Step 3 – A Spirit-Led Lifestyle
“I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27)
A: Discovering the Truth
The Holy Spirit is perhaps the least understood and the most unappreciated person of the Trinity. But He is just as much part of the Godhead as is the Father and the Son. He is a personal being, not some impersonal force or vague presence. To believers, He plays an indispensable role. So much so, that even Jesus said it was to our benefit that He (Jesus) should depart, so that the Holy Spirit could come. This is because the Holy Spirit does so much for us. Among other things, He seals us, indwells us, empowers us, teaches us, guides us, controls us, gifts us, intercedes for us and produces fruit in our lives. Yet all too often we ignore Him, grieve Him, quench Him, take Him granted, dismiss Him or limit His influence in our lives. We allow ourselves to be deceived by “every wind of teaching” and whipsawed by the “cunning, craftiness” and “deceitful scheming” of man instead listening to the gentle whispers of the Spirit who can guide us into all truth.
B: Exploring the Truth
The Holy Spirit is the great enabler in our lives. Things that are not possible for us to do in our own power He is able to do in and through us. He is at work within us to change our mindset so that our attitude conforms more and more to that of Christ Jesus (be “attitude’). He is at work within us to cause our worldly desires to submit to heavenly ones and to aspire to what God desires (loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly). He is at work within in us to transform us to such an extent that there is a change in our lifestyle, as our “sin” nature increasingly loses its hold on us (or rather our hold on it) and we conform more and more to the “son” nature. In effect, we grow as disciples.
The question we must ask ourselves if we are not growing in these things is: what are we being filled with? It is difficult to rid ourselves of sinful habits without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is even harder to remain that way without His help. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Human nature abhors it even more. Once we rid ourselves of sinful habits we must replace them or they will be sucked right back in. It is like a glass filled with murky water from a filthy polluted spigot. If you merely remove the dirty water from the glass it does not automatically become clean unless you replace the source of what is filling it. So you place it under a spigot with a clean fresh water source and begin filling the glass. Eventually, the filthy polluted water is displaced (there is no vacuum) by the fresh water leaving a clean glass full of sparkling clear water. So it is with our spiritual life. Our old sin nature is like the dirty polluted water in the glass, clouding our outlook on life and how we behave. When we surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes along and begins to fill us and displaces the dirty water with fresh clean water. This affects our attitudes, our desires and our actions. But we must also be careful to turn off the source of the dirty polluted water. Otherwise, the clean water will never fully displace the dirty water and a cloudy residue will always remain.
Paul said it this way, “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). As we are transformed by the Holy Spirit death and discontent are replaced by life and peace.
C: Knowing and Understanding the Truth
We need to understand that the Holy Spirit is not a genie in a bottle or magic lamp that we keep on a shelf until we call upon Him to grant our secret desires or greatest wishes at our command. He is our Helper, but His purpose is not to feed our greed, stroke our ego or carry us to some figurative lush oasis of physical comfort and ease or health and wealth. Not that all of these are intrinsically bad, but they are things that can easily appeal to our sin nature and our worldly desires. They may satisfy us in the short-term, but eventually they will lead to discontent as we worry and fret over the “things” we do not have as we require more and more of them to satisfy our insatiable desires. In the end death awaits and all these things are meaningless – a chasing after the wind. We must break the cycle of neglect, regret and fret. The cycle begins when we neglect the present condition of our walk in the Spirit. In time, we come to regret the things we chased after and the choices we made in the past. This leads us to fret about the future – the blessings we will miss and/or the consequences we may face.
The Holy Spirit has a much higher calling for us than this. He is in our lives to give us a life that is not meaningless, a life that is at peace. But we must break the neglect, regret and fret cycle by replacing it with another cycle. We must change our mindset so that it is set on the Holy Spirit. This inevitably leads to a change in our desires as our sinful desires are replaced with Godly desires. This in turn leads to a change in our lifestyle as we leave our sinful habits, surrender control of our lives to the Holy Spirit and learn to walk by the Spirit. We no longer neglect, regret or fret.
There are a number of ways the Holy Spirit helps us. He seals us, lives within us, empowers us, teaches us, guides us, comforts us, encourages us, controls us, gifts us and intercedes for us. These are things that cannot be spent and then they are gone. They cannot be taken away from us by anyone or any power. They fulfill our needs, not our wants. And in the end, we find that what we needed was really what we wanted all along. The “things” that we chase after in this life, the things that could never ultimately satisfy us, we find are worthless after all. While the things that the Holy Spirit provides are priceless.
D: Weighing the Truth
We cannot keep in step with the Spirit when we are walking in the ways (immorality, impurity, idolatry, selfish ambition, envy, etc.) of the world. This is how we used to walk. This is the way we used to live, before we surrendered our lives to Christ. Our sinful nature with its worldly passions and desires were crucified with Christ. Now we must rid ourselves of these things. We must walk to the beat of a different drummer. We do this by filling (setting) our hearts with things from above, not on the things of this earth. Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2 not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” which is just another way of saying “set your minds on things above.” In Philippians 4:8 Paul tells us how to do just that. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
We need not do this alone. Indeed, we cannot do it alone. But the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, will help us. God has told us just that “I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27) And before we know it, this will begin to bear fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control) in our lives. Whose drumbeat are you marching to? Which way are the scales tipping in your life?
E: Questioning the Truth – For Musing On Your Own
1. How would you describe the Holy Spirit?
2. Is the Holy Spirit more important or less important than God the Father or Jesus? Why or why not?
3. Why do you think the Holy Spirit is so misunderstood and so unappreciated? Why might Satan (the deceiver) want to keep it this way?
4. Can the sin nature and Son nature peacefully “coexist” on an equal footing for long in the life of a believer? Why or why not? If not, how much of the sin nature can we hold onto a live peaceably? Explain.
5. Which of the ways that the Spirit acts in our lives do you think is the most indispensable? Why?
6. Which of the ways that the Spirit acts in our lives do you think is taken for granted the most? Explain.
7. With so many ways that the Spirit helps us, why do so many Christians lead such unproductive lives?
8. What are some ways we hinder the Spirit from acting in our lives?
9. What are some ways we can help the Spirit act in our lives?
10. Jesus said that by their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7:20). In what ways does the type of fruit we produce help identify who we really are?
11. Is there a difference between acts and fruit? Explain.
12. How can setting our heart and our mind on things above affect how we walk here below?
13. How does this help us live by the Spirit (remain in Him)?
14. What do you think it means that the Spirit testifies with our Spirit that we are children of God? Examples?