Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Way of the Spirit vs Way of the Written Code

The past two years, the Lord has taken me on a journey to discover more of who the Holy Spirit is and the role that He plays in my life.  I'm sure I will be diving into more of the revelation that He has shown me in later blog posts, but one of the questions I had at the beginning of my journey was "What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?"  I have learned that is a loaded question and I am daily learning what that means but I hope to share with you one of the revelations the Holy Spirit has recently taught me through books, messages, and time spent with Him.  
We live in a war zone and every day we face many battles.  There is conflict in our homes, our jobs, relationships, etc .  James says that the source of it all is our passions that are at war within us (James 4:1).
So how do we overcome this sinful flesh? Paul exhorts us in Galatians to "walk by the Spirit and you WILL NOT gratify the desires of the flesh (5:16)."  In Romans 7:6, Paul describes two different approaches to walking before God, in "the new way of the SPIRIT..." or the "old way of the WRITTEN CODE."  That is still our choice today.  Either we will walk by the Spirit, or live by the written code.  We cannot do both.  The Spirit only works where there is no law, so he will not tolerate even a hint of mixture.   

The deepest longing of God is to have intimacy with you.   You were created for his own pleasure.  This is His passion and His desire from the beginning of time.  What does it mean to be "one" with God?  How do we enjoy relationship with Him?  I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to consume every part of us.
In Acts 10, we read about the conversion of the first gentile household.  Peter was sent to preach the gospel to them and while he was preaching, the Lord chose to move in power.  "While Peter was still saying things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word (10:44)."  The greek word for "fell" in this verse is "epipito."  The Strongs Concordance says it means "to take possession of."  This language is very similar to the language that we associate with demonic possession.  In the book of Acts, this word is used three times to describe the Spirits baptism.  
Paul uses similar language in the New Testament.  We are called to pray in the Spirit (Eph 6:18), to be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), intercede in the Spirit (Romans 8:26), and to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16).  
Apart from the Spirit, we are truly incapable of drawing near to him.  He has graciously given us the opportunity to freely submit our hearts and minds to him.  Unlike demonic possession, we have the free will to choose.  When we do this, the Holy Spirit gently takes control.  "the mind CONTROLLED by the Spirit is life and peace" Romans 8:6.
Another example of this truth is in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind."  The greek word for "transformed" in this verse is the same word used to describe Jesus glorification on the Mount of Transfiguration.  So another way to put it is to be "transfigured by the renewal of your mind."
This is what it means to walk in intimacy with our Creator.  To allow His Spirit to control or possess every aspect of our being. 
This is a challenging concept because we want to maintain control of our lives.  We are uncomfortable with giving God everything.  We limit our interaction with the Lord to prayer, worship and bible study.  We want to be able to close our bible's after our quiet times and live our lives how we want.  We like to keep God at a controllable distance.  
Yet Jesus taught us that "God is spirit" and "those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24).  This means we must relate to God as a spirit being.  
As we yield to the spirit, He will inhabit our soul.  Our hearts begin to take on the very character of God himself.  Paul tells us that these traits are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22).
This is how we are to grow in godliness.  God has no desire for me to ask him to make me more patient.  What he wanted was for me to live out HIS OWN patience.  The Lord wants us to willingly become channel's through which the very fruit of his nature can be put on display.  "From me comes your fruit." (Hosea 14:6).  Does this make sense?? God wants to live His life THROUGH US.  
He wants to empower us by possessing us with His Spirit so that we might live and minister as we were called.  He has given us supernatural levels of love, joy, patience, self-control and peace.  

A.W. Tozer puts it this way, "The Holy Spirit also wants to possess us Christians.  This Spirit is like Jesus.  Do you want to be possessed by a Spirit that is like Jesus? A Spirit pure, gentle, sane, wise, and loving; for that is exactly what He is like.  The Holy Spirit is pure, for He is the Holy Spirit.  He is wise, for He is the Spirit of Wisdom.  He is true, for He is the Spirit of Truth.  He is like Jesus, for He is the Spirit of Christ.  He is like the Father, for He is the Spirit of the Father.  This Spirit wants to be Lord of your life, and He wants to possess you so that you no longer are in command of the little vessel in which you sail.  You are a passenger on board or one of the crew, but you are definitely not in charge.  Somebody is in charge of the vessel."

So why don't we live this way? For me, I had chosen the Letter over the Spirit.  It's easy to tell ourselves that if we just manage to keep the rules a little better, our walk will be more acceptable to God.  This is the deceptive nature of the Letter.  It has an appearance of godliness but denies the power that brings about real change.  We settle with the excuses like, "I really want to obey God, look how hard I am trying."  Yet we are living like Pharisees.  We have a genuine zeal and passion for God yet we lack the power to break free from the desires of our flesh.  

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do not submit to regulations- "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)- according to human precepts and teaching? These have indeed an APPEARANCE OF WISDOM in promoting self made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they have NO VALUE in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." Colossians 2:21-23.

The law has NO POWER in stopping the flesh.  We need something more.  We need His Spirit.  "I will put my Spirit within you and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes." Ezek 36:27.  
So lets get radical and believe this.  Lets stop believing that it is up to us to change.  That it's up to our commitment to the spiritual disciplines, or our ability to "just say no".    

Lets die to the law and live to the Spirit (Gal 2:19).  Lets give the Spirit total control in our lives.  Lets choose to walk by the Spirit and not by the old way of the written code.  The Holy Spirit wants to be your best friend.  He wants to manifest His presence in your life.  I have found nothing greater in this life than walking in intimacy and communion with the Holy Spirit. 

"Every believer is as full of the Spirit as we actually want to be." A.W. Tozer

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