Facts in evidence…
June 10th, 2019
We have become such a legalistic world. Purpose and commitment have fell in behind documented evidence in our day-to-day lives. Our entire process of decision making has shifted from a moral compass to what we perceive as being the most effective, productive, and rewarding.
Good is being defined as what provides a direct benefit to self. Productivity has been redefined as when that good is delivered as expediently as possible. Reward is thought of as to how it impacts my level of comfort and ease.
God doesn’t define these things in the same manner as they are being positioned today. God’s truth is absolute and unchanging. We live in a world today where the secular portion of society insists that true is subjective and based on how we feel. Rules and laws do not apply to us when we feel they are unjust or infringe on our liberty, making it ‘okay’ to alter our compliance to meet our desired truth.
In the hearings for the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court, we heard repeatedly people professing to believe certain individuals’ truth rather than seeking what ‘the truth’ was. Strongly suggesting that we can select the truth that best fits our motivations, and how we feel about a situation or an individual. These places our concept of justice being blind and dealing with absolutes out the window with Lady Liberty. The balance now can be weighted on either side of the pendulum with the things we would like to consider rather than that which we know to be true.
This is a sad time and frightening outcomes can result when absolutes are melted down into conjecture and feelings.
Living in the Spirit
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in us so as to provide a more direct and dynamic means of interacting with us.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.
John 14:26 (NET)
The Holy Spirit is our direct means of relating to the Godhead. This allows us a definitive link between us and God. We don’t have to have a go-between interact with him.
Positives and negatives
There are affirmative indications of the presence of the Holy Spirit living in us, as well as, indications of the absence of the Spirit.
First let’s consider the things that a life exhibits outside of grace and with the absence of the Holy Spirit.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!
Galatians 5:19-21 (NET)
When the Spirit isn’t functioning in the life of an individual, we see evidence of the flesh present.
Sexual immorality – Impurity – Depravity – Idolatry – Sorcery – Hostilities – Strife – Jealousy – Bursts of anger – Selfishness – Dissension – Factions – Envy – Murder – Drunkenness – Carousing – Etc.
The list is long and potentially can be even longer. The real serious thing about this list is that the scripture says point blank, “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!” If these things are things we are showing a consistent engagement in, we haven’t seen that transformation that takes place when the grace of Jesus changes the life of an individual.
This doesn’t mean that our fleshly nature, which the Spirit is constantly at war with, isn’t going to persuade us to fall into some of these traps. We can, do, and will; because we remain in the flesh.
For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.
Galatians 5:17 (HCSB)
If the Spirit is living in us, flesh will lose this battle more often than not. We will never be one hundred percent free from the influence of the flesh until we are in our new bodies with Jesus. However, there is a distinction between living a Spirit filled life and just having the Spirit taking up residence in us.
The more we yield to the Spirit the less the effects of the flesh come into play in our lives. A Spirit filled life will demonstrate a much greater apportionment of the Gifts of the Spirit verses the evidence of the fleshes influence in our lives. This is all about surrender and submission of our will in favor of the will of God.
The additional benefit to living a Spirit filled life is that we have a greater sensitivity to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
With the Spirit living in us we are bound to exhibit the gifts of the Spirit.
I’m likely not going to make my Pentecostal brothers and sisters thrilled, but we must note, the Gifts of the Spirit are diverse and no one gift represents a greater evidence of the Spirits presents than another.
A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:
to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages, to another, interpretation of languages.
But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (HCSB)
While tongues is a Gift of the Spirit, we shouldn’t get hung up on acquiring this gift over any other gift. As a result of what took place at Pentecost, many will insist that without speaking in tongues is the only means validating the presence of the Holy Spirit in a life. This is absolutely wrong.
There appears to be a willingness to ignore the eleventh verse in this passage, which says clearly that “the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.” The Spirit decides who will have the gift of tongues, we can’t demand it. Paul in fact, suggests that it’s not something we should pursue. Not because it is bad, but these gifts are given to us for specific purposes. Those purposes will edify God and are to be used in the service of God’s plan.
This is because tongues are given to spread the Good News to peoples who have a different language than we do. I personally know missionaries who do their level best, to master a new dialect and fail miserably. But when God places them in a situation where that gift would be most useful, they speak in that tongue flawlessly. The same is true of translators of scripture and other places where God’s desire to let every person in every nation aware of the Gift that came as a result of His Son, giving his life for them.
It is often the case where God only gives his people a few of these gifts. But to whom and the quantity are determined and directed by the Holy Spirit to advance the purposes of the Lord.
In addition to the Gifts of the Spirit we also have the Fruit of the Spirit. Here we should absolutely pursue all of them and see them develop in our lives as we grow closer to God and more in concert with the Spirit living in us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-25 (NET)
I’d like you to note here a specific phrase in this passage, which follows the logic of this devotional. “Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.“ If we belong to Jesus, then our battles with the flesh will be mitigated, because our fleshly passions and desires have been crucified with Christ!
Just as there are nine gifts there are nine fruits.
Again, the important feature of the fruit is pointed out in the last sentence of the passage, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.”
We should desire Spiritual Gifts so we may be more useful to fulfill our calling. We should also see a growth in the Fruit of the Spirit as we grow closer to God, and more in concert with the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives, in other words, a “Spirit Filled” life!
In the Grace of Jesus!