22 April 2014 by Tony Dibble –
God has given us the Holy Spirit from the time that we were born- again (Eph 1:13). The difference between defeated Christians and victorious ones is not that the defeated Christians did not have the Holy Spirit. The problem is that the defeated Christians did not know how to deal with the Holy Spirit they had. The Holy Spirit was to be their Master but they wanted to be their own bosses. The only way to avoid control by our instincts is to recognise the Holy Spirit as our ‘Resident Boss’, to paraphrase Watchman Nee from “The Normal Christian Life”.
1. Holy Spirit-Controlled vs Lust-Controlled
“Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16)” is the direction to the Christian. The flesh refers to our old sinful/corrupt nature. Lust refers to that passion which intensifies the drive towards our old corrupt nature. It is a godless nature. If we are unsaved, we live in the flesh and lust rules us. Christians however, are to live under the direction of the Holy Spirit. They are not to live by their own instincts, where lust motivates. Living in the Holy Spirit means that we do not take total personal direction of our lives. Neither do we strive, nor struggle, to do things in the Holy Spirit. Instead, we trust and rest in the Holy Spirit. This is to be in all that we do, say and think about.
2. Sin’s Control
Romans 7: 15-24 explains how sin controls and destroys us. We do not understand our random acts. We are unable to do the things we want to. Instead, we do the things we do not want to. This is because sin lives in us. Sin causes us to act this way and to perform evil. This is an unending process. We are ‘wretched’. Romans 8: 1 then shows us that it is only Christ who frees us from the power of sin. The flesh is under Christ, if we walk in the Holy Spirit. Therefore we no longer live on our own but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2: 20). In a similar way, we can do all things in Christ who is our strength (Philippians 4: 13).
When living in the Holy Spirit, Satan tempts us to get out from under the protection of GOD. We are tempted to depend on our own mind, energy, instinct, strategy, judgement or wisdom. In doing this, we end up away from GOD. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden. Eve and Adam relied on their own minds, outside the protection of GOD. We must not do anything outside of Christ. We do not even fight our own flesh. Our will power is unable to stand up against our flesh. The Holy Spirit is the only one who has the power to fight flesh.
However, the devil does not need us to sin in a big way. All he needs is for us to just make a slight move to step out on our own. He has then scored his victory. Once we do that, we have submitted to his power. This is why we speak of sin as separation from GOD. We have separated ourselves from the protection of GOD. The way to avoid this separation is by praying fervently always, everywhere, over all things, in the Holy Spirit and to always be alert and persevere (Eph 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Tim 2:8).No matter how small an issue, the Christian must always avoid stepping out on his own strength. Once this happens, he is outside the protection of GOD.
4. Walk, not Work
Watchman Nee reminds us that we ‘walk’ in the Holy Spirit, and not ‘work’ in the Holy Spirit. The ‘work’ is done by the Holy Spirit. The work is solely His. He will work in us when we walk in Him. When we walk in the Holy Spirit, we submit ‘completely’ to the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in total control of our lives. GOD is not a second class agency having any need to share His work.
Christians who find themselves living a defeated struggle may ultimately give up living the life in Christ. This is because they may have been ‘doing’ the work that GOD should be doing instead of ‘walking’ in GOD’s Spirit.
In the Old Testament, as long as Israel obeyed the LORD and kept in relationship with Him, GOD’s people won their battles even though their numbers were smaller, and their military armoury less sophisticated than that of their enemy’s. This was GOD’s assurance to his people (Deut 17:16; 23:14).
5. GOD Dwells in Us
In Eph 4: 17 to 29 we are warned not to walk in the foolishness of the mind. Man’s understanding has become evil and cut off from the life of God. This arises because of ignorance and because the heart is hardened. It has turned to an impure life, and to greed. We are instead, to cut off the old sinful nature. That nature has been corrupted by the lust of deceits. We are to be renewed instead in the spirit of the mind, putting on the new self which God has created, in righteousness and through holiness. The Holy Spirit seals us to the final day of redemption. This is why we are not to grieve Him (Eph 4:30) through following our singularly, self-oriented conduct. If we grieve Him, we have broken that seal of His protection and lose our salvation.
In 1 Cor 3: 16, we are encouraged that the Spirit of God lives in us and that we are the temple of God. We are not to yield to lust in our bodies as we are owned by GOD (1 Cor 6:19). Hence, we walk not by our own direction but in the Spirit of GOD.
6. Misconceived Motivation
Motivational philosophy teaches us to depend on our mental attitude. The power of positive thinking and self-actualisation are its principal concepts. However, such motivation is against the word of GOD. Self replaces Christ and the Holy Spirit. Spiritual discipline must be by the Holy Spirit and not by the self.
7. Do Not ‘Presume’
However, we must remember that we do not ‘presume’ on GOD nor take Him for granted. This means that we do not take a casual view of our faith expecting GOD as a remote agent, to take care of things automatically. We are still responsible for the depth of our spiritual commitment. We need, instead, to cultivate active faith, fervent prayer and total obedience to the will of GOD if we walk in the Spirit.
The Christians in Corinth, which Paul addressed his letters to, did not lack the Holy Spirit. What they lacked was the proper knowledge about Him directing them solely. There were some who were preoccupied with the external signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence, such as spiritual gifts. There were others who lived sinfully (1 Cor 5: 1 & 2; 12:29 & 30).They needed complete direction in the Holy Spirit.
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