Living from the Inside Out (Life in the Spirit #2)
CHCC – December 11, 2011
Last Sunday we talked about how humans are made of BODY, SOUL and SPIRIT. The body is ... the body. Soul is Mind, Will, and Emotion. Spirit is the part of us that can connect with God’s Holy Spirit. Of course, BODY, SOUL, and SPIRIT are interconnected. But looking at ourselves this way helps us understand what it means for a Christian to have LIFE in the Spirit.
You see, most people live life from the OUTSIDE IN. What I mean is that most of the time our moods and actions are based on our CIRCUMSTANCES. You can see this on the chart:
Circumstances -> Body -> Soul (mind, will, emotion) -> Spirit
(and the spirit get’s pretty much ignored under everything else)
If things go your way, you have a good day --- If things go wrong, you have a bad day --- If it’s Friday, it’s all good. If it’s Monday, it’s all bad.
Even though Christians aren’t supposed to live from the OUTSIDE IN … too often, we do. We even base our faith on our CIRCUMSTANCES. Did God answer my prayer? Did God heal my sickness? Did God make sure I got that job? Did God save my marriage? Did God make that person stop annoying me? Did God make me feel happy? If we can’t see God at work in our circumstances, our faith gets weak and we wonder if God cares.
This is the opposite of Life in the Spirit. Romans 8:4 says that Christians “don’t live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Becoming a Christian means the Holy Spirit has joined with my spirit to give me new life. It means that now I can live from the INSIDE OUT. Here is what that progression looks like:
Spirit -> Soul -> Body -> our actions
(our spirit indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit)
Romans 8:10 says, If Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
God Himself --- in all His wisdom and power --- has connected with us on the deepest level … forever and ever. He lives in our heart --- and because of that Christians never again have to live “under the circumstances.”
Today we’re going to talk about what it means to live from the INSIDE OUT. We’re going to talk about what happens when the Holy Spirit connects with our human spirit. The human SPIRIT can be described in 3 parts: CONSCIENCE, INTUITION, and COMMUNION (See Watchman Nee, "The Spiritual Man" Part 5, Chapters 1-3 for more on this)
* CONSCIENCE is that part of us that feels guilt when we do wrong.
* INTUITION is deep knowing and understanding … the kind of knowing that goes beyond mere intellectual knowledge
* COMMUNION is the desire to worship, and have fellowship with God
The Holy Spirit gives life to our spirit and transforms us. First we’ll talk about how the Holy Spirit changes our Conscience.
1. The Holy Spirit INFORMS our Conscience
Romans 8:1-2 says, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
The Holy Spirit changes your conscience from an instrument of condemnation to an instrument of guidance. For non-believers, the main power of the conscience is to condemn. The unregenerate conscience is dark and dead --- it tells us we’re guilty and worthless and hopeless.
When we BELIEVE in Jesus, an amazing thing happens - the Holy Spirit brings our spirit to life. Our conscience is set free from the law of sin and death.
Now, don’t misunderstand --- your conscience still tells you when you sin … in fact, as a Christian you may be even MORE aware of your failures and weaknesses. But the Holy Spirit changes your conscience from a harsh judge and jury to something more like a GPS system.
We affectionately call our GPS "Clive" because Clive has an Australian voice … How do we react when Clive says, “recalculating … take the first available U turn and get back to Highway 35.” We don’t slam on the breaks and sit there beating ourselves up for making a wrong turn. We just do what Clive said … and soon we find ourselves back on the right road.
As a Christian, you NEVER need to wallow in your guilt … to label yourself as a worthless, hopeless failure. That is living from the OUTIDE IN --- it’s the opposite of living by the Spirit. For a Christian, there is now no condemnation.
However, there is danger if we disobey the instruction of the Holy Spirit. I Thessalonians 5:19 says do not quench the Spirit. Don’t ignore the prodding of your conscience.
I John 1:9 explains how we should respond when the Holy Spirit makes us aware of sin: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
The Holy Spirit INFORMS your CONSCIENCE … of right and wrong … straight from God’s Spirit to your spirit. This is never for the purpose of condemnation, but it is always for the purpose of correction … so that we can be transformed day by day into the image of Christ.
The Holy Spirit also ENLIGHTENS our INTUITION.
2. The Holy Spirit ENLIGHTENS our Intuition
When I hear the word intuition, the first thing that comes to my mind is “women’s intuition.” Evidently my wife has a lot of this. We’ll meet someone and she’ll say, “I have a good feeling about him.” Then for someone else, “I have a bad feeling about him.” I don’t usually get it. They all seem great to me ...
I heard a joke about women’s intuition:
One day, three men were hiking and came upon a large raging river. They had no idea of how to get to the other side.
* The 1st man prayed, "Please God, give me the strength to cross this river." Poof! God gave him big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across the river in about 2 hours, but only after almost drowning a couple of times.
