Episode 51: The Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives, Part 1

Peace to Live By Episode 51: The Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives, Part 1 - Daniel Litton
(Tap or right-click link to download broadcast)

For full sermons without edits for time, tap here to go to downloads page.

[Transcript may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and contains extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Today I will talk about the work of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Perhaps never has there been more confusion with any subject within God’s church other than that of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Some want to paint the picture of a limited Spirit, while others what to paint the picture of an overly dramatic Spirit. Well, today, my hope is not to paint either of these pictures, but rather to tell you, from the pages of Scripture, some of the different ways the Spirit of God helps us as believers from day-to-day.

       Now, in each of these discussions (today and the next two weeks), I want to talk about nine different things the Holy Spirit does in our lives. Obviously, I wont cover everything that can be covered regarding the Spirit’s work, nor will I discuss each subject as much as it could be discussed—for many of these areas could be talked about in great length. But I am providing this information to give you some identifiers so that you can ponder these things, and perhaps even recognize the work of the Spirit in your life. As always, we can then take this information to grow into becoming more like Jesus.

       The nine areas I want to discuss in regard to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives are the following:

1) He teaches us
2) He convicts us when we do wrong
3) He helps us resist the devil
4) He leads us
5) He gifts us
6) He gives us hope for the future
7) He produces His fruit in us
8) He can guide our speech
9) He keeps harmony with us

We will cover the first three areas today, and the latter ones in the following two weeks. But before I get started in this lengthy discussion, I want to give a brief overview of the Spirit’s presence within us, as Christians.

Overview

       As we all know, or should know by now, we, as Christians, receive the Holy Spirit when we first believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Acts 8:17, 19:2). Jesus promised his disciples in John chapter 16 that the Spirit of Truth would come to them, and as we all know he did come in Acts chapter 2. And, so, the Spirit dwells in us. In fact, the Apostle Paul would say, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9, ESV). This contrasts from what we saw in the Old Testament, for back then the Holy Spirit could and would depart from believers (see 1 Samuel 16:14 & Psalm 51:11 for examples). But in Romans 8:10, Paul interchangeably uses the Spirit and Christ by saying “if Christ is in you.” And we know what Jesus told his disciples, for he said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, ESV).

       For each one of us who believes, the Holy Spirit is part of the salvation process. Paul told the Corinthians, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13, ESV). And, again, as Paul equated the Spirit with Christ, he said of Christ in Romans chapter 6: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3, 4, ESV).

       The Holy Spirit then enables us to live each day through to the fullest extent. Now, we can incorrectly choose to live through rules we make and create out of the pages of Scripture, or we can live by following the Spirit’s leading through the pages of Scripture. Remember, the Apostle Paul said, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6, ESV). The Jewish law brought the Israelites spiritual death because they could not become righteous by following its commands, and neither can we today become righteous and acceptable in God’s sight by following any ‘law’ system that we create.

       We as Christians automatically are set to “walk… according to the Spirit” and not the flesh (Romans 8:1, ESV, see also vv. 4, 5). Since we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, we will naturally display the fruit of the Spirit (more on this later), as we walk with the Spirit and seek to become more like Jesus in our lives. And as we live life, the Spirit confirms to us that we belong to God (Rom. 8:16). Paul said, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV). The Prophet Isaiah prophesied into the future regarding Christians: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2, ESV).

       So, now that we have this brief overview of the Spirit’s presence in each of our lives, let us discuss some key things on how the Spirit works in us.

Number one: He teaches us

       The Holy Spirit teaches us things about God’s Word, and guides us in things about God’s Word. Recall what Jesus promised his disciples in John 14, and really, this is foundational. He said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, ESV). So, first, in regards to the latter half of that verse, we know that Jesus has revealed all that he has wanted us to know about what he said while he was here on the earth. And how did he do this? He did this through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the writers of the four Gospels and the Book of Acts. And not only has the Spirit brought these things to our remembrance, but he also has taught us all things with the rest of the New Testament. So, this in effect is the general overview of the verse we just read, John 14:26.

       However, to be further specific, and to be closer on a personal, individual level, we should note that as we memorize Bible verses that are particularly helpful and encouraging to us, the Holy Spirit will bring to our minds these verses. And, he will also bring to mind other verses we have read before from the Bible as we need them. It is really important that we be memorizing verses from God’s Word, both for encouragement and to ward off temptations and Satanic attacks as they come to us. Remember, God’s power is connected to his Word. There is power behind it, and it is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the inner-parts of a person (see Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God transforms our lives, as Christians, as we apply it, as we live it out. And it also has power against the enemy, against Satan. We can ward off Satanic attacks from our minds, which happen to us more often then I think we realize. Indeed, some of us have come to the realization that we are in a war, and so God’s Word, our sword, then becomes pretty important for us if we want to win each battle (see also Ephesians 6).

       God, through his Spirit, enlightens us to what his truth really means. The Apostle Paul stated, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:12, 13, ESV). Our morning devotion, or whenever we choose to have our devotion in our day, can provide a way for us to carefully study a passage of Scripture. This careful study gives us further insight into how much God loves us and what he is expecting of us. And, as the Spirit helps us understand the application, we can have greater power flowing in our lives. And we can pray verses and passages in our prayers to God. I believe God likes it when we do this.

       But, I would like to take a moment here, and really much more could be said on this than I am going to say, and that is that God reveals things to us by the Spirit (see 1 Cor. 2:10 for example). It’s true that the Spirit of God does not only use the Word of God to reveal things to us, but just like God did in both the Old and New Testaments, he can use signs around us to reveal truths to us. He can use examples, things that occur in our lives, or just illustrations from nature, to reveal or explain a truth to us. These insights give us better understanding into the things of God’s Word. And many times, the Spirit will guide our thoughts to certain ideas, or certain things that he wants to accomplish, either in our individual growth as Christians or in helping other people. Don’t just think that all your good ideas are just your ideas. Often times the Spirit is leading us even though we don’t recognize it.

       Our learning about God’s Word, and are following the Spirit, then allows each of us to become filled with the Spirit.

Number two: He convicts us when we do wrong

       As we have discussed many times, part of the Christian life is our sanctification process, the process of us becoming more and more like Jesus. Many people do believe, and erroneously so, that Christians should be perfect people who have reached the heights of good behavior, in thought, word, and deed. But any of us who know other Christians well realize that this is not the truth. It is far from the truth actually. Our sanctification is a process. It takes us time to grow here and then grow there. Some of us are better in certain areas, and some of us are better in other areas. And central to all of this growth that is occurring is the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin, wrong things we do, in our lives.

       Now, this conviction of sin is sometimes continual as we are seeking to rid ourselves of a bad habit that we have come to realize we have. Though, there are times when we have realized we have a bad habit in some area, and from time to time we will catch ourselves slipping up, and we then correct ourselves. So, the Holy Spirit didn’t need to correct us in that situation, as we were able to correct ourselves. But if we continue doing the wrong thing without correcting ourselves, then the Holy Spirit will step in and bring conviction. And if we don’t pay attention to his conviction within ourselves, sometimes he will use external signs to try to get us to wake up to what he wants us to see, to correct. Nevertheless, sometimes the conviction that comes to us is for a one-time sin, whether big or small, for a sin that’s not habitual but just happened in one moment of time.

       So, once we have been given the conviction from the Spirit—at that point, we can choose to follow the Spirit, or we can choose to continue going down the wrong path. This can be just in a basic life situation, like when an argument is brewing between you and someone else. The Holy Spirit may say, “Hold it. You need to correct what you’re saying,” and at that point we need to correct it or we are heading for a ‘real’ problem. It’s better to swallow our pride and snuff out developing problems rather than continuing along and then having a ‘real’ problem. I think most of us recognize from experience that it is far better to deal with a brewing problem right away rather than to wait for it to get far worse. The issue for us is that it is very hard to do at the moment in time at which the problem is occurring. Like, if we are in an argument, we want to keep arguing to win, even when we know, deep down, we should stop. So, pride gets in our way, causes us to sin, and then we are left with the Spirit’s conviction and a relationship that needs mended. And there are many life situations like this.

