Reading: Luke 4:16-22; 1 John 2:20,27; 4:4.
These words in Luke's gospel and in the letter of John bring us back again to some further aspects and emphasis of the necessity of the Holy Spirit and our being filled with the Spirit. We have been seeing some of the reasons why that is necessary. We have been seeing something of what it means to be filled with the Spirit and to be anointed with the Spirit. The Lord has yet much that He would say to us and these passages bring us immediately into touch with one of the primary things in that connection. You notice in the case of the passage in Luke 4 that it runs in very swift sequence to what has been happening. It is most impressive how much the Holy Spirit is in evidence in these early chapters of Luke, from the very first movement in relation to the bringing of the Lord Jesus into this world. When the angel made the announcement to Mary, he made it perfectly clear that the birth of the Lord Jesus would be the result of a definite and direct activity of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Highest overshadowing, and then when born, it seems that He is encompassed by a series of Holy Spirit activities.
There is in the temple Anna a prophetess, and Simeon the old man - they came by the Spirit, and act under the Spirit's government and control, and they speak by the Spirit. And then in the other relationships where Elizabeth and Zechariah are concerned, there is another activity of the Holy Spirit. You find the birth of the Lord Jesus remarkably surrounded by movements of the Spirit in relation to Him. And John the Baptist is born and goes before His face in the power of the Spirit, and then to Jordan; John proclaims Him, announces Him and says of Him, "I indeed baptize you with water but there cometh One mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." And then the Lord Jesus immediately comes to Jordan and, passing through Jordan's waters - a type of His death, burial and resurrection - the heavens are opened and the Spirit comes upon Him, followed immediately by the declaration that: "Then was Jesus led of the Spirit into the wilderness being tempted of the devil forty days". The next announcement is that "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit" and He came to Nazareth.
The next utterance is His own concerning Himself, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He hath anointed Me". The Holy Spirit is in evidence in relation to the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus from the very first movement in relation to His coming into this world. It is the action of the Holy Spirit. He brings Him in, He brings Him on, He brings Him through, He brings Him out; it is His work in which the Lord Jesus fulfils His ministry. Now what does that say to us particularly? Well, to me it says this one, very important thing among many other things, that the Lord Jesus, having come into this world on the one hand to undo an entire world order and bring it to an end, and on the other hand to bring in an entirely new order and establish it, can only do that in the mighty power of God. It requires God Almighty to accomplish it, and it is God breaking in all the way along in the power of the Spirit to accomplish this thing, to bring it to pass, to establish it.
And the Lord Jesus, we know, is God; but here He is in Luke brought before us as the Son of Man. And as we have said so often, it is not God, not naked Deity accomplishing this work, it is Man for man who is doing it - God in man: the Man Christ Jesus. And that Man Christ Jesus, while in His own Being is God, verily God, in His representative capacity as Man depends entirely upon God, and requires that God shall associate Himself with Him in the fulfilling of this work as Man for man. And that is realised in the Holy Spirit allying Himself with every step and movement and development of the life, the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man.
It takes God to meet what the Lord Jesus had to meet. God has broken in in the Holy Spirit to accomplish this thing, and it is instantly seen that when God breaks in with the anointing at Jordan, there also breaks out that thing which is opposed to God which is in this universe and in this world. He is anointed of the Spirit: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit". And the very next thing that is seen is the uprising and outgoing of that whole force of evil to oppose that anointing, and frustrate its end, if possible. And that thing can only be effectively met by God, and God in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Now, when you come to Nazareth and the Lord Jesus refers to that anointing, He makes it perfectly clear that the object and purpose of His anointing was to meet and to undo all the works of the devil. The anointing was unto that. The Lord Jesus did it effectually in the power of the Spirit, but while the issue has been definitely secured in Him personally and the work has really been accomplished, that force of evil, that whole system of spiritual antagonism, has not been abolished from the universe and that it is left for the church, the Body of Christ, to enter into His work, into His accomplishment, and to have it consummated through itself. And so we come under the same anointing that was upon the Lord Jesus and are anointed, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:21, "Anointed with Christ". And we discover very soon after the anointing that we are up against the same thing that He was up against. It is only when we come into the meaning and power of the anointing and we discover what it means in that realm. You will never come into any knowledge of the Holy Spirit as resting upon and dwelling within, without instantly becoming conscious that you are up against a spiritual system and order of the most violent antagonism.
Now the whole point is this: we have got to recognise very clearly that we are not here just to do work, to talk about things, to teach doctrine or to give out truth. We are here to be the instrument of the Lord Jesus in completing and consummating that work which He has Himself possessed by His Cross in the overthrow of that whole system of spiritual evil and antagonism. We are up against that beloved. We are up against that; we are up against the works of the devil. We are up against him who is in the world, to whom John referred. For that, nothing else than the very alliance of God with us is adequate. In other words, nothing else than the mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit is sufficient. But, blessed be God, that provision is made and the Holy Spirit's anointing of us in Christ is the guarantee that what Christ did can also be repeated or wrought out in fulness in and through the church. I believe that that is why the disciples had to tarry, had to wait; "Tarry ye" said the Lord, "until ye be endued with power from on high." "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit has come upon you." And we are thinking especially at this time of the Holy Spirit in relation to power and truth.
Now, the Lord knew quite well what was in the way of His church, what was confronting His apostles, and He knew quite well that they could not meet that in themselves. He knew quite well that they had got to meet what He had met, and of course it was not long before they discovered the truth of that, and so He was so explicit in this tarrying, in this enduement and empowerment from on high. And are we not becoming increasingly conscious that we are up against forces that are altogether too much, far and away beyond us to deal with? It is increasingly so and towards the end in the end time, those activities of the enemy are going to intensify, the dragon is going to become very ferocious. If he can he will engulf that instrument which is going to be brought to the throne, which is going to be the occasion of the loud cry in heaven, "Now is come the salvation and the kingdom and the authority of our God and of His Christ, and the accuser of the brethren is cast down, and there is no more place found for him in heaven". Now, I expect the enemy can read the Bible just as well as you and I can; he had evidently been studying the Scriptures up in order to meet the Lord in the wilderness, and he can read Revelation 12, so he knows, and against that he would set himself.
If we are moving into the end time, we are moving into the time when the enemy will stand at nothing, but exhaust all his resources of bitterness, malice, hatred, wrath and cunning and every other kind of resource to thwart the fulfilment of Revelation 12, because when that is fulfilled, his kingdom is at an end in the heavenlies and that is the beginning of the end of his kingdom altogether.
How are we going to meet this and go through? Only in the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, the occasion of this fresh emphasis that at the end time it will be essential and indispensable for the Lord's people to have a new and fresh knowledge of what the indwelling and the filling and the anointing of the Holy Spirit means. We will not get through except in the power of the Holy Spirit. We shall not triumph, except by the power of God. We shall not stand against the fury of the adversary only as we are "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man".
Now, most of us are conscious of the truth that we are in the end time and I feel that God's people worldwide are growingly conscious of the need of a mighty reinforcement of the Holy Spirit to meet the resistance, to overcome the forces that are obstructing and hindering and barring the way of progress. How hardly are souls brought into liberty now; how hardly are blind eyes opened now. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He hath anointed Me to set at liberty them that are bound, to release the captives, to open the eyes of the blind." The anointing is required in a new way for these self-same results in the spiritual realm, and if there is to be a testimony at the end time to the absolute supremacy and sovereignty of the Lord Jesus on the earth, it can only be, as ever it was in truth, in the power of the Holy Spirit. And so today with this growing, increasing, and deepening sense of the need of a new empowerment, surely the Lord would bring His people into a new experience of the Holy Spirit. I am not talking about a worldwide revival, that is not in my thought; I am not talking about a repeating of Pentecost, as that is commonly accepted or understood, but I am speaking about this re-energising in the power of the Holy Spirit for the last conflict, and that is a thing that you are perfectly safe in asking of the Lord and which you will be driven to ask of the Lord before very long.
Now, we are all conscious of the need of reinforcements from above for life and for the work to which the Lord has called us, and if the Lord has laid this burden upon our hearts, may we not take it that this is the Lord's desire for us? He would not burden us with a matter like this, bring us into a realm of conscious need, unless it was His will that His church, His people, should really know the power whereby at the end they can, and will, overcome as they overcame at the beginning.
So the question of the anointing and filling of the Spirit is the question of power by which to meet the whole of that background of antagonism to the purpose of God. And oh, that we might know such an anointing that with any proclaiming of the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, prisoners shall be immediately set free. I do believe that when the Word of God is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, prisoners who are enslaved, who would take their release and trust the Lord, ought to find this release by that very word in the power of the Holy Spirit. Whatever might be the nature of their imprisonment, they might realise that by that word they are liberated, they are set free, and it is for them to walk out of their prison-house and out of their chains. In the same way, the Word of God spoken at all in the power of the Holy Spirit ought immediately to bring an opening of spiritual eyes to the spiritually blind that they should see, and say, "Well, now I see that; that is clear" - "The opening of the eyes of them that are blind". This is the work of the anointing, the power of the anointing, the proclamation under the anointing, and it is unto this that we must seek the Lord in a new way at this time.
See him who is in the world, see his power, his malignity, his hatred, all the results of his activity... know all that you can know about the work, the power of the enemy and then come back to what God's Word literally says, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". My, that is a statement! Have you grasped the real value of that? You know, if truly you have become indwelt by the Holy Spirit, you have power that is more than all the power of the enemy resident within. Now, that is not my statement; that is the Word of God. That gives us hope. Of course we have got to see how that power is to be released, the laws by which that power operates, but we are simply stating a fact. It is for us immediately to seek to discover: well, there is the fact, but if it is a fact the thing is not working, the enemy is far too much for us, how can that fact be made an experimental, practical thing and be brought into execution? What are the laws of that? That is to be our enquiry before the Lord, but here is the fact, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world".
Now, in the power of that very anointing, the Lord Jesus was able to successfully and triumphantly meet, not demons, but the very devil himself, the lord of demons in whom was gathered up the whole system of the satanic hierarchy, able to meet him and come up victorious: "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit", came up victorious. This is found in the anointing.
Now, I have simply emphasised a need and the fact that there is a provision for that need in the matter of power. Of course that power reaches out in all directions, not only in the direct and immediate contact with spiritual forces, but in all those indirect activities of the enemy. For example, those indirect activities of the enemy which come along moral lines. The children of God are beset in the moral realm. I do not limit that term; it is a wide term and embraces a great deal. There is a moral life in which the enemy is so constantly assaulting the Lord's children because it is there that the moral qualities of the Lord Jesus are to be displayed.
I think we forget the moral side of the Lord's children; too often we think of the spiritual life as something and we are so occupied with the spiritual life as something above our ordinary life, something detached, something up here in the atmosphere, something spiritual, and we are occupied with that and too often the people who are most occupied with what is spiritual are guilty of the most terrible moral lapses. I do not endorse that, I do not say that it is so, but seemingly the most spiritual people are often the people who are morally at fault, and very seriously so. The question of giving righteousness and justice for instance, are very loosely cared for by many spiritual people. The question of the rights, the righteous rights, the just rights of other people are ignored. The questions of integrity and uprightness, doing the square thing, the fair thing, the right thing, the generous thing, all sorts of moral questions, are left in a very doubtful state by supposedly more spiritual people. The question of our relationships to other people, all sorts of things morally, as well as in the more acute forms of moral life; the enemy so often spoils the revelation of the moral communications of the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus did not live here a spiritual life as something apart from the moral life. He recognised His obligations, the rights of others, and He sought to fulfil them. And you and I are very often in danger of spoiling the testimony by a kind of spirituality which neglects the moral side of our life. And that gives the enemy and the world plenty of ground for rejecting our Christianity and, sad to say, rejecting our Christ. How often has the world a perfect right to say, as it does say frequently, that Christians are morally on a lower plane than many a non-professing businessman? We have heard that and we know that it is true in many cases, but there is a standard of integrity in the world that would put many Christians to shame.
