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Note: I am reposting this because I edited it to make sure I was clear about my beliefs.
Living the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit is like riding a scooter and only using the pedals instead of the motor. You will get tired very fast and it will take you a lot longer to get where you want to go.
The Holy Spirit gives us God’s wisdom and power!
Another example of living by the spirit could be when you want to travel to a destination, you can navigate with a basic idea of how to get there, but if you use Google Maps, then you will have a much better chance of taking the shortest route and avoiding any obstacles. Same with our Christian journey. We have a basic understanding of how God wants us to live in the Word, but when we seek Him directly through the Spirit, he helps us in specific situations. The Holy Spirit shines a light on God’s Word so that we can understand it, remember it in time of need, and let it fill us with new life. The Word is there, the Spirit is there, but we must access it by believing it is true, by asking for help, and by not IGNORING the guidance that is being sent. It’s like we can have a map, but not use it. We have the Spirit, but unless we SUBMIT to the teachings of the Word that the Spirit brings to mind, we are not going to be guided by them.
Are you afraid of the Holy Spirit?
I’ve noticed that many Christians are a little nervous when anyone mentions the power they have available to them through the Holy Spirit. They find it a little too mystical. Some churches even teach against the idea that the Holy Spirit leads us directly. That has never made sense to me. They do not understand that the Spirit is the greatest gift we have. And it is what makes us different from Old Testament believers. Before Jesus came , the Holy Spirit was given by God to individuals according to His choice and his plans for his people . But now , everyone who believes in Jesus has the spirit living inside them . Sady many Christians either do not know this or are afraid of this powerful source of wisdom for living. The spirit is IN YOU, but you are ignoring it. Just like the moped example. You could turn on the motor at anytime and let it move you, but instead you keep pedaling.
All Christians are Spirit-filled, but not all are Spirit-led
I am not talking about an emotionally charged worship style which includes falling down on the ground. And I am not talking about getting secret knowledge that other Christians don’t have. I am talking about something much more important, truly believing that God means what he says in the Bible. He says he will be WITH US and he is! But he’s not just cheering us on, he wants to lead us like the sheep we are. We have to turn to Him in dependence like a child. This requires faith!
I suspect, just my own hunch, that many people think that believing in the power of the holy spirit is risky, like believing in voodoo or magic, so I would like to point out that if you believe that there’s an invisible God, and that he has the power to send you to eternal damnation, and that he sent a baby , born of the supernatural union between a human woman and the spirit of God, who became a holy god-man named Jesus with the power to save the world by his substitutionary death on the cross , and that this Jesus died and came back to life and then was taken up in a cloud to sit at the right hand of God until he returns to judge the world, if you believe all that , then you believe in the supernatural! Not magic or voodoo which come from Satan, but God’s supernatural power.
If we call ourselves Christians, then we are saying we believe the Word of God. The Word teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Don’t leave him out of your life!
Consider what Jesus told his disciples about the spirit before he was crucified:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.John 16 ESV
They did not understand what Jesus was saying. When he was crucified, they didn’t believe he was coming back. And even after seeing him alive after the resurrection, Jesus had to breathe the Spirit on them just so they could believe what they were seeing with their own two eyes. But after Jesus was taken up they received the Holy Spirit and this is what we call Pentecost. At that moment, they were fully able to understand and believe all that he had told them and they began to teach and preach the gospel boldly, do miracles, and lead the church in God’s power.
2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.Acts 2 ESV
0 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”Acts 5:30
But does this apply to all Christians? Yes! We all have the power of the holy spirit within us.
6 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10
What does it mean to live by the spirit?
Living by the spirit is a simple concept that is hard to explain in words, but I will try. The spirit is God’s power in us that helps us when we ask and believe. Basically, think of the moped, pedaling means you move under your own strength and using the motor is like living by the spirit. The motor is much more powerful. When you are living your day to day life, are you relying on, trusting, praying and believing and then WAITING on God to work things out in your life according to HIS WILL? Are you praying THY will be done and truly surrendering to what comes next? Does this mean doing nothing? No! It means doing what the Bible says, but as you submit yourself to God, He will use the Spirit to make scriptures come alive to you and they will suddenly make sense and they will APPLY to your life. This process takes a mental shift from relying on self to relying on God to show you the way. You can’t fake it. It takes practice sometimes to know if you are still trying to do things in your own power and just pretending to trust God. This is where a close constant contact with God through prayer comes in! Paul told the early Christians to ‘Pray without ceasing.” because this is how we know God’s will. Through prayer. So do not get me wrong. I am not saying YOU have to figure out what God’s will is. HE will show you. It usually comes in a step by step guidance, so just move forward as God makes a way.
