by Alan Hope
Living in the Spirit is living a life of complete obedience to our Lord God. It is living the very life of Jesus Christ himself given to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Has God found in each one of us a person who is willing to obey Him completely? Can He trust each one of us with the pearl of greatest price?
If we are prepared to live in the Spirit we must say no to ‘self’. There are plenty of would be followers of Christ who would follow him halfway, but not all the way, and I have to admit that in many ways I am one of those. I have always had the need to feel in control of my life. Whenever I have had the feeling that I wasn’t in control I have likened myself to the ball in a pinball machine, crashing from one crisis to another.
Are we willing to die to ‘self’? The Christian life is one that is willing to follow the Holy Spirit in complete obedience, without reservation, and laying away all of ‘self’. It means to commit ourselves literally, utterly, completely in unreserved obedience to Him.
This may sound like some form of imprisonment with every part of our lives in the control of another. But to think this way would be completely wrong. Obedience to the Holy Spirit is not a form of imprisonment but in fact means exactly the opposite. Here is great freedom in the spiritual life that comes as we yield ourselves and give all that we are to the Holy Spirit. The reason it is so freeing is that it is cut us loose from selfishness. In the words of Jesus:
“If you love me; you will obey me.”
When we obey Him we are walking in perfect freedom.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
No longer to be subject again to a yoke of slavery”
“Do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4).
Who is habitually ordering my life? Am I seeking complete obedience to my will, my desires, my ambitions, my goals and my glory? If I am then this is certainly a form of imprisonment.
When I seek to obey my Lord it is then that I am enjoying perfect liberty and freedom because He is in control.
A better man than I once said, “When we are free in Christ we are bound to everything to which He is bound, that is, righteousness, holiness and love.”
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
When I am living in the Spirit I am living in complete freedom and only then am I free to live the Christian life. The results of this freedom to live in the Spirit are the “Fruits of the Spirit”
The Fruits of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit reproduces the likeness of Jesus Christ in us.
When we live in the Spirit we have an abundance of grace for daily living
When we are living or “walking in the Spirit” we are living a Spirit-controlled life. We are constantly, moment by moment, filled with the Spirit.
Living in the Spirit is a life that has an all consuming desire for the Holy Spirit to be in control over our every thought, word, and deed.
We cannot live a truly Christian life unless the Holy Spirit is in constant control.
If I am not living in the Spirit, I am living under the control of my human frailty, which is opposed to everything God is for.
As we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit he uses us to accomplish God’s will in our lives and ministries. He produces His fruit in us. Are we allowing Him to be in constant control of our lives?
We all have days when our minds drift back to difficult times in our past. We think of how unfair it was for these things to happen to us. We have a “What did I do to deserve that?” attitude, an example of living in the flesh rather than the Spirit.
At times it seems like we are on a roller coaster of troubled times and just can’t get off. But, it is then we must be prepared to open our hearts and listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to us, and reminding us of our purpose as children of the King, to bring glory to God. We are to reveal God to others through the way we live our lives.
We have a choice to make. We can glorify God through our response – react in the Spirit. Or we can cry out, complaining and reacting in our human frailty. Which one of these reactions brings glory and honour to God? The answer is obvious, but not as easy a choice to make as to say.
Here are a few “flesh” responses I have made frequently throughout my life.
- Lord, why did you let this happen to me?
- Lord, I don’t deserve this!
- Lord, give me a break, I don’t have time for this!
- Lord, why is their life so easy and mine is so hard?
Do any of those sound familiar? In the words of Paul in Romans:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do but what I hate I do.”
Every time I hear those words spoken in church I say to myself, “That is so true. It so easily could be me saying those words. In so many situations I know what my response should be, but I still react the wrong way and make the wrong choice. Will I ever react the right way and actually glorify my God, is it possible? Jesus tells me and each one of us that the answer is yes, it is possible.
We learn from Jesus and the Holy Spirit how we are to live. Paul was a good example. He went through far more than most of us will ever go through in our lives as a believer, but he learned from Christ how he should live and respond to challenging situations.
Jesus himself knew what his ultimate purpose was – to glorify his Father. He knew that God would be glorified through his own suffering.
Here are some ‘Spirit’ responses we must learn to make:
- Lord, how can I bring glory to you in this?
- Lord, teach me your way through this.
- Lord, help me to be faithful to you.
- Lord, help me!
We each of us must learn that when we live in the Spirit we have joy and peace even in the midst of difficult circumstances. When we are living in the Spirit we radiate God’s love and joy. Our minds must be on what the Spirit desires, not what the flesh desires.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73 v 26