Spirit-Led

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My Musings – 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.

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, NIV 1978). As we are transformed by the Holy Spirit death and discontent are replaced by life and peace.

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 several ways the Holy Spirit helps us:

He seals us

lives within us

empowers and teaches us

guides, comforts, and encourages us

controls, gifts 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.

He Seals Us – He authenticates (testifies) that we are children of God. A mark of authority as an heir. He acts as a “security deposit” that guarantees the permanence of our relationship to Christ and as a surety of our future inheritance. His presence in our lives indicates ownership, bought with the blood of Christ, evidence of a completed transaction. “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14, NIV 1978).

He Indwells Us – He lives within us to guide us spiritually and to help us to act in obedience to the word. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV 1978).

He Empowers Us – He gives us spiritual and moral strengths and abilities that were not inherent in our old sin nature. He is now an inherent power that automatically resides in us by virtue of our new nature that results from our personal relationship with Christ. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16, NIV 1978).

He Teaches Us – He instills within us an ability to understand spiritual truths and doctrine that prior to salvation might have escaped us. He also causes us to recall to mind the things we have been taught when needed. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26, NIV 1978).

He Guides Us – He leads us to the right path, the true path. He does not lead us astray. He is that still small voice from within that prompts us to do what is right, discourages us from doing what is wrong and convicts us when we go astray. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” ( John 16:13, NIV 1978).

He Controls Us – As believers, with the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the capacity to put down our sin nature and do what the Father desires. We can allow our thoughts, words and deeds to be controlled by the Spirit. This is not involuntary servitude; it is an enabling by the Spirit to do the things that we really desire to do, but that in the flesh we are not capable of doing by ourselves. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:9, NIV 1978).

He Gifts Us – He gives each believer at least one spiritual gift to be used for the common good. The gift(s) we receive are just as the Spirit determines. We should focus on and use the gifts we are given and not covet the gifts that others may have. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4, 11, NIV 1978).

He Intercedes For Us – He more than represents us before a Holy God. He mediates, petitions and intervenes on our behalf. He is able to do this because, not only does He know our mind and our heart, He knows the mind and heart of God. He knows and understands what we are unable to express or convey, but He also knows the “protocol” for communicating to the great “I AM.” “We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26, 27, NIV 1978).

My Advice – 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.” (NIV 1978).

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, NIV 1978). 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? Keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Adding To Your Faith

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My Musings – Yesterday’s musings, referencing the Apostle Paul, stood for the doctrine that salvation was by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Any effort (on our part) to add to this would be futile.  In today’s text, the Apostle Peter is saying that we should make every effort (work) to add to our faith the listed qualities.  That these efforts (on our part) would be effective and productive.

Surely this is a huge contradiction between these two giants of Christianity?  Not at all.  Paul was speaking about what results in salvation (grace).  Peter was speaking about what results from salvation (good works/qualities).  Grace is the cause of salvation, good works/qualities are the effect of salvation.  Salvation is an event, developing these qualities is a process (in increasing measure).  One can have good works/qualities without being saved, but no one can be saved without developing good works/qualities.  There is no effort of our own that can gain us salvation.  But once we have gained it, we should make every effort to add to it. And yet, here’s the deal.  Even though you are putting effort into it to grow your faith, it is the work of the Holy Spirit transforming you into Christ-likeness that gives the increase.

My Advice – You cannot grow it, if you don’t got it.  Get it today.  It’s free.  By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

I Got My Mind Set On You

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My Musings – A person’s mindset is the particular way they think, their attitude and opinions about how they view things. A person’s worldview is the overall perspective from which they see and interpret the world.

As follower’s of Christ, we should have our mind set on what the Spirit desires.  This is contrary to our mind set prior to knowing Christ, where we had on mind set on what our sinful nature desired.  A mind controlled by the Spirit of God will view things the way God does.

The mindset of sinful man can only lead to death, whereas the mindset of one born of the Spirit is not only life, but peace.  The implication being that the mind of sinful man has no lasting peace.

My Advice – Set your mind on things above.  View the world and your life through the lens of God’s Word.  This will renew your mind and transform your life, as the things we take into our mind filter down to our hearts.

“And this time I know it’s for real. The feelings that I feel. I know if I put my mind to it, I know that I really can do it. It’s gonna take time.  A whole lot of precious time.  It’s gonna take patience and time, um.  To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it. To do it right, child.”  (I Got My Mind Set on You, lyrics by Rudy Clark, sung by George Harrison).

The Word – Special Delivery

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My Musings – Years ago, the Christian worldview, based upon the Word of God, was nearly universally accepted as the absolute truth in the Western world.  This worldview has eroded over the years to the point that truth is largely considered to be relative to the person or circumstances.  Pontius Pilate once asked Jesus “What is truth.”  Nowadays, many (most) would answer question with “it depends.”  But Jesus said then, and would still say today, “I am the truth,” or “my words are truth.”  Jesus is able to say that because He is the Word that was with God in the beginning.

In revelation God unveils truth; by interpretation man understands that truth.  The link that connects God proclaiming (revelation) and man perceiving (interpretation) is the inspiration of Holy Scriptures.  The inspired Word of God.

Revelation – The divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of things (the facts of Divine communication) that were previously secret or unknown.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, NIV 1978)

Inspiration – A divine influence or action (the means of Divine communication) on a person to enable him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21, NIV 1978)

Interpretation – The apprehension and understanding (the process of Divine communication) of God’s revelation to man.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV 1978)

My Advice – The first two parts (revelation and inspiration) have been done for you.  Do your best to apprehend and understand what God is saying through His Word. through His Son.

 

Mission Accomplished!

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My Musings – Been thinking a lot about the aging process here lately.  In my adult Sunday School class yesterday, we talked about the various age groups in the Body and how they relate to each other, noting that older does not always equate with more mature in the faith.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we matured as fast (at least it seems fast now that I am in my mid-sixties) as we aged?  I confessed to the class to being older (it was quite obvious, of course), but not old (some denial going on?).  I also told them I aspired to being the oldest in our Church, but was willing to be patient about it.

Back to aging, versus maturing.  In the above text, as John speaks of three ages of men (children, young men and fathers) he could just as well be speaking about the three stages of salvation and Christian maturity (justification, sanctification, glorification).

Dear Children (Justification) – A judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled – Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.  This is a past event that is accomplished through the work of the Son.

Young Men (Sanctification) – In Christian theology, a distinction is made between justification and sanctification where justification refers to having saving faith and sanctification refers to the process of gradual purification from sin and progressive spiritual growth that should mark the life of the believer – The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.  This is an on-going process that is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Fathers  (Glorification) – In the Scripture the idea of glorification deals with the ultimate perfection of believers.  It is ours by inheritance – Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.  This is our future destination through the work of the Father.

Interestingly, while these three aspects of salvation occur in the past (“have been justified through faith“), present (“are being transformed into His likeness“) and future (“we shall be like Him“), John speaks of them all as having already taken place (“have been forgiven“, “have overcome“, “have known Him“).  How each of us progress is different, and all of us experience our ups and downs, but that first act of faith guarantees the ultimate perfection of them all.  It kind of looks like this:

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My Advice –  Do not be discouraged.  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NIV 1978).”  It’s a done deal.  So, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily [those ups and downs] entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1978).”  And one day “we shall see Him as He is.”  What a glorious thought!

No Shame

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My Musings – So, if God did not give us a spirit of timidity, where did it come from?  If He gave us a spirit of power, why does the timidity win out so often?  Satan is the master of deception, convincing us of what we cannot do, when he knows very well the power that is within.  A power that he does not want unleashed.

My Advice – Listen to the Spirit of the Lord, and turn a deaf ear to the spirit of the enemy. Unleash the power, but do so in love and self-discipline.

Take Heart

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My Musings – We have a tendency to want to do things in our own might and power.  That’s a risky proposition, to say the least.  And a needless risk at that.  As His children we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.  And He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

My Advice – “I [Jesus] have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I [Jesus] have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV 1984).  And because He overcame, so will we.  Don’t take needless risks.