filled life.
This is evident to me not just because of Peters life, but because of the word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit. The Greek word used to describe the Holy Spirit is known in the scripture as the paraclete. It is a very descriptive word. John 14:16 says, “And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.” The word translated counselor here is the word paraclete. It is an accurate translation:. The literal translation is one that is called alongside to help. A counselor does that. Some other versions say comforter – others say helper. The point I want you to say is that what Jesus was giving us in the Holy Spirit was a constant companion and friend.
I remember very well when I first received. I could tell you that many times I have experienced the Holy Spirit as he helped me. Even as I write this article I need the Holy Spirit to empower me.
I don’t care how much of a relationship you had with the Holy Spirit years ago. Here is the question: Are you filled now? Is the Holy Spirit flowing in your life now? Do you have the fire of the Holy Spirit right now? What about today?
Many people don’t understand that for the Holy Spirit to flow and move in their life. Your spiritual life has to be alive. God wants us to have a fervency in our heart. One of the terms that people use to describe someone who is filled with the Spirit. They say, “That guy is on fire.” What is that all about? They are using biblical terminology. Luke 3:16 John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water but one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
I can remember as a kid arriving at the camp site when my family was camping and going over to where maybe a week before or a night or two before there had been a fire. You could still see the white ash. You could still see a few charred pieces of wood. I would grab a stick and poke at it. It wasn’t very much fun. It wasn’t exciting at all. There was no fire there. Once it had burned – but the fire had gone out.
That is an accurate picture of someone who had an experience way back when with the Holy Spirit. They remember it. They can tell you about it. Bu they are about as on fire as a pile of ashes. That was never Gods intention. Gods intention was that the Holy Spirit would empower us for a lifetime. Hebrews 12:29 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.”
God wants for the Holy Spirit to empower you all the days of your life. To live a Spirit filled life means that something of the very nature of God gets hold of you down on the inside.
When I first started preaching…someone said, “You’ll cool off one day!” I said, I hope not. I want a continual infilling so that I might live a Spirit filled life. Our God is a consuming fire! It is that fire that motivates us for ministry. Psalm 104:4 says, “He maketh his ministers a flame of fire.” A life filled with the Holy Spirit is a life that is lived out for God. You will have a burning dedication. You will have a fiery zeal.
Jesus becomes your consuming passion. You will be like Jeremiah. Jeremiah couldn’t help himself. He just had to speak up for God. Even though it brought him reproach and heartache and difficulty, he had to speak out for God. One day he said, I am not going to say any more. I am just going to keep quiet. It was just a little while. All of a sudden, he was back out in the street again preaching. Jeremiah 20:9 “His word was in my heart like a fire. A fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in. Indeed, I cannot.”
Someone said to one of these fired up believers one time. Why are you so fanatical? Where are you going? What is the rush? Where’s the fire? They said, you don’t understand, the fire is down on the inside. I just want to do something for Jesus. How do you keep the fire burning? How do you keep your experience fresh?
Three things you must do to maintain a Spirit filled life:
- Develop a Prayer Life
I want you to think about Jesus. Jesus had the Holy Spirit without measure. He fasted for forty days and returned in the power of the Holy Spirit. And yet he lived a life of constant prayer and communion. He would get up early and go to pray. Sometimes he prayed all night long.
Prayer is like putting wood on the fire. Prayer is what keeps you passionate about the things of God. One of the things about the New Testament church. They prayed all the time. If an obstacle faced them, they prayed. If they were saying good bye to a friend before he got on a boat, they prayed.
We need to get up in the morning and learn how to commune with the Holy Spirit. And pray in your prayer language. Jude 20 “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”
2. Daily dose of God’s word.
One of the greatest mistakes of people who are Spirit filled has been to neglect the daily discipline of Bible reading. How does that maintain a Spirit filled life? The Holy Spirit provides you with the power you need. But the Bible is your daily guide.
A man on a ship out in the ocean has two things that keep that ship in service going where it is supposed to go. There is a means of powering that boat. They may hoist a sail, or they may burn coal. They may burn a gas engine. But there is some means by which they get their power. The Holy Spirit is that power for us.
Out on that boat in the middle of the ocean, they also have a map and a compass. They would not get anywhere without it. It takes more than just power to get you where you are going. You also need direction. The Holy Spirit gives you power. This Word gives you direction.
If you want to keep a fresh experience with the Holy Spirit.
3. Do something in service for God.
Years of observation has shown me that the people in whom the Holy Spirit flows the most. The ones who just stay on fire all the time. The ones who just have a freshness as they live a Spirit filled life, are the ones who gives themselves to serve God.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an empowerment to serve. Some people are like the dead sea. Everything flows in but nothing flows out. They never serve anyone. They never do anything for God. They just sit. Pretty soon the life just kind of dries up. Nothing can live in the dead sea. No life can take place your life as well unless there is a flow of the Holy Spirit through you to others.
But you take someone, who is serving God all the time. At their job they are a servant, they actively pray for the people around them. They look for opportunities to serve them in Jesus name. They are involved in ministries. They come to church. They aren’t just sitting back. They are worshiping. They are in a small group where they pray and care and love each other. Guess what? The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully in them.
- WE MUST BALANCE OUR DAILY WITNESS WITH OUR DAILY WALK.
The Bible calls us to live a different kind of life. It may be old fashioned to write this. Sin will rob you of Spiritual Power. Look at the life of Samson. He was once committed to God. He was full of spiritual power, but he laid his head in Delilah’s lap one time to many times and when they cut his hair. It says Judges 16:20 “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”
Remember David’s prayer after he sinned. He said in Psalm 51 :10 “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” Do not think that you can maintain both a life is filled with the Spirit and a life that willfully and continually sins. The call of God is to a life that is separated and set apart for God. The more consecrated and dedicated your life is the more the Holy Spirit will be able to flow in you. It is to be a life that is a witness.
