I don’t know what your background is. Mine is Conservative Baptist. I was not raised to believe in “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and I was raised to believe that when you ask Jesus into your heart you are given the Holy Spirt, and that is enough. That the rest is up to you to make good choices because you read and memorize Scripture. Oddly enough, it has been reading and memorizing Scripture that opened my eyes to how much more power and authority we have when we do receive a baptism of the Holy Spirit – a baptism of fire. (Acts)
My friend, the one who introduced me to deliverance, put it this way: When you buy a house it has a yard. Front, back and sides, surrounding the house. When you go to live in this house, you set up your living space inside, in the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, living and dining rooms.
The yard represents the spirit of us. Where we connect with the outside. The house represents where we spend most of our time, our soul. Where our thoughts, our will and our emotions dwell.
When you ask Jesus to come into your heart, you are inviting Him into your yard. You are sealed for eternity with His Spirit in your spirit, fully surrounded. I have learned that most people stop here. At least, I did. Having been told that this was enough. Assurance of eternal life and sins forgiven. However, living constantly in my spirit is as practical as living constantly outside in my yard. Because I only spend a portion of my time in my spirit, or out in my yard, I only gain that much understanding of God, Who He is and how He functions.
Most of us live in our houses. Metaphorically, this is within our thoughts, our will (power of decision) and our emotions. But until we invite the Holy Spirit in, He remains respectfully out. He is always completely respectful of our free will. Inviting Him in is what the Bible, in Acts and in a few of the gospels, speaks of as the baptism of the Spirit, or of fire.
When the Holy Spirit is sitting at your kitchen table, or helping you clean up your bedroom and scrub your toilet you get first hand experience of Who He is and how He works. I’ve heard it said that it is like the difference between dating and marriage. Or the difference between carrying around a cup of coffee and drinking the coffee (or Spark, for you Advocare buffs) so that the caffeine is in your system, rather than in your cup.
For me, inviting the Holy Spirit deeper into my life, inviting Him to dwell in my thoughts, my will and my emotions, has made the difference between life in black and white and life in full color. It has been the difference in striving to practice the fruits of the Spirit, and relaxing into the fruits of the Spirit simply flowing from my life. Scripture has come to life. I get why it is so exciting to be saved, set free, forgiven – and I finally understand what the peace that passes understanding is, and the joy that flows from it.
It is the difference between working in your yard, playing, gardening, waving at the neighbors, grilling, etc., and living daily life within your home. Inviting the Holy Spirit inside, accepting the gift of His baptism (which is different and secondary to water baptism, Matt. 3:11, Acts 11:15-17, Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-6, 8:14-19, 9:17-19, 10:44-48 and Acts 19:1-6), is the best decision I have ever made.
And it is something that is hard to describe until you experience it for yourself. It takes the work out of producing the fruit of the Spirit – I recall verse as I need them, without even having necessarily memorized them and there isn’t anymore striving to be patient or kind – I find that my love for those around me is deepened and increased with my more full awareness of God’s love for me, and patience simply flows from this.
That is another thing, I experience the love God has for me at a much deeper level. He literally feels closer. I don’t have to set aside time to meet with Him to gain perspective or insight or understanding – He is working in and through me constantly – with my knowledge! I set aside time now because I long to just sit in His presence alone, the intimacy is real and amazing. And, I don’t have to work at attaining it. I understand what it means to be accepted exactly as I am. No rules, hoops, theories, scheduling, or theology to wade through. Just me and my God, who loves me. It is life off the hook, organic and mysterious yet remarkably simple.
Accepting the gift of baptism of the Spirit is accepting complete freedom in Christ. Not just the knowledge of freedom, but full submersion in that freedom! It is power and authority and simply doing what I hear and see the Spirit doing. All striving gone.
It is the ability to discern what name to call the enemy when he attacks me or my family, to bind him and send him away in the name of Jesus. It is the ability to discern the lightening of the air around us, and to feel the difference. It is the ability to know what needs to be bound, and what needs to be loosed to help others attain their freedom in christ. It is being given new eyes, ears and senses.
And this gift is what has made walking in my new found freedom so wonderfully possible to maintain and enjoy. Not just the assurance of my salvation, but the experience of the power of being set free.