We are living in a virtual reality. Nothing we see is real. All that we can physically see or touch in this world could be gone in a second. The Holy Spirit, however, is eternal. It is important to fully appreciate this unseen power that guides the universe.
Many of us have heard of the term virtual reality, haven't we, especially here in the last decade or so. Virtual reality is a way for a person to escape present surroundings and become immersed in another world – usually immersed in a cyberspace world, an imaginary or simulated world that is generated from within the memory of computers and then reflected into a somewhat real form of oral and visual technology. And you've heard of virtual reality – often it's through goggles and helmets and gloves where you feel like you're somewhere else.
You know, there's a Virtual Reality Society. From their website, they explain "The Virtual Reality Society (VRS) is an international society dedicated to the discussion and advancement of virtual reality and synthetic environments… VRS is a registered charity and fosters a truly international membership through which it communicates and disseminates its collective knowledge." There is also another company entitled Essential Reality. On their website they say, "As computers have advanced they have become easier and easier to use. Installation is a matter of a push of a button. Pictures or icons represent commands. Step-by-step guides walk you through tasks. But that's only the beginning. In fact, it's 'old hat'. What's new and next is essential reality - like walking through a store or a game world as if you were really there or viewing a precisely detailed piece of jewelry that you can touch as if it were right in front of you." And there are presentations available today that allow you to pretend in a very dramatic way that you are involved in affecting the outcome of something that actually does not exist at all. While immersed in the presentation it seems virtually real to you to the point where people have had heart attacks from it being so real and they've almost died of fright. You are able to interact with the cast members of some very elaborate multi-media programs and the cast members seems to respond to you as you navigate your way through the computer-generated world. You seem to affect the outcome of situations as the computer responds to your input.
And some virtual reality demonstrations are so convincing that you may forget that what you're experiencing is not real at all. Perhaps you're wearing one of those sophisticated electronic helmets that provides all of your visual and audio senses inside this cyberspace world.
Perhaps you have electronic sensors attached to your body that tell the computer every move you make so that it allows you to see and hear what is decided by your movements in this world. Imagine what the computer can take you through: perhaps a thrilling and daring roller coaster ride where you really feel like you are there; perhaps a stroll through a pleasant countryside hearing the birds chirping, the warm spring morning as the flowers bloom; perhaps the computer can make you feel like you're at the White House witnessing an important peace agreement being signed. Or maybe you witness a frightening battle in the Middle East. You actually see a suicide bomber doing his work.
Well, as we can well imagine, there can be use and misuse of such technology and, as always, mankind finds a way to corrupt invention, but the inventive genius of virtual reality can be put to good use. The training of airline pilots in flight simulators is a very good example. Modern simulators provide a virtual reality that seems so much like the real aircraft that it responds to every flight control that the pilot makes and this provides a way to train pilots in a situation where they won't kill anybody – and it actually counts as flight time. It's logged in their book because it is so real, so authentic, so genuine. And, of course, this is virtual reality. It seems really real, but it is not real.
Now our lives on this earth are temporal. We are told that we are just sojourners for a brief period of time in this life. There comes a time when each of us returns to the dust of the ground. In a way, our lives are not as real as we might like to think. We are living in a reality that is only there because of an unseen power that provides for our existence, an unseen power that is more real than we are, an unseen hand that guides the celestial orbit of the planet we live on - the true force that may be with us.
Now we've talked a little bit about the virtual reality of cyberspace in the computer world, something that we know is not really real, it's just our imagination taking us to another place in our minds as we are stimulated by motion and visual and audio effects. But there is something even more real than what we think is real in our day-to-day lives.
Let's follow this thought a little further along here as we get into the sermon and we'll see where the subject is headed today because we are going to look at something that is infinitely more real and powerful than anything we can find around us – more real than anything we can even imagine. There is an unseen power that operates in our lives as Christians and in the universe as a whole, the Holy Spirit. And, of course, this is a timely topic as we prepare for the Feast of Pentecost tomorrow. So let's expand our thoughts a little bit more and look at a topic related to virtual reality. A subject often covered in movies and books and video games and on television is that of time travel and the possibility of living forever.
