low rez ghost iconYou know life is hard.  We talk about that a lot around here.  I think anyone who has lived more than a few years on this Earth would agree with that statement.  Here’s something more depressing than that.  Life doesn’t get easier as you get older. You grow up and each stage of life brings new challenges, more responsibilities…life just doesn’t seem to get any easier.  And here’s what is more interesting…I grow up and each year I gain more things to do…there is more stress, more issues, more responsibilities which lead to more confrontations, more hurts from relationships, more losses and it is really easy to feel beaten down life and then I walk into church on a Sunday morning and I’m told that I should walk in victory and freedom in Christ!  We read scriptures like this one and I think we know deep in our hearts that this should be our lives…

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. NIV

We are actually to be more than conquerors because of all that Jesus has done for us…but do you feel that way?  I mean it sounds like an awesome feeling, and I read the Bible and it tells me this is how a Christian should live, but how in the world do we get there?  It is so hard to feel like more than a conqueror as we walk around feeling like we are drowning in debt, dealing with hurts, stress, clutter, and the busyness of life which doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.  I think we would acknowledge that this is not who God created us to be but man, life can be tough and it just kind of squeezes that whole victory and freedom and joy thing away right?  Isn’t it amazing that we were created to be royalty…more than conquerors but most of the time we struggle to simply keep our heads above water and make it through another day.  We are to be more than conquerors but we continue to feel trapped in our sins…some of which we keep doing over and over and over again, mostly just hoping no one will ever find out that we do them.  Isn’t it amazing that we are to be more than conquerors but we are left feeling powerless to those sins?  We walk thought life and we know what we should be doing…we wish we could be more loving.  We wish we could have more joy and peace in our life.  We wish we could be more giving and patient.  We wish we had more self-control and more…well, just more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff!  It’s amazing to me that we can read all through scripture that we are to walk in freedom and victory.  We are to live an empowered life in Christ and for most Christians we just end up tired, busy, stressed out, and falling to old recurring sins that just seem to own us.  It’s like our enemy has taken the world and just opened the flood gates and we can’t seem to find that ability to stand as “more than conquerors” as Paul says.   We try to fix it and we can’t and frankly the harder we try to make things right often times the worse things get.  So many of us find ourselves in this exact spot.  Overwhelmed by life, hurt by people, stressed out and feeling powerless to do anything about it.  Can I tell you something here today?  You are right.  You actually are powerless to do anything about it.  You can’t fix it and this is why the harder you try to do something to fix it the worse things get because it’s not yours to fix.  This is why so many church people end up tied up in knots by religion.  They are trying to take care of something that they can’t take care of…but here’s the beautiful truth.  That brutal life I just described doesn’t have to be your story because of what Paul said there in Romans 8!  Because of what Jesus did, we are more than conquerors.  We can live an empowered life!  Which happens as we allow the Holy Spirit into our lives!  The Holy Spirit is a really big deal.  When we walk through life beaten up, stressed out, overwhelmed, and defeated it’s because we are not allowing the Holy Spirit into our lives.  When we see miserable church people working hard, staying busy, looking more spiritually constipated than free it’s because there is something missing.  What is missing is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is that important.

So last week we started a new series on Unleashing The Holy Spirit and Ken did a great job of talking to you about who The Holy Spirit is, and why it is so important that we have the Holy Spirit living and active in our lives!  You know, Jesus told his disciples that He had to leave so that The Spirit could come…

John 16:6-7 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; but if I go, I will send him to you. NIV

That is a pretty big statement that Jesus makes.  I mean, I think we would all say that we would rather walk with Jesus physically here with us today, than not…yet Jesus says, that having the Holy Spirit walking with us is extremely important!   This is what scripture teaches, when you allow the Holy Spirit into your life he produces all the things in your life that we want but can’t provide on our own!  We need the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do in our lives and when He is living and active in us, we become those conquerors that we all desire to be.  We can live an empowered life in Christ!  It all happens through God in us.

So today TJ and I would like to talk to you about how to invite the Holy Spirit into your day and into your life.  I think this is exactly what Paul was talking about in Galatians…

Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. ESV

My first thought as I looked into this topic of inviting the Holy Spirit into my day was that verse.  We are to live and walk by the Spirit.  Look at how that same verse is written in the Message version…

25 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  MSG

That is such an awesome statement we are to live out this life of the Spirit.  This isn’t just some fuzzy idea that we are to kick around and talk about on Sunday mornings!  This is how we are to live out our lives!  So the question of the day really becomes, how in the world do we do that?!?!?  How do we “walk in the Spirit?”  Well here’s what is really interesting, Paul explains that there really are two ways to live, and I love the ESV translation here because it says that these two ways of living are fighting each other.

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. ESV

Do you see the two ways that we can live?  One way is to gratify the desires of our sinful nature or our flesh.  This is the way of the world.  It is the pursuit of power,wordly treasures, and basically an entire list of things that are really fun in a moment but are just temporary pleasures that are not going to last for all of eternity.  This is a very popular way to walk through life and frankly, if you don’t live this way you look kind of crazy to the rest of the world.  The other way you can live is the exact opposite, and that is to walk by the Holy Spirit.  When you live this way you are not controlled by all the things of the world.  You are not controlled by power, temporary pleasures, or anything the world pursues because you are pursuing God!  These two ways of living oppose each other in every way.  This is a pull that we all feel.  Our human desires are very different than the desires of God in us.  It’s tough because the majority of the world lives in the now.  They engage today and they are having fun in those moments doing it.  Trust me, you will feel good at times when feeding that human nature…but in the end it leads to disaster.  This is the battle that all of us are in, and it really comes down to which nature we are going to feed.  It really comes down to how you will live your life.  Will you walk with the Holy Spirit or will you walk in your fleshly desires or as Paul writes here in Romans your sinful nature.  Listen to this….Paul says that our sinful nature is literally hostile to God, you literally cannot please God when controlled by the sinful nature.  Check this out…

Romans 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. NIV

So scripture tells us that we are literally living one of two ways.  It is that cut and dry.  We are living to feed the desires of our sinful nature or we are living to feed the desires of The Spirit in us.  The sinful nature has a list of desires that need satisfied, that Ken described last week as our symptoms of spiritual sickness, and frankly it’s a pretty nasty…

Galatians 5:19 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; 20 trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; 21 the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. MSG

Now here’s what is so cool.  The Holy Spirit creates a whole new list of desires in us…

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. NIV

Here’s the deal, when this new list of desires is stronger than your fleshly desires we know we are walking in the Spirit.  So you may be thinking ok Sam.  I see what Paul is saying here…and I want to live the way of the Spirit.  That list of fruit of the Spirit looks amazing, and I want that in my life…but how in the world do I do it?  Well what I would like to do is show you what I think of as the 5 steps to walking in the Spirit.  Apply these 5 things and I believe that you will begin to see the new list of desires forming in your life.  So I guess we could say that these are literally the steps you take to walk with God in you.

Step 1- Admit that you need Jesus in your life.  I started this talk by talking about how tired and beat up we can all get as we try to work our way through life and it seems like the harder we work to fix things the worse they get…well it’s because you can’t fix any of it.  We have this deep need of Jesus in our lives, it’s like a whole in our soul that can only be filled by Him…the problem and the mess come when we try to fill that whole on our own.  The reality is that we need Him and that life without Him is a train wreck.  We are helpless to walk as those “more than conquerors” without the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Jesus said this…

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  NIV

Did you catch that?  Jesus literally told you that apart from Him you can do nothing.  This is so huge.  You will not stand in peace and joy and all that life to full that Jesus came to give you without getting to a place in your life where your pride is shattered and you can confidently say.  “Jesus, I need you in my life.”  Until that pride shattering moment, you will continue to drag your way through life in your own strength, trying to fix things you can’t fix and earn things you can’t earn.  We need the Holy Spirit living and active in our lives!  Without knowing this deep in our hearts we won’t walk with Him.

Step 2- We need to pray! We must invite The Holy Spirit into our lives to do what only He can do in our lives.  Ok, so this may seem obvious but can I ask you something?  How specific are you when you pray?  Do you ask God specifically for what you need, want, and desire?  If not why is that?  God hears you, and speaks to you, and He loves you.  Ask Him for exactly what you want.  Do you want your friend to come to know Jesus…ask for it!  Do you want the Holy Spirit living and active in your life…then pray specifically for that!  Check out this prophecy from way back in the day!

Ezekiel 36:25 I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. 26 I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. 27 I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. MSG

This is how we should pray.  With this kind of focus.  Many of us don’t pray specific enough for what we need and desire.  We must invite the Holy Spirit into our lives.  The only way we will ever walk in the fruit of the spirit (the new list of desires-the opposite of our spiritual sickness) is if we invite The Holy Spirit into our lives.  This is something we ask for each and every day in our quiet time with God.  Inviting the Spirit to lead each day.

