The scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit was given to believers after Calvary in the new birth experience (John 3:3-8) and then the subsequent experience of believers is empowerment for witness in the baptism of the Holy Ghost (John 7:39; Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit always testifies of Christ in, “the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (1 John 5:8). The preaching of the Cross, yes Christ himself, is always central to the heart of the biblical message and is the “power and wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23-24).
In Leviticus, there was fire on the brazen altar that was given from God (Lev. 9:24) that was to be maintained (Lev. 6:13) and never counterfeited (Lev. 10:1-3). The brazen altar was a type of Calvary. This is a symbol and type of the fire that fell on Christ at Calvary for the sins of his people. That fire of judgement has now become a fire of gracious purity in the heart and spirits of those that know the Lord.
The Holy Spirit’s fire is always connected to the blood of Calvary (Rom 5:5-8). No Calvary, no new birth. No Cross, no Pentecost. One man said, “Only bloody coals are allowed by God to send up fragrance to the throne of grace…any kind of work the Holy Spirit does He does only for those who have been to Calvary, those who have been washed in the blood. Any other fire is false fire; any other so-called gifts of the Spirit are false gifts of the Spirit.”(Hyles)
Incense is a type of prayer (Rev 5:8). “Strange fire” (Lev. 10:1-3) or strange incense is a reference to was when the priests, Aaron’s sons and Moses’ nephews Nadab and Abihu offered fire to God that did not come from the brazen altar. This was a grievous error for which they were immediately sentenced to death and burned to death by God’s fire. God did not allow Aaron even to mourn for his sons. The Lord said, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” (Lev. 10:3) God’s holiness is seen in all its glory and not to be trifled with.
First, strange fire is praying amiss or with a disregard to the holiness of God (James 4:1-4) and sinful living (Isa. 1:15). One man comments about Aaron’s sons, “They were priests who had become aliens to God because of pride and unforsaken sin. It is what you are and what you have become that makes your prayer what it is: holy or strange! Unforsaken sin becomes a stronghold for Satan; and it corrupts everything you bring to God. What strange incense is pouring out of the lips of many compromising servants of the Lord today.” (Wilkerson)
Second, strange fire is any message that exalts humanism, the evil ways of this world system and age and anything manufactured by the sinful nature above the message of the Christ and the cross. Strange fire is anything that is a satanic counterfeit-of another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel (2 Cor 11:3-4). The biblical Christian rejects the music, media, salesmanship, philosophies and cultural fluidity of this world and sees it having no place in the house of God or among the people of God.
Third, strange fire is the worship of false gods, prayers to the saints and veneration of Mary, the occult, seances, tarot cards, astrology, witchcraft and yoga for all those things are an abomination to God (Deut. 18:10-12). Christians reject the media ideas of vampirism, animism, zombies and mediums and the like because they go against the central heart of the gospel, the sacrifice of Christ and the physical resurrection from the dead.
Fourth. strange fire are the beliefs of false religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and cults such as Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, or Mormonism. Anything that rejects the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, or salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is strange fire.
Let me conclude in saying that on the day of Pentecost one hundred and twenty disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost and fire. They received those tongues “like as of fire!” It was as if a body of fiery power descended upon them and then distributed itself to those first believers in Christ (Acts 2:1-4). The fire of the Holy Spirit is manifested as a purity of heart, a joyful zeal and an ardent love that burns in the heart of the child of God. A person who loves the Lord is “on fire” for God and loves the truth of God’s Word and holiness.