This Past Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday by praying for 48 hours in the chapel leading up to the Sunday morning service. On Pentecost Sunday, we remember the day when the disciples received the Holy Spirit and how the early church was formed in power. As we look at our own lives today we see that we have two choices, either we live by the Spirit or we live by the flesh. Paul highlights this in the first eight verses of Romans 8.
But what does it mean to live according to the flesh? Well it just so happens that Paul gives a list in his letter to the Galatian church (see Galatians 5:19-21). We may look at that list and say, well I am not sexually immoral, I don’t practice witchcraft or I don’t participate in Orgies – but what about impurity (impure thoughts), what about selfish ambition, or dissensions and factions (gossip with the intent to create division). If we are honest, we all struggle with some of these things, we constantly wrestle with the desires of the flesh. The real battle is in the control of our minds. As Christians, we are to be self-disciplined not only in our physical appetites but also in our thoughts.
How often we fail in disciplining that vital part of life. Our thoughts begin to drift from the God centered life into worldly things and thoughts we know we should not dwell on, and we let them go and we become anxious, lustful, hateful, prideful and we give in to self-pity.
Someone might say; “well, I gave my life to Jesus, I received the Holy Spirit, but I still had bad thoughts, God didn’t take them away, I am living a defeated Christian life”. The truth is that we have work to do, don’t blame God for your impure thoughts if you spend hours watching late night cable TV. Daily we need to daily surrender to the Holy Spirit’s will and leadership so that we can live in the power of the Spirit. Paul explains this perfectly in Romans 12:2.
What occupies your mind, will ultimately express itself in your character and lifestyle.
It seems impossible, how can we overcome the problem of our mind? God has provided a solution, we need to appropriate that solution to our lives (See Romans 8:9). This verse begins a series of verses that include the conditional clause; “if” 8 times. If anyone does not have the indwelling Spirit of God it does not matter their profession of the local church they are a member of, they are not a member of Christ’s eternal body. To belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit of God must indwell your life.
The person who gives no evidence of the presence, power and fruit of God’s Spirit in his life has not authentically claimed Christ as Savior and Lord. The person who demonstrates no desire for the things of God and has no inclination to avoid sin or no passion to please God is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus does not belong to Christ. A sobering truth.
But the person who has the Holy Spirit living in and through them experiences life and life abundantly.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
The Holy Spirit does not only enable us to live in peace and fruitfulness, the Holy Spirit is also a deposit, or a promise of God that we will one day be resurrected from the dead and given new bodies, incredible resurrected bodies (see Ephesians 1:13-14).
Finally we come to the results or the blessings that come from living by the Spirit. Reading Romans 8:14-17 we see that, by the Holy Spirit we become sons and daughters of God. Children of the living God, and we get to call the almighty creator of all things Father. It seems impossible, how can we possibly believe that? The God of the universe allows us to call him Father and come into His presence to worship Him and ask Him for our needs, that is too much for us to comprehend. But then we read in verse 16; “the spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s Children”.
One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to testify, to convince our own spirit that we are God’s children, because God knows we will find that hard to fathom. Allow the Holy Spirit to testify with your Spirit, and begin to meditate and understand what it means to be a child of the living God.
This is a daily battle for the mind, are you going to be controlled by the flesh or are you going to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and direct you?
The mind set dominated by the desires and activities of the sinful nature leads to death.
The mind set dominated by the desires and activities of the will of God leads to life and life eternal.
Each person is responsible for which mind set he or she pursues.
How am I at mental-discipline? When I catch myself thinking wrong thoughts, do I make myself think about something else? Where are some of the places I go?
What are some of the things I do that feed my mind with the wrong kind of stuff?
Paul writing to the Philippian church sums it up in one verse; Philippians 4:8 – That is living by the Spirit.
Abandon yourself to the will and purposes of God in your life. You will find that as you live by the Holy Spirit, you will experience a life of adventure, peace and fulfillment unlike anything you could ever imagine.