The inspired psalmist was aware of the need for and the blessing of an impartation of “fresh oil.” Oil is a frequent symbol in Scripture of the Holy Spirit. For example, kings in Israel were anointed with oil, signifying God’s call upon them into the kingship and the empowerment for that office by the Holy Spirit. 1 Samuel 16:13 says of the future king David: “Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.” King Saul was similarly anointed with oil as a symbol of God’s Spirit coming upon Him: “Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance? …  “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you…” (1 Samuel 10:1,6).
Yet despite the powerful Holy Spirit anointing upon these two kings of Israel, both of them subsequently sinned grievously and failed the Lord. The trajectory of King Saul’s life went steadily downward, even to the point where he consulted a spiritist medium! (1 Samuel 28:3-8). And King David planned a murder and committed adultery (2 Samuel, chapter 11).
Our takeaway is this: even the most powerful Holy Spirit anointing upon us in time past will not necessarily keep us on God’s straight and narrow path today, both personally and ministry-wise … unless we keep that anointing stirred up as “fresh oil” in our lives on a daily basis. As some have said, yesterday’s anointing is not necessarily sufficient for today.
Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:20-21). But He also needed a Holy Spirit anointing —which came upon Him 30 years later — to do all that God had called Him to do (see Luke 3:21-23; 4:1-2,14). An interesting pattern for us can be seen in the life of Jesus. As we have seen, in coming from heaven to earth, He was conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit. Similarly — in our case by repentance and faith in Christ (Acts 20:21) — we can be born of the Holy Spirit, that is, spiritually “born again” (John 3:3-6). Let’s take this a step further. Jesus had the Holy Spirit in His life from His very conception. But He did not do His first miracle, at the wedding feast of Cana, until after His anointing (not His conception) by the Holy Spirit. John 2:11 says, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” Likewise for us, the anointing of the Spirit, kept fresh and stirred up in us, will open the door for life and ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The four Gospels record how Jesus kept the anointing stirred up daily as “fresh oil” by His dedication to prayer and time spent in ongoing fellowship with God His Father. How much more must we need to be daily in God’s Word, in prayer, in worship, and in fellowship with the Lord to keep God’s anointing current and fresh in our lives. Each of us has a decision to make: Will we do that? Or will be just be content with the false hope that yesterday’s anointing will carry us forward without seeking fresh impartation from God daily?
Jesus Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit. The kings, priests, and prophets of the Old Testament likewise were anointed with oil, typifying the Holy Spirit’s empowerment of them for their ministries. Nowadays, on this side of the cross of Christ, the Spirit’s anointing is available to all born-again believers through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. God has anointed us (believers), wrote the apostle Paul. John wrote similar words of encouragement.
Shortly after His resurrection from the grave, Jesus appeared to His disciples and “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.” (John 20:22). This is commonly understood to have been their new birth by the Spirit. This fulfilled Jesus' promise to them before His death that the Holy Spirit "dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:17, NKJV). Later, immediately before He ascended back to heaven (Acts 1:4-9), Jesus promised that a few days later they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and would receive power from that Holy Spirit anointing to accomplish their God-given ministries. Jesus made a clear distinction between their birth by the Spirit (John 20:22) and their baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-4).
As we have seen, kings such as David and Saul were anointed with oil, the Spirit came upon them, and they received power for their God-given tasks. Jesus likewise was anointed with power for ministry by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38): “God anointed Jesus … with the Holy Spirit and power, and…he went around doing good and healing…” This helps us understand Jesus’ words attributing even His ministry power to the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28). The same Holy Spirit anointing is the source of power for our ministries done in Jesus’ name.
We can receive God’s anointing as we are filled with the Spirit. As He did with the early disciples, the Holy Spirit will empower us to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to cast out demons, to minister various gifts of the Spirit, and more.
I received the Spirit’s anointing in 1971 in Anchorage, Alaska. As at the first Pentecost, I spoke in tongues as the evidence of that Holy Spirit infilling and experienced a noticeable growth in God’s power in me to minister on His behalf. It was a glorious experience! But…I can’t just depend on yesterday’s anointing. Neither can you. The epistle writer James charged us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, NASB). We must draw close to God daily. Stay in fellowship with Him in prayer, in His Word, in worship, in gathering with fellow believers. Ask God today, and each day, for a current impartation of His Holy Spirit’s wonderful “fresh oil.” You’ll see your walk with God grow, rather than decline into just a backward-looking reminiscing about the “old days.”
Let your daily cry to God be, in the words of my old prayer warrior friend, “Lord, anoint us with fresh oil!”
©2018, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.