September 11, 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for your belief in the power of prayer, and for continuing with us as we pray each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival.
Today we remember and pay our respects to those affected by the tragedy of 9/11. On this day, eighteen years ago, cruel terrorists attacked America and destroyed over two thousand lives. It was an infamous day in American and global history—a day of evil darkness, untold sadness, and horrific pain. It showed the fullness of what sin can do, but also what God can do in redeeming good out of evil. There was a darker day on the pages of history, and it happened back in 33 AD when Jesus died for our sins upon a Roman cross. So terrible was that scene that God covered the land in total darkness. Yet from that dark, dark day emerged that light of the gospel which has reached and changed the hearts of untold millions. Sin abounds, but according to God’s record, grace abounds much more.
Last week I concluded the article by introducing the reality of the Spirit’s work in our lives. We revel in the reality of God’s grace—that we no longer face condemnation and we have new life in Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. As we consider the Spirit’s work of sanctification in our lives, let’s examine a few expressions to clarify our understanding.
The baptism of the Spirit occurred on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The Lord Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit when He went back to heaven. This was the start of the church age, the day of grace, which will continue until the Lord comes to the air to take us home. Paul gave further explanation about Pentecost to the Corinthian believers: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). While there were only a little over a hundred believers physically present at Pentecost, Paul says to the Corinthians and to us, “We were all baptized into one body.” Pentecost was a historic, never-to-be-repeated, one-time event when the Spirit descended and all believers were representatively baptized into the body of Christ.
The sealing of the Spirit occurs when we trust Christ as Savior and God gives us the Holy Spirit. It is incredible to realize that we have the divine person indwelling us. “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” (Eph 1:13). Every believer has the Holy Spirit within! This is the very life of God and He provides blessed protection, security, and assurance for future glory.
The filling of the Spirit, as mentioned later in Ephesians, indicates what happens when we yield to the Spirit. Paul says, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18). When the Spirit of God came to indwell us, He didn’t come in part but as a whole person, in His fullness. But in this passage, the filling is not about how much of Him we have, but how much of us He has, in other words how much we allow Him to control us. Paul uses the illustration of being under the influence of alcohol to the point of being drunk (which is wrong for a believer) to help us understand the concept of giving ourselves over to the Spirit’s control. Just as drinking too much wine leads to being controlled by it, being submissive to the Holy Spirit brings our lives under His control for the glory of God.
Then lastly, in Romans eight Paul says, “Walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:4). God wants us to live under the control of the Holy Spirit daily. The idea of walking is that of consistent and continual companionship. To walk with someone is to be “in step” with that person. And to walk “according to the Spirit” is to live a life empowered by Him. We have already concluded that we can’t live a life pleasing to God on our own by keeping certain laws and rules but only by living in the energy of God’s Spirit.
Paul explains that living in the energy of the Spirit has a great deal to do with our minds and what we are focused on. We need to set our minds on the things that are of the Spirit. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Phil 4:8). As we develop a healthy thought life and yield to the Spirit of God, He graciously fills us with His peace and enables us to live the spiritual life marked by His power (Rom 8:6). May this be true of us as we pray today.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel