The Influence of the Spirit
William Nicholson, 1862
"But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things." 1 John 2:20
The Gospel of Christ presents an illustrious display of the adorable mystery of the Sacred Trinity. The three Divine Persons are represented as sustaining different parts in the work of redemption, and with regard to each directs us to the discharge of distinct practical duties. On the one hand, we are taught to have access to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit; and on the other hand, to expect all spiritual blessings from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit.
We may learn from the text and the preceding verse, the cause of apostasy from God, verse 19; those who desert the cause of Christ, have, in all probability, never realized the Divine influence — they have no root in themselves; and those who continue rooted and grounded in the truth, fruitful in every good work, have been rendered so by the influence of the Spirit. "But you have," etc.
I. The Privilege of True Christians."But you have an anointing from the Holy One."
The word "anointing" alludes to the holy anointing oil of the law, Exodus 30:22, etc. See also Psalm 45:7.
The Holy Spirit was given to teach apostles, preachers, and all believers everything requisite for their salvation, and to make them instrumental in conveying the Gospel to others. This oil was used among the Jews for the inauguration of people into important offices. Such anointing was acknowledged to be an emblem of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, without which the duties of those offices could not be discharged; so it is put for the Spirit himself, who presided in the Church, and from whom all gifts and graces flowed.
1. The Source, or Author of this anointing, or influence. "An anointing from the Holy One," that is, the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is not a mere energy or virtue of the Deity, as some would assert. He is a Divine Person, equal in power and glory with the Father and Son. He is represented as equal with the Father and the Son, in the work of redemption. In this glorious plan, the peculiar office and prerogative of the Spirit is to apply the blessings of salvation, or they would be no benefit to the souls of men — no more than a rich feast inaccessible to a man perishing with hunger.
The many personal characters ascribed to him, prove and illustrate his distinct personality. Hence he is called . . .
the Spirit of God,
the Spirit of Christ,
the Spirit of promise,
the Spirit of judgment,
the Spirit of burning, Isaiah 4:4,
the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,
the Spirit of grace and supplication,
the Seven Spirits before the throne.
He is called . . .
and the Spirit of grace and glory.
Hence his distinct personality. He is the Author of that Divine anointing by which his people are qualified for, and consecrated to, his service.
2. The Nature of Divine Anointing or Influence. To have "an anointing from the Holy One," does not mean endowment with extraordinary gifts; as the gift of prophecy in the prophetic age, and the gift of miracles in the commencement of the Christian Church. Then miracles were necessary to prove the truth of Christian doctrines before Jews and Gentiles. As the necessity of miracles has ceased — the gift of miracles is withdrawn. Neither does it imply an absolute or perfect possession. There is no man on earth, who has received so much of the influence of the Spirit, either that he can receive no more, or that he cannot be exceeded by others.
Believers are styled "a royal priesthood," 1 Peter 2:9, and by the anointing of the Holy One, they are consecrated to that office, and devoted to God's glory.
(1.) It is the office of the Spirit to enlighten. See John 14:26; 16:8-14. Hence he convinces the sinner of . . .
the error of his ways,
his sinful and ruined condition before God,
his need of Christ, the Divine Surety.
He enlightens the sinner to discover the character of Christ — and the fullness, the richness, and the freeness of his grace. He "enlightens the eyes of the understanding," that Christians may know what is the hope of their calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints; by which they may be able to comprehend, together with all the saints, and to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.
(2.) It is the office of the Spirit to sanctify — to make holy, and to set apart for God's service. As the ancient priests were separated from the other tribes, and devoted to the service of God — so believers, by the word and the Spirit, are called out of the world — separated to the service of God. And as ancient priests were consecrated to God through Sacrifice, Exodus 29:10, so the sinner approaches God, by faith in the Redeemer's sacrifice, and is accepted. He is washed from his sins, purged from guilt, by the blood of Christ. He thus receives "an anointing," which leads him to the fountain opened to cleanse from all sin and impurity.
Hence the Holy One is the Spirit of holiness: he bears the name of holy; he leads and assists men to "crucify the flesh," etc.; and the "fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth."
(3.) It is the office of the Spirit to consecrate. Having led the soul to the enjoyment of forgiveness and purity — the Spirit also disposes to holy and cheerful obedience. The converted one begins to love the brethren, and to desire fellowship with them. And he consecrates himself to God by public profession, by open avowal of his attachment to the Church of God, and by subsequently devoting his time, his substance, and his talents to the service of God. He has received "an anointing" from the Holy One, and it is love — to Christ — to man — to his brethren, etc. The "Holy One" is the Spirit of love. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts." Romans 5:5. The Holy One unites all Christians, and induces them to keep the unity of the Spirit, etc.
(4.) It is the office of the Spirit to give efficiency to the efforts of the Church. Unless we have the "anointing," we shall never design, far less execute, great things for God. By this anointing we are enabled to glorify God with our bodies, etc. and even to honor him in the face of the greatest difficulties and dangers. Psalm 18:29, 32-34. This gave efficiency to Apostolic labors on the day of Pentecost, etc. 1 Corinthians 3:7, 8. It was this which made the Reformers oppose the Church of Rome, and to endanger their lives for the cause of truth. It was this which fitted the humanity of Christ for commencing and completing the work which was given him to do. Isaiah 42:1.
(5.) It is the office of the Spirit to comfort. He is called "the Comforter." He imparts comfort in every season — he leads to every source of comfort. He is the Spirit of anticipation, for while he enables believers to exclaim, "Abba Father," he assures them that they are "heirs — heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus." They look beyond the shadows of the grave, to bright and ineffable glory, to the inheritance incorruptible.
II. An Important Beneficial Effect."You know all things."
Not absolutely, but with restriction and limitation. "All things," that is, all divine things revealed, and all things that are revealed necessary to salvation — all things needful to be known, and as far as needful for you to know. "All things" relating . . .
to the Spirit,
to the Law,
to the Gospel,
to your foes,
to your duties,
to grace and glory.
You know all things by virtue of the anointing.
1. You know and understand the plan of salvation, and your need of it. And not only in theory — but experimentally and practically. And this knowledge is superior to all other knowledge. It gives you a dignity and a glory greater than that of kings and princes. It infinitely exalts you above all people who know it not.
2. You know your own deficiency, and where your strength lies, even in God. "If God be for you — then who can be against you?" You know all your foes, their nature, their wiles, etc., and you know that God is your refuge.
3. You know the gracious designs of Divine Providence. Though its procedure may be mysterious and obscure — yet "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28. You see the hand of God in everything! This anointing caused Paul to triumph, 2 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
4. Yon know all the pleasures connected with religion. Holy fellowship, prayer, praise, faith, hope, joy, etc. — for you have "an anointing from the Holy One." When the Spirit draws — it is easy running in the way of God's commandments.
What oil is to the chariot wheels,
what wings are to a bird,
what wind and sails are to a ship,
what rain is to the parched ground,
what the sun is to vegetation —
so is the agency of the Spirit to believers in running the Christian race. When it is suspended — comfort dies, their hands hang down, their knees are feeble, and their hearts are faint.
5. You know the end of your calling; that in Heaven you have an enduring substance. You know its grandeur, its employments, its pleasures, its inhabitants, as they are described in the sacred oracles, and as applied to you by an anointing from the Holy One. You know that you have a title to it, a fitness for it, and that you shall enjoy it.
6. Lastly, you know all these things — and that distinguishes you from all apostates. See verse preceding the text. The anointing from the Holy One will "keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!" Jude 1:24