“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free -- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink,” [1 Corinthians 12:12-13]
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.,” [Ephesians 4:1-6]
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father,” [Galatians 4:6]
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the Day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you," [Ephesians 4:30-32]
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us,” [1 John 3:23-24]
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear,” [Jude 20-23a]
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him,” [John 14:15-21]
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” [Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22]
“The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!” [Revelation 22:17a]
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit,” [Galatians 5:25]
The Christian life is the only life. We know that all life came from God and that God is Life. Without God, there is no life. But the world we currently live in is a fallen world. The Scriptures liken this world (when devoid of God’s life) to a desert. In fact, “Zion” means “parched land.” This is why God will one day change the name of Zion from “parched” to “married” (“Beulah,” meaning blessed, chosen, joyous, bountiful, FULL OF LIFE). The world we live in is a spiritual desert, in great need of transformation that life might return.
The Spirit of God is called “Living Water” and the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Life and when He appeared in the world as the Son of Man, it marked the beginning of a new era: Life has come into the world. Jesus told us that in order for the Spirit to come, He had to leave. In this way, Jesus would be able to help everyone who calls on His Name, everywhere by the Spirit of God. The transformation from desert to life is only possible by means of the Living Water. The Spirit of God has come to bring us life.
The Spirit is called our "Comforter” –literally, the “One who walks beside us.” Jesus said that He would be with us and IN us. In fact all who are baptized into the Name of Jesus are sealed for the Day of redemption by the Spirit of God and receive the “gift” of the permanent, indwelling Presence of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who baptizes us. Christians develop their relationship with the New and Awesome Friend they have in the Spirit of God by “keeping in step with the Spirit,” “praying in the Spirit,” and “keeping the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” And we are told to never grieve the Spirit of God; He is our Friend and Help. He is the “Breath of Life” that caused the prophets and teachers of old to record the Word of Life for us. He also makes the Word known to us –gradually as we have need. But to the wise who want to know and use more of His Truth, He gives more. He is God, but not a distant, unknowable god; He is intimately and wonderfully “married” to us. By personally deciding to make Jesus Lord of our lives (because no one can make us enter into a personal relationship with God), we are blessed and empowered by the Spirit. Every Christian is ordained at baptism by the Spirit to follow and obey everything that Jesus has commanded us. He convicts people of sin and enables us by grace to please God.
I often ask myself, “Why would I ever want to offend or grieve the Spirit?” But, unfortunately, there are times when, rather than make our relationship stronger and more pleasant, I make things worse. The Spirit speaks to us and guides us to follow Jesus. When He speaks to me and I intentionally ignore Him, it certainly doesn’t make our relationship better. But the ultimate danger that Christians must be very wary of is the blasphemy of the Spirit. The enemy is wicked and, if he can, loves to rob the Christian of his or her new-found life in Jesus. If Satan can trick us (again) into thinking that listening to our fleshly desires is better than listening to God, we grieve the Spirit. Rather than “fanning the flame” of the Spirit, we find ourselves depriving the Spirit of “fuel,” causing His flame to diminish within us. It is ultimately my decision whether I want more of God or more of the world. If I find myself rejecting God more and more and accepting the world’s ways in increasing measure, then I again become blind and make it possible for the enemy to trick me into making the most foolish decision a Christian could ever make: Rejecting God forever. I sometimes think of Peter and how he told Jesus, “I will never deny you…” and yet he did. Does that thought scare you as much as it does me? But the cure for the Christian who has fallen into one of the enemy’s schemes is repentance –God is merciful to a repentant heart. Rather than become overwhelmed by the world (robbing the flame of its fuel), we can overwhelm the world with the “Fragrance of Life.”
There is no better place to be than in the center of the will of God. God is faithful and His Spirit remains faithful to complete the good work that God has started in us. The Spirit’s Presence in our lives is evidenced by “fruit” [Galatians 5:22-23] and the more we encourage the fruit of the Spirit, the more we rejoice together. Remember, the Spirit is our Friend, not our enemy. The decisions He prompts us to make do not result in disappointment when we follow through for Him –they always result in deeper, richer and better LIFE. When our relationship flourishes, I say together with the Spirit, “Come, LORD!” When I listen to the Spirit, the world around me is enabled to see the Lord of Life in me. When I spend a good amount of time in prayer, not just stating what I want, but allowing myself to remember that prayer is an opportunity to improve our relationship, then I can “be still and know that He is God.” I’ve got to remember that God wants a relationship with me just as much as I want one with Him. I want to know His will more clearly because I want to please Him because I have fallen so completely in love with Him. It is good to pray in the Spirit and to allow the Spirit of God to guide how I pray and even what I do while I’m praying. He is the “Breath of Heaven,” and without His life-breath, we can suffocate our new life in Christ.
Picking up the pieces after a bad decision is far more difficult than listening to the Spirit when He seeks to help us. So when you’re faced with a fork in the road that leads away from the “straight and narrow,” remember why the Spirit does what He does best: He loves you. He’s “married” to you. He will never leave you, nor forsake you.
He is also the Spirit of unity who enables Christian fellowship. Without the Spirit, we could never be one. The Spirit makes church; without Him, we are not a church. Many stale and dead denominational groups, who have long forgotten their Breath of Life, exist as “Christian,” but in name only. The Spirit cannot exist or thrive in a group that has rejected the truth of the Lord of Life. Let’s not EVER become a lifeless shell of what used to be a church. Since we have Life by the Spirit, let’s make every effort to keep in step with the Spirit. There is little we can do to please God without the Spirit, but we can do amazing things for God when we follow His lead: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD Almighty,” [Zechariah 4:6]; “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Love in Jesus,