Summary: Basic evangelical approach to being filled with the Spirit
Acts 19:1-7 “Have You Received the Holy Ghost Since You Believed? 23/5/04S&C
Paul had encountered a dozen disciples on his journey through Ephesus, but something about them-- or perhaps it was the leading of the Spirit-- caused him to inquire. They had likely been in the Jerusalem area on business when they heard John the Baptist preaching, and responded to his message. His message is found in Mathew 3:11, I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: It would appear, then, that they knew about the Holy Spirit, but not about His availability to help them live the Christian life.
1. If you are a Christian, you already know that the Christian life is impossible to live without the Spirit’s help. No matter how much you want to follow Jesus, without the Spirit, you find yourself failing regularly. Old habits continue; temptations are irresistible; and you feel awful. You know you shouldn’t do it, but try as you might, you can’t seem to stop.
He had finally got his chance to make the Really Big Sale. He was going into the final interview on the biggest contract he had ever written. As he was ushered into the office of the executive buyer, an assistant brought her coffee and left. The atmosphere was cordial, and he knew he was giving his best presentation ever.
Then the assistant tapped on the door, re-entered the office and spoke briefly with the executive. She stood and said, "I apologize, but I have to tend to a matter. I’ll just be a minute or two." And she followed her assistant out of the room.
The sales representative looked around the beautifully appointed office. He saw her family pictures on her desk. Then he noticed a contract on her desk. She had evidently been studying a bid from a competitor. Leaning forward, he could see the column of figures, but it was obscured by a diet soda can.
He was tempted to move the can and see the bottom line of his competitor’s bid. What harm possibly could there be in reading her private information? After all, she had left it out in plain sight, almost. After wrestling with himself a while, he finally decided to take a peek.
As he lifted the pop can, he discovered that the can wasn’t filled with soda at all. Instead it was a bottomless can filled with 1,000 BBs which gushed out, ran all over the desk, and cascaded onto the carpet. His attempt to short-cut the competition was exposed.
Moses said it this way in Numbers 32:23, “Be sure your sin will find you out!” Not every temptation is so obvious; but every temptation is a challenge. It’s a choice. Do I do it my way, or God’s way? My favourite prayer when I’m tempted is, “Help!”
And He does, but I have to do my part. Each temptation I conquer makes it easier to deal with the next one.
One of the best defences against temptation is simply to decide beforehand how you will respond when the inevitable temptation comes. Both Job and David give us examples. In Job 31:1, he says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.”
Perhaps he realized that he had a weakness there, and he took steps to deal with it. David says, in Psalm 101: I will be careful to lead a blameless life- I will walk in my house with blameless heart. 3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing. If you’ve already decided how to respond, the pressure’s off, but only if you follow that decision. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. He’ll help you ‘stick to you guns’, as my mother used to say.
I’m not sure if Romans 7 is talking about Paul, before and after he discovered the answer, but it sure sounds like it. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.