Anointed by God
Anointed by God
Have you ever felt God’s love for you? Do you know deep down that God loves you more than any parent loves their child? Have you experienced this love being poured into your heart by the Holy Spirit?
Do you know that this love is not just something you will experience for all eternity, but that it also starts right now?
Do you realise that right now you are ‘anointed’ by God? ‘Anointing’ is not just for special Christian leaders or speakers. It is for all of us. Do you know that this ‘anointing’ gives you power over sin, temptation and evil? Do you know that this anointing gives you access to God in prayer and worship? Do you know that this anointing enables you to proclaim God’s message to other people?
All of this is possible because God has given you the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit not only guarantees our future, he is the down payment in advance. ‘He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come’ (2 Corinthians 1:21–22).
When you exchange contracts on a house it is usually accompanied by a deposit – which not only guarantees what is to come but is also a part payment in advance. God ‘by his Spirit has stamped us with an eternal pledge – a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete’ (2 Corinthians 1:21, MSG). By giving us the Holy Spirit, God has already given us this deposit in advance of what one day we will receive in full. What does this mean in practice?
1. Experience now God’s parental love for youPsalm 103:13-22
The moment our children were born, Pippa and I felt an overwhelming love for them – which continues to this day. This is the natural instinct of every parent. We feel a deep-seated love for our children, which is not based on performance or achievement, but simply on who they are.
This is how God loves you – only even more so. ‘As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him’ (v.13, MSG).
God wants you to experience this parental love right now and to know that it will continue forever.
David seems to get a glimpse of the fact that it is not just for this life: ‘But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts’ (vv.17–18).
‘Praise the Lord, O my soul’ (v.22). Praise you, Lord, for your amazing love and compassion for me, even greater than any parent’s compassion for their child. Thank you that you have anointed me and put your Spirit in my heart so that I can experience your love right now and know that this is only a foretaste of what is to come – ‘from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him’ (v.17).
2. Experience now the promises of God2 Corinthians 1:12-22
Do you realise that all the promises of God are for you? ‘Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus’ (v.20, MSG).
By the Holy Spirit, God has put ‘his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge – a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete’ (vv.21–22, MSG).
It is as though God’s promises in the Old Testament have been underlined and re-affirmed in Jesus. As St Paul explains it: ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ’ (v.20). We see the ultimate expression of God’s love at the cross, and know the ultimate experience of God’s love through the Holy Spirit.
What is concealed in the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. In Christ we will enjoy God’s everlasting love forever. As St Paul puts it: ‘Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (vv.21–22).
It is the same God who anointed both Paul and the Corinthians. ‘Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us’ (v.21).
It is not that only certain special Christians are anointed. We know that ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power’ (Acts 10:38). What is so amazing is that the same Spirit who anointed Jesus, has anointed us. You are ‘anointed’ by the Holy Spirit and so am I. God’s Spirit who lives in us as the ‘deposit’ is also the one who gives us his ‘anointing’. In order to understand how rich and beautiful this promise is we need to understand the Old Testament background.
Lord, thank you so much that all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Thank you that you have put your Holy Spirit in my heart. Thank you that you have ‘anointed us’ with your ‘seal of ownership’ (v.22) and put your ‘Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (v.22).
3. Experience now God’s anointing on your life2 Chronicles 29:1-31:1
In the Old Testament, three groups of people were anointed: kings, priests and prophets. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we are all now anointed with a kingly anointing, a priestly anointing and a prophetic anointing. What does this mean in practice?
- You have a kingly anointing for the battle against temptation, sin and evil
Hezekiah was the anointed king. The king was to lead the people in all their struggles and battles. Hezekiah ‘was a good king’ (29:2, MSG). He ‘went to work. He got all the leaders of the city together’ (v.20, MSG). They restored the Temple and celebrated the Passover and got rid of all the false idols (31:1).
Hezekiah invited them, ‘Don’t repeat the sins of your ancestors who turned their backs on God … Clasp God’s outstretched hand. Come to his Temple of holy worship … Your God is gracious and kind and won’t snub you – come back and he’ll welcome you with open arms’ (30:7–10, MSG).
Raniero Cantalamessa writes that kingly anointing means that the Holy Spirit ‘urges Jesus and the Church on in [its] struggle against Satan.’ All of us have this kingly anointing. The Holy Spirit urges each of us on in our battle against temptation, sin and evil. You can call upon the Holy Spirit to help you when you are tempted, knowing that he will come alongside you and give you strength to overcome.
- You have a priestly anointing to pray and worship
The priests in the Old Testament, and in this passage in particular, were anointed to be the mediators between God and human beings. We see here that they made sacrifices of bulls, lambs, goats, and so on (29:20 onwards). They sprinkled the blood of the bulls and lambs on the altar. They laid their hands on the goats and sacrificed them. These were offerings to atone for sin.
‘The Levites and priests praised God day after day, filling the air with praise sounds of percussion and brass. Hezekiah commended the Levites for the superb way in which they had led the people in the worship of God’ (30:22, MSG).
Jesus fulfilled this priestly anointing by dying as the lamb of God whose blood was shed to take away our sins. This was a unique and final sacrifice for sin.
There is another sense in which the priestly anointing comes on us, the church. We share in Jesus’ priestly anointing: ‘You are a … royal priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:9). The Spirit urges Jesus and the church to pray. In your prayers you have a priestly ministry as an intercessor for the people before God.
- You have a prophetic anointing to speak the good news about Jesus
The chronicler refers to ‘Nathan the prophet’ (2 Chronicles 29:25) and says, ‘This was God’s command conveyed by his prophets’ (v.26, MSG). The prophets in the Old Testament were anointed to speak the word of the Lord. The Spirit anointed Jesus at his baptism to preach good news to the poor. This same Holy Spirit anoints you to speak his words today. You have this prophetic anointing.
The Church is God’s agent to bring the good news of Jesus to the world. Each time we tell a friend about Jesus, invite them on Alpha, for example, or speak into their lives in some way we are acting out this calling.
Lord, help us today in the battle against sin. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Help me to fulfil the kingly anointing in the battle against sin and evil.
Help us also in our priestly anointing to pray and worship. Help me to be more faithful in praying for others.
Help us in our prophetic anointing. Help us to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and to bring the oil of gladness instead of mourning and despair (Isaiah 61:1–3, Luke 4:18–19).
‘… the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.’
Life is going far too quickly. So is our holiday. It will soon be remembered no more. But, thankfully God is everlasting (v.17).