Spirituality
Tim Temple

Introduction

Open your Bible, please, to John, chapter 14. We want to think about one of the ramifications of eternal security. If we really understand what God has done for us in our salvation, it will produce at least a desire for grateful service on the part of believers. Hopefully, it will produce the desire for active, faithful service. None of us are able to consistently, one hundred percent of the time faithfully serve the Lord, but all of us who are truly born again at least want to please Him as we understand the marvelous thing He has done for us in providing our salvation and in keeping us in His hand.

The second thing is an understanding of the dynamics of spirituality—enabling the believer to live a godly life. How do we live a godly life anyway? That is what we want to talk about—the basic doctrine of spirituality. In looking at it, we want to think about three things: First, the announcement of the Holy Spirit that Jesus made to His disciples; then the arrival of the Holy Spirit; then the accomplishments of the Holy Spirit.

Announcement of the Holy Spirit

The first thing that we want to think about is the announcement of the Holy Spirit as it is related to us in John, chapter 14. Notice beginning in verse 16:

John 14:

16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Jesus made a number of promises to His disciples in this passage. The setting for this passage that we have just read together is the time when Jesus was beginning to prepare His disciples for His departure. His death was coming, and He was little by little preparing them for that, getting them adjusted to it. In the process of preparing them for that, He tells them about the One Who will come and take His place. Their tendency, and I am sure that ours would have been the same, was to be very disappointed to hear that Jesus was going away, even if He is going to send someone else in His place. Notice carefully the wording Jesus uses here. In verse 16, He says, “I will send you another Comforter or Helper.” The words “another Comforter or another Helper” are the translation of two Greek words allos and parakletos . The word parakletos you may be familiar with. We talk about it sometimes. It means literally “One called along to help,” and that is why the New King James Text translates it “another Helper.” It is a word that is often used for the Holy Spirit. A “Comforter” is another term that describes that. It is an accurate translation. So there is no question about that word. That is simple to understand. The Holy Spirit is our helper. He helps us in our prayer. He helps us in our strength. He helps us obey the Word of God. He teaches us the Word of God.

In a way, the word another is even more significant. It doesn't seem so important in English when He says, “I will send another Helper,” but in Greek there are two basic words which can be translated “another.” There are some other words that are sometimes translated that way, but the concept of “another thing,” is expressed in two words in the Greek. One is the word heteros which means “another of a different kind.” It is this word which we get our English word “heterosexual.” There is a similarity there, but it is different. The other word that is translated “another” is allos, and that is a word that means “another of exactly the same kind.” This is an example of why God chose the Koine Greek in which to write the New Testament, because it can be so much more specific. It can have such shades of meaning very specifically expressed, and so Jesus said, “I am going away, but I am going to send another Helper.” Jesus had been a helper to them. When they were in His presence, they knew that things were not the same. He said, “I am going away, but I am going to send you another Helper—not just another, but another of exactly the same kind, another of the same nature as Myself, not different, but exactly like Me.”

Notice some of the characteristics of the Helper Who is of the same kind as Jesus. First, He is identified for us very clearly down in verse 26:

John 14:

26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

So there is no question that Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit here. He is clearly identified, but going back to verse 17, He tells us that this would be a personal presence. He says in verse 17:

John 14:

17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

A Personal Presence

“He dwells with you.” It will be a personal presence. Of course, Jesus is speaking future tense, so I am referring to it in future tense even though it is present tense as far as our experience is concerned. The Holy Spirit dwells with us. In other words, the Holy Spirit is God present with us just as much as if Jesus Christ were physically present with us. That is a very basic thing, but I think it is an important thing to think about from time to time because I feel sure that if Jesus were in the room with us at all times, if Jesus were in the car with us, chances are our actions and our thoughts and our statements would be a little different than they are sometimes. I wonder if we would say some of the things that we say or even think some of the things that we think if Jesus was personally present with us. Particularly that might be true in the car in rush hour traffic, etc. Yet Jesus said, “I am going to send another of exactly the same kind and He will dwell with you.” God is personally present with us in the Person of the Holy Spirit Who is exactly like Jesus Christ. He is as much God as Jesus is and He dwells with you. It is a personal presence.

