Grace and peace be yours from our Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, my dear friends:
We owe the Holy Spirit a great deal of praise and thanks for all he has done for us. The Bible says that we owe our conversion – our faith and newness of life – to the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians about the Spirit’s blessings. He wrote: He [the Holy Spirit] called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:14). Paul also explains that our salvation comes by the marvelous working of the Holy Spirit. In Titus 3:5, we learn that he saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Without the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, man would not and could not know that Jesus is our Savior. The Bible says: The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore, Paul encourages all of us to LIVE IN THE SPIRIT!
Living in the Spirit means we aren’t controlled by sin. That doesn’t mean we won’t sin, but the last thing we want is to be controlled by sin. Those who are controlled by sin have their minds only on earthly things – only on their sinful wants and desires. Those wants and desires do not match up with God’s wants and desires. We see nothing wrong with lying, cheating, stealing and fighting to get what we want. We see nothing wrong with our desires and actions, as long as we don’t hurt anyone in the process. Now be honest my friends, when doesn’t it hurt someone? At the least, it will hurt you.
The mind controlled by sin is hostile to God. It is at war with God. It takes the Ten Commandments and destroys them one by one. It denies and curses the true God; it refuses to worship or hear God’s Word; it despises parents and rebels against authority; it considers life of little value; it destroys the beauty of marriage and treats sex like a plaything; it sees nothing wrong with taking someone else’s property or damaging a persons good name. It is even willing to wrongfully desire something that doesn’t belong to you or that God doesn’t want you to have. It puts up barriers between us and God. It opposes God to the very end of the world. The Bible says: The carnal mind is enmity against God.
The mind controlled by sin is death-bound. It has nothing to look forward to but an eternity in hell. That is a fate worse than earthly death. That means complete and total separation from God. That means only hopelessness and despair. Throughout our earthly life, the mind controlled by sin cannot please God, nor will it try to.
The mind controlled by sin does not belong to Christ. The mind who knows what is wrong in the eyes of God but desires to do it anyway and then does it – with no remorse or repentance –
is an enemy of God and does not belong to Christ. And the one who denies Christ, will, in turn, be denied by Christ. Remember, only faith in Christ saves.
Living in the Spirit means that we are controlled by the Spirit of God. The mind controlled by the Spirit will have only one desire and that is to want the same thing the Spirit desires; that desire is to serve God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Yes, the mind controlled by the Spirit desires life and peace. It desires not just the gratifications of this life but the eternal glories of heaven and life with Christ Jesus forever. It doesn’t seek the temporary peace of this earth but the permanent, lasting peace which only the Triune God can give.
The mind controlled by the Spirit belongs to Christ. It will not rebel against Jesus but will gladly follow Jesus. It will be willing to serve him in whatever capacity Jesus calls it to serve. Therefore, those who are controlled by the Spirit are truly members of Christ. And, if Christ is in you, your body and soul [which is certainly subject to death because of sin] is given new life because of Christ’s righteousness having been poured out on you. Such a gift can only come by faith in Christ alone. What this means is that the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary’s cross – the shedding of his innocent blood as payment for sin – is ours by faith in Jesus alone.
What this also means is that there is no fear of eternal damnation for those who live for and believe in Jesus. We have the victory over sin, death, and hell. We have eternal life with Christ because of his victory on the cross. Because of that victory, Christians will cast aside their own sinful wants and desires and will follow Christ Jesus and his will. Sin no longer controls us; the Holy Spirit is in control.
So, Paul encourages us to LIVE IN THE SPIRIT! The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us. Therefore, we will not prevent the Spirit from doing his work in our hearts. We will seek God’s help to make that happen. He knows what we don’t. Let me illustrate: IN THE GREAT NAVAL BATTLE OF SALAMIS, IN WHICH THE PERSIAN FLEET WAS UTTERLY ROUTED, THEMOSTICLES, THE HEROIC COMMANDER OF THE GREEKS, TARRIED ON SHORE UNTIL NINE IN THE MORNING. HIS DELAY CAUSED GREAT IMPATIENCE AMONG HIS SOLDIERS, AND SOME ACCUSED HIM OF COWARDICE AND EVEN TREASON. BUT THE EXPERIENCED GREEK LEADER WAS AWARE THAT AT NINE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, THE LAND BREEZE WOULD SPRING UP AND FILL THE SAILS OF THE VESSELS AND SEND THEM TO SEA, WHERE THE PERSIAN FLEET WAS WAITING FOR THEM. BY DOING SO, HE ENABLED THE ROWERS TO BE WARRIORS. THAT MEANT MORE FIGHTING POWER AND VICTORY!
Christians, in our service to Christ, we must rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit, and not try to accomplish things by our own power. We must not be impatient with the Holy Spirit. LIVE IN THE SPIRIT! Trust in the true God. Be controlled by him and not by sin. Rely on the Holy Spirit for all the strength we need to love him, serve him, and obey him. God grant this for Jesus’ sake. Amen.