       I would like to say that we should want the Holy Spirit’s conviction in our lives. We shouldn’t dread his conviction, or despise it, since it comes to help us. God wants to help us become more like Jesus, not just rain condemnation down on us for the fun of disciplining us. I believe that God does not take pleasure in disciplining us. He’s not like a strict grade-school principle, or a harsh father, who loves discipline. But God does know that conviction helps us to grow. And so he provides it for our own good because he loves us. And remember also, the Holy Spirit will also provide encouragement toward our spirits as we are making progress and doing better, and he may even provide rewards for us, in the here and now, as we have successes.

       Now, we are not to quench the Spirit (see 1 Thess. 5:19). When we don’t receive conviction from the Spirit, we quench him and his work. And then, after rejecting it more and more, we then can face personal discipline from the Lord, which I don’t think any of us want. Think of it like when you do something wrong at work. Often, the first time, you will receive a verbal warning for whatever you did wrong. And you may even receive two or three verbal warnings. But if you don’t change your behavior, you may get written up with an official warning. That’s a more severer form of discipline. It could be the case that we are not sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction in our lives. We should pray that we become sensitive to his conviction, and that he will help us to be aware of his leading.

       We can depend on our flesh to make improvement in our lives, or we can depend on the Holy Spirit. We need to do all things through the Spirit instead of fleshly efforts. Jesus told us in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (ESV). The Spirit gives us life. He wrote the Word of God, and these words from the Spirit give us spirit and life. In other words, the Spirit enables us to be able to accomplish what God wants us to accomplish—victory against sin and the things that He is leading us to do. Without God’s help, we would not have success over sin, but we would continue to be stuck in sinful lifestyles and habits like those who don’t know God yet. But, with the Spirit’s help, we can better our own lives and be pleasing to God at the same time.

       Now, sometimes as we study the Word of God, we learn something that the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to, but it may seem too hard to put into practice. Nevertheless, the Spirit may be convicting us that we need to make a change. We should have faith, follow his lead, and make the change. He will enable us to do what God wants us to do (see also 1 Cor. 10:13). Faith is taking the step forward in the right direction even when we cannot see the end result. It is seeking to make improvement even when the obstacle seems enormous. It is amazing how when we start to choose doing right, how the Holy Spirit enables us to do more and more right. And, as we continue to make the right choices in our area where we need work, we find that making further progress in the right direction becomes easier.

Number three: He helps us resist the devil

       So, this area of discussion definitely relates to the last one, that of the fact that the Holy Spirit enables us to resist the devil when the occasion arises. And I would tend to think and say that this occurs quite often, a situation where we need to resist a temptation or an attack from the enemy. Truly, Satan is constantly launching warfare on us, trying to get us to get off track. He knows, and we know too, that it only takes the first wrong step, and when uncorrected, that first wrong step will lead to a series of wrong steps, which gets us off track, and then into a downward spiral. It just takes failure, or believing a lie, when he first attacks us or tempts us. That’s why it’s so important to resist the devil right at the beginning. For when we resist him right away, he will flee and there is no further danger, at least in this situation, of us going down the wrong path.

       Let us turn over to Romans chapter 8, perhaps the most famous chapter in the whole Bible. I want us to examine the war between the Spirit and our flesh, as pertains to our minds. Let’s pick up in verse 5.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:5-10, ESV).

I want us to talk about having the mind of the Spirit. So, in the most basic sense, then, this includes thinking right thoughts. When we think wrong thoughts, fleshly thoughts, it produces negativity in our lives. It causes us to experience the emptiness brought on by sin, which Paul here calls and refers to as ‘death.’ We need to eliminate thoughts that are not approved, or would not be approved, by the Spirit.

