July 10, 2014

Being nothing or being a blessing?

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:19–21)

While God can speak through whomever or whatever He wishes (such as the remark of a godless leader or even a donkey), He challenges His people to be filled with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to control what we do and say.

In the early days of the church, there was some confusion about that. On one trip, Paul came to Ephesus where he found some disciples. Apparently they were not doing much, so he asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:1–2)

This issue was soon rectified and these disciples received and were filled with the Holy Spirit. This was something any Jew should have expected had they been familiar with their Scriptures. Many passages make promises like this one . . .

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:26–28)

That prophet indicates that walking with God in obedience requires newness of life given by His Spirit. Actually, even being in the family of God and possessing eternal life requires having the Holy Spirit . . .

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9–11)

Today’s devotional writer draws attention to those who know the Bible, but do not know the Spirit or are not filled with the Spirit. He says the result of theological training without God’s Spirit is “refined ineffectuality.”

I know about that. I can spout off what I know, but unless the Spirit is filling my life and empowering my words, I am a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1) Without the Spirit, I’m without the love of God and the power of God. To those who hear me, I am just noise at best, and pompous pride, arrogance and terribly annoying at worst.

Because I believe in Jesus Christ, I am “God’s temple” and God’s Spirit dwells in me. (1 Corinthians 3:16–17). I am 100% a child of God, but I am also 100% a sinner. Which one rules my choices and my life makes the difference between being nothing and being a blessing.

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