What Makes Us Different (Revised)
Purpose: Establish who the Holy Spirit is and how His will should guide our life.
Location: Bethany Underground Service
(Walk in with baggage) We all have baggage. We all have something that we bring to the table that gets in the way. Some typical baggage in our life can be a bad relationship, stereotypes, or experiences that shape who we are and what we believe. Well, today we are discussing the Holy Spirit and I need us to throw (Toss Baggage) our baggage relating to the Holy Spirit to the side. We are all in different places when it comes to our understanding. Some of us have a background in a Charismatic church, others know of the Holy Spirit but not the role He plays in our life, and still others have never really heard of the Holy Spirit. Well, no matter who you are…I need us to get rid of the baggage of things we think we know about the spirit. Typical conservative Christianity doesn’t talk a whole lot about the Holy Spirit. The topic of the Holy Spirit causes more disunity between denominations than almost any other issue. That is ironic because the Spirit is supposed to unify us as believers! This is why it is important that we discuss the Holy Spirit, that is why we are going to establish the basics of the Holy Spirit, what if we could boil down the some of the essential things about the Spirit? We need to reestablish who we are and why that is important.
Is the spirit really that complicated? We don’t talk about the Holy Spirit all that often and we avoid the topics we don’t understand. This is the baggage that I bring to the table, “When I would think of living by the Spirit, I would think poorly of…in fact I would look down on Charismatic, Flag waving Christians, Speaking in tongues and Pentecostals, isn’t that jacked up? I used to think less of my brothers and sisters in Christ because they worshiped differently and had a slightly different view of the Holy Spirit…I then realized that I had no view of the Holy Spirit. I knew little to nothing of the spirit and at the end of the day, that held me back more than anything else.” This all goes back to the baggage that I mentioned before. I get that theological disagreements exist but that is why we need to establish the basics. Brian read John 14:15-20 earlier during worship.This is the account of pentecost, when the Holy Spirit bagen to minister to the world and dwell within the followers of Christ. Repentance, to turn away from sin, is universally agreed to be vital in receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not an it; the Spirit is a He. He, like God the Father and the Son, is eternal and holy. He intercedes for us and takes our prayers to the father, in fact, scripture says He wails and groans on our behalf. He has His will and desire. This will is manifested in how He guides us as we walk in step with Him.
So, what does the spirit have to do with me? Well, I am glad you asked. Who here likes the OT? Ya, do you like reading through the laws…ya, I don’t like it either. That is typically where we give up on the one year Bible. The Holy Spirit is why you and I do not have to focus every day on living out each of those laws. That is why our life is not some todo list, of rules and laws that we have to follow for God’s love. Our ability to live apart from the law is because of the Spirit. Open your Bible to Galatians 5:16-18 and we see that there is a difference between living by the Spirit and under the Law. Paul would even say that he might as well still be a Jew if he has to live by the law. One of the most important things about Christians is not that we are living by the law but rather how we walk in step with the Spirit. The law, we have been there and tried that. We know that the law was never sufficient for salvation.But this life, life in step with the Spirit, now that is a whole new concept. The salvation in the law is based on works. One thing that the Spirit does and has since pentecost is dwell within followers of Jesus Christ. This allows us to share the gospel, to feel conviction for sin, to have freedom from sin, and it makes it possible for us to live out the Fruit of the Spirit. Now, notice that I did not say fruits with an “s”, I said fruit. We are going to have a short grammar lesson. Fruit(s) implies that we have multiple kinds of fruit. Like apples and oranges, we are also implying that we are looking at them specifically (have justin do this part). The fruit of the spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and self- control. That might be a list but it is one thing, the essence of what we are as Christians. It is the way that we live our life. We are not just one or two of the fruits; we are not gifted with the fruit of Peace and able to neglect Goodness. That is not how it works, as a Christian we embody each of these characteristics as they enable and amplify the other. So you can either pour out everything you have into living out the law, you can allow the Spirit to pour into you and enable you. To enable you to overcome sin. When what we do is guided and powered by the Spirit, your actions will fulfill the law, so you will not be held to the law or the condemnation and supervision of the law. The Spirit is the only source of power to love in a way that fulfills the whole law.
