The Holy Spirit in Growth
John 16:12-15; Romans 8:26-27; Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25
INTRODUCTION "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" [Galatians 3:3]. Yes, some Christians today are just as foolish as the Galatians so sternly rebuked by the apostle Paul. But we can no more grow of ourselves in the Christian life than we could give life to ourselves when we were dead. It is true that we have a human responsibility in each case, but the power of life and growth is in the Holy Spirit, not in us. We need therefore to be mindful of two great facts if we wish to grow as children of God: first, we are completely dependent on the guidance, help, and power of the Holy Spirit; and second, He is always present to give us help when we are ready to receive it. "Believe not every spirit," the Bible warns us, "but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" [I John 4:1]. But false pretensions of people whose "spiritual gifts" encourage them to deny some of the truths of God's Word must not be permitted to discourage us from seeking the help of that Holy Spirit Whose work it is to lead us into all truth. Short selections of Scripture included in this lesson may be outlined as follows: 1. Instructor, John 16:12-15. a. Teaching delay, 12. b. Teaching described, 13. c. Teaching design, 14-15. 2. Intercessor, Romans 8:26-27. a. Helpful intercession, 26. b. Holy intercession, 27. 3. Indweller, Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25. a. Subduing flesh, 16-17. b. Spiritual fruit, 22-23. c. Sanctifying faith, 24-25. NOTES ON THE TEXT: INSTRUCTOR, John 16:12-15. Only the Spirit of God can give us spiritual understanding of spiritual truth. Jesus Christ was the greatest teacher ever to appear in human form, but His words were and are understood only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Words alone, even the very words of God, cannot give us a spiritual knowledge of God apart from the illuminating power of His Spirit. Teaching Delay, 12. Varying degrees of maturity are necessary to the understanding even of different kinds of natural knowledge; lessons which a normal five-year-old child cannot grasp may be quite easy for him five or ten years later. So it is with spiritual instruction; after more than three years under the greatest Teacher of all time, the disciples were still not ready or able to receive the teaching of "many things" which had to be delayed until later. Teaching Described, 13. With no desire to be unkind but in simply honesty it must be observed that spirits which lead people to deny and disobey the Bible are not the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of truth, and Jesus promised that "He will guide you into all truth." Moreover, "He shall not speak of himself." He does not lead people to brag about their spiritual gifts and powers, or to be proud of their supposed superiority over others. Rather, He speaks what He hears from God the Father and God the Son, and so shows us things to come [I Corinthians 2:9-10]. Teaching Design, 14-15. Glorifying Jesus is the grand design of the Holy Spirit's teaching. He shows us more about Jesus; He teaches us to love, to praise, to obey, and so to glorify Jesus.'
INTERCESSOR, Romans 8:26-27. Context reminds us that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" [verse 22] under "the bondage of corruption," and that even the born-again children of God, who "have the first-fruits of the Spirit," still "groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" [verse 23]. Remember that we are now in Romans 8, and we find the same conflict going on that we found in Romans 7:14-25. Deluded by "doctrines of devils" [I Timothy 4:1], some professed Christians may imagine that they are "living above sin," but if they are taught by the Spirit of truth they will realize that in the flesh they are still sinful creatures in need of daily deliverance. With all the glorious provision for our salvation in Christ, with all the precious promises of prayer available to us, we do not know even how or what to pray for. We must have the help of the Holy Spirit as our Intercessor. He1pfu1 Intercessor, 26. Beyond our own understanding, beyond our poor ability to express the little that we do understand, so that we can only groan over our spiritual needs which we cannot put into words, the Spirit of Christ within "helpeth our infirmities" with unutterable prayers of intercession for us. Holy Intercessor, 27. Our conscious prayers often represent a mixture of spirit- ual and fleshly desires, so that sometimes we ought to be thankful if God does not give us exactly what we pray for. But there is no breakdown of communication between God our heavenly Father and God the Holy Spirit in our hearts. His intercession is holy and is calculated to promote holiness in us according to the will of God [I Thessalonians 4:3].
INDWELLER, Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25. He lives in us and we live in Him -- so close is the relationship between God and His people. That relationship can never be broken, and maintaining fellowship with God is largely a matter of realizing the presence of Him Who indwells us whether we realize it or not. Subduing Flesh, 16-17. Fleshly lusts cannot be subdued by fleshly resolutions, however well intentioned. The only way we can subdue the flesh is to be so occupied in the Spirit that we have no time or energy left to "fulfill the lust of the flesh." So long as we remain in this present world, there is continuing conflict between our flesh and the indwelling Spirit of God, with continuing inability on our part to do all the things we wish to do. Spiritual Fruit, 22-23. Returning to the Biblical warning against believing every spirit [1 John 4:1], how can we recognize the abiding presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a true child of God? Not from signs and wonders or miracles, which are often counterfeited by false prophets under the power of evil spirits [Matthew 7:21-23; 24:24]. Rather, "Ye shall know them by their fruits" [Matthew 7:15-20]. Where the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart, we find in the life of that person the fruit of the Spirit. Sanctifying Faith, 24-25. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh": that is, by faith they have identified themselves with Christ in His crucifixion. We are sanctified by faith in Him [Acts 26:18]; therefore "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
CONCLUSION [Colossians 2:6] The same Spirit Who enabled us to receive Christ as Savior and Lord enables us to walk in Him; that is, to conduct our- selves according to His precepts and example in the power of His life. If we are truly His disciples, let us so walk. ================
[From AAB, July 25, 1975, pp. 2-3. -- jrd]
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