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Lesson 4: The Spirit Filled Life (Part 1)

Written by: Biblical Studies Foundation    Posted on: 04/09/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                            Lesson 4:                                       The Spirit-Filled Life                                             (Part 1)

                              The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

                                          Introduction

      The Apostle Paul reminds us that the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (1 Cor. 4:20),       and that the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in (or ôbyö       pointing to the means) the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). The message of the gospel brings the power of God into       every believerÆs life through the person and work of the Lord Jesus and the empowering ministry of the Holy       Spirit.

                Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for                 salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

                1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing                 foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of Godà . 24 but to                 those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the                 wisdom of God.

                1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive                 words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith                 should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

      Far too many Christians, however, are not experiencing the enabling power of God. For these believers it is       simply a matter of doing the best they can to conform to certain expected standards. On the surface, some       appear to be more successful at conforming to the rules than others, but if they are honest with themselves, and       this is no easy task because of our bent for self-deception, there is the ever present awareness that something       is wrong.

      In our attempt to rationalize, we may seek to find comfort in thoughts such as: ôNo one is perfect, we all have       our weaknesses,ö or ôI am doing the very best I can, and I am sure God understands.ö Of course, no one is       perfect, and certainly God does understand. LetÆs assume we are doing our best, but this does not alter the       fact that unless we are walking by faith in God and in His abundant resources in Christ, we are missing the       abundant life Christ offered when He said, ôI came that they might life and have it abundantlyö (John 10:10b).

      Is our best really not what God wants? No! He wants faith in His best, the Lord Jesus, and in the person of the       Spirit whom God has sent to indwell us and empower us so we can experience the power of Christ and the       ability to do our best, not in our own strength, but in the strength which God supplies.

                Colossians 1:29 And for this purpose, I work hard, struggling constantly in                 accordance with His working which continues to work in me mightily (authorÆs                 translation).

      Because of human weakness, no one can live the Christian life any more than one can perfectly keep the Law       of the Old Testament (cf. Rom. 3:9-20; Gal. 3:10-14). If we could live the Christian life without GodÆs       enablement, why do you suppose God would promise the Holy Spirit to indwell the church (John 7:37-39;       14:17)? If we could live the Christian life and serve the Lord without GodÆs power through faith, why would       the Lord Jesus give the Holy Spirit the title of ôthe Helperö or better, ôthe Enablerö (John 14:16, 26), then       point out the disciplesÆ inadequacy apart from the Spirit (John 16:7-15), and tell them not to attempt any       ministry until the coming of the Spirit (Acts 1:4-8)? Yet, it seems to me that we so often try to do just exactly       that. So often, we tend to run off to do this or that in our own steam because we are all so prone to trust in our       own resources.

      Since the Spirit is our Enabler, the doctrine of the filling of the Holy Spirit (like positional truth) is critical to       fellowship with God and to obedience. Without an understanding of this doctrine the believer cannot properly       function in the Christian life.

      It is sometimes said, Christianity is not a way of life, it is a life to live. It is the reproduction of Christ in the       believerÆs life by faith just as the apostle stated in Galatians 2:20,

                I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in                 me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who                 loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

                Philippians 2:21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.

      However, it is God the Holy Spirit who reproduces the character of Christ in the life of the believer. This has       both a positive and a negative side.

      (1) The Positive Side: Paul had the positive element in mind in Romans 8:4 when he wrote ôin order that the       righteous requirements of the Law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but       according to the Spiritö (NIV). Positive righteousness, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit or the character of Jesus       Christ, is reproduced in the believer who is under the SpiritÆs control.

                Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,                 goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no                 law.

      (2) The Negative Side: In Romans 8:13 Paul added, ôfor if you are living according to the flesh, you must       die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.ö This teaches that, on the       negative side, the deeds (sins) of the flesh are put off, not by will powerùthough our will is certainly       involvedùbut by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Note Galatians 5:16, ôà but I say, walk by the Spirit, and       you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.ö Producing the character of Christ from both the negative (putting       off the deeds of the flesh) and from the positive (putting on godly characteristics) is the work of the Holy Spirit.

      The necessity of a proper understanding of the filling/controlling ministry of the Spirit is intensified by such       passages as Galatians 4:19 where Paul prayed, ôMy children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is       formed in you.ö Included in the meaning of the Greek word translated ôformedö (morfow) is the concept of       giving outward expression of inward character. ôThe form means the essential form rather than outward       shape. The idea is therefore of real Christlike character.ö39 Paul is praying for Christ to be outwardly       expressed in the believer, but from within through the power of the Spirit. Mere external conformity is not the       goal. Note also that the verb is passive. This means the subject receives the action rather than produces the       action.

      Christ formed in oneÆs life is not something the Christian can do, nor is it something Christ does Himself. Christ       does not manifest Himself in the life of the Christian. This ministry has been given to the Holy Spirit and that       fact is born out in numerous passages such as John 16:14 where the Lord says of the Spirit, ôAll that belongs       to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to youö       (NIV). Compare also, the following passages:

                Ephesians 1:16-19 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you                 in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may                 give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray                 that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the                 hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,                 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These                 are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

                Galatians 5:16-25 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire                 of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against                 the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the                 things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the                 Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity,                 sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger,                 disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like                 these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who                 practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the                 Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness,                 self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ                 Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the                 Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

      Perhaps it can be illustrated this way if one doesnÆt take the illustration too far. The believer is like an       automobile whether new and beautiful or old and not so pretty. Either way the automobile has all the       equipment necessary to run with powerùa transmission, an engine, a carburetor, wheels, tires, etc. But       without one ingredient, gasoline, the car cannot function. All of its equipment is there, but it is useless unless       there is gas to bring about internal combustion. The Holy Spirit is that combustion power for the believer, who,       unlike the gas in our cars, is always present since He comes to permanently indwell every believer (Eph. 4:30).

      In Romans 6, Paul points to our wonderful resources (our position in Christ) which provide the basis for       newness of life. But in Romans 7 he teaches us two important truths with regard to deliverance and spirituality.       First, the Law or any other system of ethics, while it exposes our sin, cannot make us righteous or deliver from       the power of sin. Second, the apostle teaches us our new position, though absolutely necessary for spiritual       transformation, is powerless by itself. It is the necessary foundation for deliverance, but with this new position,       we need the empowering work of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as described in Romans 8 to utilize our new       resources in Christ.

      We need to understand that every believer has been indwelt by the Spirit and has both the resources and the       power necessary for the abundant life that the Savior promised us in John 10:10b. Our problem is not putting       gas in the tank, but using (walking in dependence upon) the power that is there. The need is for every believer       to understand and follow the biblical injunctions of Ephesians 5:18, ôbe filled (be controlled) with (by means       of) the Spirit,ö and Galatians 5:16, ôwalk by the Spirit.ö Later in this study, support for this view of Ephesians       5:18 will be given.

      Learning to walk by the Spirit, however, is not so easy. In the first place, the Scripture does not give us a       simple definition of how to be filled, and it is not learned by a casual reading of the New Testament. In the       second place, there are all kinds of erroneous concepts floating around in Christian circles today. Some teach       a spirituality by works (legalism) or will power. Legalism (spirituality by the keeping of the Law) was the       problem at Galatia. Others teach a relative concept of filling in that they treat the Spirit as a substance which       we get a little at a time. Still others today are viewing the filling of the Spirit as merely a quality of life that is       somewhat analogous to spiritual growth. They may even talk about the control of the Spirit, but when you       carefully look at their whole proposition for the Spirit-filled walk, it seems to me it borders on a form of       self-reformation wherein one simply learns to replace old life dominating patterns with a new life-style       patterned after the Scripture. There is truth in this approach, but not the whole truth. It lacks the concept of the       moment by moment dependence on the Spirit coupled with the concept of growth.

      Many fail to understand the difference between indwelling, anointing, sealing, and baptizing, and the filling of       the Spirit. We often hear people pray for a special anointing. Hymns are sung such as Come, Holy Spirit,       Heavenly Dove, or Fill Me Now which do not reflect sound theology in relation to the doctrine of the Holy       Spirit. The second verse of Fill Me Now says, ôThou canst fill me, gracious Spirit, though I cannot tell Thee       how; But I need Thee, greatly need Thee, Come, O Come, and fill me now.ö Surely the writer of this old hymn       was expressing our need of the ministry of the Spirit and His control, but the wording is inaccurate and       misleading because it fails to distinguish between the indwelling of the Spirit and the filling (control) of the Spirit.       The same applies to the chorus Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh On Me. The Spirit, as will be explained       in more detail later, is not a substance which comes to fill us, but a person who has come to indwell us if we       have trusted in Christ. Indeed, one of the proofs of salvation is the presence of the Spirit. Romans 8:9 reads,       ôà but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.ö

      The purpose of this study is to:

      (1) Define and clarify just who the Holy Spirit is and what it is that He does.

      (2) Understand the unique age in which we live as it relates to the Holy Spirit.

      (3) Define and clarify the terms used of the Holy Spirit such as anointing, indwelling, and filling, etc.

