If you could go back in time and visit the tabernacle of Moses, one thing would immediately catch your attention. You would smell the strong fragrance of anointing oil. Everything inside the tent would have been dripping with this sweet-smelling compound, which was made of crushed cinnamon, myrrh and other spices mixed with olive oil.
God told Moses to pour the anointing oil on everything in that holy place. The Lord said the tent itself should be anointed with oil, as well as the ark of the covenant, the table of showbread, the lampstand, the incense altar, the laver and its stand, the altar of burnt offering and every utensil used during worship (see Ex. 30:26-28).
God also commanded Moses to anoint the priests (Ex. 30:30). It wasn’t enough for the structure and all the furniture inside to be covered with the holy anointing. Anyone who was permitted to enter that sanctuary had to be anointed.
The church today should be the contemporary counterpart of the ancient tabernacle. In this age of the New Covenant, God wants His church to be dripping—not with physical oil but with the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power!
That isn’t what we see in most churches today. God told Moses to prepare the anointing oil in hefty, 1 1/2-gallon containers. Today, the tiny vials of oil we keep on our church altars are an accurate reflection of our low level of anointing. We have become satisfied with little or no oil. We are dry and powerless.
Ephesians 5:18 (NASB) has been a life verse for me since I was filled with the Holy Spirit as a young man. It says: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” God wants you to be filled to overflowing with His anointing. Why be dry when you can be saturated?
Here are six things that often cause us to limit the Holy Spirit in our lives:
- Doubt or intellectual pride. Because I travel so much internationally, I’ve noticed that people in less-educated cultures are more eager to embrace the Holy Spirit’s power. They also receive the gift of speaking in tongues more easily. Intellectual people rely on their reason. But spiritual experiences cannot be figured out with the mind! To receive the Spirit’s infilling, you must display childlike faith (see Matt. 18:2-4).
- Religious tradition. I knew an Episcopal priest who was filled with the Holy Spirit in the 1970s in New York City. He was excited about the new vitality he felt in his faith—and thrilled that his wife had experienced a physical healing. But when he shared his testimony with his bishop, he was told he was crazy! Religious people who are locked into “the way we’ve always done it” find it hard to receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. You must be willing to break free from denominational tradition.
- Fear of the supernatural. Some Christians grew up in denominations that taught against the infilling of the Holy Spirit. They were told that Pentecostals are all fanatics who go into trances, speak mindless gibberish and swing from chandeliers. Actually, the first disciples in the New Testament spoke in tongues and experienced miracles—yet their faith was not strange. They were modeling biblical faith for all of us! People who are afraid of God’s supernatural power will struggle to receive it.
- Unconfessed sin. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit can be “quenched” as well as “grieved” (1 Thess. 5:19, Eph. 4:30). This is why it’s so important for us to walk in constant communion with God and to be willing to repent quickly when we know we have sinned. If you want to be filled with the Spirit, you must be willing to open the closets of your heart and invite God’s holiness into every dark corner of your life.
- Emotional wounds. Some people are just too burdened with emotional baggage to be filled with the Spirit. Some have been abused, others are weighed down by anxiety, others are grieved or depressed. They need healing first. Like Lazarus on the day he was raised from the dead, they are bound by the grave clothes of the past, and they need to be unwrapped before they can experience God’s full anointing (see John 11:44). Healing is often needed before a person can receive the blessing of Holy Spirit baptism.
- An unyielded spirit. You cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit if you are full of yourself. Some people are too willful. They have not surrendered their plans, finances, relationships or time to God. They have their lives planned out and they don’t want God interrupting their agendas. Yet God is looking to fill hearts that have been emptied and surrendered. Only the fully yielded can experience the fullness of His power.
If you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or if the flow of the Spirit has been blocked in your life, empty your heart and prepare for your own personal Pentecost. God wants to pour the anointing oil on you until you are overflowing.
J. Lee Grady is an author, award-winning journalist and ordained minister. He served as a news writer and magazine editor for many years before launching into full-time ministry.
Lee is the author of six books, including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, 10 Lies Men Believe and Fearless Daughters of the Bible. His years at Charisma magazine also gave him a unique perspective of the Spirit-filled church and led him to write The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and Set My Heart on Fire, which is a Bible study on the work of the Holy Spirit.