Mankind has a curious fascination with eternity. Some people actually have their bodies preserved after their death just in case the medical profession finds a way to negate their death and is able to bring them back to life again. It is called cryonics. You've heard of cryonics. From the Cryonics Institute (Cryonics.org) what is cryonics? The answer: "Cryonics is a medical technique designed to save lives and overcome illness and suffering. It involves cooling patients to the point where molecular physical decay completely stops and the expectation that scientific and medical procedures currently being developed will be able to revive them and restore them to perfect health later on. A patient held in such a state is said to be in Cryonic Suspension." Have you ever seen the Discovery Channel, you know, an hour special on it or anything like that – these canisters with bodies in them, frozen to zero Kelvin almost, where molecular activity stops. These people pay a lot of money hoping to be revived one day in a better world where the disease they died of will be negated and they can have good health later on. In fact, some people only have their heads cryonically suspended because they believe that the rest of their body can be recreated at another time and all they need is their brain and so that's the cheaper way to go, apparently.
So, "Can cryonics be performed on living people?" they ask on their website. Answer: "Legally, not yet. Obviously it would be better to cool a patient before illness causes so much physical damage that it results in death. But it's not presently allowed by law even for someone in great suffering or with a terminal illness. We expect that one day it will be under carefully controlled conditions once revival from cryonic suspension can be demonstrated." They haven't actually brought anybody back yet – they've done it with animals and tissues and organs, but not with mammals or humans yet. But they expect that that will come. "Cryonic suspension cannot hurt. Sick and dying, you close your eyes and we expect that when you open them again a second later you will be healthy and well and in the future." We see this fascination with living forever. Science and science fiction often dwell on the possibility of humans finding a way to become immortal, to find a way to remove the causes of death.
But the majority of mankind does not realize that it is actually possible to live forever without sickness and disease and pain and suffering anymore. Mankind is trying to find a way to do it himself. You will have difficulty finding out how this is possible by reading scientific journals or magazines. The true answer will not be found in those journals. In fact, it is impossible to find out how to live forever by human means. The secret to avoiding eternal death is not cryonics and the truth is being well disguised in our world today and through the centuries.
Cyberspace and virtual reality offer ways to escape the immediacy of this present moment and become immersed in a temporal fantasy. But there is something more real than our own lives and something more real than any kind of virtual reality – there is a force and power at work of infinite power that is permanent, that is eternal. And this is not recognized by mankind today who is being blinded from seeing this powerful reality – the powerful reality that there is a God who created the universe, who created us and has a plan that will enable each person, if he wishes, to live forever in a truly real way, if that person so chooses.
The distractions of our modern life draw us away from the reality of our God and connect us with something called virtual reality – something temporary and not really real at all. A handbook, a journal, a diary, a textbook has been provided for us. It will help provide the connection to reality that mankind so desperately needs. This textbook is able to answer the great questions of our existence that scientists are unable to respond to. You won't find these solutions in today's philosophical or scientific journals – and you all know what I am referring to, of course. That's why you are here today looking forward to the Feast of Pentecost tomorrow. God's very real words of truth and life are preserved for us in what is called the Holy Bible. Here we can find the real reasons for our presence on this planet, for our presence in this city, for our presence in this very room, why we are here today on this particular day of the week.
The physical molecular things like this lectern that we think of as so real are really not. As you examine them closer and closer, you find that they are vibrating, they are moving. There is space between the molecules like there is space between the planets. But we think of it as solid. All that we see around us here is so unreal that it can be vaporized and disappear in an instant if God, through the power of His Spirit did not sustain it. The physical world is really a fake world that He created in order to carry out a plan here below. And one day the physical creation will become spiritual in each of us being in the God family. That's when it really becomes real! We're in a temporal existence here right now. This stuff can disappear in an instant, but spirit doesn't.
