Episode 53: The Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives, Part 3

Peace to Live By Episode 53: The Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives, Part 3 - Daniel Litton
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[Transcript may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and contains extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at how the Holy Spirit works in our lives as Christians. I think we’ve learned, or been reminded of quite a few important things in this study. The first week we discussed how the Holy Spirit teaches us, both using God’s Word and sometimes things we see around us. We also learned the fact that the Spirit brings conviction to us when we need it, so we can improve our lives. And we talked about how the Spirit helps us ward off Satanic attacks as they come. Now, last week we looked at how the Holy Spirit leads us, and the different ways he does that. We also considered his spiritual gifts that he gives us to help others within the body of Christ. And, finally, we discussed how the Spirit gives us hope for the future. He is our seal, and the guarantee of our salvation until we acquire possession of it.

       Well, today, I want us to finishing up our discussion on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There are three more things that I want us to think about as we wrap up this study. And also remember, there is more we could have examined, as I’m sure you’ve thought up some things that could have been covered, but these are the areas I’ve chosen for us to focus on. So, the final three areas that we are considering are:

7) He produces his fruit in us
8) He can guide our speech, and
9) He keeps harmony with us.

So, let’s go ahead and finish up our examination of these things about the Spirit of God, and how he helps us both individually and collectively as a church.

Number seven: He produces His fruit in us

       I believe we all have the Fruit of the Spirit already inside us (see Romans 8:23). God wants to make each of us, as Christians, become more like Jesus, and he is working this out in our lives. Yet, at the same time, the Apostle Paul told each of us that we must work out our salvation in our lives, taking it seriously (see Philippians 2:12). We should really strive to make improvement to ourselves, to seek to make change for the better, to make Christian growth our own. We are not alone in this battle, for Paul said in Philippians, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, ESV). Our desire to become better people doesn’t just come from our own flesh, but the Spirit of God plants this desire in our minds. It drives us to want to become further like Jesus.

       So, the Spirit works his fruit out in us as we live day-to-day. Some pieces become cultivated first, and others later. He will work on one area, and then work on another. And he will often work on two or three at a time. It is important that we allow God to work in us by yielding to the Spirit. Arguing with God, or arguing against God about our growth isn’t going to get us anywhere good. It’s just going to take additional time for us to grow if we are doing that. We are just going to spend a greater amount of time wandering in the wilderness like the Israelites did in the Old Testament. Often we want to obtain a blessing from God, and the only way to this blessing is through growth. Let God work in you. He’s not harsh in his work toward us, and he doesn’t ask too much of us, or demand even that we grow quickly. He is patient with us, and he guides us along gently into different ways of doing things. Yes, God is kind to us and helps us.

       The Fruit of the Spirit is what makes us further into of the image of Jesus. He displayed these characteristics perfectly in his life. And it’s these characteristics that we want to be present in our lives: in our minds, our speech, and our behaviors. As we continue to yield to God’s Word, and continually yield to the Spirit, we gain better control of our thoughts, the things we say, and the behaviors we act out. Strongholds are destroyed and more sin and negatively is eliminated inside us. Remember, our thoughts are central to our speech and behaviors. If we control our thoughts, the latter two areas then can be brought under control, those areas of speech and behavior. However, if we neglect our minds, and just let our minds think about whatever they want to, not exercising self-control, we have an undisciplined mind. We are to have the Mind of the Spirit, the Mind of Christ.

       Recall what the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16, ESV). So, Paul stated this mind already belongs to us. Well, we need to, by the Spirit of God, make this mind our own. Thoughts constantly roll through our minds moment by moment during the day. And since we are free from sin and alive to God, we have the choice about what we are thinking about. You see, most people just let their minds think about whatever comes to them. We let our minds be undisciplined. The problem is, is that most of the thoughts that come to us we need to let go right by us. We should not just think about whatever comes to our minds, but rather we should choose what we think about. For many of us, most of the thoughts that come us are some type of worry, anxiety, or fear. But we must align our thoughts with that which is approved by the Spirit.

       So, what is the Fruit of the Spirit I’ve been talking about? Well, I think must of us know the passage, and most of us probably have it memorized. Galatians 5:22, 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (ESV). As I already stated, I believe we have these fruits already deposited to each of us. We just need to let them grow out in us. The seeds are there. The Holy Spirit wants to cultivate each of these attitudes into our lives. We have to let him grow them out in us. Indeed, it will take our whole lives, as we are going to be in constant growth. And we won’t achieve perfection in this life. But these fruits help us to become better people, which in turn enables us to have better lives and enjoy them more. If we continue to live with sinful habits and attitudes, we aren’t going to have as good a life as we could have.

       Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit into our lives not only makes our lives better for ourselves, but it also helps others who are around us. It will help us fulfill the second greatest commandment, that of loving our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). When we make improvement in this and that area, we become more likable people. People will want to be closer to us because there will be something special about us. It will enable us to help other Christians to a greater extent, and even unbelievers will see Christ in us. They will be drawn to us because we display these fruits. Jesus told us, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV). We do this by having the Fruit of the Spirit worked into our lives. We too will find that we are happy with our progress!

