Feb 29, 2012
The Christian life is lived by the power of the Spirit —
— we obey by the Spirit (Eze 36:27).
— we kill sin by the Spirit (Rom 8:12-13).
— we are sanctified by the Spirit (2Th 2:13).
But what does that mean?
Maybe someone in your small group says something hurtful to you.
You know you ought to forgive them — lay down your anger, not hold it against them, not carry a grudge.
So what do you do?
For years I just relied on my own will-power, and resolved to forgive them.
I tried to feel loving toward them, tried to not think about what they did, tried to not nurse a grudge.
Usually — over time — the anger went away.
And I figured the Holy Spirit had enabled me to forgive.
Was it the Holy Spirit? Or was it just my will-power?
Is what I did any different from what unbelievers do — when they try to feel loving, try to not think about their hurt, try to not nurse a grudge?
What I didn’t understand
I believed in the Holy Spirit. I knew He indwelt me the moment I trusted Christ.
But I did not understand what He does — that He loves to —
- satisfy my thirsty soul with living water (John 7:37-38; Jer 2:12-13).
- enable me to see and feel Jesus’ glory (2Cor 3:18).
- fill me with an experience of God’s love (Rom 5:4).
- cause me to abound in hope of God’s glory (Rom 15:13; 5:3).
And when He does this —
- my faith is strengthened.
- my passion for Christ is deepened
- my hurts are healed.
- my lusts are defeated.
- my worries are overcome.
- my pride is humbled.
AND — I will obey. Gladly. Joyfully. Passionately. Enthusiastically. I will obey.
See the difference?
Will-power says —
- resolve to forgive this person,
- try to feel loving towards them,
- don’t think about what they did,
- don’t bear a grudge –
— and maybe in time your heart will change (a little).
Faith says —
- Father, forgive me through Jesus,
- pour out Your Spirit upon me,
- help me feel that what I have in You is far more than what this person cost me,
- crush my wounded pride by showing me your mercy,
- so fill my heart with Your love that I genuinely love them –
— and the Spirit will change your heart (completely).
Making a car move
Let’s say your car is on the side of the road and you want to move it.
So you take off the emergency brake, move to the back of the car, and start to push.
If the ground is level, and you’ve been doing your squats, it will move.
Slowly. With a lot of effort. But it will move.
There’s an easier way
The car has an engine.
So why not put the key in the ignition, give it some gas, and let the engine do the work?
It would be a lot easier.
Same with your obedience
You have an engine — the Holy Spirit.
Put the key in the ignition — by praying for more of His work in your heart.
Give it some gas — by pondering the truth of Gods’ Word.
He will change your heart and empower your obedience.
The fine print
I don’t want to make this sound easier than it is. It’s called the fight of faith because — well — it’s a fight.
A sword-slashing, shield-crushing, spear-stabbing fight (1Tim 6:10; Eph 6:12) —
- to humble ourselves before God,
- confess our sin,
- plead for the work of the Spirit,
- and set our hearts to trust God’s Word.
But when we do — in time — we will feel the Spirit changing our hearts, freeing our hearts, motivating our hearts.
You can count on it — because God has promised (Luke 18:27; John 6:35; John 8:31-32; 2Cor 3:18; Rom 8:13; 2Pe 1:4).
Feedback? Pushback? Questions?
I’d love to hear them. Feel free to leave a reply below — thanks.
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(Picture by FaceMePLS from everystockphoto.)