Last Sunday we talked about the fact that there is more to this world than what you see. The Bible tells us that there is the physical world that we all live in, but there is also a spiritual, or a supernatural world, that is just as real and that is even more powerful than they physical world. It is an unseen world that we don’t often talk about. For some, because it is unseen this spiritual realm seems uncomfortable or scary. So, we have set aside a month to dig in and gain a biblical perspective on a topic we all need to understand.
Last week we talked about how to prepare for spiritual warfare. In the coming weeks, our focus will shift to angels and demons. But today I want to talk to you about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Spirit of God, our Helper, the Comforter, our Counselor, and the Holy Ghost. Do you see why some people are reluctant? There is no need to be scared or concerned.
The Holy Spirit is waiting to TRANSFORM your life!
The Spirit of God is absolutely essential if we intend to live the life that God wants us to live as followers of Christ. We can’t live a holy life on our own. Take my word for it, some of us have tried. It won’t work. We need God’s help.
The good news is that God wants to fill His children with His Spirit so that we can live a supernatural, holy, transformed life that is pleasing to God in every way. This is what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit when speaking to His disciples. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15b-17 (NIV)
Jesus is, of course, speaking about is the Holy Spirit. The disciples had to be perplexed. How could Jesus leave them and still be with them forever? That didn’t make sense. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to care for and guide the disciples after Jesus ascended to the Father in Heaven. He would be there to guide us into all truth. “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:26 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit is on our side. He is at work on our behalf. He is comforting, counseling, healing, restoring, guiding, and showing us how to live. He is working for us, and He is working with us. “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” – John 15:26 (NIV)
When Jesus walked on this earth, He accepted the limitations of humanity. He was in one place at one time. If Jesus was present with us here in Seymour, He was not present anyplace else. But when He gave us the gift of His Spirit, suddenly everyone everywhere could experience His presence at all times. That is how believers here can experience the presence of God at the same time as believers in Bangladesh, Boston, or Botswana.
The Holy Spirit is not limited by time and space. He can be present everywhere, all the time, wherever God’s people are found. Because of the Holy Spirit, Jesus can now be present everywhere at all times. Jesus went on in John 16:7-8…“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. – John 16:7-8 (NIV)
Jesus left. His Spirit came. And lives were changed! This is why it is so important that we understand the work of the Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit gives us…power for five things…
1. The power of SALVATION.
The Spirit of God supernaturally draws us to Christ, and then, God miraculously saves us because of the sacrificial death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A good example as this played out, Jesus was having a conversation with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nicodemus didn’t want his Pharisee friends to know that he was talking to Jesus, so he came to see Jesus at night. He said, “Jesus, you are amazing. You have done all these amazing miracles. You must be from God.”
Jesus said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.” Nicodemus says, “What are you talking about, born again? What does that even mean? Can I go back in my mother’s womb? That’s weird. It doesn’t make sense to me. Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” – John 3:5-6 (NIV)
In other words, your mom gave you physical birth, but your Heavenly Father will give you a spiritual birth. You can be spiritually born anew. When you invite Christ to be the Savior and the Lord of your life, all your sins are gone. They are removed from you as far as the east is from the west, Nicodemus. The Holy Spirit then comes to dwell with in you. He begins his transforming work in our lives. He wants to transform us from the inside out.
We begin to sense the inner witness of the Spirit. We sense the Spirit of God at work in our lives. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Romans 8:16 (NIV) The power of the Holy Spirit leads us to salvation, and as we are spiritually born again, the Holy Spirit of God says, “You are mine,” which provides a deep sense of peace and assurance that you now belong to God. The Holy Spirit gives us…the power of SALVATION.
2. The power to WALK IN GOD’S WILL.
When you don’t know where to go, what to do, or what to say…when you are not sure how to make it through the day, the Holy Spirit will empower you and guide you to walk in the will of God.
In John 14:26 we read that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and He will remind us of everything Jesus has said. Imagine that. The Holy Spirit is your teacher.
He’s your counselor. He’s your guide. He will lead you to walk in God’s will. The Holy Spirit is our built in GPS constantly guiding us and showing us which way to go. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” – Isaiah 30:21 (NIV) The Spirt of God will guide us to walk on the right path. He will enable you and empower you to walk in the will of God.
