According to the original language, the Holy Spirit is wind. It is like a wind full of oxygen. Oxygen is a fuel propellant or enhancer. Oxygen does not burn on its own but intensifies any fuel it is added to.
We largely determine in our own hearts the type of fire that will burn within us. (Luke 24:32)
There is a fire of jealousy. (Number 25:11; Job 32:2; Psalm 79:5; Song 8:6)
There is a fire of anger. (Genesis 39:19; 2 Samuel 12:5)
There is a fire of hatred. (2 Samuel 13:15)
There is a fire of lust. (Romans 1:27)
There is a fire of passionate love. (Song 8:6)
All except the last fire are generally symptoms of a malfunction due to a lack of something important in the soul. It is like having a condition of malnutrition of a vital mineral or vitamin in the body that reveals itself in some sort of serious disease or weakness. Unfortunately we have become confused through our distorted ideas about drugs and medication and health and have been taught to believe that disease is somehow a lack of some drug that we need to take. Disease is a lack of health, not a lack of drugs. Health happens when our bodies and minds and hearts are provided all the essential ingredients needed so our bodies can build and repair themselves and maintain strength and vigor.
There are eight principles that must be practiced in order to enjoy optimum health. Within these principles is the need to ingest the proper nutrients through healthy, natural foods and to avoid taking in elements that poison us. Our bodies and minds and spirit are integrated systems that have powerful effects on one another. When we are lacking in vital ingredients our bodies and minds and emotions cannot thrive or grow properly. Applying drugs of whatever nature may be very effective in masking the symptoms or moving them to a different area of our life, but until we address the true cause of our problems we are not going to enjoy true health.
What does this have to do with the fire of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is most often thought of in connection with power. But power itself is one of the most misunderstood aspect of our lives, especially our spiritual lives. Because we live deceived to a large degree about what our real needs are and what we actually lack to thrive, we have very confused notions about what is needed for restoring us to health. Just like taking drugs to mask our symptoms fools us into thinking that because the pain is now gone that we are well, so too masking our emotional emptiness by indulging in pleasure or experiencing the heady thrill of power induces us into believing that our hearts are fixed.
But anyone who is honest enough will admit that self-gratification through pleasure or power trips are only temporary fixes over the much deeper condition of deep sickness in the heart. But because we don't want to admit that our emotional or physical drugs are not safe and really effective, most of us will not even come to admit that much. We really want to believe that somehow the fixes offered to us from so many sources and the traditional remedies that our forefathers or other experts claimed to work must be valid, we continue the deceptions handed down to us and continue to mask over our real problems instead of experiencing true healing.
Power itself is one of the most deceptive elements that has been distorted in our view of healthy living. The abuse of power is so widespread and accepted in society that we don't even notice how pervasive it is in every relationship we experience. Sin has caused us to believe all sorts of lies about the proper place of power and has convinced us from a very early age that God also uses power the way we desire to use it – to dominate over others and to force them if need be, to conform to our desires and wishes.
A careful examination of our thinking about power, both our use of it and our perceptions of God's use of power, quickly reveals all sorts of inconsistencies and deceptions. But to see most of these we first of all have to begin to perceive the real truth about God and His relationship to power before we can even begin to realize how messed up our ideas of power really have become. The more we come to see the true power and nature of love, the closer we come to understanding the true role of the Holy Spirit and the kind of power that reflects God's character and brings healing to the heart.
When I turn on an acetylene cutting torch, I first open the valve for the acetylene and then light the gas with a striker. The flame that is produced by this gas alone is not very effective or hot. It produces a lot of smoke and a bright yellow flame but it is completely useless for doing the kind of work that is needed from such a torch. It might be effective for catching other things on fire and destroying things that way, but it is not able to cut steel like a cutting torch is designed to do.
After the acetylene is lit and the pressure is turned up a bit to give it enough volume for the next step, I then open the valve to turn on the oxygen. At this point an incredible transformation takes place in the nature and effectiveness of the fire. Oxygen under pressure added to the acetylene suddenly turns the yellow smoky flame into an intense blue and white-hot torch that can be fine-tuned to do amazing feats and accomplish work that other fires do not accomplish. It can quickly make deep cuts through strong, cold plates of steel like few other things can even touch. This is only possible because of the nature of the power of oxygen.
But oxygen alone could never produce that cutting fire needed to slice through steel by itself. Oxygen alone will not even sustain a flame, it must have something else to combine with to produce this kind of power. But without the oxygen the torch is generally useless and cannot accomplish the work that is needed to be done.
There are parts of this analogy that are not clear to me yet, but still I perceive some important parallels to the work of the true Spirit of God. Too many people desire the power of God through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that they believe will bring about a wonderful change in their attitudes, character and motives. They struggle with sin in their lives and they long for the ecstasy of emotion that comes with supposed Spirit manifestations during a worship service or in healing encounters from some person claiming to represent God. But not all supernatural power comes from the true God of the Bible. In fact, most power that we see displayed on this earth is a counterfeit use of power calculated to appeal to our selfish desires. The real power of the Holy Spirit is not an induced rush of emotion that provides us with the love and character transformation needed in our lives. That is a counterfeit spirit that will keep us coming back for more and more just as a drug creates an addiction that leaves us more empty than the last time we craved it.
Some believe that if only they could have the raw power that they suppose God provides that they could then coerce those around them to conform to their ideas about religion and compel them to serve and worship their God the way they think is proper. They believe that God uses His power to force and even threaten people into serving and loving Him. But these people, like those previously described, have very confused ideas about love and do not understand the fundamental principles and the atmosphere required for love to even exist. The presence of force, fear and intimidation eliminates the very possibility for love to thrive or even exist substantially. Love cannot last long without an atmosphere of freedom. And freedom includes the ability to choose to not love without any threat of retaliation. This is very strange to our thinking because we have been raised in a world where the real truth about God has been obscured or terribly distorted.
The true power of the Holy Spirit as it is applied to our lives like it was at Pentecost, is not a power to change the direction of our life or introduce new character and beliefs. That is certianly the work of the Holy Spirit, but it is the work of conversion, not the outpouring of power of the baptism of the Spirit. A work of repentance and conversion must first be solidly in place to reorient the direction of our life and transform our perceptions of reality and God before we can ever be safe to have the superpower of the Holy Spirit, the added oxygen accelerant added to our fire.
When I am firing up the cutting torch, if I have not sufficiently turned up the acetylene flame, then when I turn on the oxygen there is a loud pop and the flame goes out completely. At that point I have to start all over again by turning off the oxygen and relighting the acetylene and then readjusting that flame to a higher level before I again try to turn on the oxygen. If I have the acetylene flame turned up enough, then when I apply the oxygen it will intensify the flame instead of extinguishing it. After that I can make the adjustments necessary to fine-tune it and get started doing the kind of work that only a cutting torch can do.
Likewise, if my life has not first been ignited and adjusted sufficiently through a true conversion experience and I am not experiencing the kind of selfless love in my heart that comes from God, then applying the power of the Holy Spirit as He has promised will only cause my flame to go out instead of increasing its effectiveness. I remember inspired statements that illustrate this very point, statements that talk about the fact that some of our greatest lights will go out when things begin to really intensify.
Oxygen also has the ability to intensify almost any kind of fire. If I light a campfire and the wind begins to blow very hard on that fire, chances are pretty good that the wood fire will begin to burn with great intensity and the chances are increased that the fire might even spread and get out of control. However, I cannot use that kind of fire to make useful cuts through sheets of heavy steel like I can with a cutting torch. This kind of oxygen accelerated fire only results in destruction when it gets out of control rather than useful purposes to benefit us.
God is the source of all power. God is also wise in how He releases His power and knows that power is a very dangerous but necessary part of our lives. God is the source of all love, for God is love. But until we better understand the flammable nature of love and how to have it channeled properly through our lives and hearts, it can have potential to do more damage than good many times.
If my cutting torch has crud trapped in the tiny holes of the cutting tip, I have to take time to insert little files into the holes to clean out the clutter that has built up inside and clear out all the little channels so that the gas can flow freely through them and will produce a proper and useful flame.
Likewise, when I have lies deeply embedded in my heart and false ideas about life and habits that clog and confuse the way I think or relate to others, I will need a lot of cleaning of the channels of my heart which may take some time. The Bible says that it was not until the disciples had spent considerable time in the upper room together searching their hearts, confessing their faults to each other and having their whole view of reality and God radically altered were they ready for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to empower them to take the truth about God to the world.
If God had poured out His power on them like He did at Pentecost before they had cleansed their minds and hearts of the many lies about Him inside, the message that would have been given power would have been a false picture of God instead of the one they presented. For the power that the Holy Spirit brings when it is poured out like this is not one that corrects our internal picture of God but simply exposes intensely the picture we currently have. The transformation of our picture of God must take place prior to the outpouring of the power or there will be very serious problems. And this is why the counterfeit powers of the enemy are such a problem all around us. When we want power without the selfless, humble character of love to serve others more than ourselves, then the pictures we project of what God is like will only reinforce counterfeit ideas of Him and will further deceive people instead of attracting them into an intimate relationship with the true God of heaven.
The enemy of our souls is always eager to provide counterfeit power in the name of God to reinforce the lies about God that he has promoted for so long. These lies are so subtle and spiritual-sounding that it is impossible to detect them without a careful and consistent reference to the Word of God as the objective test of every idea and spirit. The Bible warns us that if someone displays supernatural abilities to work miracles or can accurately prophecy the future but does not speak what is true, then they are not to be listened to no matter how compelling their 'evidence' may be. Without the Word of God as the test of every spirit it is impossible for us to detect the true nature of the power coming from the supernatural. God Himself insists that we test His demonstrations and His Spirit against the Word, for that is the only safe way to avoid being deceived. If anyone is afraid of being checked against the Word of God then most likely that person is operating with some sort of deception.
It is very true that we desperately need more power in our lives. But power itself is fatally dangerous if we do not first have the proper alignment and the right fuel as well as having our internal channels cleansed before the supercharging power of God flows through our lives. If we are to represent the real truth about God in ways that will expose all opposition without abusing power, then we must first allow our own hearts and minds to be healed, cleansed of all ideas and methods that are not in harmony with God's character and we are adjusted to be prepared for the outpouring that will reveal the truth of God's love to the world in ways that have not been seen since Jesus walked this earth.
There are many counterfeit demonstrations of power all around us, and much more so as we near the end of time and the great showdown comes to a climax. It is vital that we be willing to go through the experience the disciples choose to do when they finally pressed together in the upper room and chose to bare their souls to each other and put away all their differences. Then as they pressed their petitions higher and higher to the throne of God and their faith became more confident as their picture of God and reality aligned with God's Word and the testimony of Jesus, they finally came to a point of critical mass where God could safely unleash the oxygen-like power of the Holy Spirit and their lives became dynamic cutting torches in the hand of God to cut through the dense darkness of the world and expose the lies of Satan. The result was that thousands of hungry souls were attracted to join them in learning to intimately know a God who was different than religion had presented Him. As they did so, the power unleashed by their testimony turned the world upside down for a number of years. And when we allow God to do the same in our lives and in the right sequence, then we too will experience the same kind of power and will bear a similar testimony. But this time it will bring the world to an end completely as God wraps up the final events to fully close the tragic experiment of sin for all eternity.