Life in the Spirit, part 2

Life in the Spirit

Part 2

I believe each of you wants to do right, but sometimes we choose to do wrong. Sometimes we don’t know what to do. At those times, we often decide what is right by watching others or following their advice. That can lead us into error.

For example, there was occasion one night at a White House dinner and President Calvin Coolidge was at the head of the table. On either side of the table, there were about a dozen dignitaries and everything was going great until they served coffee at the end of the meal. Calvin Coolidge committed a terrible breach of social etiquette: he poured his coffee into a saucer and began to blow on it. He even added a little cream and sugar. Everyone at the table was aghast because that was something so uncouth – but because the President was doing it, every single one of them poured their coffee into their saucers and began to blow on it. You can imagine their alarm when suddenly he bent over and put it on the floor for his cat!

One popular way to do the right thing is to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” That’s not a bad idea, but it can be frustrating, because we don’t always know what Jesus would do, and we can’t always do what Jesus would do. Fortunately, Jesus provided a better way for doing the right thing.

He said in John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The best way to do right is to surrender to Jesus Christ and follow Him by obeying the Holy Spirit who lives inside of those born again of God. This life in the Spirit is a completely different way of thinking and living. It takes the focus off of ourselves and puts it on God. In fact, this life in the Spirit requires us to focus on God.

Romans 8:5-11 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

This passage is contrasting a mind set on sinful flesh with a mind set on following the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are aware of this conflict for attention. The conflict between our flesh and the Spirit is an indication the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. What we set our minds on determines our entire lifestyle and destiny. A mind set on things of the flesh produces a deadly lifestyle. Actually, it’s not a lifestyle at all–it’s a death style. The mind set on the Spirit produces life.

Notice it says “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Most people think the way we please God is by ceasing to sin. And the thing we learn in Romans 7 and from our own experience is we don’t have the power in our flesh to do that! Attempting to please God, by trying keep the law and not sin, leads to frustration without faith in Christ.

We spend a lot of mental effort trying to get rid of bad thoughts, bad deeds, and bad habits! The easiest way to get rid of these things is to put our faith in Christ for salvation and set our mind on the Holy Spirit who will lead us and replace those bad thoughts, deeds, and habits.

Romans 7:6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Don’t put your faith in your ability to stop sinning. Put your faith in what Jesus, the Son of God has done and ask your Father in Heaven to fill you with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said in Luke 11:13, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The Holy Spirit empowers us to live for God. We must set our mind on Him and yield to Him every moment of the day. If we don’t understand this great truth, we are going to walk around frustrated in our faith.

Secondly, Romans 8:9 says, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Now, whether or not we like it, there are only two kinds of people on the earth: those who belong to Christ and those who don’t belong to Christ.

How can we distinguish one group from the other? Jesus said in Matthew 7:20, “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Regrettably, we are all intimately familiar with the fruit of the flesh. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is found in Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Which fruit are you producing? To which of the two groups do you belong?

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test!

Unfortunately, there are people professing to be a Christian without possessing the fruit of the Spirit of God. They may attend church, but they haven’t been born again of the Spirit. They still live in the flesh. They don’t realize they remain lost in their sin and unbelief.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

This is not a command. This is a fact. It is not professing a religion that saves a person. You can profess all day long that you are a believer and a follower of Jesus, but if you haven’t been born of the Spirit, you don’t possess the life of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. In that case, the Word of God says you don’t belong to Christ because the Holy Spirit is Jesus in us! Without the Holy Spirit, Jesus will say, “I don’t know you, because I am not in you and you are not in me.” That is why the Holy Spirit in us is a critical issue. Don’t ignore this in yourself or when you share the Gospel!

Thirdly, without the Holy Spirit, we will be living, but we won’t have life. You may ask, “How can a person live without life?” The New Testament was written in Greek, which has two different words for ‘life.’ “Bios” is one word for life. We get our word biology from it. “Bios” speaks of the physical life. The other word for life is “zoë”. This is the word used most often to speak about a quality of life–about a spiritual life.

For example, Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it to the full.”

Jesus wasn’t talking about the physical life. He said, “I have come that you might have a quality of life (zoë) and you might enjoy it to the fullest.” There are a lot of people who have ‘bios’ but do not have the life Jesus promises.

1 Timothy 5:6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.

So the mind set on the flesh leads to sin and death while we are still alive, and eternal death after our body dies.

On the other hand, this passage in Romans 8 tells us the mind set on the Spirit produces a life of peace and joy in Christ Jesus. Is there anyone who really doesn’t want to live a life that’s full of joy, love, security, peace with God, and the peace of God? The only way we can live that way is to have our mind set on the Spirit. So, it is critical that we are born again of the Holy Spirit and filled with Him.

Jesus said in John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Jesus is telling us that we become, literally, the dwelling place for the Spirit of God when we become a Christian who loves Him and obeys Him.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

This historic building we are in right now is not the temple of God. In the Old Covenant, God had a temple for His people, but now, under the New Covenant, God has a people for His temple! Our body is the temple of God, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God indwells a Christian and we are to obey that Spirit.

