Appropriating the Power of the Spirit
The power of the Holy Spirit was central in the life of Christ Jesus. He was conceived by the power of the Spirit; the Spirit descended upon Him at His baptism; He was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness; He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; He was anointed by the Spirit to preach the gospel, to heal, and to deliver people from demonic bondage; He spoke of the need to be born of the Spirit; He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit; He promised the gift of the Spirit of truth to His disciples; and He breathed on them after His resurrection saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Christ was engulfed in the Spirit of God and did all things through dependence on the Spirit’s power. This same power now indwells all of Jesus’ followers, both Jew and Gentile, and energizes kingdom living today. The kingdom of God is already and not yet; the future presence and power of God now indwells His people (1 Corinthians 4:20). In one sense, we suffer and groan as we await the consummation of God‘s kingdom (Romans 8:23), but in another sense, we rejoice in our suffering as overcomers through the already present kingdom life and power of Christ (Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 4:4-5; 1 Peter 4:13).
It is impossible for us to live the Christian life in our own power; access to the new life of God’s kingdom is through Christ Himself, and He has promised to live it in us as we walk in the power of the indwelling Spirit. We are filled with the Spirit when we turn from our own resources and allow Him to control us (Ephesians 5:18). Recall that we need both the inward filling of the Spirit for character and wisdom, and the outward filling of the Spirit for ministry and service.
How do we seek the visitation of the Spirit? While Scripture offers no step-by-step formula, the experience of the saints as well as biblical principles point to certain requisites that prepare the way:
Admitting our weakness. When we call on God out of a spirit of humility, contrition, and brokenness, we are acknowledging our desperate need for Him. God’s power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Surrendering our will. To cultivate a field, it must be plowed and harrowed before it can receive the seed that matures and bears fruit. This is a painful and upsetting process, but God uses times of crisis to bring us to the point of surrendering our will to His. When we become weary of our own resources and efforts, our growing sense of frustrated inadequacy drives us to God. As we realize our powerlessness, our increasing dependence makes the Spirit of God more real to us. Instead of working for God, we learn to invite Him to work in and through us.
Confessing our disobedience. Purity leads to power. We grieve and quench the Spirit when we tolerate unconfessed sins, questionable behavior, impure thoughts, lack of integrity, dishonesty, selfishness, immorality, and other forms of disobedience. Scripture calls us to present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God (Romans 6:13). Instead of focusing on “having” the Holy Spirit, we should be more concerned with the Holy Spirit having us. “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:24).
Sanctifying our desires. Those who consciously long for the cleansing, empowering, and quickening of the Spirit will cry out to God in holy desire. This is the theme of Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s spiritual classic, Abandonment to Divine Providence; a pure and contrite heart and a fundamental abandonment to God’s loving purposes bring us the treasures of His grace. Prayer and communion with Christ lead to spiritual power.
Trusting in God’s promise to fill us. Since Scripture commands us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and exhorts us to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25), to be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 5:18), to live by the Spirit (Romans 8:11-13; Galatians 5:25), and to set our minds on the Spirit (Romans 8:5-9), we can be assured that it is His desire for His children to be Spirit-filled. When we trust in and appropriate His promise to fill us, we can be assured that this is a request our Father will be pleased to grant.
Taken from Ken Boa's Handbook to Spiritual Growth.