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The Persecuted Church

 

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Walking "in the Spirit"

To walk in the spirit can be a real challenge today especially in America. It seems everyone and everything is competing for our affections today. The TV ads say to buy this product to have improvement for your health, for your house, for a new car, new clothes. Everything is always being improved. What is already an improved product, becomes new and improved again given enough time. We are bombarded by improving our lives by worldly solutions. For us as Christians we are concentrate and improve our walk with the Lord so we can be of greater service to him. We are to learn of him and reach out to others. when he calls us into action we should be ready to go at the drop of a pin. Just as a soldier is in an army ready to serve his country.

To do so means we have been walking in the Spirit. Too many times we are shy from speaking about the Lord because we have not been walking right in certain areas and are condemned. Are you living in the compromise zone- if your not striving to go forward, then you are probably falling backwards. If we put no effort in our walk can we expect to get Gods results?

Jesus asked the people to follow Him when he was physically here. Today he asks the same as we walk with him by his Holy Spirit, who is another like himself. We are saved for a purpose. It is his work to conform us to be in the image of the Son. We were left as lights in the world. But a light needs to continually be fed with oil, and it needed its wick trimmed so it won't smoke, and give a pure light. We have got to focus on the Lord and our relationship to him, lest we become smoke in peoples eyes and not light.

In Jn.3:3-5 it tells us we must be born again or we cannot see the kingdom of God. It is a second birth, a spiritual regeneration of our dead spirit to life, a birth from above by the Holy Spirit. This is where it starts, where one begins there personal walk in a relationship with Christ. No child at 2 months is expected to walk well nor is an 8 year old expected to be in the marathon or tri-athalon, this would be very unusual. But we are to have continual growth to find our potential in ministry. In fact we should actively be seeking it.

Col. 3:10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

When we received Christ and were forgiven by his work on Calvary and our destiny changed. We became new creatures with a purpose that was ordained by God. He will use our natural talents as well as implant spiritual ones by the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are to use all that we have to glorify him. Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The word poema (workmanship) means his poem, his writing, we are as Paul states living epistles. To God we are his trophies of grace shown off to the world. If we are all these things and more, it should sober us up to want to do what is right and pleasing in his sight. Not only for our benefit, but for others around us who do not know him.

Paul writes how we can accomplish this in Eph.4:22 "that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." We are under construction but one day it will be completed. Phil 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;"

In the meantime, practicing Gods way which was formerly foreign to us becomes natural, as we discipline ourselves to Godliness, to his word, we are changed. Old habits need to be replaced with spiritual ones. We need to consistently train ourselves in spiritual matters. If not we will have stunted growth. Consider ourselves like a tree that needs the water of the word to grow or we will shrivel up and die.

A yoke in the OT could mean bondage, enslavement or servitude to another leader other than God.

Deut. 28:48, Jer. 28:2; Isa. 10:27 It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil." Jer. 30:8-9 'For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them." God breaks the yoke of bondage from the enemy so we can be yoked to him.

In the pursuit of being holy and walking correctly we can burden ourselves to be more spiritual with fruitless cares or extra laws that will weigh us down. Often times the Pharisees went for the letter of the law, Jesus went for the spirit, the intent of the words. The Rabbis used the term yoke for school, as many pupils find it now a yoke. A yoke was a curved piece of wood called an 'ol. It was custom made to be fitted on the neck of two oxen yoked or coupled together for the purpose of drawing the plough as a pair. They shared in the labor. The lighter and the better fitting the yoke was, the more comfortable it would be for their work.

In the New Testament the word "yoke" is also used to denote servitude (Matt. 11:29, 30; Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1). Jesus offered refreshment in his school compared to the Pharisee's and promised to make the burden light, unlike the Pharisees he is a meek and humble teacher In Mt. 11:28-30 Jesus beckons "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

In coming to him we take his yoke on us, and submit to his authority. It is a custom made yoke perfectly fit for each of us. We learn of him in all things, and it is a comfort in our obedience. He accepts us all as willing servants, along with our imperfect service. Here we find rest for our souls being yoked to love. The way of service will not become burdensome or make us weary. It is the way of rest because being yoked to him we do not do all the work, as he working alongside us.

Paul writes in Gal. 5:1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." We are set free to do the will of God, not our will, nor go back to our old lifestyle. We are free in him. Outside of him is only bondage, the rule of Satan that captures people to do sin. So we need to abide in him to be free and fruitful.

We are yoked to do work, we are called to be servants. Every 7th year a servant in the household of Israel would have a choice if they would want to stay or leave. If they liked their master they would have an awl pierce their ear and put a personal earring in it showing who they serve. It was a promise for a lifetime. If we commit our lives to the Lord we should consider the cost. This is not to be a flippant thing or to be used as a free card for fire insurance. It means a change of life that will affect us now, not just later in eternity. So many make a decision at the moment of need only to waffle on it later.