I am not maligning the Lord's children, but I am saying we have to see that the enemy is always out to get us occupied with a kind of spirituality which neglects a true moral expression of the excellencies of Jesus Christ. And he comes along that way as one of his indirect ways. And what one is pointing to is this: that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is an empowerment to live a moral life which is a reflection of the moral excellencies of the Lord Jesus to defeat the enemy in that realm. There are many other indirect ways in which the adversary works against the testimony and the Lord's people, but the anointing is enough for them all. He takes sometimes physical lines to make impossible the purpose of God through infirmities and crippling physically, but it is a wonderful, blessed truth that the anointing can come and counter that and so energise the otherwise crippled, get that work of God done, and something is established for eternity which would be impossible apart from the power of the anointing. All manner of withstanding of the enemy in every realm are met by the Holy Spirit of the anointing and there is power for everything to meet him and overcome.
Then just a word about this other passage in John: "Ye have an anointing from the Holy One and the anointing which you have received abideth in you and you have no need that any one teach you". Now, I want to make a correction in your mind if it is necessary. That does not for one moment mean Christian teaching. That does not mean that because you have got an anointing of the Spirit, and He teaches you all things, that you do not need to be taught by a Christian teacher. It was never meant to mean that at all. It is well to clear this thing once and for all, because we do know people are hiving off from Christian teachers who say, "We have the Spirit and do not need to be taught", and they do it on the strength of this word which shows ignorance of the Scriptures.
Now, what is this chapter saying? Read verse 18 and 26. You see what is the background of this chapter: antichrist, deceptions. The deceptions of the last hour and those who by the spirit of antichrist would lead the Lord's people astray. And the Lord's people are not going to be led astray by what is false doctrine or error. Antichrist does not mean the most obvious expression of the devil as devil; antichrist is one who takes the place of Christ, and claims to be Christ, and uses the phraseology of Christ. He uses the Scriptures and expresses himself in counterfeit miracles calling down fire from heaven, and giving life to the image; everything which looks like Christ - that is antichrist - calculated to lead the saints astray. John says, "These things have I written unto you concerning them that lead you astray." They come along to you and say, "We have found a wonderful teaching, new truth, new light in certain connections". How are you going to know whether it is Christ or Antichrist? Whether it is truth or error? For there are many such things about today.
We have already said that there is a counterfeit work of the Holy Spirit, imitating new birth, yes, producing wonderful changes in lives. Do not forget that psychology can account for wonderful changes in lives; it need not be the Holy Spirit. It is quite a recognised thing that psychology changes under certain atmospheres: suggestions, impacts and other forces, can produce and stimulate in people certain soulish forces which give them a sense of power of which they were not conscious before, to do things and change the course and order of their life for the time being. There is plenty of that, but how are we going to know when a thing comes in the language of Scripture and the phraseology of the gospel and with the outward signs which seem to be so much like the works of the Lord Jesus? "The anointing which you have received teacheth you all things." You say, "I do not know how I know, but I know. The Holy Spirit inside has made me know that however intellectually that thing might impress me in my mind, my heart, my spirit says 'Danger, beware, that is not God'". And you know... and that is the meaning of this passage in verse 27. That is nothing to do with Christian teaching, it does not mean for one moment that we can dispense with Christian teachers and go off and say we have the Holy Spirit and so we need no one to teach us. That would be a contradiction of Scripture, for God has given His gifts in Christ to the church - pastors and teachers. The teaching work of the Holy Spirit through instruments is in it, so the church cannot dispense with teachers. It applies to this other matter, to the day of antichrist when there are strong delusions so that even the elect would be deceived if it were possible. How are you going to know? "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." The anointing dwells in us and makes us know, brings into view the need of the Holy Spirit having His place entirely in us, because this is a day of deception, a day of errors with spiritual people being carried away. We need to know the meaning of the anointing in this way. The Spirit of the Lord in us makes us know all about this.