A Permeating Presence

It is also what I am calling a permeating presence . Not only is He with us, but in a sense it is really better because, as it tells us in the last part of verse 17: “…He will be in you.” Here is where it goes one better than when Jesus was personally present on the earth. Jesus limited himself to a human body and to human activities. When Jesus left the room, He was no longer with them. If some of the disciples stayed in one place and Jesus went to another place, they were no longer in the presence of God. But the Holy Spirit, Who is exactly the same king as Jesus, is with us no matter where we are; and He is able to be with all of us because He dwells within us. Being God, He can do that. Being omnipresent, He can do that. We talked about the characteristics of God, and He is omnipresent. He is everywhere present, so He can be with every believer at the same time.

Jesus, you know, made a statement that has become very famous, a puzzling statement if you don't understand this part of the Scripture. He said, “Greater things that I have done, you will do.” There are several implications of that statement, but one of the reasons He was able to say that was that as believers we have the Holy Spirit with all of us. Jesus was limited only to those who could crowd into the same room with Him, but the Holy Spirit is within all of us and so, working together as believers, we have the power of God flowing through many, many more of us than it would have been possible to have if it were limited to Jesus' personal presence. So He is a permeating presence. Remember that Romans, chapter 8, verse 16, says that our human spirit is a channel through which the Holy Spirit operates. He is within us and, technically speaking, we should say that He resides within our human spirit. I guess it really doesn't matter what part of us He is in, but God has designed the human being in such a way that we have a medium through which the Holy Spirit can operate and He becomes a part of our being.

A Permanent Presence

I have gotten this out of order a little bit, but verse 16 says that He is a permanent presence. Notice in the last part of verse 16, He says:

John 14:

16…that he may abide with you for ever;

Jesus was getting reading to leave them and I am sure that this is why He emphasized in this statement that the Holy Spirit would abide with us forever. Verse 17 picks up on that and points out that the unbelievers will not understand this inner presence:

John 14:

17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Jesus said, “They are not going to understand that. They are going to think you are cockeyed if you start talking about the Holy Spirit living within you, and don't be surprised by that.”

Think about your relationship with some of your unsaved friends, and if you have tried to communicate the presence of God within you in the Person of the Holy Spirit, you know by experience what a lack of understanding there is of that. Occasionally, some Christian leader will say something about God's speaking to him, and if it is a famous enough person, they will draw cartoon strips about God's telling him things. He warned us in advance that the world would not understand this; but at the same time, it is completely real that the Holy Spirit lives within us, guides us, speaks to us, and He is an inner presence and He will be with us forever.

A Practical Presence

Skip down to verse 26 and here we find that it is a practical presence. He says:

John 14:

26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Here are two basic functions of the Holy Spirit. First, He will teach believers all things. Without taking the time to go into a lot of detail, we know that God's revelation to us in this dispensation in which we live is in the written Word of God, in the completed canon of Scripture. So what He is saying here is that the Holy Spirit will give us understanding of the Bible. It doesn't neccessarily mean that He will teach us our algebra lesson or that He will do our income tax for us, but He is talking about the things of God. The Holy Spirit will teach us the Word of God.

It is interesting to notice, and I guess I am as guilty of this as anybody, how much we are dependent on human commentaries on the Bible. There is a place for Bible commentary and the Holy Spirit has revealed truth to Bible teachers and they have taken the trouble and the effort to write down their understanding of the Scripture. Those can be valuable helps to us, but at the same time, we don't really have to be dependent on those kinds of things. I have a friend who had a fantastic library, and he was constantly buying more books—in fact, to the point that I began to wonder if he was spending too much of his money on books. I finally said something to him about that. He said, “Yes, I do. I should be careful because I am tempted to spend more than I should on books. But you know, I am just kind of concerned that maybe someday God is going to put me out in the middle of nowhere (As he was saying this, I saw the light come on in his eyes and he began to realize what he was about to say, and I finished the sentence for him.) where all that you have is the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Is that right?” He said, “I guess that is what I mean. I just don't want to be out there if I don't have some books to be able to look up.”

