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Live by the Spirit

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
What does it mean to be Spirit filled?

Has someone ever asked you if you are "led by the Spirit?" or if you are "Spirit driven" or "Spirit-filled" or have the Holy Spirit's Baptism? Since the turn of the twentieth century, many Christian groups have placed their focus on the Holy Spirit as front and center for the Church as well as their personal and ministry life. As a result, a lot of various teachings have come up that are very popular, some good, some bad and not biblical.

Fruit of the Spirit Part VI

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Gal. 5:25

What does it mean to be Spirit filled?

Has someone ever asked you if you are "led by the Spirit?" or if you are "Spirit driven" or "Spirit-filled" or have the Holy Spirit's Baptism? Since the turn of the twentieth century, many Christian groups have placed their focus on the Holy Spirit as front and center for the Church as well as their personal and ministry life. As a result, a lot of various teachings have come up that are very popular, some good, some bad and not biblical. Some say that all we need is the Holy Spirit's empowerment; this is good and biblical. The bad is that some have taught and believe that because of this, we do not need to be discipled or rely on or even read the Bible to become a mature Christian. Some even say we do not need to go to a Bible School or have any formal training to do ministry or be a pastor.
 
This has been accepted hook, line, and sinker, because it is appealing. I can do it, I can lead and live my Christian life and I do not need to work at it, because the Spirit is at work in me. But, a big "but:" yes, the Holy Spirit is indeed at work in us and He is indeed front and center in all aspects of personal and church life, because He is God. He is the Third person of the Trinity who empowers and gifts us to do the mission that the Father tells us to do. He does equip and He does lead. The "however" is that when we examine the passages having to do with this, we discover that work is required on our part. First, we do have to receive Christ, even before we become a Christian; secondly, to grow in this empowerment, we have to learn about Him through His word and discipleship so we will have the tools with which to live by the Spirit. Thus, we are empowered, supernaturally and effectually, and we do have what we need from day one of the Christian life. But, we still have to add our efforts and training to the mix so we can be used even more. The more we have taken in, the more He can utilize to equip and use us.

What does it meant to be "Spirit filled?" The biblical contexts of living by the Spirit or being filled by the Spirit are in three main areas. One is being empowered for ministry as we see in Acts (this is covered in our "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit PI & Baptism of the Holy Spirit Part II" series ), and another is overcoming the influences of passion and sin. The third main category is walking by faith under God's direction. This article concentrates on the aspect of being empowered for Christian living and sin reduction. In the Galatians, chapter five, passage, we are given the prime pattern of what it means to be filled with the spirit. We are given key words showing us that first we are to stand firm in Christ and away from sin by obeying the truth, so to live by and keep in step with the Spirit, in which case we are affirming that we are indeed Spirit-filled.

This is further exemplified in the Galatians passage in between these key words. We are given two sets of fruit from which we can choose to produce our fruit crop, either the rotten ones in verses 19 to 21 or the ones of love and goodness found in verses 22-23. Both of these can produce the theme and temperament of our lives and relationships that determine how God will use us. One set will destroy; the other we can use to build up one another and His Church. In context, this template is for how the Holy Spirit works in equipping and using us with a persistent and trusting faith, which we will discuss further in this article. Then, in verses 24-25, we are given the reasons for our motivation to pursue God's Word and will. We can choose the ways of adultery or relationship empowerment, with impure thoughts and lives, or we can make the decision to be eager for kingdom living and God's glory that will lead us to a purposeful and triumphant life versus a life of bitterness and utter failure (Micah 3:8; Acts 2:4; Acts 13:52; Gal. 5; 2 Pet. 1-10).

The "being filled" contexts in this Bible passage give us a harsh warning that if we pursue sin, neither workable relationships or a healthy church can be built. Nor can a relationship be formed with God, as you will impede His presence with you. Which makes me wonder: who would speak falsehoods and be pretentious with this theme, missing the point and reason? We also need to be aware of what our prime mission is-to know and grow in Christ. Yes, we are to pursue our relationship with and empowerment from the Holy Spirit, but we are not to just be consumed in seeking some supernatural work as a guide and motivation when we are already complete in Christ. Nor is this about "signs and wonders." Although miracles are great and are for today, they are merely signs pointing to the real work, which is Christ's transforming presence-not the work in and of itself. We are not to be so focused on being filled that we never bother to fill ourselves with what God calls us to-His Word and being discipled (Matt. 28: 16-20; Rom. 8:1-17; Phil. 2: 12-18)

