“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (NIV)
I so often hear it prayed or sung ‘Come Holy Spirit! You are welcome here!’ But usually nothing has been done to prepare a place for Him, or to provide Him space in the already pre-planned gathering.
The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is the third person of the trinity. He is the guarantee for all believers of our coming eternal kingdom (Ephesians 1:14, 4:30). We need to relate to Him as a person, not as a force or an ‘it!’
He is also God’s Presence in us. While Jesus and the Father are in heaven, the Holy Spirit is personally and tangibly with us, in us and operates through us. He is called our Advocate. Other translations called Him Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Paraclete, Intercessor (John 15:26, 16:7).
And the Holy Spirit releases God’s Power. Gordon Fee calls the Holy Spirit God’s Empowering Presence. We are told that the disciples prayed, the room shook, everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit and they all went out boldly to proclaim Jesus (Acts 4:31). God’s power was tangible through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We are expected to be filled, that is to be continually, repeatedly, filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Though every true believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, not all are filled, and there are several reasons for that. The Holy Spirit is often kept at an arms distance and unable to do all He desires to do in and through us. Here some reasons why…
First, being filled is a command, meaning it is something we must choose to do. Being filled does not happen accidentally. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is intentional! If you are not asking, and asking regularly, you are not being filled continually!
Second, we can grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30, Isaiah 63:10). We can literally push the Holy Spirit away from us by grieving Him. Is this something you even think about, or ask Him if there is any way you have caused Him sorrow, grief, made Him sad, or offended Him? We can grieve the Holy Spirit when we allow bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and any kind of malice a place in our heart (Ephesians 4:31). When we speak ill of others we grieve the Holy Spirit. In other words, how we treat others can grieve the Holy Spirit. The root of these is unforgiveness. If you have any trace of unforgiveness, you have offended, grieved, made sad and caused sorrow to the Holy Spirit and as such He has pulled back from you! Basically, the Holy Spirit is grieved when we hold onto sin. Ask Him right now if there is any place you have grieved Him and repent!
Third, we can quench the Holy Spirit. Paul instructed us to not put out the Holy Spirit’s fire nor treat prophecies with contempt (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20). Have you ever mocked or made fun of the Holy Spirit’s activities? Other versions use extinguish, suppress, stifle the Holy Spirit. Have you ever rejected a word from the Lord, or stopped Him when He was beginning to move, or block an experience that was outside your comfort zone? Prophecy and the Holy Spirit are intimately connected. John wrote that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 19:10). So, when we treat prophecy with contempt we are actually rejecting Jesus and His testimony, and thus quenching the Holy Spirit. We must test every word (prophecy) and keep what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Ask Him to show you any place you may have quenched Him and His fire, and then tell Him you are so sorry about it. Ask Him to light the fire once again!
Fourth, Jesus warned that it is possible to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32). This was so serious to Jesus that He said it could not be forgiven! To blaspheme means to injure another’s good name, to slander, to revile, or to speak evil about. It is not simply a moment, it is a hardening of heart against the Holy Spirit. It is a defiant irreverence. It is the Holy Spirit’s work that draws people to Jesus. Ultimately then, when someone rejects Jesus (the gospel) they are rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit. There comes a point when a person’s heart is hardened, and God gives them over to the very desires of their heart (Romans 1) which don’t include Him. Ask Him to forgive you of any place you have hardened your heart against Him!
You see, the Holy Spirit comes where He is wanted and welcome. Unless we make sure we are filled personally, and that there is not place we have offended Him, though we may be saying ‘Come Holy Spirit’ He may be staying at an arms distance from us. If you have any issues with a brother or sister, and you are refusing to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, He will pull back from you!
And this applies corporately as well. We cry out for revival, for His power to be released among us, but if we have not cleaned up our ‘house’ why would He come? If we have pride, division in our local body or issues against other believers or churches in the city, we are pushing the Holy Spirit away. If we say He does not work miracles anymore, or tongues are of the devil, or prophecy has ceased, we are pushing the Holy Spirit away, and of course, He won’t do those things in our midst.
It’s time to take good hard look at why the Holy Spirit is not closer. If you or your church are not experiencing His person, presence and/or power you need to be asking Him if there is sin in your life and/or in your church? Even secret and hidden sin need to be exposed, uprooted and removed! Cry out for His mercy, for His revelation, for Him to search your hearts, test your anxious thoughts, reveal any offensive ways, and lead you back into step with the Holy Spirit in His everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24)!