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Holy Spirit

Results of the Spirit

No man has seen an atom at any time.

We know a great deal about atoms.

No man has seen God at any time (John 1:18)

We know a great deal about God.

No man has seen my spirit.

Betty knows a great deal about me.

You see the principle? We understand the inner workings of something by observing the effects of external forces upon it. We reason backwards from the evidence. It is a basic principle of logic that the inner workings are shown in the outer effects. So it is with a man. <Prov 27:19 As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.>

And so it is with the Spirit. The results of the Spirit filled life are apparent in the actions of man. Paul put it this way to the Corinthians:

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. ‑‑ 2 Corinthians 3:3 (NIV)

It remains for us to see how the effects of the Spirit are shown in a Christian's life. We will consider three areas:

1) Different gifts for different people

2) Tests of the Spirit filled life - and warnings about it

3) Results in every Christian's life.

Varying Gifts

Paul put it this way to the Corinthians (who seemed to have more than their share of trouble with the concept):

{4} There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. {5} There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. {6} There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. {7} Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. {8} To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, {9} to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, {10} to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. {11} All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. ‑‑ 1 Corinthians 12:4‑11 (NIV)

This basic principle, that each Christian gets differing gifts from the Spirit, is essential to understanding the role of the Spirit. We each "have" the Holy Spirit (i.e., as a seal of salvation - see verse 7) but the Spirit does what he wishes in each life. This is the source of much confusion, as many twentieth century Christians have concluded that their spiritual life is somehow not "complete" without one of these miraculous gifts. But remember the Old Testament? Were the gifts all miraculous, or were some of them quite ordinary?

In general, each of us receives (remember the exceptions we pointed out last time) the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism:

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ‑‑ Acts 2:38 (NIV)

There seems therefore to be some distinction between receiving the Spirit and obtaining the miraculous power of the Spirit:

And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. ‑‑ John 20:22 (NIV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." ‑‑ Acts 1:8 (NIV)

SIDE NOTE: SPEAKING IN TONGUES

If there is a dividing point in contemporary "Bible Believing" Christians, this is it. Speaking in tongues has provoked great debate. On one side are those who believe that until you have spoken and interpreted tongues, you are not a mature Christian. On the other are those who staunchly maintain that (since there is no recorded instance of this gift being passed on from anyone not an apostle) these things died out in the first century. One reason there is no such recorded passing on is that Acts records only the time of the apostles. Another reason is that, as we have seen last week, the Spirit sometimes gives tongues without the apostolic laying on of hands.

There is a danger, however, to speaking in tongues. The danger is extreme; it is blasphemy. We usually think of the problem as fraud for gain (which can happen). That's not the big danger. The big one is for two (a speaker and an interpreter) to conspire to "tell so-and-so what the Holy Spirit would want said to them anyhow." The problem with putting words in the Holy Spirit's mouth is that this is blasphemy. For this reason, Paul gave the Corinthians rules for speaking in tongues:

{22} Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. {23} So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? {24} But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, {25} and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!" ‑‑ 1 Corinthians 14:22‑25 (NIV)

{27} If anyone speaks in a tongue, two‑‑or at the most three‑‑should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. {28} If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. ‑‑ 1 Corinthians 14:27‑28 (NIV)

See the rules? Do it to edify the body; do it to convict the believer. Take turns. Don't speak in tongues without an interpreter. The danger was evident even then. No wonder Paul admonishes us to "test the Spirits."

Tests and Warnings

But what about the Pentecostal position that mature Christians ALL speak in tongues? How can I test whether the spirit I'm hearing is really the Spirit of God? Paul gives us some very real tests - particularly when we are dealing with Satan imitating the Spirit:

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. ‑‑ 1 Corinthians 12:3 (NIV)

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, ‑‑ 1 John 4:2 (NIV)

The Spirit ALWAYS testifies to who Jesus is. Here is the sticking point; here is the point which Satan stumbles upon. Test for it.

Many Christians ask, "How can I KNOW that I have the Holy Spirit?" This is a prime motivation for wanting to speak in tongues. There is one test of the Spirit filled life of the Christian: not a pleasant one, but very accurate:

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. ‑‑ 1 Peter 4:14 (NIV)

These are the positive indicators of the Spirit, particularly that last one. But those who have the Spirit are warned as well. The Spirit is not "the Force" at our beck and call; rather, we should be at the Spirit's call. Paul gives us some warnings about the Spirit:

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? ‑‑ 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)

Did you ever think of your body as home to the Holy Spirit? It is perhaps the ultimate meaning of the phrase "hospitality." Hospitality is important! If you had a guest in your home, you would go out of your way to make that guest comfortable. I once described hospitality (in a lesson based on Acts) as the "sacrifice of the pleasant, the present and the private." You have a guest in your body; make that guest comfortable there. One way to make that guest uncomfortable is by getting drunk (ever been at a party where the host and/or hostess were roaring drunk?)

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ‑‑ Ephesians 5:18 (NIV)

This passage (so often used to justify abstinence as a spiritual law - but see Romans 14) brings up that basic point that within us is the Spirit shaped vacuum. It will be filled with something. But even if we start with the Spirit, we can offend Him by drunkenness. Indeed, if we are not willing to follow the Spirit's leading we can (as the King James put it) grieve the Spirit:

Do not put out the Spirit's fire; ‑‑ 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NIV)

There is a tremendous difference between the welcome guest and the guest you can't get rid of. There is also a tremendous difference between being the welcome guest and being the guest who doesn't want to leave.

Results of the Spirit Filled Life

When you ask most Christians what the results of having the Spirit might be, they will usually point you to Galatians 5:22-23 (the fruits of the Spirit). We'll get there soon enough. There are two other results which you might want to look for in your life:

{4} There is one body and one Spirit‑‑ just as you were called to one hope when you were called‑‑ {5} one Lord, one faith, one baptism; ‑‑ Ephesians 4:4‑5 (NIV)

Is that theological argument (and this lesson should provoke plenty) so important that it must fracture the body of Christ? Christ prayed that we might be one, just as He and the Father are one - different persons, same essence. So consider carefully whether or not your desire to argue is to gratify yourself, defend your prejudices - or what? When you argue, are you careful of the unity of the Church?

There is another, familiar, result. It is the reading of the Scripture. Paul describes it this way:

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ‑‑ Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

If you are a practicing Christian - do you practice your spiritual warfare? Do you read the word?

Finally, we come to the capstone passage: the Fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self‑control. Against such things there is no law. ‑‑ Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Space does not permit a complete explanation of this passage (a several weeks study in itself). Rather, a few thoughts:

  • Love is agape in the Greek. This is the commanded, willed love. It is the act not of passion but of determination. This is not spur of the moment but planned love.

  • Joy is chara from which we get our word "charismatic." Barclay puts it this way: "it is the joy whose foundation is God."

  • Peace (eirene) is that tranquility of the heart that comes from knowing God. The Greeks used this word to mean the serenity which came from a well governed society. By extension, it is our peace that comes from knowing that God rules our lives.

  • Patience (makrothumia) means more than just resignation to the facts. It might even better be translated "persistent waiting." For that is what it really means; the ability to wait upon God's time, not idly but also not fretting.

  • Kindness (chrestotes) can also be translated "goodness;" when used of wine, it means "mellow." This is the word that is used of Christ's yoke. The basic idea is that of a goodness which is kind.

  • Goodness (agathosune) is a rare word in Greek; it can be defined as "virtue equipped at every point." Goodness will clean the Temple; kindness will forgive the woman taken in adultery.

  • Fidelity (pistis) means simply trustworthiness. Is your word your bond? Does the Spirit convict you of promises made?

  • Gentleness (praotes) is, by Dr. Barclay, almost untranslatable! It is used in three senses:

  • 1) submissive to the will of God (see Matthew 5:5, 11:29, 21:5)

  • 2) being teachable - not to proud to learn (James 1:21)

  • 3) being considerate (I Cor. 4:21, II Cor. 10:1, Ephesians 4:2)

  • Self-control (egkrateia) meaning self mastery. It is used of the disciplined athlete; it is used specifically in mastery of sexual desire by Christians (I Cor. 7:9). One major use in political writings of the time is the idea of an Emperor who never lets his private interests influence the government of his people.

This is the new self, then. These are its results.

In summary, we have seen

1) Different gifts for different people

2) Tests of the Spirit filled life - and warnings about it

3) Results in every Christian's life.

The question is, are you seeing these results in your life? Are you passing these tests? If not, remember Christ's words:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" ‑‑ Luke 11:13 (NIV)

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