In the revelation by Moses of God's Holiness and His way of making holy, the priests, and specially the high priests, were the chief expression of God's Holiness in man. In the priests themselves, the holy anointing oil was the one great symbol of the grace that made holy. Moses was to make an holy anointing oil: 'And thou shalt take of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron and upon his sons, and he shall be hallowed, and his sons with him.' 'This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me. Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured; neither shall ye make any other like it; it is holy, it shall be holy unto you' (Exod. xxix.21, xxx.25-32). With this the priests, and specially the high priests, were to be anointed and consecrated: 'He that is the high priest among you, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, shall not go out of the holy place, nor profane the holy place of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him' (Lev. xxi.10, 12). And even so it is said of David, as type of the Messiah, 'Our king is of the Holy One of Israel. I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him.'
We know how the Hebrew name Messiah, and the Greek Christ, has reference to this. So, in the passage just quoted, the Hebrew is, 'with my holy oil I have messiahed him.' And so in a passage like Acts x.38: 'Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, whom God christed with the Holy Ghost and with power.' Or Ps. xlv.: 'God hath messiahed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows;' in Heb. i.9, 'Thy God hath christed thee with the oil of gladness.' And so (as one of our Reformed Catechisms, the Heidelberg, has it, in answer to the question, Why art thou called a Christian?) we are called Christians, because we are fellow-partakers with Him of His christing, His anointing. This is the anointing of which John speaks, the chrisma or christing of the Holy One. The Holy Spirit is the holy anointing which every believer receives: what God did to His Son to make Him the Christ, He does to me to make me a Christian. 'Ye have the anointing of the Holy One.'
1. Ye have an anointing from the Holy One. It is as the Holy One that the Father gives the anointing: that wherewith He anoints is called the oil of holiness, the Holy Spirit. Holiness is indeed a Divine ointment. Just as there is nothing so subtle and penetrating as the odour with which the ointment fills a house, so holiness is an indescribable, all-pervading breath of heavenliness which pervades the man on whom the anointing rests. Holiness does not consist in certain actions: this is righteousness. Holiness is the unseen and yet manifest presence of the Holy One resting on His anointed. Direct from the Holy One, the anointing is alone received, or rather, only in the abiding fellowship with Him in Christ, who is the Holy One of God.
And who receives it? Only he who has given himself entirely to be holy as God is holy. It was the priest, who was separated to be holy to the Lord, who received the anointing: upon other men's flesh it was not to be poured. How many would fain have the precious ointment for the sake of its perfume to themselves! No, only he who is wholly consecrated to the service of the Holy One, to the work of the sanctuary, may receive it. If any one had said: I would fain have the anointing, but not be made a priest; I am not ready to go and always be at the call of sinners seeking their God, he could have no share in it. Holiness is the energy that only lives to make holy, and to bless in so doing: the anointing of the Holy One is for the priest, the servant of God Most High. It is only in the intensity of a soul truly roused and given up to God's glory, God's kingdom, God's work, that holiness becomes a reality. The holy garments were only prepared for priests and their service. In all our seekings after holiness, let us remember this. As we beware of the error of thinking that work for Christ will make holy, let us also watch against the other, the straining after holiness without work. It is the priest who is set apart for the service of the holy place and the Holy One, it is the believer who is ready to live and die that the Holiness of God may triumph among men around him, who will receive the anointing.
2. 'The anointing teacheth you.' The new man is created in knowledge, as well as in righteousness and holiness. Christ is made to us wisdom, as well as righteousness and sanctification. God's service and our holiness are above all to be a free and full, an intelligent and most willing, approval of His blessed will. And so the anointing, to fit us for the service of the sanctuary, teaches us to know all things. Just as the perfume of the ointment is the most subtle essence, something that has never yet been found or felt, except as it is smelt, so the spiritual faculty which the anointing gives is the most subtle there can be. It makes 'quick of scent in the fear of the Lord:' it teaches us by a Divine instinct, by which the anointed one recognises what has the heavenly fragrance in it, and what is of earth. It is the anointing that makes the Word and the name of Jesus in the Word to be indeed as ointment poured forth.
The great mark of the anointing is thus, teachableness. It is the great mark of Christ, the Holy One of God, the Anointed One, that He listens: 'I speak not of myself; as I hear, so I speak.' And so it is of the Holy Spirit too: 'He shall not speak out of Himself: whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.' It cannot be otherwise: one anointed with the anointing of this Christ, with this Holy Spirit, will be teachable, will listen to be taught. 'The anointing teacheth.' 'And ye need not that any one teach you: but the anointing teacheth you concerning all things.' 'They shall be all taught of God,' includes every believer. The secret of true holiness is a very direct and personal relation to the Holy One: all the teaching through the word or men made entirely dependent on and subordinate to the personal teaching of the Holy Ghost. The teaching comes through the anointing. Not, in the first place, in the thoughts or feelings, but in that all-pervading fragrance which comes from the fresh oil having penetrated the whole inner man.
3. 'And the anointing abideth in you.' 'In you.' In the spiritual life it is of deep importance ever to maintain the harmony between the objective and the subjective: God in Christ above me, God in the Spirit within me. In us, not as in a locality, but in us, as one with us, entering into the most secret part of our being, and pervading all, dwelling in our very body, the anointing abideth in us, forming part of our very selves. And this just in proportion as we know it and yield ourselves to it, as we wait and are still to let the secret fragrance permeate our whole being. And this, again, not interruptedly, but as a continuous and unvarying experience. Above circumstances and feelings, 'the anointing abideth.' Not, indeed, as a fixed state or as something in our own possession; but, according to the law of the new life, in the dependence of faith on the Holy One, and in the fellowship of Jesus. 'I am anointed with fresh oil,' -- this is the objective side; every new morning the believer waits for the renewal of the Divine gift from the Father. 'The anointing abideth in you,' -- this is the subjective side; the holy life, the life of faith and fellowship, the anointing, is always, from moment to moment, a spiritual reality. The holy anointing oil, always fresh, the anointing abiding always, is the secret of holiness.
4. 'And even as it taught you, ye abide in Him.' Here we have again the Holy Trinity: the Holy One, from whom the holy anointing comes; the Holy Spirit, who is Himself the anointing; and Christ, the Holy One of God, in whom the anointing teaches us to abide. In Christ the unseen holiness of God was set before us, and brought nigh: it became human, vested in a human nature, that it might be communicated to us. Within us dwells and works the Holy Spirit, drawing us out to the Christ of God, uniting us in heart and will to Him, revealing Him, forming Him within us, so that His likeness and mind are embodied in us. It is thus we abide in Christ: the holy anointing of the Holy One teacheth it to us. It is this that is the test of the true anointing: abiding in Christ, as He meant it, becomes truth in us. Here is the life of holiness as the Thrice Holy gives it: the Father, the first, the Holy One, making holy; the Son, the second, His Holy One, in whom we are; the Spirit, the third, who dwells in us, and through whom we abide in Christ, and Christ in us. Thus it is that the Thrice Holy makes us holy.
Let us study the Divine anointing. It comes from the Holy One. There is no other like it. It is God's way of making us holy -- His holy priests. It is God's way of making us partakers of holiness in Christ. The anointing, received of Him day by day, abiding in us, teaching us all things, especially teaching us to abide in Christ, must be on us every day. Its subtle, all-pervading power must go through our whole life: the odour of the ointment must fill the house. Blessed be God, it can do so! The anointing that abideth makes the abiding in Christ a reality and a certainty; and God Himself, the Holy One, makes the abiding anointing a reality and a certainty too. To His Holy Name be the praise!
BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.
O Thou, who art the Holy One, I come to Thee now for the renewed anointing. O Father! this is the one gift Thy child may most surely count on -- the gift of Thy Holy Spirit. Grant me now to sing, 'Thou anointest my head;' 'I am anointed with fresh oil.'
I desire to confess with deep shame that Thy Spirit has been sorely grieved and dishonoured. How often the fleshly mind has usurped His place in Thy worship! How much the fleshly will has sought to do His work! O my Father! let Thy light shine through me to convince me very deeply of this. Let Thy judgment come on all that there is of human willing and running.
Blessed Father! grant me, according to the riches of Thy glory, even now to be strengthened with might by Thy Spirit in the inner man. Strengthen my faith to believe in Christ for a full share in His anointing. Oh, teach me day by day to wait for and receive the anointing with fresh oil!
O my Father! draw me and all Thy children to see that for the abiding in Christ we need the abiding anointing. Father! we would walk humbly, in the dependence of faith, counting upon the inner and ever-abiding anointing. May we so be a sweet savour of Christ to all. Amen.
1. I think I know now the reason why at times we fail in the abiding. We think and read, we listen and pray, we try to believe and strive to look to Jesus only, and yet we fail. What was wanting was this: 'His anointing teacheth you; even as it taught you, ye abide in him;' so far, and no farther.
2. The washing always precedes the anointing: we cannot have the anointing if we fail in the cleansing. When cleansed and anointed we are fit for use.
3. Would you have the abiding anointing? Yield yourself wholly to be sanctified and made meet for the Master's use: dwell in the Holiest of all, in God's presence: accept every chastisement as a fellowship in the way of the rent flesh: be sure the anointing will flow in union with Jesus. 'It is like the precious ointment upon the head of Aaron, that went down to the skirts of his garments.'
4. The anointing is the Divine eye-salve, opening the eyes of the heart to know Jesus. So it teaches to abide in Him. I am sure most Christians have no conception of the danger and deceitfulness of a thought religion, with sweet and precious thoughts coming to us in books and preaching, and little power. The teaching of the Holy Spirit is in the heart first; man's teaching in the mind. Let all our thinking ever lead us to cease from thought, and to open the heart and will to the Spirit to teach there in His own Divine way, deeper than thought and feeling. Unseen, within the veil, the Holy Spirit abideth. Be silent and still, believe and expect, and cling to Jesus.
5. Oh that God would visit His Church, and teach His children what it is to wait for, and receive, and walk in the full anointing, the anointing that abideth and teacheth to abide! Oh that the truth of the personal leading of the Holy Spirit in every believer were restored in the Church! He is doing it; He will do it.