       So, the Spirit will enable us to create the mind of Christ within ourselves. We should work at thinking right thoughts instead of wrong thoughts throughout the day. Remember, Paul told us, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8, ESV). We should also spend time in prayer with God sometime in the morning after we wake up. This is important for success during the day. As I’ve touched on, there is power behind the Word of God, and the Spirit’s power is also released in our life following His Word. This is when we apply what the Word says in our living, in our thoughts, in what we say to ourselves and others, and in our behavior.

       The Mind of the Spirit produces ‘good’ daily life and peace in our lives. Paul just said, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, ESV). A lot of people are seeking to have a good life, filled with peace. Well, in the most basic sense, you arrive at this life when you let the Holy Spirit lead you, when you follow the Spirit, when you apply the Word of God to your life. God is not a kill joy. He wants us to enjoy life, to love our lives, and have good days (see 1 Peter 3:10). Again, Paul contrasts the mind of the Spirit as living in ‘life’ and the mind of the flesh as living in ‘death.’ We all know that sinful ways just give you temporary and momentary pleasure, but afterwards leave you an empty feeling. To get away from this empty feeling, people need to not follow their instinctive, sinful, fleshly impulses.

       We should think thoughts that will lead us into right speech and actions in our lives. This sounds very basic, yet it is so fundamental. The thoughts we think are very important to the quality of our daily lives. Most of our life experience depends on the thoughts we are thinking. The devil tries to control our minds. If we let him control our thoughts, he can control are lives, right? But good thoughts lead to good fruit in our lives. And the Spirit works in us to bear His fruit. In Galatians 5, Paul states, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23, ESV.). This fruit will crop up in our lives if we are walking in the Spirit daily, but not just letting Satan do with our thoughts whatever he wants to do.

Conclusion

       Now, I want to take some time and talk to you out there who don’t have the Spirit of God dwelling inside you. You may have been listening to what I have been talking about today, and it may have sounded foreign to you. You may not have recognized anything I was saying. Or, perhaps, you’ve heard it many times, but you know, deep down, that you don’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. You don’t feel his presence, and he doesn’t bear witness with your spirit that you are a Christian, that you belong to God. You know you shouldn’t do any longer the wrong things you do, your sins, and turn to God, but you just haven’t yet made that decision. Well, today, I want to encourage you, whatever situation you are in, to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

       You see, God saves us, but he doesn’t just do that and leave us alone to live life ourselves. He doesn’t leave us to just follow a list of rules from the Bible, or from a church. God gives us the gift, when we believe in him, of the Holy Spirit, and we live out our lives through him, by his power working within us. Today you may feel very sinful, very separated from God. But, this is now your opportunity to come to know God. This is your time. God welcomes people into his arms who want to have a relationship with him. He is not a mean, stern, or resisting God. No, he wants more people to come to know him. He already knows you, And he wants you to know him and have life through him.

       When Jesus was here on the earth, quite a long time ago, he died on the cross to provide a way for you and for me to know God. See, our sin separates us from God, and the only way we can know God is to have a payment for our sin. We cannot make it good ourselves, we cannot provide a sacrifice for all of our sins that make us acceptable to God. We cannot do enough good to outweigh our bad. Our bad is not erased by our good. So, the only way we can become acceptable to God, good in his sight, is by counting on Jesus’ sacrifice for us. His death on the cross provides an acceptable substitute for us to God. All of our sins are put on him, and he bore the penalty for our sins. Then, he rose from the dead into life. So, when you trust in Jesus today, you gain true life, real life. And he gives you his Spirit by whom you can live out the rest of your life.

       If you would like to accept Jesus today as your personal Savior, and personal Lord, then I want you to follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I am currently not in right relationship with you. I feel separated from you, distant from you. But today, God, am told I can come into a personal relationship with you, and I want to come into this relationship. I want to be on the right side; I want to live my life with your help. I realize that things I have done in the past have not made you happy, and I want to turn from doing those things, and I want to live a better life, trying to do right with your help. I believe Jesus died for me so that I can be in relationship with you. I believe he rose from the dead, and that just as he has life now, so I can have life in you. So, God, I give you my life. Please change me, make me become a better person, more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton