THE ANOINTING WITHIN AND WITHOUT
Tuesday, September, 13, 2022
If you have been around the church world for any length of time, you have probably heard about the “anointing” of God.
Maybe you have heard about a singer or a preacher that was “anointed,” maybe you saw someone get “anointed” by oil, or maybe a preacher said not to “touch the Lord’s anointed” as a way to convince you to not argue with them.
Of course, while this idea of anointing certainly seems to be thrown around a little too much in some religious circles, it is not new. The Bible talks about God’s anointing in several ways throughout the Old and New Testaments.
What Does it Mean to Be Anointed?
One usage of our English word “anoint” comes from the Greek word chrio, which actually means to consecrate (to set apart) and empower Jesus as the Christ and Messiah. In this instance of the word, Jesus alone is the “Anointed” King.
According to scholars, this word is similar to another Greek word that refers to a contractual relationship. This play on words makes sense in light of verses like Luke 4:17-19 when Jesus reads one of Isaiah’s prophecies and declares that his duty is given by God:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (ESV).
This is the same kind of anointing that Luke used in Acts 4:27 when he wrote that, the “holy child Jesus” was “anointed” and again in Acts 10:38 when he said that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power... for God was with him.”
So, it is clear that Jesus had a very unique and exclusive kind of anointing from God.
However, Scripture is also clear that God’s people can also have a kind of anointing, but it is different than many people might think. We see this additional usage of the word in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22, when Paul teaches that
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
When we are saved, the anointing of God puts the Holy Spirit into our hearts. This puts a mark or impression of royal ownership on our lives, which authenticates and guarantees (in a business sense) who we are and to whom we belong.
This is how we receive the anointing of Jesus. Or as Paul explains in Romans 13:14, we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul further illustrates this idea with the picture of baptism in Galatians 3:27, when he writes that if we have been “baptized into Christ” then we have “have put on Christ.”
But it doesn’t end here, either. The Holy Spirit’s presence also yields a third usage of anointing: Power. This is not a mystical or magical kind of power, though, it is simply the capability to perform the calling of God on someone’s life.
We see this kind of language especially in Paul’s teachings on natural as well as supernatural or spiritual gifts and abilities. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, he wrote that:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills (ESV).
The Holy Spirit pours himself onto, anoints, or empowers believers to perform special tasks from God to accomplish His purposes. This is also how John described it in 1 John 2:27.
What Does it Mean to Be Anointed by Christ?
So, while it is true that in the Old Testament there were people (such as Moses, Daniel, and Samson) who had a unique calling, a special presence of God, and a particular set of abilities to accomplish something for God’s glory, it was not the person who was important — it was God.
This is important to remember so that we do not misinterpret the famous verse “Touch not mine anointed” (Psalm 105:15).
But today, thanks to the ascension of Jesus that unleashed the Holy Spirit to indwell believers, every Christ-follower is a recipient of the anointing of God and a conduit of God’s power.
As one author wrote, this means that “if any individual Christian is to be considered anointed, then so every Christian must be as well. For this is the only sense in which the term is used (apart from Christ) in the New Testament.”
In reality, all of Christ’s messengers (you and me and everyone else) are “anointed” by both the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself said it like this: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses ...” (Acts 1:8, ESV).
So, then God’s anointing is for every believer. No one can justifiably claim any special status or ranking over anyone else. The work of the Holy Spirit is not just for people in up-front and prominent roles of preaching or singing.
It is to supernaturally equip anyone to do all kinds of work for God. For example, in Exodus 31, God called Bezalel “by name” and “filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft” (Exodus 31:1–5, ESV).
In the same way, even when Scripture invites someone who is sick to come to be anointed with oil (representing the Holy Spirit’s presence) and be prayed over (James 5:14-15), it is the Lord who will “raise him up” or forgive his sins, not a person with a special power.
It seems to be human nature to think that some people have more “power” or “anointing” than other people because of their faith or rank in the church. But in reality, when anyone is saved, they are provided with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
While the outcome may be unique, every child of God has the same anointing because we all have the same indwelling Spirit.
Because of that, Paul declares that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV).
Even more, Peter preaches that Christians are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV).
Robert Hampshire, Contributor