Living with the Spirit (pt 2)

Living with the Spirit (pt 2)

Posted by Signal Mountain Church of Christ on Saturday, March 2, 2019
Last week we took a tour through Ephesians looking at what it teaches us about the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians chapters 1-3 tell us of the gift of the Holy Spirit, How the Holy Spirit moves into us.  Then chapters 4-6 tells us about life with the Holy Spirit, How to live with God inside.  We are Christians who are born of the Spirit and washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, right?

Let’s review the questions we ended on last week.  As we do, let’s consider other scriptures that may help us understand and apply this. 

1. Are you sealed with the Holy Spirit? 1:13-14  (read)

Now this tells us how and when the Holy Spirit does this.  This is a seal of promise.  God promised way back with Abraham to bless all nations through him.  Then in the prophets (Joel 2) God promised to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, all nations, so that everyone has access to this glorious promise. Finally, in Acts 2 we read about how God began fulfilling this promise.  After Peter preached the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the promised Messiah, and how He was delivered up and crucified according to God’s predetermined plan, and that they were guilty of killing their Messiah. But God raised Him up again and exalted Jesus to His own right hand just as the scriptures foretold.  “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified both Lord and Christ!”

Convicted by this, they cried out: What shall we do?  And Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for… (two things) the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Now don’t miss this next part) For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Look with me at Ephesians 1:13-14 again carefully.  In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given you as a pledge of our inheritance, until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory!  Circle “you were sealed.”  Now circle “with the Holy Spirit of promise.” 

Ask yourself this question: Have I been sealed with the Holy Spirit?  If not, you need to be.  Do you think that Ephesians 1:13-14 does not apply to you.  In Acts 19 Paul met some disciples who had been baptized, but had not received the Holy Spirit.  Paul’s question to them is informative to us, “Then what baptism did you receive?” If you didn’t receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit when you were baptized, you missed out.  The reason you were washed clean from sin by the blood of Jesus was, in large part, so that God could dwell in you by His Spirit.  God won’t dwell in a defiled house, at least not for long.

Which leads us to the next question:

2. Does the Holy Spirit dwell within you?  Eph. 2:18-22.  (read)

Verse 18 tells us that both Jews and Gentiles have access to the Father in one Spirit.  1 Cor. 12:13 tells us when this occurs.  Gal. 3:26-29 mentions how we belong to Christ and are Abraham’s seed, heirs of the promise. 

Verse 21-22 tell us how we (corporate as a church body) are built together as a dwelling of God in the Spirit.  1 Cor. 6:19 says, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  In fact, Romans 8:9 boldly states that we are in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Either God dwells in us by His Holy Spirit or we do not belong to God!  Important question!  Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you?  If we consider what Ephesians 2:1-2 says about us before the Holy Spirit enters and dwells in us, we find that without His indwelling we are spiritually dead but animated by the working of the spirit of the power of the air (evil spirit) which works IN THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE.  Notice where this evil spirit dwells.  This reminds us of Romans 7:14, 17, 18 & 20, which explain life when I know the Holy Scriptures, but do not have the Holy Spirit.  Instead, what dwells in me is not the Holy Spirit but… Look at Rom. 7:17 and 20 and tell me what’s living inside?  That’s why we need the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ to prepare us to become a dwelling place for God’s Spirit.

By the way, the Old Testament weighs in on this with helpful information too.  King Saul received the Spirit of God when he was anointed, but later lost His presence when Saul disobeyed God.  In the place of the Spirit of God there came an evil spirit upon him.  (Sounds a bit like Ephesians 2:1-2, does it not?)

David received the Holy Spirit when he was anointed king, but was at great risk of losing Him in the incident with Bathsheba.  Upon being confronted by Nathan the prophet, David repented and penned Psalm 51 which reveals David’s deep concerns… “Create in me a clean heart, O God!  And renew are right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, O Lord!  And take not your Holy Spirit from me!  Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners shall be converted unto you.”  David begged God, “Do not take your Holy Spirit from me!”  Jesus later taught us in Luke 11:13  If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. 

Is this true?  Does the Holy Spirit dwell in you?  If so, what does He do?  This leads us to Ephesians 3:14-21.  Specifically verses 16 and 20.  What do these tell us about the Holy Spirit’s work within us?

3. Are you empowered by the Holy Spirit?  Eph. 3:16,20 (read)

Notice this is a prayer of Paul for the church.  Here we learn of the power of the Holy Spirit with in us.  Power so that we can have Christ dwelling within us through faith.  Power that drives us into the depths of the love of Christ and fills us up to the fullness of God!  Look at verse 19 again and circle the words “fullness of God.”  That’s what the Holy Spirt is doing in us.  He’s empowering us to be restored to the likeness of God, the image of God, like we were created to be in the first place!  See also Eph. 4:13 and 5:1-3.  This is a transforming work of God and it’s an inside job that manifests itself in every aspect of our lives.  (See also 2 Cor. 3:17-18)  We also see in Romans 8 how the Holy Spirit helps us, but more on that later.

So, here we have it.  We are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit for our sanctification, and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit within us, to bring us to the fullness of God, the fullness of Christ.  But is this true?  Are these words of God for us too?  Remember Acts 2:39 – the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.  Have you been called by the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Then this promise is for you too!

So now… if we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, indwelled by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit what’s next?

4. Are you striving to keep the unity of the Spirit?  Eph. 4:1-7 (read)

Our first duty as Spirit sealed, indwelled and empowered people is to work with Him!  We don’t get to sit back and hand Him the wheel of our lives.  But much like Philippians 2:12-13 says, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to act according to His good pleasure.  We are not left without responsibility and choices here.  Just as Saul and David in our earlier illustrations.  We can have great assurance and confidence that we are not alone, but we still must continue to be led by the Spirit.  We must not resist Him.

The first duty we see in Ephesians is that we strive for unity.  We are all one in Christ Jesus.  We are all brothers and sisters with one Father. God wants His children to enjoy each other in love.  Love is the first fruit of the Spirit.  Joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control all reflect the indwelling, empowering work of the Holy Spirit in God’s people.  Jesus said, “They will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.”  It’s no wonder that this command to love is THE MOST PROMINENT of all commandments of the New Testament.  We must strive for the unity of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing is more ugly that a family that hates and hurts one another.  Nothing is more beautiful than a family that practices the fruit of the Spirit with one another.

If you are sealed, indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit this is number one duty and responsibility on your to do list.

5. Is your life and language such that does not grieve the Holy Spirit?  Eph. 4:29-32 (read)

After explaining the need and blessings of unity of the body of Christ as we all work together (which is an outworking of the Holy Spirit within us), Paul launches into the life and language of the Christian, instructing us in what to take off and what to put on.  This is basic house cleaning for the Holy Spirit’s dwelling place in you. Have you ever seen a house that you would NOT want to live in?  Why?  Look at your life and ask, “Is my heart and mind clean enough for the Holy Spirit to live in?” If not, you’ve got some repenting to do, do you not?  We can’t have God’s power and blessings if our lives are full of things that grieve His Spirit.

You can grieve the Spirit.  You can resist the Spirit.  You can insult the Spirit.  You can blaspheme the Spirit.  And you can lose the Spirit.  Don’t!!!  Which leads to the next question:

6. Are you regularly being filled with the Holy Spirit?  Eph. 5:18-21. (read)

If we are sealed, indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, why do we need to be filled with Him?  Because WE LEAK!

We are constantly in need of returning to the fountain and drinking of the Holy Spirit.  1 Cor. 12:13. This comes by loving and meditating on the word of God, and by prayer.  But also, Eph. 5:18-21 gives us 5 participles that we can exercise to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  1. Speaking to one another Psalms, Hymns, spiritual songs.  2. Singing.  3. Making melody in your hearts to God.  4. Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. 5. Submitting to one another in reverence of Christ.  These are all actions involving fellowship with God and other Christians.  This fills the spiritual tank, so to speak. 

7. Are you armed with the spiritual armor and the sword of the Holy Spirit?  Eph. 6:17 (read)

In context, this tells us that we are at war spiritually.  We are vulnerable without the Holy Spirit and His armor.  Our battle is much greater than we can see with our eyes of flesh and blood.  Without the sealing, indwelling and empowering Holy Spirit, we would never make it.  But by His power we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ!  See Romans 8:26-39.

8. Finally, are you always praying in the Holy Spirit  Eph. 6:18. (read)  (See also Jude 17-25, specifically 20-21).

If we look at Paul’s prayers in the book of Ephesians, these are great models of praying in the Spirit.  Notice that Paul spends most of his prayer time focusing on Christ and our need to be closer to Him and how we are blessed by Him and in Him.

A caveat on studying the Holy Spirt is this: don’t isolate the Holy Spirit from the Father and Jesus.  The scriptures never do this and it can lead to misunderstandings.  But when we see how the Father and Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit are One God, yet perform various functions, we can more fully appreciate and praise Him. 

