This is part 8 in the Bible study series: "Let Us Keep the Feasts". We all need help. Aren’t we all in need of spiritual help and direction in our life? Even more than a little help, we need power - spiritual power from our Creator God. How does God’s spirit work powerfully in us? In today’s study, we’ll discuss God’s Holy Spirit and how to recognize the Spirit in our lives.
[Steve Myers] Before we begin the Bible study tonight, why don't we go ahead and ask God's blessing on our study, and then we'll get right into things, okay? So bow your heads please and we'll ask God's presence and blessing.
Great loving Heavenly Father, thanks so much for Your wonderful ways. We are so appreciative of Your Word and the opportunity to come together and study Your Word and understand maybe even a little bit more thoroughly what Your plan and Your purpose is all about. Thank You for caring for us. Thank You for opening our minds to Your truth. We pray for Your presence and guidance as we study Your Word, and that You would help us to understand Your way even more thoroughly. So we thank You for this. We put it all into Your hands and ask Your inspiration, ask Your guidance and Your presence. And we pray it all by the authority of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well, tonight we have the last in our series of Let Us Keep The Feasts. We are on the verge of the Feast of Pentecost coming up on this Sunday, and so this particular study focuses a little bit more in that direction. Being the last one in the series, it's going to focus on the Holy Spirit in us. And there are some remarkable things that the Word of God shows us when it comes to the Spirit of God. We're going to delve into that this evening in this last of the series of Let Us Keep The Feasts.
One of the amazing passages that always strikes me reading through the book of Romans is where the apostle Paul says some amazing things. If you think of the apostle Paul, what normally comes to your mind? Maybe you think of this amazing man who wrote most of the New Testament. Maybe you think of that man who traveled all around the known world at that time, and perhaps a man who put his life on the line for God's way. He was beaten, and he was stoned, and he was shipwrecked and went through all of these things in order to preach the Word of God. And God used him in powerful ways.
Many times, we think of Paul in that regard, and yet, in the book of Romans, he says something interesting when it came to his own perspective of himself. In Chapter 7 in the book of Romans, he talks about the challenges that he faces. He talks about the difficulties that he has to confront in himself when it comes to doing the things that are right, doing the things that are spiritual, doing the things that would please God. In fact, as he comes to a conclusion in Chapter 7, he says, "Oh wretched man that I am."
Seeing himself for what he is, he says, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" And when I think of Pentecost, I often think of those sections of Scripture. Because how is it even possible that we, like the apostle Paul, who live in a body of death, who are sinners, who fall short of the ways of God, how is it even possible for us to change? How is it possible to become more like Christ? How is it possible to grow in grace, to grow in knowledge? How can we be different?
Well, there's only one way. There's only one way, and the apostle Paul came to that conclusion as well, one way to be different, one way to change, one way to be Christ-like. And that only way possible is through the power of God's Holy Spirit. That's it. That is the only way. And so, over and over again throughout the Bible, we'll focus on the power of God's Spirit, and that Spirit within us. Because that is the only means that we can be spiritual. It is the only means by which we can become more Christ-like. It's the only way possible.
In fact, remember when the New Testament Church began. We were given a formula for that very thing. Remember when Peter was giving that sermon. In fact, it was on the day of Pentecost, when he was speaking, and he went through a little bit of a history of Israel, talked about how they got to where they were, came to the conclusion that many of these people that were there crucified Christ. They had a part to play in it. And we know, by extension, we do too, because it's by our sins that Christ was crucified.
And the conclusion Peter came to, after spelling it all out, after they yelled out, "What are we supposed to do? Men and brethren, what should we do?" I said it a little differently than Paul, but there's only one way: repent and be baptized. And by that baptism and that repentance, you receive the Holy Spirit and so then you have the power over sin. You have the power to change, the power to be more Christ-like. And so he set that formula outright from the very beginning of the New Testament Church, to repent, be baptized, receive God's Holy Spirit. And that can change everything, that can give us a whole different perspective... it should give us a whole new perspective.
In fact, Paul told it a little bit differently to the church of Corinth. If you look over at 2 Corinthians 3:2 2 Corinthians 3:2You are our letter written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
American King James Version×, as Paul was writing to God's people in Corinth, he's writing a letter to them. He's writing an epistle, a letter to the church. And as he's thinking of God's people there, he draws to their attention a little bit different way of looking at themselves. Since he's writing a letter, maybe that's something that came to his mind, thinking that, "Well, you're kind of like a letter. You're kind of like an epistle." And so he writes that very thing in 2 Corinthians 3:2 2 Corinthians 3:2You are our letter written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
American King James Version×. He says, "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men."
That's an interesting thing. Everybody looks at us; they see us; they know who we are; they recognize our behavior. Well, what kind of letter am I? Am I a cordial letter? Am I an angry letter? Am I an impatient letter? Am I a friendly...what kind of letter, what kind of epistle would you be?
Well, he says to Corinth, "Clearly, you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the spirit of the living God." And if we're to be God's people, we claim to be Christian, the kind of letter we are is not a handwritten note, penned out with ink. That's not what we are. An epistle, we are a letter written by the Spirit of God. And so that should change everything about the content of that writing. It should change everything about the content of our lives. So he says we're not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is of the heart. God's Spirit is in us and works through us. Verse 4, "We have such trust through Christ toward God." Not that we're sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.
