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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. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you have access to power and resources that can change your life forever, but depending on your background, being "filled with the Spirit" can mean all sorts of different things. But, when you sift through all the various ideas, opinions, and statements about the work of the Holy Spirit, at the end of the day, HIS top priority for your life is you living out a "spiritual life" through practical means. If you want to know deep joy, understand how to invest your life in things that bring you deep and lasting satisfaction, and experience the presence of God like never before, you must allow the Holy Spirit to dwell richly in you, to reveal your unique talents and gifts for His purposes.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.”