EVERY BLESSING which God has given to us as his people, our adversary, Satan, would if possible take from us; and to this end he seeks to deceive us in respect to the real gifts and provisions of God;—to mislead us respecting the truth, and to substitute for it something which will prove an injury to us. This general truth is forcibly exemplified in connection with the Scriptural teaching respecting the holy spirit and Satan's misrepresentation of the same, by which multitudes of Christians are deceived, blinded and hindered from spiritual development. A few poor translations in our Common Version English Bible, indicate clearly that the translators were as much confused upon the subject of the holy spirit as are the majority of Christian people to-day.
In the passage above cited (1 John 2:27), the Apostle says, "The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you all things, and is truth and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, ye shall abide in him." How Satan has used this mistranslation to befog the minds of the Lord's people and to make them believe contrary to the testimony of their own senses! To illustrate the subject, we mention an incident in our own experience.
We replied, "Our question then would be, How much and along what lines have you learned during the past year, in which you feel confident that the holy spirit has been your teacher? Will you please mention something that you have learned during this year's instruction that you did not know before?"
The Sister tried in vain to think of one solitary item of truth or grace acquired during the year, and we then said, "Dear Sister, if you are correct in supposing that you had the holy spirit as a special and personal teacher in the very way that you think, then evidently from your own testimony you have been a very poor pupil and have learned nothing. Now, may we inquire how it was the year previous when you met with us for the study of the Lord's counsel?"
Her answer was that during the year previous she certainly had learned a great deal respecting the divine Word and plan along many lines. Nevertheless, she was so pleased with the thought that she needed no human assistance in the study of the Lord's Word, and that God operated upon her mind and treated her as a private pupil, and not as one of the general class of scholars, that she was seemingly puffed up with the thought and preferred to continue it rather than to [R2224 : page 288] have the truth in the Lord's way,—Not forgetting the assembling together for the building up of one another and the use of all the means which God would grant for the understanding of his Word. How many others claim thus to be private pupils of the holy spirit without having anything creditable to show either in grace or knowledge, year after year.
This illustration is a representative of thousands of similar instances in which the Adversary misleads those not sufficiently meek to accept the Lord's counsel in the Lord's way. No fact could be more plainly taught in the Lord's Word than that it was his intention to make use of human instrumentality, teachers, in the development of his Church. Mark the Apostle's statement. (1 Cor. 12:28,29.) "God hath set [placed in position] some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" We admit that many of these early gifts to the Church passed away, but we hold that some of these were not intended to pass away until the Church should be completed. In proof of this we refer to Eph. 4:8,11-16, in which he says, speaking of our Lord Jesus and the giving of the holy spirit to the Church, "He gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, until we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man,—unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
What then is the significance of this statement about there being "no need that any man teach you" but that "the same anointing teacheth you all things?" We answer, the Apostle has reference here to a particular matter described in a preceding verse. (1 John 2:18,19.) Some who had been believers in Christ had rejected him and had left the company of those who still believed. The Apostle is merely pointing out that those who had received the holy spirit of the Lord should in this fact have sufficient proof to offset any arguments of the Adversary to the effect that Christ was an impostor. Since they had received the holy spirit as a seal to their hearts and to their faith, it should be quite unnecessary for John or any one else to write to them an epistle, proving to them, or teaching them, that Jesus is the Son of God; for the anointing which they had received was proof positive of this fact, superior to any arguments that could be framed by any man. And to this all Christians will agree. But the passage has no reference whatever to general instruction in righteousness and in the Word of God and in the plan of salvation.
