CHARACTER AND THE ANOINTING
Ø 1Jn. 2:20 You have an anointing from the Holy One...
Ø 1Jn. 2:27 The anointing which you have received of him abides in you...
Ø Pr. 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches...
Ø Ecc. 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment...
Ø 2Tim. 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Pentecostals cherish the anointing and rightly so. We say and we sing: “more Lord more” - asking for the anointing.
What is the anointing? Here are two definitions:
Ø “Endowment of the Holy Spirit: to rub with oil, by implication to consecrate”
Ø “The touch of God on a life that enables the achievement of God’s purposes.”
The anointing is always for a purpose and can achieve in a moment what can take years or perhaps never be done in the natural.
Acts 10:38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Isa 61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound...
However if the anointing was all that was required, why is it that we all know of people and that church history is full of mightily anointed men & women who “blew it” in spectacular fashion or who were not able to go the distance?
This includes high profile public ministries and multitudes that never made public stage. In fact there are many people in the world who have been turned away from the gospel because anointed people fell.
I would like to suggest people fall not because they’ve never known God’s anointing but because they’ve never taken the time to develop Godly character.
The New Imperial Reference Dictionary defines character as “the aggregate of peculiar qualities, which constitutes personal individuality - especially moral”.
Character is the moral nature, backbone, reputation, and description of a person’s qualities.”
This article is about character and the anointing.
Let’s look at two anointed characters in the Bible. One had a weak character the other was strong.
Judges 13:5 ...you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines. 24 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him...
The anointing of God was on Samson’s life.
Judges 14:1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife."
However Samson had attitude problems. This can be seen from the way he speaks to his parents. Not only that but Samson had no right to pursue a Philistine woman. The Israelites were commanded not to mingle or inter marry with the heathen nations.
I believe that the anointing of God was on Samson’s life but that he had little regard for the things of the Spirit and that he saw himself above the law.
We can be anointed even in a state of rebellion but we are still accountable
Judges 16:1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.
Samson’s character was floored when it came to women. He was big on the outside but small on the inside. It is true that the anointing makes people attractive but if it is not combined with a Godly character then sex becomes a minefield.
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver."
Some things never change! We have seen the same strategy used by spy agencies repeatedly in our time! The enemy (whether human or spiritual) knows that lack of self-control leads to compromise.
Delilah said to Samson: "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued."
Three times he told a different story. The Philistines burst in to capture him and he sent them packing. Samson was playing with fire.
Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired.
If we remain in compromising situations we will get warn out. The way of the transgressor is hard.
So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man." When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
Where was this guy’s head? Three times previously the Philistines had been tipped off & burst in. Why couldn’t Samson see what was coming. It’s called “the deceitfulness of sin”. I believe Samson treated the whole situation as a joke. I can see him saying “you give me this or that and maybe I’ll tell you.” A man of character would have stated in no uncertain terms that to ask the secret of his strength was a total waste of time and energy.
Then she called: "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him. Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.
We all want to be anointed but are we willing to have our character changed? After these events Samson achieved one last great victory but he is not someone I would aspire to be like.
A strong anointing with a weak character is a recipe for disaster. It is possible to be mightily anointed in this service and be a different person in one hour. When temptation comes it’s who we are and what’s inside us that will make us do the right thing.
Joseph faced much the same situation as Samson but lets look at how he handled it.
Gen 39:1-23 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
Bad things happen to good people. They can make you bitter of better. The difference between the two words is the letter “I”. It’s not the anointing that determines our response but our character.
The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered; he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.
From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?"
Notice the difference in attitudes in Samson & Joseph, toward God and God’s law.
And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
Both Samson & Joseph were hounded day to day.
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants wer inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
Samson walked into compromise; Joseph ran away from it.
When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. "Look," she said to them, "this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house."
She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: "That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house." When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying: "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger. Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined.
Samson’s compromise landed him in prison. Joseph’s integrity did the same;
Ø Both were anointed by God.
Ø Both faced temptation.
Ø Both were hounded.
Ø Both wrought deliverance for Israel.
Joseph’s legacy was his anointing and Godly character whereas Samson had an anointing but his character was floored. I believe Samson could have achieved so much more if he’d have had a strong Godly character like Joseph.
To me Samson is a sad figure. I’d rather be a Joseph than a Samson. Why? Because of his moral strength, strong backbone, and good reputation; in other words because of his Godly character.
Can we develop Godly character? Yes but it takes time. “It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.” It must be worked on day by day. “Everything left to itself tends to decay”. We must learn to make right choices. It takes courage & determination. However thankfully God is committed to helping us. We are involved in a partnership.
The time to start is now. It is never too late.
How to develop a Godly character
1. Put the Word of God in your heart. Ps 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
We make time for what we consider important. When it’s time to eat we eat! Meditating on & obeying God’s word is to character development - like eating is to physical development. Neglect of either causes under-development and ultimately death.
2. Be fervent in prayer.
James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Ø Fervency is to prayer - what heat is to an iron.
Ø God is emotional. We need to release both our emotions and God’s in prayer.
Ø Get passionate. If this means getting out of the house to do it then as Nike says: “just do it!”
3. Take a stand.
Matt16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him utterly deny himself (take a stand) and take up his cross, and follow me.
If we don’t take a stand some things about us will never change. Most people don’t have a problem, they have a decision to make.
1Cor 9:27 But I keep under my body (buffet or disable an antagonist, i.e. to tease or annoy (into compliance), subdue (one's passions):--keep under, weary), and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
4. Walk in the Spirit. Gal 5:16-18 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit (to tread all around, walk at large, to live, deport oneself, follow as a companion, be occupied with), and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would. But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Walking in the Spirit enables us to do the right thing not just because we have to - but because we want to. It means obeying the Spirit not the law. This is not “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” - it is building a partnership with the Holy Spirit.
Living by the law brings death; living in the Spirit produces life.
God is not really interested in what we are doing; He is more interested in what we are becoming.
It is by our character (how we live with our families, friends, work mates and on our own) that our lives will be measured & judged, not by the anointing on our lives.
Heb12:1-3...let us run with patience the race that is set before us (character development takes time; we must be work on it), looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (God is committed to developing our character); who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, (like Joseph, not all that we experience is good but God will turn it into good for us, if we let Him.) and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (the rewards are: becoming what God intends us to be, and by the anointing achieving all that God has for us to do!).
If you recognize flaws in your character that have hindered your growth and effectiveness then I invite you to commit what God has shown you to prayer.
Don’t risk your destiny.
(The idea for comparing Sampson and Joseph came from an article “Developing Personal Inner Strength” by Charles Neiman: Australian Evangel October 1997)