[The Benedictus is the song of Zechariah found in Luke 1:67-80.]
When we are empty of the Spirit, we will be full of self. When we are full of the Spirit, we will be empty of self. “And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophecied” (Luke 1:67). And he started by blessing God, not his own logic (see 1:18). Read with me 1:68-75:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:68-75 ESV).
God has visited twice (once to Mary, once to him) and redeemed (rescued) by his strength (horn of salvation). He invokes David’s name, from whom Christ came to reign as eternal king (see 2 Samuel 7:13-14). He invokes the prophets to show that what happened here was promised for centuries (those same prophets of whom he would preach Sabbath after Sabbath). And notice that not once, but twice, he said that they would be “saved from our enemies/delivered from the hand of our enemies” (vv. 71-74).
The world, the flesh, and the devil are our enemies—our own flesh being the worst enemy of all but Christ has come to deliver us. But to what end? One of the great things about the gospel is that it changes us! He changes us! We are called to “serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” Think of the things we could do for Christ if we have no fear. It’s not only that we serve him without fear of him, but serve him without fear of what He asks of us.
Christians are told, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control” (2 Timothy 1:7). When we know His promises and purpose for His church, we can move forward with confidence knowing He is going before us and will provide all that’s needed (see Matthew 16:13-20). But when we are full of self, we are not only empty of the Spirit but full of fear–fear that our ‘self’ will not have the reputation or position we wish. In the Spirit, we are grateful for where God places us and serve Him with a boldness that defies all natural and societal expectation.
With what ‘spirit’ are you filled?