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Title: Growing up spiritually by the Spirit’s aid
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Growing up spiritually by the Spirit’s aid
Today we’re starting back in 1 Corinthians chapter one where we left off last week.
In this lesson we are learning more about our cooperation and co-partnership with the Holy Spirit.
We are seeking intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lest someone think of this as odd, we must clarify that we are not here speaking of some secret mystical knowledge like the Gnostics, but rather the kind of knowledge which is rooted in and naturally springs forth from relationship with others. It is in fact, the “spiritual” knowledge spoken of throughout the New Testament letters and was defined by Jesus Himself as the definition of “eternal life” as recorded in John 17:3. This knowledge which is obtain through interation with the Lord (by the Holy Spirit) is also something Peter indicated in his letter that every Christian in the early church did do and should do.
In all reality, this is first nature to all serious Christians. I believe every true believer, in one way or another, seeks the Lord. The point of this relational knowledge is to come to know Him more intimately.
To do this, we require the aid and supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit of God. The scriptures, some of which we will read this morning, inform us that it is quite imposible to come to know the Lord in this relational way without the aid of the Holy Spirit.
That’s one of the reasons why Jesus said that it was to our advantage that He went away.
Now, the Spirit of God has always been active here on the earth, but never like He has been since the day of Pentecost.
Now the day of Pentecost is not what most people make it out to be. The tongues witnessed by the crowd that day, once the disciples left the upper room, was not the tongues often associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit NOR is it an example of the gift of tongues – which is a ministry gift.
When the disciples went out and ministered, the tongues that they were speaking in were not the prayer language that is available to every child of God when the Spirit comes upon them subsequent to salvation. No… it was a special work, a special miracle of God. That day the many people present in Jerusalem, representing many languages and dialects, all heard the disciples speak the wonders of God in their native tongue. So this was NOT a prayer language (praying in the spirit) because it was speaking TO men ABOUT God. When you pray in the spirit, that’s not what happens. It’s a PRAYER language, where we are speaking to God, not to people. Also, it was not the GIFT of tongues, because it required no interpretation to be understood. Therefore we can safely conclude that it was in fact a special miracle.
Of course the baptism of the Holy Spirit also enables us to do other things as well.
It’s the Spirit upon us which empowers us for ministry. Of course, the gift of tongues is something different entirely. Gifts empower us to minister to OTHERS. Whereas Paul and Jude tell us that praying in the spirit edifies the one praying (1Cor. 14:1, 14-17; Jude 1:20). The difference is pretty clear!
What happened on the day of Pentecost was even different still. It was a special miracle.
It was on that day, that the Spirit of God came down in the upper room and fell upon them or embraced them that began the new ministry of the new covenant.
Remember, even Jesus Himself didn’t do any miracles nor did He any official ministry until the Holy Spirit came upon Him when He was in the river of Jordan being baptized. Following that day He began His ministry work.
So, is it any wonder that He told His disciples not to do anything or talk to anyone about the gospel of the Kingdom, but to just go to Jerusalem and wait until they received power from on high. THEN is when Jesus said they would become His witnesses. Not before!
That tells us a lot if we’re paying attention with eyes that truly see and ears that truly hear.
We understand now the words of Paul and in fact we can start there in 1 Corinthians 2.
Paul made the determination to be this way in every single aspect of his life to which we are privy. He says,
“(1) And as for myself, brethren, when I came to you, it was not with surpassing power of eloquence or earthly wisdom that I came, announcing to you that which God had commanded me to bear witness to.”
Now, Paul was not saying that eloquence is a bad thing. He was not saying that being fluid with words or that captivate people’s attention, is a bad thing. It was however not the goal, nor was it something that was normal for Paul.
Paul was a very brass tacks kind of individual. He was FAR more concerned that he clearly and accurately convey the truths of the gospel than he was in entertaining people in the process!
So in the presentation of the gospel, you really couldn’t have received a clearer picture of Christ than through Paul.
On the other hand, Apollos was very eloquent and stirred up crowds and people loved to hear him. Between the two of them however, Paul was the clearervoice.
How do I know that? Because God didn’t call Apollos to write a good portion of the New Testament, he called Paul.
“(2) For I determined to be utterly ignorant, when among you, of everything except of Jesus Christ, and of Him as having been crucified. (3) And so far as I myself was concerned, I came to you in conscious feebleness and in fear and in deep anxiety. (4) And my language and the Message that I proclaimed were not adorned with persuasive words of earthly wisdom, but depended upon truths which the Spirit taught and mightily carried home;”
So Paul spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul came deliberately humbling myself… deliberately placing himself under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. He made the decision to embrace his own feebleness and his inability. Much like he said in 2Corinthians 12:10. Paul knew that it was by means of embracing his weakness, that he would be made strong with God’s strength… or in this case, made a powerful and clear testifier to the gospel of the Kingdom by God’s ability rather than his own.
This was made a little bit easier for Paul in this particular instance because of where he had just left. Paul had just been in Thessalonica (a port city within Macedonia) and it was a pretty terrible experience for him and for those who were with him. They all were very likely in danger of losing their lives in Thessalonica! When moved on from Thessalonica to Berea, those who opposed him in Thessalonica heard that he had gone on to Berea, and literally traveled there just to oppose him.
It was quite an active opposition that he was dealing with and so he had already been brought to the end of himself and brought to a position of humility before he even arrived in Corinth.
So naturally when he got to Corinth he was all the more embracing the idea that he could not and should not do anything in his own strength.
He was determined to rely heavily upon the Holy Spirit of God and so he was with them in weakness, feebleness… in fear and in much trembling.
He was determined that his language and the message that he proclaimed would not be adorned with persuasive words. His was not a flashy set of sermons intended to captivate and mentally convince. He wanted these people to have an encounter with Jesus by the Spirit – NOT an encounter with Paul himself. As Paul later says in the letter, “Who is Paul? Was Paul crucified for you?“
If all you get when someone teaches or preaches is an entertaining and catchy sermon which mentally convinces you to agree to it’s truth, then the result is NOT saving faith. It does not have the power to create relational trust in the heart – THAT power and domain belongs to the Spirit of God ALONE!
Someone who’s mentally convinced regarding the gospel but not inwardly convicted by the Spirit possess no saving efficacy whatsoever!
No saint or sinner is in any way changed within by coming to God from their intellect alone.
You’re saved (either initally for the sinner or in transformation into Christ’s likeness for the saint) by being convinced in your mind by the presence of the power of the Holy Spirit and surrendering to His inner with in faith.
Paul confirms that this was his intention beginning in the next verse.
“(5) SO THAT your trust might rest not on the wisdom of man but on the power of God. (6) Yet when we are among mature believers we do speak words of wisdom; a wisdom not belonging, however, to the present age nor to the leaders of the present age who are soon to pass away.”
Now we already know that these people were not mature – they were immature, baby Christians. They SHOULD have been more grown up, yet many of them remained carnal. The transforming work of the Spirit of God in their lives was, like the heart soil with thorns, suppressed by their earthly cravings and childish thoughts.
Paul had done ministry there and had already written them once. Now, in this letter we call 1 Corinthians, he is addressing questions they had sent to him and was further educating them regarding the things of the Kingdom of God.
Then he says,
“(7) But in dealing with truths hitherto kept secret we speak of God’s wisdom–that hidden wisdom which, before the world began, God pre-destined, so that it should result in glory to us; (8) a wisdom which not one of the leaders of the present age possesses, for if they had possessed it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. (9) But–to use the words of Scripture–we speak of THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN NOR EAR HEARD, and which have never entered the heart of man: ALL THAT GOD HAS IN READINESS FOR THEM THAT LOVE HIM.”
Flesh and blood is not going to get you very far in this kingdom. Mental awareness and mental acuity and natural book smarts is not going to get you anywhere in the kingdom of God. Absolutely nowhere!
However Paul offers them a key. He tells them that whoever within His kingdom loves God, the Spirit of God will draw aside the veil separating them from the person and intimacy of Christ through the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, including the depths of the divine nature.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we should not seek those things ourselves.
On the contrary we are to possess and express an ongoing interest in God, in seeking His face. The One that we are working in cooperation with alone holds the power to open our eyes and ears. He, the Holy Spirit of God, draws back the veil, as these words say, and allows us to see the divine nature.
This reminds me, of course, of the passage in 2 Corinthians 3.
It talks about how Israel is blind, even to this day, that the veil still lies unlifted from their eyes in the reading of the scriptures.
It remained unlifted because the veil is only taken away in Christ.
Then it begins to talk about where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
“And we all by the Spirit with unveiled face, behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into that same image from glory to glory, even as by the working of the Spirit of the Lord.”
The Spirit shows up a lot in those passages!
2 Corinthians 3 talks about the ministry of condemnation, which was the ministry of the Old Covenant. It was called that not because there was any failing in the law, not because anything was wrong with the law – it was perfect. In fact, the law was spiritual, and spiritual is a good thing – we’re going to learn that even today.
Spiritual is a good thing, because being spiritual is something which Paul, by the Holy Spirit, listed in one category as being opposite of being carnal and fleshly. So clearly being spiritual is a good thing! The Bible says that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal.
Well, how are we going to marry these two together?
Well, we can’t. But under the New Covenant, through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the inward working of the Spirit of God – THEY can!
He took the handwriting requirements, which was contrary to our nature, (because it was spiritual and we were carnal) and He moved it out of the way. He nailed it to the cross. He assumed the likeness of sinful flesh, not being sinful Himself, and He destroyed sin and death relative to us, but redeemed us!
So He destroyed that part of us that couldn’t become spiritual, and then breathed His life into us and made us come alive.
What did He breathe into us? The Spirit of God!
What did Jesus breathe into His disciples? John’s testimony about it was this, “He breathed on them, and said, receive the Holy Spirit of God.” – John 20:22
Then 11 men who were spiritually dead and dark became light and life and the world was set on its ear by those men. Furthermore, the earth is still being set on its ear by people who have had the exact same experience!
So Paul says here beginning again in verse 8,
“(8) a wisdom which not one of the leaders of the present age possesses, for if they had possessed it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. (9) But–to use the words of Scripture–we speak of THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN NOR EAR HEARD, and which have never entered the heart of man: ALL THAT GOD HAS IN READINESS FOR THEM THAT LOVE HIM.”
Almost every time I come here and I read these passages, I’m reminded of the Amplified version, which I’m not a big fan of, except for in certain instances. In some places, such as this one, it does a very, very good job.
It renders this verse like this –
“(9) But, on the contrary, as the Scripture says, What eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has not entered into the heart of man, [all that] God has prepared (made and keeps ready) for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed].”
This tells us that our so-called “reverence” means literally nothing if we don’t really obey Him!
As an example let me offer this illustration…
If a parent says, “clean your room” and the response is, “I’ll get around to it”.
That’s not respect!
So it is that promptly obeying God and gratefully recognizing the benefits that He’s bestowed upon us is what opens the door to this knowledge!
So that’s one of the things that we can do as a type of self diagnostic, regarding.
Ask the Spirit of the Lord to help you judge your love of God by your quick obedience and gratefulness to Him.
Now you NEED to invite the Holy Spirit to help you in this because you will either judge yourself way too leniently or way too harshly, but you will not judge yourself with clarity.
Invite the Holy Spirit into your judging yourself just as the Bible encourages us to do in all things.
It was never in the mind of the New Testament church, or of the apostles to convey that we do anything by ourselves. The idea of “by yourself” ended the day that you got born again. You will never be alone. “By yourself” doesn’t exist!
You’ve never been separated from Him – not for a moment!
Now if we need this love for and to God in order for this whole thing to work, well then where do we get that?
Let’s turn to Romans 5. It says,
“Therefore having been justified by our trust in Him, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,”
That is the same glory we just read about in 1 Corinthians chapter 2.
The glory that’s attached to the mystery that God has kept hidden from the foundation of the world and is revealing to us by His Spirit for our glory, that same hope!
“and rejoices in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulations produces perseverance and perseverance produces approved character and approved character, more hope. And this hope does not disappoint us because the love of God has already been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and even now still is flooding it by that same Spirit Who’s been given to us.”
The love of God. I don’t have to wonder where I’m going to get this love, it’s already been given to me.
You might ask – Well what if I don’t feel it? Then stir it up!
God did a lot of things FOR us, but now that we are born again, he HELPS us – He does not take over and do things FOR us!
You know, relationship, which Christians love to call, is a two way street. We love the notion that we are not living a religion, so to sepak, but have entered into relationship with God. That is, we love it UNTIL it requires something out of us. Then all of a sudden, it’s not relationship, this is all God.
Well, you know that’s convenient, but I remember my Bible telling us to DO things!
- You are to be diligent.
- You are to be earnest.
- You are to pursue.
- You are to love others.
- You are to forgive AS YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.
He didn’t say, now sit back on your rear end, the Holy Spirit’s going to do all that for you. He said, YOU do that! So when it comes to loving God with the LOVE He has already invested in you and deposited within your heart – You stir it up yourself!