Notice a very important sentence in Romans, chapter 8 (let's turn over to Romans, chapter 8 and verse 13) one that has been preserved for almost two thousand years in this book. It begins to give us a perspective on the topic that we are looking at today. This topic is the actual reality of the power of God, His Holy Spirit, which can be found connecting our life to His in a most real and profound way.
Rom. 8:13 - For if you live according to the flesh you will die... that is what mankind is trying to negate ...but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. This is not just talking about living for seventy years.
V. 14 - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
So here we see a mention of the Spirit of God. Now there is another spirit that is mentioned in the Bible, a different spirit. It's called in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 – we won't turn there right now, but 2 Corinthians 11 verses 3 and 4 - if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted... of course, you know what that different spirit is: it is the spirit of this world. But there is also God's Spirit.
What does God's Spirit do? I have summarized ten points that cover how God's Spirit works and, obviously, this can be quite a large subject so I have just selected ten key areas here to look at. You can add more to it, I'm sure. It's a good subject for us to look at as we approach the day of Pentecost on God's holy day calendar.
The Spirit of God - its identity, its nature, its form, its value – is not understood by most people, even by most sincere and professing Christians. Many assume they know. If you talk about the Spirit of God out there, many people think they know what you are talking about, but they don't really understand because this world has been confused by a false teaching that God's Spirit is actually a separate being from the Father and Jesus Christ. And this undermines an understanding of who and what God really is and our potential to also be glorified and the fact that the Holy Spirit is the power of the Father and Son that makes their work possible.
Let's look at our 1st Point and that is that God's Spirit is omnipresent and permeates the whole universe. God's Spirit is omnipresent and permeates the whole universe. Turn with me to Psalm chapter 139 if you would. Psa. 139. Read verses 1 through 10 here.
Psa. 139:1 - A psalm of David - O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
V. 2 – You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
So God understands what we're doing from way away, from afar off.
V. 3 - You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
V. 4 - For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
V. 5 - You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
V. 6 - Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.
This is mind-boggling stuff is what David is saying. And then look at verse 7.
V. 7 - Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
God is omnipresent. There's nowhere you can go where He isn't.
V. 8 - If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in the grave, behold, You are there.
V. 9 - If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea... if I sail off as far as I can thinking I can get away from You like Jonah did,
V 10 - Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
And so you see, God's Spirit is so real that it exists everywhere. There is no place where it is not. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as the power or mind of God that exists everywhere. We recall from Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. It was just there. It moved upon the face of the waters.
And in Psalm 104 and verse 30 that God's Spirit was sent forth and the earth was renewed. God's Spirit enveloped the earth and it was renewed. It's how God gets things done and it's everywhere.
Imagine for a moment that even if the physical universe was vaporized and disappeared, the Father, His Son and the power of the Holy Spirit would still be there. In fact, there was a time when this universe didn't exist. Scientists can figure out approximately when it was created. They call it the Big Bang Theory. But you can go back in time and figure about when it was that this universe came into existence. There was a time when it wasn't here, but God's Spirit was. His Spirit has always been here, always been there. God is the ultimate reality and the physical universe must be sustained by Him and His Spirit is omnipresent.
Secondly, God's Spirit is a force that awakens our minds to His majesty and power. It is a force that awakens our minds to His majesty and power. King David became acutely aware of the majesty of his creator. He felt so little compared to God that he wondered why God would even care who he was. God's Spirit led David to understand just a little bit about the destiny of man and God's plan.
Psalm chapter 8 – let's go back to Psalm 8 verses 1 through 9. This is a psalm of David, once again.
Psa. 8:1 - O LORD, our God, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!
We start to see a little bit about the majesty and power of God here.
