A new year, a fresh start. For many, this begins with a list of NY resolutions that won't outlast the first quarter. Throughout January, both the gym and the church are packed with good intentions. But soon, the old emotional baggage creeps in - guilt, shame, anger, complacency, etc. as well as the self-medicating that comes with it. All too quickly, we find ourselves back to our same bad habits. Our attendance dwindles along with our resolve. The change never lasts. Good motives are simply not enough.
That is, if we don't deal with these underlying roots. Our false understandings and unhealed trauma continually rob us of the full anointing God has in store for our lives. It doesn't have to be this way. The vicious cycle can be broken! That is the beauty of the Good News of the Gospel, that Christ broke the power of sin and death to set us free. He then fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can be transformed from the inside out. This is something good ol’ Pentecostals would call a “fresh anointing.” But it is not the hocus pocus stuff of apothecaries and voodoo witch doctors.
Anointing is a theme throughout Scripture, one that if better understood would help us to move out of our captivity and bondage into the fullness of who God created us to be. Throughout the Old Testament, only three earthly offices were anointed: Priests, Prophets, and Kings. These were all a foretelling of the One who would fulfill all three in His eternal reign. However, He has appointed for us to be a kingdom of priests! (see Revelation 1:6 and 5:10). In the same way, the oil was symbolic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which would come through the One to be poured out on all people (see Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28).
At the start of His earthly ministry, Christ (Kristos, "the Anointed One" in Greek, from Messiah - "the Anointed One" in Hebrew) read from Isaiah 61:1-3 as the fulfillment of this prophecy: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor..." (See Luke 4 for contextual story).
First of all, recognize you have received an anointing.
You have been set apart, created for a specific purpose. You have a calling on your life, one that does not come from man but directly from the Creator. As it says in 1 John 2:20, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." That is the Truth! Let that marinate for a minute.
You have been set apart, not for a title - but to serve the Lord with your life as a living sacrifice. As Jesus said in Luke 4, in the words of Isaiah the prophet, the anointing is to “preach the Good news.” This doesn’t mean you have to become a pastor. It means that you have been given gifts: gifts of wisdom and healing, words of knowledge and prophecy, acts of service and mercy and so much more – that will allow you to fulfill the same calling to “set the oppressed free.”
John goes on in verse 2:27 “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” You do not need to be acknowledged by men, you do not need a title, and as you remain close to Him, He will guide you and teach you to walk in your anointing!
Secondly, realize that your anointing does not change but has limits.
While you can grieve the Holy Spirit, you cannot “lose” the Holy Spirit. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within you. As such, playing with sin, or even abusing your anointing will not only result in losing power and authority – but can lead to spiritual death. Yet “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
This is exactly why you need others to be able to live out to your fullest potential. You can't be everything to everyone. We need each other not only to keep our ways pure, but to complement and encourage one another in the wholeness of Church. Christ alone has the authority to be priest, prophet and King. You have been set apart as holy, but there are parameters within which you must operate. This is for your health and well-being, not to control you.
I will give you two examples of this. The first is physical limitations. In Leviticus 10, Aaron and his sons were anointed to serve God in a special way. The chapter outlines a number of things they could not do, and places they could not go in order to “distinguish between the holy and the common” (vs. 10). Let us not resort to legalism, but understand there are places your friends are going, and things even other Christians may be doing that due to your anointing you will not be able to partake. If you do, it will lead you away from life abundant and grieve the Spirit’s anointing within you.
In addition, there are spiritual limitations. You must not become arrogant about your anointing and try to take on/mimick the calling of someone else. Each of us was created unique in the image of God and has a calling and gifting that align with that design. In 1 Samuel, we follow the story of Saul. The prophet Samuel anointed Saul as king in chapter 10:1. In vs 9 and 10, God changes Saul’s heart and also blesses him with the gift of prophesy. After this, the lines begin to get blurry. Within the next 2 chapters, Samuel finally rebuked Saul for his arrogance. He overstepped his bounds, not only performing the role of Samuel, but also disregarding the command of God.
Saul mistook God’s favor for his anointing. He believed that as king he could perform priestly/prophetic duties as he saw fit. In fact, from this point forward, he suffered greatly for this mistake - a loss of peace, and eventually a loss of right to the position.
Lastly, recognize that your anointing is dangerous.
This will raise up some controversy, but hear me out. If I am out of line with Scripture, by all means help me with the interpretation. However, in Ezekiel 28, especially from vs 11-19, it is well known allegory and metaphor for Satan.
Read verse 14: “You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.” These are the words and warning from God himself. He was blameless and walked on the Holy Mount of God, until pride and corrupted wisdom disqualified him. As a result, “I drove you in disgrace…I expelled you… made a spectacle of you.” It goes on, I encourage you to study this text in more depth and wrestle with its implications.
But for our context, look at the devastation caused when just one cherub misused his anointing. Not only did it destroy himself, but wreaked havoc throughout the kingdom. So it is when we deprive others of walking right and true in our anointing. It creates chaos in the church and in the world around us. People suffer and remain in bondage, and we operate in the flesh rather than in the Presence of His Spirit.
At the same time, if you have the right heart, your anointing will challenge the status quo – just like David, or even Jehu. David spent years in hiding because his anointing was seen as a threat. When the prophet anointed Jehu, God instructed him to RUN immediately after because of the riot that would ensue (2 Kings 9). Your calling will shake things up to the authorities and powers around you. Be not afraid.
With all this in view, I encourage you to set you mind aright this year. As you grapple with your new year resolutions, this is one you don’t want to miss. Seek out God’s discernment for your life and begin to walk as one holy, anointed, and set apart.
Know you are loved and covered in prayer. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!