To understand what it means to "walk" or "live" by the Spirit, we have to examine some of the key passages that describe this incredible and marvelous gift. First of all, look at Galatians chapter five, upon which the first four parts of the article are based. The entire context is to live by the Spirit. This passage is a description of how the Holy Spirit works and uses a believer, so he does not fall to indulge the sinful nature or become conceited. Rather, we need to pursue Love and righteousness as well as the empowerment to overflow with the Fruit of the Spirit. These things are essential for the Christian walk-not essential for salvation, but for living as denoted by the term, live by the Spirit, which requires our steadfast diligence as stated by the terms keep in step with the Spirit and Stand firm.

Standing Firm

When we live or walk by the Spirit, we will stand our ground in the principles of our Lord as revealed in His Word. We will exercise patient endurance and faithfulness, because God uses His Word to transform us; it is what we do, and what He does. He sends us His Spirit, we respond. This is the call to remain true and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or the temptations of Satan. This will help us focus on His Way when we are tempted, even in persecution and stress (Matt. 26:51-54; 2 Cor. 10:4; 1 Pet. 2:19-24; Rev. 1:9; 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7, 11, 14).

First Peter 4: 1-11 also calls us to have the attitude of our Lord, Jesus Christ! Too many of us Christians are chasing our desires and not our Lord. This makes our lives confusing and disjointed. Where our desires lie will determine what direction in life we go as well as if, when, and how sin will successfully entice us to fall! Sin is coming; we can either draw near to God to stay clear of it, or draw near to it and thus away from God and His best for us. The great news is that Christ gives us the ability to stand firm in Him. The key is that we need to want to! Peter's people were being slandered and taken advantage of, and they were becoming disillusioned. Peter's call to them was to stand firm in faith and not worry what others do as long as we look to Christ wholeheartedly (1 Pet. 2:12,15,23; 3:9, 16; 4:4,14).

Thus, the best defense is the offense of righteousness and demonstrating the good life in Christ! The challenge to this call is the behavior of the world. Sin is so enticing; we can easily slip off God's path. Thus, we need to stand firm no matter what-to even be willing to suffer so sin will not entice us. We become more guarded against sin because a bigger picture is in our sight-Christ, His example, and our willingness and commitment to follow. When we see Him and not our personal viewpoints and desires, we will grow, mature, and be prepared for anything!

We have to believe and trust in who Christ is and what He did for us; we must stand firmly in Him and never drift away from His Good News. We, as His servants, now can live-even preach this Good News and Hope. When we know for certain who we are in Christ, and what He did for us on the Cross, our confidence will come from knowing we are complete in Him! As a result, we will become more disciplined in His encompassing power and His influence that has transformed us and is now manifested in us. We can trust our Lord to lead us, fill us, and use us (Col. 1:19-23).

We can continue in our faith and persevere with our response to His work to further fuel our faith and our disposition and character. This is also a call that we can persevere in Christ; nothing can move us from Him when we are in Him. If we have real, effectual faith, that faith will stimulate, endure, and carry us through all things. Our faith anchors us to God, sets us upon Him as Lord, and takes our eyes off our circumstances so we see hope and joy. Thus, this real kind of faith is in Christ alone. The world may mimic it, but this is only an imitation to facilitate emptiness and despair. Is your faith real? The answer will signify your hope and confidence in Christ! This is the faith that produces more faith, and more devotion, obedience, and glory to our Lord (Mark 16:15; Acts 11:23; 14:22; Rom. 8; 1 Cor. 3:11; 7:37; 15:58; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Phil. 1:6; 2:11-13)!

When we stand firm, our lives will be better and our churches will flourish. If we drift away, we will fail at all that we do and are called to. Standing firm will give us the desire to work at maintaining a church committed to His purpose and poured out to His ways. Then, when we proclaim Christ as Lord by our stand and attitude, we will see revival through real prayer and devotion to His Lordship. We must allow His work in us, live in His presence, be a doer of the Word, stand firm in our faith and teachings, and never drift away from His "true Truth" and precepts or His love.

Obeying the Truth

Remember, this passage is set in the context of faith and obedience-of believing, trusting in Christ, and then obeying His precepts. Thus, the application is to pay serious attention to God's instructions and make every effort to know and obey Him as Lord. But, this has to come from our gratitude and desire to pursue Him because He first pursued us. This is also what Hebrews 4:12-13 calls attitudes of the heart. The Holy Spirit searches our inner life and heart and what lies deep within us. God knows it, but He wants us to tell Him about it. In so doing, we can know Him more and be open to correction and change. If we refuse, we will be faithless and the faithfulness that makes the Fruit of the Spirit, character, and maturity, as well as strength for living, will be absent. Consider this: He already knows every detail and thread. He is the One who searches it all out; we can do nothing that is not already known by Him, so we must allow His contact and correction.

Keep in mind that we do this because of what He did for us. We also need to recognize that we have responsibility! We will be held responsible for our thoughts and actions. All people will one day stand and be judged, be held accountable, receive their reward, and then enter His eternal rest. The Israelites laid waste their promise and reward; let us not be found guilty of doing the same. Herein is the motivation to better watch out and better live right, for we will be judged. However, keep in mind: He is gracious and merciful and we have no excuse; we have all we need-His Word, Spirit, the Work of Christ, and His personal empowerment to make life work (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:11-14; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 4:12-13)!

The Christian life, even church and ministry are not just the proclamations of the Gospel; they are examples of the Gospel lived out in the lives of Believers as they show real compassion for individuals. We have to remember our grace and our responsibility! If we are not doing this, we are not doing the Christian life correctly. We are to not only care in Word, but we are to show that care in deeds within the parameters of the Fruit of the Spirit. We are to show His love and our genuine concern by being willing and able to really and truly walk in the Spirit!

Living by the Spirit

This means being empowered by the Holy Spirit so we can live a life worthy or walk worthy of the Lord in the manner of what we know and believe-and do it consistently. This is God the Holy Spirit at work in us, which we respond to when we are pursuing God and His righteousness and believing His precepts; therefore, He is more and we are less in our will. This is our "walk" and "life" with God, meaning we live out the daily Christian life thinking as He has called, behaving as we believe, and thus doing life in response to His love and work in and for us. It is never the walk in our own will and strength; such a thing is prideful and disobedient to our loving Lord. This is not about a show or about one's self-importance; rather, we behave as the One we represent, as the name Christian means to be like Christ in His character, being an "appropriate" or acceptable offering so we "deserve" our reward-but we do not earn it (Lev. 26:3; Ezek. 36:27; Mark 10:29-31; John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21; 5:16; Eph. 4:1; 5:1; Phil. 3:10-14; Col. 1:9-14).

In living or walking by the Holy Spirit, we declare and effect following Christ as LORD. We align ourselves with Christ and His principles and call for His empowerment. Thus, this will involve the direction in life we are to go, the decisions we are to make, and the relationships we impact. Each of these is made in a pattern of trust and conduct toward and by our Lord. It helps form our desire to live the true Christian faith, and will imprint this Christ-like theme upon our hearts and minds. This theme will permeate every activity and aspect of our lives-from preaching a sermon to washing a toilet, from buying groceries to leading a person to the Lord--"that I may know Him." Do you know Him where you are today? If not, you are not exercising His filling in you. Let us not be confused in our misguided teachings or cultural Christianity or by our desires, our needs and wants, or our ideas of what we think the Holy Spirit-driven life is about; rather, let us surrender ourselves to what the Word is really calling us to, which is to be filled so we can mature and grow in Him (Phil. 3:1-14)!

Our lives by the Spirit show the character and conduct of Christ living in us that the Holy Spirit uses to help and empower us. The point of the Christian life is not just feeling good or even doing good, but in knowing Jesus Christ, and not allowing anything to take His place in our thinking, our emotions, the daily experiences of life, or doing church. The spiritually mature Christian will strive to be really filled so to be more Christ-like in his/her attitude and demeanor. Whether it is a bad day at work or tackling a big project for the church that is not recognized or perhaps even scoffed at, the mature Christian will see everything as Christ does, even at those times when we cannot see why. Thus, our daily activities or bad situations such as stress, setbacks, failures, etc. are means of growth and learning and becoming more like Him. We are to see that all of life is a journey to further secure the knowledge of Jesus Christ in our lives, even to the point of being recklessly abandoned to Him. (Gal. 2:20-21)

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

Keeping in step or as some translations state more accurately, "walk" or "walking," are synonyms of walking in the Spirit to live out His commandments in our new lives in Christ. Here, God directs us and provides the strength for that direction. To have Christ as our Mediator for righteousness so we can die to sin and live for Christ, our wayward passions and desires cannot get the best of us, so He can live His call out in us. Because it is Christ Himself living in us, we are motivated by Him to bear and bring Christ wherever we go. This is a powerful conviction and motivation and blessing. We are to live out our Christian walk with the responsibly of His power, conviction, clarity, and truth, because He is not in heaven, aloof, or just watching. He is residing in us now (Psalm 119:11; Ezek. 36:27; Matt. 13:9; Rom. 6:6; 8:9; 1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17; 5:18-19; Phil. 2:16; Gal. 2:20-21; 6:14; Col. 3:1-5; 2 Tim. 2:15)!

Ephesians 5:15-21 also gives us a picture of walking in the Spirit or being Spirit-filled, as people who are wise in the ways of the Lord are also to be on guard against the ways of the world. We are to be careful how we live; so, we treat our lives and the lives of others with dignity and respect. We ought not to be careless with what is precious. We are to make the most of our lives and the opportunities He gives us. To waste life away is what a fool does; so, let us not be fools! When we understand what the Lord wants us to do-and, by the way, this is not hard-we will do well in life. It is not hard because God is concerned with our character. We can walk in Him and away from sin and better form our character from understanding as well as putting into practice Spirit-filled living. We are then warned of the opposite, which is being prideful and self reliant, to the exclusion of allowing Christ to work in us, or allowing Him to use us to help others. In so doing, we are keeping ourselves and others in spiritual and physical poverty and oppression (Luke 18:9-14; Eph. 5:15-21; Rev. 3:17-19)!

Spirit Filled

Being Spirit-filled does not mean we can use God as our escape mechanism or excuse to do what we want and feel and then say God told me to or led me; rather, it is all about first seeking Christ and His work in us so we are pursuing righteousness and all that is good as a way to glorify Christ as Lord. We all need to be applying this theme into our relationships and churches-from our friendships to leadership and missions for His glory. This is about seeking the Holy Spirit's "filling" as empowerment, which is real, authentic, and essential-not only in our faith development, but also for teaching us to stay away from sin and prepare ourselves to build His Kingdom. This comes from our Lord, Jesus Christ; He is the One to rule our will and hearts on earth, climaxing in eternity. This is where being Spirit-filled must reside! Our completeness in Christ comes from our comprehension of who Christ is (Matt. 6:33; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 5:15; Col. 1:13).

We need to be filled with the Spirit, which in the Old Testament meant having great joy from one's commitment to God (Nehemiah 8:10). It also means we are to seek His power with joy for the overcoming of our sins, and for the courage to witness and do ministry, even for people we do not like. This joy means radiant joy that fills us up with the same joy that flows among the Persons of the Holy Trinity. That very love which God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit have for one another will be in us. And, it will overflow from us to others around us! If we follow only the first part of verse eighteen of Ephesians or just a verse or two from Galatians chapter five, we will get what it means to be "Spirit Filled" wrong and miss out on what Christ has, because our purpose and direction will become cemented in sin or in misdirection, and not in Him (Psalm 9:18; 37:4; 40:17; 86:1; 107:9; 109:22; Jer. 22:15-16; 31:14; Joel 2:26; Mark 7:1-13; Matt. 5:3, 6; 6:33-34; 7:13-14; 13:40-43; 16:24-27; 25:31-34; 28:18; John 4:13-14; 6:35; Rom. 6: 12, 19-23; 8:32; 9:30-31; Gal. 2:20-21; 5:19-21; Eph. 5: 15-21; Col. 1:1-23; 2 Timothy 1: 12,18; 4:8; 2 Pet. 1:10-11; 3:10-13; James 1:22-25; Rev. 1:9; 21:1-22:5).

We are told in the Ephesians passage that we gain joy and it will become sealed in us as we mature in the faith and are filled with His Word. It is the power to enjoy Him in worship and as a lifestyle that affects all aspects of our lives and the lives of others around us. It then empowers us for His service and for His glory. The literal meaning of the word is music flowing from our hearts! Being Spirit-filled is not about being charismatic or Pentecostal; it is about being an effectual Christian who lives by faith and obedience, stays away from sin, and then creates joy. This is what fuels our friendships and builds our churches and enables us to make right decisions. This is what we are to seek so it can be repeated; we are not to seek it for our betterment or attention to ourselves, but rather for Christ's sake! It is a fullness with which we are to be completely filled up. It translates into a joy that comes from being in His Word, and because we are in Christ! It is the extra power He gives us to glorify and serve Him, and the extra power that we need to make sure we are on the right track!

So, will you be controlled by drunkenness, which is any kind of sin that takes you away from God? Or, will you allow yourself to be controlled by the Spirit? What will fill you and your church? Remember: Christ does not force you; the choice is yours-and so are the consequences and rewards. We can ruin our lives or grow in fullness. Also, remember that what you do does not affect just you, but will touch all those around you, too.

Our Motive

We are filled with His Divine power that is given to us for His glory! The passage in 2 Peter also gives us some insights on this as Peter sends his greetings and blessings with solemn humbleness and intimacy to the people of the faith. In 2 Peter 1: 1-4 is a letter written to challenge people to truthful and decent thinking and sends his sincere compliments to those whose faith is real, impacting, and growing. That faith is precious and genuine because it is now given to us. We are to take what we are given, the Holy Spirits filling, and then add more to it. The "more" is our due diligence to grow in the faith by Bible reading, prayer, study, fellowship, and discipleship. We obtain faith, and then add more faith to it. As Christians, we have faith to begin with; we are called to then multiply it. Just like in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30), we are expected to invest and develop further what is given to us, not for personal gain, but rather to glorify Christ and bring honor and growth to His Church. The key to living in the Spirit is how we multiply the faith we are given by our knowledge of Christ. The more we know and then subsequently apply to our lives, the more we grow; this is reciprocal so that we can take what is given and make of it ever so much more. This is how we cultivate our faith in Him, which also produces immeasurable divine blessings!

Christ has given to us all we need in order to grow. We have His Spirit, His Word, His Fruit, and our faith community. This does not even include the countless resources we have in our modern age, including the tools we provide you at Into Thy Word, with which to grow your faith and your church. He has called us and empowered us, so what more could we expect? The clincher is that we have the responsibility to make this happen. Our faith is in our hands. He gives us the water, the fertilizer, the ground, the air, the "SON," and the seed. He even plants it! All we have to do is cultivate what He has given. What stands in the way of the cultivation of our faith? Usually, it is failing to recognize and take to heart His promises, which leaves us unsure of what we can do. Or, it is fixating on the wrong things such as sin or even false teachings (2 Peter 2).

Our motives, obedience, and persevering will be the keys! Be in love with Christ; allow the filling of the Spirit to pour afresh on you. Seek His presence, and be persistent in your prayers. If you fear, you will ask Him for the wrong thing; but, keep in mind that we all do that. As you draw closer to Him, you will learn the right things to ask. Prayer involves persistence and learning. To put this together, living in the Spirit is not about pleasing or drawing attention to ourselves; it is all about the glory of our Lord and the humble acts we do as we are a part of His plan and available for His use (Zech. 12:10)!

The wonderful news of our directive to be Spirit-filled is, we are not at it alone, and I do not mean just our fellow believers or resources. We have the creator and equipper of all things to empower, come alongside, and help us! We are not alone! This is also the main point of being filled and walking in Him. God first comes to us, and then desires us to love and worship Him and to allow that testimony to spill onto and fill those around us! The Holy Spirit is our power agent for the task. Now, we have no excuse but to be poured out as He pours out His Spirit in us!

Epilog

Jesus shows us the virtue of perseverance and its application in prayer. Our motivation to persist in our service to God is the desire to draw near to Him for what He has done for us. Consider the amount of time the Apostles and even Jesus (when He walked this Earth) spent in prayer. Now, consider how much more we need to pray, and then compare it with how much time you actually spend in prayer. The Christian life does not run on autopilot. It needs our persistence, constant navigational resetting, and hands-on steering. In order to line up our lives with His plan and will, we have to be willing and able to surrender to His concerns. We do this through knowing His Word and praying.

The Spirit-filled Christian life is not just about our putting the parts together. We are not model kits, a collation of many pieces in a box that need glue, assembling, and paint. Rather, we are made complete in our salvation by His work and grace; we are given what we need. We are to move forward to increase what He has given so to be of better use for our Lord. We continue to live in Him so the parts do not fall off or get put back on wrong when they do. We also add His parts for greater strength and operation. We rely on His glue and molding for our modeling. We rely on His instructions for further assembly and operation; we do this by His filling and our faith walk and living obedience.

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. Micah 3:8

What would a worthy, spirit-filled, and empowered life be like for you?

 
© 2010, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D., Into Thy Word Ministries, www.intothyword.org/
 

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