More than being indwelt by the Spirit, we are to be filled with the Spirit. It is not an option. It is a commandment for every born again, baptized believer.

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit

You may say, “Now wait a minute, isn’t being indwelt by the Spirit the same thing as being filled with the Spirit?” By observation, personal experience, and the Word of God, we know it is not the same. A believer is always indwelt by the Spirit–but not always filled with the Spirit.

Let’s face it. Everyone in this room, who is a Christian, is indwelt by the Holy Spirit—but are we always controlled by the Holy Spirit? No, because sometimes our mind is set on our flesh! The choice is ours. We can set our mind on our flesh, or we can set our mind on the Holy Spirit, repent, and allow Him to control us.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not getting more of God–it’s God getting more of us through continual repentance, death to self, and prayer. It is emptying ourselves of self-determination, self-will, and pride so that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit and controlled by Him.

Why do you think the apostle Paul said, “Don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit,”? Why didn’t he just say, “Don’t commit adultery but be filled with the Spirit.” Why didn’t he say, “Don’t steal, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Why didn’t he say, “Don’t lie, but be filled with the Spirit.” Because, when he said, “Don’t be drunk with wine,” Paul was making a contrast and a comparison.

Most of us realize, when a person is under the influence of alcohol, they act differently. They don’t use the same judgment. They are emboldened to do things they would never ordinarily do.

Well, being filled with the Holy Spirit is somewhat like being drunk with wine, in that, we are under the influence of the Spirit of God. We act differently. We think differently. The Holy Spirit doesn’t make us do bad things. He makes us do good things. He gives us a spiritual boldness, an empowerment to do the will and work of God.

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit. That’s when the life of Christ is being reproduced in us. That’s when the fruit of the Spirit is exhibited in our life. We don’t do it. It supernaturally happens because we are surrendered to the Holy Spirit and filled with Him!

Therefore, the key to life in the Spirit is not trying to imitate Jesus in the flesh. The key is surrendering to the Spirit of Jesus inside of us, yielding to Him, and allowing Him to live His life through us. Complete surrender to the Holy Spirit gives us power to testify for Jesus with every act and word. Being filled with the Spirit is what makes us ambassadors of Christ.

So, why aren’t more Christians obeying the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Quickly, there are three reasons.

Number one is ignorance. They do not know what I have just told you—that it is a command for every Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Number two is unbelief. There are some Christians who don’t believe God the Holy Spirit can control them. They think that was for the apostles. They’re still trying to work out their faith and salvation in the flesh.

Number three is unconfessed sin. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit. He is a holy Spirit, which means He produces holy living, holy thoughts, and holy motives in us. So, if there is unconfessed sin in our life, we won’t be filled with the Holy Spirit until we confess our sin and repent.

Belonging to Christ is not about religion. Belonging to Christ is about being in Christ and Christ being in us. So, we must be born again of the Holy Spirit to become a child of God and we must allow the Spirit of Christ to fill us and control us. The Holy Spirit will renew us, change us, transform us, and conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. It is a continuous process all of our life.

2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Remember in the Old Testament where God gave manna to the children of Israel to nourish them while they were in the desert? Remember, they had to go out every day and gather fresh manna. If they tried to rely on yesterday’s manna, it would spoil.

The same is true with our relationship with God. Without a daily renewal of the Holy Spirit, we become stale and dry and cold and indifferent. We cannot rely on yesterday’s spiritual power! We need refreshing from the Holy Spirit every day to face the present.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Many are missing the Kingdom of God by living according a tradition of laws and rules, which causes them to set their mind on their flesh. There is no peace and joy in that kind of life. Instead, there is constant insecurity about their salvation. Also, they live with condemnation of self and they condemn others based on the laws and rules.

We find the Kingdom of God by being filled with the Holy Spirit, who will lead us to do right things, moment by moment, that are not contrary to the Word of God. Knowing we have heard God and obeyed Him is righteousness, which gives us God’s peace and joy.

Are you living in the Kingdom of God or is your Christian life one of frustration from trying to do right and failing? Does the Holy Spirit possess you or are you just professing it. Are you experiencing life in the Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy, or is your life stale, dry, cold, and indifferent to the things of the Spirit?

Jesus wants you to experience all of His abundant life, but you must give Him all of your life. This is a daily dying to self, a moment by moment yielding to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, repent of your self-will and ask the Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit.

Of course, this assumes Jesus is your Lord and Savior. If not, then you must first put your faith in Jesus, the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross.

What does it mean “to put your faith in Jesus”? Well, if someone really believes something, they act on it, for we do what we really believe. All the rest is religious talk that does not save us from our sin.

So, if you really believe Jesus is God, Lord, and Savior, then act on that belief by publicly confessing Jesus as the Son of God, repenting of your sin, and giving your life to Him in water baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will lead you, teach you, and guide you into a life in the Spirit.