In Step with the Spirit
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Christian summer camp for the first time in my life. While I was not attending as a camper, I can say with confidence I received the full camp experience (except maybe the pointless summer camp relationship). Every night, all of the students and leaders would listen to a message from a pastor named Josh Martin. Josh has an incredible testimony and serves as head worship pastor at Resonate Church in Pullman, WA. In being influenced by Christian camps as a teenager himself, Josh understands the importance of these camps and has served for many years in those settings.
To be honest, I was a bit skeptical of the preaching I was going to hear at a camp meant for middle school and high school students. I figured that because I was technically an adult leader for my group, the sermons were not intended for me. My preconceived thoughts danced around my head as I watched Josh set his bible and sermon notes on the worn music stand. He began speaking and after listening for about ten minutes, every thought or cynical remark I had stored up was immediately swept away. I was no longer just serving in a leadership role at the camp but was being filled and refreshed as much as the students.
One message I remember in particular spoke extensively on the Holy Spirit, the sometimes neglected Person of the Trinity in Baptist circles. Josh shared with the group of students and leaders a statistic that I will never forget because of how seriously pierced to the heart I was. Josh shared,
"If we spend an hour a day reading the Bible and praying for the rest of our lives and live to the ripe old age of 80, we will spend about 5% of our lives doing those two things. What are we doing with the other 95%?"
This statistic absolutely wrecked me. As long as I have been a Christ-follower, I have always been told by mentors, pastors, and teachers to read my Bible every day and pray. Whenever I have written on this blog or talked with Christians that are younger than me, those two things have always been my main exhortation. While I do not believe that being told or telling others to do these things is in any way wrong, I did not realize how significant the difference is between time spent in the Word and time spent out in the world. I did not realize how truly disadvantaged I was to be a Christian in the world that did not know how to live 95% of the time.
Josh made sure to explain how truly vital it is to the Christian to be in the Bible and prayer every day as it is one of the means by which we grow closer to God, but he placed special emphasis on the aspect of living in step with the Spirit. It is so important for us as Christians to understand that we do not live life on our own but live wholly through the power of the Holy Spirit.
A life that is characterized by walking in step with the Spirit is a life that allows itself to be dictated by the promptings and callings of the Holy Spirit. Walking in step with the Spirit goes hand in hand with following what the Bible says. We also look to the Word of God to show us our true identity in Christ, that being filled with the Spirit of God. Here are a few verses that speak about the Holy Spirit and the Christian.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you."
I do not normally quote such large passages of Scripture but I cannot stress enough the importance of consulting God's Word on matters so absolutely vital to the Christian faith. Any one sentence in the Bible is worth paragraphs and pages of my words. Never take what I say at face-value, always take back what I write to the Bible and test it.
I believe the passage in Romans 8 best exemplifies how we are called to live as people filled with the Holy Spirit of God. From this passage we notice a few things:
Our mind must be set on the things of the Spirit.
To live a life characterized by the callings and promptings of the Holy Spirit, we must never allow our flesh to have influence in our lives. When the Apostle Paul writes that we are dead to the old self, literally the "old man" ( Romans 6:6 ), we must understand that we are no longer helpless against our flesh that once had so much control. The death of Jesus provides us with the ability to conquer our flesh and the Holy Spirit works to set us apart and make us new through our sanctification. Will we continue to sin and mess up? Of course we will. But in our brokenness, the Holy Spirit will stir us towards repentance and a desire to no longer want to sin against God.
While in the flesh, we cannot please God.
The purpose of the Christian and ultimately every person who ever lived is to give God glory. The problem with that is that when we as fallen humanity are living in our flesh, there is no possible way that we are able to give God the glory and honor He deserves. The only Person that was ever able to please God in the fullness of humanity ( Hebrews 2:14 ) was Jesus and it is only through Jesus we are able to please God. May we always look to the example of Jesus and be thankful He did that which we would never be able to do.
There will be a constant internal struggle.
Throughout his letters in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul speaks of the internal struggle he faces daily with his flesh. Being resurrected in the Spirit of God, we are no longer dead in our sin, and yet we continue to live life with a sin nature that will cause us to sin. To understand this relationship with our flesh and the new Spirit that dwells within us reminds us of our continual need for growth in Jesus. We are daily being made new in the Spirit and being formed into a better representation of Christ through our being made holy.
Concerning the other 95% of our lives, it is life in the Spirit that will be displayed by our words and actions. Let us continue to grow through the reading of the Word and prayer, but never may we forsake our growth in the Holy Spirit.