Lest We should Offend Them

March 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Matthew | 4 Comments
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Born-again Christians have great freedom in Christ Jesus (Galatians 5:1). This freedom allows us to fulfill the law of Christ, which is not burdensome for those for have experienced Christ’s love (Galatians 6:2). Within this freedom and this law there is room for different convictions, or degrees of conviction, over some personal standards, even among unified believers.

Matthew Chapter 17 records the Lord’s amazing journey as He goes – in the space of a few short verses – from the glory of the Mount of Transfiguration to being faced with the apparent inability to even pay a small tax.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

Matthew 17:24

This would have been a perfect opportunity for a worldly king to say, “ME???? Pay tribute? I’m the King. Subjects pay tribute to the King – they don’t exact it from him!”

This was not the way of the Heavenly King, however. Instead, He taught Peter a lesson about the importance of not giving offense in matters where it is unnecessary to do so.

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Matthew 17:27

Jesus was and is God. Couldn’t He have just caused the piece of money to materialize in Peter’s pocket, rather than the complex miracle with the fish? Of course He could have! However, Peter’s fishing trip emphasized not only Christ’s dominion over the fish of the sea, but also the idea that the King’s followers should be willing to go to great lengths to keep those with different convictions from stumbling. Never lord your freedom over a brother or sister in Christ when it seems that they perceive themselves to have a higher conviction from you in a relatively minor matter – even if you must go to great lengths to keep your liberty from being a stumbling-block to your brother or sister (I Corinthians 8:9-13).

Beware Faithless Freezing

March 12, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
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Did you ever play the childhood game “freeze tag?” Picture a bunch of kids running around, some chasing and others being chased. When a chaser touches a “chasee,” the one who is “tagged” must “freeze” and not move from that spot until another chasee touches him, setting him free to run again.

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It’s a fun game, but it’s also, sadly, an illustration of the spiritual life of many Christians. You know the cliched jokes about the “frozen chosen” and those who attend church only to “sit, soak, and sour.” These are believers who understand that that they have been chosen by God unto salvation in Christ Jesus, but who then wrongly believe that this calling to new life is the end of the journey rather than the beginning. All that is left to do, they mistakenly think, is to wait for Jesus to bring them home.

Why is this such a popular notion? One reason is that there is some partial truth to it. Those who are born again are waiting for the fulfillment of the glorious promise of having our faith become sight, and being brought into the presence of Christ’s eternal sanctification, to be free once and for all from the cares, trials, and sin of this world and our mortal flesh. However, this “waiting” is not a sedentary killing of time, nor an inchoate longing for better days to come. It is waiting through the Holy Spirit.

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Galatians 5:5

And it is a waiting that should be accompanied by a tireless pursuit to put into practice the positional righteousness we have received through faith. If the Holy Spirit chased you down and “tagged” you with the Lord’s salvation, don’t freeze in your babyish state of “just-born-again” Christianity. Instead, chase after the One Who chased after you. Follow the Spirit as He leads, reading His Word, doing what it says, magnifying your Savior, serving your neighbor, and glorifying your Father as He lovingly watches over you from your future home in Heaven.

Dependent Freedom

August 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Galatians | 4 Comments
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The evidences of a flesh-driven life are works – dead things which produce nothing living.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Galatians 5:19

The evidence of the Spirit-led life is fruit. Fruit does not come about by “working.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:22

Fruit has life. It brings joy. It feeds others, not the plant that produces it. This is, practically, how to walk in the Spirit:

1. Admit that the flesh is stronger than your will power.
2. Go where the Spirit wants to go. The Spirit wants to go to church, to Sunday School, to the Bible, to prayer time, to go soul-winning, to visit the nursing home. The Spirit doesn’t want to go to the nightclub, the worldly party, the gossip session.
3. Don’t go easy on the flesh. Crucify it.

