Devotions Archive

The anointing

Thursday, January 2, 2003

1 John 2:24-28
24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit— just as it has taught you, remain in him.
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

To be “anointed” means much more than being touched with oil. It’s the touch of God. John says this touch stays with you, and this touch teaches you about all things. Therefore, you do not need anyone else to teach you.

Boy, does John open up a can of worms! Since the days of the tower of Babel there has been tension between what I am taught by God … and what you have been taught by God. If we differ …

Because we have differed, some of us have been burned at the stake, broken away from the church and started our own churches, left our marriages, committed suicide … some of our minds have been broken and we have gone insane. The anointing of the Holy Spirit does not always leave us with a peaceful, lovin’ feeling.

Obviously we learn from each other. Just as obviously, John is instructing his readers even now as he writes. Somehow, we are to sort out the false teaching from the true.

Sometimes we can do this easily, by seeing what works. But not always … will I choose to believe the teachings about evolution or creationism, about relativity, about the Trinity, about Jesus’ virgin birth, about the power of the Holy Spirit?

What works sometimes works because I believe it will work. The power of positive thinking is real. That means something can be true for me but not for you.

And then there’s the matter of “God told me so.” In the play “Virtual Devotion” everyone seems to hear something different from “God” while Jesus is walking around in the flesh trying to gain the attention of at least a dozen or so of us.

What do we do with the teachings of the old men of the church? What do we do with the sermon we just heard, or the Pope’s encyclical? I ignore these teachings at my peril; I am not an island, I am part of the “continent.” I cannot become a rebel.

Yet I follow others at my peril; they are not always right. Every authority figure comes equipped with an ego. Power corrupts … and I can be hurt by your power. David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen wrote The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, subtitled “Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church.” A friend of mine bought a case of these books and gave a copy to everyone he knew.

This tension between following God and following men who think they are following God will not disappear. I am grateful for something Paul said that helps me at least to not be critical or negative about those I think are wrong.

I use an acronym, a non-word word to remember this verse. The word is T-NR-PLA-EP. The words are “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Phil 4:8).

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

Lord, make me teachable and teach me. Use everything and every one at your disposal to teach us, every one.

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