September 18, 2019
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Rachel and I appreciate your dedication to the Lord as you pray for His continued work in our lives and in the lives of those we know and love. We pray for our prodigals because it is only through God’s work in their hearts that they will return to Him. We pray for revival because we recognize this, too, can only come from God and His work in us. Our hearts need to be changed, and this is what the Spirit of God is doing!
As we continue in our series on sanctification in Romans eight, there are a number of things that the Spirit is doing in us to bring about character change to make us more like Jesus. The first is that the Holy Spirit enables victory over our flesh. Notice Pauls reasoning:
“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live” (Rom. 8:9-13).
Our behavior is no longer dictated by our sinful nature because we have a new life within us, generated by the presence of God—no longer dictated by our sinful nature, and no longer obligated to do it wants. The same Spirit that raised our Savior from the grave of death is the exact One who is in us and gives the enabling power to do the right things for the glory of God.
One area of His enabling power in our lives is in our speech. Does the Holy Spirit have control over your words? Has He been guiding you in what you say? Have you felt His prompting as to who may need your words—words of comfort, words of affirmation, words of compassion? He gives us the enabling power to use our tongues for the furtherance of the Kingdom rather than for self-serving purposes.
The Holy Spirit enables us to speak wholesome words to one another. Gossip, tale-bearing, flattery, slander, and stirring up division are all products of our sinful nature. They come to us very naturally and easily. As we confess these sins and continually submit ourselves to the work of the Spirit inside us, we will be freed to speak the truth in love with grace. The truth…in love…with grace. This is how the perfect Servant did it as Isaiah recounted in his prophecy. “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isa.50:4). It is the Spirit who will teach us who to speak to, what to say, and how to say it.
The Holy Spirit enables us to share the gospel with our neighbors. In our culture, when we use the word, “neighbor” our minds usually go to our street address and we think of the families living on either side of us. In the Biblical context, the phrase “our neighbors” refers to a much wider group. They would include anyone to you come across in the run of a day. In Romans, Paul says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Rom.13:9). And, “Let each of us please his neighbor, for his good, to build him up” (Rom.15:2). These are high standards for us to fulfill, and the only way we can is through the power of God’s Spirit. Ask Him to help you speak the love of Jesus into the ears of some needy neighbor today.
The Holy Spirit enables us to sing the praises of our God. The mouth has a direct link with the heart. If the heart is sour, the mouth will pour out hurtful things. If the heart is angry and annoyed, the mouth will surely reveal what’s inside. Conversely, if our hearts are full of thanksgiving and praise to Jesus, then our mouth will speak His glories. Paul gives good advice to the Ephesian believers and us: “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph.5:19-20). How appropriate for us who have known the wonders of redemption to allow the Spirit to guide our voices in worshipful adoration to our God and Savior!
As we pray today, may the Holy Spirit have His way in our lives.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel