Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Today’s Topic: Filled with the Spirit
Today’s Text: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit)…Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power… Acts 6:5a and 8a
The second thing that marked the life of Stephen was that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. For some reason many people in the Christian church today are avoiding the truth of this blessing from God. They have either decided to be content with a complacent form of Christianity, or they have so emotionalized their experiences that they bear fruit only for themselves. The truth is that from the moment of our salvation we have been given full access to the nature of God through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. The problem is that we have not given the Holy Spirit full access to us.
Author A. W. Tozer said something very honest and convicting. It dug deep into my heart today, as I pray it will do to you. He said, Before we can be filled with the Spirit, the desire to be filled must be all-consuming. It must be for the time the biggest thing in the life, so acute, so intrusive as to crowd out everything else. The degree of fullness in any life accords perfectly with the intensity of true desire. We have as much of God as we actually want.
We have as much of God as we actually want. So many people claim to want to be completely committed to Christ, but aren’t. So many Christians think they desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but they aren’t. Far too many of us are in a state of denial about what we really want. We may get all emotional in church and shed a few tears, and honestly at that moment pray for a new sense of commitment and filling. But as soon as the car door slams and we head for dinner, the world invades our minds and we are once again captivated by new desires. We have as much of God as we actually want.
Suppose you had been house hunting in a development of new homes. Several are already filled with families, but some are empty. When you find an empty one you try to get in to see whether you like it or not. If the house was full, occupied by people, you wouldn’t dare try to get in. But an empty one is one that is available for occupancy, and you want to know if it’s right for you.
That’s exactly what Satan does. He looks for empty houses. He looks for unoccupied space. He will enter through any unguarded door or window and take up residence in any unoccupied room. He doesn’t care if it’s a closet. In fact, those are his favorite places because they are the least noticed and usually already hiding something. Satan is always house hunting, and he doesn’t politely knock. He assumes, and rightly so, that any unoccupied space is rightfully his. You may not understand this, but you have given him permission to be there unless you have already given permission for the Holy Spirit to be there.
Jesus told a parable about this in Luke 11:21-26. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
So many Christians are in a state of despair because they have allowed Satan continued access to their lives. They may not even know they are doing it. But unless we are intentionally and consistently inviting the Holy Spirit to control every nook and cranny of our hearts and minds, we are intentionally giving permission for Satan to have that space. We may be in denial about that, but that’s the truth. Any unoccupied space is our choice, and whether or not we intentionally send out an invitation, our choice to not let the Holy Spirit occupy it is a choice to let the enemy have it.
You see, we are naturally of the flesh, and therefore the Father of the flesh needs no special permission to invade our space. But as children of the heavenly Father, we have the privilege of inviting the Holy Spirit of God to fill every space of our hearts and minds. And when He does, Satan cannot enter. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. All the enemy can do is knock. He flees when we send Jesus to answer the door.