The year of 1871 was a critical one for D. L. Moody. He had been greatly used of God, but felt that something was lacking. He realized more and more how little he was fitted with personal talents for his work and how much he needed the Holy Spirit’s power. He continued to hunger for a deepening of his own spiritual life. This realization was heightened by conversations he had with two ladies, Mrs. Snow and Mrs. Cooke, both of whom sat on the front pew in his church. He could see by the expression on their faces that they were praying. At the close of the service the women said to him, “We have been praying for you, because you need the power of the Spirit.” Moody said, “Their earnest talk about the fullness of the Holy Spirit set me thinking. There came a great hunger into my soul. I began to cry out as I never did before.”
Mr. Moody went to New York City to collect funds for victims of the great Chicago fire. In his biography, Bush Aglow, the author related Moody’s experience, “Well, one day— oh, what a day! — I cannot describe it, it is almost too sacred an experience to put in words. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me.” Moody continued with his work. The sermons were not different; he did not present any new truths; yet hundreds were converted. His soul was set on fire in such a way that now his work began to touch lives worldwide. From that time God began to use the life of D. L. Moody as never before.
There is a great need for Christians who are filled with the Spirit. Anything other than a Spirit-filled life is less than God’s plan for each believer. What does the Bible mean when it speaks of the fullness of the Holy Spirit? To be Spirit-filled is to be controlled or dominated by the Spirit’s presence and power. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.” Here he draws a contrast between two things: alcohol and the Holy Spirit. An intoxicated person is controlled or dominated by alcohol. Alcohol’s presence and power have overwhelmed his normal abilities and actions. The same principle applies to the Spirit of God. Instead of serving the Lord with with our own strength or ability, the Holy Spirit empowers us. Instead of being guided by our own ideas and perspective, the Holy Spirit guides us. Unfortunately, many believers do not enjoy the unlimited spiritual wealth at their disposal because they are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
The lives of many Christians reflect the ambitions, standards, and desires of the world. True, they have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, they are forgiven of their sins, and they are on their way to heaven. However, they are missing so much of what God desires for their lives. They seem to be more interested in following their own desires than following Christ. They have little concern for evangelizing the spiritually needy in their own community, their spiritual gifts are rarely used, and spiritual fruit is nearly absent from their lives. Such a Christian’s zeal to walk in obedience to Christ is lukewarm. Their devotional life is uneven, if not largely neglected, and they would rather read a popular book than the inspired Word of God. If they pray, it is a cheerless duty and a tedious task rather than a joy. As with Lot in Sodom, sin for them has lost some of its sinfulness. Their sensitivity to sin has been blunted, and they rarely confess known sins in their lives.
Today, Christians have more equipment, technology, training, and information for evangelizing the world than ever before. Yet one of the great tragedies of the present hour is that far too many Christians lack the fullness of the Spirit and the true dependence on God’s power which accompanies the spirit-filled life. Such tragedy was not the case in the early church described in the book of Acts. In Acts 17:6 the believers in one city were described as, “Men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” It is true that isolated instances of the Holy Spirit’s power exist today, but the great need today is for Christian men and women to live and serve the Lord in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.