God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self control.
We know that when the Spirit truly fills a man or the church, they are full of power, love and self control (or personal and corporate holiness).
Now, there are times reflected in Scripture when a church was filled with power but lacked love and self control. This is the Corinthian church Paul addressed in his letters to them.
But, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, requires three pillars of Spirit induced and enabled Christ likeness. We see this reflected most clearly in the early part of the book of Acts where there was a power in the church through giftings and miracles as well as a boldness of testimony and proclamation of God and His resurrected Christ. Acts records that the spirit filled church was also abundant in unity and love for each other. It also was focused on holiness which was accentuated in the death of Annanias and Saphira. This was a church led by and filled with the Spirit of power, love and self control. And, most importantly, it was an infant church filled with new believers. This last part is the one we most easily miss in the history of the early church. We link to and only expect power and love and self control in our Christian maturity. God does not. Not in the least. The question is one of the filling of the Spirit. That is why God admonishes the church to be continually filled and not to quench or grieve the Spirit by despising prophesy or by strife, gossip and selfishness in the Body.
Are we that church? I'm not sure that we even rightly embrace the notion that all believers, new and old, are fully able and need by the Spirit to have power and boldness, deep sacrificial love for one another and to be holy in all ways and always. The three pillars of power, love and holiness ( self control) are not embraced fully and not actually expected in and from one another.
Strength and impact are directly and fully affected by this kind of Spirit presence in the Body and in the individual believer. We all know that. And yet, we have not because we seek not. Why? Why don't we pursue and seek and expect?
Some from unbelief. Some only want the power, some only the holiness, some only the love. But a healthy church is a 3 pillared church.
Some are rightly tired or think ill of church bashing. I'm sorry if this post is more salt in that wound. However, it must be said that the real reason for a lack of concern or seeking for filling of the Spirit in the Body is a known but unexpressed fear of the consequences of Spirit filling. Spirit filling always results in deep sacrifice and profound suffering in the Church and in the individual. Most mature Christians will recognize this root cause.
This may come across as one more episode of "beating the Church up". Please don't lump this expression of concern and desire into that category. I love Jesus and I truly love the pure Bride. I am giving my life to serve Him and her. It isn't done to shame, but to remind and insist we believe and act as if God has graciously provided all we need to be salt, light and powerful in the Spirit in our life and in this world. And I truly have faith that it is an urgent attitude of God that He wants His church to be built by a filling.
Most people do not lack the Spirit of power, love and self control because they don't know it's available. They lack because they want, but they really don't want. That is, if it were easy and costless, they would want. But as it is, Spirit filling has great consequential cost and Jesus taught that all the time to those who would follow. God was and always is most severe in reprimanding His people who, in spite of His promises given and fulfilled, refuse to enter into the battle, the work, and the life He intends for them. He is patient but it does run out. The discerning should recognize when His patience is turning.
It grieves God that His people are satisfied with a minimal Spirit life and instead, desire and fight for a more full self life. It would greatly glorify God, bless the church and the world, if we all would be grieved and sigh and moan as well. There are, however, far too many who only sigh and moan about it. We need repenters.
The Church needs to be a testimony of God's power, love and self control. Until it is, it really has little testimony to boast in and little to exist for. We are glad with what God has accomplished for us but far less enthusiastic for what He wants to accomplish through us. In one sense, we feel blessed that Jesus suffered for us but less honored or importantly blessed to suffer for Him. He was our forerunner, example and Master whose example we are to follow. Closely. We simply do not consider or speak as if sacrifice and suffering for Jesus and the churches were a blessing.
Again, I restate for emphasis. The Acts' testimony of the church was a testimony of all Jesus said and did after His resurrection amongst new believers filled with the Spirit; a Spirit of power, love and self control. Is what we are saying and doing like that? We are too afraid that we will lose too much that is valuable to us ( our life on earth ) if we experience this testimony amongst ourselves. We regard our life now as our greatest treasure or at least as a competing one with treasuring Jesus, filled with the Spirit and testifying to the word of His grace in and to His people. Or, we have constructed a narrow door and a hard path that isn't so narrow and literally is well paved for a comfortable journey. Who needs the Spirit of power, love and self control for that ride?