Summary: Living ‘in the Spirit’ is the normal Christian life. In Galatians, a letter written to correct the love for religion over relationship, we are told that the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to all Believers.
The question I would like to start us thinking about is:
“HOW do I experience the life of the Spirit?”
Let’s explore that idea this morning in this message which is titled....
Choosing to live IN the Spirit
Living ‘in the Spirit’ is the normal Christian life. In Galatians, a letter written to correct the love for religion over relationship, we are told that the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to all Believers.
READ - Gal. 3:1-5
What does that kind of life look like? What does it mean to ‘live by the Spirit?’ That is a BIG question.
Some confuse spirituality with quietness, introspection, or piety.
Many men concede ‘spirituality’ to women, because they are sure that anyone who likes guns, hunting, competition, sports, or extreme skiing, for example, could not possibly be spiritual!
True spirituality is just doing what God wants done, being responsive to the Holy Spirit moment by moment. Eugene Peterson, best know for his work in bringing us the paraphrase of the Bible called The Message, was a pastor of a small church for many years. In an article published in Christianity Today, March, 2005, he observed, "The people who give me the most distress are those who come asking, "Pastor, how can I be spiritual?" Forget about being spiritual. How about loving your husband? Now that’s a good place to start. But that’s not what they’re interested in. How about learning to love your kids, accept them the way they are?"
Some confuse ‘spirituality’ with demonstrative and/or emotional experiences of several gifts of the Spirit. “I’m spiritual because I see visions, or because I speak in tongues, or because I can discern evil at work... “
No, disciple, that is not necessarily true! Spiritual gifts are not to be confused with personal spirituality!
In the Bible, there is a book that speaks to that confusion. The disciples in the Church in the city of Corinth considered themselves very ’spiritual,’ they spoke at length in tongues, prophesied, and had meeting that were chock full of Holy Spirit manifestations.
Paul wrote a long corrective letter to that church that all those who aspire to spirituality need to read. Imagine the shock they felt when they heard his letter and he said,
"Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life." (1 Corinthians 3:1, NLT)
He goes on to point out that despite their all their spiritual gifts, their lives were a mess! They fought with each other. They lacked love. They would not serve each other. They sued each in court. They could not deal with sin in their own congregation. They were proud of their knowledge of spiritual freedom and cared little if their actions caused someone less mature in faith to be offended. Then, in chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians, the point is driven home: True spirituality will produce a transformation of character, primarily shown by a deep and consistent love for God and others.
Some believe that ‘spirituality’ involves mastery of Biblical Greek, a seminary degree, an ordination by a church body, or comprehension of great spiritual mysteries!
In Colossians, those ideas are shot full of holes.
"Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him." (Colossians 2:8-9, The Message)
That passage goes on with this practical instruction:
"So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ. Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are." (Colossians 2:16-18, The Message)
"So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important." (Colossians 2:20-23, The Message)