And Peter said to them, repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
In Acts 1:8, just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus left his followers with this great promise: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere. He was talking about the Holy Spirit, who he had promised to send into all believers when they come to him for salvation.
The Holy Spirit is every true believer’s source of power to live a victorious life for Christ. I know that in my own struggles to move toward a spirit-filled life, I’ve been helped by trying my best to follow a four-step process including confessing, renouncing, surrendering and finally, obeying.
Confessing. The Lord assures us in Isaiah 43:25, I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. And then there’s that wonderful promise found in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The spirit filled life always begins with confession.
Paul Tournier writes, God loves the unrighteous more than he does the righteous. Perhaps what he is saying here is that the unrighteous person knows that he has needs and is willing to confess, whereas the righteous soul may be too proud to admit he has needs. Again, the spirit filled life must always begin with confession. There are really only two places our sins can be – on ourselves, or on Jesus.
Renouncing. In Isaiah 55:7 we read, Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord and he will have compassion on him, and our God will abundantly pardon. There is a significant difference between confessing one’s sins and renouncing them. Confessing says, Lord, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Renouncing says, No more! I’m through with it. It’s history!
Surrendering. In Romans 6:12-13, Paul challenges believers, Do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts. Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead The question then becomes, Is my body a fit place for God to dwell?
Obeying. In Acts 5:32, Luke reminds us that we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.
The Rev. John McArthur writes, To say we receive Christ when in fact we reject his right to reign over us is utter absurdity. It is a futile attempt to hold on to sin with one hand and take Jesus with the other. What kind of salvation is it if we are left in bondage to sin?
Through the past few years, my wife Ann and I have been so blessed and helped by the writings of Pastor Richard Beiber, now semi-retired, living in Nova Scotia. He writes, In order for God to fill me with his Holy Spirit, I have to empty myself. If I’m full of myself, there’s no room for the Holy Spirit. Then he adds, You cannot have faith in Jesus, or know Jesus, or love Jesus, until you obey him.