PART 2 RECOGNIZING A SPIRIT-FILLED PASTOR
PART 2 RECOGNIZING A SPIRIT-FILLED PASTOR
What Are Some Hindrances That Inhibit the Filling of the Spirit?
A. Deception - Religion Has a Godly Appearance
something that deceives1
to mislead or falsely persuade others2
I want to begin by presenting to you a story from the Old Testament involving deception that inhibited a Jewish saint in their walk with God. You might be wondering, why am I presenting a story from the Old Testament if we are talking about deception that inhibits a pastor or believer’s walk in the New Testament? I am presenting this story because it clearly illustrates a deception that occurred then and still occurs now. If we can recognize this deception as to what were the reasons which allowed for it to take place this might help us in not making the same mistake today.
Let’s go to the book of 2 Chronicles.
Suggested Reading:2 Chronicles 17:1-13
4 But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
Asa, King of Judah (the Southern Kingdom of 2 tribes), has died. His son, Jehoshaphat, became the next king. He is a man that walked in the commandments of the Lord and not after the doings of Israel (the Northern Kingdom comprised of 10 tribes).
6 And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to Ben-hail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests. And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.(2 Chronicles 17:7-9)
One of the first things he did was remove the high places (the places of worship for pagan gods) and groves (sacred trees set up near a pagan altar). After which, he sent princes (laymen of high position), Levites, and priests to go into all of the cities of Judah, and instruct the people in the Mosaic Law.
And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat. Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats. And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store. And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of war, mighty men of valour, were in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 17:10-13)
As a result, the fear (terror) of the Lord came upon all those kingdoms that surrounded Judah such that not only did they not decide to go to war against Judah, but some of them even gave tribute in the form of silver, flocks, goats, etc. to the king. This prosperity brought about the building of castles, cities of store, and funding for the training of a large and powerful army.
It’s interesting that during this time of prosperity a test came before King Jehoshaphat. Will the king recognize and address it according to the tenets of the Mosaic Law or will he be deceived by it?
And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramoth-gilead? And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war. (2 Chronicles 18:3)
Ahab, the king of the Northern 10 tribes of Israel, asked Jehoshaphat to join him in battle against the king of Syria so that he might reclaim the city of Ramoth in Gilead, which in time past had been under Israel’s control. It’s interesting to note that these two Jewish kings were connected by a marriage alliance. Jehoshaphat’s son is married to Ahab’s daughter. Jehoshaphat upon hearing this request responded favorably to help King Ahab, and subsequently entered into a treaty with him. Aside from the marriage alliance what else might have caused Jehoshaphat to enter into this treaty?
Ahab is a fellow Jew, who as king of the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, had amassed a strong army. Not only has he succeeded in defeating some of the surrounding enemies, he was also instrumental in past time with providing military assistance for a coalition against a formidable foe called the Assyrians. Just looking at him from the military standpoint would seem to indicate that he had his act together. His kingdom also prospered economically, as they had entered into a trading alliance with the Phoenicians, who had sea faring trading boats. Not only were they strong militarily, but they were also prospering financially. Prosperity could be interpreted as a sign that they were being blessed by Jehovah (Yahweh). It’s one thing to assume this to be the case, but was this actually the case?
Many of those who came to trade with the Jews were worshippers of Baal. Over time, this religion became integrated with the worship of the God of the Jews, Jehovah (Yahweh). Just who is Baal? "Baal" was the Canaanite name for the Syrian god Hadad, god of storms and wars3. While the Israelites fully acknowledged Yahweh as their national patron deity, some were inclined to continue to associate Baal with fertility (of soil, which is the capacity to supply nutrients in proper amounts for plant growth when other factors are favorable4), and would consult him regarding agricultural issues. Also, on daily matters such as sickness and health, they sometimes chose to look for information from Baal rather than from Yahweh5. Eventually, temples of Baal were built at Samaria, the capital city of the Northern Kingdom, endeavoring to cause the followers of Yahweh and Baal to worship together. Along with this, altars of incense were also built in the streets and on the flat roofs of the houses.
Do you recognize what was going on here? The worship of Jehovah has now been replaced by the worship of Jehovah and Baal. With this in mind, I wonder how many born-again Christians have compromised their beliefs by being involved with the practices and theology of religion? What is the end result of compromising our faith? We begin to abandon the ministry of the Holy Spirit and engage in influencing fellow believers, who were like we were at one time on the right path, to join in with us in participating in religion.
For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water. (1 Kings 18:4)
The worship of Baal eventually became the religious choice of King Ahab’s wife, whose name was Jezebel. Why? Because religion caters to the gratifications of one’s fleshly desires. This religion promoted the worship of nature, sexual abandon, and child sacrifice. Jezebel was so enamored with this faith that she insisted Baal worship replace any worship of Jehovah6. But wait, things go from bad to worse. Eventually a proclamation was made to slaughter many of the Hebrew prophets. What was King Ahab’s role in all of this? He was complicate or another word he was in agreement with his wife’s directive.
And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to day. (2 Chronicles 18:4)
It’s understandable that King Jehoshaphat might not have known about the religious compromises being made by King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, but shouldn’t he at least have inquired about their faith? If he chose not to do so, shouldn’t he at least have inquired of the Lord in this regard so that he could have received an answer as to whether a treaty should be entered into with them or not?
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. (2 Chronicles 18:7)
While it seems appropriate to commend Jehoshaphat when he said to King Ahab that they should consult the Lord in order to ensure He was supporting them, I would say that this was actually a response that wasn’t warranted. Why, because he was already aware that Ahab wasn’t following Jehovah (Yahweh)? Jehoshaphat should have recognized this, when Ahab mentioned that he would consult with the 400 prophets of Baal. After hearing this, he should have emphatically said no, I’m not going to enter into a treaty with you, because you have abandoned your walk with God, end of story. If you confess your sin and turn to Jehovah, then we can talk.
So, Ahab presented himself before the 400 prophets of Baal, and asked them if they should go up to war against the Syrians? They responded with a distinct yes stating that their God, Baal will deliver the Syrians into their hand. Jehoshaphat responded by asking if there was a prophet of the Lord (la-Yahweh) anywhere in the vicinity. King Ahab responded to him by saying that yes there is indeed one prophet of the Lord whose name is Michaiah, but he was not to be relied on because in time past when he was consulted by Ahab his response was always of an evil report.
Shouldn’t this have been a red flag to Jehoshaphat to abort this treaty? Why would a prophet of the Lord respond to a Jewish king with an evil report? Could it be because of the king’s apostasy to the faith?
Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace. And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. (2 Chronicles 18:16, 19)
So, Michaiah was summoned before the two kings. He proceeded to prophesy stating that Israel would be scattered and their King Ahab will be killed in the battle. The message is clearly this, disannul the treaty, let every return home, don’t go forward with this agenda.
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.(2 Chronicles 18:28)
Well this seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? Yahweh is not supporting this alliance, and subsequently the decision to go up and try to recover this territory. Surely Jehoshaphat will say that he has changed his mind and has decided not to assist King Ahab. The scriptures simply say that both of the kings went up together to fight.
How could this be? It’s very simple, once religion is allowed to permeate the mind it begins to deceive and distort the truth. I wonder how many Christians are made aware through the word to not go up and engage in the theology and activities of religion. Unfortunately, they allow personal associations and a mindset that says God will use them to win over the religious (unbelievers) to salvation. Little do they know that as they continually choose to engage in the practices of religion their testimony (distinctiveness) diminishes. Before they know it, reliance on the Spirit is replaced with ceremony and ritual. Salvation is no longer procured through repentance and belief in Christ, but is substituted by observance of some outward act (e.g. water baptismal regeneration, good works, etc.).
And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him. For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again from pursuing him. (2 Chronicles 18:31-32)
In response, King Ahab came up with a scheme which he hoped would somehow deter the prophecy of his death from taking place. He told King Jehoshaphat that he will disguise himself so that no one will recognize him as the king of Israel. Furthermore, he will have King Jehoshaphat put on his (Ahab’s) kingly garb so that the forces of the enemy will recognize him as being the king of Israel. In this way, the prophecy will not come true, and subsequently instead of defeat there will be victory. Somehow, this made sense to Jehoshaphat. As the battle got underway, the forces of Syria recognized the kingly garb of Ahab and they proceed to surround Jehoshaphat, who realizing that his demise was eminent cried out to the Lord for help. The Lord heard his cry and caused the forces of Syria to be lured away from around him, apparently by recognizing that he was not King Ahab.
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God. (2 Chronicles 19:2-3)
As the attention of the Syrian forces was now on finding King Ahab, he was finally recognized and shot by an enemy arrow. Later that day, he died from his wounds. In the meantime, King Jehoshaphat has decided to return to Jerusalem. When he arrives, he is confronted by a prophet of the Lord named Jehu, who said to him that he shouldn’t have helped the ungodly, and loved them that hated the Lord.
Do you think the king got the message? Jehu didn’t leave him with this negative proclamation, but he also declared to him some of the good things that were found in him such as when he commanded the removing of the groves (sacred trees set up near a pagan altar) along with his persistence in preparing his own heart to seek the Lord. From this point on, his actions indicated that he had made a clear break from religious involvement. He went out into the various territories of the land and brought the Jewish people back to the Lord. He didn’t bring them back to the Lord and Baal.
Hopefully all of us can learn the lesson being taught here. If you are Christian don’t make alliances with religion. Search it out. Do your due diligence. Religion is not difficult to discern, because it will evidence serving the Lord along with an image of an idol. This idol can be the idol of good works, the idol of water baptism, the idol of following the Ten Commandments, the idol of observing certain days of the year, the idol of following any tenet of the Mosaic law, the idol of earning salvation by works, the idol of believing in another Jesus, the idol of presenting a different gospel, etc.
If you currently are involved with religion, then break free from it and serve the Lord only. God is ever forgiving. When we make wrong decisions, not only should we confess them to Him, but don’t not go back and repeat them over and over again, which if we do, will result in our chastisement (discipline).
How do I know if the pastor is being filled (directed) by the Holy Spirit or is simply religious, operating in his own power? This is easy, listen to the teachings, listen to the belief system. Find out who the God is that the pastor worships. Find out what it is that constitutes the pastor’s faith. If when the pastor talks about God in the message, is there at some point in the worship service the presenting of the gospel. If instead there is declaration made that the way to heaven can be obtained by following certain rules; observing certain days of the year; and not committing certain sins, then the pastor is religious.
However, if the pastor talks about: the preaching of the pure gospel to unbelievers, the desire to want to experience God’s presence on a more consistent basis; having the assurance of eternal life; getting to know God in a personal way; the receiving of the gifts of the Spirit for the edification of the body of Christ; learning how to cultivate the influences of the Spirit; overcoming weaknesses, etc. then welcome this pastor with open arms.
What is another hindrance that can deter the pastor and assembly from being filled with (directed by) the Spirit?
B. Disobedience to God’s Word
The next story we will look at will give us insight into another hindrance that inhibits the filling of the Holy Spirit. The next person we are going to look at is King Solomon of Israel (of the 12 tribes). Please go to 1 Kings 10.
Suggested Reading: 1 Kings 10:1-24
1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.
Solomon is one of the sons of King David, who succeeded his father to the throne of Israel. In his early years as king his fame was spread throughout the known world. What made him famous? The scriptures state he was famous concerning the name of the Lord. This refers to the extraordinary things that the Lord had done and was doing in his life. Why was God blessing him?
In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? (1 Kings 3:5, 9)
When Solomon began to reign as king, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked him what He could give him. Can you imagine God asking you what would you like for Him to provide you with? I wonder what our response would be? Solomon could have asked for anything, but instead he responded by saying that what he cherished most was the desire to receive wisdom and understanding so that he would be able to judge between the people discerning good and evil. What a response.
And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. (1 Kings 3:14)
And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: (1 Kings 2:3)
This was not a response to meet his own needs, but the needs of others. Truly he expressed God’s heart. The Lord said to him that if he followed through on this desire, He would bless him with those things he didn’t ask for such as riches, long life, and the life of his enemies. The Lord also disclosed to him the avenue he should follow in order to be able to judge the people in a Godly manner. He must walk in His ways by keeping his statutes and commandments. Another word, in order to be able to be effective in ministering to others, you must be effective in allowing God to minister to you by obeying his directives.
A similar admonition to follow in the ways of the Lord was given to Solomon before he became king from his father King David. He was told by his father to keep God’s:
●Statutes [the Spiritual Code-the ordinances of the Law (e.g. the Tabernacle, the Holy Days, the Offerings, the High Priest, the Meat Offering, the Trespass Offering, the Levites, etc. Exodus 26-31; 35-40; Leviticus 1-24)]
●Commandments the Moral Code which included not only the 10 commandments called the Decalogue (e.g. honor thy father and thy mother…Exodus 20:12-17) but more than 100 other commandments (e.g. thou shalt have no other gods before me; the Sabbath,…thou shalt not do any work… Exodus 20:12-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Deuteronomy 12)
●Judgments (the Social Code which are the laws belonging to civil government. (e.g. dietary, marriage, military, conservation, etc. along with the related consequences (punishment) Deuteronomy 14-28).
●Testimonies the laws directing the commemoration of certain events (e.g. Seventh year Sabbath rest; the 50th year, the year of Jubilee; the ordinance of the Passover; the feast of Unleavened Bread; etc. Exodus 12:43-50; Numbers 28: 16-25; Deuteronomy 25-26).
And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: (1 Kings 3:3)
In order for Solomon to be successful in judging the brethren, he needed to put time and energy into his own walk with God. He needed to know all aspects of the Mosaic Law for himself before he could implement them in the lives of his brethren. It appeared in the early years of his reign as king that he loved the Lord; as evidenced by his obedience to the instructions given to him from his father David. After only a brief time of reigning as king, he began the task of building a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem.
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.(1 Kings 10:1, 6-7)
At some point in his reign, he was visited by a woman known as the Queen of Sheba, who had heard of his fame and wanted to witness the things she had heard about him firsthand. It is believed that she was the ruler of the great spice country which was located in Southern Arabia. When she arrived, she sought out to prove (test) him with hard questions (riddles; verbal puzzles of various kinds) probably because she had heard how Solomon’s God was providing him with wisdom in these areas. Solomon to her amazement solves all of her riddles. Along with being impressed by his wisdom, she also became aware of the incredible financial wealth of the kingdom the half of which was not told to her.
Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. (1 Kings 10:9)
One the most amazing comments that came out of her mouth was her awareness that Solomon’s God delighted in him and set him on the throne to do judgment and justice.
Solomon had everything going for him, because he trusted in the ways of his God. Isn’t this what all of us want, for God to find favor with us, because we have found favor with Him? If this was the case in our life, wouldn’t we give due diligence so that our fellowship with Him would not be broken? But something began to happen to Solomon, which would impact God’s blessings toward him. What do you think this was?
Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. (Exodus 34:12-16)
Solomon began to disobey God’s word. One of God’s directives was that the king should not make alliances with other nations and neither should he contract marriages for political purposes.
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. (Deuteronomy 17:17)
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. (1 Kings 11:4)
This lead to another decision to disobey God’s word in multiplying wives. Over time, he continued to marry more and more women, which would eventually turn his heart away from following the Lord. One decision to disobey the Lord and not repent leads to another decision to disobey the Lord and another decision.
And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price. (1 Kings 10:28)
But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. (Deuteronomy 17:16)
He continued on this road and decided to bringing horses to the kingdom of Israel from Egypt, which he was instructed not to do. So, what exactly happened to Solomon? He stopped being obedient to God’s word. One unconfessed sin led to another and to another. His desires turned from God-gratification to self-gratification. His intimacy with his many wives (unbelievers; believers of false gods) turned his heart from following Yahweh.
Many Christians dabble in religion with the thought that there is nothing wrong with this, because they are socializing with the community. What they don’t understand is that little by little their heart is being turned away from the Lord. Before you know it, they are no longer worshipping in the temple (analogous to a Spirit-filled church), but are engaged in worship that has an admixture of spirituality and religion. These two don’t mix. Eventually one will win out. Why wait to see which one wins out.
Get out from religious practices which cause you to disobey God’s word and be unfaithful to Him.
What we have learned about in this chapter is that it is imperative that we know and obey God’s word as it pertains to every area of our walk with him. Watch out for alliances with the flesh. Watch over for sexual gratifications that are contrary to God’s word. Watch out for going back to Egypt (to our sin nature) for something that God prohibits us from pursuing. Watch out for dabbling in religion no matter how innocent it may appear to be.
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. (Proverbs 13:20)
If the pastor: has repented to God the Father and believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, thus receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit; confesses known sin (mental, speech, actions) to God the Father; does not live in habitual overt sin; does not go back to the ways of Egypt (his former ways); embraces the trinity of three persons in one God, each having God’s essence; puts on God’s perspective in regards to any area of weakness within or trials without; teaches about the importance of obeying God’s word, then more likely than not God will fill the pastor with Himself. It would be wise on our part to follow this same pattern in our own walk with God. The bible says that if we want to be wise we must walk with him that is wise.
Up to now, we have learned about what it means to be filled with the Spirit along with what are the three conditions which allow for a person to be filled with the Spirit. We have also become aware that there are hindrances to being filled with the Spirit.
In the chapter that follows, let’s take a look at various verses that will assist the New Testament pastor and/or believer in their quest to be continually filled with the Spirit.
1Dictionary.com, 03 March 2014 ˂http://dictionary.reference.com>.
3Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 03 March 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
4Dictionary.com, 03 March 2014 ˂http://dictionary.reference.com>.
5IVP Bible Background Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 03 March 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
6The Teacher’s Commentary. (Chariot Victor Publishing,1987)
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