BEFORE WE DEAL WITH THE QUESTION of how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, there are some matters which first have to be settled. As believers you have to get them out of the way, and right here is where the difficulty arises. I have been afraid that my listeners might have gotten the idea somewhere that I had a how-to-be-filled-with-the-Spirit-in-five-easy-lessons doctrine, which I could give you. If you have any such vague ideas as that, I can only stand before you and say, I am sorry; because it isnt true; I cant give you such a course. There are some things, I say, that you have to get out of the way, settled. One of them is: Before you are filled with the Holy Spirit you must be sure that you can be filled.
Satan has opposed the doctrine of the Spirit-filled life about as bitterly as any other doctrine there is. He has confused it, opposed it, surrounded it with false notions and fears. He has blocked every effort of the Church of Christ to receive from the Father her divine and blood-bought patrimony. The Church has tragically neglected this great liberating truththat there is now for the child of God a full and wonderful and completely satisfying anointing with the Holy Ghost.
So you have to be sure that it is for you. You must be sure that it is Gods will for you; that is, that it is part of the total plan, that it is included and embraced within the work of Christ in redemption; that it is, as the old camp-meeting, praying folks used to say, the purchase of His blood.
I might throw a bracket in here and say that whenever I use the neutral pronoun it I am talking about the gift. When I speak directly of the Holy Spirit, I. shall use a personal pronoun, He or Him or His, referring to a person, for the Holy Spirit is not an it, but the gift of the Holy Spirit must necessarily in our English language be called it.
You must, I say, be satisfied that this is nothing added or extra. The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.
You must be satisfied that it is not abnormal. I admit that it is unusual, because there are so few people who walk in the light of it ,enjoy it, but it is not abnormal. In a world where everybody was sick, health would be unusual, but it wouldnt be abnormal. This is unusual only because our spiritual lives are ,, wretchedly sick and so far down from where they should be.
You must be satisfied, again, that there is nothing about the Holy Spirit queer or strange or eerie. I believe it has been the work of the devil to surround the person of the Holy Spirit with an aura of queerness, or strangeness, so that the people of God feel that this Spirit-filled life is a life of being odd and peculiar, of being a bit uncanny.
That is not true, my friend! The devil manufactured that. He hatched it out, the same devil that once said to our ancient mother, Yea, hath God said, and thus maligned God Almighty. That same devil has maligned the Holy Ghost. There is nothing eerie, nothing queer, nothing contrary to the normal operations of the human heart about the Holy Ghost. He is only the essence of Jesus imparted to believers. You read the four Gospels and see for yourself how wonderfully calm, pure, sane, simple, sweet, natural, and lovable Jesus was. Even philosophers who dont believe in His deity have to admit the lovableness of His character.
You must be sure of all this to the point of conviction. That is, you must be convinced to a point where you wont try to persuade God.
You dont have to persuade God at all. There is no persuasion necessary. Dr. Simpson used to say, Being filled with the Spirit is as easy as breathing; you can simply breathe out and breathe in. He wrote a hymn to that effect. I am sorry that it is not a better hymn, because it is wonderful theology.
Unless you have arrived at this place in your listening and thinking and meditating and praying, where you know that the Spirit-filled life is for you, that there is no doubt about itno book you read or sermon you heard, or tract somebody sent you is bothering you; you are restful about all this; you are convinced that in the blood of Jesus when He died on the cross there was included, as a purchase of that blood, your right to a full, Spirit-filled lifeunless you are convinced of that, unless you are convinced that it isnt an added, unusual, extra, deluxe something that you have to go to God and beg and beat your fists on the chair to get, I recommend this to you: I recommend that you dont do anything about it yet except to meditate upon the Scriptures bearing on this truth. Go to the Word of God and to those parts of it which deal with the subject under discussion tonight and meditate upon them; for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Real faith springs not out of sermons but out of the Word of God and out of sermons only so far as they are of the Word of God. I recommend that you be calm and confident about this. Dont get excited, dont despond. The darkest hour is just before the dawn. It may be that this moment of discouragement which you are going through is preliminary to a sunburst of new and beautiful living, if you will follow on to know the Lord.
Remember, fear is of the flesh and panic is of the devil. Never fear and never get panicky. When they came to Jesus nobody except a hypocrite ever needed to fear Him. When a hypocrite came to Jesus He just sliced him to bits and sent him away bleeding from every pore. If they were ready to give up their sin and follow the Lord and they came in simplicity of heart and said, Lord, what do You want me to do? the Lord took all the time in the world to talk to them and explain to them and to correct any false impressions or wrong ideas they had. He is the sweetest, most understanding and wonderful Teacher in the world, and He never panics anybody. It is sin that does that. If there is a sense of panic upon your life, it may be because there is sin in that life of yours which you need to get rid of.
Again, before you can be filled with the Spirit you must desire to be filled. Here I meet with a certain amount of puzzlement. Somebody will say, How is it that you say to us that we must desire to be filled, because you know we desire to be. Havent we talked to you in person? Havent we called you on the phone? Arent we out here tonight to hear the sermon on the Holy Spirit? Isnt this all a comforting indication to you that we are desirous of being filled with the Holy Spirit?