I am not against books. I would like to have more than I do and commentaries can be extremely helpful to us, but listen, we don't have to be dependent on the commentaries men have written or even on your pastor. Certainly God has designed the local church and the pastor/teacher and I am not downgrading that, but you don't have to wait until you can get in touch with the pastor/teacher to find out what a passage of Scripture means and you don't have to wait until you can get to your bookshelf to find out what a passage of Scripture means.

God has made it possible for the most uneducated believer to understand His Word. He will teach you all things. That is God's promise, and when you want to study a passage of Scripture, it is certainly legitimate to use whatever tools you can. It is certainly legitimate to ask some Bible teacher what his view of that passage is, but let me suggest something to you that I have suggested before. Before you do any of that, before you open the first commentary, before you ask the pastor, sit down with that passage of Scripture and before you even start, say, “Lord, open my eyes to the truth that is here.” Then read that passage of Scripture, and you will see some truth in that passage. You may not see all there is to see, but I assure you that you will see some things that are helpful to you. Then after you have done that, look into the commentaries and search out advice from other people. I believe you will find if you consistently on a regular basis search the Scripture for yourself first depending on the Holy Spirit, your Bible study will be tremendously richer and you will be thrilled with what God can show you.

An exciting thing is to study a passage of Scripture, whether it is one verse or one chapter or ten chapters, to see what is there, to decide what it means, to ask God to show you what it means and to believe that you have direction from God, then to go check a commentary and find out that that author of that commentary saw the same thing. That is really a confirming thing. God, the Holy Spirit, will teach us. It is a practical presence. He will teach you all things.

Reminder of Truth Learned

But something else in verse 25:

John 14:

26…and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

At the time Jesus said this, all that existed was the Old Testament and Jesus' explanation of the Old Testament and Jesus' fulfillment of the Old Testament. In His teaching, He said in the sermon on the mount that He was fulfilling the law. That is not the only way He fulfilled the law, but one of the ways that He fulfilled the law was by teaching it and showing God's viewpoint of the law of Moses in the Old Testament. After Jesus left, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul and John and Matthew and Luke and others to write the New Testament. So by extension, what verse 26 means is that not only will the Holy Spirit teach us the things of God, but He will also remind us of the things that we have been faithful to study.

As most of you know I have been involved in Bible Memory Association for practically all of my life. We learned a lot of verses every week, and I don't know how many times through the years people have said to me, “I don't bother to memorize all those verses because I could never remember all of those verses.” My answer to that is, “Well, neither can I.” But, as we memorize the Scripture, I say to you on the basis of experience and I say to you on the basis of this verse of Scripture, if you have really committed that verse to memory or short of memorization, if you really understand a concept from the Word of God, when God sees that you are in a situation where you need to know that He will bring it to your mind. If I were to say, “Quote for me Deuteronomy, chapter 32, verse 1, and you had memorized that verse, you might not be able to do it, but if you are in a situation where God knows that is a piece of information that you can use in that situation, He will bring it to your mind if you have been faithful to study it. The Holy Spirit teaches us and then secondly He reminds us of the truth that we have learned.

Essential to this process is the study of the Word of God. Do you see that? It is an interesting thing just like in the Old Testament, God put the manna out there on the ground, but the Israelites had to go out there and pick it up and put it in their mouth. Have you ever wondered if God was going to feed them miraculously why He didn't just drop it in their mouths? It is because God's plan is that we have to participate, not in any kind of meritorious way, but God has just designed it that we have to do a little something to be able to gather the food for ourselves. He gives us the Holy Spirit to give us understanding of it and to remind us of it, but at the same time He expects us to study and anyone who does any kind of teaching understands that. Even though you may be seriously committed to teaching the Word of God, you are going to have to do some work to be able to get it ready to teach. That is just the way God has designed it. But if we are faithful to do that, the Holy Spirit will give us understanding as we do it, and then He will bring it to our attention as He sees that we have need of it.

