Episode 52: The Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives, Part 2

Peace to Live By Episode 52: The Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives, Part 2 - 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]

       I am continuing our discussion today on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as Christians. Last week we discussed several elements of the Spirit’s work. We considered how the Spirit teaches us, convicts us when we do wrong things, and how he helps us resist the devil. Well, today, I want us to make some more headway. We are going to discuss the following about the Holy Spirit, and the facts that:

4) He leads us
5) He gifts us, and
6) He gives us hope for the future.

Now, next week, for the final week of this discussion, we will consider:

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

Now, let’s go ahead and get started today.

Number four: He leads us

       Much discussion has been given in regard to the Holy Spirit’s leading of the Christian, and obviously, I think that the best way to understand how the Spirit of God leads us is to look at the Word of God. And, so, we are going to do that. Turn with me in your Bibles, or tap in your Bible apps on your mobile devices, and let’s go to Galatians chapter 5, and today, specifically, I want us to focus on verses 16 through 18. Really, the rest of chapter 5 here, starting in verse 16, is relevant to this discussion, but we do not have the time to cover all of it today. So, starting in verse 16, the text reads:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18, ESV).

So, Paul notes here we are to “walk by the Spirit.” Our walking in our lives consists of the things we do on a daily basis, in the most basic sense, right? We all have a collection of habits we have formed, patterns that shape out our daily lives. Now, we can, and many of us did in the past, let our fleshly desires—those fleshly thoughts and impulses that just randomly come to our minds, which are guided and carried along by the world—we let those ways shape our lives. But, once we became a Christian, we realized we needed to change from following those instincts, to following the ways of God. And so, we read the Bible and saw what God had to say about our behavior, and how he wants us to act in varying life circumstances and situations.

       But, you see, that’s where most Christians stop. That’s where they hang up their coats and stay awhile. That’s where I was for years. We just live Christianity following a set of rules we formulate from the Bible; we make a religion out of it rather than a life ‘experience’ out of it. We should not be making decisions based off of rigorous laws we have created from the pages of Scripture. Many have to learn to be in tune with God’s Spirit, to be led by him. That means to be so in tune with God’s Word that the Scriptures have input in all areas of our lives. The Bible is the filter by which we live. And this makes God’s Spirit happy. Remember what James told us, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8, ESV). As we are seeking to be pleasing to God, and seeking to have a deeper relationship with him, we then automatically get closer to him.

       God wants us to experience real life, and the only way we are going to do that is if we “live by the Spirit.” And by allowing God’s Word to be our filter, we try not to let anything stay present within us that we feel is dishonoring to God. Now, this doesn’t mean we are perfect by any means—far from it. As we go along our journeys, the Spirit will point out new things that need to be corrected. And we are to work on these things when he points them out, eliminating bad habits and forming good, new ones. We are seeking to be perfect (though we will not attain it in this life) as we continue to bring our thoughts, words, and behaviors in agreement to the Lordship of the Spirit, the Lordship of Christ. We do not make decisions anymore based on our fleshly impulses and desires, or at least, we try not to most of the time. We don’t make decisions either based off of what this world says we should do, following the ways of those around us who don’t know Christ.

       So, because we are filled with God’s Word, which works in conjunction with our being filled with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit helps us to make good and right decisions. We live through faith with love—having a right ‘heart’ attitude, as we live out Scripture. The Spirit even guides us in the gray areas. Paul said in Romans 14 about the things we approve in our own lives: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” and “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God” (Romans 14:5, 22, ESV). When we are not sure what we should do in this or that situation, the Holy Spirit helps us know what is pleasing to God. He gives us God’s peace when we are doing right. Colossians 3:15 states, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body” (ESV). When making decisions, we should not follow our emotions, or thoughts we have come up with, but the Spirit’s peace in our hearts.

       We must not be afraid of being led by the Spirit of God, but rather trust God that he is leading us in the right direction. And this is true even in the gray areas (for more on this, see Romans 14). He have to allow him to work in us. Turn quickly over to Acts chapter 8, and I want to consider some verses here. We read, starting in verse 26:

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him” (Acts 8:26-30, ESV).

Now, this is definitely an interesting passage. An angel of the Lord directed Philip to go in a certain direction (which of course, angels do direct us, but this is a whole ‘nother discussion for another time), but what I want us to see here, even though it may seem basic, is the fact that the Holy Spirit ‘led’ Philip by speaking a word from God to him. I believe God can, and still does, do this with us as believers. He will often speak things to us in our minds.

