We know the thief on the cross was saved. In Luke 23:43 Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” The Eleven were saved before the crucifixion. John 18:9: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” – Jesus. We can assume that from the time of the crucifixion until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (the thanksgiving for the first fruits of the wheat [bread] harvest) some believers died without receiving the Holy Spirit.
In John 20:22 Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” But the Holy Spirit did not come upon the Eleven or other believers until 50 days later.
In Matthew 28:19 Jesus commanded the Eleven (and possibly other disciples not named), “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The implication is that baptizing them in the name / nature / manner of the Father and of the Son is the baptism of John the Baptist — water. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is, “The Holy Sealing. It is a sacrament through which the believer, through the laying on of hands and the prayer of an apostle, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The death out of water and spirit, which was begun in the Holy Baptism with water, is completed through the Holy Sealing.”
I like to explain the two baptisms this way: Water baptism is the wedding. Holy Spirit baptism is the wedding night — the union of ourselves with Christ. Holy Spirit baptism is often a deeply emotional, intimate experience. For me, it was not something I would have wished others to witness. The vulnerability, joy, tears, and warmth, was “holy.” In the same way, sex between a new bride and groom is intimate, receiving the Holy Spirit is the consummation of the covenant between a person and Christ that forever binds us together. The two become one. We go into Christ. He comes into us.
Baptize. Ask. Receive.
Let us look again at the instructions of Jesus:
“Go! Baptize them into the Holy Spirit.”
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
“Your Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
In Luke 24:49 Jesus tells us he will send us the Holy Spirit, but in order to receive his Spirit, the Eleven and others were to remain in a certain place. “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; the Holy Spirit. But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The receiving of the gift was not some mystical, ambiguous event, without date and time and evidence but a historical occurrence for the individual. The Holy Spirit IS the Spirit of Jesus. He is coming INTO us. In the same way the Eleven lived in awe of the power and authority of Jesus, so too when we encounter the Holy Spirit coming into us, we should also be moved in a mighty way.
Jesus makes clear that baptism with water is not the same as baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5 “John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 11:15–17 Paul recounts how Gentiles were saved: “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
Paul, simply by being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking with power and authority, bestowed (poured out) the Holy Spirit on the audience. For Paul, the Holy Spirit is a gift from God. Jesus confirmed that the Father in heaven gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask.
Thus, this gift is to be received. And to receive a gift we must be willing to accept the gift. In Acts 8:15-17 we read:
When they arrived, they prayed for the NEW BELIEVERS there that they might receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them. No, in fact, they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (saved). Then Peter and John PLACED THEIR HANDS ON THEM, AND THEY RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The gift came by the laying on of hands and pouring out of the Spirit.
There were other occasions where some were saved but had not received the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19:2 Paul asks: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Here the believers were saved but not filled with the Spirit.
It would appear that unity in spirit comes by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
This same Spirit allows us to be unified in the body, in thought, in deed. If we do not all share in the same Spirit — if some are saved but still filled with other spirits — then there will be division. We see this today in the modern church and we see such divisions throughout Paul’s letters and in Jesus’ message to the seven churches. Without the Holy Spirit’s leading we will listen to deceiving spirits.
Until we receive the Holy Spirit we can be both saved and yet weak. Romans 8:26 says: The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
And yet there will be times when even those who do not have the Holy Spirit will testify about Jesus. Such events are New Testament examples of the Old Testament’s temporary influence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. In 1 Corinthians 12:3 Paul writes: Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
This is why it is possible for someone who is saved or unsaved to speak words of the Spirit. We see this when Caiaphas says, “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” We can assume that Caiaphas was not filled with the Holy Spirit or born again. The Holy Spirit simply prompted Caiaphas to speak God’s word.
If we lack the Holy Spirit we will sin and stray from Christ. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” “Be filled with the Spirit,” is a command and requires action. The key word is “filled.” Not a single drop of the Spirit. Not a taste, but a complete filling so there is NO ROOM for any other spirits, no wicked thoughts, or influence from the enemy.
Romans 15:13 By the power of the Holy Spirit, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope. “Fill you” so that you may “overflow.”
Romans 8:9 says: If the Spirit of God LIVES IN YOU, you are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit. And IF ANYONE DOES NOT HAVE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, they do not belong to Christ. “Belong to Christ” is to be in His Body, in union with Christ. This makes perfect sense, for in the same way we would not wish to have a cancerous cell in our body, neither does Christ wish to have cancerous cells in His Body.
Here is a description of how cancer works.
Cells mature so that they are able to carry out their function in the body. This process of maturing is called differentiation. Each cell is created for a specific purpose. In cancer, the cells often reproduce very quickly and DON’T HAVE A CHANCE TO MATURE. Because the cells aren’t mature, THEY DON’T WORK PROPERLY.
In 1 Corinthians 12:4 Paul says: There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. If we have the Holy Spirit, we are cells in the Body of Christ.
Those who have the Spirit of Jesus are his and — in time — grow to maturity. Over time they grow and carry out their function as His Body dictates. Romans 14:8 says: If we (as cells) live, we live for the Lord (to make the Body of Christ healthy). And if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we (good cells destined for good words) belong to the Lord.
Galatians 2:20 says: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (The Spirit of Jesus lives in us.) The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
By faith and with the Spirit of Jesus we live and work, but only IF we have the Holy Spirit. Lacking His Spirit, we are simply saved and live lives of spiritual poverty. By living OUTSIDE the Body of Christ, we live in our own strength.
How can you tell if someone is FILLED with the Holy Spirit? Look for fruit. Galatians 5:22-23: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Always, every day we should evaluate our actions and fruit. If our fruit is hate, apathy toward others, sadness, conflict and division, impatience, cruelty, wickedness, unfaithfulness, harshness, and unbridled emotions, we can be sure that in such times we are NOT FILLED with the Holy Spirit. Saved, perhaps, but not FULL of Christ.
Ephesians 3:17: May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith so you will be rooted and established in love.
Ephesians 2:10: We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
Filling of the Holy Spirit starts with baptism IN the Holy Spirit. Then, each day, we are to ask to be filled anew. We do this because in the flesh our earthy vessel leaks. We cannot assume that one filling is enough. In the same way, we daily eat and drink to keep our physical bodies healthy, we must feed on the word of God and drink in the Holy Spirit of Jesus to remain healthy.
Can someone who is saved by Jesus be possessed by other spirits? Yes. In Acts 5:1-11 we find Ananias and Sapphira, a couple who we might think to be saved but not filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter asks, “How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 8:18-24 we find Simon the Sorcerer: When he saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, Simon offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Like many in today’s churches, Simon’s good intentions would have blessed many. Judas seemed to be concerned about the poor and as the one in charge of the money, no doubt, his actions led many to consider Judas a noble, caring disciple of Jesus. But good intentions without the Holy Spirit means we are open to attack and destruction by the enemy.
Peter answered Simon the Socrerer: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” Simon believed Jesus had the power to bring good or ill. Simon believed the Lord answered prayer. And Simon didn’t want to suffer God’s wrath. Is this not the position of many who are “saved” and yet not filled with the Holy Spirit? They believe in Jesus and can even preach and teach his message. But does the Spirit of Jesus live IN THEM? If not, they are, as Simon was, full of bitterness, wickedness, envy, lust, greed, and captive to sin. They leave themselves open to demonic spirits. They do not believe the words of Jesus, the Father, or the Holy Spirit’s inspired message given through all that was spoken by the prophets.
Here is the end of the matter: God through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit created all things, including angels. Satan and demons are fallen angels. The created will never have the power of the Creator. At any time the Creator can exert force on the creation and destroy, cast out, or bind. For this reason, all demons tremble in the presence of Jesus. Demons fear Jesus. The only way a demon can be in full control of a saved believer is if that person does not have the presence of Jesus inside them. But as we have seen, it is possible to be saved and not have the Spirit of Jesus.
If we cannot recall when we were baptized with water, with Jesus’ Holy Spirit, then get baptized. Hold the wedding. Enjoy the honeymoon night. Know in your heart for sure you are living in Christ and he is living in you. Do this and you never need to fear being possessed by any other spirit than that of Christ.
Be filled with the Holy Spirit . . . daily.