As Bob Dylan's song went, your gonna serve somebody, it may be God, it may be the Devil but your gonna serve somebody. We are made to serve. And we should not be afraid to speak about whom we serve. Its been said When the time comes to speak if you don’t stand up for God you will sit down with the devil. If we deny him before man he will deny us before the father. But to be able to have this boldness we need pure unadulterated loyalty. This means we need to know who we are devoted to. Josh.24:15 says if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord choose you this day whom you will serve. We become a slave (doulos) by choice, and we work in the household of God with other servants.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our helper, we are not left with only written instructions, but are Given God himself as a gift, the very one who inspired the Scriptures. He is one who comes alongside us and guides us in them. The Helper is God correcting the believer when they are going off course. His part is to convict and correct to bring us back on course, this is done through the comforter and his word.

It is by God's grace that we are continually changed through the work of the Spirit. Paul states 1 Corinthians 15:10 -- "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Jesus said we can do nothing apart from him and we abide by the Holy Spirit who baptized us into Christ.

2 Corinthians 9:8 -- "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." The Holy Spirit is called the spirit of Grace that imparts Christ's nature to the believer. As we submit to his instruction we are changed into what he sees for us. He has predestined us to be formed to his plan and his will to be lived out in our lives. It is by his grace we are changed and grow.

If we are faithful in the little things we will be given more ( Mt.12:18) this is the biblical principle and there is no quick way to holiness or greatness. Jesus said we must become servants. We are not given the title of king or rulers but servant and friend if we serve him. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel David all served and were called servants. Even Jesus was called a servant before he was called the apostle (Heb.3:1) as he came to earth to do the fathers will as a servant. (Isa.52:13;Mt.12:18) Rev.22:3 states that in the new Jerusalem we will be servants to him.

Paul said to the Galatians (Gal 5:7) You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? The Galatians had tried to improve their relationship with the Lord by the law and removed themselves from his grace.

He later says in Gal.5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Better translated" walk by the spirit, "in other words by his power given to us. To walk means a habitual behavior, a manner of life, walking in the spirit diminishes the fallen natures appetite.

Our flesh craves the flesh and sin but to walk in the spirit these have to be denied. This is an ongoing battle, but victory comes when the Holy Spirit rules over the fallen nature. We need to restrain our passions and desires that come to life. But this can't be done by law. The Judaizers solution was the restraining influence of the law to hold their sin nature in check. Paul's argument for the solution was the very opposite. Gal.5:18 We are Not under the law, he gave Himself, instead of rules. The law does not correct behavior only shows it, it is the spirit that has the power. Whatever we let rule us and live out we will have fruit from. if it’s the Spirit it will be fruit unto eternal life.

The overcoming through the law is not the solution but by God himself through the grace that comes through him . Its either from self effort of trying to keep obedient to his laws or God living his life through us. This is the secret of the Christian life that is no secret if one reads the Scriptures. It is to yield, to surrender continually.

Human nature is frail in the flesh. When Jesus was on the cross they mocked him to come down, instead he used his power to restrain himself for our sake he surrendered completely to the fathers will. Meekness is strength under control. He reserved his power and did not use it showing he was superior. The life Jesus lived is transferred, deposited into us so its not that we lack the strength.

Paul again writes those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. if we live in the spirit (Gal 5:23-25) "Let us also go on walking by the Spirit." Let us make our steps by the help and guidance of the Spirit. It is surrendering to do his will, his way daily, in and by the Spirit. [Gal 5:25 pneumati (NT:4151) kai (NT:2532) stoichoomen]( Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament,) Self control means to master your passions 1 Cor.9:25. We have to look at sin inside us as an enemy just as the devil is.

The New Testament Epistles speak of the 'perfect law of liberty' (Jas. 1:25), it is called the 'royal law' (Jas. 2:8), and the 'law of Christ' (Gal. 6:2), and the 'law of the spirit of life' (Rom. 8:2). It is not to be confused with the OT law or the 10 commandments. It is the commands contained in the Epistles which compose the law of Christ, and instruct the believer in right doctrine and behavior. This consists of hundreds of commands covering every area of Christian living. they are all instructions and guidance in the law of Christ. Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote, "These teachings surpass the standards of the Law of Moses in the measure in which infinity surpasses the finite. (Systematic Theology. Dallas:, 1948, Vol. 4, "pg .187)

Walking in the Spirit means real change in our old nature 1 Pt.1:2 our sanctification is brought about by the Spirit. We are positionally righteous not fully yet in nature, although we are in the process of being changed to be that. No one will be near perfect this side of Heaven. Yet we are to practice the truth that will transform us.

1 Cor.2:10 we are led to understand the words of Jesus and have the ability to put into action what is necessary by the power of the Spirit. Through the Spirit (dia tou pneumatos). The Holy Spirit is the agent of the revelation of grace, part of the mystery of the Gospel that was hidden in ages past.

1 Cor.2:13 We are taught Not in words which man’s wisdom Literally, "not in words taught by human wisdom." But by the words, "which the Spirit teacheth (en didaktois pneumatos), by the help of the Holy Spirit the revelation of the word is revealed. After nearly nineteen centuries the Scriptures still contain the power of the Spirit of God, able to dynamically transform ones life. And they need to be proclaimed in the pulpits more than ever before.

