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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Anointed with the Spirit

Filled with the Spirit for God's unique calling

Anointing

by Dennis Pollock

But you have an anointing from
 the Holy One... (1 John 2:20)

Anointing is a word you frequently hear among evangelical Christians but few seem to have a solid grasp on its meaning and implications. The common perception seems to be that anointing is something preachers should have, and perhaps singers, but is not to be expected from the more “ordinary” Christians. If a sermon is forceful and interesting, we say the preacher was anointed. If the song makes us cry we might call that an anointed song. If the worship service was especially lively we refer to it as an anointed time of worship.

We would almost consider it irreverent to think of a Christian plumber as anointed while he works with pipes under a clogged sink, or a school teacher anointed as she reads a portion of Tale of Two Cities to her class. It is this artificial dichotomy of separating spiritual activities from common ones and sacred occupations from ordinary ones that has cost the church dearly and robbed God’s children of the life of power that is their rightful inheritance in Jesus Christ.

The Mysterious Presence of God

 I cannot recall when I first became consciously aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, but I do know that it was very early on in my Christian experience. This has never been constant. His presence seems to wax and wane, to surge and diminish for reasons so complex as to prevent explanation or analysis. I do know that as I increase my time in prayer and in the word of God, the Spirit’s manifest presence usually becomes stronger and sweeter. But even this is no guarantee. There are those inexplicable times when He seems to show up in great manifestation for no clear reason except that He chooses to, and those other terrifying times when even long periods of prayer and fasting do not seem to bring His presence and we must walk purely by faith.

Nevertheless, the conscious awareness of the Holy Spirit is an incredible support against the pressures of the world and the attacks of the enemy. The great English preacher, George Whitefield, wrote, “I hope you enjoy a feeling possession of your God, every day and every hour. This will make the most barren wilderness to smile, and support you under the most distressing circumstances. It is this that supports me by land and by water. Without it, what could such a poor, weak, faint-hearted pilgrim do?”

The anointing of the Holy Spirit is but another expression for the filling of the Spirit. When Jesus was beginning His ministry, He declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me… (Luke 4:18). Earlier in this chapter, after being tempted by the devil, we read: “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan.” There are a number of nearly synonymous Biblical terms used for a similar experience – to have the Holy Spirit come upon you, to be filled with the Spirit, and to be anointed are three of them. To be filled with the Spirit is to be anointed and to be anointed is to be filled with the Spirit. But not every anointing is identical.

Anointing in the Old Testament

Many Christians do not realize that God was filling His people with the Holy Spirit even back in the Old Testament days. Many of the heroes of Israel, both warriors and prophets, were filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us consider three of them.

One of the most unlikely Spirit-filled men of old was the craftsman Bezalel. God had commanded Moses to build a tabernacle for worship as the Israelites marched through the wilderness. God instructed Moses to have many beautiful objects built, including that incredible box that would serve as the divine “base of operations,” the ark of the covenant. This would require a man incredibly gifted in working with his hands. God had already prepared just such a man. He told Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri… And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship” (Exodus 31:2). As Bezalel hammered and chiseled and shaped and carved, the Holy Spirit was richly upon him, guiding his hands and enlightening his mind.

King David was another Spirit-filled man of Israel. He became intimately aware of the Holy Spirit and was anointed as a warrior, a king, and a poet. His love and appreciation for the Holy Spirit were such that when becoming aware of the awfulness of His sin with Bathsheba, he cried to the Lord, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” He could endure any discipline, but it was unthinkable to go through the rest of his life without that anointing of the Spirit that had been his strength and his encouragement through so many terrible trials. David’s love for the Holy Spirit was reflected when he recorded his “last will and testament,” calling himself the “sweet psalmist of Israel” and declaring, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).

A third man is one few would associate with the filling of the Holy Spirit. I am referring to that mighty deliverer of Israel, Samson. When we think of Samson we usually think of a man with rippling muscles and poor self control. And no doubt both of these were true (especially the self-control). But the things Samson was able to accomplish required more than mere muscles. They required anointing. And the word of God faithfully witnesses to the supernatural source of Samson’s “ministry.” We read that even in his youth “the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan…” (Judges 13:25). As we read of his incredible exploits and victories over his enemies we read again and again, “The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him…” These words are precisely the words Jesus would use many centuries later when He would promise His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me...”

Same Spirit – Different Anointings

Dove

Three very different men with three very different anointings – but the same Spirit. I like to imagine what might have happened had these men all lived at the same time. I can see them sitting around the table fellowshipping, when suddenly the Holy Spirit comes upon each of them. The room is filled with the glory of God and each man knows His familiar Friend has come with power. Bezalel is the first to speak. Rising to his feet with flushed face he declares, “Brothers, the Holy Spirit is here. Don’t you sense His presence? Listen, I have a shop nearby with some of the latest tools. We can all go there and create some beautiful masterpieces for the glory of the Lord!”

David immediately rises and protests, “Listen brother, I’m sure you mean well, but I have to tell you – this is no time to be working with our hands.” He pulls out pens and paper and passes them out to his two friends. “This is the time to be writing verse. Let’s be still and listen to the voice of the Spirit. I feel a psalm coming on me!”

Samson can’t believe what he is hearing. He looks with obvious disgust at David and Bezalel. “I can’t believe you guys! To Bezalel he says, “You want to go out and create some kind of art? And David, you want to write poetry? That’s just crazy!” Picking up a nearby club he brandishes it in the air and growls, “This is the time to go out and bust some heads!”

The Holy Spirit is so creative! Paul writes, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit… But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:4,11).

Not for Preachers Only

We err if we assume that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is only for ministry gifts however. Although Jesus empowers us for ministry through His Spirit, He also equips us for simply living the Christian life. When I first began to preach I used to so enjoy the anointing of the Spirit that would come upon me as I stood behind the pulpit. Once, when I was in my twenties and was preaching with a very definite anointing that made the words flow easily, I paused and commented to the congregation, “You know, preaching under the anointing is really fun!” Someone called out to me, “It’s fun to listen to!” (I would never do that today, but twenty-something preachers are sometimes a little bit too transparent!)

But one of the things I noticed was that the anointing of the Holy Spirit that came on me would sometimes linger for several hours afterward. As my prayer life and my time in the word deepened I began to sense that Presence even on days I did not preach. Sometimes it would come upon me when I least expected it. One of those times happened many years ago as I sat in my children’s bedroom, waiting for them to finish brushing their teeth so we could have a bedtime Bible study. As I waited with no particular thought on my mind the Holy Spirit was suddenly all over me. I had no sermon to preach; there was nothing to do but just enjoy the Lord as I waited for the kids to come up for our little Bible study.

But the study went better that night. I seemed to share better, the kids seemed to ask better questions and I seemed to give better answers. Though the whole process probably didn’t last longer than seven or eight minutes, I felt such a feeling of satisfaction when it was over. Then I thought about how the Holy Spirit had “shown up” as I waited. I realized He had come upon me not to preach, but to have a simple little Bible study with my children.

As the years have gone by I have realized that He wants to be involved even in what we call “secular” activities. Recently I went into Wal Mart to do a little shopping. It seemed the minute I entered the store He began to move on my heart richly. I did my shopping as planned, but the entire time I was talking to the Lord under my breath and enjoying His presence. Wal Mart had become a sanctuary for me.

In every area of our lives

The Holy Spirit is not just for preaching; He’s for living! He wants to be involved in our shopping, our working, our playing, and in our relationships with others. You may wonder, “If the Old Testament believers were filled with the Spirit, then what have we gained in the New Covenant dispensation?” The answer is that we have gained a great deal. In Old Testament times there were but a few special, sovereignly chosen ones to receive the Spirit – a Samuel here, a David there, an Isaiah here and a Gideon there. Most Israelites had no clue as to who the Holy Spirit was, and went their entire lives without ever experiencing either His Person or His power.

Today, because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the awesome Holy Spirit is available to all believers. This is what Joel predicted and what Peter quoted on the Day of Pentecost:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. and on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17,18).

Notice the many and varied categories of people: sons, daughters, young men, old men, menservants and maidservants. No longer is He limited to a few special men. Today any man or woman, boy or girl, preacher or plumber can have equal access to the blessed Holy Spirit. The One who began His ministry by announcing that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him has now made it possible for that same Spirit to be upon us all.

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