V. 2 - Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
V. 3 - When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
V. 4 - What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
V. 5 - For You have made him a little lower than the angels... The Hebrew word there is Elohiym. Some translations say: "You have made him a little lower than God." Of course, we start to see some of what our true potential is in that verse, don't you, to actually become a part of the God family, but not as high as the Father and the Son. A little lower than God. A little lower than the angels, some other translations say. ... And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
V. 6 - You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
V. 7 - All sheep and oxen -Even the beasts of the field,
V. 8 - The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.
V. 9 - O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! said David.
So his mind began to be awakened to the majesty and the power and the beauty of God. God's Spirit working in our minds leads us to understand just how awesome He is including things we can observe about the physical universe around us.
Don't forget the awesome power of conversion - the miracle of conversion - how God's Spirit awakens our minds to understand His plan. And this is something that is not possible without the intervention of God and His Spirit, unless He calls us, unless He enables us to understand. Sure we may be able to understand the beauty and glory of God by looking at the heavens, by looking at the creation, examining flowers and animals and appreciating what has been created, but conversion is an even greater miracle. It's something you don't find yourself or see. Ephesians chapter 2 verses 1 through 10 for example. Let's look at that. Here we see the great miracle of conversion, the majesty and the power of God here in this verse that awakens our mind through His Spirit.
Eph. 2:1 - And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins... You know what that means: 'being made alive'? It means being offered eternal life!
V. 2 - in which you once walked according to the course of this world... there was a time when we didn't understand these things ... according to the prince of the power of the air, that spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience... that's the other spirit!
V. 3 - among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh... we all were once in bondage to that spirit ... fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. It's a time when we didn't understand - when we served a different spirit.
But now, verse 4:
V. 4 - But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
V. 5 - even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
V. 6 - and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
V. 7 - that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
V. 8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
This is not something we can attain ourselves. This is the miracle of conversion.
V. 9 - not of works, lest anyone should boast.
And verse 10 - For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The work of God in each of us is an incredible thing. Like I said, you can see the universe, you can see the planets, you can see a beautiful flower. Conversion is something that happens on the inside. In times past, we were as good as dead because of our sins as we read in verse 1, but now we can be raised up to sit together with Christ in His kingdom. Our minds have been awakened to understand our hope and our destiny through God's Spirit, to stand in awe of the majesty of God and His plan for mankind.
So that leads us on to the third point which ties in with the first two and that is that God's Spirit is a power that connects us with Him and awakens our minds to His truth and provides spiritual understanding and discernment. It's a long one, but God's Spirit is a power that connects us with Him and awakens our minds to understand His truth and provide spiritual understanding and discernment.
And this brings us to 1 Corinthians chapter 2, a very famous passage regarding not just the spirit we have in man, but the Spirit of God working in man. 1 Cor. 2. Here we see the connection that God has with us through His Spirit.
1 Cor. 2:6 - However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
V. 7 - But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,
This is something the average person doesn't understand as we see here in verse 8.
V. 8 - which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
V. 9 - But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things, which God has prepared for those who love Him."
And so the scientists of this day are struggling to prolong life. We have virtual realities where people try to escape the realities of this world and mankind cannot understand what God really has in mind for us.
V. 10 - But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
It is His Spirit that enables us to have a connection with Him, our Father, and to be awakened in our mind to the truth.
V. 11 - For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?... So there is a spirit in us ... Even so no one knows the things of God except by the Spirit of God.
So that's what makes the spiritual connection between us and our Father in heaven.
V. 12 - Now we have received, not the spirit of the world... not that other spirit ...but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
You see, here is the connection between us and Him.
V. 13 - These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
So this is not something you can learn from the wisdom of man, from the scientists of the day. No, this kind of understanding, this connection with our Father in heaven can only come through the Holy Spirit. And as we said earlier, which a lot of people don't understand what it even is. They believe in the Trinity. They don't believe in the Spirit being the power of God working in the universe. Through the real power of the Holy Spirit we can acquire the mind of Christ - the mind of God – and grasp His truth.
Ephesians chapter 3, verses 1 through 5:
V. 1 - For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ - Jesus for you Gentiles –
V. 2 - if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given to me for you,
V. 3 - how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery... and as he says in parentheses ...(as I have briefly written already,
V. 4 - by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
V. 5 – the mystery which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:
You see, this mystery cannot be understood – the mystery of God's plan, the gospel message – cannot be understood properly unless it's revealed by the Spirit.
Notice John chapter 14 and verse 16, a passage that we read during the Passover service around Passover time, here we see the Spirit of truth mentioned. This is where we come to understand what real truth is.
Jn. 14:16 - "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever,
V. 17 - "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive... and that's why the church today is called the firstfruits - the first ones to understand - because the world cannot understand this yet ...because it neither sees It nor knows It, but you know It, for It dwells with you and will be in you.
V. 18 - "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
V. 26 - "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 things that I said to you.
So the Holy Spirit helps us to remember and learn and understand the truth of God. And God expects us to enhance that connection that we have with Him on a daily basis. God expects us to use the Spirit that He has given baptized members of His church. He expects us to develop an understanding of what is right and wrong, to discern, to know. His Spirit interacts with our spirit, with our consciousness that we may discern. And it is a discernment that builds over time as the Holy Spirit works in you.
We may have heard that we shouldn't judge. That's not true. God expects us to recognize when something is not right and reject it. He is not asking us to condemn other people, to send them into the Lake of Fire. That's for Jesus Christ to judge. But He does expect us to discern when evil is present, to notice when things are ungodly and to reject knowledge that is not based upon His Word. He expects us to judge in that way, to use the discerning power of His Holy Spirit. And this discernment comes from the reality of the power of the Holy Spirit that is imparted to us and we recognize sin and its consequences.
And now we are starting to get to the core of understanding the real power of the Holy Spirit. This is something that we cannot see, yet it is more real than any virtual reality game, in fact, more real than even our temporary earthly existence here today, more real than our temporary surroundings that we have around us that can disappear in an instant if God so wishes.
Point #4 - God's Spirit keeps us in tune with His wavelength and interacts with our spirit. God's Spirit keeps us in tune with His wavelength and interacts with our spirit. Of course, there is another wavelength out there that is also trying to interact with our spirit – the spirit that works in the hearts of disobedience. But God's Spirit will keep us in tune with His wavelength, His channel. Now as we read in 1 Cor. 2, verse 11, there is a spirit in man. We are reminded of Job in ancient times talking about that spirit that is in a man. God's Spirit connects our consciousness, our mind, our understanding with Him and it brings us together on a spiritual plane above the physical, on a spiritual level between us and Him. We are flesh, not spirit, but we have a spirit within us that enables us to have a spiritual connection with our Father in heaven. There is an infinite difference between flesh and spirit. God's Spirit carries His qualities of power and character and mind – His very nature. And God is able to take His Spirit and actually put it within us humans. And when He does so, He puts a little bit of Himself in us and some of His power, some of His character, some of His nature in us and our mind gets awakened to a spiritual understanding that we didn't have before as carnal human beings before conversion.
Romans chapter 8 and verse 16 very, very plainly says - The Spirit Itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
So our understanding, our heart, our mind, our spiritual consciousness has borne witness by God's Spirit that we are children of God. What does that mean? It is kind of like what we were reading back in Psalms where we have this potential, this destiny, this opportunity to be at the God-plane level.
1 John 3:24 - Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which is given us.
So those converted members of God's family, of God's church have a Spirit – God's Spirit – given to them and that's how we know Him. And He interacts with us, guides our thoughts, leads us in correction, pricks our consciousness when we do something wrong and we know we shouldn't do that and we repent. The Spirit that God gives His people is a very real thing. It actually happens. It changes your life to the point where the early apostles were accused of turning the world upside down. Really, they were the only ones that were right side up when they received the Holy Spirit and truly came to understand. When God first gave His Holy Spirit to the New Testament Church at their first Pentecost service, He made it appear and be visible by tongues of fire coming out of heaven and resting upon each of them. He wanted to make sure that in this very first instance everyone realized that He was imparting something special to them. Something different was now happening. A very real source of comfort, encouragement, understanding and power was given to the early New Testament Church and to those subsequently. And this Spirit actually bears witness with our spirit, the understanding God wants us to have.
Point #5 – God's Spirit imparts the power to overcome and put to death the deeds of the body. The power to overcome and put to death the deeds of the body. Back in Romans chapter 8 again, this is a passage I quoted earlier on.
Rom. 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.
See we can overcome death and you can forget about cryogenics. That's not how you do it! You can overcome death and truly live if you have the Spirit of God within you and you are using it and you are part of His family. It is through the Spirit that we put to death sin and are actually able to live. This provides a reality that we never really had before conversion. This is talking about eternal life.
Galatians chapter 6 and verse 8 - For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption... you will die ...but he who sows to the Spirit... the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God ...will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
When we put to death the deeds of the flesh and incorporate the power of God in our lives we actually do away with the permanent death and reap an eternal life. As the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1, verse 4, we become partakers of the divine nature. You start to take on the nature of God Himself and then when you die you can be resurrected and have a spirit life as a son or daughter in God's family. That's His plan and this is something you don't understand - that the kings down through the ages did not understand – that the great leaders of the world did not understand because they did not yet have the opportunity to have God's Spirit impart this knowledge to them.
This leads us on to the next point - Point #6 - and that is that God's Spirit prompts us to do His will in everyday examples and situations. God's Spirit prompts us to do His will – not our own will, but His will. In Romans again, chapter 8 which is a classic chapter here when we talk about the Spirit and the children of God and having the Spirit and being sons and daughters of God, being children of God.
Rom. 8:26-27 - Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with Jesus Christ to the Father.
V. 27 - Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
You see the Spirit prompts us to do His will, God's will, not our own – to live a different life as a saint in the family of God. And Christ intercedes for us through the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the will of God in us. And he that does the will of God will abide forever. 1 John 2:17 says that: ... he who does the will of God will abide forever. It is something we mentioned in Point #5 a moment ago.
And everyday examples of doing God's will are outlined in the scriptures for us. People say, "I don't know what God's will is. What is God's will in my life? How do I know what God's will is?" There are passages throughout the Bible that tell you what God's will is! Let me read a couple of them to you. You don't have to turn there.
In Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 22 through chapter 5, verse 10 here is some of God's will outlined to us as we're led by His Spirit. Put off the corruption of the former self. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Put away lying. Speak the truth. Be angry and sin not. Steal no more. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit. Put away bitterness and evil speaking. Be kind to one another. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. And it goes on and on in that passage. There are places in the scriptures where you find that what God wants of us, what His will is for us and that true understanding comes through His Spirit. And so we wish to do what He wants in our everyday lives.
Point #7 – God's Spirit convicts our conscience when we stray into sin. God's Spirit convicts our conscience. We know we shouldn't do it. We feel bad about it and we ask to be led into repentance for it. God's Spirit convicts our conscience.
Hebrews chapter 9, verse 13 – You see Jesus Christ who lives within each of His disciples – Jesus Christ who lives within each of us - through the power of the Holy Spirit purges our conscience to serve our Father in heaven.
Heb. 9:13 - For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
V. 14 - how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
It's through the Spirit that our consciences are changed and we decide to serve God instead of dead works.
Notice Paul's admonition to church members in Romans chapter 6, verse 11. Paul's admonition to church members who are to submit to God's will: we are not to stray back into sin. The Holy Spirit convicts our conscience and reminds us when we stray. There are people in the world that don't care. They don't care when they get mad. They don't care when the cut somebody off. They don't care when they kill somebody. It doesn't matter to them. Their conscience has been seared and they really don't care. Now there are some people out there that care about a whole lot of things, but there are others that don't even care anymore. But the Holy Spirit convicts our conscience so that we do care.
Rom. 6, verse 11 - Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin... you sin – you die ...but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So through Christ's sacrifice, our repentance and conversion we can be saved. We don't have to be dead to sin.
V. 12 - Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
Don't let sin control you.
V. 13 - And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
And it is through, then, the Spirit and Christ influencing our lives that we are convicted to change our ways. We are convicted by the Holy Spirit to overcome this world and Satan and our own selfish desires and serve a higher power. The Holy Spirit convicts us to do this - to really, truly care how we live our life.
Point #8 – God's Spirit imparts the power of self-control, patience and many other fruits. God's Spirit imparts the power of self-control, patience and many other fruits. So here you see once again what the will of God is in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23. Verse 22 – you are very familiar with it:
Gal. 5:22 - The fruit of the Spirit... the way you live your life, the way you are as a person when you have God's Spirit is to love, to have joy in your life, to have a peace of mind, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
V. 23 – gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
There is no law against that stuff: having the fruits of the Spirit. Now, there are laws against everything else, the way you might wish to live, but there is no law against the fruits of the Spirit in your life. And so God's Spirit imparts this to us, convicts our conscience to live that way instead of the other way, instead of according to the other spirit that dwells in this world.
Point #9 – God's Spirit infuses us with God's love for the brethren and for our enemies. God's Spirit infuses us with God's love for the brethren and for our enemies. How could it really be possible to love your enemy? Now, we get along in here pretty well. We're friends. I don't have any enemies in here that I know of. And we come into church, we have verbal conversations, we have activities together, we work together upstairs. You know, it's quite a nice situation. But how can you love your enemies? I think it's virtually impossible. Virtually impossible without God's Spirit. Jesus told us to love our enemies and not to hate anyone. We have to remember that God wishes for all people to be saved. He doesn't wish that any would perish. And if God wants this, then so should we. Why should we wish that someone would be condemned to the Lake of Fire if that's not what God wishes? What we need to accomplish this is the love of God in us so that we can truly love our enemies and be concerned for them and pray for them and wish the very best for them. And you can't really do that unless you have the love that God has in you. And that comes through God's Spirit being infused in our lives. Romans chapter 5 and verse 5 once again here in Romans:
Rom. 5:5 - Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God... the true love of God where you can't hate your enemies ...has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which was given to us.
That's how you do it. That's how you have the love of God. It's through the Holy Spirit dwelling in you that He gives to you upon conversion, baptism, the laying on of hands. And it's a real force. It's a real power. It's not something imaginary. It's more real than what we see around us here today. It is the Holy Spirit that imparts to us this love and concern for all of our fellow human beings.
And then, Point #10 – God's Spirit comforts and reassures us personally and continually that we are God's children and destined to be in His Kingdom. God's Spirit gives us the true comfort and reassurance - personally and continually - that we are God's children and destined to be in His Kingdom. When your health fails, when you get sick, often that's when you cry out to God. That's what people in this world often do. Others look for the medical profession or scientists to help them. And so they try to be, you know, frozen to be brought up at another time when maybe they can be fixed. But God's Spirit comforts us so that we don't have to overly worry. Of course, we are concerned when we are not well, but so we don't overly worry about our future because God's Spirit reassures us that we are His children and that we have the opportunity to be in His Kingdom. And this understanding comes from the Spirit.
Eph. chapter 1, verse 9 – We see God the Father as you read about earlier in the sentence, breaking into the thought here in verse 9, God, the Father has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
This is something He wanted to do and it pleases Him to do this – to have us understand the mystery of His will.
V. 10 - that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him.
The Father wants to gather all of this together.
