Two sets of character qualities
That’s one set. Here is another set.
Believe it or not all of those traits describe the same person.
Of all the Lord’s disciples, the one that I probably identify the most with is Peter. Peter was impulsive. His words would get him into trouble. He was fearful. When Jesus tried to serve him by washing his feet, he first refused. He denied the Lord, not just once but three times.
But that’s not all that we know about Peter. Of all the disciples he was the only one who walked on water. He preached on the day of Pentecost and thousands were saved. He stood boldly and bravely in front of the Jewish leaders and preached Christ to them. He provided leadership to the church at Jerusalem. He bravely confronted Ananias and Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Spirit. He raised people from the dead, he was able to put aside his racism and prejudice and take the gospel to those who at one time he would not even eat with.
What happened to Peter? How was he transformed from an impulsive, fearful, prideful, disloyal, bigoted person into a self-controlled, brave, loyal, and inclusive person?
Did he attend a motivational seminar where he heard Zig Ziglar say “If you learn from defeat you haven’t really lost? Did he hear something like that and say you know what Zig you’re right I’m not a loser I’m a winner and I’m gonna start acting like one! Is that what happened?
Or maybe he heard Lou Holtz say “Don”t be a spectator, don’t let life pass you by.” Did Peter hear that and decide I’m going turn this thing around and so he went out and reinvented himself?
Obviously none of those things happened. Thankfully we don’t have to speculate as to what happened to Peter, because the Scriptures tell us exactly what happened, we know how this tremendous transformation took place in his life.
What happened? It’s not a what but a “Who”. The Holy Spirit happened.
Peter was completely transformed by the Holy Spirit. Peter through the filling of the Holy Spirit went from a fearful, disloyal disciple to a brave and loyal unto death disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now as painful as this may be, let’s stop for just a moment and examine ourselves. Though we may not have the same kind of problems that Peter had, though I sure we share some of those negative qualities, we all have our sinful habits, and negative ways of thinking, which results in our doing the wrong things. Perhaps we have battled a particular sinful habit for so long that we don’t believe we can ever be free from it. Or maybe despite our best efforts we haven’t been able to change our lack of faith or negative thinking, or feelings of anxiety. Perhaps we are on the brink of giving up hope, and are ready to live out our lives without ever seeing the change we desire.
The good news is that the transformation that took place in Peter is possible for each one of us if we will allow the Holy Spirit to fill us.
As I said last week, the normal Christian experience should be to live a life under the control and the direction of the Holy Spirit. I’m afraid that many times just the opposite is true. The normal Christian experience is to not be filled with the Holy Spirit but to live by our own power, we try and control our lives, and we try and set the direction for our lives.
Before we look at what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit I thought we should take some time to learn about him.
The question that I want to examine this morning, is not how we are filled with the Holy Spirit, but rather who is the Holy Spirit? How much do we really know about this vital member of the Trinity.
Let’s start with the basic truth but the most important truth about the Holy Spirit.
1. The Holy Spirit is God.
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ac 5:3–4).
Notice what Peter says in these verses. He begins by asking Ananias why you are lying to the Holy Spirit. He then finishes verse five by speaking the last words Ananias would ever hear “You have not lied to men but to God.” The connection is clear, the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is God just as the Father is God and Jesus Christ is God. That’s why we say “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit”.
Let that sink in for a second. When Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit do you realize what he is saying? If the Holy Spirit is God then to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with God! That is an incredible truth, and if it wasn’t written in the Bible I would have a very hard time believing that such a thing was possible.
But when I begin to wrap my mind around such an incredible truth I begin to understand how Peter became the servant of Christ that he did. When I come to grips with this truth, I should realize that the habit that has enslaved me for maybe years as powerful as it may be is no match for God. When I begin to wrap my arms around this truth, I should realize that I don’t have to be dominated and controlled by my fears, I don’t have to continue with my patterns of negative thinking. Why? because I can be I should be filled with the Holy Spirit, I can be I should be filled with God and His power.
When I realize that the Holy Spirit is God and that He lives in me, I can face up to and live through the most difficult of circumstances. I realize that I can share the gospel, not in my own strength but in the power of the Spirit.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV)
One of the benefits of our salvation, or maybe I should say one of the results of our salvation is that we become partakers of the divine nature. Which is another way of saying that we are recipients of the Holy Spirit.
Is there any other Scriptural support the Holy Spirit being God? Certainly there is.