      (4) Demonstrate from Scripture how to be filled with the Spirit, i.e., how to walk under the control of the Holy       Spirit in order to experience the character of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ will not express Himself in the life       of the believer apart from the ministry of the Spirit. If the SpiritÆs ministry is not understood, then His work in       reproducing Christ in us is hindered, if not completely quenched.

      Before we actually begin to deal with the Spirit-filled life, what it means, and how we can experience it, there is       some ground work that must be laid or we could quickly go off into error with regard to the ministries of the       Spirit.

                            The Person of the Holy Spirit (Who the Spirit Is)

      The Personality of the Holy Spirit

      The least understood person of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. Yet a proper understanding of the truth of His       personality is crucial to a number of other doctrines of Scripture, including the ministry of the Spirit Himself.

      To deny the personality of the Spirit is to ôdeny His real existence, the existence of the Trinity, and the teaching       of the Scriptures on the subject. Nevertheless, His personality has been denied throughout the ages, first by the       Monarchians, the Arians, à and the Socinians in the days of the reformation.ö40 In modern days, His       personality has been denied by one Pentecostal group and by the JehovahÆs Witnesses.

      The name ôHoly Spiritö occurs 89 times in the New Testament, and this number does not include the times He       is referred to simply as ôSpirit.ö This, plus the fact He is promised in the Old Testament and is a special gift       from God in the New Testament, should show just how important it is to understand what the Scripture       teaches about the Spirit.

            He Has the Attributes of Personality41

      (1) Intellect. These verses show the Holy Spirit has a mind, that He thinks, searches, and teaches. When we       combine this with the other attributes of the Spirit set forth in the Bible, we see this is not like a programmed       computer with memory, or like a sign that gives direction along the road, but the Holy Spirit has a mind and       does things as a person.

                1 Corinthians 2:10-13 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit                 searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the                 thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts                 of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the                 spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things                 freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by                 human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with                 spiritual words.

                Romans 8:27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,                 because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

      (2) Emotion. We cannot grieve or cause pain to an influence. We are only able to grieve a person who can       love and feel. Because of the SpiritÆs holy characterùanother element of personalityùHe is grieved by our       sin. Note in particular the statement in James 4:5: ôOr do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit       He caused to live in us envies intensely?ö (NIV) An ôinfluenceö or an ôitö does not envy or jealously guard       another.

                Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were                 sealed for the day of redemption.

                Hebrews 10:29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who                 has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of                 the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

                James 4:5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ôHe jealously                 desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in usö?

      (3) Will. Concerning the will of the Holy Spirit, Ryrie writes:

                The distribution of spiritual gifts is said to be according to the will of the Spirit (1                 Cor. 12:11), and He is able to direct the activities of GodÆs servants. This is well                 illustrated by the Spirit leading Paul at Mysia and Troas. He forbade Paul to preach                 in Asia and Bithynia, à42

      We can translate, ôas He willsö of 1 Corinthians 12:11 as ôas He purposes or determines.ö This could hardly       be predicated of a mere it.

                1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing                 to each one individually just as He wills.

                Acts 16:6-11 And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having                 been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and when they had                 come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not                 permit them; 8 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision                 appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and                 appealing to him, and saying, ôCome over to Macedonia and help us.ö 10 And                 when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia,                 concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 Therefore                 putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the                 day following to Neapolis;

            He Performs the Actions of Personality

      (1) He teaches.

                John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,                 He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

                John 16:13-15 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all                 the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will                 speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He shall glorify Me; for He                 shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are                 Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.

      (2) He testifies or bears witness.

                John 15:26 When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that                 is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me,

      (3) He guides or leads.

                Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

      (4) He performs miracles.

                Acts 8:39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched                 Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.

      (5) He convinces.

                John 16:7-8 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do                 not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8                 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness,                 and judgment;

      (6) He restrains.

                Genesis 6:3 Then the LORD said, ôMy Spirit shall not strive with man forever,                 because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty                 years.ö

                2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he                 may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who                 now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

      (7) He commands and directs people.

                Acts 8:29 The Spirit told Philip, ôGo to that chariot and stay near it.ö

      (8) He intercedes in prayer.

                Romans 8:26 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do                 not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with                 groanings too deep for words;

      We can learn from books or from our experiences, but they do not really function as teachers who possess will       and purpose. Handcuffs can restrain, but in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 (if this refers to the Spirit through His role in       the church, and many believe it does) the restrainer is spoken of as ôheöùa person. (See below on the       concept of accidence.)

                2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he                 may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who                 now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

      The aspect of bearing witness is presented as the work of one who is a person. All of these actions of the       Spirit are presented in Scripture, especially when taken as a whole, as the work of a person who is vitally       involved with us as people in a relationship. For instance, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and performs      

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