So even though we are this letter, we've been given God's Spirit, where do we find our sufficiency, as he says, or our effectiveness? How can we be a part of what God's doing? How do we have any spiritual growth, any spiritual abilities, any spiritual competence or sufficiency at all? Well, he says that that's by the way we're written, by God's Holy Spirit. And so the only solution, the only answer, the only way to grow and to change, the only way to cast off sin is through the sufficiency that is from God that comes to us through His Holy Spirit. So only by God's Spirit. And so whether it be here to Corinth, or whether it's in Romans where Paul talked about the power of God's Spirit, is something that we should abound in. And that Spirit was so prominent on that first day of Pentecost when Peter gave that amazing sermon. And you remember how it was on that very first day when the New Testament Church began.
You remember that story, how the Spirit was obvious? God pours out His Spirit and there were like tongues of flames, of fire, that danced around on the disciples. There were powerful signs and miracles of languages and hearing. That was a pretty powerful exhibition. I think, in a number of ways, that is evident power. I think power can be exhibited at least in two ways that I can think of, and one would be like that first Pentecost. What happened on that day? I mean, it was just miraculous. And that power was unleashed, you might say, as God poured out His Spirit.
But you know what? You just think about power in general, it can be harnessed. Can't it? Can you harness the power of a river with a dam? Well, yeah, you can. Is it possible that God's Spirit is like that? Well, on the first Pentecost, it certainly was unleashed, you might say, almost like taking a 10-gallon can of gasoline. You take that 10-gallon can of gasoline, you open up the lid and light a match. What's going to happen when you throw that match into that can of gasoline?
It's going to be unleashed powers. It's going to explode, right? It's just going to pow! Amazing. If you've ever poured gasoline on some leaves or something like that, look out, stand back because it's going to go, right? You take that same 10 gallons of gas though, put it in your car, and it cycles through your engine, what happens then? Well, then you've harnessed the power of that gasoline. It could take you hundreds and hundreds of miles because you've been able to use that power.
And I think in a lot of ways, God's Spirit is exactly like those two things. It could certainly be unleashed like an amazing explosion, but it can also be harnessed. And if you think about how God works today, unlike that first Pentecost when God's Spirit was just exploding on the scene, there was this burst of the power of God as the New Testament Church began, it seems today that we're in it for the long haul. We need the power of God's Holy Spirit so that we can continue to live our lives.
We have the power of God's Spirit that we can tap into, that's going to be with us for the long haul, for the rest of our lives. And so I think in that way, God has blessed us with that power throughout our lifetime to overcome, the power during our lifetime to change, the power to become that finished product that He wants us to be, to be a different person, to be a changed character, to become Christ-like. And if that's going to happen, we must have the Spirit of God. It's an absolute requirement. It is the only way.
In fact, the question is raised in the book of Acts. If you turn over to Acts 7, look at verse 48. In Acts verse 48, I think it talks a little bit about that harnessed power, Acts 7:48 Acts 7:48However, the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as said the prophet,
American King James Version×. It talks about the harnessing of this power of the Spirit. In fact, it poses the question, almost like Paul asked those in Corinth, "What kind of letter are you? How are you written?" It's posed a little bit differently here in Acts 7. Look at verse 48, after talking about Solomon's temple, how Solomon built this amazing, grand, spectacular building, we see the point though, it's verse 48, "The most high does not dwell in temples made with hands." And then we have a quote from the Old Testament in Isaiah, "Heaven is My throne. Earth is My footstool. 'What house will you build for Me?' says the Lord, or 'What is the place of My rest?'"
So here we have a quotation from Isaiah reminding us "Hey, let's talk about the spiritual things for a second." Yeah, Solomon built this amazing physical testament to God, but what about the spiritual side of things? What kind of house will you build for God? Is it even possible for us to build any kind of a spiritual house? Well, he says that's not going to be possible without His Spirit. Without His Spirit, we can't do this. At verse 50, he says, "Has My hand not made all these things?" It's going to take God's hand in our lives. More than just His hand, it's going to take His Spirit in us. Because He says, verse 51, "You stiff-necked, uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you."
Well, I hope not me. I hope not you. But it's the lesson here that he's trying to tell us. The only way this is possible is by not resisting. In fact, not only not resisting, but submitting to that Spirit. The only way it's possible to build a spiritual house, to house the very essence of God, is to submit to His Spirit, and it's by His power. So that requirement, once again, he spells it out so clearly. We are to be a spiritual house. We are to be a spiritual building. We are to be the people of God, and the only way that is possible is through His Spirit.
And boy, it is difficult. It is hard - change. We've been called to the most difficult job there could ever be, to be different. To be different people, to recognize who we are, to recognize where we came from, who we are at our base nature, the things that made us this way, the influences that we have to deal with every single day. We have to recognize those things and we have to recognize we're fighting a spiritual battle. There are spiritual forces out there that are against us, that will overwhelm us. If we don't have the spiritual help we need, how could we possibly...we can't do this on our own. It is impossible. And so, over and over again, we have these passages that remind us of that very thing, that we have to absolutely be submissive to God's Spirit in us in order to be different, in order to be Christ-like, otherwise, there isn't any hope. We can't build that building that we're told we must build.
