Filled week 3:
Not Giving Up
1 Thessalonians 5:19
So the last few weeks we have been looking at the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. WE have seen that if you are a believer you have the Spirit; we saw last week that to be led by this Spirit is what He does in us by moral and biblical conforming. He works in us as we seek Him.
Essentially this whole series has been about being dependent upon His leading and guiding through what He is doing through us.
I must admit that this is an act of faith sometimes.
So tonight we are going to take the next step; asking can I stifle the work of the Spirit in my life? Can I do something that can hinder what He is doing?
To see this we will look to Scripture to see if there is a possibility?
We have established a reality that God is at work in our lives and that He is doing what He is doing! The Spirit is working in us and sometimes we need to faith to push through to discover that He was working through us all along.
But in saying that there are things that we can do and mentalities that we can keep that can have a negative effect of the power of the Spirit in us.
The first thing is that…
We can resist Him
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
From the context of this verse it was said against those who refuse to believe; it was Stephen preaching against the Jews who refused to believe in Jesus.
The fundamental reality is that it is possible to resist the work of the Spirit in our lives. From the context we can see this is through unbelief. The Jews refused to accept the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the acceptance of Jesus as Messiah; this is why Paul can say in 1 Corinthians 12:3
“Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.”
It is a work of the Spirit to lead us to Salvation and lead us in salvation; and Scripture reveals that we can resist this work.
How often have had a truth of God that you have refused to believe due to stubbornness and its generally in a crisis that we break and then believe the truth; this is a resistance of the Spirit’s work in our life.
The problem with resisting the Spirit in our lives is that we are left worse off than if we accept it.
We can neglect Him
1 Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Paul writes to timothy and commands Him not to neglect the gifting of the Spirit in Timothy’s life. The reality is that by ignorance or stubbornness we can neglect the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
As I have established in this series so far; the Spirit of the living God dwells within us! This is a wonderful and powerful reality. We can, due to a lack of knowledge or commitment, deny the work and gifting of the Spirit of God in our lives.
You see the Spirit gifts each and every one of us in order that we might build up one another and be the body of Christ in the world; when we neglect that gifting in our lives we hamper not only His work in us but also His work in the church.
One of my fundamental beliefs is that God wants every Christian in His Church working together for the building up of the whole church – so that the church can go out and minister to the world she finds herself in.
So this is the desire of the Spirit in your life; however we can neglect that due to laziness, business, fear etc.
Whatever the excuse. The reality is that when we neglect the gifting of the Spirit in our lives we limit His power in our lives as well as in the church.
The reality is that when God calls He equips and this equipping is the Spirit within us that gives us the power and ability to do that which He calls us to. Let us not neglect His work in our lives.
I remember one Pastor saying that He feels likes sometimes He is doing the calling of 10 people because the people in the church are not doing what God has called them to do. The problem with this is that it leaves us with ineffectual Christians and churches.
We grow most as we go! As we do the work; and use the gifts that God has given us. We stagnate the most when we observe.
So we can hamper the work of the Spirit in our lives by simply neglecting what He is doing; especially within the church.
We can grieve Him
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
In this context Paul is giving principles for godly living and in this midst of this calls the church to not grieve the Holy Spirit.
Let’s just stop for a second and address this reality; we can cause grief in the Holy Spirit by our conduct and life.
We often have a tendency of thinking God as this static reality that is emotionless and distant; however, He is intimately involved with us so much so that we can cause grief to Him.
We are grieved by others because we are emotionally invested in them; well The Holy Spirit is grieved by us; therefore he has an emotional investment in us.
Spurgeon Says; “grief is a sweet combination of anger and love”
How do we grieve the Spirit?
Well by everything we have been discussing tonight we can cause grief in the heart of Holy Spirit; a grief that His work has been hampered by our stubbornness; a grief that we ignore His influence and disregard His gifting’s that are to be used to build up the church.
He is emotionally invested in us! We therefore should, in love, respond to Him!
It actually shakes me that we can hamper the Spirits work in our lives in such a way that we cause grief to Him.
We can quench His influence
1 Thessalonians 5:19
19Do not quench the Spirit;
Again this verse in the middle of a number commands that Paul is giving the church. It is a peculiar command. Literally it means to put a fire out.
What I find fascinating about this statement is how often in the Bible the Holy Spirit is symbolised or represented by fire; and here Paul commands us not to extinguish the Holy Spirit.
Now the concept to me seems rather funny; how can we extinguish the inexhaustible power of the Spirit?
I don’t think that is what Paul is saying here; more it is dampening the influence of the Spirit; which would quench it.
There is a story of a group of young people who went on a mission trip to Bolivia; on their return there was an opportunity for the team to share. So a young man stood up and started to share what God was doing in Bolivia and the wonder of being a part of that work. It became quite emotional and there was a growing sense of God’s power in the church. The young man began to become overcome by the emotion of it all and started to cry. There was a powerful sense of who God was and His work; but the pastor of the church being uncomfortable by the show of emotion stood up took the podium thanks the boy and moved on with the next announcement. And that sense of expectancy was completely lost.
In this situation if they had been brave enough to endure the silence what could have God done. I remember when I was in 2nd year of college we had prayers every morning at 4:30 in the church for a whole year. And I remember one morning in the middle of winter where we were all just in silence before God and it had become awkward, but maybe due to our tiredness or simply because God allowed it; we endured the silence and did not try and make something of it. All of a sudden there was this sense of God in our midst and I remember we all lay flat on our faces and simply did not move.
Sometimes there is a temptation to squash or dampen the work of the Spirit in our lives because it is too painful to endure the moment, or too awkward, or we feel we have to being doing something.
We can hamper the work of God in our lives when we quench His influence.
Essentially the call is to allow Him to work and do not get in the way of that work.
We have seen that it is indeed possible to hamper and squash the Spirit’s influence in our lives. so I want to run through a quick application to ensure the freedom of the Spirit in our lives to work.
Get on Board
Stop resisting what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life and get on board with His agenda, this means submitting your desires and taking on His, this means being humble before Him, this means allowing His to lead!
Get on God’s agenda!
Get stuck in
We have all been observing for long enough, we all know enough, now it’s time to get stuck in. Find out what God has gifted you with and make that available to the church, use the gift God has given you to build up the church.
Get out of the way
Allow God to be God in your life. Life in a way that gets out of the way of what He is doing. You must become less and He must become more!
This means sometimes enduring the hardship that God is leading you through, this also means sometimes enduring awkward moments. This might mean letting go of your need to control so that He can control.
Stop getting in the way of God’s work in your life and trust His to do what only He can do.
I believe as I have established that the Spirit wants to work in you and I believe that He is working in you.
There are things that we can get rid of in our lives to ensure that we are on board with Him fully that we are getting gout of the way of what He is doing.
Let’s not give up on the work that the Spirit is doing in our lives.