“Peter replied, “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38,39 NIV)
When Peter reminded those listening to him about Jesus–the Savior who came and was crucified for their sins–they wanted to know–what could they do to be saved. And this was Peter’s response–the same as John’s cry in the wilderness–“repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sin and receive the gift of Holy Spirit.”
During a conversation yesterday with a friend, we were talking about why Believers say, they cannot give up vile habits. She said she didn’t understand why folks who claimed to be filled with the Holy Spirit cannot stop smoking (or doing other things that would impact their bodies negatively). Although it is not our job to determine who has been filled or not–when we don’t see any evidence of being filled–self discipline and control–we can draw certain conclusions about the validity of what a person says.
None of us have the power–in of ourselves–to do anything worthwhile. It is truly through the power of Holy Spirit that we can do all things and do them well. We can stop cussing and being ignorant. We can stop smoking (I’m not saying smoking is a sin; it’s just stupid to do something that kills you). We can stop deliberately living a lifestyle that opposes God’s Word–if in fact, we are being led by Holy Spirit. When we see people doing these things and they “say” they are filled with Holy Spirit, it makes me wonder, if they’re listening.
Now, Holy Spirit does not “make us do” anything. He speaks to us–saying only what God says, and convicts us when we are not doing what we’re supposed to do. Many may not listen and then say what they can’t do, but it’s not a matter of what they cannot do; it’s a matter of what they don’t want to do. “We can do all things through Him who strengthens us” when we listen to Holy Spirit.
When people won’t repent and stop doing those things that are not good for them, it’s because of their desires to do them. No one–absolutely no one–who is filled with and led by Holy Spirit–would even want to light up a cigarette, drink themselves into a stupor, get high drugs, commit murder, lie, steal, or engage in sexual immorality. If they do these things, they are grieving the Holy Spirit and He will not dwell in an unclean temple. So, though they might have once been filled–when He leaves–He’s gone and it is truly unfortunate when a person doesn’t even know–they booted Him out and they know longer have His guidance.
The evidence of Holy Spirit residing within us is quite simply–love, joy, peace, forbearance (refraining from doing something), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Notice that the first criteria or evidence we see is “love” (if we don’t love self, we cannot love anyone else) and the last is “self-control” (allowing Holy Spirit to lead us in all things). If none of this evidence is present in our daily lives, we cannot say we are filled with and led by Holy Spirit (and tell the truth).
Actually, no Believer should ever have to say anything about being filled Holy Spirit. Everyone looking at us or listening to us should know by our deeds and words who is leading us. This does not mean that we have reached perfection, but we recognize when we have erred and repent quickly, allowing Holy Spirit to guide us.
If we haven’t repented–we need to do so–and be filled and allow Holy Spirit to take control of our lives. When we hear Him and respond, others will see the evidence of His dwelling within us and we don’t have to say anything.