We began this series with Jesus' highlighting a life choice that we each have.
Jesus says the whole world is on this wide and crowded highway filled with anxiety and striving and brokenness. It's a painful journey. No matter how many lanes are on it, they all lead to emptiness and destruction.
Then Jesus invites us to trust and follow Him.
Jesus said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me."
And the next day after saying this, Jesus gave His life and opened the Way…
Most balk at Jesus' claim, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the way of the world, apart from Jesus, is not as healthy or loving as people would have us believe.
Politicians don't bring unity. Technology doesn't increase our peace or joy. Fame, porn, money don't fill our need for love or significance.
However foolish it sounds to others, we want to know Jesus intimately and to follow Him more resiliently. But doing so is not always easy or automatic.
It's important that we take advantage of the gifts God gives to help us: 1) The Bible. 2) Prayer. 3) The Church.
A fourth gift that God gives to enable us to walk close with Jesus and live a life that reflects His love and holiness is the Holy Spirit.
Every believer is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the moment you first trusted Jesus. Whether you know it or not, whether you act like it or not.
Speaking to a church overtaken by way too much sin, Paul asked,
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
The Holy Spirit was in them—as He is in you. But they didn't know or trust that God was dwelling in them. Two things here: 1) The apostle expects the Holy Spirit to make a real difference in how we live in this world. 2) He acknowledges that this isn't always the case…
So the indwelling of the Spirit is unconditional; He is in every believer however young or mature. But the filling of the Spirit is conditional; He does not fill every believer, not all the time.
God never tells us to "be indwelled by the Spirit," but we are commanded to "be filled with the Spirit."
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.
In other words, "Don't be driven to shameful things by alcohol," the apostle tells us, "but be fully influenced by the Holy Spirit."
The meaning of the Greek word "to fill" means "to fully influence." Paul's command to be filled with the Holy Spirit means allow yourself to be influenced by the Holy Spirit.
We are also exhorted to "walk by the Spirit" not the flesh (Galatians 5:16)
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Our sin-influenced ambitions are constantly at war with the life that is given us in Christ. This doesn't say He removes these desires, but He points our hearts to Jesus, where we see them for what they are and can say no to them.
We are also encouraged to "follow the Spirit" not the world (Galatians 5:25)
Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit [if we're born again by the Spirit, if we have new life in Christ by the Holy Spirit], let’s follow the Spirit as well.
We are told to do these for our good, our freedom, our joy.
If Jesus is going to make a real difference in how we live in this world—we need to allow the Holy Spirit to actively do in us what He's in us to do.
So we'll spend the next few weeks discovering what it means to be filled with the Spirit. And how to be filled with the Spirit. How to walk by the Spirit. How to follow the Spirit in a way that makes a real difference today.
First, who is the Holy Spirit? Notice I asked who? not what?
The Holy Spirit is God, the Third Person in the Holy Trinity. He is just as personal as the Father and the Son, with His own unique personality, His own will, His own emotions.
To be filled with the Spirit is not like filling an empty tank of gas. You can't run out of Him. You never need more of Him. When He indwells you, you get His entire being, His whole Person. Therefore, to be filled with the Spirit is relational, personal; to be filled with the Spirit is to allow the person who indwells you to fully influence you.
You allow another to influence you through humility and trust. Valuing their influence. Relying on it. God the Holy Spirit is with you. And through him, Christ is in you, truly and personally! He is in you to grow your trust in Jesus and enable you to be who Jesus made you to be. Trust Him with you.
Rather than muster your own strength, admit your propensity to muck things up and focus on Jesus Christ and the grace of God that Jesus brings you. Trust Jesus and know that His Spirit is here to form you into His image. And begin believing He's willing to do for you what you cannot do for yourselves.
It's not uncommon to hear the question, "So is the Holy Spirit the focus of our relationship with God now? In the OT it was the Father, in the Gospels it was Jesus, and now it's the Holy Spirit?"
Our relationship is with the Father through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's role is essentially to shine His light on Jesus that we may know and follow Jesus in the assurance of the Father's favor and love.
Look at what Jesus told His followers about the Holy Spirit,
John 16:13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own [He will not speak of Himself] , but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 [And He does not seek His own glory for] He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you.
So the focus of our faith is on Jesus Christ! The defining moment of our faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we focus on Jesus, we count on the Spirit to enable us to follow Him, and to produce Christ's life in us,
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh… 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control…
Thus Paul prays,
Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…
As we consider how we can be filled with the Holy Spirit we realize everything with God is relational. God desires a relationship with us. In the biblical pattern, He reveals Himself, His love, His mighty power to deliver, His compassion or His glory to us then calls us trust Him to be this way with us.
Here too. He tells you that He has sent His Holy Spirit to live within you. He tells us His Holy Spirit who seeks to glorify Jesus dwells within you. The Holy Spirit who helps you to trust Jesus, and empowers you to follow Jesus is in you.
The Word of God gives direction but the Spirit gives power. The Word tells us what is true but the Spirit grants us to believe. The Word commands but the Spirit enables us to do as our LORD commands.
The Holy Spirit alone can enable us to love someone who is upset with us, to forgive someone who's mistreated us, to endure when someone seems to be through with us. The Holy Spirit enables Christ's life in us. He alone can overcome the sin that we have a weird kind of love-hate relationship with, and He alone can kick the ass of the sin that kicks our ass.
Focus on Jesus, that's where the Word points, that's where the Father points, that's where the Spirit points, so with your eyes on Christ, rely on His Spirit to do in you all that He is in you to do.
Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put My Spirit within you and bring it about that you walk in My statutes, and are careful and follow My ordinances.