There is something in the Spirit-possessed child of God, which cannot be defined which makes them aware of whether a thing is right or wrong. You cannot put it down on paper and say this is where the thing is contrary to Scripture, but you know by the anointing in you that there is something there which is not the Lord, it is something else. And we need that knowledge of the meaning of the anointing today.
We have got, of course, to be very careful that we do not mistake our prejudices for the Holy Spirit's warning. It is very necessary for us to remember that we can never have a clear leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit until this flesh has been put to the Cross; and prejudice is a bit of the flesh. Our natural bias, likes and dislikes have got to go. It is no use our coming into the realm of, "I do not like that..." and think it is the Holy Spirit saying it is dangerous. The old man with his choices has got to go. The Holy Spirit never functions except on the ground of the establishment of the work of Calvary, and we can never get a clear revelation of the Spirit while there are the factors of flesh hanging about - we must know the true identification with the Lord Jesus in His Cross. That is anticipating things and touching a realm that was not intended, but it is necessary to point out.
We must be willing for all that is in His will, without fear. I confess to you I have been afraid of certain things at certain times in my life, a certain line of things, certain teachings, and my fear of that has locked me up and brought me into a state of bondage. It has been necessary for me to go before the Lord and say, "If that thing is right and of You, however much I am afraid of it and do not like it, I open myself to You, and if it is of You, bear witness and let me know it." In some cases the thing has been proved to be of God, and in other cases the Lord made it clear He could not make me see that until I had got my prejudice out of the way and then He showed that it was not necessary to accept that thing, but rather on the contrary. You see, we have got to get out of this thing and make a clear way for the Spirit and the Spirit will bear witness to the truth, and we shall know whether the thing be of God or otherwise.
But again, coming back to our subject. The enemy is out in power and in delusion, by force and error, to spoil the Lord's people, to question the things of God, to counter the Divine purpose. Along both those lines we shall meet him: his force, his power, his might, his resistance, his pressure and his deceptions, errors and lies. How are we going to successfully meet him along both of these lines? "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." Thus the absolute necessity in a day like this of increased activity of the enemy along both lines is that we should know the power of our holy anointing and seek the Lord most definitely for a life Spirit-filled, Spirit-governed, Spirit-directed. It is only one more way of bringing to our recognition this need of the hour, but as the need of the hour is, so is the Lord's provision available. And the Lord would bring His people, for His own glory and the triumphant maintenance of His testimony in fulness and clearness, into the knowledge of the power of the illumination of the Holy Spirit by which to meet all that contrary power of the enemy at the end time.
Now perhaps you can understand the resistance that is going on in a gathering like this, for if ever there was a battle to get the word out, there is a battle tonight, but that means there is something the Lord was after and the enemy is against it. If you will take hold of the Word of God, and take it to the Lord and stand on it, and seek the Lord to make it good, it is going to be something for Him I am quite sure, not only in us, that might be a comparatively small thing, but today the Body of Christ needs to know this; it is in dire need of this. The Lord would make us perhaps instruments for the meeting of that need by intercession, by ministry and in various ways to preserve the saints today in victory and safety. The Lord bring us into touch with Himself in very real prayer for this fresh expression (I will not call it a baptism) of the power of our holy anointing in the Lord Jesus. As He went through in the power of the Eternal Spirit so can we - so alone shall we.
The Lord lead us in a very much deeper quest for the power of this holy anointing and save us in the day of antichrist, and give us victory in the day of the erect dragon, for His Name's sake.