* Seeing this, the 2nd man prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me the strength ... and the tools to cross this river." Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he was able to row across the river in about 1 hour, but only after almost capsizing the boat a couple of times.
* The 3rd man had seen how this worked out for the other two, so he also prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me the strength and the tools ... and the intelligence ... to cross this river." And Poof! God turned him into a woman. She looked at the map, hiked upstream a couple hundred yards, and then walked across the bridge.
INTUITION is a sense of discernment or knowing that can’t be explained by purely intellectual processes. Everyone has INTUITION (men as well as women.) For the Christian, though, the Holy Spirit has ENLIGHTENED our intuition by giving us God’s own Wisdom.
Romans 8: 5 says, Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
If you want to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in your daily life, then set your MIND on the SPIRIT. One way you can do this is by spending time in God’s Word every day.
* Use one of the Bible-reading plans where you can read or listen to whole Bible in a year …
* Meditate on God’s Word through - Christian music, memorization, posting verses on your mirror … whatever works!
* Study with other Christians - in Church services, Pueblo groups, Sunday School …
* Teach God’s Word - in children’s classes or adult classes, talk about God’s Word in conversations with others, lead family devotions in your own home
Another way to set your MIND on the SPIRIT is by prayer. I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” I used to wonder how anyone could do that.
Then, back when I was in college, I was working at Southtown Meat Company, and the Holy Spirit ENLIGHTENED my INTUITION by showing me how simple it was. I realized that I was continually thinking while I lugged slabs of meat around and mopped up gunk off the floor.
So why not simply include God in my thoughts. God is always there anyway, so why not acknowledge His presence and communicate with Him conversationally while I’m working. That’s what prayer is --- it’s thinking our thoughts to God --- and that we can do without ceasing.
We can choose to go through the day with our mind on our circumstances and the things of this world --- that’s living from the OUTSIDE IN. Or we can choose to go through the day with our mind on things of the Spirit --- That’s living from the INSIDE OUT.
Romans 8:16 tells us, “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
This is how the Holy Spirit ENABLES our COMMUNION with God.
3. The Holy Spirit ENABLES our Communion with God
The Holy Spirit gives us unshakable confidence that God is with us. The Holy Spirit assures us that we belong to God as a child belongs to His “Daddy.”
Romans 8:26-27 tells us, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
I heard about a father who was walking past his 5 year old daughter’s room one night when he saw that she was on her knees beside the bed, praying. He stopped to listen in.
He heard her saying: "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz." She repeated that several times, then climbed into bed. Dad came in and asked her what that prayer meant.
She said, "Well, you know, God is really smart. So any time I don’t know what to pray about, I just say the alphabet and He figures it out for me.”
Have you ever felt like that little girl? If you don’t know what to pray for, don’t worry. The Holy Spirit is your interpreter! This is great to know because everyone has an innate desire to communicate with God. People want a feeling of CONNECTION and PURPOSE that’s greater than themselves. People try to fill this void in all kinds of ways ---
• Buying things … or building up wealth
• Eating, drinking & drugging, partying
• Focusing on education or career to gain a feeling of significance
• Going from one relationship to another - "looking for love in all the wrong places"
• Committing their lives to political philosophies, cults, or religions.
None of this works. It doesn’t work because it’s living from the OUTISDE IN. We try to change our Circumstances so we’ll feel better, but Circumstances can’t satisfy --- because our need is a Spiritual need.
Only Jesus can fill that need. The Holy Spirit gives LIFE to our Spirit --- so that we will be able to live from the INSIDE OUT.
The problem with planning this sermon was trying to keep it short enough. For every point, there were so many applications and so many scriptures that I could have used. That’s because Life in the Spirit is what the Gospel is all about. A lot of the New Testament is about how Christians can live life from the INSIDE OUT.
This is what Jesus described when he said that he came to give us life more abundantly. It’s why Believers can experience peace that passes understanding. It’s why we can rejoice in all circumstances.
Christians don’t have to live “under the circumstances.” We can live from the INSIDE OUT.
A couple of years ago a 22-year-old woman spent the night at our house before flying out of San Antonio to return to her country of China. She was a Chinese Christian who had come to America to translate some Christian literature into Chinese for the house churches to use.
Christians are persecuted in China and the house churches have to meet secretly. So I wondered who told this girl about Jesus. Did a missionary talk to her? Did she hear a preacher? Did she have a friend who was a Christian? I asked the girl, “How did you become a Christian?”
She had a kind of bewildered look on her face like “why don’t you know this?” and she said, “How I became a Christian is that God called to me and I answered. Then the Holy Spirit came into my heart and changed me.”
That’s the best answer I ever heard to the question “How did you become a Christian!”
She’s describing what Peter preached on the day the first people became Christians. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38