The Anointing of the Holy Spirit
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - The Anointing Gives the Value to Life

Reading: 2 Samuel 16:13-18.

Just to take one step backward in our meditation in this matter of anointing, may I remind you of that all-inclusive truth that in the purposes of God it is the anointing which gives the value to the life. It is not natural gifts or qualifications, or anything inherited or cultivated. It is not what we have by birth or what we gain by training that becomes the basis of the value of our lives in relation to the purpose of God. However much afterward the Lord may make use of any such things, the Lord never makes them the essential ground of the value of our lives to Him. This, of course, is quite patent from the fact that very often it has been men and women without any of these things, either by birth or acquirement, whom the Lord has used very mightily for very great purposes.

It is true, on the other hand, that men and women of natural gifts and acquired abilities have been used, and the fact that it is true in both cases means that there is necessarily something other; and that something other is the anointing. I just want to re-emphasise this, that it is the anointing which gives the value to life. It is very important that that should be settled in us once and for all. I know how elementary that is, and yet I am quite disinclined to say it and just pass on. It is a thing that can be said, of course, in a mental way; that is, a thing which we recognise as a bit of truth, and say it. On the other hand, it can be a thing that is said out of some very deep work of God in our lives, the result of a good deal of painful history. And inasmuch as there is a great deal of that painful history back of that truth, when it is a spiritually apprehended truth, therein is the value of the fact. It is the anointing which gives the value to life. Immediately any man or woman begins to regard anything they may have as natural gifts or acquired quality or ability as being in itself the ground, or basis of their being used, they are on the highway to disaster and sooner or later the bottom will fall out of everything for them, and they will find themselves in such a position as to make them say that they wished they had never touched the work of God at all.

On the other hand, it is a blessed fact that the anointing does give a value to life which may never be possible of acquiring or attaining in any other way. If we have the anointing we have an equipment and a value given to life which is something more and something different from all that we may attain or obtain by nature. Forgive the repetition, but it is basic to all that we are saying, to see that the anointing gives value to life. The Lord kept David to that. Even toward the end of his life when he had a great deal of prosperity and success and came into a great place, and the Lord had done wonderful things both for him and through him, and he had a long and illustrious history behind him, the Lord sent His prophet to David and said: "I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be prince over my people, over Israel"; reminding him of his humble origin and that it was from a very ordinary - we might say outside position - place where others gave him no recognition, it was from that that the Lord took him and brought him into all this; and He kept that fact before him, that the basis of all that was done in the life of David to make him the greatest king that had ever sat, or ever would sit upon the throne of Israel (with the exception of the Lord Jesus) was in virtue of the anointing, and not because of anything in David himself. It was the anointing which gave value to his life.

The Apostle Paul readily admits that that was the secret of everything in his life. Whereas naturally there might have been some claim made to greatness, ability, and we know how natural men have made a great deal of the natural abilities of Paul, he himself is brought by the Lord to the place where he is the first to admit that the secret of anything and everything of value in his life for God, in the purpose of God, was the anointing, it was not in himself.

One mentions this that we should come back to God's zero unto God's full purpose.

The Anointing Relates to the Testimony

Then we have said that the anointing is connected with the testimony. We said that David's life purpose was the bringing of the testimony to fullness and finality, and it was for that he was anointed. Now because of familiarity with these things, I am afraid we take a good deal for granted, and I am in danger perhaps more than any other of assuming that you know what I am talking about, and I have to be pulled up now and then and reminded that I am assuming too much. This phrase, the term "testimony" with which some of us are so familiar; we may perhaps be taking for granted that people know what we mean by this phrase, therefore it becomes necessary to say a word or two about the meaning of "the testimony."

When we say that David was raised up specially to bring the testimony to fullness and finality and rest in the House of God, what do we mean by "the testimony"? Of course, we know David was a type of the Lord Jesus and that looking on to the Lord Jesus, the Greater David, we see that He came and was anointed for the bringing of the testimony of the Lord to fullness and finality and rest in the House of God. The testimony is one testimony whether it be in David or in Christ, whether it be in the Old Testament or in the New: it is one testimony. In the Old it will be in types and shadows and symbols; in the New it will be in spiritual principles and spiritual values; but the testimony is one and it is called ultimately "The Testimony of Jesus." That phrase, as you know, occurs five or six times in the book of Revelation. Then it is used in the Epistles also, "Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you." Now what is the testimony of Jesus? To answer that fully would take very much time. I want to summarise it into three or four phrases, or sentences.

The testimony of Jesus is firstly, Who Jesus was and is; laying the emphasis upon the Who. Secondly, the testimony of Jesus is what Jesus was and is, with the emphasis upon the what this time. Thirdly, the testimony of Jesus is what Jesus did in His cross. And fourthly, the testimony of Jesus is what God eternally purposed concerning Him. As far as I can see those four things cover the whole ground of the testimony of Jesus. You will recognise what a tremendous amount there is gathered up into that. The first, Who Jesus was and is, relates to Himself and covers all the ground of the Person of Christ; and that has engaged and employed theologians ever since Christ came into the world, and is still the battleground of truth.

The Person of Christ

I should like to just say here, especially to my younger brethren, that there is a very important place for spiritual theology. Do not think of theology merely as a technical line of study. Sooner or later you will find yourself involved in the tremendous conflict which rages over the Person of Christ; you will not escape it. You will find that the Devil's deepest and most acute subtleties which he seeks to introduce into the highest realms of spiritual interpretation are related to the Person of Christ, and if he can trip up the most highly spiritual men upon the question of the Person of Christ, he has wrecked and ruined that man's ministry for all time. Remember the Devil's trap most deeply and carefully laid for the most highly and deeply spiritual of God's servants is concerning the Person of Christ, and the more you go on with the Lord the more the enemy will seek to catch you on that question, because he knows that caught on that matter he has struck at the heart of everything, and you are a finished man if you wobble on the Person of Christ, or if there is the slightest suggestion of untruth, error, in your apprehension of or presentation concerning the Person of Christ. It is the most consecrated and spiritual men and women at whom the Enemy strikes that particular attack to get them somewhere out of the straight concerning the Person of Christ; and spiritual theology (I put those two words together because I do not mean theology merely as a technical study but theology spiritually pursued) is an important thing for our consideration.

Well now, "WHO Jesus is" as being the foundation of the testimony has to do with Himself, the Person of Christ. Let me say it again, that every error, every false teaching, every false system, every opposing religion in this world will be found to have right at its heart the question of the Person of Christ. Many will go a long way in the recognition and acknowledgment of Christ, but the ultimate thing that Christ is God is denied, is not admitted, and that is where there is a parting of company. Well, now I am not going further on that. Number one in the testimony of Jesus is as to Himself.

Number two, as to WHAT Jesus was and is, is as to what He is in relation to man, and there is one word which explains that, it is the word representative. In what He was in Himself He did something altogether apart from man, as God. But what He did as representative He did as in organic union with man, and the deep meaning of the incarnation is that; that He organically came into - as a part of - the race, and therefore became the representative. And there is the representative work of Christ in His birth, in His life on earth, in His work, in His death, burial, resurrection, and heavenly position and work now, as representative. The testimony of Jesus embraces what Jesus was and is, and that relates Him to man.

Thirdly, what Jesus DID in His cross. That embraces the universality of His death, His burial, His resurrection and His reign. That is the testimony of Jesus. The universality of His death, burial, resurrection and reign.

And finally what God has eternally purposed concerning Him relates to His sovereign Headship over all nations as King of kings and Lord of lords. That is the testimony of Jesus.

Now in those four sentences you have summed up all that is in the Bible, and that is the testimony of Jesus. You can trace those things throughout the Old Testament and throughout the New, from Genesis to Revelation. But there is a further word to add. That testimony is deposited in a vessel. That vessel is called "the Church which is His Body," and the testimony is deposited within that vessel in two ways. One, as the sum of revealed truth; and two, as the power of that truth inwrought. The deposit of the testimony of Jesus within the vessel is the truth, as the truth is in Jesus, inwrought by the Holy Spirit. So that it is not truth that is only objective, apprehended by the mind; but truth that has become Life, our very being, made a part of us in experience; that by the Holy Spirit.

Of course, you have only got to sit down now and go back over that ground. The testimony deposited within the vessel - the Church which is His Body - of which I am a member, revealed and inwrought by the Holy Spirit concerning the Person of Christ, what He is in Himself. Has the Holy Spirit revealed the Lord Jesus to you? Not just that you believe in and assent to the proposition that Jesus is the Son of God, but has that come to me by the Holy Spirit? Has that become a part of you by the Holy Spirit? As to His representative work; have you seen, or are you seeing, by the Holy Spirit, what Christ was and is representatively, and is that becoming Life to you? That all wants breaking up.

Take any one aspect; the Lord Jesus there at the right hand of God as our representative; there as the sum total of all the spiritual and moral perfections that God will ever require of us, and He is there as us in the presence of God, perfect. God already has perfected humanity in His presence in the Person of the Lord Jesus; and that stands to our account and God is not now trying to get perfect humanity. He has got it and He is trying to impart it to us. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to impart Christ to us through obedience and faith. Has that become a part of our very being? That is to be revealed and inwrought. It is not a suggestion, not part of the Creed; when you see that, it makes all the difference to you. That is what I mean by revealed and inwrought. That is also in every other phase and aspect of what Jesus was and is. As to what He did in His cross; something revealed to us by the Holy Spirit and made a part of us. We see that He died not only for us but as us. Has that been revealed by the Spirit, and has that entered into us so that we know that when He died we died, when He was buried we in Him disappeared from God as a thing upon which the judgment of God rested; when He was raised we appeared in Him on a basis where there is no more condemnation, judgment passed for ever, and now no condemnation on resurrection ground? All that may be "Romans six," still in the Bible, but it may be revealed to our hearts and become a part of our very life. That is what I mean by the testimony of Jesus deposited within the vessel, the Church which is His Body of which we are members. We are called to have a deposit of that truth revealed and inwrought into the vessel of the testimony.

Now when we said that David was raised up in type for that, we see that realised with the temple built according to a revealed plan; David received the pattern of the House by revelation, and then under his orders, instructions and energies the House was constituted according to that plan, and you see it carried out to a detail, and then the ark of the testimony brought there, at last at rest in the House of God. The staves drawn out, never to take another journey, at the end of all its movement, in rest, in finality in a perfectly constituted House. David is a type of Christ in Whom the testimony is fully realised, perfected, brought to finality in the rest of God, in the great comprehensive: "It is finished." The testimony of Jesus: unto that David was anointed; unto that Jesus was anointed; unto that we are anointed. The testimony of Jesus in fullness and finality. Well, that is a large parenthesis by way of seeing the objective, the purpose of the anointing. The Holy Spirit is in us as the anointing in relation to that.

Now two things immediately follow anointing, when anointing is intelligently or spiritually apprehended.

The first is this; hell is provoked. In the light of what we have said about the testimony of Jesus that is perfectly understandable, you do not expect anything else. If there is a rival to the Lord Jesus in this universe, and if there has been from before this world was, an unholy ambition and determination on the part of that rival to have the place which God has eternally appointed for His Son as King of kings and Lord of lords, and then the anointing means that it is unto God's intention concerning His Son, it brings us immediately into conflict with the rival, and the rival immediately comes into active opposition to us. So that hell is provoked immediately the anointing is apprehended spiritually. And that works out in experience. Find anybody who has any measure of apprehension of the anointing and enters into it, and that one enters into spiritual conflict. Here is David. "And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon David from that day forward." What is the next thing? There commenced that long drawn out conflict in which the evil spirit in Saul was after the life of David. (I hope the statement: "now an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him (Saul)" does not occasion you difficulty. Everything in this universe is under the sovereignty of God, the Devil, demons, and all things. It does not mean these evil spirits are in favourable co-operation with God intelligently and intentionally, but it does mean that God sovereignly uses them.) Here is an evil thing, an evil intelligence which obviously is dead-set against the object of the anointing, and that comes into positive and direct activity and operation from the day of David's anointing. He is a marked man, and now that thing is after his life because of the anointing. The anointing has provoked that. The anointing has drawn that out. The Adversary has come out into the open because of the anointing.