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:24

Don’t try to beat the flesh on your own. You will only strengthen it even more. Do not go where the flesh wants to go – where it gets fed. Stay with the Spirit, having a grand time of joy. Starve the flesh. Make it weak. Remember, at the moment of salvation you were “baptized into Jesus Christ.” He died for you, and you died with Him. Your flesh was crucified, buried, and you were raised with Christ – to walk in newness of life. You became something fundamentally different: a new creature. You were rescued from hell.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking grace is insufficient. We can’t add to it with our show-offy, better-than-the-next-person rule-keeping or legalism. You weren’t saved by the Law; don’t act like you were. God will never be fooled into thinking you’re more holy than anyone else. Attempting to do so is just a form of self-worship.

Don’t fall into the other trap, either, though. Don’t “presume” upon grace as an excuse to sin. Grace brings freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. The freedom to act like an idiot and destroy myself, or to bring shame to the very thing that helped me to get free, is not the kind of “freedom” that grace delivers.

Ours is a paradoxical freedom of dependence (upon God), rather than independence. He’s the Master with free servants. He’s the Father who makes His servants His children.

Don’t Love Yourself

July 31, 2014 at 11:43 am | Posted in Galatians, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 4 Comments
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For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Galatians 5:14

Contrary to the inane “Christian” song I heard my daughter listening to the other day, this verse does NOT command us to love ourselves, nor does it tell us that we can’t love if we don’t love ourselves. Our natural default setting is to love ourselves, which is sinful. God made an extreme correction to that perverse way of thinking when He commanded us to love Him with everything we have, and to love our neighbors in the way we are accustomed to loving ourselves when we are in the flesh. That’s the summation of the moral law of God in all its specific expressions.

For example, how can I idolize anything while loving others? For, if I love them, I must want what’s good for them, and the only true good for them is to point them to the One True God. How can I steal from my neighbor, kill my neighbor, lie about my neighbor, take his belongings, sleep with his wife, if I love him “as myself?”

Look at how practical and realistic this is. Don’t say, “I can’t attain it. It just seems ‘right’ for me to love myself. What about my self-esteem?” Forget about your self-esteem. The last thing in the world you need is a boost to your self-esteem. When you “love yourself” you are stealing what God has entrusted you to give back to Him and others. If we surrender to the Spirit, He takes our self-love and redirects it off of self, and onto God and others. What freedom! No more “I’ve got to get mine;” “I’ve got to get at least as good as him or her;” “I’ve got to get ‘my’ share.”

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Galatians 5:15

When we believe the lie that we have to love ourselves before we can love anyone else, we will become like a pack of wild animals. We’ll bite each other to bits, and we won’t even see the destruction in it – just as long as we get our fair share of bites.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

Almost all Christians say that walking in the Spirit is a good idea, but hardly anybody does it. I suspect that few of us even know how. First, admit that your flesh is not redeemed, and it is very, very strong – stronger than your will.

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.

Galatians 5:17

God is not going to share His glory with you – at least not in the battle against sin. If you’re going to fight your own battle, He knows you’re looking for a chance to boast, and He’s not going to come in and fight for you. So admit it. You don’t have anything in you that’s going to win the battle against the flesh. That’s a job for the Holy Spirit.

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Galatians 5:18

Two, let Him lead. Go where He goes. How do you know if you are going where the Spirit goes? He does not go into sin, and He does not lead you close to sin. If you were going to hire a delivery driver, would you hire the applicant who interviewed for the job by showing off his skill in skidding to a stop inches from the edge of a cliff? Or the the applicant who parked 500 yards away because he didn’t want to risk the owner’s property? God is not interested in how close we can get to temptation and avoid it. He has given us His Spirit to lead us not into temptation and to deliver us from evil.

Going to Extrem(iti)es

June 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Galatians | 5 Comments
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I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

Galatians 5:12

This is extreme language (about as extreme as it gets, at least in the New Testament). It shows how serious the Lord is about this circumcision issue. It’s as if the Apostle Paul told the Judaizers, “If you are so fixated on circumcision – if you enjoy circumcision so much – you should just go all the way. Stop “cutting around,” and, well, just “cut off.” The King James translation preserves the pun – the play on words. Paul is indicating that if the Judaizers would just go ahead and completely mutilate themselves, they wouldn’t be in any condition to bother him and preachers of the true Gospel any more.

There is a deeper issue here, though. People who are so zealous for rule-keeping are often trying to divert attention from their own fixation. They are not only teaching falsely – that keeping rules means greater spirituality – but they know their own lack of spirituality and their own perversion, and they believe that, by pointing at everyone else, the guilt and suspicion they feel will be deflected away from them. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, and the hypocritical accuse others even when no one suspects them.

Now, we go into a section of Galatians where it’s as if Paul knows that the Judaizers are going to argue (and surely they had been already) that, if people walk in liberty, if they are set free from God’s law, then what’s going to stop them from sinning freely?

In a sense, it’s the same old argument: “Grace? Grace? What’s going to keep us in line after we’ve been forgiven for all our sins?” The proponents of this argument act as though they have forgotten that we are called by God unto salvation. They sound like they think that God was just annoyed that there were some people who had to be judged, so He waved His hand, and said, “Fine, I’ll let you off the hook. I’ll stop being God for a minute. There, you’re free. Now go do whatever you want and leave Me alone.” Such a doctrine would be heresy.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galatians 5:13

Liberty frees us from the bondage of the flesh – not the existence of the flesh. The “calling” of salvation is a calling to liberty. It’s a “setting-free” from the unconquerable power that sin has over an unbeliever. Christians are set free from the position of sinners: those that must answer for their own guilt.

Christians are also set free from the eternal pain of sin, as well as the judicial guilt of sin. They are set free from the penalty of sin, which is the punishment for sin: the specific retribution of God against sinners for sinning against Him!

Here is freedom: Jesus came and fulfilled (not destroyed in the natural sense) the Law for us. Now He, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live in us, and He causes, us, too, to obey the Law. This is not the bondage of the Law, not the letter of the Law, but the spirit of the Law – the Truth of the Law.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Galatians 5:14

The Trap of Failing to Learn Lessons

May 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 4 Comments
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They say that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I don’t think that Samson was “insane” in the clinical sense, but we sure have to wonder about his tendency to repeat the same mistakes. They also say that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Two times, with two different women, Samson was tricked into revealing a secret to his own detriment: Judges 14:16-18; 16:6-19. In fact, on the second occasion – with Delilah – he was fooled multiple times by the same ploy.

Where was Samson’s ability to gauge cause-and-effect? Where was his “nonsense” filter? Where was his aptitude to learn from his own mistakes? The same place yours and mine so often is: buried beneath a layer of sinful flesh.

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.

Romans 7:18-19

If you are a Christian, then the Lord has set you free from the bondage of the Law by His love and grace. However, our march toward complete surrender to His will and total conformity to the image of Christ is more of an uphill climb over rocky terrain than a casual stroll though a peaceful park. Thankfully, God has given us His Spirit to indwell us, His Word to instruct us, and His body to influence us.

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.

Galatians 5:16-17

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

Experience can be a valuable teacher, but it is in our nature – apart from God – to repeat our mistakes. Our best method for learning from our failures is: (1) to yield to the Lord’s Spirit, remembering that He has set us free from the power of sin; (2) to stay focused on the Bible with the intention of obeying it; (3) to find brothers and sisters in Christ in a local Bible-teaching and -believing church who will hold you accountable in love.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

Romans 7:22

Don’t Grieve the Holy Spirit

April 25, 2013 at 11:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Redemption occurs when a person is brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. It may also refer to the physical redemption of the body from the slavery of death which will one day happen to all born-again believers on the Lord Jesus Christ. Redemption is a work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is God. God is three Persons in one – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is a Person, because He is sometimes incorrectly thought of as a force or a mystical power. If you have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, then you have been indwelled with the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to travel to Florida or Texas or Canada to some “outpouring” event to find Him or to chase Him down.

The guaranteed indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for true New Testament Christians is different from the way the Spirit was sometimes given to people in the Old Testament.

And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Numbers 11:25 (emphasis added)

And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

Numbers 11:29 (emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit has many functions. He teaches us the Word. The Bible doesn’t make sense to a person who is not truly a Christian in the same way it does to a true Christian. All sorts of signals and programs are being broadcast through the room you are in right now, but you are not perceiving any of them unless you have the right kind of antenna or receiver. This is an illustration of the way the Holy Spirit illumines Scripture for believers.

The Holy Spirit also convicts us of sin. This is for the purpose of bringing the non-Christian to the point where he realizes he needs a Savior, and for the purpose of aiding Christians in their sanctification.

The Holy Spirit also produces spiritual fruit in the lives of believers.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

The Holy Ghost is the Comforter, and He brings inward peace to believers. He does not cause Christians to thrash around and throw a fit, the way you will sometimes see people doing on religious television or in certain Pentecostal or Charismatic churches.

Another function of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to live for God, and to do the work of God.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:38-42 (emphasis added)

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31 (emphasis added)

Ephesians 4:30 tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never leave a person who has trusted Christ unto salvation, but disobedience, fornication, hurting others who we are supposed to be loving and helping, entertaining sinful thoughts and desires – all these and more can and do grieve the Spirit. We would be far better off surrendering to Him and allowing Him to have His way as He leads us to follow Christ and to obey the Bible.

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage

February 6, 2013 at 11:19 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Galatians | 8 Comments
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Last time, I discussed Satan’s infiltration strategy as he attacks our marriages. The devil comes up to the wall of your marriage as a tempter at the “sexual relations” section of the wall, but all his spies that tried to sneak through were summarily executed. So now he tries to burrow under – and he messes with your thought life. He borrows a shovel and some trenching tools from the worldly media and popular culture, and (because he doesn’t have the power to “create” new physical sensations the way God does) he appeals to the concupiscible appetite which is already in us. He’s not stupid, either. He knows that our concupiscible appetites, while given to us by God, have also been warped and bent by our sin nature. So he tries to get under the wall by making you think that the appetite itself is the thing to be served (worshiped), instead of the Giver of the appetite. He whispers in your (or your spouse’s) ear, and he says, “This feels good, so it is powerful – and it must be satiated more than your spouse wants to satiate it.” Then he whispers, “There are other ways out there to satiate it… There are things to look at and there are people willing to help…and God knows that you are not stronger than your concupiscible appetites, so God will understand – it’s not a big deal…” And he tempts and tempts and tempts! Remember, Satan is the master liar and tempter. He knows how to make sin sound and look very seductive.

So, will you look the other way when the tempter pops his head up through a hole in the ground on your side of the wall? Or will you remember that “your” side of the wall is really “God’s” side of the wall and that your marriage belongs to Him and not to you? My children used to like to buy those little coin-shaped tokens and play an arcade game called “Whack-A-Mole.”

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Whenever a plastic mole popped his head out of a hole, they would smash it back down with a big toy mallet, and at the same time another mole would pop right up out of another hole. I’m not trying to be silly because we’re talking about a serious matter, but that is a picture of what we, as Christian spouses, are going to have to do in the area of glorifying God with our concupiscible appetites. We are going to have to watch for the devil to pop his head up in our thought lives, and then beat him back into the ground. The difference is, we have the authority in Christ Jesus to not only resist Satan (James 4:7) and to hammer him back down, but to pour cement in the hole so he can’t keep coming back – at least through that same tunnel.

