For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5
Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18
Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
In our women’s Sunday school class, we are studying the book by JD Greear, Jesus Continued…Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You (Zondervan 2014). Greear is writing to people who, like him, come from a background where the Holy Spirit has been more of a doctrine than a person of the Trinity. One of his quotes is:
“Many Christians might have heard of the Holy Spirit in a doctrinal sense but they have no real interaction with or dependence on Him. Functionally they live in ways ‘unaware’ that there is a living, moving Holy Spirit. They have all but excised the Holy Spirit from the Trinity; instead they functionally believe in the Father, Son, and the Holy Bible.”
I lead the Sunday school class, and one woman’s question was kind of challenging his doctrinal position, wondering if Greear believed that we receive the Holy Spirit at new birth from another quote: “So, are you speaking the Word of God to others? If not, can you really claim to be filled with the Spirit of God?”
My short answer was that from everything else that JD Greear has written in his book, I believe that he is orthodox, most likely believing that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we become Christians. However, most people do not walk in the realization of the fullness of the Spirit, and that is what this book is about.
When it says in Acts 6:5 that they picked Stephen to help serve the widows, Luke noted that he was ‘full of the Holy Spirit.’ That must have meant that others weren’t as full of the Spirit. ‘What makes someone full of the Spirit, or more filled with the Spirit than others?’ was my question to the group.
I’ve been thinking a lot more about this during the week. Paul spent considerable time writing about walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), setting our minds on things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5), not grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), not quenching the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), and praying at all times in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18). This tells me that this tendency to set our minds on things of the flesh and live as if the Christian life depends on us is not new.
Paul battled this when he wrote the book of Galatians. He questioned in Gal. 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Why don’t we talk about the work of the Holy Spirit more? Why do we rely on the flesh instead?
It’s kind of like a friend of mine. We were at a meeting together, in the middle of a cold winter. We both had the same model and year of vehicles. I pointed my key fob out of the window with my remote starter and started my vehicle to warm it up. She said, “I wish mine could do that.” I looked at her and said, “I’m sure you can. Give me your fob.” She did and she just about flipped when I started her car too. She had a remote starter for two years and didn’t know it.
Isn’t that how it is with the Holy Spirit? He lives within us and is ready to fight the flesh battle for us if we would just call on Him. He is ready to speak to us, empower us, lead us and do great things through us. Do you just need to know that you have Him waiting to be called upon?
In some ways, it’s not about whether we have the Spirit or not, it’s about whether the Spirit has us. Are we willing to surrender to Him, wait for His voice, draw near and go where He tells us to go?
Check out this song by Casting Crowns, “Spirit Wind,” from You Tube: