This was written with the hope that lives might be changed. That we would walk closer to our Lord and have a clearer understanding of what is meant by what is said in the Scriptures we love. That we may know Christ more accurately for who He was while He lived among us on earth. Thus giving us a greater picture of how we too can live for Christ now while we are here and He is in heaven with our Father. Roman 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
A prayer I saw in a Sunday School booklet caused me to ponder: Lord, I open myself completely to Your word and the power of the Holy Spirit. Teach me what it means to walk in the Spirit, to pray in the Spirit and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
This prayer has depth and I'd like to spend some time focusing on it. Reflecting on its insight and thinking of it's implications for our lives as believers. Who is the Holy Spirit? How is the power of the Holy Spirit shown? What is it to walk in the Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the the Holy Trinity, the comforter Christ promised to send once He was gone up into heaven, returning to His rightful home. The power of the Spirit, then, is the power of God, Himself. Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Notice it is Him that is able and it is according to the power of Him that works in us. God's power alive in every one who believes in Him. 2 Peter 1:3-4 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Notice it is God's divine power that gives us all things and it is though the knowledge of God that we are called to both glory and virtue. All that we can glory in and all the goodness we have is a direct result of God's power in our lives. Paul said it so right: Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
For we will be the only Christ the world will see, except of course, upon His second coming when all will see Him come out of the sky. Our words of God's goodness mean nothing without our actions. Thanks be to God, He does the work in us, giving us the choice to obey and the choice to show our love for Him by obeying Him. For it is God doing in us all that He asks us to do, so it gets done. If left to us, it wouldn't get done! Over and over in Scripture, all we are really asked to do it to yield ourselves to Him. The power to overcome is in Him alone and He will not fail us. To do so would be to fail Himself.
Although the third question is addressed more fully in the booklet: 'Walking in the Spirit', I wanted to touch on it lightly before moving forward. Galatians 5:25 “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” We are alive in the Spirit upon salvation. We were dead in Adam and are alive in Christ: Romans 5. Now that we are again alive to God, we were alive to Him in Adam before the fall, we are to walk in Him. The word walk in this verse is the greek number 4748 and it means to march in a military rank, to conform to. Thus, we are to follow God in formation and conform to His likeness. Isn't this what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.“ A bold statement to make be the way, but Paul understood that as he obeyed Christ, he was a reflection of Christ and therefore we could safely follow him. This is what God expects out of each of us. Any one at anytime should be able to look at us and see an image of the invisible God. Not because we are God, rather because we are follow Him.
Christ is our example. He came to both save us from the punishment of sin and sin itself. He walked on earth for 33 years to be a living example of how to live our lives and to show the world who God is. Christ has now returned to heaven and we are the only Christ the world can see! Christ relied on the Holy Spirit, just as we must do. Mark 1:10-12 “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness.” Did you catch the last sentence? The Spirit drove (led) Christ into the wilderness to be tempted. Remember, He is our example.
God would not command us to do what we cannot do: most important, God is doing it through us!
Notice: the Spirit led Christ to a place where Satan would tempt Him. Are we not led into places of temptation? God wants us to choose to obey when we are placed into temptation. We are assured of a way to escape: 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
God has provided the Holy Spirit (God, Himself) living in us to both overcome our sin and to live for God! John 14:16-17 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
We are still given the choice! God doesn't force Himself on us. Genesis 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” When we became saved, we were restored to life through Christ and with life we can choose to obey God as Christ did or choose to disobey as Adam did. The power of sin over us has ended, read Romans 5-8 with emphasis on chapter 6.
You might say, Jesus is God, of course He overcame temptation. I realize Jesus is God, do you realize Jesus was without His Godness (God power) while on earth? He was limited to the same limitations we are and had to rely on the Holy Spirit to do the will of God! Philippians 2:5-7 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” The word reputation means to to make empty, to neutralize, to have no effect. Jesus on his own was as powerless as you or I. Not because He isn't God, He is! But as God, Christ made a choice to limit Himself to the natural abilities of a man to show you and I how to live for God.
Is this so foreign an idea? Long ago did not a king of English choose to walk away from his thrown to marry the woman he loved? Yes! Can not the CEO of a company, choose do work a day, a week or even a year as a janitor of his company under the limits of such a position? The question is not can he, he's the CEO and can do much of what he wants, but would he? Likely, not! Yet the CEO of the universe did so not only to restore our relationship with Him and save us from hell and give us a home in heaven, but to give us life here and now by living in us to accomplish His will on earth.
1. This is why Jesus, still God, yet limited to the nature of a man did not know all as God the Father does:
1.1. Mark 13:32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
2. Jesus only did what the Father showed Him and empowered him to do:
2.1. John 5:19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”
3. Additionally, Jesus told us we could do anything:
3.1. Matthew 17:19-20 “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Did you see it: Nothing is impossible unto you!
3.2. Also, John 14:12 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Wow, we can do greater works than Christ!
4. We are not limited by human ability, rather by three things:
4.1. Is whatever we're asking for violate the known will of God?
4.2. We ask for selfish reasons:
4.2.1 James 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
4.3. Do we truly have faith:
4.3.1 Luke 17: 5-6 “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”
Galatians 5:16-18 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
1. If we are led (walk) by the Spirit, we will not do the things of the flesh. If we follow the example of Christ and if we do the things of God we will not do the things of this world because we will be consumed by God and the things of God.