All of this is amplified over in John, chapter 16, verse 12. He is still talking to His disciples about these things related to His leaving them and He says:

John 16:

12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Here is more information about what the Holy Spirit does for us. The key to the whole passage, I think, is verse 14, where He says:

John 16:

14He shall glorify me…

Here is a good test of whether something is really from the Holy Spirit or not. We live in a day when many things are being blamed on the Holy Spirit and many things are being credited to the Holy Spirit. How do you know if something is really from the Holy Spirit? Here is Jesus' test: Does it glorify Jesus Christ? Think about that for a minute. That may seem like a simple question, and we might think that anything that takes place in a church or anything that takes place by somebody that claims to be religious must glorify Jesus Christ, but there are some things that go on in the name of the Holy Spirit that really glorify the performer. In fact, there is a great deal that is going on in this day and time that really glorifies the Holy Spirit, but strange as it may seem to say, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is not going to glorify Himself and the Holy Spirit is not going to glorify the minister. The Holy Spirit is going to glorify Jesus Christ. So anything that is ever being done in the name of Jesus Christ, anything that is being done in the name of the Holy Spirit, a good way to examine that is to say, “Who is being glorified here?”

I am bothered a bit, even though I know people don't really mean it this way, but very often people will say, “Well, you know I go to John MacArthur's church, or I go to Chuck Swindol's church or Tim Temple's church.” Well, it is not so-and-so's church. This isn't Tim Temple's church nor Joe Temple's church. This is God's church. Who is being glorified? The Holy Spirit draws attention to Jesus Christ, and we need to be careful that we do that, too. If the Holy Spirit is really guiding us, we will draw attention to Jesus Christ.

I know that sometimes it is simpler to say, “I go to so-and-so's church,” than to say, “I go to the First Evangelical Church of Fullerton, California.” Sometimes we say it that way for convenience sake, but even at that, I think we need to be careful not to say, “I go to so-and-so's church.” That can sometimes serve to dull us to the fact that it is Jesus Christ Who is glorified. In the charismatic movement, there are many things that glorify the charismatic movement. In evangelical circles, there are things that glorify Bible teaching or Bible teachers. When the Holy Spirit is at work, it is Jesus Christ Who is glorified and Jesus Christ to whom the attention is drawn. That is the purpose of the Holy Spirit.

Prophecy Should Glorify Christ

Then verse 13 in John, chapter 16, says it is the Holy Spirit Who enables us to understand prophecy. He says:

John 16:

13…and he will shew you things to come.

He has just said in the verse before this that what the Holy Spirit does glorifies Jesus Christ. Here is another problem that I think we have in spiritual circles today and that is that even the teaching of prophecy ought to glorify Jesus Christ. I have said this before and I am going to say it again: God did not give us prophecy to make us prophets. God gave us prophecy to glorify Jesus Christ. God did not give us that prophecy so that we can be one up on everybody else around us in knowing what the future holds. Because of what we have in the Scripture, we do know more about what is going to happen in the future than the average person does. They could know it, too, if they would look at the Word of God, but that is not why God gave us prophecy. He gave us prophecy to comfort us and to reassure us with the fact that Jesus Christ will be exalted as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that history is going in the direction of that exaltation of Jesus Christ. That is the only reason that we have prophecy, to reassure us of our relationship to Jesus Christ and to reassure us of the glory that is due to Jesus Christ. He will teach us things to come, but the Holy Spirit's whole ministry is to glorify Jesus Christ. Revelation, chapter 19, verse 10 says:

Revelation 19:

10And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Here is a good test of the use of prophecy. When a person is teaching prophecy, where is he going with that? Is he giving you a leg up on everybody else about what the future holds or is his ultimate goal in that teaching to exalt Jesus Christ? That is what prophecy is all about. The testimony of prophecy is Jesus Christ.

