The New Way of the Spirit Introduces a New Way of Living
It’s one thing to want to know the truth about reality – even to believe that truth; it’s another thing to want to live that truth. Or as Sheba Hart said in “Notes on a Scandal”: “Mind the gap between life as you dream it and life as it is!” The movie seems to revolve around trying to find life’s meaning through one bad relationship after another! The Bible is about finding the meaning of life through a relationship with Christ who is our life. Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-4. Not in a dream. Not through a tattoo on your arm, or a plaque on a wall, but true life as God meant it to be. The following reveals the reality of living as the true, living God intended – the God who knows what life is all about because He is life and unwaveringly wants us to experience it.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,d drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
The Holy Spirit isn’t simply interested in our new birth, John 3:1-7, He’s also interested in our new nature. That’s why we have Scriptures such as that one which tells us how the works of the flesh are to be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Recall Romans 7:4-6,
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6But 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.
So the Holy Spirit introduces for us a new way of living in which failed human effort is replaced by a Spirit-driven, faith-in-Jesus approach through which we “bear fruit for God.”
Colossians 3:1-17 puts it this way:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated
at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on
earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
· “Raised with Christ”
· “Seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”
· “Christ who is our life.”
· “Seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
· “Being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
When you look at your life in these terms, you can see how much God wants us to behave as heaven does because “our citizenship is in heaven.” Now go and absorb Philippians 3:1-21.
Something “Heavenly” now takes on a totally new meaning, doesn’t it?
Now read Ephesians 5:1-21 to see a further example of the life Christ wants us to live, noting especially “trying to discern what is pleasing the Lord,” (10) and “be filled with the Spirit.” (18)
Right behaviour basically falls into three categories:
1) The way we regard God. There can be no substitute for the true God - no idolatry.
2) The way we regard ourselves. Sin is soul-destroying. God did not make us pleasure machines - sin being rooted in selfishness which destroys the person God made us to be.
3) The way we regard others. We are to treat others the way we treat ourselves.
A human is not a programmed collection of atoms, but a very complex person who has a
Soul, a will, intelligence and creativity. From deep within the invisible soul, we can make choices about how life should be lived.
The converted soul lets Christ live in the new heart in the Spirit, making our person even more capable of doing amazing things that will please God – better than our pre-Christian self - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit now-dwelling in us. John 14:12-27; Romans 5:1-21; Ephesians 2:1-22.
“Circumincession” is a theological word that explains how Father, Son and Holy Spirit interrelate. Some of that divine perfect fellowship, unity, will and love is now in us converted humans. Yes really! Read Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 13:11-14; Colossians 3:10; 2 Peter 1:1-11.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. 10For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not
have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not
for tearing down. 11Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13All the saints greet you. 14The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:5-14
“Restoration” in the above means “mended and complete” – restored to what we were meant to be all along. That’s Christ’s life in us when it is working properly – obediently in faith.
When God doesn’t seem to be Listening, we can rest assured He’s Busily working on our behalf
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind. Job 23:8-14
His will for each of us is not always what we expect, but it is always for our good. He comes to us when we are hurting. Romans 5:1-11.
That’s why we believe in Him … because He knows what is best and is always on our side. Romans 8:28-39.
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways. Proverbs 2:1-15
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. Colossians 2:1-15. Satan’s human thinking must be kicked out. God’s thinking must be brought in!