The Holy Spirit: The Power to Be

Good morning.  My name is Phil Human – I’m one of the pastors here at Journey.  And it’s a pleasure to speak with you today about God – in particular – God the Holy Spirit.

The God of the Bible has revealed himself to us as being one – in three persons – God the Father Son and Holy Spirit.  God has always had friends.  He has never been alone – he has always had someone to love as well as be the recipient of love from others.

God did not create us because he was lonely and needed the attention.  He created us out of love – and our creation comes with an invitation to join him in the eternal dance where we too are eternally loved and for all of eternity get to love others.

Last week we spoke about hearing God – and we said it is God’s desire to communicate with each of us individually.  We noted how the Bible uses the most the most intimate relationships that humans can possibly have – as illustrations of How God desires to relate to us.  He is our father.  We are his children.  We are the bride of Jesus – and He is the groom.  Jesus tells us that he has come – not to establish a servant/master relationship – but a friend to friend relationship.  All of these metaphors illustrate to us how God desires to speak with us.

Last week we asked – what does God want to speak to us about?  And we boiled it down to two major categories.  The first category?  God enjoys talking to us about how we’re going to work together to become new kinds of humans.  Personal transformation.

The other category?  God enjoys working together with us in order to fix this broken world.  How?  Loving others, good works – using our gifts and skills to address the real needs of humanity all around us.  By displaying God’s love to the broken world we become what Jesus called the Salt and Light of the world.

Another way to summarize these two areas would be to say the Holy Spirit gives us the power to BE the kind of person Jesus describes us being able to become.  And the Holy Spirit provides us with the power to be able to DO all the things that Jesus describes us being able to do.

This morning we are going to focus on the Being part.  Next week – the doing part.

Today though – it is God’s desire to create in you and me – a different kind of human being.  And it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to become different kinds of human beings.

I want to encourage you this morning by blowing up a myth that has robbed people of joy and adventure and hope in their lives.  There is a lie out there that needs to be called out because it has contributed to great sadness in people everywhere this lie is believed.

The lie?  That a person cannot change.  A leopard never changes it’s spots.  Well, you aren’t a leopard.  You are a human being.  You are created by God and you can change.

We live in a world that seems to think that everything is attributed to our DNA – that we are genetically enslaved to being who we are without hope of being different – and that is a lie.  You are far more than strings of genetic code haphazardly slapped together.

Some of you might be struggling with being able to tell the truth.  And the good news is that transformation is possible.

Some of you are addicted to things that you feel will control you forever – you feel that you will never be free from alcohol or drugs – and you are beginning to feel hopeless – and I’m here to bring you good news.  You can change.  God can make you different.  God can transform you.

Some of you are struggling with anger – you find yourself feeding off the adrenaline rush of telling someone off – literally or in your mind – you know that anger is killing your relationships and shrinking your soul – and you wonder if you will ever be able to be rescued from anger – and the answer is yes you can.  You can change.  God can make you different.

I’m not talking about behavior modification.  I’m not talking about putting a shock collar on our necks that zaps us when we screw up – although there might be some benefits of simply changing behavior – that is NOT what the bible offers us.  No – Jesus offers us a promise of becoming a new kind of human being.

The kind of human being who – instead of naturally and easy being self seeking and self serving – we naturally and easily seek the good of others and make decisions for the good of others.  I’m talking about becoming the kind of people who love rather than tear down – love instead of take – love instead of fear – love instead of lust.

How is it going to happen?  Only by the power of God at work in our soul.  Only by God himself – working in us and with us – to transform us into the very image of Jesus.  And it all begins the moment we trust Jesus with our future self – it only comes when we make the conscious decision to place our faith in Jesus alone.  We surrender everything to him and ask him to be the good shepherd of our life.  What happens then?  All things are being made new – it is as if we were born again.

Here’s Jesus himself speaking about this new life through faith –

John 3:5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.

What is he talking about?  What’s the universal sign that the birth process has begun?  A woman’s water breaks!   All of us who are born are born of water –

But there is a second birth.  A spiritual renewal of our souls – and that comes when we make the decision to become a follower of Jesus.

But when we believe God’s message that Jesus is the savior of the world and we make the decision to trust him and surrender our lives to Him.  We give him permission to call the shots.

Once we make the decision to follow Jesus – then the Bible promises that at that moment we cross the line of faith – we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.

And when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives – it’s as if he brings with him a bunch of orange signs that say “Under Construction” and puts them all over us as he begins to identify areas in our life that are ready for change.

2 Cor. 5:17  puts it this way…  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Once we come to faith in Jesus – the Spirit fills us and begins the work of renewing us – transforming us into becoming people who start to look and sound and act like Jesus.  It’s all by the power of the Holy Spirit within us, working in us and with us .

But now let’s talk about how the Holy Spirit goes about the process of changing us.  And today I’ll point to three activities of the Holy Spirit that transform us and change us into new kinds of human beings.  Three things that the Holy Spirit does after we cross the line of faith.

 

  1. The Holy Spirit reminds us of who we are.
  2. The Holy Spirit puts to death who we used to be.
  3. The Holy Spirit empowers who we are becoming.

 

So there’s a time element involved here.   He informs us about who we are this moment – Today.  He frees us from who we used to be in the past….  and finally he provides hope and the power for our tomorrows.

  1. The Holy Spirit reminds us of who we are.

Romans 8:15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 

Who are you?  You are God’s cherished daughter.  You are God’s beloved son.  That is who you are through faith in Jesus.  You are adopted into the family.  God loves you with as much energy and passion and joy as he loves Jesus himself.

Some of you had the great misfortune of growing up in a family where you had parents who were not good parents.  They weren’t good human beings and they weren’t good parents.  And somewhere along the line they said some words to you – they called you something that got stuck in your heart – and somewhere along the way you received it as truth – and as a result you see yourself as worthless, or stupid, lazy.

Let me tell you – one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to whisper to your spirit that you’ve been adopted by a loving Father who calls you his cherished, beloved child.  Abba means Daddy guys.  Here’s the bible telling us to call him daddy.

Sometimes – we tell ourselves we’re worthless.  Sometimes we get into the rhythm of talking bad about ourselves to ourselves.  And it’s not someone elses’ words bouncing around in our head from some long ago conversation – it’s our own words that want to call us losers, worthless, rejects.

And we need the Holy Spirit to whisper over our own words – hey you are far from worthless.  You’re a child of God adopted by God himself!

I read an article recently that said the average cost of adopting a child in the US is between 35 and 40 thousand dollars.   And the point I’m making is this – that’s chicken feed man!  The price for you and me to be adopted by God into His family?  The life of Jesus on a cross.

You are not worthless.  You are worth everything to God.  And some of you might need to hear that this morning because you are feeling pretty crummy about yourself or your circumstances.  And you are feeling down in the dumps – and I’m not judging those feelings – I just want you to know that your daddy cares about you and is able to help you navigate whatever path he is asking you to walk through today.

You are as loved by your heavenly father as little Charlee is by Kyle and Rachel – and you are every bit as safe in God’s hands as Kyle and Rachel’s baby daughter is in their hands.

Ephesians 5:1,2 says, Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to remind us from time to time who we are – and whose we are.  But wait – there’s more!

The Holy Spirit puts to death WHAT WE USED TO BE, yesterday.

In places in the bible like Galatians 5, and Colossians 3 – you find lists of what the bible calls our old self.  Our old flesh.  So they say things like, put to death greed, slander, sexual immorality.   1 Cor 6 has a list of things you used to once be – thieves, idolators, adulters, drunks, abusers –

1 Cor 6:11  Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Romans 8:2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

It’s very important for us to understand that once we place our faith in Jesus – it’s like we have told our self-centered part of us – that there is a new king we are serving – you’ve been overthrown.  We’ve kicked our selfish nature off the throne and now Jesus is there and we are working toward allowing him to call the shots.  Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done – we pray.

But – there is still within all of us – that rejected former ruler who will from time to time stir up trouble in our soul.  From time to time the former ways of our life will resurface in an effort to reclaim your soul.

Your old nature doesn’t just go away.  No sometimes there are stories out there of miraculous healings – of addictions that suddenly ceased.  But for the majority of people who come to faith – the process of change takes time.

There is involved a process of us working in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to put to death the old nature.  To take off the old clothes.

This is a spiritual guarantee.  Which is why we sometimes say around here that every follower of Jesus fights two wars.  The first great spiritual war we were in was before I came to faith – when I fought against God’s rightful place to call the shots in my life.  I was fighting against God himself.

That war is over once I place my faith in Jesus.  But at that very moment we begin a second spiritual war – against our old nature.  This second fight – the fight to put to death the old me – is called in the Bible the good fight.   And we are encouraged to fight the good fight of faith.

Romans 8: 12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 

Now let’s take a moment to remember – that the Holy Spirit speaks to us about what we are doing together with him.  And let’s notice that Paul reiterates this here in this last part of the verse.

Who is putting to death our old self?  You are.  But how?  Through the power of the Spirit that lives within me.

What does this look like practically?  Getting counsel.  Efforting.  Repenting – making every effort to overcome that which is trying to kill your spiritual life.

Tough question time.  Are you doing all you can do to kill off the old nature?  Have you sought help?  We will pay the majority of your bill to seek a counselor.  Is there something you need to get out of your house?  Off your phone?  Is there a friendship you need to end?  Not all friendships are good for you.  Not all relationships are healthy.

Here’s where you and the Spirit of God work together.  He leads – nudges – guides.  But ultimately God you are the trigger man.

I should say normally God allows us the privilege of being the triggerman – sometimes we refuse to pull the trigger and obey Him – and in some cases God does us a favor and we get caught.  We get found out and we can’t hide the battle. And sometimes that comes with consequences – I heard one person say you can either be changed through humility or humiliation – and it’s our call.

Are we doing everything we can to beat back that old selfish nature?  We cannot become a new kind of human if we are clinging to our old kind of human.  We must fight it – but thankfully it’s a good fight and we don’t fight it alone.

Maybe you are here and you are thinking I’ve been fighting but I haven’t seen much progress and I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever be free of who I once was.  I want to tell you to hang in there and keep efforting with God – examine every strategy – don’t be afraid to seek advice or counsel – don’t you dare quit – because you are a child of the King and he sees in you something far greater than what you once were.

The Holy Spirit of God lives inside of you and is making you a new kind of human being through faith in Jesus.  He reminds us who we are today.  He puts to death what we once were famous for.  And finally – he is the one in charge of renovating our heart.

  1. The Holy Spirit is in charge of making us who we will become.

Gal 5 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. 

25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 

I’ve heard someone once say most Americans over estimate what can be accomplished I a year and under estimate what can be done in five.  We must remember that every biblical metaphor to spiritual growth is a picture of slow sustained growth.

The bible says we are like newborn babies.  Well they grow but it’s imperceptible.  It says we grow like fruit on a tree.  It takes some time to see the changes.

I remember when they widens highway 370 – and we’d drive by going are they even doing anything?  Where’s the progress?  Right now on 192nd street south of hwy 370 – big piles of dirt – I drive by there and think – is anything going on here?

But I know that at some point in the future I will be able to drive on a brand new beautiful road.

Even on our land – I know that when we begin building – hopefully about a year from now – progress will look slow.  It’ll take a year to complete it.  I’m like – can’t we just jump ahead a couple of years and be able to see Journey Church up on that hill?  But no – that’s not what happens.  It takes time.  Energy – mistakes will probably happen along the way -it’ll require sacrifice – thank you for giving to Journey and making this project possible.  Someday though I know we will be worshipping God our Father together in a place where for generations to come people will be in the process of becoming different kinds of human beings – the kind our world desperately needs to see.

It will take time – and so will you.

A number of years ago Billy Graham and his wife Ruth were traveling by car when they got stuck in traffic.  It turned out there was a major construction project going on that required roads to be closed and traffic slowed.  As they finally came through the other side and as traffic sped up there was a sign that the construction company had placed on the side of the road – and after reading the sign Ruth Graham laughed and said, “I just saw what I want written on my tombstone.”

And sure enough when she passed away in 2007, they wrote those words at the bottom of her tombstone.  End of Construction – Thank you for your patience.

We are a construction project, you and I.  Once we decide to place our confidence in Jesus, there begins a construction project inside of you.  And the goal – is not a four lane road, the goal is – that Jesus would be formed in us.

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