Laurie and I have lived by Psalm 32:8 for the past 40 years and we are living it today! “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” – Psalm 32:8 (NIV) When the Spirit of God instructs you, do you think He is going to lead you to walk in God’s will? Of course, He will. If you want to live your best life now, allow the Spirit of God to instruct, teach, counsel, and watch over you.
Jesus said it like this in John 16:13…“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” – John 16:13a (NIV) The Holy Spirit will come, and He will give you power. He’ll give you the power of salvation. He’ll give you the power to walk in God’s will.
3. The power to share CHRIST BOLDLY.
The Holy Spirit will give you the power, the wisdom, the words, and the opportunity to share Christ boldly. So many people get really get nervous and intimidated when they start talking to someone else about spiritual things. They think, “Well, I’d like to reach out to them, but I may not know what to say. I don’t want to mess it up. What if they ask me a question and I don’t know the answer?”
I tell people I have an answer for every question they ask. About the time they are thinking how arrogant it is to say that I tell them that my answer is often, I don’t know. That is an answer! But I will do some research and find out. You don’t have to know all the answers. Some questions won’t be answered this side of Heaven. That is ok.
Don’t let the possibility of a difficult question prevent you from sharing Christ. Instead, depend on the Holy Spirit to give you the power to boldly share the good news and the love of Jesus. Even the apostle Paul experienced this. He was a little insecure about some of his preaching. This is what he said in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 (NIV) In other words, he is saying, “My abilities aren’t that great. I’m not an incredible speaker, but when I open my mouth, the Holy Spirit comes, and He does what only He can do.” This is my saving grace.
When it comes to preaching to a crowd like this, I know I’m not that good. But I have been doing this Sunday after Sunday for 37 years. Here is what I know. The Holy Spirit can take a message like this and say things I never said and don’t even know. He can take a message like this and apply it to 100 people 100 different ways. I don’t know how He does it, but I know that He does. I know I don’t have what you need, but He does. And He will speak the truth to you through what 1 Corinthians 1:21 refers to as “the foolishness of preaching”.
I am often amazed at what people say they got out of a message. The Holy Spirit takes the words that are spoken, and He adapts them, and applies them to the needs of each receptive heart. The Holy Spirit has a way of personalizing this message just for you. He says just what you need to hear and that takes a lot of pressure off me. I do my best to do my part (plan, pray, prepare), but I know I don’t have what it takes to speak a message that is relevant for every person here and watching online today. That is where the Spirt of God steps in.
The same thing happens when you are going to share Christ with someone. You may think, “I don’t know what to say. I’m nervous.” Suddenly, God just gives you not only the words but also the boldness to start sharing. And they might ask you a question and you may think, “I don’t know how to respond,” and the next thing you know, you’re quoting some Bible verse you didn’t think you knew and you’re wondering, “Where did that come from? The Holy Spirit is prompting you, guiding you, and giving you divine direction and divine boldness.
There’s another great example of this in scripture when Peter and John were released from the Sanhedrin, and they went back to a little place with some of their buddies had gathered to pray. “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” – Acts 4:31 (NIV)
God showed up supernaturally and shook the building that they were in. It wasn’t their knowledge or by their own persuasive words that things were changed. It was by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you power of salvation. He gives you power to walk in God’s will. He gives you the power to share Christ boldly.
4. The power to live a HOLY LIFE.
When the forces of darkness tempt you into a sinful lifestyle, the Holy Spirit gives you the power and the ability to live a holy life. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:5-6
Before a person knows Christ, it’s so easy for our mind to be dominated by sinful thoughts. But the Holy Spirit gives us power to live a holy life. He renews our mind, and we start to think about the things that please Him instead of the desires of our fleshly nature. Will you be controlled by the flesh, or will you be controlled by the Spirit?
Think about it like this. Before you are a follower of Christ, sinning may seem like a lot of fun. But once you become a follower of Jesus, sinning is no longer fun. It makes you feel miserable. It makes you feel guilty. You want to enjoy it, but instead of enjoyment, you feel conviction. You say things like, “I know I shouldn’t be doing this.” Why? Because the Holy Spirit is convicting you, giving you power, and compelling you toward living a holy life.
In fact, before you know Christ, it may seem almost impossible to step out of some sin. Why is that? It is like we talked about last week. There’s a battle going on. The forces of darkness are warring against the forces of light. But when you are filled with the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit will show you the way out. There is always a way out of your sin when you follow the Holy Spirit.
When you are filled with God’s Spirit, people will begin to see evidence that God is at work in your life. In fact, The EVIDENCE of the Spirit-filled life is the Fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. These qualities will become evident, in increasing measure, regardless of circumstances, as the transforming work of the Spirit of God continues to empower you to live a holy life.
When the Holy Spirit comes, He gives us power. The power of salvation. The power to walk in God’s will. The power to share Christ boldly. The power to live a holy life.
5. The power to make a difference using our SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
The Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts that will empower us to make a difference in this world. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift. “…gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” – Hebrews 2:4b (NIV) You have certain gifts, certain abilities that are a gift from God. The two primary places you can read about these spiritual gifts is 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans 12:1-8.
Here are a few examples…
The spiritual gift of WISDOM is the ability to apply spiritual truth to a specific issue and to make proper choices in difficult situations. There is the spiritual gift of DISCERNMENT. Some of you may have the gift of GIVING. We are all called to be generous, but some people are uniquely gifted with the spiritual gift of giving. SERVING may be your spiritual gift. These are the people who are uniquely blessed with the ability to make a difference by serving.
Some of you have the spiritual gift of ENCOURAGEMENT. Whenever someone else is down, they love to hear from you, because you have the unique ability to lift them up. ADMINISTRATION, EVANGELISM, and MERCY are all spiritual gifts. You may have the spiritual gift of TEACHING.
Depending on the list and how things are classified, there are about 27 spiritual gifts. God has given every believer at least on spiritual gift to use within the church and to make a difference in this world. If you are a believer, there is no doubt you have at least one spiritual gift.
If this is your church home, and you’ve got a gift and you’re not using it, then that means there is something that God wants to be done that’s not being done. He’s gifted you with his spiritual gifts to make a difference in His church and in this world. God has given you the power to contribute and make a difference in the church.
I want to close with Two Specific Appeals: Whatever you do, 1) Don’t RESIST the Spirit. Don’t resist the direction and the voice of the Holy Spirit of God. What does that mean? How can you resist the Spirit? Perhaps there are times when you know the Spirit is prompting you. He’s speaking to you. You feel deep within your heart. You sense this spiritual direction. You can’t explain it, but you just know it.
You might say, “this is what I believe God wants me to do.” In that moment, you have a choice to make. You can obey the prompting of the Spirit, or you can make excuses and say, “That probably wasn’t God, and I don’t want to do it anyway.” Please don’t resist the prompting Holy Spirit.
If you continually resist the Holy Spirit, that is called grieving the Spirit. The Bible says you could actually quench the Holy Spirit. Imagine it like you are pouring water on top of a fire. If you resist the Holy Spirit long enough or often enough, one day you may wonder why you are no longer sensing the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Because you’ve resisted the Holy Spirit, and refused to follow His leading, the Spirit of God will depart from you. Whatever you do, do not resist the Holy Spirit of God.
2) Be FILLED with the Holy Spirit. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…” – Ephesians 5:18 (NIV) Paul is saying, don’t let any substance control you; instead, be filled with the Spirit of God. When you are filled with the Spirit of God, you will sense His presence and His leading.
When you are living life under the control of the Spirit, you will hear from Him. He will lead you. He will guide you. He will correct you. He will convict you. As you are walking with Him, you will develop a sensitivity to the leading of the Spirit. That is what living the Spirit-filled Spirit-led life is all about.
As the Spirit is at work in your life, He is continually refining in you the image of Jesus Christ. He gives us the power, the ability, the discernment, the direction to do His will. I pray that this will the experience of every single person hearing this message today.
Invite the Holy Spirit to do His perfecting work in your life today. That does not mean you are perfect, but you have submitted yourself to the perfecting, refining work of the Spirit of God in your life. The Holy Spirit was sent to INDWELL, EMPOWER, and ENABLE us to live the holy life God has called us to live. He brings us spiritual victory when we surrender our lives to Him.
The BIG WIN is not only that we have the Holy Spirit,
but the Holy Spirit has ALL OF US.