First of all the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is eternal. The author of Hebrews wrote:
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:14 (ESV)
We see the Holy Spirit was active in creation, we see the Holy Spirit active in redemption. Both of those activities are associated with God.
The Holy Spirit gives life which is also something only God can do.
“who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV)
It was the Holy Spirit who gave life to Christ in the womb of Mary.
The Holy Spirit is God because he is eternal, he was active in creation, He is still active in applying the work of Christ on the cross in redemption. The Holy Spirit is God because he engages in giving life. All of these things are things that only God can do.
DO YOU BELIEVE? REALLY BELIEVE?
I think a question we each need to consider is “Do I believe that the Holy Spirit that I am to be filled with, that I can be filled with is truly God indwelling me?” Do you, do I really believe that when God brought us to faith in Christ that His Spirit not only became available to us he resides in us.
Let me remind each one of us of what Paul wrote to believers in the 2 Corinthians.
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’2 Corinthians 6:16 (ESV)
We are the Temple of the living God! God dwells with us!
Frankly these words, these truths leave me speechless. Again I ask do we believe this? What keeps us from believing this? Why don’t we believe this.
I’m sure of one thing, and that is if we don’t believe this, if we don’t act on this knowledge, if we fail to obey the Lord’s command to be filled with the Spirit, we will never become all that we could become in Christ. We will never accomplish what we could accomplish for Christ.
Do you believe that? Will you believe that? Will you ask God to help you believe that?
In order for us to better relate to the Holy Spirit there is a second truth I want to point out.
2. The Holy Spirit is personal
The Holy Spirit is not an it, the Holy Spirit is not a power that we have access to. We can and should think of the Holy Spirit as a person. Certainly not a person as we are, but he is a personal being albeit a divine being with characteristics that we can identify with.
For instance we learned a couple of weeks ago that it is possible for us to grieve the Holy Spirit. Grief is a very personal emotion. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit has a mind of his own and he prays for us. Paul wrote to the church at Rome..
“And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27 (ESV)
Because the Holy Spirit is personal we can have a personal relationship with the Him. Listen to what Jesus said in John 14
“even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17 (ESV)
Jesus is describing a close intimate relationship that is possible for us to have with the Holy Spirit. Admittedly it make take us a while to get a grip on this truth and all of it’s implications.
Let’s ask ourselves a question. Would Jesus lie to us? You say perish the thought! Who are you to even suggest such a thing! Of course Jesus wouldn’t lie to us. To which I would readily and heartily agree. Therefore because Jesus would never lie to us do you believe what Jesus has said to us? Do you believe that the Holy Spirit dwells with you, and do you believe that He is in you? Do you believe that?
If you say yes you believe that and I hope that you do because you and I have absolutely no reason to doubt the Lord Jesus, then I would ask does your life, does my life reflect that belief. Do you go throughout your day with the constant recognition that the very Spirit of God is with you? Are you cognizant that in every second of your day the Holy Spirit is your constant companion?
The Boston Red Sox adopted as their rallying cry a few years ago this phrase “Why not us?” What if we as a church would adopt that same attitude when it comes to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives “Why not us!” Not for just the momentary thrill of winning a game, but for the eternal privilege of glorifying our Savior!
The Scriptures are filled with examples of the Holy Spirit empowering people to do things that the never thought would be possible. The Holy Spirit empowered them to do the will of God.
For instance the Holy Spirit empowered Joshua with wisdom and leadership skills when he assumed the position vacated by Moses.
“So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” Numbers 27:18 (ESV)
“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.” Deuteronomy 34:9 (ESV)
The Holy Spirit empowered the Judges of Israel to deliver the people of Israel time after time. Think of Samson and how the Holy Spirit empowered him multiple times in his life, in fact right up until the time of his death.
One time when the prophet Ezekiel was prophesying against some of the leaders of the nation of Israel the Holy Spirit was so powerful in his presence that a man named Pelatiah actually died.
We have examples of the Holy Spirit protecting the people God and gave them the power to overcome tremendous odds, obstacles and opponents.
Do you believe that the Holy Spirit can empower you, do you believe that the Holy Spirit can empower our church to do the will of God just as He has empowered the people of God throughout history?
I hope you do, you have no reason to think any other way.
The Bible says that in addition to grieving the Holy Spirit we can also quench the Spirit. One of the ways that we can quench the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives is through our unbelief. Let’s make sure that you and I, that we as a church are not guilty of quenching the Spirit through our unbelief.
Why not us!