Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Romans: Make War

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 It is once again reiterated in this verse of Romans 8 that living in the flesh means death and living in the Spirit means life.  You have to ask yourself then; how can I make sure I’m living in the Spirit?

The Apostle Paul uses an interesting phrase here by saying “put to death the deeds of the body” and you will live.  How can we put the deeds of our own bodies to death?  How can we cease to live according to the flesh, which is such so easy to find ourselves doing?  We can’t just say we’re living for God, we have to walk in His ways.  It’s not a one time choice, it’s a daily matter of picking up our cross and following Him.

Contrary to popular view, the Christian life is not promised to be easy or painless.  In fact, it can be more painful than living in sin.  Each and every day of a Christian’s life, he or she must choose to make war against the nature of the human.  To live according to the Spirit is a choice that results in help and guidance from the Lord, but it also must mean we consciously make war against the sinful flesh we live in.  We want to do this, but we should do that.  We shouldn’t do this, but we’re inclined to do just that.  It’s a fight, but it’s not one we wage alone.

God is on our side.  Nothing else can come up against us and win.  Make war on the flesh.  Choose to live according to the Spirit.

Romans: Submission to God

Romans 8:7 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.

 When we live for our own desires, we won’t let anything get in the way of what we want when we want it.  That includes God.  It’s impossible to choose worldly pleasure as a way of life and also submit to God.

The truth is, if life is lived for self, then God is an enemy because He calls us to lose ourselves for His sake.  We can’t hold on to everything we desire and still seek to please Him.  Let’s visit that thought again with a new emphasis.  We CAN’T hold onto the selfish desires of our heart and still follow God.  It’s not possible!

Yet, so many people try to do this.  So many Christians who have truly been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ still try to live according to their own wants and perceived needs.  The very thought of putting aside those desires to seek out what God wants is offensive.  Do you see how this makes one hostile toward God?  When you think God is trying to take your stuff away, you fight Him.  That’s not the way of the Christ follower.

Submission to God means seeking first what He wants.  The good news is, He knows better than we do what’s good for us anyway.  The things we hold onto are nothing compared to what He has for us if we obey and let Him lead.  If you’re holding on, give this a try:  let go and ask what God wants for you.

Romans: Flesh is Death

Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

To be caught up in worldly things is to be ineffective as a follower of Jesus Christ.  We can’t serve two masters, though many have tried.  The simple truth is that our allegiances can’t be split between the flesh and the Spirit.  To live life as a Christian, we have to walk with the Spirit.

If anyone knew about worldly pleasures, it was Paul’s audience in Rome.  A church of relatively new believers (Christianity hadn’t been around long!), they were essentially in the capitol of the world.  Rome had so many things to offer to distract the Christians from their calling as disciples.  They had to choose whether they wanted to live like the Romans (When in Rome…) or life the lives God had in mind for them.

We all have that choice to make.  Just because we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we live effective lives.  We have to choose each day to listen to God’s voice as He directs us.  We have to choose to read His Word so we know more about His nature and His will.  We have to take the time to pray so that we can hear from Him and speak to Him.  We have to have intentional relationships with others and we have to put aside some of our own desires for the sake of reaching people.  All of these choices require us to deny the other things calling out to us.

Romans: Live According to the Spirit

Romans 8:5 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.

Is your mind set on things of the Spirit?  It’s pretty easy in today’s culture so saturated with entertainment and technology to fail to think about the right things.  Without even realizing it, we sometimes ignore God’s voice.

We live in a time when there is literally no excuse to ever be bored.  If you don’t like what you’re watching on TV, you likely have 500 other channels to choose from.  If that isn’t working for you, there are thousands of websites, many that claim to be “social” to keep you  occupied.  Magazines, smart phone apps and games, online gaming, the list is endless.  If we’re not careful we can be consumed by the things of the world.

But as Christians we’re not called to be consumed by this world.  We’re called to be set apart from it.  In the world but not of it, if you will.  The only way to truly be effective for God’s purposes is to set aside the many pleasures this world has to offer for the sake of doing what we’re called to do.  That doesn’t mean we never have fun or never set aside time for pure entertainment.  It just means we have a different worldview from which we operate.  We set our mind on the things of God and when we do that, the other stuff out there pales in comparison.

Receive the Gift of Power

The Commands of Jesus Series

  Luke 24:49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as My Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Those of us that know the Lord have an awesome source of power that we need to be sure doesn’t come unplugged.

The Holy Spirit takes care of us directly and he gifts us gifts so that we can do things that we couldn’t have imagined doing. (1Cor 12:11). Check out what he does for us:

  • He is our Advocate that will always be with us (John 14:16).
  • He will be there to lead us into truth, he will teach us and he will remind us of the things that Jesus already taught us (John 14:26).

It was not intended for me to follow Jesus commands without any help. I need to be sure that I am as powerful as I can be by staying in the word each day and praying for God’s direction in every detail of my life.

The Soul of Faith

Ultimately, for as much control as we may give God in our lives, for as much as we may say that He leads us, in free will, we are defined not by faith but by the worth we place on it in the love that we have. For though it is our faith that ultimately saves us, it is love that “covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Over the ages, considerable time has been spent debating how one truly becomes the most effective disciple of Christ, the way that one can most successfully use their faith. After all, it is James who reminds us that our faith, if it is without works, is dead. It holds not the power to save us because it has grown as stagnant, as hard and as hollow as our hearts. Our works, they represent the spirit and the soul of our faith. (James 4:14-26)

Let us consider that for a moment. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” You see, the soul and the body represent a special relationship with each other. Though one may be able to exist without the other, the body is ultimately created as a vessel for the soul, yet it is not the body that defines the soul, but rather the soul that gives its value to everything the body does, and is. Faith can exist without works, yet those works, much like the soul to the body, give faith its inherent value, its intrinsic worth in the most basic and fundamental of ways.

For faith then to hold substance it must be the vessel of our works, not only bearing its fruits but containing them, carrying them, and offering them as the means by which we edify, strengthen and uplift others. Faith, to hold significance, must be expressed by a life given in love to others. Without it, we can speak with tongues, we can seek to understand, to fathom the mysteries that surround a great and mighty God, and eloquence can drip from our mouths in defense of faith, yet it is the shell of what it must be because it gains nothing and offers less. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

How then do we love? How then do we serve as the effective disciple? This itself is easily answered by our blessed Savior Himself, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.… whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:31-46) It is to look at the world, to see the need around you with clear eyes, and, as Christ Jesus Himself had done, answer the call in patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

Though the ultimate act of love was the sacrifice of that Lamb of God who took away the sins of world, that was one example of Christ’s love amongst so many as great as it was. His ministry, His life would be eventually defined by that singular act of love in service to us, and yet it was a road paved by every act of healing, each act of giving, and the meaning that was behind it. It was a path that was laid down by His rejection of evil, hatred, slander and bitterness as we are taught the new commandment: to love one another as Christ Himself loved us. (John 13:34-35)

In the end, nothing can save us short of the faith that we have. Yet it is the character and the nature of our faith that it is the God who judges the heart who holds a power over us. Consider rightly the Lord’s admonition to the prophet, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Are we, as the disciples of a living God to define our own faith, and thereby seek to build our own vessels for it, ones that seek to hold faith but are cracked and broken, with the dwindling waters it holds stagnate? Or are we to pour forth living waters with fresh springs of the Lord that quench the longing thirst of the spirit and the soul?

Let your faith be a vessel for love and the works thereof. See the world as it is, a place in desperate need of healing and hope, and let the soul of your faith shine as the means of love for others. In this way we can be the effective disciple, the effective believer God and Christ intend for us to be through the power and the strength of the Spirit working through us.

Regeneration

Ordo Salutis

Ezekiel 36:26  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Have you been born again?  What happened the first time you were born?  Did you have anything to do with it?  When your mother and father conceived you, were you in control of the decision to be born?  What about in your spiritual rebirth?  Did you have any control of the decision to be reborn?

It’s worth viewing the words chosen by the Holy Spirit as He inspired the writers of the Bible as intentional and meaningful.  Even the more metaphorical phrases have deep meaning.  It’s no coincidence that the Bible speaks of someone who is saved as being “born again”.  Just as we couldn’t choose to be born, we can’t choose to be reborn.  God made us alive spiritually by giving us a new life (Ephesians 2:5).  He gives us a new heart.  He gives us the right to be adopted as His children by being born again (John 1:12-13).  It’s a gift, and we had nothing to do with it.  We didn’t earn it and we sure didn’t deserve it.

Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He gives us new spiritual life.  Whereas once the Gospel was foolishness to us (1 Corinthians 1:18), through His work in us it begins to make sense and we are drawn to it (Romans 1:16).  This is because we have been given a new understanding and a new heart that longs for God.  Regeneration brings us from spiritual death to life.  Now we have the ability to possess the saving faith required to respond to the Gospel by accepting Christ.  This is all a gift of God as He pours out His grace on us.

Spirit-filled

A disciple

Romans 8:9  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.

How can a disciple continuously walk the path set before him/her?  How can we know what way is right so that we don’t step to the right or to the left of the perfect course God has for us?  We’ve been given a navigator, an internal guide to keep us from wandering.

Jesus walked side by side with His disciples while ministering on the earth.  They had a perfect picture of what God wanted for them, but even then they were not perfectly walking on the right path.  Even with Jesus among them they made a lot of bad choices.  But now in our time we don’t even have Him walking among us.  If they got it wrong on so many occasions, what hope do we have?

Jesus didn’t go away and leave us alone.  For a time He instructed His disciples to wait, but then when they received the Holy Spirit they were filled with power.  They had been sent the third person of the Trinity to dwell within each of them.  He guides, He comforts, He convicts.  A disciple hears God’s voice within and knows it well.  When the Spirit speaks, the disciple listens.  It’s a way of life.

The power of the gospel

Witness

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,t as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

How can I lead someone to Christ through my witness?  It’s intimidating to think about someone’s salvation hinging on whether or not they submit to Christ based on our testimony about Him.  But when we focus on our part of it, we lose sight of the fact that it’s not up to us to convert souls.  Our job is to witness for Christ, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to get people to respond.  We’re not ultimately responsible for the decision made.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power for salvation.  It’s not  in what we say, it’s in the power God has given through the work of Jesus on the cross that people are saved.  Sometimes even if we mess up the message completely, a person will still respond to the gospel.  It’s that powerful.

But we’re not off the hook in the work that needs to be done.  Yes, salvation is found in the gospel and a person’s response to it, but they won’t hear the truth if we don’t present it.  They can’t respond to the Good News if it isn’t delivered.  Our lives are lived as a witness and our testimony is given so that people may know the gospel and all it means for their lives.  The gospel is the power, but we’re the conduit by which that power gets plugged into souls.