Another statement in the same connection (1 John 2:20) is similarly misread. It says, "Ye have an unction [an anointing or lubrication] from the Holy One and ye know all things." The passage thus rendered is very certain to be a stumbling block to many. If they do not "know all things," they are in doubt whether or not they have ever received the holy spirit. If they claim that they should know all things and that they do know all things, they are very apt to convince their friends by such claims that they are somewhat unbalanced mentally. The passage however becomes very simple and very reasonable when properly translated thus: "Ye have the anointing of the Holy One and ye all know it." The one receiving the anointing should know it, whether others know it or not. And yet the character of this anointing has been presented [R2225 : page 288] to the Christian mind in so confused a manner that the vast majority to day do not know whether they have the anointing from the Holy One or not. Nor have they any idea what such an anointing would imply in their own personal experience. We may therefore profitably examine this subject together, "that we may know the things that are freely given unto us of God."
The word "anointing" and the word "unction" carry with them the thought of oiling, making smooth, lubricating. From earliest times God has used oil as a type of the holy spirit: for instance, the kings of Israel, before being installed in office, were anointed; likewise the priesthood. (Exod. 30:22-32.) Christ is the antitype not only of Israel's kings, but also of Israel's High priests—the two offices unite in him. And as we have already seen, "the Christ" according to divine arrangement is to be a composite body, the elect overcoming Church, under Christ its glorious head. Hence, the oil which was poured upon the head of the king and the priest in type, and which ran down over the entire person, represented the holy spirit of God, poured out upon our Head, Christ Jesus, which subsequently reached the Church which is his body, at Pentecost, and which has been flowing down ever since, anointing the various members of his "body" from that day to the present time.
And the antitype, the holy spirit upon God's elect, should be expected, in some respects at least, to resemble the type. As the effect in the type was to cause a shining of the face, so the antitype, the holy spirit, is indeed the "oil of joy" which counteracts the spirit of heaviness in all those who receive it, causing their faces to shine and their hearts to rejoice with joy unspeakable. Oil was used in olden times for anointing the skin to give smoothness and softness and suppleness to the joints and muscles: so the holy spirit brings to all [R2225 : page 289] who are anointed with it a smoothness and softness of character and manner not previously theirs. The Apostle in explaining this holy spirit, this spirit of Christ, the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of God, calls it Love; and properly so, for God is Love, and hence the spirit of God must be a spirit of love. Explaining the spirit of love, the Apostle declares that it is the sum of all its graces. He enumerates some of these, calling them gentleness, meekness, patience, brotherly-kindness, affection, long-suffering; all these graces together, love. He likewise points out what characteristics are opposed to love and denominates them the carnal mind or disposition, whose characteristics are anger, malice, hatred, strife, vain-glory, emulations and all such works of the flesh and of the devil, which are contrary to the spirit of God but are elements of the spirit of the world.
As the Apostle John says, whoever has received the spirit of Love, the holy spirit or disposition, the spirit of the Truth, has an unction, anointing, lubrication from the Holy One: for it has no other author: it is the spirit of God, which proceedeth and came forth from him, bestowed upon his faithful. As the Apostle further declares, "Ye [who have received it] all know it."
The possession of this spirit of Love, the spirit of the Truth, is an evidence that the possessor has been begotten of God and is a child of God; and that if faithful to his Lord and Head, even unto the end, he will by and by be made a joint-heir in his Kingdom. The possession of this spirit on the part of those who believe in the Lord Jesus as their Redeemer constitutes therefore, as the Apostle says, the seal of their adoption into God's family—"whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption [deliverance]." (Eph. 4:30) The absence of this unction or anointing, even tho accompanied with some knowledge of the truth, is an evidence that the heart has not been fully consecrated to the Lord; the will not fully resigned to his will and Word.
In the beginning of the Gospel age it was proper that the manifestation of divine favor should be not only through the fruits of the spirit, faith, hope and love, but also that it should be manifested by outward signs, or "gifts" of the spirit,—tongues, miracles, prophesyings, etc. And hence the Pentecostal blessing not only sealed the Lord's people with his spirit of love, but also gave miraculous physical "gifts" to the Church: they however soon passed away—the power to communicate those gifts being limited to the Apostles.