Now, will the Holy Spirit help you? Yes, that’s what helpers do. But He doesn’t do it FOR you.
Now, believe it or not, that word helper isn’t the exact same word because it’s a Greek word, but it IS a synonym for the Hebrew word that was used for Eve.
God said, “I will make Adam a helper”.
She wasn’t supposed to go and do the work FOR Adam. She was to HELP him in his work.
I’m using this as an illustration to make a point!
Remember at the very beginning, God didn’t show Eve how He planted the garden and how He did the things that He did. He did that with Adam. If you will, it was a Father with His son.
Then God placed Adam in the garden and had him name all the stuff and THEN he made Eve.
So what was the job of Adam? Adam was to take care of the ground. He was essentially a farmer!
Now, that became a whole lot harder after the fall because now the ground was going to resist him. But the ground can’t resist someome who is not working it.
In Adam, God made a farmer!
Now, the next generation did something else. He took care of sheep and that’s great because we need those too. However, before a shepherd God made a farmer because even the sheep need something to eat.
But then when God made Eve, He made her the HELPER of her husband.
Notice that God didn’t say, “Now that you’re Adam’s helper, you get up in the morning, and go out there and till the ground and plant the seed, water the crops and gather the harvest…etc…” No, no, no, no, no. That wasn’t her job. That was Adam’s job. Her job was to HELP him do his job, not to do it FOR him.
Are you seeing the picture?
In the same way, the Holy Spirit is not our doer. He’s our helper.
You’re the one that gets out and begins to till the ground and He helps you. But He doesn’t do it for you!
Remember how John told us in his account of the words of Jesus, both in John 14 and particularly in chapter 16, that the Holy Spirit is going to lead us and guide us and teach us.
After we covered that a few weeks ago we then went over to 1 John chapter 2 which told us that the same Holy Spirit (or anointing) that teaches us, will teach us HOW to ABIDE in Jesus and thus bear fruit after His likeness.
So, abiding in Him is a big deal and it is something again that God told US to do. He didn’t say, now, I’m giving you the Holy Spirit and He’s going to MAKE you abide. No, He’s going to teach YOU how to abide!
It’s a choice you make!
Will the Spirit help you with that choice? Oh, He better or we can’t do it. But even still you are the one that makes that choice!
I have to choose to fellowship with Christ and abide with Him daily and when I am successful it is because I CHOSE to listen to the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit of God!
Some of the decisions we make are pretty raunchy. Some of them are not godly. They don’t honor God. We call Him Lord, but in those decisions we don’t act like it.
But Who’s the One that, even when we make those stupid and foul decisions, convicts us of it and puts us back on the right course?
It’s the Holy Spirit. He is the One Who teaches us!
If you’re in love with God, it doesn’t take much. Usually you’re not even a second or two into a bad decision before it’s already caught up with you.
That’s not because we’re such great people… so wonderful and godly. If we were, we wouldn’t have to stop doing what we had just started doing.
But we DO have the Holy Spirit of God, and He’s able! He aids us. He comes to our rescue. He causes us to see and understand and to value.
When we were looking at the different hearts that are receptive to the gospel, the Good Heart had a several qualitys which stood out from the others. One of the most important of which was that it saw value in what it heard. So much so that the one with the good heart kept the Word, treasured it, and guarded it. It was more valuable than other things!
What other things?
The “other things” that entered in and choked the word in the heart that was just before the good heart. The Thorny Heart!
Other things enter in and choke out the Word and the Word became unfruitful.
Those “other things” are what Spirit of God steers you away from!
What do you value? What is it that you allow to influence you?
If the influence is of the world …is carnal …is NOT spiritual – not only will it corrupt good habits, as Paul said, but it also dulls your senses to hearing the Spirit of God.
When we are entertained by and fellowship with things in the world we enter into a shared experience with darkness, that’s something that the Spirit of God will not fellowship with!
He’s not going to leave you, but He can’t co-participate with evil.
So if I participate with evil, I break communion with Him. I stop sharing experience with Him.
So if I want to have ongoing communion with the Spirit of God, I have to make decisions about what I’m going to do, the people I’m going to hang out with, what I am going to be entertained by …etc.
You might say, “Well, Jesus hung out with prostitutes and sitters.”
Well, yes and no. I wouldn’t say He hung out with them. I’d say that He ministered to them. He went to where they were at times and spoke to them, but He didn’t make them His close companions and hang out with them day after day in their sin.
You can’t find that anywhere in the Bible.
Did He go to prostitutes and sinners? Did He even eat with them and commit the Word of God to them? Of course He did!
Why did Jesus do that? Well he told us that “the Son of Man came to seek that which is lost”. Right? Well, I’m not going to find the lost among the unlost or the found, right?
However, that doesn’t mean that He made a commitment of fellowship to them. You don’t fellowship with darkness.
What fellowship can darkness have with light? Paul asked that question.
It was clearly a rhetorical question, the answer to which is it can’t have any!
Why am I going through this little bit of a rant? Because such things are inconsistent with having intimacy with the Spirit of God.
It is inconsistent with being able to learn from Him how to intimately come to know the Lord Jesus Christ if you are in the ongoing habit of having fellowship with darkness.
Every moment of every day, every hour that you decide to fill your mind with the ungodly and fellowship with it, you are cutting off fellowship with Him and it takes a toll!
To be perfectly honest, it’s quite a miracle that any Christian walks godly at all. It really is quite the miracle that any fruit is being born with the diligence with which most Christians invest in their walk with Christ. They’re far more interested in fellowshiping with the world and pursuing the things of the world and liking pretty much the same things that the world likes.
So if they bear any fruit at all, it’s nothing short of proof that light is stronger than darkness. That life is greater than death.
Nevertheless, fellowship with darkness is going to have a dwarfing effect on their walk with Christ! It will negatively impact the work that the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is going to have. It will roadblock many of the inroads the Word and the Spirit sould otherwise have in their life for fruit production, for producing the image of Christ in them.
So we have to be careful about those things!
Now this isn’t a point of judgment other than personal judgment.
It’s something that’s between you and the Holy Spirit.
He’s already convicted you at some point or another and you are either aware of it or you have allowed yourself to become dead to it. That’s always a dangerous place to be.
Have you ever been in that place where you’ve deadened the voice of the Spirit of God? Where something that at first, really bothered you and then later on He could bring it to you and it barely even bothers you?
I don’t know too many Christians that haven’t been there, but that can be changed!
All we have to do is just cry out to Him.
One of the best prayers you can pray if you are in a place of being deadened to the voice of the Spirit of God and are not as interested in intimacy with Him as you know you ought to be is to pray “Lord, I don’t want to, but I want to want to.”
Have you ever been there? You know He answers prayers like that!
That’s very much like the plea “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief”. Which, by the way, got a very good response from the Lord!
The very fact that we’re crying out at all. God will answer that.
However, the prayer needs to be followed up with some ACTION.
Don’t you say, “Lord, I don’t want to, but I want to want to. So I’m going to sit on my butt and do nothing until You make me want to.”
You’re going to be sitting there a LONG time!
That’s not going to work.
What you say at that point is, “I’m going to begin to pursue You, even though I don’t feel like it. Even though I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of it. Even though it feels as dry as a desert, I’m going to pursue You. I’m going to spend time in Your Word and value it. I’m going to spend time in worship. And I’m asking and believing, Spirit of God, that You’re going to do a defibrillating work in my heart because gosh, I need it bad!”
I promise you that prayer will be answered, but not if you do nothing.
If you did absolutely nothing to back up that you want to change by changing something you’re doing, don’t you already kind of instinctively know nothing’s going to really change? You know that! I don’t have to tell you that – you know it!
So God demands a response because we are in a relationship, which I was drawing on earlier. Relationship is a two-way street!
It’s not just give, give, give, right?
Nor is it all take, take, take.
There are investments on both sides in a relationship or it’s not a relationship.
God makes an investment in us and we make a response towards Him.
Again this is loving Him as we read in the Amplified version of 1Corinthians 2 verse 9.
It’s “holding Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed.”
I can’t remain unresponsive to the advances of the Holy Spirit because if I do, I will develop a callus upon my heart and that is not a safe place for anyone!
For the child of God, verse 10 tells us that God has drawn aside that veil through the teaching of the Holy Spirit for the Spirit searches everything, including the depths of the divine nature.
The depths of divine nature is behind that metaphorical and yet, very real veil. If I want to enter into that presence behind the veil where Christ has gone as my forerunner, I do that by the teaching of the Holy Spirit and that’s where I abide!
And that is the swelling heart cry of all true lovers of God throughout the ages!
David said, “I have asked one thing from the LORD; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the LORD and seeking Him in His temple.” – Psalm 27:4