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About this series
The Holy Spirit
Experiencing His Power and Presence 24/7
Who is the Holy Spirit? Is He more than "The Force?" For many believers, a relationship with the Holy Spirit rarely factors into our day-to-day lives. The truth is, experiencing His power and presence unlocks spiritual living to an entirely new level. This series will help you understand how the indwelling of the Holy Spirit deepens intimacy with God. In the process, you'll experience empowered living that reveals and activates your unique spiritual gifts in ways you never imagined possible.More from this series
On the very last night, Jesus wanted His followers to understand, “I’m leaving and going away but I don’t leave you as orphans. My presence, my power, the mission being accomplished, and my goal will be accomplished by the Holy Spirit in you, dwelling in you.”
And if you’ll open your Bibles to John chapter 15, I just want to highlight one very specific verse. Because He describes the abiding relationship. That’s what the Holy Spirit is going to do, what He does in chapter 15 is, “This is your responsibility. This is the Father, what He’s going to do. I am the vine. I’m the source of life.”
But He says in chapter 15 verse 7, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you can ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” And then He goes on in verse 8 and says, “This is to My Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves, demonstrating, or proving to be My disciples.”
And so right in the heart of all the talk about the Holy Spirit, He says, “Now this is to the Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.” I’m going to suggest Jesus is going to say the primary goal of the Holy Spirit is to bear fruit, in and through your life.
In fact, go to the Early Church. And just, if we looked at the first five chapters of Acts and you look at Peter before Pentecost, before the Holy Spirit: fearful, betrayer, right? Big mouth that doesn’t show up. They’re hiding. Peter after he receives the Holy Spirit: courage, proclaiming, clear, leads.
You look at the Early Church before Pentecost, before the Holy Spirit comes they’re fearful, they’re hiding, they’re looking out for themselves. After the Holy Spirit comes: spiritual fruit. They love one another, they’re bold, they count it a privilege to suffer for Jesus, they are generous, they sell their possessions, they share with others, miraculous things happen.
What you see is, what’s the difference? It’s interesting chapter 4 even the unbelievers in verse 13 says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John,” this is after they were brought in before the Sanhedrin, “and realized that they were unschooled, or uneducated and ordinary men they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
See, bearing much fruit – these men – what was different? Was it their pedigree? Was it their education? Hm-mm. When unbelievers saw the lives of early Christians they said, “We’re not sure where they’re coming from, and we don’t know about all this, but here’s what we know. We can tell they’re a lot like Jesus.”
And I’m going to suggest that the Holy Spirit’s primary goal in all the world is to make you and to make me a lot like Jesus. More than any spiritual experience you may have, more than any gift that you may have, more than any activity or ministry that you may have. All those things may be very important. But the priority, the main goal of the Holy Spirit, and the Father’s role, is to make you like His Son.
In fact, it’s taught directly in the epistles by the apostles. In the writing in the apostles’ teaching the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is not necessarily to increase your knowledge, or impart a spiritual gift, or to improve your circumstances, but to transform your character to make you like Jesus.
Notice it’s taught directly in 2 Corinthians 3 verses 17 and 18. It says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit”
So it was a picture there, 2 Corinthians 3, He’s talking there about the old covenant and the new covenant. He says the old covenant, what it was like. “But we all, with an unveiled face, unlike Moses who had the veil. We all, with an unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being…” notice the tense of the verb. It’s a process. “…are being transformed from glory to glory just as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Interesting, James chapter 1, sometimes we get pretty uptight about our circumstances and you find that your house is upside down or sometimes you’re in a situation where one of your kids is going through a real struggle and no matter what you do you don’t seem to be able to fix it. Or you lose your job.
And unconsciously what we tend to think is, “Oh God, how can You get my life right side up so it works for me?” And by the way, I think that’s pretty human.
But in James chapter 1 verses 2 through 4 on this theme of, “What’s the Holy Spirit’s goal?” See I think, unconsciously, we think the Holy Spirit’s job is to give us power so our life will work out well for us. And probably with sort of a nice idea that it would honor Him as well.
