I like to road bike. I like hitting roads south of Dillsburg and riding through the country. A short ride is around 20 miles. A fun normal ride is around 30 miles and a for real ride is around 80 or more. For me, doing 80 miles means I am in pain for a while.
One of the things I did early on was ride in a group of guys. On one of these rides, we road to Gettysburg and back. That day, a group of guys told me to follow them. To stay a couple inches off their back tire. It’s called drafting. It was unreal. You get sucked in behind the riders and you just cruise. It is so much faster and easier. On my way to Gettysburg, when I didn’t draft, my speed was around 15 mph. Following the guys back was unbelievable, we average 26 mph.
Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome and said something interesting,
May the God of hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! MSG Romans 15:13
See that phrase: filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit? Scripture is saying, there is a way to go through life with passion and power. In other words, you can try to muscle through life and struggle to live out the moral code. Good luck with that. You can struggle to do all the right things. You will feel very tired. Or you can live another way, you can follow the Holy Spirit, get sucked in and just cruise.
That’s why we are talking about the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is the same Holy Spirit who lives inside us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
What comes to your mind when I say: Holy Spirit? There are many different responses to the Holy Spirit primarily because we have seen or heard about the extremes of the Holy Spirit at the local church.
For some, you may feel like they over-emphasis the Holy Spirit. If you spend time in that environment, it can feel really weird. It’s loose and wild and people are crying out around you and are thinking, “What is going on?” The wilder it gets the people around you see to get more excited. If the lights flicker, the say things like, “We bind you demon of flickering lights.” And everyone around thinks, that person is super spiritual. The experience is very emotional for many people.
For some, you may feel like they under-emphasis the Holy Spirit. Of the two extremes, I think this is the most dangerous. Everything is factual, they leave no room for thy mystery of God. The healing and power of God. It’s about principles, order, logic, wisdom and management. Sadly, they ignore the heart and the healing power of the Holy Spirit.
Personally, we have experienced all kinds of churches. We have experienced being prayed over. We have experienced God sharing words for us to inspire us. All of that is God at work through the Holy Spirit.
What we want to do in this series, is get a healthy biblical view of the Holy Spirit. Let’s turn to scripture and read what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit.
I am going away to the one who sent me, and none of you has asked me where I am going. Instead, you are very sad. But it is actually best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Counselor [Holy Spirit] won’t come. If I do go away, he will come because I will send him to you. NLT John 16:5-8
Jesus just said, you are better off when I leave because then I will send you the Holy Spirit. Now, imagine hearing that as a disciple. Jesus, the man who raised people from the dead, controlled the weather, produced food out of no-where, is saying, you are going to be better off without Me. I’m sorry, if I was a disciple, I think I want to stick with the guy who throws demons around.
Jesus knew something they didn’t know. God was about to share Himself. No longer was God found in one person. Jesus was saying, God is now a gift for everyone. Do you remember what happened in the Temple of God when Jesus died? It tore. That symbolized that God is now for everyone.
The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity of God. God the Father, God the Son [Jesus] and God the Spirit. Please hear me; the Holy Spirit is God and He wants to live in you.
So how do we unleash the Holy Spirit into our lives?
16 I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. 17 For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures. 18 When you are guided by the Holy Spirit, you need no longer force yourself to obey Jewish laws. TLB Galatians 5:16-26
There is a battle inside us all. Our natural evil desires vs. the Holy Spirit. And the battle is all about control. Our evil desires want self-control. Have you experienced this in your life, friendships and marriage? We want to do what we want, when we want, how we want. We want every decision to benefit us. I want comfort. I want get stuff. I want look important. I treat God like a genie. I’m going to ignore Him till I need Him, then He owes me. I treat people with a tit for tat way. I get along with everyone till they cross me. If I have to, I will manipulate and betray anyone to get what I want.
Why do we live like this? It’s our natural, sinful, default setting. Since the day you came into existence, you wanted control.
So how do you know if our evil selfish desires are in control of our lives? Paul continues in vs 19 and gives us a list, around 13 things, that show up in our lives if we are staying in control. It’s shockingly practical.
19 But when you follow your own wrong inclinations, your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group-and there will be wrong doctrine, 21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. TLB Galatians 5:16-26
We look at that list and say, that is list of symptoms that show our spiritual sickness. God gives Himself [Holy Spirit] to us to lead us from spiritual sickness to spiritual health. But there is a problem. To find health, you must give up control.
Let me explain ‘give up control.’ That doesn’t mean you to Yoga for five weeks, not pay your bills, don’t pack a lunch for your kids. No. That means you make the decision to say no to your selfish desire to follow God’s desire. Instead of doing what I want, I now do what He wants. I surrender my demands to find comfort for something better; character. I surrender my demands for stuff, to build God’s kingdom. I surrender desire to look important, to give glory to God. My life is no longer mine, it’s God’s.
Imagine if everyone gave up control. They gave their life to God and say, ‘God my life is yours, how do you want me to life today?’ That would change every marriage and relationship in our community.
To give up control means that I treat God like He is my Lord and Savior. Scripture is God’s holy word and foundational to living so I read it and I change. No longer am I a tit for tat person, I love and serve others the way God loved me.
How do you know that God, the Holy Spirit, is in control? Paul continues in vs 22 and again, the list is shockingly practical.
22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws. TLB Galatians 5:16-26
That’s a list of symptoms that reflect spiritual health, God in us.
I want to close by telling you something you aren’t going to like. God allows you and me to walk through hard times. Why? Because He wants us to grow up. If He gave us everything we wanted, we would become selfish, self-centered, lazy people. We would never leave our spiritually sick condition to become spiritually healthy. Hear me on this, God allows you and I to walk through very hard times.
7 God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, 8 the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? 9 We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? 10 While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. 11 At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. MSG Hebrews 12:7-11
The challenges we face aren’t punishment. The challenges we face are training. And, according to scripture, we aren’t going like it. And, according to scripture, looking back, we will be better because of it.
I can’t explain this in detail because what happens is a God thing. So allow me to share with you in a fuzzy way, what happens. As you walk through very hard times and as you stay in a relationship with God and you surrender control, God plants the Holy Spirit inside you deeper and deeper. You begin to walk with the authority and power of the Holy Spirit. And on the other side of the dark moment, you have more of God. You trust God more. People’s opinions matter less. The things of this world matter less. It’s harder be offended. Because of your pain, you can feel the pain of others and show compassion. Your love for people grows.
I want to tell you what breaks my heart. When people invite Jesus into their lives, when the Holy Spirit lives in them and they face hard times. What do many people do? They fall away. You have seen it right? They leave Church and God. Or, they continue to go to church but aren’t emotionally honest. They are in great pain and say things like, “God is good.” What is going on? They were moments from having more of God.
Do you want the Holy Spirit to be unleashed in your life? You must do one thing today before you leave. Declare today, I surrender it all. So what area do you refuse to talk about? What area do you refuse to deal with? What area are you hiding from others? Are you pulling away from God and community?
I want to leave you with the end of Galatians 5.
24 Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to his cross and crucified them there. 25 If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Then we won’t need to look for honors and popularity, which lead to jealousy and hard feelings. TLB Galatians 5:16-26
What do we do? Before you leave today, before you exit out of this blog, stop and give it all up. Surrender your control.