When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, He brings you an assurance. ‘The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.’ (Romans 8:16) For me, I do not remember ever hearing God’s voice that distinctly, that surely, before then. There is absolutely no doubt within you that you have been sealed as God’s child. The assurance isn’t from you, it is from God Himself, and therefore no one can take it away, because you know what you have received. Bishop Junior said it best... ‘Even if an angel comes to you and tells you that you are not baptised with the Holy Spirit, you will not doubt your baptism.’ Now, having said that, I would like to point out the different scenarios that follow after our baptism.
The first scenario, which happened to me, is that the devil tries to bring you doubts. The week after I was baptised with the Holy Spirit, I experienced what Jesus experienced when He slept in the boat... the calm amidst a storm. The devil started bombarding me with thoughts, trying to bring doubts. To be honest, I can’t remember now exactly what thoughts he used to try and bring me the doubts, I only remember that it felt like a storm was happening around me. But, inside of me I had the peace of the Holy Spirit – the joy! Oh, how marvellous it was and still is to have God Himself living inside of me! So, when these thoughts came, the Holy Spirit inside of me continued testifying with my spirit that I was God’s child. The thoughts could not erase the assurance that I had, because that assurance didn’t come from me. It came from the Holy Spirit Himself. While the storm carried on outside of me, I had inner peace. The assurance spoke for itself.
The second scenario is when you have an assurance that you are baptised with the Holy Spirit, however that assurance doesn’t come from God, but from a deceiving spirit. You are sure and nothing is able to remove the assurance that you have been sealed as God’s child, but in fact you are being deceived by the devil. How then can you be able to tell the difference? How can you know whether the assurance you have is from the Holy Spirit or from a deceiving spirit? By observing your character!
Which fruits are you bearing? Are you constantly manifesting the fruits of the flesh or the fruit of the Holy Spirit? ‘A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit... Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ (Matthew 7:18,20) If you are truly baptised with the Holy Spirit, the baptism is followed by the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If you say you are baptised with the Holy Spirit, but you are constantly (and I repeat CONSTANTLY!) in a bad mood, angry, impatient, selfish, unfaithful, isolated, then the tree is bearing bad fruits, which means that the assurance you have is from a deceiving spirit.
It is important to note here that people don’t change from one minute to another. So, if you didn’t have any of the fruit of the Holy Spirit before the baptism, you won’t open your eyes and instantly become a new person with a new character in an instant. But, the Holy Spirit inside of you will begin guiding you, convicting you of things in your character that need changing. He will start moulding your character according to God’s character. You will no longer be able to carry on the way you used to before. You will become conscious of what needs to change and you will have the strength to change. So, gradually you become a new creature. If you don’t feel this desire to change from things that are clearly opposed to the Holy Spirit, if you are not compelled to work on your character so that it matches the character of the Spirit of God, it is because He isn’t dwelling inside you yet.
Today we spoke about the importance of the assurance, followed by the fruits of the Holy Spirit, next we will speak about another important and distinct characteristic the Holy Spirit brings to us... the love for souls.