In fact, he says it a little bit differently in the book of Ephesians. Paul writes to Ephesus in this letter, in this epistle. And in 4:22, instead of talking about a building being the spiritual building, he uses a different metaphor. Notice the metaphor that he uses here in Ephesians 4:22 Ephesians 4:22That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
American King James Version×. He says, "Put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lust." That's a carnal physical letter written with ink. Well, that's not what we're supposed to...we're supposed to be this spiritual letter. The old man, the old person, the person who we are normally, naturally, that's what he's talking...he says, "Get rid of that." Get rid of that because that's wearing out; it's growing old; it is deceitful; it is full of sin. Solution? Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.
It says, "Put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness." Now, we know that's only possible by the Spirit of God. So he says, "Put on the new man." Be renewed in that Spirit. Be submissive to that Spirit of God. And instead of all the things the old man would do, all the things that old person, that normal everyday unconverted person would say, even the things that he would wear, that's not what we're supposed to wear anymore. So he says, "Get rid of that. Take it off. Get rid of the old stuff, the old way of thinking," and then he says, "Put on righteousness. Put on holiness."
And literally, that "put on" in the Greek means to clothe yourself. So change your clothes. Get rid of the old stuff and put on the new clothes, the new man. Because there's things we have to do. We have to clothe ourselves. Even some of the more modern translations will translate that, "Put on, clothe yourselves in the new man, the new way of thinking." Only possible by the Holy Spirit.
We have that opportunity. God's called us to do that very thing. And sometimes we forget the obstacles that we face. It's a tough world out here. It's hard to submit to God. And the only means we can is if we have help. I was reminded of this years ago. I saw this old World War II magazine. It was written for soldiers at the time. And on these two pages, they had a couple of illustrations. One picture on one side of the page was a picture of a tank. It took up the whole page. And then on the other side, was this itty-bitty little soldier with a rifle. So if you can imagine this thing spread out, here's this giant tank and this little soldier with a rifle. It looked like this tank is moving, ready to just run this little guy right over.
Well, you flip the page and here's that tank on the next page. But on the other side, here's this soldier, and this soldier is a little bit bigger than the tank. I was like, "Well, what's the deal with that?" Well, instead of having a rifle like on the other page and this itty-bitty little soldier, when you flip the page and you got this big soldier and this tank a little bit smaller, he's got this giant rocket launcher over his shoulder aimed at the tank. That was just a pretty amazing reminder to me. I mean, the point was, you better be armed if you're going to take on a tank, right? You're not going to win with a puny little rifle. All the bullets are going to fly up. But if you've got the right equipment, you can beat a tank. You can beat a tank.
And so, boy, what a reminder. We're like the soldier. We are. So the question is, what do we have for our weapons? Do we have the weapons that God says we need? If we're going to succeed, we've got to have a spiritual rocket launcher to overcome all the enemies that are out there. We're fighting not a physical tank; we're fighting a spiritual warfare. We are fighting spiritual wickedness in high places. And without the power of God's spirit, we can't overcome.
So the day of Pentecost reminds us we've been given a spiritual rocket launcher. We have that living in us through the power of God. We have His Spirit. And so we don't have to be a tiny, little soldier fighting this gigantic tank. We can overcome Satan himself because we've been given that power of God. I don't think we should ever forget that, that it is an amazing blessing that we have the power over sin because of God's grace and His mercy, because of His calling, because we had hands laid on us. We can overcome. Even the biggest enemy can be beaten with the power of God's Holy Spirit.
And so sometimes when we feel like we're that little soldier, maybe we've got to rethink things, maybe we've got to realign our lives, maybe we've got to refocus to make sure we understand who is on our side. And that in reality, we're not that teeny, little, tiny soldier but we have the power of God. In fact, I was reminded of a little story, kind of a military story as well. You may have heard it. This new recruit was in boot camp. And as they're going through different exercises, the sergeant had them all line up.
They're supposed to be ready for exercises, and the one soldier doesn't have his rifle. The sergeant immediately sees him and he goes over and starts yelling at him, "Soldier, where is your rifle?" And he said he was just scared to death, he said, "I lost it," and the sergeant said, "You lost your rifle? That is uncalled for. You are going to pay for that rifle." Of course the soldier said, "I can't pay for that. I have nothing. I have no money." He said, "I don't care. You're going to pay for that rifle if it takes the rest of your life." The soldier said, "Oh, now I know why the captain goes down with the ship."
But the thing is, think about it. We can go down with the ship if we don't have the power to overcome. We can go down without the help of God. And so we need God's Spirit in us. It sets the tone for everything. When you begin to think about it, think about the amazing benefits, the blessings, what would never be possible unless God has called us, opened our minds to His truth, we've been baptized and received God's Spirit. One of the greatest blessings, because of God's Spirit in us, we begin to think about this, we have understanding. And not just everyday understanding, but we've been given spiritual understanding, as God has worked with us and opened our mind.