Number eight: He can guide our speech

       Probably one of the greatest areas we struggle with, as Christian Americans, is our speech. I think one of the reasons for this is because we have been taught that we have ‘freedom of speech.’ And while it is good for us to have that, that doesn’t mean we can or should say whatever we want or feel like saying. James has told us, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” (James 3:2, ESV). You see, what we say with our mouths matters. And James also said, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless” (James 1:26, ESV). We must keep control of our months, and we accomplish this with the Spirit’s help.

       We should filter everything we say through what the Holy Spirit thinks, considering first whether God approves of it or not. The Apostle Paul stated in Romans 8, “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:12, 13, ESV). One of “the deeds of the body” that we often let go unchecked is what we say with our mouths. We can either use our mouths to speak good things or bad things, to encourage others or tear down others, to speak positively or to speak negatively. It’s amazing how often our speech displays what we really think. It can show others our faith or, in many cases, our lack of faith.

       The way some of us act toward one another can be very discouraging at times. Some people are so busy correcting others that they become overbearing to be around. They have a dominate presence, and they are overly critical. You feel uncomfortable around them; you cannot really relax when this kind of person is present. You always have to be on your toes because they always find what is wrong with something, and pay no attention to what is right. They are not living by the energy of the Spirit, but by the energy of the flesh. Lots of legalistic brothers and sisters are like this, and they need to fix this problem. Jesus didn’t call us to be critics in the body of Christ. And the thing of it is, most of the time these type of people don’t even realize they have a problem.

       When we allow him to, the Spirit will lead us to say certain things to others. As Paul said, God wants us to be an encouragement to each other, to be encouraging each other. The words we speak to others can help them by building them up. Our words can produce life in their lives, and this by the Spirit. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63, ESV). Well, just as Jesus spoke spirit and life to others, so should we. And the Spirit of God will guide our speech when we witness to other people if we will let him. We should go with the flow of the conversation, and pay attention to the Spirit in us. He will guide our thoughts so that we say the right things when witnessing. It’s really is important that we are careful about what we say.

       Probably one of the biggest problems Christians have is when we are expecting bad to happen instead of good, and we show this by our speech. If we have a negative outlook, we will always be saying the negative thing that we think is going to happen. Let’s say your furnace quits working, and you have to call the furnace company to come out to your house. A negative person will say something like, “I bet this is going to be bad. I bet I’m going to have a huge bill. In fact, I will probably need a new furnace. It seems like something bad always has to happen!” Now, a positive person would say something like, “Well, that’s too bad my furnace has quit working. I don’t think the bill is going to be that high. I think the repair will be cheap and easy. This is just a one-time fluke. I have a good furnace.” See the difference? That’s the difference between the negative and positive person. The positive person is always hoping for, and expecting the best. And he or she verbalizes this with their speech. It’s easy, and shameful at times, that you can recognize a person easily by the things they say. All you have to do is just listen to a person for a short while.

       When we don’t allow the Spirit to lead us in our speech, we are setting ourselves up for trouble, and often times big trouble. Just look at people who make the evening news because of the wrong things that they say. I want us to consider a passage of Scripture from Matthew chapter 12. Go to verse 34. Here, Jesus talks about the things we say:

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34-37, ESV).

This is a startling passage. Note first that we as Christians should not have evil treasures in us by which we “bring forth evil” with our mouths. Why do we speak careless words, words with no thought to them and words that hurt others? We are supposed to be using our mouth for good, saying helpful, encouraging, and positive things, both to ourselves when we are alone and to others when we are with people. Our words will either bring forth righteousness or bring forth condemnation for ourselves.

       Frequently those who speak negativity in their lives are those who are full of unbelief in their minds. Some people just don’t think that good will happen for them in the future. They just don’t believe that God is on their side. They may say, “I can’t hope for good things because what if something bad happens?” And by that statement they stand condemned because they show that they don’t believe. Or, a person might take note of something bad that happened to someone else they know, and they’ll say, “See, I can’t hope for good. Look at what happened to this person.” But we should not take this or that bad situation and act like, just because bad can happen, that we must then always be afraid and not hope for anything. Please don’t be fearful of the future. Don’t be afraid that bad things are going to happen. Be thinking positive. Look at it this way. Even if you didn’t get what you hoped for later in time, you did yourself a favor by thinking positively. It made you feel good. But, I believe that you will obtain what you want if you’ll believe, and if you’ll trust God that he is on your side, and wants to give you good things.

       Please consider a passage with me in Matthew chapter 7. Let’s go to verse 7. Jesus said:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” (7-11, ESV)

We ask with our mouths. We should ask God what we want because we believe that God will give it to us. And Jesus so clearly points out that God is not a killjoy; he is not eager and wanting to let us down. Jesus showed us that if even an “evil” human person can give good things to his child, then God surely can and will give good things to those who ask him. But, we have to believe that he will. Often we ask, but we don’t really believe, and therefore we don’t receive.