Take the Lord Jesus; anointed at Jordan, the next phase is an Adversary in the wilderness, the mighty assault of hell. Take the Church. Anointed at Pentecost; next, hell stirring up, not against men and women as such, but against the anointing. Take Paul, a vessel chosen and anointed; he is pursued and persecuted by every possible device; hell is after that man because of the anointing. Yes, one of the immediate issues of the anointing is that hell is provoked, and mark you, what I have said about the measure of apprehension very largely governs the measure of hell's provocation. The larger your apprehension of the eternal purpose concerning Christ, the larger your spiritual grasp of the testimony of Jesus, and your stand in that, the larger the measure of hell's antagonism. Or to put it another way the greater will be your experience of suffering at the hands of the Enemy. If you have but a small apprehension, a fragmentary apprehension of the testimony of Jesus, and are standing for that fragment you will have opposition proportionately, but if you have a large revelation you will have a large antagonism. The higher you go the more directly you meet the naked forces of hell. The Church of the Ephesian position comes to wrestle with principalities and powers, the world rulers of this darkness, and the hosts of spiritual wickedness in a naked way. That may explain a lot.

Now this very provoking of hell has to be considered in two ways. It has to be considered firstly along the line of Satan's antagonism, for undoubtedly he is with all his being and resources antagonistic to the testimony of Jesus unto which the anointing is given. There is his antagonism and we have to recognise that. But there is this second fact, that God's permission is granted to that antagonism; which means that God is over all, even the antagonism. God's permission is given because the very anointing itself has a specific relation to Satan's overthrow. Satan has got to be overthrown in this universe. How will he be overthrown? By the anointing. The anointing is for that. How can he be overthrown unless he is given permission to come out into the open and fight? Yes, the Lord Jesus is anointed. Shall we say He goes out into the wilderness and Satan comes out against Him? No! The Spirit led Him into the wilderness. What for? The fact of Satan's antagonism and animosity is patent. But the fact of the anointing is also patent, that Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit. The anointing has now been manifested experimentally in power over the Enemy. We may say that we are anointed for conflict, and the anointing for conflict is for the overthrow of the Enemy, and God's permissions are not given to the Enemy to overthrow us but that he might be over-thrown. I think that is grand. Of Pharaoh it is written: "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth" - and so Pharaoh is given a fairly free hand to go a long way so that the Lord can show how much further He can go. These are things which we do not always bear in mind when we are up against the Enemy and he is up against us. But let us remember that God's permission is given the Enemy to come out against the anointing in us that in the power of the anointing he may be overthrown. In this matter we cannot help but feel that the Enemy is very blind. The Lord has blinded him. If he knew the very anointing he is attacking is to overthrow him, where would be the wisdom of keeping on his attack? But that is where the sovereignty of God comes in.

So we find David after the anointing very soon brought into the place where his life was assailed and threatened, simply because of the anointing. David might well have said: "Well if I had not been anointed I would not have had all this: it is this anointing that has caused me all this trouble." The question is raised, would I sooner not be anointed and have an easy time and escape the Devil, or do I choose to abide under the anointing because of the purpose of God in view? David was put into the throes of those alternatives more than once. When he went down to Achish, the King of Gath, on two occasions it was because he was in the throes of that conflict, he was up against the consequences of the anointing so acutely that the flesh broke down and sought a way out; faith wavered and looked for an easier path, a covering from the consequences of the anointing. We shall often perhaps be in that position. If only we were not in this thing God has called us into, we would have an easier path. Yes, we should, but at the expense of the testimony of Jesus and God's eternal purpose. Which shall we choose? Our comfort or God's glory? Our ease or God's heart desire? I want to remind you that the anointing which brought, and brings into conflict, is the very secret of the ultimate triumph. Not our might or power, but the anointing. Yes, we may waver like David, we may break down sometimes; inwardly, we may know we are not on our feet, we have collapsed. We may seek some resort of quiet from the battle, inwardly faith may tremble, but blessed be God.