How are we going to do this? We are going to do it Biblically – with the weapon that God has given us to control the concupiscible appetite. It’s called “temperance.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:22-24 (emphasis added)

Temperance is a Godly virtue, it is a Christian virtue, and it is a Gospel virtue. It is the virtue of controlling, mastering, and channeling the sensual appetites. Can it be done? Yes! By walking in the Spirit; by asking God to help you do it; by surrendering to Christ and accessing His power; by preaching the Gospel to our libidos. Now, those are principles that apply even if you are on your own when it comes to understanding the truth about Christian marriage. You can have victory in Christ even if your spouse is not on your side. I will say, though, that it is much less difficult when your spouse is on the same page. In a case where both spouses have bought into the truth of Christ-centered marriage, the concupiscible appetite is channeled, by and with the help of your loving and submissive spouse, into the God-ordained and Gospel-enabled arena in which it is to be freely satisfied. Because God made it that way, this is where it is to be freely satisfied and where it is best satisfied.

Suffering in Marriage

March 2, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 8 Comments
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Adam and Eve’s response to the realization that sin had made them “naked” in a shameful way (and the response we are often guilty of in our Christian marriages) was: “COVER IT UP!” Our response when we break covenant is to hide or cover it up from the one person who is mostly likely to know about it, and the one person we must deal with in order to receive forgiveness. In other words, our response is a sinful attempt at hypocrisy: portraying ourselves as something we no longer are.

However, God’s response (to clothe them in their shame) was a correction of Adam and Eve’s response. God’s response pointed to their ultimate redemption, and it allows the correction of the broken covenant so that we can once again be “naked and unashamed” within the bounds of Christian marriage.

I Corinthians 13 is sometimes called the “love” chapter of the Bible. It is read at weddings and is quite poetic. But in context it is really more of a test for us to see where we stand concerning whether the gifts that God has blessed us with are being properly used, or whether they are being wasted on us. It applies to all Christians and is not limited to the arena of marriage. However, as a Christian, I certainly do not want the gift of my marriage to be wasted. Even more to the point, I do not want my marriage to be destroyed. And I do not want it to be empty of the eternal value that God wants it to have as a portrayal and glorifying sign of Christ and His Church.

Therefore, I want to look at some of the specifics of Christian agape love through the lens of Christian marriage – to see if we are loving our spouses with the same attention to detail with which God loves us.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:3-4 (emphasis added)

My love toward my spouse must be a love that suffers long. How deep is your love toward your spouse? Is it skin deep? Pin-prick deep? Is it scalpel-probing deep? Or is it side-piercing deep? Is it deep enough that when you are impaled by something your spouse says, there is love dripping off the other end of the spear?

Charity suffers long. In this context “suffering” means: taking injury with a resolve to absorb it without getting even for it. It excludes revenge. Taking injury without “getting even” involves forgoing outward and inward resentment.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 3:17

Agape love in marriage requires wisdom that is “first pure” (which has both an inward and outward application). It is “peacable” (inward and outward). It is “gentle” (outward). It is “easy to be intreated” (outward). It is “full of mercy and good fruits” (outward). It is “without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (inward and outward).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:22 (emphasis added)

“Longsuffering” is right between the inward (peace) and the outward (gentleness). I said earlier that “suffering” means taking injury with a resolve to absorb it without getting even for it. It also means: taking injury without it affecting our own inward peace. Feeling peace toward my spouse on the inside is one thing, but feeling inner peace toward myself for how I’m dealing with my spouse is even deeper.

Suffering includes inward self-control.

And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.

Luke 21:16-19 (emphasis added)

You can’t always stop your marriage from becoming a battlefield, but you can stop your own soul from becoming a war zone.

Suffering also includes an outward testimony of peace within the marriage union. I know a number of Christian married couples who like to “play-fight” in front of others. This can be a damaging pattern because it sometimes gives others a bad impression of what Christian marriage is supposed to be.

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

I Corinthians 6:7

There is a principle of putting up with wrongs among Christians in order to keep outsiders from having a bad opinion of the love we are supposed to have for each other. Christian married couples are “one flesh.” We need to look like one flesh.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

Husbands should give honor to their wives openly.

Discipleship Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit

May 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 21 Comments
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I. Where is the Holy Spirit?

He dwells in the temple of your body if you are a Christian, having taken up permanent residence at the moment of salvation.