Arrival of Holy Spirit

These were the things Jesus was promising His disciples the Holy Spirit would do and we know as we look back on it that all of those promises came true, but let's talk now about the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Historically, the Holy Spirit first indwelled believers on the Day of Pentecost, and that is described in Acts, chapter 2. That is the well-known chapter when Peter was preaching on the Day of Pentecost that three thousand people believed on Jesus Christ and they received the Holy Spirit. The sign of that reception of the Holy Spirit was that they spoke with other tongues. They spoke in known languages, and it was a great evangelistic day. Since that time, the Holy Spirit has indwelt everybody who believes in Jesus Christ. Jesus made those promises to His disciples, but by extension, they apply to every person who has believed in Jesus Christ.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about this particular doctrine, so I want us to think about it in a little more detail. First, the arrival of the Holy Spirit is an inclusive presence. By that I mean that every believer receives the Holy Spirit—not just some who become super Christians, not just some who, because of a long period of devout godliness, God somehow blesses them with the Holy Spirit. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit.

Why do we say that? Let me give you a couple of Scriptures. Romans, chapter 8, verse 9, says:

Romans 8:

9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.[now notice this carefully] Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

What does this do to the teaching that is popular in some quarters—that you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and then if everything goes real well for you, you have a second blessing and receive the Holy Spirit? I was speaking in a Bible conference in Nebraska and on a Sunday of that trip, I was in a motel room getting dressed. I turned on the television and a Bible teacher whose name you would know if I mentioned it was teaching that very thing. Claiming to be preaching to Christians he said, “What you need to do is receive the Holy Spirit, and when you receive the Holy Spirit, then things will be what you thought they would be in the Christian life.” He was addressing himself to Christians and that is heresy. Romans, chapter 8, verse 9, clearly says that if you don't have the Holy Spirit, you are not a Christian. It is an anomaly to talk about Christians who don't have the Holy Spirit, and that is not me saying that. It is Romans, chapter 8, verse 9, saying that.

I Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 3, says:

I Corinthians 12:

3Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: [notice]and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

A person can't even say that Jesus is Lord unless the Holy Spirit gives him that ability, so every believer has the Holy Spirit, but those same verses would also tell us by process of elimination that it is also an instantaneous presence, not only an inclusive presence that all believers have Him. When do we receive the Holy Spirit? Obviously, if you can't be a Christian without having the Holy Spirit, then the moment you become a Christian, you receive the Holy Spirit. At the moment you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you receive the Holy Spirit. If no one can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Spirit, and if a person who doesn't have the Holy Spirit is none of His, in the words of Romans, chapter 8, then we have to have Him from the very first moment of salvation. To say that receiving the Holy Spirit is some kind of second work of grace or that you have to pray through or yield or beg God to give you the Holy Spirit is absolutely unscriptural. It is totally in error.

Accomplishments of the Holy Spirit

Some of the confusion about the work of the Holy Spirit, such as those things I have just mentioned and other points of confusion, can be cleared up by thinking, thirdly, of the accomplishments of the Holy Spirit. First, the accomplishments of the Holy Spirit are accomplished from within because of the indwelling of the Spirit. In John, chapter 14, Jesus said to the disciples, “He will be in you, and other people won't understand that because He is dwelling within you.”