2. There is a battle (the flesh vs the Spirit – self will vs God's will). We are to yield to God's will over our own and ask Him to overcome for us. Left to ourselves, we will fail.
3. When led by the Spirit, we are not under the law. God's ways supersede the law. Look at what Christ said: Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” and 1 John 3:15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”
4. Romans 5-8 gives much more detail and should be read as a whole to gain greater insight into subject. A very brief outline is below:
4.1. Chapter 5 – Adam and the second Adam, Christ: Through the first Adam sin entered the world and death with it. Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” Through the second Adam, Christ, life was restored: Romans 5:17 “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
4.2. Chapter 6 – We are died to sin's control and now we are free to choose who we will obey – self will or God's will: Romans 6:14-18 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
4.3. Chapter 7 – The battle – putting off the old and putting on the new: Romans 7:14-25 “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
4.4. Chapter 8 – Overcoming – relying on and be led by the Holy Spirit of God: Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Notice we are free from the condemnation of Christ IF we do NOT walk after the flesh but DO walk after the Spirit. We don't get a free pass just because we are saved! God will hold us accountable!
God wants to show the world who He is and He gives us opportunities to show them. We are the only Christ the world will ever see. It's His power, waiting inside every one of us that believes, to show a lost and hurting world who He is and that He loves them.
I wanted to include a few examples of being led by the Spirit: I was on the way to work a few years ago and was pulled over by the police. The policeman came up to the door, told me to get out of the car and throw me up against it. All the while I had no idea way I was even pulled over. I knew I had just changed lines without signaling, but other than that, I didn't have a clue. He had called for backup and I was taken to the Police Station. He even search my car before we left! I was told I was speeding and I failed to yield to him. The backup cop, even told the other cop to let me go. After waiting in a holding area for about 15-20 minutes the cop came in and said I could go. The backup officer took me back to my van and dropped me off. Then I realized the first cop still had my keys! The cop dropping me off called him and he brought me my keys. As he pulled up to me, he throw them at me. Without thinking, I said, “thank you and have a nice day!” As he drove off and I picked up my keys and was shocked at my response to the jerk. I was even angry at myself for being so “nice” to the cop. Then God reminded me, I had asked for opportunities to love people and that it's easy to love friendly people. I laughed with God, got in my van and went to work.
My mom has a spending problem and now when she goes shopping she will send a flare prayer (a quick prayer) before she enters any store. Once in, she gets what she needs and leaves without the extra product calling and pulling at her to buy. IF she forgets to pray or as she is praying, she really doesn't want God's help at the moment, guess what? She buys more than she needs.
I was on the way out of our subdivision to do a few errands and I had a repetitive soft voice telling me to go the opposite direction than I had planned. I debated a moment and then yielded to the voice. I didn't know why I should go the other way, but I did. At my first stop, which would have been my last originally, I had the same voice say, pay the woman's bill in front of me. I objected of course, going a different direction didn't cost me anything, but who knows what the bill will be? I didn't yield and as she walked away I felt I had grieved the Spirit. As my items were being rung up. I quickly repented and ask the Lord, if He still wished to use me, have the woman in the parking lot when I exit. Sure enough, she was the first car I came in contact with on the way to my car. I didn't even have to look for her! I walked up to her and told her that I believed God wanted me to pay her bill and I hadn't, so I wanted to give her money instead. She seemed relived and thanked me. As she got in her car to leave, I noticed it was packed full of personal items. She was traveling from or to somewhere and God know she needed the extra cash. Immediately, my grieved Spirit went away!
Sadly, we don't always get a second chance: My family hosted Japanese students for a number of years when I lived in California. It was a awesome experience! One day we had been sightseeing and there was three students in the back of our van I was in the middle with another two students and they were taking a break for speaking English. I'm not sure why, but I looked back at them. One asked, do you speak Japanese? I quickly turned back facing the front and the girls giggled. Then I said, you never know, right? So one of them took the challenge and said a statement in Japanese. I had no clue what was said, but I knew God did and we had used opportunities to share with them about God during their stay. I quietly asked God what they said. That same still voice replied, raise your hand. I quickly asked which hand. God replied, your right one. Then came my mistake. I had the faith to ask God for the answer and believe He'd do it, but I let doubt stop me from raising my hand. The girls in the back giggled again at me in fun and returned to their conversation. After the day was over and we were home with the student who was staying at our house, I asked her what the girl hand said. She, replied simply, “if you know what I'm saying, raise your right hand.” I was very grieved that I had failed to believe what God had so clearly spoken. I asked Him to give me another chance while the students were with us and felt in my spirit, a no. Throughout the rest of their stay, I asked God what was being said and there was silence.
I share that spiritual defeat for two reasons: I don't believe in presenting my successes without also showing my failures and if God is telling you something, do it; you may or may not get another chance. God wants to show Himself through us to an unbelieving world, but He wants us to believe in Him ourselves.
1. Realize and believe we have God's power within us to hear Him, overcome our sinful habits and live His will through us:
1.1. Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
1.1.1 It is Him that is able and that it is according to the power (His power) in us.
1.2. 2Peter 1:3-4 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
1.2.1 His divine power through our knowledge of Him causes us to be partakers of His divine nature. We partake by being a vessel for His use.
2. Be in prayer for God's power in handing both what we know is coming and what only He knows is coming. Being ready is always better than trying to make do. We can be ready for the unknown by following this steps and step you create.
3. Love God: We say we do, but do we?
3.1. John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
3.1.1 Don't misunderstand this verse and others like it as I did for years. I originally took this verse as conditional love, thus I didn't understand it. I saw it as God wanted me to prove my love to Him by obeying Him. That's not it at all. Remember your first love or when your love was new, you'd do anything for them; it's all you wanted to do. You wanted to know every detail about them. This is the relationship God wants - always!
4. Increase your knowledge of God:
4.1. Not out of duty – you'll feel forced and may resent Him for it.
4.2. Do it out of love - because you want to know God intimately.
4.3. Spend time with God:
4.3.1 Read His Word to enjoy it
4.3.2 Read good Christian books to learn more about the God you serve.
4.3.3 Talk to Him throughout the day
4.3.4 Study His Word to know God more
5. Do to others what you would do for God if He was standing right in front of you:
5.1. Mark 9:41 “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”
6. Memorize Scripture:
6.1. I'm talking to myself here just as much as anyone else
6.2. Don't list all the excuses, we all have them!
6.2.1 If your boss told you to memorize something, you'd do it.
6.2.2 If I offered you $100 per verse to memorize, you'd do it.
6.3. It does get easier as we do it. It's like any other muscle in the body. The more you use it, the better it works.
6.4. The truth is we don't see the importance of it
6.4.1 It's one of the ways Christ used as a defense against the enemy - Satan
7. Be faithful with the small things:
7.1. Luke 19:16-24 “Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.... And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin.... And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.”
7.2. He that was faithful got more and he that was not, had what little he had taken away.
8. Be faithful with clear things. There's no need seeking or praying about things God has already spoken about. We just need to do them.
9. Make an action plan. In business they say: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is so true, even outside of the business world.
9.1. When I was a young teen, I put my hand up a girl's blouse. I was so convicted. I asked God to show me how to protect myself, others and His reputation by never doing that again. He told me to stop the motor before it ever gets started.
9.2. One of my action plans:
9.2.1 Don't be alone with a woman in her house/apt and especially not her bedroom!
9.2.2 Talk with the person and get to know who they really are.
9.2.3 Go on group dates rather than one on one dates.
9.2.4 Have a chaperone on your date.
9.2.5 Don't stir up the flesh by getting physical:
No kissing until marriage.
I admit, it's a bit extreme, but why draw the line at doing everything but sex, then slip and it's too late. Instead, put the line as far away as possible, then if I slip, and kiss someone, it's a warning sign, not a sin!
You may laugh at this, but it's kept me a virgin.
10. Your plan may be different. Do whatever works for you, but make one for each area of struggle in your life that you have. Here's a few others I use:
10.1. For lust, I pray for the woman.
10.1.1 If I keep have impure thoughts for the same woman, I keep praying for her. The results have been amazing!
10.2. For bitterness, I give to the person I have an issue with and my bitterness melts away:
10.2.1 Matthew 5:38-41 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”
11. Focus on the spiritual.
11.1. Become a friend with God
11.2. Enjoy God
11.3. Spend time with believers who do God things
11.4. Put aside self things
11.5. Change friends if needed
11.6. Love God from your heart:
11.6.1 I've been a Christian a long time and I discovered, for a long time, more time than I care to mention, I didn't love God from my heart – There's a world of difference in how we act and respond to others and to God when we love Him deep within our very being.
11.7. Listen to good Christian music and sermons
12. Be willing to make wrongs right. It's like cleaning out the pipes. The water flows more freely!
12.1. When God convicted me of my temper, I started confessing it every time I did it. My poor mom had to forgive me at least 60 times in a row at first, then 40, then 20. Also, I noticed something, before I had no control over my temper, after, it's like time pauses and I can choose if I'm going to get angry or not. I was amazed. If I do lash out, I seek to ask forgiveness for my part of the ordeal without mentioning the other persons part. I'm not in control of their part, whether my part is 90% or only 10%, it's between them and God. I merely confess to both and move on.
12.2. When I was a teen I did some shoplifting. Later as God brought these sins to mind, I returned to the stores and paid for the things I stoled. What a chance to witness!
12.3. I went back to the girl whose blouse I put my hand up and asked her to forgive me. She did say yes, but I had broken the trust she had in me and she never trusted me the same. Although, I've changed and I've never done it again, it still saddens me that I hurt her.
13. Use past failures to remind you of the consequences, but don't dwell on them. It's the past and it's done.
14. Repeat these steps over and over.
15. Add to them with your own ideas.
Applying God's word can be difficult, some times scary and at times humbling. Yet it can be so exciting and rewarding, a fresh spring bubbling up and joy overflowing: 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”