You already know that God wants you to LOVE others, help the less fortunate, be kind, and many other commandments in the Bible. So the first step of living by the Spirit, is to obey what Jesus taught . And ask God to reveal your sins and weaknesses because He is probably going to have to do some work on YOU before he can really put you to work. Why? Because your Christian walk is your loudest testimony! If you are trying to reach the world with the gospel, which is our commandment, then you have to show the world how following Jesus has changed your life. People will judge you by your actions much more than your words. If you are showing love in a world filled with selfishness and hate, that is going to make me people want to know what is different about you. So let the Spirit reveal your flaws, be courageous, be humble, and God will change your life!
One place our testimony is so important is at work with non-believers. Does the way you act at work make people want to know your God? What if you have a problem with your job? If you live by your own power, you may try several things to fix that problem, such as reading a book about the problem, asking experts about the problem, using trial and error to see if you can figure out how to fix the problem, or ignoring the problem. Those are natural things to do and ANY person can do that, whether they are a Christian or not. But if you are a spirit-led Christian, what should you do BEFORE you try those things? Pray! 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18
“Lord, I have this problem, I am not sure how to handle it, but I trust that you know all things and you love me and you want the best for me when I pray in your name for your glory. Lord, I ask that you lead me and show me the way. I am going to wait to hear from your and not try to fix this in my own earthly wisdom. I want to bring you glory through this problem. ” When you pray you must believe that God listens and can help you. So then comes the supernatural part, waiting to see what happen next! This is where people struggle. They pray and then they just go right on making their attempts to fix the problem, not waiting to see what God is doing, where he is leading. They keep pedaling that moped!
The problem many of us have is knowing when to act and when to wait. Some are more than willing to do nothing and say that God didn’t help them, while others keep acting based on their own desires, but not waiting for the spirit’s guidance. The great news is that you are already SAVED. Living by the spirit doesn’t save you, it helps you grow in your faith and relationship with God. It is the best part of being a Christian. This is called sanctification. It happens when you get saved and then it keeps happening as you live your life.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
As I said, we are talking about SUPERNATURAL help from the Holy Spirit. So it is hard to explain. But when you do what I said, above, praying in faith, then waiting, watching and listening, and reading the BIble, you will discover what it means. I find that the help often comes in an unexpected way very soon after the prayer. It might look like an unexpected visitor, a phone call, a letter, an email, with information that you did not have before you prayed. It might be a change of attitude in a person that was opposing you. It might be healing or a feeling that a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. It may be simply that God reminds you that not every problem is your responsibility and that you can leave this one alone. It may be a Bible verse that keeps popping up that has a message just for you.
God lives IN YOU! Don’t ignore Him.
God sometimes waits for you to demonstrate your faith before he sends the help. Just think, your faith grows faster when you ask and trust and see results. So when you pray, ask for forgiveness for trying to solve that problem without God and tell him that you know he is much wiser than you. Your heavenly Father loves to help you when you trust him like a child. He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble! Living by the spirit is almost exactly the same as living by God’s grace. We trust in GOD’S GOODNESS to guide us by his SPIRIT. Is God waiting to hear you say, I trust you Lord?
But He gives us more grace. This is why it says: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.James 4
What about people who claim “God told me to do such and such evil thing!”?
One disclaimer that I feel that no true believer really needs, God will never contradict his own Word. The Holy Spirit’s leading will never tell you to SIN. He won’t tell you to lie, get revenge, cheat, steal, commit adultery, commit violence or anything like that. (If you are hearing voices that tell you to do something you know is WRONG, you may have a mental illness. Please tell someone and seek help.)He will most likely tell you to do something that you know you should do but don’t want to, or stop doing something that you want to do that you know is wrong. He will also EMPOWER you to OBEY the thing God wants you to do or not do. He will give you power that you don’t have in your own human strength, such the power to forgive, to love, to be generous, to have FAITH, to trust him. In fact, praying and asking God for the faith to trust Him more is a good first step when you are seeking to live by the Spirit. But if you are new to being a Christian, I urge you to study the Bible, God’s inspired and infallible Word. And if you have a godly friend or mentor, you can discuss things with them. You can say, I think God wants me to do this, and see if they have any scriptural wisdom that might show that you are not hearing from God.