Hello again. Let's continue our series on being transformed by the renewing of our minds. For those of you who are joining us for the first time this month, We have already explored the following topics in this series: how God brings transformation about in our lives; what the word "mind" really means; and, how we "put off" the garbage in our minds and "put on" the Mind of Christ.
Last month we began exploring the Mind of Christ itself. We found from Isaiah 11:1-2 that the Mind of Christ is a divine seven-fold process that begins with the Spirit of the Lord, who desires to impart to us not only all of God's Supernatural thoughts (His Wisdom); but also understanding of those thoughts; counsel as to which thoughts are appropriate for our own situation; supernatural strength to implement those thoughts in our lives; personal experiential knowledge of seeing those thoughts manifested in our life actions; and lastly, the ability to walk in the fear of the Lord (and not in the fear of man) by fleeing anything that would quench His Spirit in us.
Seven Fold Spirit of God
Giving us The Mind of Christ (Isaiah 11:2)
|Spirit of the Lord||is the supernatural power source that creates God's Thoughts in our hearts.|
|Spirit of Wisdom||is all of God's supernatural Thoughts themselves.|
|Spirit of Understanding||is God's personal illumination of those thoughts.|
|Spirit of Counsel||is God's personal instructions for Godly choices.|
|Spirit of Strength||is God's supernatural ability to perform those Thoughts in our lives.|
|Spirit of Knowledge||is seeing God's Thoughts manifested in our life actions.|
|Fear of the Lord||is walking in God's Love and Truth, fleeing anything that would quench His Spirit.|
My intention in our forthcoming articles will be to go through each of the functions or operations of the Mind of Christ in us, and not only explore what each one is, but also how to appropriate them in our own lives.
In this article we will only touch upon the awesome subject of the Spirit of the Lord. As I said last month, I am not a theologian, I am just a sister in the Lord. You have the same Teacher as I do and also the same Instruction Manual. So, be as the Bereans, check out everything that is shared. (Acts 17:11)
The Spirit of the Lord (Hebrew is Ruwach; Greek is Pneuma)
First of all, we cannot possess the Mind of Christ at all unless we first have the Spirit of God in our hearts. Unless we have asked Jesus Christ to come into our hearts and have become, as John 3:3 says, "born again," this message will not work. The Spirit of the Lord is the energy Source or Power Source of our lives. Without God's Spirit in our hearts, we won't have either the Agape Love of God or the Mind of Christ to pass on.
This is what makes Christianity so totally different from all the other religions of the world. Christianity is the only religion where God Himself (who is Love, who is the Word and who is Spirit) comes to dwell within each of our hearts.
So, just as God's supernatural Love is poured into our hearts the moment we invite Christ into our lives, so the Holy Spirit also gives us His Mind-God's Thoughts and His Power to perform those Thoughts in our lives.
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
In review, the Holy Spirit ministers to us (as His people) in a variety of ways:
1) Before we belong to God (before we have asked Him into our hearts), the Spirit of the Lord comes alongside us and works "with" (para) us, leading and guiding us to Christ. He convicts us of our sin and then He reveals Christ as the "answer."
2) The moment we ask Jesus Christ to be our Savior, the Holy Spirit then comes "in" (en) to our hearts to dwell permanently. This is the time God's Spirit becomes the "indwelling" power source, energy source or light source of our lives.
Proverbs 20:27 tells us that our human spirit is a candle. When we ask God to come into our hearts, God Himself lights the candle of our spirit and we become "one spirit with Him." (1 Corinthians 6:17) Note, however, that we must ask God to light the candle of our spirit; it does not happen automatically. "...If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." (Romans 8:9)
3) Next, there needs to be a time when the Spirit of God (that Light Source) is released from our hearts, to come out "upon" (epi) our lives for the sake of enlightening and "empowering" us. In Acts 2, it speaks about God's Spirit coming "upon" them, so they might have power to become genuine witnesses of Him. This empowering of the Spirit is sometimes called, in the Bible, "the baptism of the Spirit."
I believe God intended these last two ministries of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Spirit (where He comes "in" us) and the empowering of the Spirit (where He comes "upon" us) to happen simultaneously. However, for many of us, this was not the case; the "empowering" happened many years later.
If you are not sure that God's Spirit has come "upon you," you need simply to ask God for this empowering in your life. (Luke 11:11-13) Without this, Scripture tell us, we will be lifeless, "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof..." (2 Timothy 3:5) In other words, we'll be producing all of our "spirituality" out of our own human power and ability and not God's at all.
I also believe that the sign that we have been empowered by God's Spirit is God's Agape Love overflowing our lives. 1 Corinthians 12:31 tells us that this is "a much more excellent way."
"The fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5:22-25)
No one should ever need to ask us if we are "spirit-filled" or not. Our life actions should be so loving, so empowered and so full of wisdom that that's all the witness they need. God tells us to be a witness (with our lives), not simply witness (with our mouths).