But in James chapter 1, he says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and allow or let endurance have its perfecting result that you might be perfect,” or literally the word is “mature,” telios, “and complete.”
He’s just saying that the actual goal of negative, painful circumstances is to, by faith, allow the Spirit of God to give you the perspective where you choose to rejoice, not because it’s easy, but because as you endure under difficult circumstances, the thing that will change for sure, if you’re filled and in step with the Spirit, is you.
You know what? You may rent the rest of your life. But heaven will be okay. You may not ever be in the same financial position as you were. You might have to change jobs. You might have to relocate. We get those things as the front and center and most important and our lives go up and down with circumstantial things, many of which you can’t control.
I just want to remind you, the primary goal of the Holy Spirit, according to Jesus, according to the book of Acts, and according to the direct teaching of the apostles is to make you like Him. That’s the agenda. That’s the big agenda.
Notice the other passage I gave you. Ephesians 4:13, in verse 11 of chapter 4 it really, from 11 to 16, talks about the role of the body and leadership in the Church. And so as he’s unveiling what’s the church and the leadership of the Church and the goal of the Church he says, “He gave some as apostles and some as prophets,” this is verse 11 of chapter 4, “and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith of the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
He’s saying that apostles, and prophets, and evangelists, and pastors, and teachers are gifts to the body to equip us normal, ordinary, regular saints – just believers – to actually do the work of service so that in our relationships with one another, each and every one of us come to the fullness of Christ. Well what is that? That’s spiritual adulthood. That’s Christlikeness. That’s bearing fruit.
Final passage I gave you here is Romans 8:29. We quote this a lot in tragedies, which we should. Usually, we quote verse 28 and skip 29 to tell you the truth. And we know that all things work together, right? Verse 28? I mean when something happens and it’s just, “Oh my lands. Oh, God, where are You in this?”
Well, we know that God works all things together for the good for them that love Him, for those that are called according to His purpose.
And we sort of chop off verse 29 and we unconsciously, in our American Christianity, know “He’s going to work it out for our good, here, in America, the way we want, we’re going to be happy, things are going to be upwardly mobile later, our kids are going to turn out right, our marriage is going to get more enriching, everything’s going to be great someday, someway, just keep trusting God.”
It’s really not what verse 29 says. Verse 29 says, “To them that are called and His purpose is to conform you to the image of His Son.”
See, it changes your whole perspective. You begin to get an eternal perspective and you look at people, and stuff, and money, and things completely different when you understand the resurrected Christ lives inside of you in the person of the Holy Spirit and His number one agenda…
Now, it is amazing and gracious and wonderful when He blesses our lives, when He grants us great relationships, when He prospers you, when your kids turn out right, when you have a wonderful marriage, when you’re healthy and doing well in your singleness, when you don’t have cancer, you know? Yay, yay, yay. Don’t get me wrong.
I just want you to know, that is not the agenda. That’s the grace and the blessing of God. In a fallen world, where there is evil, God says, “You are My light and you are My instruments, and you are My people, and My number one agenda is to make you like My Son. I want you to think like My Son, I want you to speak like My Son, I want you to be generous like My Son, I want you to love lost people like My Son, I want you to confront unrighteousness and injustice the way Jesus did. I want you to be My Body.”
When Jesus, you know, we hear that. The Body of Christ. We make that some sort of euphemism like, “I guess that’s all Christians everywhere.” Well there’s a reason for that metaphor. When Jesus was walking around in this physical body and He saw a need, what did He do in His physical body? He touched the little girl, He prayed for them, He gave them food, He confronted the Pharisees.
Well you’re His Body! I’m His Body. And the Spirit of Jesus, the way we do greater works is there’s a lot more of us than there was of Jesus and He has us everywhere. But we are His Body. But the effectiveness of His Body is the more and more and more progressively we become like Him. That’s the agenda. And I think we lose sight of that.
The Spirit’s primary purpose is to, can you guess it? Transform me into the image of Christ. Transform me into the image of Christ.