Not necessarily, and I will explain why. For instance, are you sure that you want to be possessed by a spirit other than your own? even though that spirit be the pure Spirit of God? even though He be the very gentle essence of the gentle Jesus? even though He be sane and pure and free? even though He be wisdom personified, wisdom Himself, even though He have a healing, precious ointment to distill? even though He be loving as the heart of God? That Spirit, if He ever possesses you, will be the Lord of your Life!
I ask you, Do you want Him to be Lord of your life? That you want His benefits, T know. I take that for granted. But do you want to be possessed by Him? Do you want to hand the keys of your soul over to the Holy Spirit and say, Lord, from now on I dont even have a key to my own house. I come and go as Thou tellest me? Are you willing to give the office of your business establishment, your soul, over to the Lord and say to Jesus, You sit in this chair and handle these telephones and boss the staff and be Lord of this outfit? That is what I mean. Are you sure you want this? Are you sure that you desire it?
Are you sure that you want your personality to be taken over by One who will expect obedience to the written and living Word? Are you sure that you want your personality to be taken Over by One who will not tolerate the self sins? For instance, self-love. You can no more have the Holy Ghost and have self-love than you can have purity and impurity at the same moment in the same place. He Will not permit you to indulge self-confidence. Self-love, self-confidence, self-righteousness, self-admiration, self-aggrandizement, and self-pity are under the interdiction of God Almighty, and He cannot send His mighty Spirit to possess the heart where these things are.
Again, I ask you if you desire to have your personality taken over by One who stands in Sharp opposition to the worlds easy ways? No tolerance of evil, no smiling at crooked jokes, no laughing off things that God hates. The Spirit of God, if He takes over, will bring you into opposition to the world just as Jesus was brought into opposition to it. The world crucified Jesus because they couldnt stand Him! There was something in Him that rebuked them and they hated Him for it and finally crucified Him. The world hates the Holy Ghost as bad as they ever hated Jesus, the One from whom He proceeds. Are you sure, brother? You want His help, yes; you want a lot of His benefits, yes; but are you willing to go with Him in His opposition to the easygoing ways of the world? If you are not, you neednt apply for anything more than you have, because you dont want Him; you only think you do!
Again, are you sure that you need to be filled? Cant you get along the way you are? You have been doing fairly well: You pray, you read your Bible, you give to missions, you enjoy singing hymns, you thank God you dont drink or gamble or attend theaters, that you are honest, that you have prayer at home. You are glad about all this. Cant you get along like that? Are you sure you need any more than that? I want to be fair with you. I want to do what Jesus did: He turned around to them when they were following Him and told them the truth. I dont want to take you in under false pretense. Are you sure you want to follow Me? He asked, and a great many turned away. But Peter said, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And the crowd that wouldnt turn away was the crowd that made history. The crowd that wouldnt turn back was the crowd that was there when the Holy Ghost came and filled all the place where they were sitting. The crowd that turned back never knew what it was all about.
But maybe you feel in your heart that you just cant go on as you are, that the level of spirituality to which you know yourself called is way beyond you. If you feel that there is something that you must have or your heart will never be satisfied, that there are levels of spirituality, mystic deeps and heights of spiritual communion, purity and power that you have never known, that there is fruit which you know you should bear and do not, victory which you know you should have and have notI would say, Come on, because God has something for you tonight.
There is a spiritual loneliness, an inner aloneness, an inner place where God brings the seeker, where he is as lonely as if there were not another member of the Church anywhere in the world. Ah, when you come there, there is a darkness of mind, an emptiness of heart, a loneliness of soul, but it is preliminary to the daybreak. O God, bring us, somehow, to the daybreak?
Here is how to receive. First, present Your body to Him (Rom. 12:1, 2). God cant fill what He cant have. Now I ask you: Are you ready to present Your body with all of its functions and all that it containsyour mind, your personality, your spirit, Your love, your ambitions, Your all? That is the first thing. That is a simple, easy actpresenting the body. Are you willing to do.
Now the second thing is to ask (Luke 11:9-11), and I set aside all theological objections to this text. They say that is not for today. Well, why did the Lord leave it in the Bible then? Why didnt He put it somewhere else; why did He put it where I could see it if He didnt want me to believe it? It is all for us, and if the Lord wanted to do it, He could give it without our asking, but He chooses to have us ask. Ask of me, and I will give thee is always Gods order; so why not ask?
Acts 5:32 tells us the third thing to do. God gives His Holy Spirit to them that obey Him. Are you ready to obey and do what you are asked to do? What would that be? Simply to live by the Scriptures as you understand them. Simple, but revolutionary.
The next thing is, have faith (Gal. 3:2). We receive Him by faith as we receive the Lord in salvation by faith. He comes as a gift of God to us in power. First He comes in some degree and measure when we are converted, otherwise we couldnt be converted. Without Him we couldnt be born again, because we are born of the Spirit. But I am talking about something different now, an advance over that. I am talking about His coming and possessing the full body and mind and life and heart, taking the whole personality over, gently, but directly and bluntly, and making it His, so that we may become a habitation of God through the Spirit.
So now suppose we sing. Let us sing The Comforter Has Come, because He has come. If He hasnt come to your heart in fullness, He will; but He has come to the earth. He is here and ready, when we present our vessel, to fill our vessel if we will ask and believe. Will you do it?
Christian Roy Merlino