Writer James Davis once said that the average church member’s understanding of the Holy Spirit is so vague it is nearly non-existent. I would adjust that thought by saying, we have a lot to learn, and a lot more to apply when it comes to being people who are sanctified, guided, and kept in God’s Holy Spirit. John the Baptist tells his audience in both Matthew and Luke that Jesus will baptize with fire. It is a metaphor unique to the regenerating work of the gospel in us, and we ought to let it speak to us and expose our minimizing attitudes toward the Person of God Who is the Holy Spirit.
What does the reference to “fire” represent? There are three main interpretations, and all three likely apply. First, tongues of fire fall from heaven on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Pentecost was inaugural. It was a new day where the church began with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Second, the fire represents the holy power and purifying presence of God. Hebrews tells us God is a consuming fire. We immediately go in our minds to Moses’ encounter with The burning bush (Exodus 3). That bush was never consumed. The fire of God’s holiness never goes out. It is eternal fire. A third application is that the fire of God’s Spirit represents the judgment of God. If we read the surrounding passage of Matthew 3 and Luke 3, we hear that the “axe is laid to the root of the trees,” that a new harvest is coming- “he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Let us absorb these applications and worship God with awe and reverence. First, the power, passion, and purity of holy God dwell in people who confess and receive Christ as Savior (Romans 8:9-11, 10:9). Our new lives in Christ are to be alive with the righteousness we now have in Jesus Christ. Our hearts are to be quickened to holy desires, and the holy fire of God burns on our insides (How can we neglect so great a salvation? Hebrews 2:3). We are to live with the coming holy judgment of God in view. Today matters. It is urgent. How do we respond?
We love and live holiness. We agree with the God who lives within us and we yield to His leadership. We become Spirit-filled, Spirit-led followers of Jesus Christ. We hate what is evil and cling to what is good. We join the holy mission of God to bring His saving message to a dying world.
Who would not desire the complete ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life? Apparently, at times, us. Why, because we walk in the flesh. Because we want what we want, not what God wants. Because we want to live small and comfortably. Because we think we can run our own lives. Because this world seeks our friendship and it make us enemies of God (James 4:4). And Paul warns, “do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
I do not want to live like an enemy to the One who gave me new life and His Spirit to live new life. Today, for the fifth day in a row (Lord, grace me every day I have breath), I asked God to fill me with His Spirit. What followed was an examination of my thoughts and desires, and a request for God to search me and cleanse me (Psalm 139:23-24). I then asked for holy desires, and holy commissions. I asked God to lead me and use me. I basically prayed that God would through His Spirit do what he wants to do. I know what that means. I will see more sin in my life, more opportunities to bring God’s message, and I will be more conscious of the coming King. There is a kingdom coming, and I want to help deliver.
Prayer- “God, I realize that being filled with your Spirit means I surrender control to holy fire. It means that I beg for your internal work in me, renewing my heart’s desires. God cleanse me and make me holy again. Give me the fullness of your Spirit, so that my life might display the fullness of Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen.”