The Greek word ἀναζωπυρεῖν, translated “fan into flame”, can mean “rekindle”. However, the prefix ἀνα also means “up” which means that ἀναζωπυρεῖν denotes something that has “fired up” or “kindled into flame”. Although “fan into flame” can define an increase in negative activity. For example: when a bad situation is aggravated. Conversely, on its positive side “fan into flame” means to make something already good to become more intense or explosive. For example: the wind stirs up fire and the fire turns into flames to do something extraordinary. We will discuss “fan into flames” in its positive meaning, and from the Bible.
The term “fan into flame” is found in the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy.
(2 Timothy 1:5-9) 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
Other Scriptures in the same Letter: (1 Timothy 4:14) (1 Timothy 4:6), (1 Timothy 4:13-14)
Putting all the above Scriptures together, we see that Paul’s key instructions to Timothy is that he is to ignite the gift God has given him to teach and preach. He is to do his work like a man on fire for God, relying on the Holy Spirit. Timothy’s gift is directly from the Holy Spirit, that is why Paul in verse 7 says, “the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Timothy doesn’t need to ask for the gift, because it was already in him, he only needed to fire it up.
The precious gift of God in us is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and this gift distributes the other gifts in us according to our Faith. (Romans 12:3 ) “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”. When we come to Christ, there is a certain measure of Faith we already have or we would not get saved, because Faith comes from God’s Grace and we need it to believe in God to make the steps leading to our salvation.(Ephesians 2:8) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”. But our Faith in God needs to keep growing for us to keep repenting and growing. This is the gift we must fan into flame. The Bible describes the presence of God and His Spirit as fire; and His Spirit is also described as water – both symbolizing purity, purging, cleansing, washing away or destroying what is not of God. For the sake of this lesson, we’ll focus on fire.
Why is the element of fire associated with workings of the Holy Spirit?
Apart from being a powerful cleansing agent, fire represents God’s power, like a guiding light, a Light for the path for Him to lead us. Fire also symbolizes a component of a sacrifice. That’s why we are urged to offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). The Spirit is like the fire that consumes our old life on the altar of God. When we offer ourselves wholly to God we are given a new life through the Holy Spirit’s power in us.
Right before Jesus began His ministry, John the Baptist predicts that Jesus will be the One to “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). And when Jesus was getting ready to die he promised His disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will continue His work, (John 14:15-31). When the Holy Spirit began His ministry of indwelling the early church, He appeared as “tongues of fire” resting on each of the believers’ heads. At that moment, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4).
In the NT (Hebrews 12:29), the Bible describes God as “a consuming fire”; and there are examples in the OT that shows God’s presence as fire. Here are some OT Scriptures on the representation of fire.
(Exodus 3:2), (Exodus 14:19), (Numbers 9:17-23), (Numbers 11:1), (1 Kings 18:38), (Ezekiel 1:4), (2 Kings 1:10-12), (Judges 13:20), (Leviticus 9:24), (Leviticus 6:13)
Throughout the NT, God guides and comforts His children with the Holy Spirit dwelling in our bodies as the “temple of the living God”. Instead of a temple made from the hand of man (Leviticus 26:11-12), the body of the Christian is now the temple of God, where He resides with His Spirit.
16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the LORD. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit..”
What are some manifestation of the character of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit produces the character of Jesus Christ in us. He fills us up, and we become God’s Temple. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit regenerates distinguishing characters to the new person in Christ. Here are some of the character traits and gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit.
- Guides us into all Truth (John 16:13-15)
- Convicts us of sin. (John 16:7-8)
- Sanctifies us (2 Thessalonians 2:13), (Titus 3:4-6)
- Teaches us about Jesus. (John 14:26)
- Teaches us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:26-27), (Romans 8:10-11)
- A seal of adoption as Children of God (Ephesians 1:13-14), (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
- Let us know intimately that we are God’s Child (Romans 8:16), (Galatians 4:6-8)
- Let us know we are no longer flesh but spirit (John 3:6), (Galatians 5:16-21), (1 Corinthians 2:11), (Romans 8:9)
- Intercedes for us at the Throne of God (Romans 8:26-27)
- Produces God’s Righteousness in us (Galatians 5:16-25), (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
- Gives us Wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), (Galatians 1:11-12)
- Transforms our character (Acts 4:31)
How do we test if we are operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God or our flesh?
That’s easy: we know by the life we live. We are called to believe in the Holy Spirit. The Scripture, tells us “if” we have the Holy Spirit we are no longer operating in the realm of the flesh, but in the spirit. (Romans 8:9) “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Therefore, if we find that we are not manifesting the character given by the Holy Spirit, then the issue might be He is not with us, or we just don’t believe it’s possible to see our life transform by God’s powerful Spirit in us. Let’s decide you have the Holy Spirit, then the next obvious step to take is to just BELIEVE. True Faith in the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life will help you tap into His character and experience the transformation that can only come from God.
The Bible often refers to fire as a metaphor to describe the activity of the Holy Spirit, and describes the zeal and passion in a Christian. In order to fire up the Holy Spirit you cannot be cold or lukewarm, you must be hot. This is how we know we are submitting to the Lordship of God. If we are lukewarm or cold God cannot abide with us. The Holy Spirit will only fulfil the works of God in us when we submit to Him, otherwise we will only find ourselves working against the Holy Spirit and instead submitting to our flesh.
Matthew 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Imagine blowing wind on a piece of burning wood…the flames would flare up into fire – right? This is what’s meant by fanning into flame. We also need to hunger and thirst for God’s Righteousness because we are unable to have Christ’s character by using human efforts. Our love, hunger, passion and zeal for God, works with the Holy Spirit to bring about the transformation in our lives if we continually fan the flames.”
If we believe/have faith that we have the Holy Spirit in us, what are some steps to take to fan this (Faith) into fire?
Steps to Fanning Faith:
- Pray: Pray to hunger and thirst for Righteousness – God’s Righteousness, not yours. And pray about getting hungrier for God’s Righteousness every day. (Matthew 5: 6) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”.
- Read the Bible: Let God remind you about the Holy Spirit’s fire/power. Listen to Him as He speaks from the Bible. Read Scriptures on the character of a Child of God – do google searches on key words like “character of a Christian”, “Christ-like character”, and so on. And go over some of the Scriptures you came across in this lesson. (John 16:21) “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”
- Pray about what you read: As you read, pray to have Faith/Believe in what you read about being a Child of God. Pray that the characteristics you read about is the “New YOU”. Believe you are a new Creation, created in Christ to manifest Christ-like characteristics. Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
- Pray for Repentance: Pray to submit to God and accept the Holy Spirit in your life. It is the Holy Spirit that can bring the solid changes and help you to exhibit Christ in your life. A huge part of Repentance begins with Confession. So start praying more that God will reveal your sins to you at the deepest level. Tell him all the sins you want to change although He knows more than you do. Ask Him to help you. This will bring about Humility towards God and Obedience. You will renew your commitment to Him and you’ll begin to learn that your weaknesses can be your strengths, and how to Love what God Loves and Hate what He Hates. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done…” Matthew 3: 8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Proverbs 1:23 “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.”
- Keep reading the Bible: Read to understand your new life. If you are trying to understand your new life in Christ, focus on reading the New Testament. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read the Old Testament – the Bible is one Book, and all Scriptures in the Bible guide and equip us with understanding and wisdom in the Way of God. However, I have found that the New Testament quickly reveals the New Life (the Born-Again Life) led by the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Book of Romans and Hebrews is a good place to start. And read the Gospels as well: as you read, take note of all of Jesus’ teachings on Righteousness, the Kingdom of God/Heaven, and all that He mentioned and preached about Believing and about Faith. Hebrews 4:12-13 “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
- Keep Repenting and Keep Praying: Always pray for God’s Guidance and Mercy. As you give your heart and mind to God, and believe in the Word of God and keep praying. You’ll notice your Faith will start growing. Acts 3:9 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”; Isaiah 30:15 “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…”
- Receive the Transforming Fire: Because you are learning in-depth the new person God knows you are, you will begin to see yourself accepting who you are in God and agreeing with Him that what He teaches you is the Truth. You will become more Grateful; and your Love and Trust in God will deepen. You’ll notice you are on Fire – with strong, deep rooted Faith!
Personal sharing: When I followed these steps I began to see things in my heart that I never knew were there. I was in so much shock and disbelief! But my convicted heart, was softened and happy when God took me in His arms and helped me repent, change and grow. God has a way to give you such a clear picture of how He sees sin; and for me it was heart breaking to know that through Jesus Christ…God has given me permission and power to overcome my weaknesses, and I didn’t know how to accept His gift. Imagine you have the key to break lose from prison, but all the while you stayed in prison asking for the key when you already have it with you. And God loved me so much and heard my repentant prayer.
We all know the obvious sins we practice when we give into them, but God will open up your heart and show you things unheard of! Some sins are obvious and some we are blind to or just do not want to see the truth about ourselves…like 1 Timothy 5:24 says “The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.” I didn’t know my heart had so much evil and darkness. I not only saw the obvious sins like white lies, stealing, pride, anger, gossip or unforgiveness, etc. but God made me see the roots of the obvious sins, and my eyes opened up like I was seeing them for the very first time. And to put the icing on the cake, God started to show me how to hate what I saw, so I could have His mindset, instead of being lukewarm and unrepentant. Then He worked wonders! He touched my heart and mind and cleanse me from unrighteous inclination. The sins I knew about and felt I couldn’t change came to the surface. Like fire is to gold, the impurities came to the surface and I saw what God saw and could speak out against them in prayers! And God kept digging up other sins (hidden sins), and kept smelting them in the furnace of repentance. I began to realize that sins beget other sins that are hidden; and I you do not repent of the ones that are obvious, you will continue to be blind to the hidden ones that are tied to the obvious ones. My faith was refined in fire and I kept growing in leaps and bounds.
To accept the gift of genuine Faith, I had to believe that I had everything, because I have the Holy Spirt. I had to believe that the same Holy Spirit who was in Jesus and with Jesus and who also resurrected Jesus from the death was within me. And with Him I could live a resurrected life. What a powerful gift Jesus has given us?!. I had to allow my heart to accept that I was God’s daughter, and I live on this earth guided by Jesus’ Spirit as an Ambassador from Heaven.
You see, as children of God, we are not of this earth any longer, because we belong with God. Heaven is our home – we are here just waiting to go home. After I understood this profoundly, and accepted who I was and whom I belong to, my thought process shifted to things of God…including Heaven. I vowed that I would not conceal what I learned, but spread what God has done for me.
Take courage, stand up and see who you are and believe that what is written about you in the Bible is True. Then you’ll understand intimately what is meant by: “The Righteous Lives By Faith” – Romans 1:17
Footnotes: NT = New Testament and OT = Old Testament