Empowered by God's Spirit, Part II
"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive."1
Yesterday we explained how every Christian can be filled with and empowered by God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and thus have God's presence and power dwelling within him or her at all times.
Today and tomorrow we want to answer the question: "How can we be filled with and thus empowered by the Holy Spirit?"
First, desire and faith. As with all of God's gifts, so is the filling of the Holy Spirit. We need to truly want it, and we need to believe that God will give it to us as He said he would.
As noted in today's Bible verse, "Jesus said, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive."2
Second, commitment. If my heart and mind are filled with anxiety, anxiety will control me. If anger, anger will control me. If fear, fear will control me. But if my heart and mind are filled with God's Spirit, my life will be filled with His love, joy, and peace and these will control me.
Furthermore, what we are filled with is what we are committed to. If we are committed to ourselves, we will be controlled by our selfish desires plus our anxieties, fears, and so on. But if we are genuinely committed to Christ and make Him Lord of our everyday life, we will be controlled by His Spirit and our life will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
Third, confession. It should go without saying that if we have any unresolved sin in our life, we need to confess it and put it behind us. We cannot be living in sin and be controlled by God's Spirit at the same time. The good news is that, as the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."3 When we confess our sins and make our life right with God, we are able to receive the fullness of God's Spirit.
Fourth, openness. The real issue isn't how much of the Holy Spirit I have, but how much of me does the Holy Spirit have? As we have said, when we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, we are given the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. The difficulty is that most of us don't know how to open ourselves to the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit.
For instance, if I am a closed, defensive person, or have any areas of my life that are repressed—areas of my life out of which I have shut both myself and others—I automatically shut God and His Spirit out of these areas, too. Therefore, to be fully filled with God's Spirit, I need to learn how to be fully open about my secret thoughts, feelings, motives, and my total inner person—to myself, to at least one other trusted person, and to God.
Fifth, personal honesty. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of Truth. Thus, to be filled with the Spirit of Truth, we need to be truthful with ourselves as well as with God. If we have committed our lives to Jesus and dedicated our hearts and minds to His control but still don't have His love, joy, and peace, it isn't because God or His Spirit has left us. It can be because of barriers in us that block the flow of God's Spirit.
These barriers can be caused by unresolved feelings of fear, inadequacy, guilt, hurt, anger, hatred, resentment, and so on, that we have either consciously or unconsciously hidden or repressed. In many ways these unresolved issues keep us bound within ourselves, which in turn, block out God's Spirit. Therefore, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, I need to ask God if there are any areas of my life that are causing barriers between myself and Him. If so, I need to be courageously honest about these, and with God's help, and the help of a qualified counselor if necessary, confront and resolve these.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, I want to be filled with and empowered by Your Holy Spirit. To the best of my ability I surrender the control of my life to You. If there are any unresolved issues in my life that are hindering or blocking my being filled with Your Spirit, please reveal these to me, and lead me to the help I need to resolve them so I can be fully filled with and controlled by Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
To be concluded in Part III.
1. John 7:37-39 (NIV).
2. John 7:37-39 NIV).
3. 1 John 1:9 (NIV).