ESSENTIAL #2: A Holy Spirit Lifestyle

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"On our part, there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work is to show us the Father and the Son. If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face" (Tozer, The Pursuit of God).

Victory over sin is within our grasp. In Essential #1, we talked about how we have been given a new nature that longs to please God, and how we have been made alive to Christ and His presence. Too many Christians stop there and live their lives attempting to be good and to do good. However, we sense that there must be something more to Christianity than simply living a good life. The last question asked was, "What can I do to help me to stop sinning?" Without the help of the Holy Spirit there is no chance for us to live victoriously over sin (Read Romans 8).

John 16:5-7: "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away the Counselor will not come to you…"

Most people would choose to be in the physical presence of Jesus rather than anticipate the presence of the Holy Spirit. This shows our lack of understanding and awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

John the Baptist was the herald sent to prepare the way for Jesus' ministry. Of all the amazing things he could have said to announce his coming, he chose these, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matt 3:11b). The Israelites had seen great leaders rise up from their history and do miraculous things, all because the Spirit came upon them. The idea that God would send this same Spirit to fill ordinary people for more than just a moment or a season was stunning. This was John's introduction of Jesus.

Jesus takes it further, stating that it is BETTER that he goes to the Father. Why? So that He can send the Holy Spirit to us. The Spirit, as he preached, is the one who will lead us into all truth and equip us to be effective witnesses. Therefore, before he ascended to the Father, he asked the disciples to wait in Jerusalem "…for the gift my Father promised, which (you) heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4b-5). Many people would think that physically walking with and being discipled by Jesus for three years, seeing his death, resurrected body and ascension into heaven would have been equipping enough. Instead, they were to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Note the drastic change between the fearful, doubt-filled disciples even after Jesus' resurrection, and the disciples in Acts 2. Especially obvious is Peter, who adamantly denied and deserted Jesus, and who even after the resurrection, still thought that the Kingdom of God was a natural Kingdom! The Holy Spirit came upon him and this simple fisherman spoke with depth, boldness and power. He saw visions, performed miracles, and became one of the foundational leaders of the Christian church. He eventually gave his life (crucified upside down) for the gospel.

When we read about the heroes of our faith, we see lives of passion, purpose, adventure and the miraculous - ordinary lives made extraordinary through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let's take an in depth look at one such hero.

Break up into groups and read Judges 6-7.

The goal of this exercise is to note how the Holy Spirit can transform a life. Keep this in mind as you read the passage together. When you are done reading, answer the following questions:

01. Note when God first met with Gideon, what did He call him?
02. Was he at this time? Why or why not?
03. In 6:34, what did the Spirit cause Gideon to do?
04. In Chapter 7, why did God sift through the men, finally arriving at 300?
05. Approximately how big was the army they were fighting?
06. How was the enemy defeated?
07. Look again at 6:11-15, 27. Was this man a mighty warrior?
08. What caused the miraculous change in him?
09. How, specifically, did the Holy Spirit change his life?
10. Now, relate this to your life.

01. A mighty warrior.
02. No. He hides in a wine press, even after he meets with an angel of the Lord. He breaks down Baal's altar and asherah poles at night so no one will find out.
03. He sounded the trumpet to rally troops for war. Interestingly, the same people who just wanted to kill Gideon now rallied behind him.
04. Judges 7:2: "…in order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her."
05. Judges 7:12. The army was as thick as locusts, with camels as numerous as the sands on the seashore.
06. They turned on each other.
07. No.
08. The Holy Spirit came upon him - or literally clothed Himself with Gideon.
09. He gave him courage and boldness, confidence in God, leadership, and miraculous victory.

Gideon, along with all of the people of God, was hiding in caves and clefts, afraid of the Midianites. Gideon, specifically, was threshing wheat in a winepress, hiding out from the enemy. He was afraid of His enemies and defeated already. He had heard about the miracles and power of God but had never seen them. He did not seem to think much of himself. In fact, he had disqualified himself, but God appeared and spoke faith into his disheartened life.

We can be that way as well. We live with a defeated mentality, are overwhelmed at the evil in the world, and do not believe we can do anything to make a difference. Sometimes we think perhaps someone else can - someone like Billy Graham - but there is no way God could use us like that. Thus, we hide in our own caves, clefts and winepresses, reflecting Israel's insecurity: "Who am I that God could use me, and where is this God of wonders?" Although, one person anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit saw the entire situation turned around in a matter of days; He heard of God's wonders but never saw them. And yet he still dared to believe God's word.

God sees you complete in Him, and through His Spirit you can be who He has called you to be. He will give you the courage and boldness to be witnesses in your school and workplace. He will cause you to have favor and give you miraculous victory - victory over sin in your life, victory over your own fears and insecurities, and victory over your sense of unworthiness. All of these things hold you back from becoming all that God has called you to be. It is time to rise up, mighty warriors, and be filled to overflowing with the Spirit of Christ. His Spirit can immediately transform your life! Through His Spirit, the word of God comes alive and feeds your spirit. Through His Spirit, you can love your enemies and see them saved. Through His Spirit, the impossible becomes possible.

"The world was turned upside-down not because of what they did, but because of what God did to them, in them, and by means of them…True Christianity is always the activity of God…Anything controlled by us, whether lifeless or lively, is not Christianity. Christianity is that which controls us, which masters us, which happens to us" (Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity).

Greater things than these will you do…

In Acts, we see a great dimension of the power of God at work in the church. There are definite leaders and standouts in Acts, but what is really striking is that everyone could be filled with the Spirit - and everyone was. In Acts 2 we see the initial outpouring of the Spirit, which we touched on earlier. Throughout the rest of the book, we see the Spirit of Christ filling and refilling the people of God. They were always hungry for more of God and continually sought His presence. Lives were transformed, healings were performed, prophecy and wisdom were given, and the world was turned upside-down.

Answer the following questions:
  Have you ever done or said something that you knew was the power of God, because you had nothing to do with it?
 Have you ever prayed for a miracle and believed that God would do it?
 Do you believe that miracles and the power of God should be evident in your life as a Christian?

Our God is alive today, and he is a supernatural God. The challenge for us is to lift our expectations of God's power to a higher level. Has God changed since Old Testament times? Of course not! God wants to use you in our generation to do mighty and supernatural things. He is the God of the impossible. If you live only in the realm of the possible, you limit God with your own limitations. See your weakness as an opportunity for God's grace and power to move in and through your life.

"On our part, there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work is to show us the Father and the Son. If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face" (Tozer, The Pursuit of God).

Stop and take a few minutes to pray for more of God's power to be evident in your life. You may want to pray something like this:

"God, I want more than anything to know you. I pray that you equip me with the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit that I may dwell in righteousness and live in victory. I long to see your name glorified over all the earth. Be glorified in my life, as I learn to walk in the spirit."