How did that happen? Not because I was so smart, or so brilliant, or figured out the Bible, or came to this new understanding. That's baloney. That was not me figuring this out. That was God, through His Spirit, opening our minds to His way, period. That is the only way.
Paul wrote this to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Corinthians 2:9But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
American King James Version×. He makes it so very clear that the only means, not only to change, but the only means to spiritual understanding is by the power of God's Holy Spirit. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Corinthians 2:9But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
American King James Version×. He begins to make it very clear, 1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Corinthians 2:9But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
American King James Version×. First, he has a quote from the book of Isaiah, once again. We were in chapter 66 before, now we're in chapter 64 now, I believe. And he quotes, "It's written. Eye has not seen nor ear heard nor entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him!" So what can we figure out on our own? You're not going to be able to see it. You're not going to be able to understand it. It doesn't even enter into your thinking. No way. It's not possible.
So now you'll say, "Okay. Well, forget it. I don't know anything. I can't figure out anything. I'm lost." But see, that's not the case either. It's different because of the Spirit of God. He says, verse 10, "But God has revealed them to us." By what means? "Through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things. Yes, the deep things of God." So where does spiritual understanding come from? Comes from God through His Spirit. It's by God's Spirit that it's revealed to us. He says, "What man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him?" I can figure out human things. Okay, maybe I'm not that good at math, but I can work with it a little bit. I can get a calculator, figure some of those things out. Yeah, normal everyday human thinking, yeah, I've got this ability, this cognitive ability through my brain to do some of those things, physically speaking.
But spiritually speaking, verse 11, "What man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man that's in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." That's the power that makes it possible to understand who God is. What is His purpose? It gives us the ability to understand who we are. What is God's purpose for me? Without God's Spirit, it's not possible at all. And so we're not like the world as what Paul says, "Here we've received not the spirit of the world." We're called to be different. “But the spirit who's from God that we might know the things that we've been freely given to us by God.”
God started the whole process. It didn't start with me. Not that I was wondering what is my life all about and what is my purpose. No, God started the process. God caused me even to ask that question to begin with. What in the world am I doing? You see, He calls us. He opens our minds. And so it's by His Spirit that changes our perspective, that even brings those thoughts to mind that can alter our view point. It's what changes our way of thought. It gives us that spiritual insight. And it gives us the ability, ultimately, to have the mind of God.
That's the conclusion He comes to. Look at verse 13, "These things we speak not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches." You see, in a way, we're instructed by God through His Spirit, is what He's telling us. And He says that's teaching us spiritual things, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, which is in contrast to the ways of the world. Then ultimately, He says down in verse 16, "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" Well, nobody does. But we have the mind of Christ. We've been given that opportunity, and we see, Paul says it's by the power of the Spirit. We understand His purpose. We understand His plan. We understand what our life is all about. We understand what His motivation is. We understand what His purpose for each and every one of us because of the Spirit of God.
And because of that, that changes everything. That can change our whole perspective, the whole meaning. And so, over and over again, Paul tells those in Corinth, that's what they have. They have got Spirit. And sometimes they weren't acting like it. Sometimes they had it but they weren't submitting to it. They were contrary to it. In fact, in 1 Corinthians is one of those letters that it is amazing that these people are considered a part of God's church when they were acting the way that they were. Paul draws that contrast between utilizing that Spirit, being submissive to that Spirit, and ignoring it, and doing your own thing, the ways of the world versus this new creation that we're supposed to be. And he compares and contrasts that throughout the book.
In fact, he gets to an amazing passage in Chapter 12. It's a whole section about spiritual gifts, and he says, "Here is where those kinds of gifts come from." And of course, whether it's spiritual understanding or spiritual gifts, where does it come from? It comes from God by means of His Holy Spirit. That is the only way possible. It's through that Spirit. And so, I don't think you ever want to come to the point to say, "When I found the church," or "When I came to the truth," or "When I..." Whoa, wait a second. You did that? Or did God do that? Was God calling you? Was God drawing you? Was God utilizing His Spirit to pull you and draw Him to Himself? You see, that's really where it begins, and without it, it can't even begin. It can't even start. So it's the beginning and then it's what continues to propel us on.
In fact, I think that's an important aspect of God's Spirit in us. Because once He's given us His Spirit, from there, how does it work? Does it force us to do things? Now, there are some passages that seem to imply a little bit of that. But how does God's Spirit work in us? I think when we begin to notice, most oftentimes through Scripture, the way that God deals with us through His Spirit, we could say that it guides us. It leads us. What's another word? It could impel us.
And when you think about how that happens, we recognize that it's not going to force us to do anything. There's a passage in the Gospels, John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version×, gives us some insight into the way the Spirit works within us, John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version×. Here we are near the end of Christ's physical ministry. And before the crucifixion, He begins to tell the disciples the ways things are going to work. He's going to talk to them about His Spirit. He's going to talk to them about how things will continue to go even after His death and after His resurrection.