David's wonderful history shows how that man under the anointing though in himself often weak, sometimes failing, breaking down, yes, sometimes sinning, nevertheless triumphant, not because of what he was but because of the anointing, while the heart is right. And no one can read the Psalms, which are the life of David, without seeing that although David was a man of weaknesses, faults, not without sin, he was a man whose heart was right toward the Lord. If he sinned there is no man who is more deeply grieved, anguished, over sin than David. His heart is right and the anointing goes on and brings through. The anointing brings into the trouble, but the anointing brings out into victory in the end, and the Lord does not by the anointing bring us into trouble to let us get out of the trouble in our own strength, or to get through on our own resources. It is the anointing which brings us through. In the end we shall all have to say: "Lord, I am finally in triumph but not because I did it; there was that Other, that Someone in me responsible for this; that was the anointing."

There is the second thing immediately following the anointing or running parallel with it, or is interwoven with it. It is our training. Call it discipline if you like. I want you to notice that the anointing comes first and then the training. This is a reverse of things from the world order. When the world is going to choose a man or woman to occupy a high place, all their training has to be done first and they have to have reached a place of efficiency and qualification to occupy that position. The Lord's order is just the opposite. He anoints, and then on the ground of the anointing starts the training. It may not be that we have entered into the full consciousness that we have been anointed, but having been anointed, without any feelings or sensations whatever, without any consciousness of it, in relation to the purpose of that anointing God begins spiritual history and we pass through a great deal of spiritual history which is connected with the purpose for which we have been anointed. That is not so complex and difficult as it may sound.

You and I here today, in the day that we consecrated ourselves to the Lord, in the day that we received the Holy Spirit, in the day in which we were made actual members of Christ's Body and came under the anointing, God in His mind had a specific phase, aspect, or fragment of the one great purpose, the testimony of Jesus, for us. That is, we were individually in the mind of God marked out to fill some particular ministry in relation to that whole testimony, to make some peculiar contribution to the whole, we were marked out in God's mind for that and we were anointed for that. We may not have known what that was, and we may not have been conscious of the anointing, but God from that day began history, and if the Lord has His way and we do not get in His way, do not put our minds, wills, desires, in His way, but if He has a clear way with us, a response, a yielding, a willingness to have Him and all that He wants, the history through which He passes us and which He passes through us is all in the direction of bringing about the purpose of the anointing, that the power of the anointing might be made manifest in that connection. It might be years after we are able to look back and say that we know the Lord has been with us, we know we have had the Spirit, but now we can see in the light of the thing into which the Lord has brought us, that particular work, that particular aspect of the testimony to be fulfilled, that particular thing by which our lives are marked and characterised. We see that everything in the meantime has been calculated to fit us, prepare us, make us ready for this, and now in this the Spirit of the anointing is operating, in power, in freedom. Yes, but that was all there in the mind of God in the beginning. The anointing was there for that, but the anointing required training.

Beloved, if God took us through that training without having the anointing, there would be nothing of us left. If you and I had not got the Holy Spirit in us as the Spirit of anointing, and God put us through that history, we would go out; moreover we should lack that essential intelligence which is a part of the anointing. I do want you to recognise that the anointing carries with it spiritual intelligence. "And ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things." "And as for you, the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that anyone teach you; but as his anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you ye abide in him" (1 John 2:20,27). Three times over this thing is emphasised, that intelligence is a part of the anointing. "And ye know..." What do we know? Well, it may be the barest knowledge, which amounts to this: "I know that which God is putting me through is related to something, I know that, but I do not know what it is, I do not know why it must be this way, but I know that this is not outside of the realm of God, that there is something in view; that thing holds me." It may be just that, but that is the value of the anointing. You have that much intelligence.

