“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.” (Luke 4:14, ESV)
Jesus entered the desert full of the Spirit; he left the desert in the power of the Spirit. He surmounted his temptations, and readied himself to go and serve his people.
Power is not something to be sought in and of itself; spiritual power is nothing without holiness. True power, the kind of power that God wants to give us, comes only from victory over trials and temptations.
Watchman Nee heard a friend gush about a charismatic preacher. “He is so full of power!” “Yes, but what power?” asked Nee.
I remember a very good friend asked me to pray for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I prayed for him for a few minutes, but for some reason, I felt that the prayer was not what he needed—that we were just praying for the filling of the Holy Spirit because everyone else there was. I told him, “maybe there is some sin you need to deal with before we should pray for more of the Spirit in your life.” I wasn’t very confident in sharing this, but he later told me that it was true; he dealt with his sin and later on was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we ask God for power, but we have neglected holiness. We are losing our spiritual battles, and we ask God to empower us for bigger battles. But he doesn’t work that way. Often we have to win in the desert first. We conquer in the solitude of the prayer closet before we conquer in public ministry. We must follow the divine order.
Jesus also received the special power of the Spirit when he needed it for ministry. As dignified as his carpentry was, he did not wield a hammer and nail “in the power of the Holy Spirit.” It is clear from Scripture that the “filling of the Holy Spirit” is for all believers, but there is an enduing of the Spirit that prepares us especially for tasks of ministry. (Filled means “in”; endued means “on.”)
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:17-19, ESV)
There are two takeaways: If we walk in holiness and in the filling of the Spirit, we will be ready for a season or seasons when God clothes us with the power of the Holy Spirit for special tasks of ministry. And if God is sending us for new ministry or mission, we should pray that he would fill us with power from on high.
Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit on your disciples so that we can know you and make you known. Don’t send me into the tasks ahead of me until you have empowered me for them and endued me by your Spirit.