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.

John 14:16-17

Only Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:5-6

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

II. How does the Holy Spirit work?

A. He “reproves.”

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:7-8

He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment. “Reprove” is a better description of what He does than “convict” or “convince,” although the meanings of both of those words are included in it. “Reprove” (as in “a reproving look”) contains the idea of both anger and sadness (grief), and the idea of the bringing to light of guilt or shame. The Greek Word is elegcho (from the same root word as “elegy,” which is a song or poem of lament.) To “reprove of sin” means to show that something is wrong, to show that it is to be rejected, and to show that it is to be condemned.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

That’s a good Scriptural example of “reproof” – which includes convincing and convicting.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10

The devil accuses with an eye toward condemnation, but he is not the only one who makes Christians feel bad about sin. The difference is that his condemnation drives you away from God. God’s reproof brings you back to God – and He does this reproving in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

B. He is involved in creation.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

Job 33:4

C. He is active in regeneration.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5

D. He seals Christians as children of God.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

I know I am going to Heaven because of my new-birth experience, and because of the Scriptures, but also because God’s Spirit dwells in me permanently. One day He is going to Heaven to be with God forever. Therefore, I must go with Him.

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

E. He bears witness of the salvation of Christians.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:16

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:13

F. He teaches the Bible to Christians.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

G. He intercedes for Christians in prayer.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

Neither saints who have died and gone to Heaven (including Jesus’s mother, Mary), nor angels intercede for us in prayer.

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Ephesians 2:18

H. He is our Comforter in times of need.

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. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:16-18

The Greek word for “Comforter” in this verse is Parakletos. It means “a helper who comes alongside and an advocate who stands beside you and speaks on your behalf.”

I. He empowers Christians to serve God.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Ephesians 3:16

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

J. He gives Christians discernment in decision-making.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:14

In one sense, the Holy Spirit acts as an antenna or receiver: He helps Christians stay attuned to the Truth of God and filter out the false.

III. What does the Holy Spirit do?

He produces spiritual fruit to the glory of God.

The Christian’s job is to bear fruit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to produce fruit. God has graciously given us responsibility, but He keeps ultimate control. Spiritual fruit has seeds within it. It brings joy when shared. It brings glory to the Gardener.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

The Holy Spirit’s job is not to glorify the Holy Spirit. His job is to glorify God in what God has said, and to glorify the Person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, our job primarily is not to glorify the Holy Spirit in worship, but to glorify God and magnify Jesus Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25

Spiritual fruit is “singular.” These character qualities are part of the same process and fruit.

IV. Questions

A. What are the nine character qualities which are called the fruit of the Spirit?

The first three are “inward:”

1. Love: We must love God in order to truly love others.
2. Joy: Our joy must be in Christ or else the best we can hope for is only a circumstances-dependent temporary happiness.
3. Peace: We can’t have peace with others without peace in our own souls – and we can’t have either one of those without first being at peace with God.

The next three are “outward:”

1. Longsuffering: This involves bearing patiently the issues of dealing with others.
2. Gentleness: This involves dealing with those issues tenderly.
3. Goodness: This involves choosing to deal with others the right, instead of the wrong, way.

The last three are “upward” (toward God):

1. Faith: This involves believing that God is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He has said He will do.
2. Meekness: This involves understanding that God is everything, and I am nothing apart from Him.
3. Temperance: This involves being yielded in our attitudes – being even-keeled (being a thermostat, not a thermometer).

B. Can a person be a Christian without the Holy Spirit?

No.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Ephesians 4:4-5

C. What is more important for a Christian:

1. You getting more of the Holy Spirit?
2. The Holy Spirit getting more of you?

Answer: 2

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

Being filled with the Spirit is not a matter of finding where the Spirit is and hoping to be filled with Him. It is a matter of emptying out of self, vanity, and worldly, fleshly junk – so that He fills every room of your heart.

V. Memory Verses
A.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

B.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

C.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

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