When we Walk in the spirit it will lead one into the truth of Scripture not apart from it 2 John 1:2 John 17:17"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

We are set apart in truth, to walk in it and 1 John 2:6 for abiding in Christ. John writes in I Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. This the truth, is revealed by the Christ, gradually unfolds by the Spirit, who is"truth" Which abides in us. Later in 2 Jn.1:4 John comments, "I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, Still later he wrote in 3 Jn. :4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." John was concerned for the believers knowing that if they walked in the truth of the word they would have true fellowship with God and each other.

Because Jesus love us first and died for us we should be willing servants To walk in the Spirit means servanthood. Peter writes1 Pet 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, Paul writes Gal.5:13 through love we serve one another.

Many want to be filled first by the Spirit before they take on a task, but the Bible teaches that we go in faith to do the work and God will meet us there to empower us by his Spirit. We shouldn't necessarily be waiting to be zapped to be endued with power so we can do his work. We should already be led in doing his work and continually be filled for service.

Jesus said in John 12:26"If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor." By doing Gods will he will meet us and give us the power, so it will not be our own strength. We are to ask to be filled with his Spirit, but it is not for self enjoyment but for service.

Walking in the Spirit does not always mean a blessing, it can mean testing. We find "Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil." Mark 1:12 puts it more strongly, that the Spirit "drove him" into the wilderness. Meaning a strong impulsion to the area of testing. God was glorified in Christ by his choosing what is right, even at a weak moment. It is at these times our faith is tested, and we are refreshed that we are filled to do his work.  As Luke writes (4:14) after the testing Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.

1 Tim 3:15 We are " the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."We are to proclaim his word of truth. It becomes more believable when the world sees us walk in it.

We have an empty pulpits, the voices have stopped warning about the consequences of sin. That what we sow we will reap. With little guidance or instruction in this, is it any wonder that the people in the pugh's are unaffected and cannot affect society. One famous preacher has said, Without fire in the pulpit the ice in the pugh's won't melt.

If we want to have an affect on society, our friends and family there are certain qualifications needed to see this change. We are to live a holy life.  Those who are pure, who are living in an unclean land should bring conviction of sin to the people around them. Instead today the world looks at the church and excuses their sin because there is no salt for conviction. Salt is a preservative to foods that rot. We need to turn the salt shaker upside down today because things have become extremely rotten, even putrid all around us.

We need to be inclined to obedience. You can't claim the promises without doing his commandments. Obedience will bring a personal ongoing revival, and stop one from becoming dry. Jesus promised living waters would flow from inside us and out to others if we believe in him as the Scriptures have said. To do so one must continually be in the Scriptures not reading it as a chore or duty but wanting to hear from God and willing to do what he says. We are to choose the better of being a Mary and sit at his feet before, lest we become a Martha so busy unable to stay still and spend time with him. God misses his time with us more than we do, yet we are the ones affected by not taking the effort of spending time in his word.

For the church and the individual to have power like in ancient days I find there are few things we must do. We are not to have an independent spirit, but a dependant Spirit. Not like the world has with co-dependency in programs and people, but dependent on God. We can do nothing without Christ that would be lasting and effective for furtherance of his kingdom. Prayerlessness means one is depending on there own self to do his work, a spiritual impossibility. We are to pray in faith seeking the will of God. We seek his kingdom and his righteousness first because we have none of our own.

2nd we are to Die to self. The power of God is in the cross, the cross we carry is a crucified life. When the church picks up her cross, real revival will come naturally, Christ's life by the holy Spirit will manifest. There is nothing man can do or invent that will ever give this new life.  No methodology or program will suffice. We must die first to be resurrected in newness of life, then the real power will come.

Paul writes in Gal 6:14 "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Paul’s world view is being dead to what the world offers so he can be alive to Christ.  You can’t be alive to both. Jesus died for us, but we must consider ourselves, our old life dead as well, otherwise how can he fill us with his spirit.

3rd we must be willing to suffer for his name sake. Phil 3:10 "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death," suffering is foreign to the Christian lifestyle today, but it was a way of life to the early Church. Without it we can’t know him in his death and we certainly can’t possess resurrection power. We are to have this power to change us first so we can effectively change others and show the reality that Christ is indeed alive. Where’s the power of the Spirit today?  Its still available, God has not changed. When we realize we are empty only then can we seek him to fill us. He can't breathe new life in us until we commit the old to be dead. Bonhoffer said when Christ calls someone to come he calls them to die (to self). Then we will rediscover the source of Gods power, and we can draw from it. We are able and willing to die to self When we see Jesus for who he is. Want to see change, die to self, God promises to do the rest.

We can’t be filled when have cluttered up the temple with so much stuff that is not of God. Let's remove the weights that so easily stumble us. Ask for God to search our hearts.  Then we can run the race with endurance and with joy and be effective for God's kingdom and have an abundant entry.

pt.2 walking in the Spirit- a spiritual life

 

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