Growing up in a Pentecostal church there was much emphasis on experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit. There were often deliverance services, all-night prayer and worship conferences to achieve this goal and refresh the believer. This desire remains amongst many Christians. Christians desire to be spiritually filled during an event or service that will spur them into a deeper, more consistent walk with God. However, this event – a “spiritual high” – often does not last and many Christians revert to square one. Christians are then left scouring for the next opportunity to regain that spiritual high they felt. Were we made to wait for tangible experiences of the Holy Spirit to feel empowered to live out the gospel imperatives or are we able to live empowered irrespective of these experiences?
How Quickly We Forget
A common theme throughout the Scriptures is the forgetfulness of God’s people. In the Old Testament, Israel (God’s covenant people) often forgot the faithfulness of God and reverted to sinful pleasures that God delivered them from (Deuteronomy 9:7-8, Isaiah 51:12-13). In the New Testament, the Epistles continuously exhort the churches addressed to put off the old self and put on the new (Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:9-10). These reminders are necessary since God’s covenant people, both old and new, often forget the faithfulness of God in the past. One place in scripture where this is evident is in the book of Judges. Shortly after Joshua died, God commissioned the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites so they could obtain the land promised to them (Judges 1:1-2). The Israelites fail to obey God and do not drive the inhabitants out of the land (Judges 1:27-34). An angel of the Lord then appears to the Israelites to declare judgment on the people as a result of their disobedience (Judges 2:1-3). Upon hearing these words, the Israelites cry out in repentance and attempt to appease God with sacrifices (Judges 2:4-5). Whilst Joshua was alive the people obeyed God (Judges 2:7), once he died a whole generation grew that didn’t know God nor the works He had done (Judges 2:10). It was as if the Israelites were in need of constant spiritual highs to remain faithful. So, not only did their forgetfulness adversely affect their generation, but it also affected the next.
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We Must Remember
If we rely on spiritual highs, we will miss out on the day-to-day power that is readily available through the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus ascended, He said that He won’t leave us as orphans but that there was a Helper that was on the way (John 14:15-18). This promise should drive us to hope because we don’t have to experience God in part but in full. We don’t have to settle for moments of the tangible presence of God at a conference or a worship night, to feel empowered to live holy lives. God does not save us and then leave us to our devices, granting us crumbs of His presence to empower us for a short while. God fills each saved one with Himself, so each believer has unhindered access to the same Spirit that raised Jesus (Romans 8:11).
We are promised that each day if we walk with the Holy Spirit, we will not gratify the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We are promised that when resources are low, we don’t have to fret because God will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:8). We are promised that when we feel that the world is against us, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ (Romans 8:37-38). The message of the gospel is not that you get moments of freedom, but that in Christ you have total freedom. You don’t have to wait till the next revival night at your church to experience the intimacy that Jesus promises. Instead, the scriptures remind us that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Spiritual highs won’t sustain you, but if you’re in Christ, God will.