Step 3-We need to believe! The third step to walking in the Spirit each day is to believe.  We must have faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Faith in who God is.  Faith to trust that all that scripture tells us is true.  Faith that we actually have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us…you know the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is actually living in you!  I think many of us don’t pray specifically enough because we don’t truly trust that God will come through or that He is listening.  For some of us I think we have these secret sins that we can’t get past, and a large part of that is that we don’t believe that through the Holy Spirit that sin has no power over us!  You want to walk as one of those “more than conquerors” you must have faith that God in us, is more than enough!  Faith in who the Spirit is leads to prayers to be reckoned with…and leads to freedom from sins that we may now think we can never get past!  That is a lie…through Jesus sin has no power over us!

Romans 6:10 When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. 11 From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. 12 That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. 13 Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time — remember, you’ve been raised from the dead! — into God’s way of doing things. 14 Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.  MSG

This is incredible!  You don’t have to fall to sin anymore!  It has no control over you!  We count on the Holy Spirit who makes us alive when we were actually dead in sin!  Listen, this isn’t an overnight process for everyone.  For some of us we have some work to do to break free from the sins that we have been slaves to for so long.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be tempted again either…but what it means is that you are free, and through the power of the Holy Spirit you can and will overcome any and all darkness in your life!  This is a faith thing…God in you will do what only He can do in your life.  Save you from the slavery of you sinful desires!  But there are some things that you need to do in this process, you must know your need of God, you must invite the Holy Spirit in and believe in Him and then practically you need to do something too…which leads me to the next step in our walk with the Spirit.

Step 4-We need to live differently! So here’s the deal, we do have something to do in this process! You know, a lot of people that I run into tell me they have this thing.  Like a recurring issue or sin that they just can’t kick.  They are frustrated by it and they want to live differently but here’s what is really interesting.  They aren’t willing to do anything themselves.  So they say Sam, you are a Pastor, could you pray for me.   I keep doing this thing…I pray about it and I just don’t stop, then I feel bad, but I do it again.  They pray “Lord help me not look at porn on the internet anymore.”  But they don’t do anything to help this process…they don’t put controls on the computer or ask for accountability partner or install an app or just stay away from the internet…and I will tell you prayer is great.  Faith that God is bigger than sin is important.  But you still have something to do in the process.  And to be really blunt there is a reason they won’t put those safe guards and boundaries in place and that is because deep down they still want to do the thing they tell me they don’t want to do. 

If you want to walk in the Spirit you do have something to do in the process!  You need to live differently…now here’s what is important this isn’t the first step…we do nothing in our own power but by God’s amazing love and grace and mercy.  We start with our deep need of the Holy Spirit in our lives…then we move to inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives, and trusting or having the faith to know the Spirit’s power over sin and our sinful nature…that is when we need to get involved.  We need to live differently not to earn anything but in an effort to move towards holiness.  As we do the first three steps the spiritual sickness list fades to the background and the Holy Spirit gives us that new, fresh list…we will have the focus, and ability to move away from sin…this is why this is step 4.  Because again…YOU CAN’T DO THIS ON YOUR OWN!  It’s as you walk with the Holy Spirit that you move towards holiness!  Every desire you have in your humanness is to satisfy the desires of the flesh, so when your desire begins to shift to pleasing God you know you are walking in the Spirit!

Step 5- Thank God for all He is doing in your life! The final step in walking in the Spirit is to thank God for all He is doing in your life.  Because again, we need Him and can do nothing righteous and holy without His help.  So as we move towards Spiritual Health we should thank Him for that because He is doing it!  Which could take us right into that teaching on gratitude that we just came out of!  We are a mess without all of the redemptive and healing power of Jesus living and active in our lives!

So many of us are not walking in the Spirit.  When we give over control and allow the Holy Spirit into our lives we have an opportunity to live differently.  We walk with freedom and joy and we live empowered lives if the Holy Spirit is living and active in our lives!  That is the only way to walk through this difficult and challenging world that we live in!  We must begin to walk in the Spirit and to do that we must acknowledge our desperate need of God.  We must pray, inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives.  We need to have the faith to pray specifically and the trust that the Holy Spirit frees us from our sin.  When we hit those three steps we begin to put boundaries and safe guards in our lives and begin to act differently and as we see the Fruit of the Spirit coming out of our lives, we thank God for all He is doing in us.

Walking in the Spirit is a beautiful thing.  It takes that list of spiritual sickness that used to define our lives and throws it away, allowing a new list of desires to take over!  As we see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control coming out of our lives we live empowered lives in Christ.  We literally live the lives that Jesus came to give us…and it’s through the power of the Holy Spirit in us that we actually become more than conquerors.  It happens as we walk each day with the Spirit guiding us, teaching us, and empowering us to live as God created us to live.