Below are further notes of a lesson on the Holy Spirit that was given here on Feb. 24, 2019.

Are you sealed in the Holy Spirit? Eph. 1:13-14 Are you indwelled by the Holy Spirit? 2:18-22 Are you empowered by the Holy Spirit? 3:16,20 Are you striving to keep the unity of the Spirit? 4:1-6 Does your life and language avoid grieving the Holy Spirit? 4:29-31 Are you regularly being filled with the Holy Spirit? 5:18 (We leak). Are you armed by taking up the Spirit’s Sword? 6:17  Are you at all times praying in the Holy Spirit? 6:18

Now, I don’t know about you, but that seems like a lot of Holy Spirit instruction and information, is it not?  So, let’s get this straight, according to God’s word, the Holy Spirit is not simply a subject to be learned, but He is our God that we must be filled with and follow.  Again, the Holy Spirit is not something we simply learn about, He is Himself God, sent to us from the Father and the Son as Someone who lives in us and who leads us.  Would you agree with that?  Let’s look at some other verses about that.

In John 4:24, Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH.” What is worship in Spirit?  Look at Philippians 3:3 where Paul contrasts worship in the Spirit with confidence in the flesh. (read).  So, which do we do here?  Do we gather, pray, sing, commune, give, preach and teach in the flesh or in the Spirit?  Is it possible that we do all these things in the flesh but somehow not in the Spirit? Can a man or woman act like they are faithfully married in their home, but secretly cheat on their husband or wife when they are away? This is the danger of defining worship as simply doing everything right while we are here.  God also looks at what’s going on elsewhere.  God’s Holy Spirit isn’t just in you at church.  He’s in you as you drive to work, when your out with friends, as you go and do life. The Holy Spirit doesn’t drop in on you as you do church things and then leave you to do your own things.  He lives in you all the time, or not at all.  And let me say this… If He moves out, there’s a host of evil spirits lined up to move in and take up residence.  Your spiritual house is going to be occupied. There’s no vacancy that lasts.  Ephesians 2:1-2 will apply to you.  Also, Eph. 6:11f.  We battle against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.  Don’t dare take the armor off.  Praying in the Spirit is not just when your at church or feeling religious.  It’s about worshipping in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit, 24/7/365.  Let’s look at Romans 8:12-17.

So what’s the Holy Spirit doing inside of me?  And how can I know He is there?  How do we test ourselves to see if we are in Christ and Christ is in us?  Well, it’s really not rocket science. The Bible is not hiding it from you.  But you may be hiding it from yourself.  Are you putting up a fight for the kingdom of Christ?  Do you show spiritual vital signs of a living faith where the Holy Spirit dwells?

Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Did you get all that?  It is by God’s Holy Spirit, who lives in us and leads us that we are being made like Him, we are being transformed into His image. Ephesians 5:1 puts it this way, We are being imitators of God, as His beloved children. This is how God created you and me in the first place: In His own image and likeness.  But something is wrong with us.  We are broken.  We have fallen into sin.  We have become dead in sin, we are enslaved to sin, blinded by sin, and actually have become so used to sin that we think it’s ok to practice at least a little of it, some of it… Right?  Sadly, many people like sin, they enjoy sin and excuse sin in their lives and defend their sins as if they are good. Sin is deceptive.  It is evil. Our sinful condition is fatal.  And it is contagious. We are powerless to save ourselves from its sting of death and in fact, many people have no desire to be saved from their sins.  Some become brainwashed by sin so that they would rather defend sin than see it for what it is. Sin is the mother of death (James 1:15). But God, who created us in His own image and likeness, who is Holy and absolutely just, must punish all sin in righteous judgment. He must, if He is good. God, who is a Holy God is also love, and He has so loved us, He has done the unimaginable, the unthinkable.  In order to save us from our sins God our Father, sacrificed His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem you and me from sin and set us free.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead, broke the power of sin and death for all who believe and obey the gospel. God gives us freedom from sin and death as a free gift of His mercy and grace. Now, by being born again of water and the Holy Spirit, God makes us a new creation. He adopts us as His own children and He seals us with His Holy Spirit.  Romans 8 lays it out straight in verses 5-9: …You, however are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Did you get that?  Are you walking in the flesh or in the Spirit?  This is the question!  The little book of Jude, just one chapter, is written to the church who faced a lot of what we face today. 

Let me just read through this little powerhouse letter with you.  Listen as God’s word speaks to you.  Open your heart and minds to receive what the Holy Spirit has inspired here for you…

(Read Jude)