We have just said that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer so spiritual activities are not produced by just acting spiritual, by talking piously, by doing spiritual things . How do we become spiritual? Spiritual activity is only accomplished when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit. Turn to Ephesians, chapter 5, and notice verse 18, where we read:

Ephesians 5:

18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

This verse is usually just sort of dismissed as one of the many verses that says we shouldn't get drunk, and it certainly does say that. It says, “Do not get drunk,” but the primary use of that verse, if we were studying it in its context, is an illustration of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What it means to be filled with the Spirit is simply to be controlled by the Holy Spirit the way alcohol controls a drunk man. We have the Holy Spirit within us and to be filled with the Spirit means simply to let Him control us. In fact, if you think about it, alcohol is an internal control of a person. It is something that controls from within. It works on the mind. It works on the nervous system and it enables those who tend to be more and more controlled by alcohol to lower their inhibitions. They feel more free to say things they wouldn't have said otherwise or do things they wouldn't have done otherwise, etc. So God Himself uses drunkenness as an illustration of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

In fact, if you remember on the Day of Pentecost when people saw those believers who had just received the Holy Spirit and been filled with the Spirit, the critics standing around said, “These men are drunk.” Peter said, “No, they are not drunk. They have been filled with the Holy Spirit.” That doesn't mean that Christians are to go around acting drunk. It doesn't mean that we need to do unusual and strange things to demonstrate that we are Christians or that we are filled with the Spirit, but what it means is that when the Holy Spirit controls us, it is the same kind of thing as the control of a drunk person by alcohol. The difference is that alcohol makes a person do not only things that he wouldn't have had the nerve to do, but carried far enough, it makes him do things he wouldn't even want to do. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do things that we are not able to do. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to say no to sin.

The big push in the last few years has been about drugs, etc.—“Just say no.” That is a good slogan and there is a great deal of wisdom in that, but I want to tell you something. That is really not very biblical because the Scripture says we don't have the power to say no. The unsaved person beyond a certain point cannot say no because he is controlled by the sin nature, and Satan is pleased when we don't say no. It says that we are enslaved to sin. You see, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to say no to sin and if we allow the Holy Spirit to control us, if we are filled with the Spirit, then we can say no to sin and we can say yes to the commands of God.

Spirituality is an Absolute

Now listen carefully. Spirituality is an absolute. We think of somebody as spiritual who talks a certain way and who does certain things, and we say, “Well, he is very spiritual because he has memorized so many verses and he goes to church so regularly.” Technically speaking, that is not what spirituality is. Spirituality is a person who lives in a state of being controlled by the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, you are spiritual. When you are not filled with the Spirit, you are not spiritual. When you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you are spiritual. When you are not controlled by the Holy Spirit, you are not spiritual. You see. It is an absolute. It is an on or off thing.

The Scripture, in fact, uses a different term. When we talk about somebody's being spiritual, what we are usually talking about is what the Scripture is referring to when it talks about being mature. A spiritually mature person is a person who has been filled with the Spirit consistently over a long period of time and he has become spiritually mature. Sure, spiritually mature people do manifest certain characteristics, but don't get the cart before the horse. The fact that they know the Word of God and they live consistently by biblical principles is not what made them spiritually mature, but the fact that they have been filled with the Spirit consistently over a long period of time and have become spiritually mature is what makes them do those things. It is not the other way around, and one of the biggest misunderstandings in all of Christianity is that right there—the idea that we become spiritual by acting a certain way or doing certain things. That is absolutely a reversal of what the Scripture says.

We live that certain way or shy away from other ways of living because we are controlled by the Spirit. We don't become spiritual by what we do or don't do. We do or don't do things because we are spiritual.

Conditions for Being Filled with the Spirit

There are some other Scriptures that tell us that there are three conditions for being filled with the Spirit, or things that might keep us from being filled with the Spirit. I Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 19, says:

I Thessalonians 5:

19Quench not the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul didn't elaborate on that verse, but think about how would we quench the Spirit. How do you quench a fire? You throw water or some other substance on it. I think for purposes of illustration, quenching the Spirit would be a time when we know the Holy Spirit is doing something in our lives or the life of someone else and we don't encourage that. Quenching the Spirit might be when a person is really excited about something that God has shown him from the Word, and maybe you are farther along spiritually than he is and you have known that for several years. You might be able to quench the Spirit by just not sharing that enthusiasm, and you do not share that enthusiasm. Quenching the Spirit can sometimes come from being overly pious, from being holier-than-thou. Quenching the Spirit in someone's life is not sharing that enthusiasm or boosting that enthusiasm you see in them that is genuinely produced by the Holy Spirit. In our own lives, it can come from not letting ourselves get too emotionally involved.

