The Anointing

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for Discernment

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God’s Gift of Discernment to Every Believer.

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.” (1 John 2:19-20, NASB)

The impression left by some televangelists is that they possess an exceptional anointing above and beyond that commonly possessed by the Christian masses. They give the impression that an anointing is available from God through them. In a sense, these well-known ministers have appointed themselves as distributors of the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Either by the contact of their hand with an individual’s forehead, or by a forceful exhaling of air from their lungs (thereby simulating Spirit and wind), these anointed ones slay individuals or entire audiences in the Spirit. On stage and in crowded auditoriums, these “anointed” evangelists also heal persons by a touch as they command demons to take flight. They are “the anointed,” God’s power brokers, channels by whom and through whom the power of the Holy Spirit is released and distributed into the lives of thousands. Of course, all of this raises the question, What is this anointing is all about?

Within the “anointing” family of words, we should note that Christ is “The Anointed One.” One dictionary informs us that, “The designation ‘Christian’ connotes a member of the community of the ‘Anointed One’.” [1] Christ is “the Anointed One” and the anointing possessed by all believers identifies them with Christ.

In much of the Bible, anointing possess a symbolic or figurative sense. This is not the case regarding the anointing communicated by the Apostle John in his letters. The “anointing” he speaks of is literal, experiential and universal amongst all true Christians, not the possession of a few spiritual power brokers and then of persons who receive it from or make contact with them. In other words, the annointing is the common possession of every believer, not an exceptional few. Thus as Christ is “The Anointed One,” so Christians are His “Anointed Ones.”

As a pastor, John the Apostle wrote to a community of faithful believers who had been decimated and devastated by false teachers he variously labeled as “antichrists” or “false prophets” (1 John 2:18; 4:1). Like some of today’s ministers, these religionists made claim to special knowledge that placed them in dominant positions of power amongst Christians. They viewed themselves to be a cut above the ordinary (3 John 9). They were “super-apostles.” Sound familiar?

John therefore assured common Christians that they too possessed “an anointing from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20). This reassurance negated the claim of the false teachers that they alone possessed exclusive knowledge and position in the local congregation. To those average believers within the community of faith, John wrote, “you have an anointing . . . and you all know” (1 John 2:20). How comforting it must have been to those believers under John’s pastoral care to know that they possessed “the anointing,” that they were not wrong for questioning the authority of the false prophets who arbitraily exerted authority over them and pretended to minister amongst them. Question: How could these common believers be assured that the false teachers were not superior to them? Answer: They possessed “the anointing”!

Of the Spirit’s ministry in this age, Jesus predicted, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me” (John 15:26). All true believers possess that gracious ministry in them whereby the Holy Spirit witnesses to Christ and endows them with the divine capacity to know the truth and discern the lies that false prophets fabricate about the person of Jesus Christ and His Word (See 1 John 2:20, 27; 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.). Regarding the anointing, W. E. Vine observed that the anointing “is an all- efficient means of enabling believers to possess a knowledge of the truth.” [2] Additionally, a Pentecostal dictionary notes that a New Testament anointing “enables the Christian to discern spirits (1 John 4:1-7).” [3] The “anointing” is therefore a spiritual capacity that God endows all believers with to discern truth from error. Dr. Larry Pettegrew characterizes it as that abiding presence of the Holy Spirit by which He “imparts to the believer a power of spiritual discernment.” [4]

And as for you,” wrote John the Apostle, “the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:27).

So beloved believer, don’t be duped by some flamboyant TV personality who claims to possess some power anointing that you do not. The anointing abides in every true child of God and therefore belongs to every true believer. This anointing enables genuine Christians listen to God’s true apostles and prophets and thereby discern “the spirit of truth” from “the spirit of error,” and this anointing abides in us all, don’t you know? (Compare 1 John 2:20 and 4:6.)

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ENDNOTES
[1] “ANOINTING WITH OIL,” The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Stanley M. Burgess, Editor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002): 318.
[2] “CHRISMA,” W.E. Vine, The Expanded Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, John R. Kohlenberger III, Editor (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984): 51.
[3] Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, 318.
[4] Larry D. Pettegrew, The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2001): 190.

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One Response to “The Anointing”

  1. A_Disciple Says:

    Great: (1 John 2:20). The presentation is always “we are here, we did something to get us here. Come to us we will teach you to become as we are”.

    As He is, so are we in this world. Our salvation is something we are to work out with awe and reverence. But those who need to market themselves and their ministries will leave the simplicity and purity of the Gospel.

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