In the last few days, we have been meditating on the Holy Spirit's presence in and upon believers in Christ. Today, I want to go a bit further and hopefully, explain how we continue to walk in step with the Spirit and be sensitive to obey His leading. When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord Jesus at His baptism, John the apostle wrote that He came as a dove and remained on Christ:
I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-33).
Have you ever seen a dove fly down and sit on someone? I have never witnessed this myself, although I have seen pigeons land on someone, usually for food! When we lived in England, one of our favorite places to take people was a place in London called Trafalgar Square. This area seems to be the place where all the pigeons gather! Four pigeons will sit on your arm and fight for a spot on your head, too! All the time I was there, though, I have never heard of a dove resting on a person. Even though doves are of the same genus as pigeons, they are behaviorally very different. In the above passage of Scripture, we see a description of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove upon the Lord Jesus and remaining. The Holy Spirit did not look like a dove; He is described as coming like a dove. What was on John the apostle’s mind when he wrote this account?
Doves are very timid and skittish. By that, I mean that the slightest thing scares them off. Any sudden noises, any quick movement, and they are gone. When we become believers, and the Spirit comes to live in us, He remains upon the Christian for the rest of eternity. He will never leave us. But the presence of the Holy Spirit in us can be easily grieved to the extent that we lose something of the intimacy with the Spirit when we disobey Him. The presence of the Spirit called the anointing by John the apostle, will remain with us:
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him (1 John 2:27).
The presence of the Holy Spirit must be guarded as a sacred trust and nurtured by quick repentance. When we sin, we need to grieve over our stumbling and repent (change our mind and direction concerning that sin) and forsake it, if we want intimacy with Christ and have the Spirit remain on us. The Spirit descended and remained upon Jesus, which means that the Holy Spirit was at home as He rested upon the Lord. The apostle Paul instructed us: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit has feelings, and we can hurt His feelings when we grieve Him by the things we do. The Greek word translated “grieve” (lupeo) comes from lupee, which means “pain” or “sorrow.” It is the opposite of joy.
As well as grieving the Spirit, His presence can also be quenched. Paul, the apostle, wrote, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1Thessalonians 5:19). The words put out are translated from the Greek word sbennumi, which means, “to quench.” In the ancient Greek world, it generally referred to extinguishing a fire or putting out burning objects. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the people gathered in the Upper Room as what seemed to be “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3). Paul’s warning not to quench the Spirit can only mean that the Spirit’s fire can be put out. As we have said before, all Christians have the Holy Spirit, and He will never depart the believer, but that anointing, that intimacy with Him can be grieved and quenched. More of this tomorrow. Keith Thomas
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