In December, 2009, I yielded my life to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, began dwelling within me. It is a wondrous thing to think about. In his book “The Prayer Life” Andrew Murray tells us exactly who the Holy Spirit is and how we must think about Him:
“What was the peculiar privilege of the disciples, who were always in fellowship with him? It was uninterrupted enjoyment of the presence of the Lord Jesus. It was because of this they were so sorrowful at the thought of His death. They would be deprived of that presence. He would be no longer with them. How, under these circumstances, did the Lord Jesus comfort them? He promised that the Holy Spirit from heaven should so work in them a sense of the fullness of His life and of His personal presence that He would be even more intimately near and have more unbroken fellowship with them than ever they experienced while He was upon earth.”
Initially the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life brought about some dramatic changes. I couldn’t wait to find time in my day to read my Bible – it became much more than a book. I noticed things in the stories I had never noticed before, understood things I never understood before. The more I learned about Jesus, the more I wanted to know. I accepted the things God told me to do, even when I disagreed with them or when they put me at odds with the world. I rid myself of habits I had struggled with for years. I hurt for people where I hadn’t even noticed their suffering before. I began to realize how far from God the world was getting. I experienced peace and joy for the first time in my adult life.
1 Corinthians 6:19 – “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”
While many of the powers Christians were given during the first years of the church can still be given, they are no longer the norm. Certain gifts were given during that time to insure the Gospel would spread. Speaking in tongues was necessary so that the Gospel could be taken to people who did not understand the language of the first converts. Healing and exorcising demons was widespread and served as evidence that Jesus was truly the son of God. News of those events attracted a lot of attention and word of them spread quickly in a world with none of the modern modes of mass communication we rely on today.
In our world today, confusion about the Holy Spirit abounds. One Christian leader stated that the Church would never tolerate this kind of abuse of Jesus. Too many who claim to be committed followers of Christ insist on visible signs of spirituality. Some decide we will be able to speak in foreign tongues as proof we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit; others believe we will have healing powers, the ability to avoid all sickness, or will amass great wealth as evidence that God dwells within us. Some are led to dress differently as a visible sign of the change they have experienced. Some begin to live differently than the rest of the world, renouncing modern conveniences. But the most wondrous power of the Holy Spirit is in things we cannot see: understanding God and His Word, a full understanding of Jesus’s teachings, peace in the midst of trouble, assurance when we find ourselves doubting God, comfort during difficult trials, boldness to speak the Truth in a world that does not want to hear it. The Holy Spirit will even help us pray when we find it difficult to express our thoughts to God! These are the things we experience that insure He is with us.
Romans 8:26 – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
I know that I don’t fully understand His power and my faith in Him is often very weak. I tend to think I’m on my own again, but nothing could be further from the truth. In another passage from “The Prayer Life,” Andrew Murray writes:
“When a Christian does not yield entirely to the leading of the Spirit…he lives, without knowing it, under the power of ‘the flesh.’ This life of ‘the flesh’ manifests itself in many different ways. It appears in the hastiness of spirit, or the anger which so unexpectedly arises in you, in the lack of love for which you have so often blamed yourself; in the pleasure found in eating and drinking, about which at times your conscience has chidden you; in that seeking for your own will and honour, that confidence in your own wisdom and power, that pleasure in the world, of which you are sometimes ashamed before God. All this is life ‘after the flesh.’”
And, though I don’t want to admit it that is my answer: I am still living life under the power of ‘the flesh.’ As God leads me to do certain things, I refuse, giving in to my excuses and fears. I still look for the things that make my life comfortable and easy. Instead of taking life a day at a time, I constantly look forward, hampering my ability to call on Him for help with my present situation. After 50 years of doing things under my own power, I struggle to let go and truly give it all to Him. But just as I did in December, 2009, each day I must yield myself to Him in the same way. I must devote time each day to be with Him in silence, without imposing my will and thoughts on Him. Again, I refer to Andrew Murray’s words (from Abiding in Christ):
“And, last of all, even when the soul seeks truly to enter the way of faith, there is the impatience of the flesh, which forms its judgment of the life and progress of the soul not after the divine but the human standard. In dealing with all this, and so much more, blessed the man who learns the lesson of stillness, and fully accepts God’s word: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Each time he listens to the word of the Father, or asks the Father to listen to his words, he dares not begin his Bible reading or prayer without first pausing and waiting, until the soul be hushed in the presence of the Eternal Majesty.”
Psalm 46:10 – “ Be still, and know that I am God;”
The Holy Spirit’s unseen gifts are the greatest. I have little interest in speaking a language I’ve never learned unless it is needed to lead another to Christ. I have little interest in the gift of healing unless it is God’s plan for my life. God does tell us that every believer will receive gifts that will speak volumes about what Christ can do in the lives of those who follow Him: peace, joy, wisdom. I want to exhibit those things so a life dedicated to Christ is desired by everyone I am around.
Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”