V. 11 - in him also we have obtained an inheritance... Usually an inheritance comes when somebody dies. ... obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
V. 12 - that we who first trusted in Christ... once again, that's one of the understanding points of Pentecost: the firstfruits - those ...who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
V. 13 - In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
The Holy Spirit is sealing that fate for us, sealing that opportunity for eternal life: the gospel of salvation to those who trust in Christ.
V. 14 - which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
This is guaranteed - that when you are sealed by the Holy Spirit, when you have been forgiven of your sins, when you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and received the Holy Spirit - that inheritance is sealed for you and unless you reject it nobody can take it away. And even when you die it is still reserved for you. It's guaranteed. I just read that. What's a guarantee? God can stand behind His guarantees a whole lot more than any company can. And it's guaranteed.
V. 17 – Therefore that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
V. 18 - the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
You see, the inheritance we will receive is rich and we will be glorified as Christ was glorified. We will come to see Christ like He is. We will come to see the Father, His Spirit and wisdom.
V. 19 – And come to know ...what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
This guarantee, this inheritance that has been sealed for those who have the Holy Spirit helps us believe according to the working of His might power.
Eph. 2:13 - But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been... brought ...near by the blood of Christ.
That's how it's all possible. That's how this whole scenario unfolds. We once lived in sin like the rest of the world. But we have now been brought near to God, the Father, by the blood of Christ.
Eph. 2:18 - For through Him we have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Through God's Spirit we have access to the Father through Jesus Christ – we have access to the Father.
V. 19 - Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
What's a household? It's a family: Mom and Dad and the kids. The Father, the Son and the sons and daughters in God's family. We become fellow citizens and members of the household of God with the rest of the saints. You know, I think of my family in Australia and I don't see them very often. It's been six years since I was back and yet I look forward to the time when communication and being able to be with them will be instantaneous, when we can be fellow citizens with other saints in the household of God. One big happy family, literally. One big happy family with all of you there, as well, where you can interact and talk and see people – even those who have died in the past – that you will see again as members of the household of God. And this is all possible through Jesus Christ' sacrifice and the imparting of the Holy Spirit to His church, to each one of us - this incredible inheritance that is guaranteed. Something that is more real than any virtual reality game – more real than even our existence here today, a true spiritual existence where you don't die. You're not mortal. You don't get sick. And this gives us comfort and reassurance during difficult times, during hard trials. The Holy Spirit, the very real power and force from God reminds us of our calling and of the true hope to come. The gift of the Holy Spirit made possible to us today by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is not just a virtual reality simulation. It is part of the most real thing in existence - God. And through Christ by this one Spirit we have access to the Father.
So, in conclusion, the final result is, to kind of summarize the points here today, but in a slightly different way, the final result is a revealed, greater depth of the knowledge of God, a deeper truth and clarity of purpose in our lives. God's law becomes written on our heart. It's who we are now. It's what we are. Our supreme desire becomes to obey and please God. And we become more sensitive to resisting sin. Our contact with God becomes steady and our relationship with Him is taken to a higher level. Our love for others increases. You want to serve others. We become concerned about our shortcomings and translate that concern into action. We grow more and more like God Himself and take on His characteristics of joy and love and we begin to partake in a life and a world that is far more real than anything we can experience in this life. Our modern computers and our newer technology in the time span of civilization and, no doubt virtual reality technology, will continue to improve in such a way that it becomes even more virtually real. But the Holy Spirit has always been in existence and always will exist. God is the ultimate reality and He makes the source of all that exists – Himself – available to us through the conduit of His Holy Spirit. And this is the ultimate in reality for us in our lives today as we prepare for the magnificent future ahead as sons and daughters in His kingdom. When the Father puts His Spirit into us we are imparted with the very characteristics of God. The Holy Spirit is the key to eternal life. We must have it dwelling within us. When God begets us with that Spirit we are impregnated with eternal God-life to grow in God's qualities of mind and power until the second coming of Jesus Christ when we will be born into God's family as His children. Let's not get swept up in the excitement of this world while forgetting where our calling, where our reality, truly is.