When we talk about spiritual growth in our walk with Jesus, we are forced to admit that it is often a weak and sinful mess, and we find ourselves crying out: "Lord, help me! I am not what I should be!" If we honestly look at our church we also see many shortcomings and failures, and we are tempted to ask: Why is this? How can a community of people who claim to be crucified with Jesus be so self-centered and fall so short of the example He has given us? Shouldn't we as God's people be living continually in the strength and joy of our Lord?
I feel confident that I'm not the only one who believes in my heart that it is possible for everyone of us to enjoy that joy and crucified life in Jesus.
Then comes the haunting question: then why is God's Church as a whole so feeble, and why are most of us not living up to the great and wonderful privileges that our generous Father wants to give us? Hasn't God given us
His Almighty Son to live in our lives as an ever-present reality? Where we can say; "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;" God has given us His Son, and His Spirit, so why do we not live up to our privileges?
We find our answer in the writings of Paul. Like first Thessalonians where he encourages them to "grow and abound, to increase more and more." These were young Christians with many lacking in faith, but they were growing and they brought him great joy. In a number of places he writes "I pray to God that you may abound more and more; I write to you to increase more and more." But there are other places, like his writings to the Corinthians and the Galatians that he takes a very different tone. He tells these churches in several different ways that they are not living as children of God should live; that they are under the power of the flesh. Back to Galatians 3:3; "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?"
Paul reminds them that by the preaching of faith they have received the Holy Spirit. They had accepted Jesus and received the Holy Spirit with power. But then something happened? Having begun in the Spirit, they tried to perfect the work that the Spirit had begun themselves, by their own effort.
In these verses we discover; as people who have been with Jesus for some time, what our great need is. God has called you and me to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, and most of us are living in the power of our human flesh. We put out great effort and energy trying to look and feel good about ourselves, but we are doing it apart from the Holy Spirit.
As your pastor, if I could give just one message, it would be this: If we as a church, and as individuals will recognize that the Holy Spirit is our strength and help, and we will put away any barriers and surrender everything, and wait for God to fill us with the Holy Spirit. We will be filled with unimaginable love, joy and peace and we will see the glory of God shine out of our lives! This is my one message if I could have no other: Nothing will help our lives unless we come to understand that we must live every single day under the power of the Holy Spirit.
God wants to live in each of our lives, so that every hour of every moment of every day the Holy Spirit is in control of our lives! In short my friends, the beginning of the Christian life starts with receiving the Holy Spirit. We must never forget that we are to live by the Spirit, and not the flesh. Next week we will look at Receiving the Holy Spirit.