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Saturday, April 5, 2014

On Being Filled with the Spirit

Galatians 5:16 (ESV)
16  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Walking by the Spirit must require me to be filled with the Spirit. Thus, there is no room for the flesh to demand satisfaction because it is overwhelmed with the Spirit.  That seems simple as I type it. I know that is extremely difficult in real life. 

The struggle is not that the Spirit wants to leave me empty. The Spirit desires to fill me. The flesh, on the other hand, has no intention of giving up control. The flesh will distract the soul from seeking to be filled with the Spirit. The flesh will deceive the soul into believing it is already filled when any comparison with the fruit of the Spirit will reveal that there is no filling of the Spirit. The flesh will do its best to convince the soul that being filled with the Spirit is unnecessary. The flesh will scare the soul into believing that the sacrifices that the flesh are impossible to overcome.

It is a genuine act of God to be filled with the Spirit. The flesh will hold on unless the power of God convicts the person into a full surrender. Even under the best preaching and teaching, the flesh can maintain control. It is only by prayer that the Spirit of God brings someone to his knees to be filled with the Spirit.

Most of the time I want to be filled with the Spirit as long as it won't cost much or won't take much effort or won't take away from the things I would like to do. I want to stay safe, be liked and put my trust in the things of this world. The Spirit will have none of that. I suppose Jesus never gave me the impression that I should follow Him as long as I got rich, was able to do what I wanted and never had to be inconvenienced. Being filled with the Spirit doesn't either.

So, I pray fill me with the Holy Spirit. May I walk completely by Him. May I see my life be completely obedient. And may the flesh not have a place any more.


Anthony Chia said...

What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? How are we to be led by the Spirit? Can we see the Spirit? No, like the air or breath or wind, we cannot see. But there is evidence of such walk by the Spirit or being led by the Spirit. As an illustration, you can see some dry leaves on a tree, and then suddenly, they come off the tree and fall to the ground; due to a gust of wind.

The falling leaves evidenced the coming of the move of the air or wind. We cannot see the air or the wind, but when it (the air) moves (as wind), we can know. Before the leaves fall off, was there air around? In this case, yes, even though, it has NOT moved to the extent that it “hits” the leaves, making them come off. The bodily senses like our physical sight and touch, they operate like that – they need themselves to be “hit” by the evidence of the move of the Spirit, before the bodily mind (this is the “head-mind”) even begin to process the stimulus. How do we discern if someone is walking by the Spirit? It is by the evidence which shows up in the physical. In other words, every Tom, Dick and Harry can claim that he walks with the Spirit; but you and I cannot see that specifically; we know it from the evidence which would result from such a walk if there has been one.

Because we are spirited soul encased and integrated with a body, and where the body has been corrupted (from The Fall, in Garden of Eden) and so, has been empowered by Iniquity (agency of Sin or Evil) to dominate over the spirited soul; the innermost man (the spirit-man) and inner man (the soul-man) are both curtailed of their full expressions as a being, fashioned by God, in God and for God.

Many people made the mistake of assuming that on entry into salvation, the fallen-ness of the bodily man has been cured once and for all. Scripture does NOT say that. Rather, Scripture portrayed that after we have passed on or raptured, then and only then, we will receive an incorruptible body; there is redemption, but NOT full redemption of the body, while we still live the mortal life.

What it all means is that despite, there is vivification of our spirit-man, and despite there is an adoption of our spirit as son of God, we still have to continue to work out our salvation because our fallen or corrupted body still continues to wage war against the desires of the Spirit to have us change to the other way - instead of being evil to righteous and holy, from being selfish to selfless, from receiving to giving, from hatred to love, from vengeful to forgiving, from pride to humility, from scoffers of God to worshipper of God; in short, to be conformed to Christ-likeness.

We are all born with the propensity to sin, because of the corrupted body. Without the help and the leading of the Holy Spirit, it is NOT possible for us to live the life opposite of that which the corrupted body would want us to live, and if we continue to live that kind of life-style (led by the desires of the flesh), we cannot hope to still inherit the kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul, in Gal 5:21 warned: “…..I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What is important to note is that even the apostle Paul stressed that BELIEVERS cannot live such a life-style if they hope to still inherit the kingdom of God. The passage was targeted at believers; it is right there, at the starting of the exhortation, at v13 - “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh…” And the “will not inherit the kingdom of God” at the end of v21, does NOT suggest the persons referred to, are non-believers.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

It is clear that those who have entered into salvation and so, are believers and are in the Kingdom (the earthly phase of it), cannot give in to the offensive desires of the flesh and end up doing those acts from the desires, examples of which were as listed in Gal 5:19-21 (sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like).

Is the list of Gal 5:19-21 complete? Of course, it isn’t, and it even have a “catch all” phrase there - “and the like”. We can say that Gal 5:19-21 gives us a set of acts of the flesh, from its desires, that we are to take note of.

The more general guide is to first establish if Scripture did say the desires of the flesh and those of the Spirit, they are opposing or we could say incompatible/incongruent/inconsistent/in conflict with one another. Gal 5:17 said clearly said that.

Gal 5:17 – “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

What does the flesh desires or desires of the flesh here, mean? For example, generally speaking hunger can be said as a desire of the flesh; when we did NOT eat for several hours, the flesh will express its desire for food. Is it wrong for us to take our meals, giving in to the desire? Of course NOT. There are basic desires Man has, when God created Man, and it included such things as hunger and thirst, etc. Before the Fall which corrupted the bodily man, such desires served their functions properly, but with corruption from the Fall, Iniquity or Sin (or sin agency) in the body of Man brings about other desires, and heightens existing ones to level beyond self-control or beyond their basic functions. In other words, the key to note is the “flesh” here is the fallen flesh or the corrupted flesh. We all have the fallen flesh, both believers and non-believers; and this could be one reason why Scripture simply used the word, flesh, for all flesh is corrupted.

So, to give in to hunger desire is NOT wrong, but if you live a glutton life-style (habit of eating too much), you are NOT living a life pleasing to God or the Spirit!

So, in addition to looking at a list (of desires or actions led by the desires), another way to check ourselves is to look at the desires of the Spirit; that which is contrary to the desire of Spirit, we cannot be led by it.

Giving in to the desires of the flesh (as understood above, as corrupted desires), results in us doing the acts of the flesh offensive to God; and that spelt death! Romans 8:12-13 spelt it out loud and clear: “12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

On the other hand, when we give in to the desires of the Spirit, the Spirit develops in us, what is called the fruit of the Spirit, and Gal 5:22-23 gives us the list (fruit of the Spirit): love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

So, how can we tell if one is walking by the Spirit? We cannot see the Spirit, but we can know that we have walked by the Spirit if we see the evidence of such walk, and what evidence that is, is given us, as the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit is to be in us. The fruit forms our character. Whether we call it character traits or character set, God is in the business of character building. God NOT only want to get you into salvation, He wants to have our character transformed to align to His. From the character of a person, we can expect congruent actions from him. That is true with God, and it is true with us.

I often hear people say it is NOT about what we do or work or it is NOT about works or good works when we consider our lives as a believer. Yes, God is interested in the person, and it is about the person, yet character is NOT the end. What I mean by that is that if we picture character as money, and we acquire money, but money is NOT the end, if money just sit there, so to speak, it is no different from a piece of stone lying on the ground. Money must go into action, so to speak – be exchanged for food, for example; for payment of an education, etc. Just think about it, if our God just sits there, like a fashioned stone on the altar, and does NOT do anything, what good is all the marvellous character or characteristics of God.

Our action or inaction tells on our character, for our character determines our action. From the word, character, comes the word, characterization. What characterise you and I. The evidence of our character is in our actions. What we do or our works, or our lack of them, provide the evidence of our character. One cannot claim he has the character of being loving, kind and good, if he does NOT do any deed of love, kindness or goodness. Neither can he be habitually doing the opposite of love, hate, opposite of being kind, is cruel, and opposite of being good, doing wicked things. The end-goal of the Holy Spirit is to develop us into godly people with godly character. How can godly character be doing nothing of the good works! If good works one does NOT, then he is either doing wicked deeds or doing nothing! If our God is like that, is He any good!

So, we say the walk by the Spirit is evidenced by the fruit developed or godly character developed in a person, and that godly character is in turn evidenced by how we live, what we do and do NOT do.

When we are developed of the fruit of the Spirit or godly character, it meant we have NOT harkened to (we have fought it), and continue to, NOT harken to the desires of the flesh, and so, our lives have NOT been characterised by the offensive actions of the desires of the corrupted or fallen flesh, and we want to continue our lives NOT characterised by such misdeeds of the body, but rather we want to continue to be led by the Spirit, and to be a blessing to others, and our good works from our godly character will magnify God and will be a worship unto God.

I have said above, that it is, on entry into salvation, the fallen-ness of the bodily man (the flesh) has NOT been cured once and for all; and it is that despite there is vivification of our spirit-man, and despite there is an adoption of our spirit as son of God, we still have to continue to work out our salvation because our fallen or corrupted body still continues to wage war against the desires of the Spirit to have us change to the other way – to be conformed to Christ-likeness.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

PS: Ps Prentis, you are right to point out the war that the flesh still wages against the soul (the inner man) and spirit-man (the innermost man).