The spirit of the Law age was the spirit of Justice. During that epoch God manifested the element of his character which we term Justice, and his Law, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," was the one according to which the Jewish ideas formulated. But when in the fulness of time God manifested another element of his character, namely Love, then that became the pattern,—the next lesson for all who would be taught of him to learn. "Herein was manifested the love of God, in that he gave his only begotten Son;" "in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins."—1 John 4:9,10.
Accordingly, we find our Redeemer, who was filled with the holy spirit of love himself, speaking as the mouthpiece of the Father and declaring, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." We find him also explaining the Law, and showing that while it signified justice, yet it could be fulfilled only by love. "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." We hear him summing up the entire significance of all that had been taught to Israel, saying, (1) "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul [being] and strength;" and (2) "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets." The Apostle John and others of the Lord's disciples heard his wonderful teachings and witnessed his exemplification of this holy spirit of love and marveled; but it was not their privilege to possess the same spirit until Pentecost. Before that they received him and became his followers, disciples, and received some instruction respecting the way of life; but it was expedient for them that he should go away—that he should pay the ransom-price, be raised from the dead by the Father's power and ascend up on high to appear as their high priest and make an atonement for their sins—else the Comforter could not come, they could not receive and be begotten by the spirit of the truth, the spirit of love, the holy spirit. (John 14:16,17; 15:26; 16:7.) And this is the declaration of the Apostle John, "As many as received him [Jesus], to them gave he power [privilege] to become the sons of God [beginning at Pentecost]; even to them that believe on his name: which were begotten [beginning at Pentecost] not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."—John 1:12,13.
It was only natural and to be expected that the believers in the early Church would overlook the most important blessing, the sealing, the anointing of the holy spirit of Love; and that they should think chiefly of the "gifts"—of tongues, healings, miracles, etc. It was therefore necessary that the Lord through the Apostle should call their attention to the fact that the fruits of the spirit, faith, hope, love were the essentials, and not the tongues, miracles and other gifts. He [R2225 : page 290] says, "Yet show I unto you a more excellent way"—following after love, whose development and ripeness will be a gradual and progressive work. And the Apostle points out clearly that one might have all the various "gifts," healing-power, miraculous power, ability to speak with tongues, etc., yet if they did not possess in addition to these the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of Love, they would be simply tinkling cymbals, sounding brasses—drums without spiritual life or vitality in any degree, and consequently without any proper hope respecting a future life or the Kingdom.
If we have this holy spirit, this anointing, this unction, we surely know it as a fact, whether or not we have always discerned it as being the spirit of our adoption to the divine nature. However true it is that this holy spirit is to be a gradual development in the Lord's people, a growth in grace, it is nevertheless equally true that it had a definite time of beginning. It did not begin when first we came to know the grace of God in Christ, in the precious blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins. With repentance and faith came justification, and its "joy and peace through believing;" but it was not until later that we had, by the same faith, "access into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of [sharing] the glory of God."—Rom. 5:1,2.
This latter grace we attained only by learning to admire to some extent God's character of love. He invites us to consecrate ourselves fully to him, to lay aside and to sacrifice our own wills and to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ, who did not his own will but the will of his Father who sent him: and it is when we reach this point of full surrender of our own wills to the will of God that we may be purged of selfishness, the spirit of the world and of earthly ambitions, and be filled with the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of the truth, the spirit of love. Then we are accepted of the Lord as "new creatures in Christ Jesus" and receive an impartation of his spirit of holiness, love, as the seal or mark of our acceptance—"being transformed by the renewing of our minds." Thenceforth, all holy things, the things of God and the people of God, as well as God himself, draw forth our hearts; no matter who they are nor under what circumstances, we love the Lord's people and everything which is in harmony with the Lord's Word and character. And correspondingly from the same moment of full consecration we are the enemies [R2226 : page 290] and opponents of sin, we "hate every evil way" and everything sinful, mean, selfish, contemptible, and contrary to love, whether we find its stain upon our own flesh or upon others of the fallen race. Thenceforth it is our mission as new creatures to be representatives of God and his truth and his spirit of love, and all other considerations are secondary; and the language of the heart is:—
This is the new life, and from the time it begins we are reckoned as "new creatures in Christ Jesus; old things have passed away, all things have become new." But the new creature has various difficulties to contend with, all of which are permitted of divine providence for his development and perfecting, which will not be accomplished until he has proved faithful unto death, and in the first resurrection has been clothed with the spiritual body and its new conditions against which there will be no necessity for warfare. "But we [new creatures] that are in this tabernacle [present earthly conditions unfavorable to the new creature] do groan, being burdened [by the constant conflict with the powers of darkness as well as with the motions of sin in our own flesh and the contact with sin abounding on every hand]." The new creature finds in the present existence necessity for a continual battle between his flesh and himself as a new creature, an adopted and begotten son of God, whose disposition or spirit is one of holiness and love toward God and men; for he is opposed by inherited imperfections and depraved tendencies in his own physical system. Hence, he is obliged continually to recognize the two personalities, as the Apostle expresses it—the new "I," which loves God and men, especially the household of faith, and which desires holiness, seeks peace and endeavors daily to become more and more an exact copy of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the other "I," the natural man, which is reckoned dead, but which will not be actually gotten rid of until literal death; which continually seeks to obtrude its will and preference, and requires to be continually kept under by the new "I," in complete subjection to the will of God in Christ, to the holy spirit of love.—1 Cor. 9:27.
The beginning of this experience as a "new creature" varies somewhat with different individuals. The spirit of the Lord, the spirit of Love, has to a certain extent won favor with very many of the worldly, and many of these to some extent, conform their lives to it slightly, even tho they have never been begotten by it to a complete transformation of disposition. As a consequence, we find that the so-called "Christian world" which has not received the holy spirit as a comforting and guiding influence, nor as a seal or mark of adoption into the Divine family, has nevertheless adopted some of the outward features of the holy spirit of love as its standard, and outwardly at least has been blessed thereby. For instance, gentleness is one element of the holy spirit, and some people who are thoroughly [R2226 : page 291] worldly have cultivated this grace of gentleness to a very large extent and are pleased to be known as gentlemen and ladies (gentlewomen). Indeed, amongst a certain class of thoroughly worldly people for one to say to the other, You are not a gentleman, sir! or You are not a lady, madam! would be a sure method of arousing anger, malice, hatred, strife and various other qualities which would prove beyond question that the persons so jealous of their reputation for gentleness are really devoid of the spirit of Love, and hence, that their gentleness is not a fruitage of the holy spirit within, but is merely an outward adornment, fastened on externally.
Similarly, we have noticed business men exercise wonderful patience in dealing with unreasonable customers, and may have marveled how they attained so good a degree of proficiency in patience, and self-control; but perhaps after the customer had been served, cordially shaken hands with and bidden good-bye, those who were near have heard the burst of passion and indignation, accompanied perhaps with profanity, which indicated that the patience and self-control manifested were merely from a love of money, and not the fruitage of love, the holy spirit. In society, the lady who is very gentle in manner and in word, and very patient, and who perhaps manifests her love with much gusto and a kiss and with many gentle and affable manners, will sometimes in private reveal the fact that such conduct was not the fruitage or result of having her heart filled with the holy spirit of Love, but was merely a display on the surface of carefully cultivated gracious manners; the heart perhaps revealed its true condition privately in speaking evil of the one on whom kisses and demonstrations of affectionate love had been showered but a few moments before.
With the "new creature," begotten of the spirit of Love, matters are wholly different: the demonstrations of love for God in worship are not outward formalities or mere habits of worship, but the homage of the heart, which delights to not only outwardly worship, but to bow before the Lord in secret and to serve him with its very best of time, influence, voice or other means. Its love for humanity is genuine, sincere, also: it loves chiefly amongst men those who have the most of the Lord's likeness in their characters; and whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, the mark of divine acceptance, the seal of the spirit of the Lord upon any, is quite sufficient to draw out for such love and interest and service according to the necessities and the opportunities—as unto the Lord. Even toward the worldly and the wicked (who are not knowingly and wilfully wicked) there is a sympathy, an appreciation of the blindness of their minds which has come from the god of this world, and which hinders them from appreciating the goodness of God and the beauties of his character. Feeling a sympathy for these and for all who are under the distresses of the "curse," the new spirit, the loving or holy spirit, prompts them not only to "love unfeigned" for the "brethren," but to sympathy unfeigned for the entire "groaning creation." From this condition springs their gentleness to all, their patience with all, their kindness and moderation and long-suffering, Love. But these who have the true spirit of love and who in this have an evidence that they "have passed from death unto life,"—that they have the spirit of Christ, without which they would be none of his, that they have been "sealed with the holy spirit of promise" as the earnest or beginning of the new nature,—these are the few exceptions even amongst those who have named the name of Christ.
It need not be surprising to us that all Christians
have not exactly the same experience in reaching the
beginning of this spirit-begotten condition, with its renewed
Let us remember that some are born
into Christian families where the spirit of the Lord,
the spirit of love, has been to a considerable extent
recognized: either the outward graces of gentleness,
patience, brotherly-kindness, etc., have been set up as
home rules and standards, and have helped to bring
blessing and peace, or the true spirit of love itself, has
control of one or more influential in the family, in
whom these various graces are a natural fruitage or
outgrowth, which makes some impression on each member
of the family.
Those who are born and reared
under such favorable conditions, and who thus have
learned to appreciate love and to practice it to some
slight extent, are indeed highly favored.
when they shall have reached years of discretion and
personal judgment, and after they have confirmed with
their maturer thoughts the faith of childhood respecting
the redemption which God has accomplished
through Christ, each should come to the point of making
a definite, positive and everlasting covenant with
the Lord,—presenting himself a living sacrifice to
him, to his truth and to his service.
that this means the dethronement of self, and the enthronement
in their heart of the will of the Lord, as
instead of their own will, not only as respects evil
things, but in respect to every matter, such thereby
become new creatures in Christ Jesus; consecrated and
accepted as members of "the Church which is his body,"
and as heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, their
Lord, if so be that they will "suffer with him that they
may also be glorified together" with him.
a young person, brought up in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord shall have thus completed his
covenant by laying himself upon the altar of the Lord,
he will be sealed with the holy spirit of love: he will
(CONTINUED ON PAGE 294.)
[R2226 : page 294] feel a broader and a deeper love both for God and for his fellows, than he ever before experienced. Nevertheless, in his case the change will be less sharply defined than in the case of one differently born and reared—one reared under the influence of undiluted sin and selfishness; who, believing in Christ as his Redeemer and repenting of sin, subsequently presents himself a living-sacrifice to the Lord. With the latter, the change from feelings of hatred, envy, strife and selfishness, suddenly giving place to warm, loving devotion to the Lord and sympathy and love for fellow-creatures, would be a great and much more startling experience. Hence some of these latter, if of a demonstrative turn, may sing or weep for joy and feel like embracing everybody near them, when first they receive of the spirit of love and holiness.
But while the Apostle's statement of the matter must always be true, that those who have received the anointing from the Holy One "all know it" themselves—can readily discern the change of their own sentiments—it is also true that it should not be very long after they received it and know it, before others should know it also. The Lord has indicated one particular way in which he desires every new creature, whose will [R2227 : page 294] has been baptized into the will of Christ and who has received of the holy spirit of love and who has become a new creature in Christ, pledged to walk in newness of life, to indicate this change to others; namely, by an immersion in water, as a symbol of the consecration and immersion of the will; and while this should be promptly attended to as a confession before fellow-creatures, yet such a confession would not be a sure sign of the new life: for many have thus confessed "newness of life" whose living epistles seem to contradict this.
When however the holy spirit is received into the heart as the actuating principle of a life guided and instructed by the counsel of the Lord, it will not only obey the Lord in the matter of symbolic immersion, but it will also soon manifest itself in the various affairs of life, to those with whom the "new creature" comes in contact. The anointing which comes upon the Lord's people must soon or later affect their outward conduct by manifestations of greater meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly-kindness, affection and generosity of word and deed. All of this is in the illustration of the anointing oil which typifies the spirit from which we have an unction or anointing or lubrication. But this lubricating and mollifying of character will come slowly, gradually, and we must not expect a miracle or as sudden a change in our earthen vessels as we had in the spirit of our minds: nevertheless, the "new creature," the renewed will, is to control the earthly body and impart its spirit and disposition to it, so far as possible, and should begin the work at once. If the new mind or spirit or disposition of love for God and man dwells in us richly, as new creatures, it will speedily begin to lubricate, make smooth and unctuous the earthen vessel.
In this day of machinery all have some knowledge of it and of why machinists put oil upon all its joints and bearings: it is in order that it may operate with the greater ease and perform its duties the more perfectly. Without the oil the tendency would be for the various parts to bind and produce friction, heat, wear: with the oil, the mechanism will perform its duties much better than without it. Nevertheless, as we all know, machines are of various degrees of perfection and imperfection, hence while the oil will be of advantage to every machine, it will not produce the same evenness and smoothness of motion in every part of each. And so it is amongst Christians: while every Christian will be blessed by the holy spirit, the unction, anointing and lubrication from the Holy One, through the spirit of love received, nevertheless all Christians will not be alike smooth, regular, moderate, gentle, long-suffering, tenderly affectionate one toward another in love. The anointed heart or will can be, will be, must be striving for perfecting in love and actuated by it as a motive power, but the outward working of this upon the natural body, the outward man, will vary according to its natural makeup and its rooting in selfishness—sin. The man or woman who was naturally bad tempered, cross, selfish, hateful, mean will be helped from the time the anointing of the holy spirit of love is received; yet it may be weeks or months or years before the friction in certain parts of the disposition is worn smooth; and it should be the constant effort of every "new creature in Christ," first of all to be sure that he has received the unction, the spirit of love, and secondly to grow in that spirit and grace, to be filled with the spirit of love, letting the spirit of Christ dwell in him richly and abound, and thirdly he should constantly and earnestly strive to let the light he has received so shine before men that they may see his good works, that they may see that the spirit of Christ has produced in him a great change and an increasing change toward meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly-kindness, benevolence, in all the workings and operations of life, that thus he may glorify God in his body and in his spirit (new mind) which, with all he has, are given to the Lord by consecration as well as being his by redemption.
Whatever friction may be unavoidable between the new creature and the world, which has a different spirit and which therefore operates along different lines and on different principles, there should be no friction amongst those who are the Lord's people, and who [R2227 : page 295] have all received of the same spirit. We recall the Apostle's words respecting the body of Christ in which he urges that even the speaking of the truth should be done in love one for another; that we "may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted, by that which every joint supplieth [lubrication] according to the effectual working of every part in its own place, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Eph. 4:15,16.) The Apostle's thought seems to be that while each new creature may be considered as a complete member of Christ, and have all the parts of his own character thoroughly lubricated with the spirit of love, yet in addition to this all the new creatures are to recognize themselves as members one of another, and of the body of Christ, the Church; and are to exercise toward each other in their various efforts toward cooperation in obedience to the will of the Lord, such love, such unction, such anointing, such lubrication, as will prevent friction and enable the whole body of Christ to cooperate for its own upbuilding in the graces as well as for its own completion in numbers.
This same thought is brought to our attention through the prophet David who, after saying, "How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," adds, "It is like the precious ointment upon the head"—the anointing oil upon the typical priest, Aaron, representing the holy spirit upon the royal priesthood, head and body.—Psa. 133.