And so by the time we get to John 16, down in verse 13, he addresses the Holy Spirit. He tells them that it's going to be given to them, a little bit down the line, a few days from this particular point. John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version×, he says, "However, when He, the spirit of truth has come," of course it was Acts 2, the day of Pentecost, when that Spirit was ultimately poured out upon them, "When He has come," and we know it's better translated “it” – the grammatical thing here – "it will guide you into all truth. For it will not speak on its own authority but whatever it hears, it will speak. He will tell you things to come."
So, we can glean from this. When that spirit of truth comes, it will guide us. It will lead us. We have the potential to walk a godly path because of the Spirit. So, it doesn't say it's going to control you, does it? It doesn't say that it's going to force you. It doesn't say it's going to direct you in this way, that you're not going to be able to make some other choice. He’s saying you're going to have the chance to choose. It's going to guide you. And what are you going to do? And what's your response going to be to My direction? Are you going to allow the Spirit to direct you, to urge you to be that guy, to be that lead or not? So He says it's not going to be a forced issue.
So in order to follow that Spirit, in order to be submissive to that Spirit, we've got to lead where God directs. We've got to be attuned to His Spirit, and we've got to be willing to be led. But see, "I normally know better myself. I know what I want. I know where I want to go. I know what's best for me." Yeah, that's my human nature talking to me. That's sometimes all too often my guide. But He says, "Wait, I'm going to give you a different kind of a guide." Just think of what a guide does. If you're going to go hunt big game, the guide's going to take you to where it is. He's going to show you their habitat. He's going to show you how you deal with this. He's going to make sure you have the right weaponry in order to bring down this big game. But they're not going to do the hunt for you. They're not going to pull the trigger for you. Well, maybe, depending how much you pay them, they might.
But He's going to lead us to what needs to be done. And God's Spirit is certainly in us in that same way leading us, guiding us, impelling us, directing us in that way, giving us the opportunity to choose the path of God. In fact, in Romans, just after Paul got done talking about that wretched man that he was, but that we all are, in Romans 8, he defines, I think even a little bit more clearly, how do you determine who God's people even are? How could I be sure that I'm a part of God's way? Is it possible to know? Well, I think, in a way, Paul has come to that conclusion here in the book of Romans. In Romans 8, he zeroes in on this very thought, in verse 11.
Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×, he says, "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." So now we see we can be a spiritual building, we can be a spiritual structure for God because we house God's Spirit. It is in us. It is in our hearts and in our minds. It is dwelling in us. So he says, "Brethren, we're debtors not to the flesh to live according to the flesh." That's the old way, my normal everyday way of thinking, the carnal way of thinking. He says nope, that's not it. You put to death the deeds of the body. He says you will live. You will live. Point? Verse 14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God."
So he makes it pretty clear how am I a part of the family? How am I a part of the Church? Can I really know? Where am I really being led? Am I being guided by the Spirit? Or maybe the better question, am I following? I may be being led by, but am I following? Am I following the lead of God? Am I truly accomplishing what He wants for my life? Because His Spirit is going to be that lead. It's going to be that guide that's going to help us to discern between the right and the wrong. It's going to help us to decide and discern between what's true and what's not. It's going to help us, and lead us, and guide us into truth, and not falsehood, what's not foolish and what is right. God's Spirit is going to lead us into what's best, not what's okay. And all too often I think maybe that's what we settle for, an okay. I'll get by. It's all right. Maybe good enough. But is it really?
You see, He's pointing out, you want the best? Submit to God's Spirit. Don't settle for okay. And boy, every single day, aren't we faced with choices and decisions every single day? Where are you going to go in the Bible and find out, "Well, my boss yelled at me today. How should I respond?" Well, here is the passage that you ought to turn to that says, "Your boss yelled at you today, here's what you should..."
It's not going to address that directly and specifically, but by the means of God's Spirit, we know there's other passages that would certainly apply. And by the Spirit of God, it will help us to utilize His Word and use the lessons that are here so that all those choices that we've got to make today can be spelled out more clearly. We can have insight. We can make the right choices. We can be led by God's Spirit to do the right things, to do the things that are pleasing to Him.
And a little later on here, let's see, where is it? Yeah, down in verse 16, 8:16, "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit. We're children of God." Well, does it? If we are, it does. If we're led by that Spirit, we're guided by God's Spirit, the only conclusion you can come to is, one plus one equals two. I am led by the Spirit. I am submissive to God's Spirit. I am a child of God. If I'm not being led, I'm not following that lead, then I've got to come to a different conclusion, because He tells us that Spirit is the spirit of truth.
And so God does guide us, lead us, gives us that spiritual understanding. And it's not that God's Spirit helps me to determine in that sense that, "Oh, I was inspired by the Spirit. I'm doing this." I think that could be pretty dangerous if we're not careful, don't you think? When you really begin to consider "How does God lead me or guide me?" is it just this inspiration that I received, that "Wow, this is what God wants me to do"? Does it normally work like that? Or is there a way that we're directed, that we can know that, "All right, God is inspiring me. God is directing me"?
I think there is. And it's not just by, "Wow, this came to me, and this is what I need to do." Because if you really notice the way that God works through His Spirit, He speaks to us not necessarily in a dream or in this vision, or just by this inspiration that I might receive; God works through His Word. By the Word of God, He speaks to us. By His Spirit through His Word, He directs and guides and leads us.
In fact, when you look to what He says in 2 Peter 1, Peter spelled it out. He spelled out that this guidance, and this direction, this inspiration, isn't something that we come up with all on our own. That would be outside the bounds of what God's intent and purpose is all about if I'm just going to come up with it, "Well I was inspired." Wait a second, what is it that inspires you? What is it that should direct you? I think it better start with the foundation, otherwise, we're going to be off.
2 Peter 1:19 2 Peter 1:19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
American King James Version×, here Peter says, "So we have the prophetic word confirmed." The words of prophecy are confirmed. God's Word is sure. And so he says, "Would you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place?" Well, my life is a pretty dark place without the Word of God. Without God's Spirit, we are in darkness. We better allow the Word of God to shine in us. His Word better be that inspiration, that direction. Through the power of God's Spirit, it's through His Word that He speaks to us.
And so he says, that's what we look for, verse 20, "Knowing first, no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation." Prophecy never came by the will of man. Of course this is a prophetic book. This isn't by men. Did Isaiah write Isaiah? Well, maybe physically he wrote it. Did Paul write the epistles? Well, physically speaking, well maybe a scribe did, or maybe Luke did. Some of it...maybe other. Wait a second, the inspiration of God, God wrote this. God inspired it. God directed it. And that's what's most important.
That's what Peter's telling us here. Nobody came up with this on their own. God inspired and directed this by the power of His Spirit. It never came by the will of man. Verse 21, "Never came by the will of men, but holy men of God spoke..." How? How is this Word here today? What was the inspiration for their messages, for their prophecies, for their sermons, for their preaching the gospel? All of those things it says, "They were moved by the Holy Spirit." They were led, and directed, and guided by the Spirit of God. That's the only means possible.
God speaks to us today by His Word. So it's not just by whatever inspires me. His Word better inspire me, His thoughts. This is His thought. This is His Word. This is what His speaking is all about. And so this is what we're led by and guided by. So when we know the Word of God, we can submit to it and be led by the Spirit to obey, and follow, and do the things that are right. Because God's Spirit definitely does those things and moves us in that regard, to follow His Word.
One way that I often will tell some of the students when we're counseling for baptism, and you think about the way that God's Spirit works, I think sometimes God can nudge us by His Spirit, or guide us, whatever synonym you want to use there. One object lesson that came to my mind one time was, we were in a situation where a member and I, we were talking one time - this is many, many years ago - and he says, "Yeah, I had to have my car in this week. I had to spend almost $1,000 getting it repaired." And I was like, "Oh, wow. That's terrible. That's too bad." He said, "Yeah, my check engine light came on a while ago, and here it cost me all this money."
Well, I picked up on this “a while ago” and I said, "What do you mean the check engine light came on a while ago?" He said, "Well, I suppose it was about six months ago it came on, and I just kind of ignored it and kept going. And then the dumb thing broke down." I got to thinking about that a little bit. What do you do when the check engine light comes on? He ignored it totally and kept driving, and then ends up with a $1,000 repair. And I think sometimes God's Spirit kind of works like that check engine light. We tap the dash and hope it just goes off when it comes on. Oh, boy. Sure.
In a way, that check engine light is saying, "Hey, something's going on here. You better be careful. You better watch out. You better get a check up. You better get lined up. You better be sure there isn't a big problem here." It's that little bit of a guide, a little bit of an idea that, "Hey, something's happening. You better be careful." And I think, in a way, God's Spirit works like that, doesn't it? Like the check engine light comes on.
And if we're sensitive to it, we have an understanding of His Word and we're honest with ourselves, we're striving to please God, we're striving to be submissive to Him, that light's going to come on and we're going to do something about it. We're going to take it in for service. We're going to check our attitude. We're going to check our thinking. We're going to check our decision-making. We're going to check our thinking to make sure it's going to line up with God. Because hey, it might not be serious. We know that temptation isn't sin. Christ was tempted and He didn't sin.
That check engine light might be that temptation that comes on, and God's Spirit is going to nudge us and move us and say, "Wait. The red light came on. Now what are you going to do? You're going to follow my lead, or are you going to ignore it? Are you just going to keep going the way you're going? Are you just going to keep driving for a couple of thousand miles until, whoa, you are now in deep trouble?" You see, I think, in some ways, like the guy in the lead, it's almost like the check engine light the way God's Spirit can work with us. So I think that's one thing that through His Word, we need to become more sensitive to the Spirit of God, to the way that God's working in our lives. And as we do that, we can sure avoid so many of the pitfalls that are out there.
In fact, he probably didn't have a check engine light in mind, but over in 2 Corinthians 10, here the apostle Paul once again writes to God's people in Corinth, and you can kind of see, in a way, how this fits with this check engine light that could come on and flash before us, and what are we going to do about it? He points this out in the battle that we're fighting as we fight our human nature. We fight our normal everyday way of thinking and strive to put on the mind of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3 2 Corinthians 10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
American King James Version×, he says, "Or though we walk in the flesh, we don't war according to the flesh."
So if you remember our World War II picture of the giant tank and the itty-bitty soldier, well, we are facing a giant enemy out here. And he's saying you don't have to be that itty-bitty soldier. Don't wage that kind of a war. Verse 4, "The weapons of our warfare, they're not physical; they're not carnal, but they're mighty in God for pulling down strongholds." That's what they are. They're not just human weapons of war; they are spiritual.
We've been given divine power. We've been given authority, spiritual authority, over enemies, over their tactics, so we can rely on God's power. So in verse 5, he says, "We can cast down arguments, every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." In fact, he says, "We can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Wow, that's phenomenal. I'm not there yet, bringing every thought into the captivity in the obedience of Christ. You think God's given us that kind of power and that kind of authority? He says absolutely. "Absolutely," he says, "that's what we have."
So verse 7, "Don't look at the appearance, the outward appearance." We get locked in the physical so much. No, that's not what we should do. He says we have to think like Christ. Be convinced He is Christ. "Let him again consider this in himself that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s." Just like we read a little bit earlier, we can have the mind of Christ. We can have His kind of thinking, and that is by the guide that He gives us, by the means of His Spirit.
And so what a powerful blessing this is. And in fact, it's not just a blessing for now because it sets a whole tone for what life is all about and what the future holds as well. One of the amazing things when you consider God's Spirit is that, yes, it gives us insight. It gives us a different viewpoint. It can, as we submit to it, do all of those kinds of things. But there's also this future aspect to the gift of God's Holy Spirit that we certainly don't want to minimize whatsoever. So as you begin to think about what lies down the road a little bit farther, we know that God's Spirit is a guarantee. God's Spirit is given to us...maybe we should turn. We're right near here. If you flip back to chapter 1, 2 Corinthians 1, look at verse 21.
2 Corinthians 1:21 2 Corinthians 1:21Now he which establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God;
American King James Version×makes this very point so clear. He says, "Now He who..." Did I say 1 Corinthians? Hopefully I said 2 Corinthians 1:21 2 Corinthians 1:21Now he which establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God;
American King James Version×. "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God." God's anointed us. He set us apart for His very purposes. How does He do that? Verse 22, "who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." So God's Spirit guarantees a certain thing. What exactly is the guarantee? What is God saying, "This is my promise"? What is it? Well, we're set aside. We're anointed. He says, "Sealed."
"We're set apart by God," he says. It's God who has done this, a seal and anointing, the Spirit that's given to us. Who do we belong to? Well, He's saying, "You got My stamp. You belong to Me." And like a letter, it's going where I intend it to go. Christ is going to return and He says, "We are sealed. We're designated as His." It's like God's name being put right on us. Maybe it's like a brand. When you brand cattle, you know who it belongs to, right? It doesn't belong to the guys in the black hats. It belongs to the guys in the white hats, right?
It says, "We belong to them." And so it marks who's in charge, who's the owner. God's done that to us. He's our owner. We carry His seal, His brand, His claim to our lives. It's His sign, that we are His people. And in a way, God's saying, "These are My people. Nobody's taking them out of My hands. They are Mine." And so it's by the power of His Spirit that that is accomplished. It's a guarantee. In fact, Ephesians says much the same thing, if you want to flip over to Ephesians 1. It says it just a little bit differently, but I think it brings out the point as you look at the way that Paul words it, writing to God's people in Ephesus.
Ephesians 1, notice verse 13. Ephesians 1:13 Ephesians 1:13In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
American King James Version×, he says, "In Him you also trusted after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." God says, "You are Mine. You belong to Me." And then as we see what He says here, "We are sealed..." How? "With the Holy Spirit." And verse 14, "it is a guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory."
It is a guarantee. God's Spirit is a pledge. You look this up in different translations. He says, in some of the other translations, it's a pledge; it's a promise; it's a down payment. It mentions all of those different words in various translations to say that it is a guarantee. One of the translations says it's a first payment. Well, first payment of what? What is it a down payment of? Well, it's that same terminology that you might use in real estate today if you're going to buy a property, you have to put down a down payment. And that's a guarantee. You put down a little bit to guarantee that the big amount is coming later.
God's given us His Spirit as earnest money, like earnest money, like a guarantee that He has pledged that the rest is coming. So we have God's Spirit today, but we're still physical human beings. But the promise is the inheritance, that we will be spirit. When Christ returns, full payment is coming. And so God's Spirit is a guarantee. He tells us it's absolute. “You can't take this out of My hands. You are sealed. As long as you follow Me, I'm not going anywhere. You're going to be a part of My way. You have My word, the inheritance. The rest is coming. We're going to finish this sale. It's going to be complete. The transaction is going to be done when I return.”
In fact, verse 14, if you look at this in the Living Bible, Living Bible says this in verse 14, "His presence within us," talking about God's Holy Spirit, "His presence within us is God's guarantee that He will really give us all that He promised." So we can read through the promises. What's the surety? What's the guarantee? What's the promise, the down payment, the earnest money? What's His Holy Spirit? It's a guarantee that eternal life is on its way.
So what an awesome blessing, when you begin to think about that. And that ties in so beautifully with what that guarantee is all about. It's a guarantee of eternal life. It's a guarantee of eternal life which begins, for most, by the resurrection, right? By the resurrection. It's the promise of the resurrection that we have by the Spirit of God. We know that it's true, that because of the guarantee of the Spirit that's been given to us, we can be guaranteed the inheritance, ultimately, eternal life and the resurrection.
Romans 8, we were there a moment ago, but maybe we can begin to tie things up as we look at Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×gives us this amazing promise. Romans 8, and beginning in verse 11, it tells us so clearly here about this amazing guarantee, this promise of eternal life. It says, "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies." How? "Through His Spirit who dwells in you." Who dwells in you. In fact, we read verse 16 earlier, "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit. We are His children," look at verse 17, "if children, then heirs – heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ." He says, "Indeed, if we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together the promise of eternal life and the resurrection by means of His Spirit."
And so the powerful promises of God, you might write down Colossians 3, where it says so clearly there, "When Christ who is our life appears..." What about us? Well, if we have that guarantee, we have Christ dwelling in us, we have His Spirit, it says, "You will appear with Him also in glory." You too will have eternal life. You will be resurrected. He tells us, "I'm the resurrection and the life." It's through Jesus Christ. "And he who believes in Me..." says, yeah, he might die, but he's going to live. He's going to live, that's the promise of God. And so, no wonder Paul wrote the fact that I want to know Christ and the power of the resurrection.
The power of the resurrection by means of God's Spirit is eternal life. It is eternal life. And so we have the power of the resurrection, not just in the future, but that's a present thing. The power of the resurrection, I think, is also reflected in baptism, that we were dead and buried under the water, and we were resurrected to be a different person, to new life. And so our life today after baptism is supposed to be lived by the power of the resurrection because God's Spirit will resurrect us in the future to spirit life, we're to be different right now. And ultimately, I think that's the power of God's Spirit that's going to transform us.
We're kind of back to where we started. Through the power of God's Spirit, we are being transformed. Maybe one final Scripture, 2 Corinthians 3:17 2 Corinthians 3:17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
American King James Version×lays that out so clearly, "By the waters of baptism and the receipt of God's Spirit, we're to be different people." We're to live by the power of the resurrection through God's Holy Spirit right now. And the guarantee of being spirit is right down the line at the return of Christ.
So 2 Corinthians 3:17 2 Corinthians 3:17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
American King James Version×makes it so clear. It says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there's liberty." What kind of liberty? We have the freedom to follow God, to obey Him, to be blessed with all the blessings that His Spirit brings. He says, "We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image." We're being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. He says, into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
And so we are called to become like Christ, to be Christ-like, to have His thinking, to have His attitude, to have His mind, to submit our lives to His Spirit. That's our calling. And so, yes, we are wretched men and women. Outside the bounds of God's Spirit, there is no hope. There is no hope. But because God manifests Himself in us, He's given us His Spirit, His essence, we can't just have faith. We can have the faith of Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×says that very thing. “I'm crucified with Christ, but nevertheless I live.” Well, not I. I'm not living anymore, not my way, not my thinking, not my answers, but Christ lives in me. I live by the faith of Jesus Christ.
We have that opportunity because of God's Holy Spirit, and so we don't have to be those wretched human beings that we started out to be. We can be different. We can be God's people. In fact, okay, one more passage. I got to turn to this other one because it is one of those summary passages. Ephesians 2:18 Ephesians 2:18For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
American King James Version×, it gives us this insight, I think, that points to this very fact that it changes everything, changes who we are, changes our perspective, changes our relationship to others, and of course, most importantly, with God as well. Ephesians 2, look at verse 18. It says, "Through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father."
Our whole access to God is by His Holy Spirit. And so what an amazing blessing that is? Without His Spirit, we don't really have access to God. Now he says, verse 19, "Therefore, you're no longer strangers or foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." We are God's household. We are His people; we are His children by means of His Spirit. Verse 20, "Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone," it says "in whom the whole building being fitted and together grows into a holy temple in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."
So together, we can comprise the household of God, and it all happens through the power of God's Holy Spirit. We'll hear a lot more about this in the next few days as we come to the Feast of the Pentecost. We'll hear so many things. We've basically just touched just a couple of aspects of how God's Spirit works in us and works through us, and how we need to submit our lives to Him. Do a study on it. Go to ucg.org. Just type in "God's Holy Spirit" and you will see an amazing number of articles that will come up to help supplement your study of how God works in us and through us. I think it's something certainly you never want to take for granted. So maybe do that before Pentecost. Take some time to study how God works in us and through us by means of His Holy Spirit.
All right. Well, that'll do it for tonight. Two weeks from tonight we start a brand new series. It's going to be focusing on the 7 Churches of Revelation. And so we'll talk about all the various churches in Revelation 2, Revelation 3, and we'll focus in prophetically on what it meant for times past and what it means for now and into the future. So we'll talk about those 7 churches. We'll start with a general overview that'll be brought by Mr. Peter Eddington on June 3, so two weeks from tonight. I hope you'll join us for the beginning of that series. It'll take us all the way up to the Feast of Tabernacles. It'll be hard to believe, but it'll take us all the way to that time of the year. So the 7 Churches of Revelation, our next series. So hope you'll join us next time. So thanks for coming and have a good evening.