Unless the Holy Spirit fills, the human spirit fails. – E. Stanley Jones

This coming Sunday we celebrate the glorious giving of the Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son to birth the Church. A game changing moment in history. Pentecost ushered in a New Era: the dispensation of God, the Holy Spirit. God is now IN us, not just WITH us. He empowers us to live the life that Jesus has called us to live. He gives gifts so that we demonstrate the Kingdom of Heaven here and now. He also helps us bear fruit of the Spirit – essentially the nature of Christ in us.

My story in short 

When I became a believer in Jesus at the age of 14 in high school it was through a friend who was part of a mission to the educational sector. This mission was strongly influenced by the Pentecostal movement. They were speaking what sounded like gibberish to me, some looked like they were having seizures, some would roll on the floor. I was told that these were manifestations of the Holy Spirit touching and filling people. I was OK with that even though I didn’t fully comprehend all that was going on at the time.

Fast forward to Halifax 1985. I am in a “backslidden” state. I still love Jesus but my lifestyle does not reflect that. I am entering my last year of university. My father had just died unexpectedly the previous year. I decided to go to church to somehow honour his memory. My friends took me to a Pentecostal church. The preacher gave a powerful message on Christians who live the “yo-yo life”, living one day up and then next day down. His message felt like it was directed at me and I wondered why my friends had told the preacher I was going to be in church!

The antidote, the preacher said, was to be filled with the Holy Spirit. At the end of his message, I went forward and he prayed for me. I didn’t have anything sensory happen to me, but I can tell you that this moment made a big difference in my life. It put me back on course with Jesus and I was back in the fold. In very short order I became involved in missions and have been in ministry in various roles since that time.

The reason I mention this part of my story is because I want to recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who has made the difference.

If you want a deeper, wider, fuller experience of the life that Jesus promises his followers, then simply put, you need encounters with the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.   

Let me briefly mention three negative postures you want to avoid at all cost when it comes to the Holy Spirit. I will then mention three positive attitudes you’ll need to inculcate in your relationship with him. 

Avoid these choices as all cost!

1. Do not Resist

You stiff- necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!  – Acts 7:51

Remember that Stephen, in his talk here, was speaking to a group of very sincere, zealous people who knew the Word of God but their pride blinded them to the point where they were resisting the Holy Spirit – so for one thing they couldn’t see Jesus for who he really is.

2. Do not quench

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. – I Thes 5:16-22

When we are not joyful, prayerful or grateful, this is evidence that we are stifling the flow of the Spirit in our lives. Fruit of a free flow of the Spirit in my life is that I am joyful, rather than crabby, prayerful rather than unbelieving, thankful rather than complaining. 

3. Do not grieve

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph 4:29-32

Some of the ways that we grieve the PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT is by, not just cuss words, but negative, unkind, bitter, judgmental words. Use words with the benefit of others in mind. Out of the heart the mouth speaks, so get rid of toxic emotions. All of these admonishments have to do with the interior life of the person – with the heart. You and I judge by outer actions but God judges by the heart. 

Avoid pride, unbelief and unhealed emotions and you will be honouring the Holy Spirit!

Embrace these choices at all cost!

1. Walk by the Spirit

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. – Gal 5:13-18

There is a tug of war going on in the Christian soul. It’s a civil war between the human nature, which is fallen, and the Christ nature within us. The way to walk in the Spirit is to become infatuated by God. To be stunned by his beauty. To fall in love again with Jesus. Return to your first love. First in priority. I win my battles when I am full of Jesus, I lose my battles when I am full of myself!

2. Be led by the Spirit

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co- heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. – Rom 8:13-17

It’s the Holy Spirit who helps us understand in our inner being who we really are as sons and daughters of the living God. It is in this growing revelation that we are freed from the tyranny of fear – of rejection, failure, people’s opinions, etc. Further, it’s the Spirit who helps us live as co-rulers with Christ now and in the age to come!

3. Be filled with the Spirit

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  – Eph 5:18-20

The command: be filled, and be continually filled, with the Spirit! This is not a one-time experience. It’s about ongoing encounters with the transforming presence of the Spirit of God who creates in us the capacity for authentic joie de vivre. We are meant to exhibit real joy and an “attitude of gratitude”. In this broken world, that cannot come from more positive self-talk or self-effort. The Spirit of the living God makes this possible. 

So, as we live pursuing deep friendship with the Holy Spirit, obedience to his leading and being continually saturated in his presence, then we will experience more and more the satisfying abundant life that Jesus has promised every follower of his. Let’s go for it! 

Come Holy Spirit!




Photo by Paul Bulai on Unsplash