I am not talking about witnessing. Don’t get me wrong. There comes a point in time when God wants us to share our faith. God wants us to open our mouths and let people know about Jesus. I am not talking about that. I am talking about being a witness. God wants your whole life to be lived in a manner that is a witness.
- The Holy Spirit is concerned with what kind of neighbor you are.
- The Holy Spirit is concerned with what kind of husband or wife you are.
- The Holy Spirit is concerned with what type of an employee you are.
- The Holy Spirit is concerned about the type of lifestyle you live.
A Spirit filled life is a witness to the power of God. Let’s remember who he is. He is the HOLY Spirit.
John 16:8 “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement.”
Let me put it like this: The Holy Spirit will also be right there with you saying, “Don’t do that. Don’t say that. Don’t act that way. That’s wrong.” The more you listen to him. The more he will speak to you and He will convince you of who you are in Christ. His purpose is to bring you to a place where God can use you in a full and complete way.
2 Timothy 2:20 says “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the later, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
If, I want to be useful to the Master. If, I want to be prepared to do any good work. I must cleanse myself of the things that do not please God. David Owen was one of my Bible college instructors. He pastored for 40 years. This is what he said: The man in the pulpit is the sermon. You may not know this my friend. You are a sermon as well. A Sermon in shoes.
- WE MUST BALANCE ALL OF OUR HOLY SPIRIT EXPERIENCES WITH GODS WORD.
There are churches today that are totally out of balance because they refuse to listen to Gods Word. 1 Corinthians 14:40 says in regard to public worship. “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”
I see balance in that verse. I have been to some churches where they forget the last half of the verse.They just say…Everything should be done. Hang on the chandeliers. Do cartwheels down the center aisle. Others forget the first half. They focus on decent and in order. You can get a program that is so programmed by man that the Holy Spirit is left out. It so decent and in order the Holy Spirit is not allowed to move.
The Holy Spirit gets blamed for a whole lot of things he doesn’t do. I was in a church that was so out of I have seen people when someone is trying to preach and they will just stand up and scream out. They said, “Well, it was the Holy Spirit.” I don’t think so. It was someone just out of order. I have seen churches where the emphasis was literally on getting people drunk in the Holy Spirit. They introduce the man of God as a bartender.
Then I have been in churches that programmed the Holy Spirit right out of the church. We can’t do that either.
Let me give you a two principles to help us as we live a Spirit filled life.
- Understand the difference between receiving and reacting.
Let me just say this: God’s power is real and Gods presence is real. Many times people come in contact with God. They feel him. I have FELT Gods presence. They react to that. I am talking about the same God who created the heaven and the earth. What happens is that people react to coming in contact with God. Reactions among people vary.
If I were to take an electric 110 volt cord and we were to shock everyone in a room. We would probably have as many reactions as we have people. Some would probably stand up and smile. Some others might cry. Some others might tremble. Some might feel weak in the knees. We would all react in some way, even if it was internally. Is reacting wrong?
No, not really. We are emotional beings! I have always found it funny that somebody who makes a touchdown for the NFL. They do the splits. They spin around on their head. And that is okay. God made us emotional. God is not afraid of our emotions. Sometimes you need to laugh. Sometimes you need to cry.
You see the area that people get out of balance on is that they start worrying more about the reaction than they do about receiving. They mistakenly think that if they strongly react, they will strongly receive. God wants you to receive something from him. It may just be the assurance that he loves you. It may be inner healing. It may be strength to go on.
I have seen so people that were so reactive that they didn’t receive anything. God wants us to be in balance. Quit jumping around and hear what God wants to say to you.
On the other hand, I have seen people so afraid to react to God that they couldn’t receive. Go ahead and cry! Go ahead and get free worship the Lord. Go ahead praise him. It is okay to react as long as it is not disruptive to the preaching of the Word or the service as a whole.
Here is another principle.
2. We seed God not to have experiences.
God is looking for a church that is hungry for him. Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart.” God is looking for a church that just says, I want to be in your presence. If I could change everyone reading this article, I would make every one of you so hungry and thirsty for God that you would want to just spend time with God. You would just want to be like Martha and just want to sit at his feet. You want to just love on him and be with him. He is the object of you worship. He is the object of your affection. Having an experience wouldn’t matter. Even when you are seeking for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
We know that scripture says that you will speak in tongues when you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. But even in that moment. The cry of your heart should be, “Comforter, Come to me. Spirit of truth come. Holy Spirit come.” Remember, it is not the Baptism of Tongues but the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
- WE MUST BALANCE OUR SPONTANEOUS SERVICE WITH A COMMITMENT TO MINISTRY.
There are moments of spontaneous ministry in our lives. It’s wonderful to know that is when the Holy Spirit is there. You driving down the road and someone has a flat. You stop, you help them, you wind up in a conversation. You tell them about Jesus. It’s spontaneous. It wasn’t planned. That’s wonderful. If the only ministry that ever took place was spontaneous not a lot would get done.
To live a Spirit filled life is to be intentional about getting involved in ministry. Churches all over the world need people to be involved. Those who commit to loving and caring for others in a small group.Those who commit to being a part of a youth or other ministry. They are the ones the Holy Spirit flows through.
If every Christian in your community was just like you? How would the churches be doing? If everyone prayed as much as you, how healthy would the church be? If everyone lived a life like yours, what kind of a witness would the church have? If everyone gave in the offering this morning what you gave, would the church prosper or would the doors close?
Let us be real.
Let’s life a Spirit filled life.