4) Finally, once the Spirit has been released from our hearts out upon our souls, there should be a constant "re-filling" (pleroo) of the Spirit each day, all day long. The Greek word pleroo means "to fill up a hollow" or "to be made complete." God's Holy Spirit desires to continually refill us as cleansed and empty vessels, thereby making us complete. Ephesians 5:18 validates this when it says we are to "...be (being continuously) filled with the Spirit"; in other words, it's an ongoing process.
The indwelling of the Spirit and the empowering by the Spirit are "gifts" from God and are free for the asking. However, this continual re-filling in our souls by the Holy Spirit depends upon our own choices, moment by moment.
In other words, it's our own responsibility to remain an open, cleansed and yielded vessel so that God's Spirit from our hearts can continually "fill" us up.
Example: Spirit-filled Paul
One of the greatest examples of one who dramatically experienced first-hand what it means to have the Spirit of the Lord come alongside him, leading and guiding him to Christ; come upon him for the sake of enlightening and empowering; and then, fill him was the Apostle Paul.
A little background: Paul's name, before he became a believer, was Saul.
Saul was a Roman citizen, a Jew and a Pharisee. He came from a wealthy and religious background, but he hated the Christians. We are first introduced to Saul at the martyrdom of Stephen and he is thereafter mentioned many times in connection with the persecution of the church. He invaded Christian churches, tore Christians from their homes and, by his own admission, "persecuted them beyond measure." (Galatians 1:13)
While chasing Christians to the city of Damascus, the proud and persecuting Saul was dramatically converted by God to the loving and helpful "Paul." (Read Acts 9:3-18) At this time, God's Spirit not only dramatically revealed Christ as the answer, but He also came upon Saul in one of the most moving experiences in history. (verses 3-6) Paul was blinded for three days after this incident, and then God sent Ananias to put his hands on Saul so that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Not only did Saul experience the Holy Spirit leading him to Christ, coming upon him and filling him, but he also experienced the importance of continually being re-filled with God's Spirit. Paul stands out as the one apostle who exhorts and admonishes us over and over again to be constantly filled with the "fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:19)
I was so excited as I reviewed my favorite verses for being filled with the Spirit because all of them were Paul's instructions: Romans 12:2, "...be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:3; 2 Corinthians 4:8-12; Philippians 2:5-8; 3:8-10; and, of course, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6, "...bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled" (so we can stay filled with His Spirit).
The indwelling, empowering and re-filling by the Holy Spirit has become a very confusing and divisive issue for many Christians. Questions people often ask are: "Is there a second blessing required for everyone?" "Can we walk in God's Love and Power if we have only just received the Spirit and not been baptized with the Spirit?" "Is there a difference between receiving the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit?" "Is it a choice to receive God's empowering by faith, or is there an experience required?" "Is tongues the only sign that we have been filled with the Spirit?"
Now again, I am not an authority. But, I believe much of the confusion occurs because of a misunderstanding in terminology. So, in review, God, the Holy Spirit:
- Works "with us" (para) to lead us to Christ.
- Comes "in us" (en) to indwell us permanently.
- Comes "upon us" (epi) for a supernatural empowering to be His witnesses.
- Continually "refills" us (pleroo) so that God's Life can continue to flow from our hearts into our lives.
The Holy Spirit working "with us," coming "in us" and coming "upon us" are all gifts of God, because He loves us. By faith we need to ask for and receive these gifts. (Sometimes these gifts are accompanied by an experience-a special touch of the Holy Spirit-but this is not required.)
However, the continual "re- filling" of the Spirit in our souls every day is our own responsibility. God, of course, is the One who fill us; but, He's hindered from doing so if we don't choose to surrender ourselves to Him. Therefore, the terms:
- "Born again" refers to receiving the Spirit of God into our hearts-it's the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
- "Baptism of the Spirit" refers to the initial, in-filling of our souls with the Spirit of God for empowering, in order that we might be true witnesses of Christ.
- "Re-filling" refers to the daily filling of our cleansed souls with God's Life from our hearts: His Love, His Wisdom and His Power. This is the "fulness of Christ"- experiencing His Life in place of our own.
- "Anointing" refers to a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit for a specific task.
Fountain of Water
To help explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit a little more clearly, the Spirit of God is often spoken of (in Scripture) as an eternal "fountain (or well) of water springing up from within us." This "living water" begins in the deepest part of our hearts, where God's Spirit now resides and wells up within us to overflowing.
In John 4:14 (speaking of the Spirit) Jesus says, "....the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Now, a well of water does not fill up from the "outside" inward (like filling a glass of water), but a well of water fills up from the "inside," where the source is, upward to overflowing. So, the way we are daily filled with God's Spirit is from the inside (where God's Spirit now dwells) upward and outward.
As we learn to set our self-life aside (all our thoughts, emotions and desires that are contrary to God's), God's Spirit can freely come forth from the innermost part of our being and fill our souls to overflowing. This is what Ephesians 3:19 means when it says, "...filled with all the fulness of God."
This "fulness of God" is what we are talking about here with the Mind of Christ. It's a continual re-filling and overflowing of God's Spirit in a cleansed and empty vessel.
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