Summary: The Holy Spirit is such a powerful force that He changes us. But how does He do that, and how do we avoid being distracted by substitutes?
OPEN: During the Middle ages, in Florence Italy, there was a wealthy citizen by the name of Lorenzo de’Medici. He was a patron of the arts and very proud of the grand plays and pageants he staged for the citizens of the area. Among his productions were several amazingly realistic religious pageants performed in church.
But one Pentecost, Lorenzo went too far: He had his players reenact Acts 2 where it tells of the tongues of fire which descended on the apostles… and he used actual fire.
As a result, the stage caught fire and the entire building burned to the ground.
One commentator observed: “The moral is clear: pray for Pentecostal power, but don’t try to manufacture it.” (Charismatic Chaos, J. MacArthur, Jr., Zondervan, 1992, p. 175)
APPLY: The people of God should always desire God’s power in their lives. But, the Bible tells us: we don’t have to manufacture that power.
We don’t have to stage a grand production or experience earth shaking feelings of ecstasy to come into contact with the Spirit of God.
Because God’s Spirit is right here.
He’s inside of every believer.
We don’t have to go through mental, or physical or spiritual gymnastics to have God’ Spirit… because He’s there with all the time.
And Paul tells us:
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12
If you are a Christian today - you HAVE received God’s Spirit. He’s dwelling right inside of you.
And He has some very specific purposes to accomplish in your life.
I went down thru a list of things I could think of that God says His Spirit does for me, and I found that:
1. God’s Spirit marks me as belonging to God (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the seal of salvation. When God looks down from heaven on you and I, He sees His Spirit and knows us to be His son/daughter.
2. He helps me pray (Romans 8:26). “…We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
3. He makes me powerful as a Christian (Eph. 6:17). This is a difficult and hard world at times, and God’s Spirit works inside me to help me keep my footing and stand firm for my faith.
4. And thru those Scriptures, He teaches me about the things of God (I John 2:27). The Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit because it is used (in part) to teach me about God and His will for my life.
5. He reminds me of Jesus’ teachings (John 14:26).
ILLUS: I experienced this first hand back in the last church I served. A man there had grown angry with me (frankly, anger about many things at the church had become a hallmark of life for some time) to the point where he left church for several months. But then one day he and friends decided to stage a comeback. They intended to come and sit together and glare at me and generally make life difficult for me. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t dislike the man but there didn’t seem to be much I could do to head off the crisis he wanted to create.
So I spent time in prayer. And into my mind (I’m convinced it was God’s Spirit that placed it there) came this quote from Jesus: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”
But what did I want this man to do to me?
I wanted him to shake my hand.
So, that next Sunday, when the man and his friends went to their section of the pews, I walked right over to them. I swear, they got up and moved across the church building. But I wasn’t going to let them get away from me. I followed all the way across the church and insisted on shaking the man’s hand.
Now, that didn’t defuse the man’s anger… but it did defuse the crisis.
6. He convicts me of sin, and the need for righteousness in my life (John 16:8). He’s like my conscience… except this isn’t my conscience. My conscience is based upon my life experiences and my personal take on morality. By contrast, the Spirit’s prompting is based on God’s morality… and there are times when He’s going to convict me of things I don’t necessarily want to deal with.
7. And He helps me to understand the mind of God (I Corinthians 2:11&16). “… no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God… We have the mind of Christ”
I could preach entire sermons on each one of those topics.