Number nine: He keeps harmony with God’s people

       The Holy Spirit, while he gifts his church, also works to keep harmony among us as individual members. I first want us to consider a text in Ephesians chapter 5, starting in verse 18, where the Apostle Paul talks about how the church members should act toward each other. We read:

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-21, ESV).

So, Paul says here, as a church collectively, that we are not to “get drunk with wine.” Now, in part that statement may be literal, as he could be referring to a Love Feast gone astray (that is, when the early churches gathered together for communion, they would share a common meal, and some churches still do this today). But also, he is referring to the church members being sober-minded. That means we have control of our thoughts and our emotions, which in turn means we are in control of our speech and behavior. We have to be sober-minded if we are going to be “filled with the Spirit.” We should not be bogged down with worry, fear, anxiety, envy, strife, jealously toward one another, and things like these.

       On Sunday mornings, we gather together as members of Christ’s body to worship God and to hear a word from God, a message delivered by one of God’s teachers. Now, Paul doesn’t necessarily mention sermons here, but talks about addressing one another in psalms. Sometimes the worship leader will do this, or sometimes there is a Scripture reading that does not pertain to the sermon—an additional one for encouragement. But, Paul says that Spirit-filled individuals will do these things, which in effect will keep harmony among God’s people. And on top of this, we give thanks to God for everything good he has done in our lives, and this in the name of Jesus. Finally, we submit to one another, or accept and respect each other, as Christ has accepted and respects each of us as genuine, born-again believers. And we do this because we love Jesus, even though there may be individuals we do not personally care for, those of whom it is harder for us to get along with.

       To see another side of this, let’s turn to 1 John chapter 4. In this text, the Apostle John is talking about false prophets, those who are pretending to speak for God but who really aren’t from God and are speaking error. Let’s pick up in verse 4. John says:

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:4-6, ESV).

John makes things rather simple. He says that whoever follows his teaching, basically whoever follows what the New Testament says, is from God. And, whoever does not, is not from God. Pretty simple here. So, these would be people who twist Scripture or create doctrines that sound foreign and are not widely accepted. They are not keeping harmony within God’s people, but are rather causing division. A good and easy example of this would be Mormonism, where its original author, Joseph Smith, just took the Bible and interpreted it to mean whatever came to his mind, which was not already accepted by others in the church. And then he created his own Bible for his followers to live by, claiming it was the Word of God, when it is not. The Spirit wants us to purge these people from our midst because they take away the harmony he wants by creating disorder and error.

       The harmony in the church that is produced by our following the Spirit individually is for the glory of God. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 15, starting in verse 5: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (5-7, ESV). We first have to accept each other in the body, for that is what God wants us to do. And this leads us to collectively glorifying God, both in the works we do as a church and in our worship of God. This harmony is only possible when we follow and are obedient to the Spirit in our lives.


       I hope everyone has enjoyed this discussion on the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. I think we have both learned and been reminded of quite a bit here, and I believe that as we seek to apply new things in our lives, that we will see further growth and better times, both for us and for those who are around us. This really has been a fun and encouraging discussion. And I do realize that there are some people out there who may feel left out, who may feel that they would like these benefits from the Spirit, but that they don’t know God. They feel estranged from him, and they feel like that are not on good terms with him.

       Well, if I am describing you today, I want you to know that God wants to be in a personal relationship with you. He wants to be your God, and he wants to help you in your life. Remember, we discussed the fact that God is not a mean killjoy of a God. No, he is kind, being the one who has given us our lives, everything we have, and he wants to continue to bless our lives. He wants more blessings in them now, and the wants to give us good things in the future. Many of these things we will see in this life, and many of the good things we will get will be in the next life—in eternity. God gives us Heaven for the future, for those of us who believe in him. We get to be with him forever, having everything we need, and being totally protected from any harm that might come to us.

       You see, God loves everyone in the world. The Bible says that he loved the world so much that he sent Jesus, his Son, to die on the cross so that anyone can have a personal relationship with him. Because we all have sin in us, we all from birth were separated from God. But through Jesus, we no longer have to be separated and estranged from God. By believing in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, the wrongs we’ve done in our lives, we can be made right with God today. Jesus rose from the dead to give us new life. And he will be on our sides. There is no fear of anything really after that. Death has no victory over us because if we die, we just go to Heaven and are safe with him.

       If eternal life is something you would like today, and you do want to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of our offenses against God, then please follow my lead in this simple prayer:

God, I believe that I am currently separated from you. I don’t have a personal relationship with you. But I know that by believing in Jesus, by counting on the blood he shed for my offenses, that I can be made right with you today. And I want to be right with you. So, I believe that Jesus died for me, that he rose from the dead, and that today he is with you in Heaven. I want you to be my Leader from now on; I want to follow your ways, which are the right ways. Father, please help me to change, and to become like your Son, Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton