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As a young believer, I heard conflicting opinions as to what I was to do to live a spiritual life. On the one hand, I was told to by some Christians that I just needed to get hold of for the Lord, on the other hand, I was told to let go and let God do it all. Frankly it was all very confusing to me. Should I hang on, or let go? Does it all depend on the Lord or does it all depend on us? Are we to be passive and just receive from the Lord or are we work at it and be active?
The next logical question is, “What are the resources we can utilize in order to get us to spiritual maturity?” It seems that most bible teachers agree there are three ways, three resources, which God gives us as a free gift in order to help bring us to spiritual maturity. All three are involved, and all three are necessary, and you cannot allow an overabundance of one to make up for a deficient or act as a replacement for missing another.
The three ways God sanctifies us are;
And the Holy Spirit.
This time we will focus on His use of the Word.
Speaking to the Father, Jesus himself said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John. 17:17) William Evans in his seminal 1912 book defined it this way. “By revealing sins; by awakening conscience; by revealing the character of Christ; by showing the example of Christ; by affecting our thought process with the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit; and by setting forth spiritual motives and ideals ”
Believers respond to the God-given Word by submitting to its authority and by responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. By doing these things we are then being and becoming more Christ-like.
“C. S. Lewis gave us the following insight: “Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink, sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us. We are like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” .
To receive the Word in this way means to receive it with a teachable spirit. Some people receive the Word, but with an argumentative spirit. When they look at what God says, they want to dispute it.
Other people receive the Word with an overly-analytical spirit. When they hear what God says they respond by saying, “That’s interesting,” and begin to analyze and study it. When they’re done, they know what God word says, but they have not done what God said to do. Then there are others who receive the Word with a humble teachable spirit. The minute they hear the Word they say, “I agree,” and then they do it.
After we receive the word, we are told to continue in it. There is a Greek word used in the New Testament sometimes translated “continue” and sometimes translated “meditate” What this means is that after we have carefully studied what the Word says, a believer needs to linger on it. To say the same thing another way, in order to grow, believers need to allow the word to ferment and blossom into fruit, into practical action. By meditating upon the Word of God, new believers gain knowledge about the will of God. It is that knowledge of God’s will that is essential for our spiritual growth. One example we see is when the writer to the Hebrews says that the Israelites were given promises concerning entering the promised land, “but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Heb. 4:2). In other words, they promise made in scripture did not reach it fulfillment until they claimed hold of it by entering into the promised land.
Another vital means of living in the spirit is obedience. Paul says, believing the word means obeying the Word. (Rom. 6:16) Believers have freewill to choose to obey or disobey the Lord. If we obey, righteousness will result, but if we disobey, we die to the righteousness that God would wish to give birth to in our lives That why James in the same passage quoted earlier said, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, otherwise you are deceiving yourselves” (James. 1:22).
About 40 years ago an eight-year-old boy named Dominic DeCarlo went on a skiing trip with his father somewhere in the Mountains of Canada. Somehow Dominic got lost. More than 90 people conducted an all-night search for a small boy lost on a snowy mountain. As each hour passed, the search party and the boy’s family became more and more concerned for his safety and survival.
By dawn they had found no trace of him. Then as daylight came two helicopter crews joined the search and within fifteen minutes had spotted tracks. A ground team followed the tracks which led to an upturned tree where the boy was found—alive. Despite spending the night in freezing temperature, he didn’t freeze. You see Dominic’s father had told him what to do if he ever became lost. The son did exactly what his father said. He protected himself from possible frostbite and hypothermia by snuggling up in roots of an upturned tree and covering himself with piles and piles of branches, as many as he could find. Dominic would never have thought of doing this on his own; He was simply obeying what his wise and loving father had told him previously.
Spiritual growth initially takes desire, followed by knowledge. But desire on its own is not enough. It must always be followed by a practical application.
God uses His Word to bring believers to spiritual maturity, but believers must cooperate with Him by meditating on, believing in, and obeying the Word. God gives us His Word and He gives us his strength to obey it. Our part is to saturate our mind with the wisdom of God, believe what God says, and just trust Him for the power to of it. Simply put, we believe and obey the Word of God, by trusting the God of the Word.
At the beginning I asked the question. Do we hang on, or let go? Some see life in the Spirit as if it is like being in a rowing a boat; it all depends on us working hard, pulling on the oars. Others say it is more like a raft; we are to allow God to do the work and let Him take us where he takes us. However, the spiritual life is more like a sailboat. We do our part setting the sails moving the rudder but letting the wind (the Holy Spirit) do the real work and take us where that work with bring forth fruit.
Not many sailors among you, how about the gardeners then. Here’s a dichotomy a wonderful contradiction in this teaching. Only in the bible can we find two apparently contradictory positions working together to bring forth the righteousness of God Life in the Spirit is like growing a garden. We must hoe as if it all depends on us, because it does. We must pray as if it all depends on God, because it does. These two statements when brought together under the power of the Holy Spirit they are not in contradiction. We must do both because it depends on both things working together. Working together in partnership and co-operation with one another. Striving together under the unction, the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Because it all depends on us. And it all depends on Him…. Let’s Pray.
The Resurce of the Spiritual Life (a) The Word of God
Topics: Life in the Spirit