Well, if that’s it then what is Christlikeness or so what is spiritual fruit? Right? I mean, if that’s the deal what exactly is spiritual fruit? You might flip in your Bible, if you don’t have this one by heart, Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23. It says, “But the fruit,” singular, “of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Now that’s, in many ways, that is simply the personality and the character of Jesus, laid out in a way that we can understand so we’re not just saying, “Christlikeness” or “spiritual fruit.” I mean, how do you get your arms around what’s it mean, and what will you look like, when the Spirit is bearing forth the fruit of the life of Christ through you?
I see three triads here. I think the first three have to do with our relationship with God: love, joy, and peace. The Holy Spirit puts God’s love, joy, and peace in our lives and when the Spirit is in control, or filling us, everything is conceived in love, undertaken in joy, and accomplished with peace.
And the love here is that agape love word. It’s that supernatural, others-centered, sacrificial, giving other people what they need the most, when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost. That’s love. And it’s a choice. And it’s supernatural.
You find yourself doing things for people, caring for people – choosing. By the way, don’t get this like, “Love is an ooey-gooey feeling.” Okay? If you wait to feel loving to do a lot of loving things you’ll never do it.
I will guarantee you this: The greatest act of love that ever occurred was done by someone that did not feel like doing it. He was in a garden and He cried out, “If there’s any other way, Father.” He did not, He was fully human! There was no big “S” under His robe. He didn’t go to the cross as deity. He went to the cross being fully human and fully divine.
And because He was fully human He agonized. And He made a willful choice to love you and to love me and because He was fully divine, His purchase price paid for the sin of all people, of all time.
But being loving doesn’t mean you feel ooey-gooey about people. Being loving is making very hard choices to love people in the power that God gives you when you take that step of faith.
And so in our relationship with God joy is the byproduct of our relationship. It’s in His presence is fullness of joy. Joy isn’t circumstances are always great. Joy, again, is a choice. “Rejoice always and again I say,” the apostle Paul would say, writing from prison. Rejoice always. It’s a choice. It’s a mindset.
It’s, “I don’t have control of things, everything isn’t the way I’d like it to be, but I know and am connected to the One who does and He promised that He would take care of me, He promised that He loves me, and I will never be alone and He’ll never forsake me. And my joy is in my relationship with Him.” And then that floods over to other people. It’s powerful. It’s supernatural.
None of this, you can’t do this on your own. Peace is that sense of contentment in your heart. That sense of well-being and trusting, even when you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
And so one of the ways to know if you’re becoming more Christlike: does that characterize your relationship with God? Do you find yourself choosing in ways that you probably wouldn’t ordinarily do? To give more of your time, or to give more of your money, or to give more of yourself, or to hang out with someone that just, candidly, you would rather not. But they have a need. And you choose to love them.
And finding yourself in circumstances that are really difficult and feeling completely overwhelmed like we all do. And just as you teeter on depression finding yourself in a corner and just saying, “Oh God, I can’t do this.” And opening your Bible and claiming some passages, and some promises, and some Psalms, and then by just choosing, you begin to sing to God, and you begin to worship Him. And you begin to remember that He is all-knowing, He is all-powerful, He is faithful, He is good, He is for me.
And all of a sudden as you focus in worship on a great, great, great God this is what happens to your problems. But too often we focus on our problems and pretty soon we look at all of life through that. And that means you have a very small God. It’s walking in the flesh versus walking in the Spirit.
The second triad has to do with our relationship with others. Patience, kindness, and goodness. Patience is having a long temper versus a short temper. It’s bearing with the rudeness and the unkindness of others and refusing to retaliate.
Kindness is that goes beyond the tolerance of what you wish other people weren’t doing and goes beyond to do what you wish others would do for you. There’s a sense of kindness, a winsomeness, a “doing for others.”
And then finally goodness is that concrete step of turning kindness into actions, and deeds that serve others and meet needs. The root word of goodness has to do with generosity. In the Old Testament when God, Moses says, “I want to know You. I want to see You. Show me who You really are!” You remember what He says? “No one can see Me but I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and I’ll put My hand and it’ll bypass.” And as He goes by him what’s He say? He lets His goodness…
The most generous being in all the universe is our God. He’s generous. The reason a lot of us have trouble trusting Him is down deep in our hearts we don’t believe He’s good. We believe if we take a step of faith or commitment with one of our kids or in a relationship or with our money that, you know what? We’ll end up in Africa or we’ll end up…
If we’re single and we take a step of faith we’ll never get married or we always are thinking what’s not going to happen. I want you to know, especially some of you that are grandparents or, you know, you get it more as a grandparent because you’ve lived longer.
Is there anything that gives you greater joy as a grandparent than just getting to give one of your grandkids something and just watching them light up? In fact, most of us give too much, right? And the parents are going, “Would you knock it off? You never did that for me.” Right?
Well where do you get that from? Where do you get that from? Is that how you think about God? Or down deep is the God that you serve arms crossed, toe tapping, kind of the bent finger, just kind of waiting for you to mess up? You know, you don’t measure up, you don’t measure up, you don’t measure up, get with the program, you’re not reading the Bible enough. You know, you don’t pray long enough. You know, I know you’re giving x percent, you ought to give x more percent. And by the way, how many people you led to Christ in the last twenty-four hours? Ah, not that many?”
Some of you have these pounding voices of, “You don’t measure up, you don’t measure up, you don’t measure up.” I just, let me just tell you, that’s not from God. That’s condemnation from the enemy.
Even Jesus, in His humanness, needed to hear something and be reminded of God’s goodness. And so on two or three different occasions, pivotal occasions, when He was baptized, later on the Mount of Transfiguration, what did the Father say? “This is My dearly loved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Do you feel that washing over you? Are you living a life? See, by the way. This transforms, this is how the Spirit is working. The flesh always wants to gravitate to rules, formulas, law, and performance. The Spirit is about trusting. And trusting has to do with in God’s character and in God’s promises. But it’s hard to trust someone that you don’t believe is for you.
If you could see, if you could imagine the ocean of opportunity and goodness and kindness that God longs to give for His children; He’s not down on you. He longs for you. But you access those things by faith not by sight, not by performance, not by religious activity. Without faith it’s impossible to please God.
“For they that come to God must believe that He is,” we quote that part, “and He’s a,” what? “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
And so a big part of keeping in step with the Spirit of the spiritual fruit is getting an accurate picture of God.
These are the kind of things that, when you’re in a relationship with someone who is patient and someone who is kind and someone who is good, isn’t it awesome? I’m married to someone like that. And it is awesome.
Someone that, kind of … they just know your idiosyncrasies and just kind of nod and realize that’s probably not going to change and they love you anyway.
Someone who is kind. Can you imagine what would happen if just every couple here or even if you have a roommate, what would happen if you just got up and made coffee for them and brought it in and put it next to the nightstand and said, “I hope you have a great day.”
What would happen if Christians just, maybe on the way to work once a week, or once every other week, you went by and got some bagels and some of that good cream cheese stuff and a big thing of coffee – you probably could do it for ten bucks – and just take it to the office or take it to the jobsite and say, “Hey just thinking about you guys.”
See, that’s the Christianity the world needs to get to see. Just people that are kind. They’re good. I’ll cut your yard. I’ll babysit for you. I’ll take care of that. Don’t worry about it. I got your mail.
The third triad is in our relationship with ourselves: Faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Faithfulness is a character quality of trustworthiness, dependability, one who keeps his promises, follows through on the tasks we say we’ll do.
Proverbs 20 verse 6 says, “Many a man proclaims his own faithfulness but a faithful man who can find?”
People, by and large, all of us included, can be flakey, right? Faithfulness is you say you’re going to be there, you’re there. You say you’re going to take care of it, you do it. You say the check is in the mail, the check is in the mail.
I’ll tell you what, it’s a powerful, powerful quality. It’s very difficult for all of us. Supernaturally, God does that.
Gentleness is power under control. It’s not weakness. This is the picture, it was used in the ancient Greek language of a huge, powerful stallion and when the stallion was broke and they would put the bit in its mouth and then you could guide this huge, powerful horse.
The Greek word for this powerful horse under control was “meek.” That’s the translation we get.
See, it’s not that Christians are weak… there’s power, under control. You don’t have to show off. You don’t have to have your way. You don’t have to blow people out. You don’t have to embarrass them even though you may have the position and the power to do that at times. There’s a gentleness.
And finally, self-control is the mastery of your tongue, your thoughts, your passions, and your appetites through delayed gratification. It’s supernatural. The Spirit of God, part of what the Spirit does is He gives us self-control.
Self-control in our eating, self-control in our speech, self-control in…I don’t know about you, now it took years for me, I don’t particularly like, in my earlier life, getting up in the morning and meeting with God, and spending time and reading my Bible, and praying specifically, and jotting a few things down in a journal.
I don’t particularly like, in some seasons of my life, realizing that, if I eat that not good things happen so I need to eat more of this good stuff. Or working out two or three times a week.
If we did a survey of all the Christians in America would we see people who are characterized by self-control? In our eating, in our speech, in our activities, in our disciplines? Would we see people whose parents are teaching their kids self-control?
It’s the fruit of the Spirit. When there’s not self-control in your life that means the flesh is winning, not the Spirit. That means you’re not keeping in step with the Spirit.
When you’re keeping in step with the Spirit all Jesus wants you to know is you will have the characteristics of Jesus. And the characteristics or fruit, spiritual fruit of Jesus, isn’t activities, it’s not just external ministry. The characteristics of Jesus is you become a more loving, joyful, peaceful, gentle, patient, kind, good person who is faithful and under self-control. Does that make sense?
And by the way, that’s the agenda. That’s different than going to church three times a week. That’s different than knowing a thousand Bible verses.
I got news. I’ve met people that know ten thousand Bible verses and they’re the most unloving people I’ve ever met. I don’t think they’re very spiritual. And guess what? Neither does God.
We don’t measure our spiritual progress by spiritual activity. We don’t measure it by knowledge, we don’t measure it by gifts. All those things are parts and pieces of what the Spirit of God wants to use but according to Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength; and your neighbor like yourself. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it. Love your neighbor.”
When I stand before the judgment seat of Christ, when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ, you know, spiritual maturity, spiritual fruit, are you ready? It’s going to get, like, really simple. “Did you love these people and did you love Me?” Right? Is that biblical or not?
Let me ask you: Is that what you’re measuring? Is that what you’re measuring with your kids? Is that what you’re measuring with your discipleship groups? Is that the focus of your church life? Because that’s God’s. That’s the Holy Spirit’s agenda: To make you like His Son.
Well let’s look at how is spiritual fruit developed and then we just walk through. It begins with the conviction of the Spirit. John 16, He said, “When a Spirit, when He comes, will convict of sin and righteousness and judgment.”
So, He convicts you of bitterness, He convicts me of an attitude here, it convicts someone of self-control over there. He convicts, He convicts us of our sin. Because those close the vents. Sin closes the vents of the influence of the Holy Spirit in areas of our life.
And the very first thing He does is He convicts us of our need of a Savior. And then there’s a spiritual birth. And who does that? By the washing of regeneration, renewing of the Spirit. So the new birth comes from the Spirit.
And then you begin to what? You begin to be nurtured as a little baby, 1 Peter 2 says, “Like newborn babies long for the pure milk of God’s Word, thereby it you will grow.”
And through the Body. 1 Thessalonians there Paul describes himself what? He says, “I loved you, Thessalonians, like a father, exhorting, encouraging, and imploring, and I nurtured you like a mother does children.”
And so in order for this to happen, the Spirit works and He convicts us, we respond to that, we’re born again, then we begin to what? We need the pure milk of God’s Word, and as we get into God’s Word we begin to grow. And then we need the Body. We need people who love God and will love us.
The the Holy Spirit doesn’t hug you. He’s inside of someone that’ll hug you. The Holy Spirit doesn’t buy lunch for you. The Holy Spirit doesn’t listen for two hours when you have a problem. But He does it inside the body of another believer. And so you’ve got to hang with people and talk with them and do life with them.
And then you abide in Christ, John 15. So in your journey personally you begin to develop time in God’s Word. And not just, two chapters a day keeps the devil away. It’s relational. Well, haven’t we all fallen into that? You know? “Okay, man, okay my little program says, okay, chapters 8 and 9. Man, I’ve got to really get going. I’m glad I took that speed reading course. 1, 2, chapters 8 and 9! Catch you later, Lord!”
In some measure don’t we do that a lot? Versus, “Lord, I’m running a little behind this morning and I might have to skip part of my breakfast or, but I’d really like to hear from You and I’m going to read the first couple paragraphs and will You speak to me? And then I’m going sit here quietly and I want to listen. And then I think before I go on there’s some people that I’m responsible for and I want to ask very specifically for them today.
“And then, about that meeting at nine o’clock, I don’t know if the house is going to close at one at that meeting, and You told me I needed to call this guy and apologize to him and I am not looking forward to that, so will You, will you help me with those things?”
Don’t you think that’s what the Holy Spirit is wanting to do? And you get into His Word, and you talk to Him, and you cultivate that. And what I can tell you, as you do and as you cultivate it, it will become a joy instead of duty.
I literally had to have someone drag me out of bed, too long of a story to tell you but, I mean, literally drag me. And I just couldn’t get up and meet with God but I wanted to. And then after three or four years it was kind of drudgery but, I did it and I was learning and growing and, and then you know what? It’s like everything else. Once there is a rhythm, now I just, best part of every day. I wonder what God’s going to say to me this morning.
It’s a priority. And you can actually make it fun, for me, I just make the best coffee I can and I have a little spot and, I’ve got a little game plan and, depending on where I think God’s speaking to me, sometimes I journal and get my mind clear and other times I read and sometimes, like, I’ve been in Jeremiah 1 and I’ve read Jeremiah chapter 1 along with anything else I’ve been reading because God’s speaking to me I’ve read it, like, every day for a month.
Because there’s just, like, a few of these verses. And I’m not even sure what all they mean. It’s developmental. It’s in your time with Him and it’s through relationships.
And then you walk in the Spirit – Galatians 5:16 through 18 there. It says, “Set your mind on the things of the Spirit” and he talks about how, you walk in the Spirit, you read some books that are hard, you study some passages, and it’s, they don’t just fly off the page all the time.
And you become a student of God’s Word. And then you become a spiritual adult. And when you’re a spiritual adult, that fruit that we talked about in Galatians 5:22 through 26 begins to characterize your life.
And I love the test of maturity at the end there in Ephesians. After he says the apostles and prophets and how we’re all to be spiritually mature then he says, “As a result,” what he says is the real test of spiritual maturity or fruit of Christlikeness is, is doctrinal purity and relational connection from the heart. “As a result, therefore, we’re no longer children tossed here and there by every wave of doctrine, by craftiness and deceitful speaking. But speaking the truth in love, we grow up into all aspects into the Head, who is the Head, even Christ, by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part.”
He says when you’re spiritually mature the evidence is you’re not a child tossed around by this fad, or that fad, or this teacher, or you heard that. You know the truth. And you speak the truth in love. You have relationships where you confront issues but you do it with a kind heart. You deal with things. You don’t bury them, you don’t blame people.
That’s the kind of Christian God wants us to make. And that’s the goal of the Holy Spirit. That’s what He’s trying to produce. And that’s what He wants to produce in you and that’s what He wants to produce in me.
I just jotted down, “How does the spiritual life work?” And what I really wanted to do is just give you an overview. It says, “Four key concepts.” And right above that why don’t you write, “Howard Hendricks’ Summary.” Because when you steal people’s material word for word you should probably be very specific about how the Spirit works.
And I have to tell you this has been my passion. I didn’t grow up as a Christian so I never opened the Bible and so I started reading a lot of books and there was this group that kind of said this, and this group that said that, and I’ve read all kind of books on the spiritual life, and the surrendered life, and the second life, and old books and new books.
And at times, “Okay, I think the whole spiritual life, the way you stay in the Spirit is you, sort of, put your tongue like this and then you sort of…” And then I’d, sort of, “Oh, gosh. I felt so filled for about twenty minutes.” And then something happened, you know?
And so, I’ve just really been on this journey to know, I really want the Spirit of God to fill me and transform me.
And I remember sitting down with Prof. Hendricks and he said, “You know, the spiritual life has four component parts.” And he went through these. And I just have to tell you that every good book and anything that I’ve ever read anywhere actually just fits in to this very simple understanding of how the Spirit of God takes the Word of God, in the community of God’s people, as you respond in faith and obedience, and actually will produce the life of Jesus that is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and filled with self-control.
And so let me just walk through it. It’s very, very, been very helpful to me. Spirituality is the life of Christ. Ephesians 3:16 and 17, the apostle Paul, it says, “I pray that out of His glorious riches you may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
Paul prays. “I want you to be strengthened in your inner being so that the riches of Christ, that His life could dwell in your hearts,” and notice your part, “by faith.”
For him, remember Philippians 1:21 when Paul thought maybe he was going to die, wasn’t sure. “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” See, spirituality isn’t activity, it’s not knowledge, it’s not going to church, it’s not… It’s the life of Christ. It’s His life.
And I’ll never forget the day someone told me: The Christian life is not hard. And I remember thinking, “Well, he’s not living the same Christian life I am.” And then he added, “It’s impossible.” And all of a sudden I got it. It’s not hard. The only one that can live the Christian life is Jesus. And He lives in you. So your responsibility is to learn how to abide, and stay in step with the Spirit, so that the life of Christ is produced in and through you.
It’s not that there’s not anything you do. But you can’t try hard enough to be loving and kind and good. So, spirituality is the life of Christ.
Concept number two, spirituality is the life of Christ reproduced in the believer. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man, if any woman, is in Christ you’re a new creation.” Process. “The old things pass away, behold, all things are becoming new.”
Or the way the apostle Paul would put it is this: Okay, it’s the life of Christ reproduced in the life of the believer. Now think of all the knowledge the apostle Paul had. Think of all the, I mean, he was at the top of the game as a Pharisee. Probably had nearly all the Old Testament memorized. He was under the best teacher of the day.
And after all of his great learning then walking with Jesus he describes his life. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives within me and in this life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
That’s, that’s his theology. I died with Christ. I’m connected to Him. I was resurrected with Him. And the life that I now live, I live by faith, trusting His Word, in the community of God’s people, keeping in step with the Spirit.
And did you notice? “Who loved me.” His view of His heavenly Father was kind and good. When he said, “Paul, I want you to go there. Paul, I want you to go there. Paul, you’re going to have to suffer for Me.”
It was like, comes from the hand of a good God. There was a joy. I mean he and Silas are in that jail, what are they doing? They’re singing. See that’s the Spirit. The world desperately needs to see Christians whose lives don’t make sense unless there’s something supernatural happening inside of them. And the supernatural happening inside of us, is the Spirit of God when He’s influencing and controlling.
And so spirituality is the life of Christ. Spirituality is the life of Christ, reproduced in the believer. And then spirituality is the life of Christ, reproduced in the life of the believer, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul would say in Galatians 5 verse 16, “So I say walk or live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Just keep in step with the Spirit. In verse 25 he says, “Since we live by the Spirit let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
What would happen if you saw your life, rather than a list of duties to perform, as an adventure that you’re on? You know, instead of, “Okay I’m a Christian and now I’ve got to read my Bible, now I’ve got to pray and my mind wanders and that’s a dumb. Now I’ve got to give at least ten percent, just to even stay in the game. And I’ve got to get on one of those short-term things, they’re always harping on me, go on the, I’ve got to be involved in ministry. Got to be involved. Oh you’ve got to be in a small group. Oh I’ve got to go to that class!
“Uh, what else do I’ve got to do? I don’t know. Oh yeah, read Christian books. I’ve got to read some Christian books, you know? And I’m not supposed to do so much of that. I should start doing that. I’m, uh. I’m spending way too much time on the computer. Oh, X I’m, well maybe waste too much time on the TV. I think I’m supposed to…”
Does this sound remotely similar to your life? That’s insane. That’s insane. And can I tell you, stupid and ungodly as well? And it’s not like we’re burning up the track out there like people going, “Whoa! If that’s the Christian life I’d like to get some of that! I’m not very busy, I don’t have anything to do, I’d like to get, like, ten other activities to feel guilty about. That’d be pretty cool.
That’s, like, completely different than, “I’ve been resurrected by the living God, and I have a purpose, and He created all that there is, and He has a purpose for me, and He wants to talk to me today. That’s a lot different than, “I’m going to read my Bible.”
And I’m not sure what He wants me to do but guess what. If I don’t read my Bible today, please lean back so this doesn’t hurt some of you, He doesn’t love me any less and He doesn’t love me any more. I missed out, probably, on something He wanted to say, but He’s my Father, He’s my Abba, He loves me.
And if I would learn to practice the presence of God, then, of course, I’m going to have time to pray, and I have to have some disciplines and accountability, and people help me, but accountability isn’t people haranguing me to become something I don’t really want to become, who I wish they’d get off my back but I feel guilty if I don’t ask them to harangue me.
Accountability is asking people who love me and that I love, “Will you help me keep my commitments to God because I really want to. But I’m just in this body of flesh that’s lazy and deceived and I’m in denial. And I just need some brothers or some couples to do life with in a way to help me. Because I’m on this adventure.”
And He’s going to speak to me and it’s exciting. And it’s an adventure that’s just for me. And He’s going to have me do something and there’s a place where I fit where no one else quite fits.
And He’ll show me how much to read and He’ll show me whether to do this or not do that. I don’t have to listen to everybody in all the world who tells me all the things I need to do as a Christian. I need to keep in step with the Spirit in this adventure.
And what I really need to test is am I becoming more loving? Do I have greater joy? Is there a sense of greater peace? Do I have a higher and more holy view of God? Am I experiencing His love? Am I finding myself reaching out and loving people that I think, I would never love them. This must be the Holy Spirit, you know?
And all this, you know something? When people rub up next to people on an adventure with God, who is leading, and speaking, and then guess what. Every day is like, are you ready for this? “I don’t know what to do, Lord.” And He’ll whisper, “I do. I do. Would you like to know?” And He’ll show you. This sense of expectation.
What if every single day you realize He’s going to do something supernatural, out of the box. Wonder where it is?
A lot of us go through the Christianity, “I bent my knees, I read my Bible, said my prayers, I went to my group. Read my Bible, said my prayers, went to my group. What is that? Oh, God, I’m sorry. I don’t have time for you. Read my Bible, say my…”
We just go through this deal like…
Can you imagine what it would be like to walk on a dusty road with Jesus? And you get up every day, “James, where are we going?” “I don’t know.” “Did the Lord tell you?” “No, he didn’t tell me either.” “So what are we going to do?” “If He gets up and walks I think we’re going to follow Him.”
Might be healing-little-girl-day. Might be mountaintop-Moses-and-the-boys-are- going-to-show-up. I don’t know but just let’s follow Him!
That’s for us. Jesus said you have more capability and more access to follow Him than they did on a dusty road. The Christian life, spirituality, is the life of Christ, reproduced in the believe, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and finally, in obedience to the Word of God.
Your spiritual diet will determine your spiritual growth. Jesus said in John 8:31, “To those Jews who had believed on Him you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Free. Free from legalism, free from other people’s expectations, free from sin, free from bad habits, free from your lack of self of control, free from a warped view of God.
And Jesus’ brother would remind us that when you understand spirituality is the life of Christ, and it’s the life of Christ reproduced in the believer, and it’s the life of Christ reproduced in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit in response, by faith, to the Word of God then Jesus’ brother James would say, “When you hear that from the truth of God’s Word and you walk away nodding and saying, ‘That’s true’ without doing it,” he says you become an ineffectual hearer but the progress of the faith is only in doers of God’s Word.
What does God say to you, what would be the next baby step for you to be in step with the Spirit? This isn’t one of those messages where, “Oh my lands! My whole life needs to change!” Well, it may. But it’s, Paul said, “Keep in step.” That means one step. And if you respond to the life that God gives you guess what, when you get up tomorrow if you say, “Lord, what’s step two?” He’ll tell you.
What’s just the next step?