I am going to share something with you that I had not intended to say publicly, but this morning during the beautiful music that was presented in the offertory, I came about as close to having an ecstatic experience as I have ever come, I think. That has happened to me before, but sometimes when we hear some beautifully presented music, when people are really presenting that as unto the Lord, it speaks to our hearts. The Holy Spirit will kindle a fire in our hearts, but you know, sometimes when something like that happens, the sin nature will sneak in and say, “Well, don't get to excited. Don't make too much of this.” That is quenching the Spirit. When the Spirit moves in your heart whether it is emotionally from some beautifully presented music or some beautifully presented sermon, don't quench that. Don't be embarrassed to shed a tear or to get a catch in your throat if that is produced by the Holy Spirit. Don't be embarrassed that you talk about the Lord so much. If that is produced by the Holy Spirit, don't quench that.

Then Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 30, says:

Ephesians 4:

30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God…

How do you grieve the Spirit? Well, what happens when you give somebody some advice that you know is exactly applicable to their situation, and they don't take that advice? It grieves you, doesn't it? It disappoints you. On an infinitely higher plane, because the Holy Spirit always gives perfect advice and if we don't follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, that grieves the Spirit and it breaks our fellowship with Him, and it stops the filling of the Spirit.

Galatians, chapter 5, verse 16, is a summary of our relationship with the Spirit. It is the third aspect of being filled with the Spirit and it says:

Galatians 5:

16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

That is exactly what the term implies. It is a step-by-step process. An illustration would be that your mother bakes some cookies and she says, “Now, Johnny, those cookies are for dessert tonight. You don't eat any of those cookies.” Your mother has said, “Do not touch the cookies.” The Word of God says, “Children, obey your parents,” but those cookies smell so good and they are so close by, and you have had that kind of cookie before, so you know what they are going to taste like. It is so long until supper, and you have had such a long day already. Listen, Satan can give you all kinds of extremely logical reasons to disobey your mother. That is the sin nature. But as we are tempted to disobey God's Word by disobeying our mother, the Holy Spirit will come along and remind you of the truth that you have been faithful to learn: “Children, obey your parents.” He will speak to us through our spirit and say, “Don't do that.” The sin nature speaking to us says, “Why don't you do it?” The sin nature is giving us all kinds of reasons to do it. The Holy Spirit says, “Don't do it.”

To be filled with the Spirit is to say, “Yes, Holy Spirit, I will obey You.” When we give that response—from a human standpoint, unfortunately, not until we give that response—when we say by faith, “I will not disobey my mother; I will obey the Holy Spirit,” we have taken the step, and the Spirit gives us the power to say no. Ten minutes later we may have the same experience, and we take another step and then another and then another. Walking in the Spirit is exactly that—taking one step at a time. We look at someone walking and it looks more or less like a smooth process, whether it is or not. But we know when we stop and think about it, it is just one step at a time, obeying what the Holy Spirit tells us to do. As we are willing to obey Him, He gives us the strength to obey Him. All that works together just as in the physical body all the processes work together to walk physically. God says, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.”

When we don't obey the Holy Spirit, when we obey instead the lusts of the flesh—the sin nature—then God is so faithful as to have provided us the promise of I John, chapter 1, verse 9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God is probably easier on us and more gracious than our mother would be if we ate those cookies. He says, “You confess that sin and I will forgive it. You will be right back in fellowship with me, and you can keep on in your walk.”

So the spiritual life is not the big mystery that people make it out to be. There is nothing in the Scriptures about the deeper life or the higher life or some of those popular terms. Rather, the spiritual life as God pictures it in His Word is an intimate walk with the Holy Spirit. That is spirituality. It is no really big mystery at all, is it? It is clearly revealed in His Word. Grieve not the Holy Spirit. Quench not the Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit. That is all by God's gracious provision.


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