From the beginning of history, Satan sought to deceive. In the Garden he questioned what God had said and then flatly denied it. He had the audacity to quote Scripture in his attempts to tempt Jesus. But when we compare his quotation of Psalm 91:11-12 with what the verse actually said, we see that Satan was cleverly misquoting God’s Word. The Lord calls him a murderer and a liar from the beginning. Through his lying he caused our first parents to die – first spiritually, and eventually also physically.
Satan still employs the same tactics because they serve his purpose. He appeals to our likes and lusts; he delights to misquote and misapply God’s Word. He is a master counterfeiter and deliberately misuses and misapplies verses to confuse us. He uses every opportunity to turn man against God and then tries to turn God against man.
To sum up, what God says is absolutely consistent with His Word. The Holy Spirit knows the Bible, for He is its Author. But Satan’s words always try to lead us in paths opposite to God’s. He may use Scripture, but not according to God’s purpose. His suggestions are just what we like to hear, and while our conscience may warn us, God’s Word is our only sure guide. The more we read and obey it, the easier it is for us to distinguish between God’s voice and the devil’s.
QUESTION: Is it proper to call down Holy Ghost fire to dispel the forces of darkness?
ANSWER: In the Bible, fire is ordinarily used to symbolize judgment. Every sacrifice consumed by fire on the altar gave witness to the fact that Christ would one day suffer God’s judgment against our sins. In a day to come He will execute judgment upon all the ungodly, casting them into the lake of fire, Hell, where the fire is not and shall never be quenched (Mk. 9:43-48). The Father has committed all judgment to the Son. Indeed, He has given Him authority to execute judgment because He is the Son of Man (Jn. 5:22,27).
Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us to call down Holy Ghost fire to dispel the forces of darkness. In fact, we do not read of “Holy Ghost fire” at all. At Pentecost “there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:3). This happened to the disciples who were all with one accord in one place in a house in Jerusalem. When we read the chapter, we find the fact emphasized of the many languages (tongues) in which they now spoke the wonderful works of God.
Nothing more is said about fire, nor is fire mentioned on the three subsequent occasions where the Holy Spirit is given (Acts 8:17; 10:44-46; 11:15-16; 19:6). John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord Jesus, had said of Him, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” He went on to say that “He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Mt. 311-12; Lk. 3:16-17). Gathering the wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff are two different activities. Thank God, the burning up of the chaff with unquenchable fire has not yet taken place. Furthermore, this is not something we are to do, or even that we can do, but this judgment is reserved for the Lord to execute.
Elijah, the prophet of judgment, called down literal fire upon two captains and the fifty men of each (2 Ki. 1:9-12). They had been sent by wicked King Ahaziah to arrest him. Both captains addressed him as “Man of God” and insolently ordered him to come down from the hilltop where he was sitting. Their insolence brought judgment on them and their soldiers.
Years later in this same area, when James and John asked the Lord’s permission to call down fire upon the Samaritans who had refused them lodging, He rebuked them. They may have felt they had a scriptural precedent for their request, but He let them know that they were giving evidence of the wrong spirit in their request to avenge this insult. He had come not to destroy men’s lives, but save them (Lk. 9:51-56).
This same Lord tells us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us (Mt. 5:44). We are to be sons of our Father in heaven, who does good to the good and bad. And the armor He gives us, to stand against the forces of evil, is detailed for us in Ephesians 6:10-18. This armor is defensive in nature, for we are told to resist the devil and he will flee from us (Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9). Never are we instructed to fight him.
In light of these Scripture verses and in accord with the whole tenor of God’s Word, it is not our place as Christians to “call down” Holy Ghost fire to dispel the forces of darkness.
By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org