Living by the Spirit sounds like a great idea. It is sufficient in fulfilling the law; It will help me to live out the Fruit of the Spirit. You might be thinking, “Sounds Good, I will see you on Sunday”. I don’t think you understand what that means. This is not some todo list. To live by the Spirit is also referred to as “living in step with the Spirit.” This is no easy task. This is why the Christian life is hard; this is why it gets difficult. Are you willing to pray the dangerous prayer of asking to be lead by the Spirit? If you are, we need to change our mindset. If I am going to live in step with the spirit, I need to stop seeing God’s will as something that will happen but rather something that is happening. God is too fast to have time for the question, “What is your will?” and then wait for you to get an answer you like. I need to live in the now. For me to sit here and patiently say that I am searching for God’s will for my life, what I am really saying is that I am going to do my own thing until God makes it very clear what direction I should take or what goals I should have. At this point you have already missed His will. If you want to follow God’s will have you to be courageous enough to listen to the Spirit. God’s will for your life is not some concept it is not some vision, but rather it is a “now” reaction to the Holy Spirit. God’s will is found in pursuing the Spirit. You do not need the Holy Spirit to be a more moral person. Muslims can be moral, Buddhists can be moral, Atheists can be moral, Hindus can be moral, some of the people who look the most like Christ happen to be Mormons. Our ability to be decent to one another is nothing special from religion to religion, but only those who are followers of jesus can live by the Spirit because only we have the Spirit dwelling inside of us. You can duplicate God’s will, you cannot duplicate God. So, being someone who is defined by the Spirit in the we act is only possible if seen as a long term goal that is guided by every decision. Long-term Change happens via instant decisions not focusing on long-term goals. As Christians, we call this the process of sanctification. Weight loss does not happen because we think about it, you do not become a better athlete by thinking about it, and you will not become a more Spirit lead person by envisioning yourself as someone who will be lead by the Spirit. (Example of training–>All-pro/ Steph Curry & Use example of unhealthy relationship and how thinking about what I could do or envisioned myself doing something else next time) This is a daily act of living within the Spirit and putting who you are second to the will of the Spirit. I define spiritual maturity as a Christian that realizes that it is not about them anymore. Let’s be honest for a moment. We know that God is not satisfied with us sinning less? In no moment is God ever pleased in our failure. Watching porn “less” is still watching porn. Now don’t misunderstand, God is pleased in each victory over temptation and this struggle is all too real to me and almost every person. Gossiping less, that is still Gossip. Lying less is still lying. Never bargain your sin with God! Do not say I will only watch porn 2/7 days….NO, God wants 0/7. You will never be sufficient and that is the beauty of getting to live by the Spirit instead of trying to be good enough.
So, do you still want to live by the Spirit? I am not the world’s best sales associates. I just want you know what you are in for if you are going to play on God’s team. You see on this team we all carry the ball, we have no injured reserve, we have no bench, and not water boy. We have a team of Kingdom workers who will crawl across the goal line if they have to. Remember when I said that the takeout box would be somehow apply? Imagine you ordered take out, and you walked up to the counter you said you were there to pick your order of lo mein. What would you do if you watched as the person lifted up the noodles and veggies and held it up before you? You watch as juices flow down the person’s arm, and you do not know where that hand has been. Now listen, this takeout box is only worth about 10 cents. But at this moment, all you want is that 10 cent box, because it is the vessel that was designed to carry the product. The vessel is not what is the valuable but rather the product. This is what you need to know; we are just a vessel, and it is Holy Spirit inside of us that creates our value. It is not you who gives value to the Spirit it is the Spirit that gives value to you. If you want to start living by the spirit you need to realize that it isn’t all about you anymore, you just have to be empty, clean, and available, and God is going to do incredible and miraculous things through you. You and I we are the vessels to bring about His will, the bring about His kingdom. And Church, we are coming to a time of decision, will we be God’s vessel?