Okay, so you’re a Christian. You made a decision for Christ. Now what? Maybe you have been a Christian for many years but have never really lived any differently than how you lived before you accepted Christ. What’s going on? Is there more than what you are experiencing?
This is the plight of many Christians everywhere. Unfortunately much of what is taught from church pulpits these days does anything to really promote change in people’s lives. Too much of it is simply head knowledge of Jesus Christ along with a few Bible stories or, it’s socially instructive sermons on a Sunday morning: stuff about how to be a good citizen or keeping your lives organized. Either way- completely devoid of any real spiritual power to change one’s life.
First question: When you believed on Christ, were you born again? (If not, click here: Born Again – Is it still for today?…please check out this article on the subject of being born again. Nothing happens without that spiritual transformation.)
But let’s say you were born again. You remember that day you made a decision for Christ but since then, nothing of any real substance has taken place or transpired in your life-at least not on a spiritual level-or in a way that empowers you as a child of God.
I want to talk about a term used in the Book of Galatians. It’s called:
‘Walking in the Spirit’.
Many today think Jesus came just to forgive us our sins. Now He definitely did come provide a sacrifice for our sins to be forgiven. That is most definitely true. That happened on the cross. He took all the sin of humanity upon Him and took our place of punishment. But there is more than that! Last I checked, Jesus didn’t stay 6 feet under. He rose from the grave on the 3rd day and ascended back to Heaven to sit down next to the Father. When He rose from the grave, He conquered death and the devil. He gave us victory over both. (Heb 2:14-15) When He headed back to Heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit back to us, to be with us in EVERYTHING we do. Jesus told His disciples that it was actually better if He left!!
Now think about this for a moment. Let’s just say…you are one of the twelve. You’ve been hanging out with Jesus and seeing all the awesome miracles He has performed. You’ve seen people raised from the dead and thousands of people fed from just some fish and bread. You’ve even gone out and drove out demons yourself and prayed for people to be healed while under Jesus’ ministry. Now…He says it’s better if He leaves??? How is that even possible? You have the Messiah-the Son of God with you. Next to you. You could literally touch Him!. That makes literally zero sense right? Wrong. Here is why it makes sense. Jesus made a powerful statement in Matthew chapter 11:
“I assure you that John the Baptist is greater than anyone who has ever lived. But the one who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than John.” Matt 11:11/GNT
Now what is Jesus talking about here? Obviously John the Baptist did some great things. He was said to be the 2nd coming of Elijah preparing the way for the Lord. But here is the thing: John the Baptist was a sinner. He was never born again. He died before Christ died. He never had the opportunity to receive salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at another scripture.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to all the ends of the Earth.” Acts 1:8/NIV 84
Jesus said we would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon us. POWER. The Greek word here is ‘Dunamis’. This is where the English language derives the word ‘Dynamite’. We all understand the power behind a stick of dynamite. (Some might even recall a certain sitcom called ‘What’s Happening?’ where one of the main characters always said ‘DYNOMITE!’ but that’s not what we are talking about here!) Ok, now let’s break this down:
When Jesus left, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer. When we are born again, we receive the Holy Spirit reviving our dead Spirit. We are also to receive a baptism of the Holy Spirit empowering us to live this Christian life and be witnesses of Jesus’ life-changing power as it relates to how our lives have changed. The Christian receives power from God to live for Him on this Earth. The Holy Spirit lives inside of us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be just like Jesus when He walked this Earth.
Whoa!! Did I just say that? You bet I did. We are to be just like Jesus when He walked this Earth. Now I know many may be thinking, “Oh my…I could never be like Jesus. No one is like Jesus. I mean…He is the son of God.” Well guess what? As a believer in Jesus you also are a son of God. Through our faith in Jesus and what He accomplished, we come to share in His very righteousness. The Bible says we are heirs, co-heirs with Christ!
‘So you are no longer a slave, but a SON; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.’ Gal 4:7/NIV
Jesus told His disciples ‘I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. In fact, he will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.’ (John 14:12). You must understand that as Christians-as followers and believers in Jesus-we are supposed to live empowered on this Earth, doing what Jesus Himself did. This is the very reason He said that it was important that He go away. You see, the disciples had Jesus in their presence but they didn’t have Him IN THEM. They could witness Jesus’ miracles and observe from a distance but, by Him going away and them receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they could now have Jesus residing within each of them doing the very things they watched Jesus do! This is truly good news for you and I because this means we don’t have to live the Christian life only looking out to a Jesus residing someplace up in Heaven-to what seems like so very far away. No, He is right here on the inside, through the Holy Spirit living in us. Now, let’s look at what Paul said in His letter to the Galatians about all this:
‘What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature… But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.’ Gal 5:16, 22-25/GNT
Here we have the Apostle Paul stating that the Holy Spirit is to direct our lives, that if we let the Holy Spirit lead and direct us, we will NOT satisfy our fleshly human nature or our carnal worldly desires which are contrary to holiness and godliness. The Spirit within us literally leads us in what to do daily and produces in us spiritual results such the fruit of the spirit. The 9 qualities listed as fruit ARE NOT a result of just trying to live a godly life. Let me repeat that.
The 9 qualities listed as fruit ARE NOT a result of just trying to live a godly life.
They are an indirect result of seeking to worship God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving those around us, in the same way we care for ourselves. As we seek God daily through prayer and reading the Bible, we become more like Jesus. As we seek to let our minds be changed by what the Bible says, our thinking changes, thus resulting in our actions changing. What I am talking about though is more than just READING the Bible. We are to HEAR from the Bible. You may ask “how do we HEAR from the Bible?” We hear from the Bible by reading the passages and letting the Holy Spirit give us revelation of what it really says. Almost like a set of decoder glasses. There is more in the Bible than just the written words. The Bible is ‘living and active’. (Hebrew 4:12) It is literally alive. It has the power to judge our hearts and intentions. It does this by connecting with the Spirit within us-the Holy Spirit. The two work in concert with each other. This is one reason why many Christians who are living a very carnal, worldly lifestyle do not want to read the Bible because, they know it will ‘prick’ their conscience, convicting them that how they are living is wrong. Reading and studying God’s Word, and letting it change us, is one way the Spirit empowers us. There is another way though as well.
The Spirit is to lead us as we hear from Him. Okay, this is where it can get a bit trickier. One can very quickly fall into a ditch on the side of the road when it comes to this topic. What I mean, is it’s easy to drift in the hyper-spiritual facet of things rather than keeping focus on Christ. In fact, many cults have started this way-by hearing things. Without getting into this too much on this post (will delve into this in a subsequent article), we are to be led by the Holy Spirit daily as we hear the voice of God in our lives. His voice is always transmitting to us but most of the time, no one is tuning in! (Read Are You Tuned In?) God wants to lead us. He had very great things planned for us-daily even but, we must listen!! We must quiet ourselves to hear what He is saying. Part of this process involves reading and studying His Word. That helps to prepare our minds to hear, by setting the proper foundation in our brains, formed around His desires for our life and humanity as a whole. We do this by hearing what the Bible has to say. The other part though is learning to hear. How does one do this? By ridding our lives of the worldly junk that gets in the way.
Picture a satellite dish trying to receive a signal. Many these days have satellite television so this is something to which most of us can relate. Well when the installer is setting up the dish on a roof, they install it in a location that is free from obstacles or physical hindrances, such as low-lying tree branches, power poles, or next door houses. They are trying to establish a direct line to the satellite in space which, is transmitting the television signal. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE MUST DO AS WELL! We have to rid ourselves of the worldly obstacles that impede our hearing from the Spirit. These obstacles are things such as carnal activities, worldly television and books, secular entertainment, and even just busyness. Now it’s not that we have to leave everything behind to go take up residence in a monastery somewhere, for that merely comes off as God being a cosmic killjoy. It does mean however that some of the things in our life may have to go by the waist-side. We are spiritual beings living inside a physical body. God is also spirit (John 4:24) and speaks to us through our regenerated spirits! (Regenerated meaning spirits made new-born again by the Holy Spirit.) There are a great many things in this life which are looking to steal away from us communing with God. This is the devil’s number one priority for believers. If Satan can get us caught up in the affairs of this world, then we are not caught up in the affairs of God and, we become powerless spiritually speaking.
We won’t do the things Jesus did.
We won’t see miracles.
We won’t see people healed.
We won’t be healed ourselves.
We won’t live victoriously because our passions will be worldly and not, other-worldly.
We won’t be Christ-centered living with our eyes set upon that which is above.
This is where a great many live today as followers of Christ. Empty and just like the world around them.
I plan on getting into this more in another article but for now, I want to leave you with this thought: Let’s begin to rid our lives of those things which hinder our faith when it comes to believing what the Bible says. Too many pick and choose what to follow from the Word of God based on what is convenient, leaving out those things which are uncomfortable or may cost us. But those things which cost us are the very things which open the door unto God, for Him to empower us unto godly living and enabling us to to make an impact in this world! Does anyone truly think Jesus would have changed life as we know it some 2,000 years ago if instead of doing the Father’s will, He would have just gone about with worldly affairs-getting caught up in the latest gossip, the newest entertainment and trusting in His own strength to get Him by in life? No. He went about doing His Father’s will and desires for His life. He told His disciples that ‘his food was to do the will of God who had sent Him and to finish that work’ rather than getting caught up with things in the here and now-just worldly things. I challenge you to get quiet before the Lord. Start reading the Bible with intention to not only read the Word but to HEAR the Word!!! God is speaking to you but you have to tune in.
If you will start praying and seeking the Lord, allowing the Spirit to work in you, you will start overcoming the hindrances and strongholds in this life. You will begin seeing the miraculous. You will not only see your life change but will be able to impart life into others and see them changed. You will be doing the very things Jesus did here on this Earth. You will become the victor that Jesus intended you to be.
“…because just as Jesus is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17/NET