March 28, 2012

Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

In this dearly loved passage Jesus reads from that most Messianic of OT prophets, Isaiah, (Isaiah 61:1-2) proclaiming what His ministry was to be. Many have realized that, since after His resurrection He told His disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you,” (John 20:21) this should apply to all believers. However, that understanding is far from universal, and many who might think of themselves as disciples fall far short of this commission. It strikes me particularly this morning that the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is inseparable from proclaiming the Gospel. This of course was stated again by Jesus at the close of His earthly ministry, just before He ascended to heaven: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses.” (Acts 1:8) There are those who desire the presence and gifts of the Holy Spirit simply for their own pleasure and aggrandizement, but that’s not how it works. If that is the inner motive, such a person might get a spirit all right, but it won’t be the Holy Spirit! This is actually tied in closely with praying in Jesus’ name, which is also widely misunderstood. Tacking “In Jesus’ name” onto the end of a prayer doesn’t make it a prayer in His name! Genuinely doing something in some­one’s name carries the feeling of doing it in line with their character and intentions, which is to say, their spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, (Philippians 1:19) so any genuine anointing of the Holy Spirit will produce the character of Jesus in the one anointed, and it is only by the Holy Spirit that we are truly able to pray in Jesus’ name.

This is a major issue for every believer, and taking it lightly is a huge roadblock to spiritual growth. The goal of our spiritual journey is to become like Christ. (Galatians 4:19, Romans 8:29, Ephesians 4:13, etc.) The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, is given to that end, and any understanding of Christianity that falls short of that is sadly deficient. As a pastor, I am not only to seek to operate in the anointing and character of Christ, I am to encourage the believers to do likewise. The devil does all he can to make us focus on ourselves, as though our weaknesses and failings were stronger than the power of God to cleanse, heal, and use us. It has been an uphill battle to get this truth through to others, and frankly, too often I fail to operate in it myself. I am to remember that even Jesus’ closest disciples were slow to absorb and apply what He taught them, and not be down on myself or on others. However, neither am I to be satisfied with anything less that operating in the flow of the Spirit of Christ, in myself or in others.

Father, this is a major challenge, but it is also a major encouragement. Thank You. Help me accept the challenge, knowing that I have no wisdom or strength to fulfill it on my own, but that Your Spirit in me is more than able to do it well, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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