Question:

Hi! Does the baptism of the Holy Spirit give you power to fight sin? Does the baptism of the Holy Spirit give you power to overcome sin?


Answer:

  • Peter was baptized with the Holy Spirit: "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" (Acts 11:16-17).
  • Peter sinned: "Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy" (Galatians 2:11-13).
  • Therefore, the baptism of the Holy Spirit did not prevent a person from sinning.

There is some confusion as to when baptism is mentioned as to which baptism is being referred : baptism in water or baptism in the Spirit. Baptism in the Spirit is a baptism that was administered by Christ. John promised that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit. "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11). And when we read of the two events that are called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we see that no man was involved in its administration. In Acts 2:2 we are told that it came from heaven and in both events we are told that God gave the recipients the gift (Acts 2:17, 32-33; 11:17; 15:8). In contrast, baptism in water is administered by men. Jesus commanded, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). And when the eunuch was baptized, we see that it was done by Philip. "Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:38).

The baptism in the Spirit was promised by Christ. "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). And again, "John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now ... But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:5, 8). However, baptism in water is not promised, but commanded. Peter commanded it of Cornelius and his household, "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:48). Ananias instructed Saul to be baptized, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize people of all nations in Matthew 28:19. A command can be obeyed, but a promise cannot be obeyed; a promise must be given.

When we read about people being baptized in the Spirit, we see that signs accompanied the event (Acts 2:4-8; 10:44-46). In particular, those baptized began to speak in other languages (or tongues). But baptism in water did not confer miraculous gifts. Again, the baptisms of the Samaritans prove this point. "But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. ... Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 8:12, 14-16).

Finally, all Christians were not baptized in the Spirit. As we previously noted, there were many baptism between Acts 2 and Acts 10, yet the baptism in the Spirit in Acts 2 and in Acts 10 were unique in the history of the church. Even receiving miraculous gifts of the Spirit was not universal. "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" (I Corinthians 12:28-30). The answer to Paul's questions is "No." All Christians did not receive the gifts. However, all Christians were baptized in water:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" (Romans 6:3).

"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

There is one baptism that is connected with salvation from sins. "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Notice that this baptism was commanded, not promised. Therefore it is baptism in water that connected with the removal of sin. "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you -- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience -- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21 NASB).

Having salvation from sin does not mean Christians are immune from ever sinning again. Rather our relationship with God as his children confers a right to approach God and ask forgiveness of our sins. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:8 - 2:1).

Battling sin is something God expects all Christians to do. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). If it took the baptism of the Holy Spirit to allow a person to resist temptation, then only those few whom God gave the baptism of the Holy Spirit would be able to overcome sin. That would make God the determiner of who is saved and who is not; it would make God a respecter of persons, which He is not, "God shows personal favoritism to no man" (Galatians 2:6). Rather, God teaches all men who to overcome sin. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).