Thursday, March 10, 2016

When a person submits to baptism, a number of preachers will repeat over the candidate Peter’s reply to a question from his audience (Acts 2:37).

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 2:38).

The above passage is used to teach that one is in fellowship with God because he has received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9).  Yet, there are disagreements on what that gift actually is.  Some believe the new born Christian receives the Holy Spirit Himself as the indwelling, personal gift.  Others feel we do not receive the Holy Spirit Himself, but He is represented by the personal, indwelling of the scriptures or Bible to represent Him.  It is believed that this representative indwelling of the scriptures or Bible increases as we study and obey what is written.  This increased learning shows how well the Spirit is with us, but not personally in use.  If it is the word that indwells rather than the Spirit Himself, then perhaps Peter should have said, “You will receive the gift of the word” not “the gift of the Holy Spirit”?

In both views there are those who believe the Spirit is dormant or asleep.  In other words, he doesn’t do anything to us.  He doesn’t personally motivate us.  It is believed that we are totally motivated through our efforts, gained through our study, due to our obedience in applying the scriptures to our lives.  Before continuing on the subject of dormancy, let us look at a related topic.

The adversary of God is the devil or Satan.  He became the god of this world when he succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-18; 2 Corinthians 4:4).  Satan did his best to destroy Jesus’ mission through three major temptations (Matthew 4:1-11).  He failed in all three attempts.

Paul spoke of this danger from Satan when he wrote,

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . For 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. . .What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:14-24).

Satan does speak to us.  He does motivate us.  He does deceive us.  No, he doesn’t use a serpent as he did with Eve, but he does use different venues.  He may use one of our friends, a brother or sister in Christ, a family member, or even ourselves to spread his lies.  Some may believe Satan is only an invisible, harmless clown wearing a red suit, holding a pitchfork, and smoothing his mustache and goatee.  However, Peter warns us,

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith.”  (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Do you think you are safe from Satan’s deceptions because you’re a Christian?  Do you think he will not speak to your heart?  Do you think he will not attempt to convince you that you have every right to do or say what you wish, with him as the only beneficiary?  Didn’t he “enter” Judas Iscariot’s thinking (Luke 22:3; John 13:27)?  He didn’t do so through miraculous actions.  He did the same with Peter, attempting to subvert Jesus (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33).  Our Lord addressed Satan by speaking directly to Peter.  The problem is, Peter didn’t know Satan was using him!  He didn’t realize that the very words he spoke to our Lord, were not his own, but from the devil.  However, Jesus knew it!  How does Satan infect and affect people like that who are totally ignorant of it?  He doesn’t indwell them as the Holy Spirit does, but he is capable of motivating, saint as well as sinner!  When Paul had to withstand Peter to his face, who was behind Peter’s hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14)?  Are you convinced that Satan could do that to Peter, but it’s impossible for him to do that with you?  If so, he has already spoken to your heart and you have submitted to his lie or deception.

If Satan can do that without miraculous assistance, why can’t the Holy Spirit act upon us in that same manner?  The word is the sword of the Holy Spirit.  He is active in its use and His influence and power is not inferior to Satan’s!  We usually refer to such actions as “providence.”  Providence is often viewed as God’s actions which are separate from any specific Bible statement.  Whatever term you wish to use, know that is alive and active.

Since He is active, how could He be asleep?  If he is active, are we guilty of assigning His actions as to just being a coincident or an accident?  Why not give God credit (Psalm 19:1; 97:6)?