Below is the substance of a message I delivered recently to the ministers of our Presbytery during our Fall week of Prayer held in Barrie FPC, Barrie, ON. I believe that the experience of Micah recorded in Micah 3:8 is the real need of the Church of Christ today.
“But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” (Micah 3:8 AV)
The term ‘distinctive’ is a part of the FPC dictionary. This church has historically proclaimed and practiced distinctives, not just to be different but to be like Christ who is distinct from the world.
This statement by the prophet begins with a strong adversative—but truly. It is clear from the context that he is insisting upon a sharp contrast between himself and the greedy, grasping, self-serving, and ultimately blind and unclean false prophets of his day.
God’s men are to stand out—rather than blend in. That is conformity to this present evil world/age. On every level Micah was a man apart from:
- the spiritual state of the people, 2:6, 11, 3:5. It didn’t matter what the prevailing appetite of the people was! Cp I Cor 1:22-23.
- the moral state of the civil administration, v1, 9-11.
The difference—distinction—in view here is not artificially contrived. It is not the result of clever marketing strategy, or a worldly jockeying for position. It is the result of the working of the Holy Ghost. Here is a distinctive that I believe our Church needs to get back to.
Micah was instrumental in turning Judah back to God from the abominable apostasy of Ahaz. Cp 6:16, Jer 26:18-19. God uses a man apart, a people apart. Here is such a comfort in the face of the cost of such a stand. God can and does use one man! What we are as individuals counts.
I THE NECESSARY WORKING OF THE HOLY GHOST.
1. This is the unique feature to distinguish God’s servant from the rest. This is true at the most basic level, Romans 8:9. It is the only distinguishing feature referenced here! From this springs every other distinctive that could have been listed in comparing Micah with the false prophets. The polluted worldliness of Sardis is what results when the fullness of the Spirit is not seen. What Micah was the Holy Ghost made him.
2. The Spirit’s work is seen to the full. The fullness of the Holy Ghost is the feature of distinction. This fulness evidently infers devotion to the Lord. It is this separation to God that makes the distinction that the prophet has in view. Full implies no room for anything else! The verb itself is linked with consecration in another way—‘fill the hand’ with an offering. Surrender to the Spirit of God is in view.
3. This must be our personal experience. It is critical to our useful consecration to Christ that we be filled with the Spirit. Cp Luke 24:39, Acts 1:8. This is a personal statement. The text turns the spotlight upon me as an individual. Such an experience of the Spirit of God cannot be ours simply because we are part of a specific organization.
II THE GRACES THAT THE SPIRIT IMPARTS.
Holy Spirit fullness looks like something! Here is a brief list of the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ in Micah’s life. They are in perfect harmony with the fruits of Gal 5:22-23. Each list implies the other.
1. Power. Such an experience of the Spirit has a personal effect. The idea here seems to be of solidity and firmness—personal strength. He was a man of conviction, inflexible and unmovable resolution. This is spiritual maturity. Cp Eph 4:14, 6:10, 13. Not a reed shaken of the wind!
2. Judgment. He is a man with the mind of God the Judge of all the earth. His thinking is shaped by the Law of God and the Divine standards of righteousness. The Spirit-filled man does not live in conflict with the Law of God. Cp Gal 5:23. That Law informs his mind and he is like those who knows what Israel ought to do. Cp I Kings 3:9.
3. Might. A distinction is to be made between power and might. Here is the exercise of power in a cause as a champion/hero. Might is power proved and exercised on the battlefield. The spiritual power on view here is never just for show! It will be seen in the mastery over the enemies of God and the proponents of error.
These invariably develop together!
III THE FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT’S WORK PRODUCES A SPECIFIC MINISTRY.
Such is the nature of this ministry that it is only possible in the power of the Holy Ghost.
1. He preaches against transgression and sin. This is what power, judgment and might target. He uses God’s terminology when addressing sin. He recognized sin and acted against it. Of course he did so from a gospel perspective, I Pet 1:11, Acts 3:21, 24. On both counts there is a grievous deficiency today.
2. His target audience. He preaches to his own people—his own community/constituency—and by definition included himself in the application of these words. However much his message may be applied to all men—and it does—Micah as a Spirit-filled man, addressed the sin of his own circumstances. He refers to both Jacob and Israel. These two terms give vastly different views of the same people. Whether viewed as those like the deceiver (deceitfulness of a desperately wicked heart, Jer 17:9) or from the perspective of a gracious standing with God as a ‘prince’; Micah faced them with the reality of their sin and rebellion against God. An objectivity in his exposure of sin. Like Paul dealing with the offender in Corinth or Peter – he rebuked the sin of both.
3. How his message was presented. The verb here is striking—he made their sin conspicuous, setting it before their face. There is a plainness that is entailed here. A lack of diplomacy! Micah did not just hint at their sin—he made sure they saw it. Is 58:1, Ezek 33:7. Such a presentation of sin is necessary if it is ever to be pardoned, I John 1:9 – confess = ‘to speak the same language’ as God about sin. Hebrew term for confess in the OT = ‘to point out’ to God.
Do I have any reason to exist? Is there any thing of this to set me apart from the parasites that plague the Church of Christ? Is there a real reason for the FPCNA to exist? Without the fulness of the power of the Holy Ghost the answer to these questions is a resounding negative. Our future lies not in careful advertising or strategic alliances, or carefully crafted policies to appeal to a ‘niche market’ – we must set ourselves to know the fulness of God’s power that will make us the champions of righteousness crusading against sin in our own ranks and beyond.
“O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.” (Psalm 68:35 AV)