       The Holy Spirit leads us to do works for God, for the kingdom’s sake. He leads us to help other people. We should want to do these things freely, and not feel obligated to do them. The drive of our heart should be doing the right thing for God, with faith and love. Sometimes the Spirit leads us to do small things for others, and sometimes large and more sacrificial things. But, we should allow ourselves to follow the Spirit’s leading. When we feel the urge to do something good, often times that is exactly what God wants us to do. Those thoughts many times aren’t just our own thoughts, but the Spirit of God’s thoughts living inside us. He is telling us he wants us to do this or that. Psalm 143:10 says: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (ESV). We must cooperate with the Spirit!

Number five: He gifts God’s people

       So, let’s take a short time here and talk about Spiritual gifts. Now, much discussion could be given to this subject, but I am not going to spend a long time on them today. First, I want us to turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and let’s read what the Apostle Paul says about ‘spiritual’ gifts. Starting in verse 1, we read:

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed…. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11, ESV).

Here is what I want us to see today. First, notice that Paul talks about gifts, services, and activities. That’s interesting and something I want you to consider on your own time. Second, realize that God empowers each of these three things. Third, note that each believer “is given the manifestation of the Spirit.” So, these gifts display God in us—they show his goodness. Fourth, the gifts are “for the common good.” That is, they are to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

       Now, let’s consider the gifts that Paul mentions here. They are: the utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, the ability to distinguish between spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. And Paul said that the Spirit “apportions to each one individually as he wills.” It doesn’t necessarily state that there is only one gift given to each believer. I personally believe that while believers definitely receive one gift, that they can in fact receive more than one. Think of it like the Parable of the Talents in Matthew chapter 25. In that parable, Jesus said in verse 15: “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15, ESV).

       If you go over to 1 Corinthians chapter 14, we can also see this fact in verse 1. Paul says, “Earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV). Now, this statement is very interesting. It would appear by this statement that we can gain more gifts as we go along on our journey, or perhaps become more mature in Christ. I think that some of the gifts require a greater amount of faith, and I would suggest that the reason we don’t see things like prophecy, tongues, and healing in many churches could be because the faith simply isn’t there among the members. Something to definitely consider and pray about. Perhaps we should be saying to God, “Increase our faith” like the disciples said to Jesus.

       Let’s go ahead and turn to Romans chapter 12, and we’ll pick up in verse 4. We read the following from the Apostle Paul:

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:4-8, ESV).

So, here Paul mentions these gifts: prophecy, service, teaching, exhorting, contributing, leading, and showing mercy. Now, right off the bat, we should recognize that we as members of the body of Christ have been given different gifts, and so, we should not all be doing the same thing. We all have different functions and responsibilities within the body. And, notice, that each of these gifts exists to fulfill the second greatest command, that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. None of the gifts are for selfish, personal use.

       Finally, let’s look at a passage in Ephesians chapter 4: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11, 12, ESV). Now, here the Apostle Paul adds some additional categories from the Romans 12 passage. First are the apostles, which I believe to be limited to the original apostles called by Jesus himself. That is, the Eleven original ones plus Matthias, which the first church chose to replace Judas. Some believe this choice by Peter’s leading was made in error, but I do not believe it was an error. We call Paul the Apostle Paul, for he called himself that, for he was one untimely born, and the last to be called by Christ. Anyway, back in the text, Paul also added evangelists here, for there are some people particularly gifted in the area of evangelism. That’s why some have far greater success in one-on-one evangelism versus others. Not everyone has the gift of evangelism, though we should all evangelize, and really we are evangelizing whether we know it or not.

Number six: He gives us hope for the future

       The Spirit of God is our hope for the future. The best verses I think to explain this is are in Ephesians 1:13 and 14. It says, “In him [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (ESV). So, the Holy Spirit was the “promised Holy Spirit,” because Christ promised his coming to the disciples in John 14. This was before he went back to heaven, and he promised he would come after he did. But his presence within us assures us that we will in fact be saved from God’s wrath to come in the future. When the Spirit bears witness with our spirit, we know that we belong to God and that we will go to Heaven in the future when we die, or are Raptured.

       But Paul’s emphasis here is that the Holy Spirit guarantees our “inheritance.” That is, the good things that we will receive in Heaven from our following the Spirit in this life, our obedience to Jesus and his Word. This should be very encouraging for us. This is a great thing. Remember, Jesus said to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20, ESV). And, of course, this is for God’s glory and praise. God loves to give us good things, and he is going to give us great things in the future. Jesus is preparing a place for us right now, and even though we love to follow God with our hearts and perhaps don’t expect or require anything in return, he will give generously to us nonetheless. Again, God loves to give us good things.

       Now, the Holy Spirit also causes us to “abound in hope” (see Romans 15:13). The opposite of this is not believing good will happen to us and for us both now and in the future. If we have the negative attitude of unbelief in our minds, we cannot have hope, and we will not see the power of the Spirit flowing in our daily lives. If you ever feel like as you go throughout your day that you are not enjoying your day and you don’t have peace, odds are you are living in unbelief. When we live in unbelief, we cannot enjoy ourselves because we are looking at life with a negative overcast. And we believe that God is negative, and doesn’t really want to help us or give us anything. I pray that the Spirit will convict us of this type of thinking, and bring it to attention. Some of us need more work than others in this area. But, with continual persistence, we can make the change for the good in our minds.

       Recall the Apostle Paul talked about faith, hope, and love at the end of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. These are the three greatest attitudes we should have in this life. As Paul told the Galatians, “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Galatians 5:5, ESV). And our hope, by the Spirit, is not just for Heavenly things in the future, or to see Jesus, but this hope also includes good things in the here and now. It includes successes in this life, both for the kingdom of God and for personal successes. God does want to bless our lives. The problem is that we often don’t think that he really does, and therefore, he is unable to give us the desires of our hearts because of our, again, unbelief.

       As we grow to become more and more like Jesus, God the Holy Spirit will renew our minds into a more hopeful mindset. This is a process for all of us, and some of us have more strongholds that need to be dealt with. We should be living through the mind of the Spirit instead of the mind of the flesh. One way we do this is by always keeping in mind all the good things God has done for us, in the here and now, and keeping attention on those things. This not only gives us a thankful attitude, it gives us hope for the future because if God has done a lot of good for us in the past, which he has, and has made everything work out, then we can count on that for the future. So, the Spirit will help us cultivate a more hopeful mindset, if we allow him. It can’t be stated enough. The thoughts that we think in our minds are so critical to our growth in Christ. We need to yield to the Spirit has he leads us to put to death fleshly attitudes of negativity, fear, and unbelief, and replace those with positive, faith-filled, and hopeful attitudes. As we do this, we will be able to say with the Apostle John, “ “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us” (1 John 4:16, ESV).

       I just want to take somewhat of an extended discussion here and note that we cannot be growing into becoming more like Jesus if we are continuing to tare ourselves down with negative thoughts about ourselves. Some church leaders may tell you to throw away your confidence, that it’s worldly or something like that, but don’t listen to them. God wants us to be confident that we can do all things through him. Remember, the Spirit is not doing everything for us, but we are doing things through his power. God told Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, ESV). God did not say, “I will be strong and courageous for you. You just sit here and do nothing.” No, we work in cooperation with the Spirit of God. That includes having things like confidence. We should have a positive attitude about our growth in Christ, the progress we’ve made. Remember, God looked at all he had accomplished, and saw how good it was (see Genesis 1). And so should we.


       Well, I hope everyone is continuing to learn new things about the Spirit, and our relationship with him. My goal is that you will continue to grow into becoming more like Jesus by considering these things. And there may be some people out there who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. They don’t feel the Spirit of God dwelling inside them. Well, I want to tell you today that God has the door open to anyone who would come to him, no exceptions. Anybody out there who wants a personal relationship with God can have it. God offers his salvation to everyone. All you have to do is believe. It’s that simple.

       Now, you may feel separated from God today because of wrong things you have done in your life. It is true that all of us, as people, have done wrong things. We all have the sin-nature within us. We all do things against God. And our sins have separated us from God. But the good news today is that God has made a way for people to come to him by believing in Jesus. You see, Jesus came to the earth, some 2,000 years ago, and he died on a Roman cross, offering himself as a perfect sacrifice for sin. He rose from the dead, and today is with God in Heaven. God requires everyone have a payment for their sins, but Jesus’ sacrifice can be used to cover your sins. By believing in Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for your sin, you can be made right with God today.

       If you would like to come into personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and gain eternal life in him, and peace with God, then follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I believe I am not in relationship with you today. And I have done many wrong things in my life. I understand, though, that Jesus came to the earth, and died on the cross for my sins, to pay my sin-debt in full. Today, I want to accept his payment for my sins. I believe he rose from the dead, and I want to give my life to you. Please, Father, help me to change, and enjoy my new life with you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton