To teach that the filling with the Holy Spirit is given to the Christian to provide “power for service” is to teach truth, but not the whole truth. Power for service is but one effect of the experience, and I do not hesitate to say that it is the least of several effects.
It is least for the very reason that it touches service, presumably service to mankind; and contrary to the popular belief, “to serve this present age” is not the Christian’s first duty nor the chief end of man. As I have stated elsewhere, the two great verbs that dominate the life of man are be and do.
What a man is comes first in the sight of God. What he does is determined by what he is, so it is of first importance always. The modern notion that we are “saved to serve,” while true, is true only in a wider context, and as understood by busy Christians today it is not true at all.
Redemption became necessary not because of what men were doing only, but because of what they were. Not human conduct alone had gone wrong but human nature as well; apart from the moral defect in human nature no evil conduct would have occurred. Fallen men acted in accord with what they were. Their hearts dictated their deeds. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Gen. 6:54).
That much any moral being could have seen. But God saw more; He saw the cause of man’s wicked ways, and that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (6:5).
The stream of human conduct flows out of a fountain polluted by evil thoughts and imaginations. To purge the stream it was necessary to purify the fountain; and to reform human conduct it is necessary to regenerate human nature.
The fundamental be must be sanctified if we would have a righteous do, for being and doing are related as cause and effect, as father and son.