THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (13)
The Holy Spirit
His Movements in the Old Testament
David, in the Psalm 51, had committed terrible sins; adultery, murder, lying; but when confronted his contrition was genuine and heartfelt – “Oh take not thy Holy Spirit from me…restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” Some modern Christians use David as an excuse for their sins but few weep and mourn over lost blessings as he did. For reasons set forth below, we must consider sin in this New Testament age a greater affront to God than that which His ancient people were guilty of. In this age we have a greater and closer affinity with the Holy Spirit.
GREAT BLESSINGS – SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITIES
There is a distinction between the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament economy and that which we enjoy today in this New Covenant Age. The true line of separation between the Old and the New was the Day of Pentecost. This was the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church; therefore Pentecost was more than a revival and cannot be repeated. Pentecost was the fulfilment of the promise of the Jesus Christ to his disciples (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). On the Day of Pentecost all of those who were in the Upper Room were “filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4) and this was understood to be the fulfilling of our Lord’s promise (Acts 2:33). Therefore in the Old Testament we can infer that not all believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament age, however, not every Christian is filled with the Spirit, therefore we are commanded to be filled, by the Apostle (Ephesians 5:18). Therefore the distinction between the Old and New, while involving the infilling of the Spirit must be more profound. The words of Hebrews 10:15-17 are most helpful because when writing to Jewish Christians Paul certainly bridged the gap:
“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
These words are a quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34, where the great prophet prophesies of this day when God’s law would be put in the heart of every believer. This would be a New Covenant or a New Testament. Therefore every Christian today has portion of Holy Ghost is a way that the Old Testament saints did not enjoy. Therefore sin on the part of New Testament Christians is much more serious because of this anointing that has been given today:
“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1st John 2:27)
It is most humbling, yet must it not fill us a sense of awe and dread that we are empowered in a greater way than the ancient people of God were empowered? Yet, the power at our disposal can be greater still because there is the infilling, which is a continual resource available to those who will trust and obey.
Yet, we must not minimise the work of the Holy Ghost in the Old Testament. His operations were profound and incredible. As we consider how He worked among the Hebrew people we must be encouraged in the knowledge than He can do even greater things among us.
1: The Spirit of Wisdom
“ And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee…” (Exodus 31:3-6)
These people were endued with wisdom and skill for practical skills that Moses was not equipped for. There is more to the Holy Ghost’s power than preaching, praying or evangelising. He equips all of us for the place in life to which he has called us.
2: The Spirit of Strength
Samson, renowned for his strength, was empowered by the Holy Ghost. As a young man the Spirit of God moved him to certain directions because he was set aside for the terrorising of God’s enemies (Judges 13:24-25). His first display of unusual strength was when he slew the lion tearing the raging beast as one would have torn a kid. The source of his strength was clearly stated, “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him…” (Judges 14:6). Throughout Samson’s incredible exploits the glory was attributed to God and when the Spirit departed he was like other men suffering abject defeat and humiliation (Judges 16:20). The lesson is clear, spiritual strength must come from the Holy Ghost and when we are without His power the Church is rendered weak and helpless.
3: The Spirit of Leadership
It is apparent that Joshua, who replaced Moses, as leader of Israel, was qualified because he possessed the Holy Spirit:
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him,” (Numbers 27:18)
“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Deuteronomy 34:9)
The great leaders of our Church History; Luther, Knox, Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon and Moody were men who had an unusual enduing of the Holy Spirit for leadership. We need to pray that God in the future would continue to raise up such giants.
4: The Spirit of Prophecy
Ezekiel is an example of one who was given visions and a message which was a Word from God:
“And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.” (2:2)
“Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place.” (3:12)
“So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.” (3:14)
“Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house.” (3:24)
“And he put forth the form of an hand, and tok me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem…” (8:3)
Indeed it was Haggai who wrote of “being the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message…”, emphasising the importance of words that are prompted by the Holy Ghost for the enlarging of the work.
5: The Spirit of Judgement
Solemnly the Holy Ghost is associated with judgement in ancient times. The removal of God’s Spirit in days of wickedness was the prelude to the flood (Genesis 6:3). Saul was troubled by an evil spirit that came from God, which inflicted him with the blackest of moods (1st Samuel 16:14). Likewise in the New Testament the sin of grieving the Spirit is warned against, and His activity is certainly involved in the judgement that befell Annanias and Sapphira. This highlights the responsibility we have, as New Testament Christians, to the Holy Spirit who indwells us.