Series 16

Study 3 OIL: OR HOW TO BECOME SPIRIT-FILLED

Studies in the Life of Elisha
by Francis Dixon

(Scripture Portion: 2 Kings 4: 1-7)

God’s plan and provision for every one of His children is that they should be filled with the Holy Spirit –- look up Ephesians 5:18. This should be the normal experience of every child of God –- compare Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 6:3; 9:17; 11:23-24; 13:9; 13:52. The incident recorded in 2 Kings 4:1-7 is both history and parable. It concerns a poor widow whose husband had been a servant of the Lord; she was now destitute and her children were in danger. In her extremity she appealed to Elisha, and miraculously her little reserve of oil was multiplied and made sufficient for all her needs. This, then, is a story about empty vessels that were filled with oil –- and oil in the Bible is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. This incident shows us, therefore, how empty hearts may become Spirit-filled. How may we become Spirit-filled?

1. WE MUST ADMIT OUR GREAT NEED

How great was the need of this poor woman! She possessed nothing except for one little pot of oil. Then her creditors came and demanded payment and threatened to take away her sons. So, pocketing her pride, she admitted her emptiness and poverty to Elisha –- and that was her first step into blessing! Every believer is in debt in a three-fold sense, and we can only discharge that debt when we are filled with the Holy Spirit:-

  • 1. We owe obedience to God (Luke 17:10).
  • 2. We owe love to our brethren (1 John 3:16).
  • 3. We owe the gospel to the lost (Romans 1:14).

There is only one way to meet our liability, and that is by the infilling and the enabling of the Holy Spirit. In our own strength we can never obey God, love our fellow-Christians and discharge our obligation to lost souls around us. We can only do it as we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Do we admit our need?

2. WE MUST RECOGNISE WHAT WE HAVE

When this widow confessed her need, Elisha said, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?”, and she replied, “…nothing…except a little oil” (verse 2). If you are a Christian you can say the same, for the Holy Spirit is resident within you, as He is resident within every child of God. The moment you believed, He entered your heart – – look up John 14:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19. This is not a matter of feeling but of resting upon what the Lord says. We must therefore recognise what we have: we possess the “oil” –- note the last eight words of Romans 5:5, and compare John 7:37-39; Romans 8: 9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:8. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit.

3. WE MUST PROVIDE VESSELS THAT ARE EMPTY

Verse 3 tells us this. The Holy Spirit cannot fill our fullness; He waits to fill our emptiness. In other words, before He can fill us we must make room for Him. Maybe we are full already –- full of self, of our own ability, or full of sin. The Holy Spirit can only fill empty, clean vessels. How can the loving Spirit fill an unloving heart? How can the gracious Spirit fill a proud heart? How can the tender Spirit fill a selfish heart? How can the truthful Spirit fill a deceitful heart? How can the Holy Spirit fill an unholy heart? Are we willing to act on 2 Corinthians 7:1? If we will make a full confession to the Lord we will experience 1 John 1:7 and 9.

4. WE MUST EMPLOY THE SHUT DOOR

Verse 4 tells us that the woman shut the door on the outside world and got alone with the Lord. Here is the secret of a Spirit-filled, Spirit-anointed and Spirit-empowered life. The enduement of power always comes as the result of the shut door –- look up Luke 3:21, and notice that Jesus was praying at the time of His anointing with the Holy Spirit. Compare also Acts 2:1-4; 4:31; 9:11 and 17. These verses show us that the infilling of the Holy Spirit comes in answer to prayer and in the place of prayer.

5. WE MUST BE ABSOLUTELY OBEDIENT

Verse 5 tells us that the woman obeyed Elisha’s instructions implicitly –- compare the significant statement in Acts 5:32. God can only fill to the measure of our obedience. Are we consciously disobeying the Lord? –- look up Psalm 139:23-24, and compare John 2:5. It is only as we fully open up the channel of obedience that God can give the Holy Spirit’s fullness.

6. WE MUST TAKE THE STEP OF FAITH

We may admit our need, recognise what we have, provide empty vessels, employ the shut door and be absolutely obedient, but only then are we ready to take the next step –- the appropriation of faith. We must take God at His word and trust Him to do what He wants and waits to do for us –- see Ephesians 5:18. According to 1 John 5: 14-15, God will hear and answer our prayer if it is in accordance with His will. Is it His will for us to be filled? Yes –- in Ephesians 5:18 He commands it! Therefore, we may pray in faith, “Lord, fill me with the Holy Spirit” –- and know that our prayer is answered!

7. WE MUST USE WHAT GOD GIVES

Verse 7 tells us that the woman did exactly that. The Holy Spirit’s fullness is not for our selfish enjoyment, but for daily living and effective, God-glorifying service. Happy is the child of God who knows what it is to come daily before the Lord and to plead for and appropriate His fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit’s grace and power!

Closing Thought: Luke 11: 13.