You may be able to see by the anointing how things are working together, how two things are just harmonising in relation to the purpose of God. You may be able to see why it is necessary that certain things do happen. God has called us to something which is to be utterly of Himself. Then His training of us for that is that there shall be utterly nothing of ourselves. Now when the Lord is doing that emptying out and grinding to powder so that there is nothing left at all, but for the intelligence of the anointing we might go right out, but the anointing says to us: "Yes, this is all in line with the thing and the end is that all is to be utterly of God and therefore there must be nothing of you; it is all logical and you will have to expect this." God trains upon the anointing because the anointing brings that support, and that growing intelligence concerning the Lord's discipline, chastening, training.

Now take David. All his real experimental history in relation to the ultimate purpose came out of his anointing. I mean that from the time of his anointing he entered into the real training, the real discipline; all that he went through was training. Why I am so drawn to the life of David is because - shall I say - it is so human. I mean that there are few, if any, in the whole Bible apart from perhaps Saul who are more autobiographical than David. He is always talking about his own spiritual experience - in a right way. Always telling you his heart. You have a wonderful unveiling of what went on in the man, what he went through, and when you read it (I think that is why the Psalms have gained such a great place, because they are heart-talks of personal secret history with the Lord) you see that it was all so in keeping with the anointing.

Is David to be the prominent representative type of the Lord Jesus as King? Oh, then the Lord will have to deal with him in a peculiar way, take him through strange experiences, bring him to the place of such absolute dependence upon Himself where the man is so humble, so lowly, so self-less, and the Lord is everything. How I would just love to be able to wander through David's life here for an hour or two touching some of those magnificent points which carry so much value when you look at them in the light of the purpose of God. An anointed man must not vindicate himself; see how the Lord vindicates an anointed man when he does not try to vindicate himself. On many occasions David was very near to trying to vindicate himself and the Lord saved him, and the Lord saved him simply because of the anointing.

You remember that occasion when David, rejected, pursued, hunted, one day sought help, sent for help from a man who had plenty, and was refused; not only refused but insulted. And David in himself was so provoked that he determined to have his revenge and he went with his men, and the wife of that other man heard of it and came out to plead with David, and reason with him and dissuaded him from his revengeful act. Only a little while afterward that man died by reason of his own excesses and David thanked God that he had never laid his hand upon that man, that he had left it to the Lord, that he had been delivered from revenge. An anointed man must not do that sort of thing. The Lord saved David from doing a thing which would have been forever a blot upon the anointing. The Lord intervened and took the matter in hand, and beloved, if we are really anointed the Lord will look after our interests, we need not seek to revenge ourselves. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." That sublime instance of David refraining from touching Saul when Saul was in his hand! The man who was making his life well nigh a misery to him, right in his hand, and he could have delivered himself of that nuisance. But no, "The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed." An anointed man must not do that sort of thing.

Now all that is full of meaning, full of illumination concerning the anointing; the experiences through which we are led to train us here. How can you and I spiritually and morally reign if we have been guilty of revengefulness because some personal desire of ours has been thwarted? We can never come to God's Holy Hill if we have been guilty of that as the Lord's anointed. It is training you see, on the ground of the anointing, in keeping with the anointing. And so we might touch this life at almost any point and see how the Lord is training in relation to the anointing, and see that all that dark period was permitted of the Lord as an essential part of training for the throne. It was connected with the anointed purpose, and in our difficult, dark times (I wish the consciousness of it was always with us, I wish it was as easy to abide in it as to say it) the dark time of suffering, rejection, desertion, ostracism, through which even the anointed are allowed to pass as part of the training in connection with the anointing. It is all related to the testimony of .Jesus. David is, as we see, so rightly a type of the Lord Jesus in this. He is anointed, but the anointing did not deliver him from rejection and suffering. It led him into it that he might reign - the sufferings, and glory. Anointed ones do not escape suffering. The anointing means suffering, but the suffering is not the end, it is the way of triumph for in the end: "if we suffer, we shall reign." The anointing involves those two things. So the two first things which immediately follow and result from the anointing, are (1) the provocation of hell, and (2) the commencement of training unto the purpose of the anointing.

The Lord make this all very helpful to us and bring us by it to a fuller apprehension of our calling in Christ, the fullness of the testimony.

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