Compliments of the season! I hope you are enjoying the holidays? Let me begin by apologizing for not putting this up last week. I promised to do so but didn’t follow through on that promise due to unforeseen circumstances. I’m so sorry and I hope you do forgive me. So, let’s get started! Do you remember where we studied last 2 weeks? What struck you the most? How has it helped you so far? If you are just joining us for the first time, you are most welcome. We started a study on the topic Renew Your Mind taking a cue from Romans 12:2. This is a continuation of that study. However, what you are about to read right now will make more sense to you if you’d take the time to first read the preceding post, Renew Your Mind. I hope you do that. Alright! So, let’s get into what we have on the menu today: The Holy Spirit and You.
The Holy Spirit and You
I think it won’t be wrong to say we’ve all been in relationships. Before you start shaking your head in disagreement, let me state what I mean when I say relationship. Personally, I feel one area of misplaced identity we see evidently these days is in relationships. A lot of us limit relationships to all things romantic. This half-truth makes us start to unconsciously disregard other important relationships in our lives. As long as there is a connection between you and someone else, no matter how little, a relationship already exists. It could be with your colleagues at school, business associates, members of your family, friends… Now, that shouldn’t surprise you much, should it?
For the purpose of this study, I’d love for us to focus more on your relationship with the Holy Spirit. To help you understand better, let me use the relationship you have with your closest friend as an illustration. You’d agree with me that before that friend earned the “bestie” title, he or she was just another face in the crowd. You two knew nothing about each other at first but once you guys started communicating, the relationship blossomed more and more. So, the more you opened up to each other, the deeper the bond went. Obviously, this happened because the both of you deliberately invested time in getting to know each other especially after you realized that you have something to contribute to each other’s lives.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I’m trying to give you a peek into what your relationship with the Holy Spirit should look like. The first thing you should bear in mind is that your relationship with the Holy Spirit is the most important relationship you will ever have here on earth. Why? Because it is the foundation upon which every other relationships must be built. Yeah, I know it may not seem logical considering the fact that the Holy Spirit isn’t a physical person but it is the absolute truth. He is more real than you think. I’ve decided to focus more on your role today and then we’ll talk about the Holy Spirit in subsequent posts. Until you start to see a relationship with the Holy Spirit as a must-have and prioritize it above all other relationships in your life, you will keep going round in circles. Without Him, you can do nothing. You cannot live a life that is pleasing to God without the help of the Holy Spirit!
Now, your relationship with the Holy Spirit started the moment you openly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. What you do after accepting Jesus determines how far the relationship you have with Him goes. As we all know by now, it takes 2 to make any relationship progress beautifully. If one person keeps trying to get the other person to care for them as much as they care for that person, then the relationship is unevenly balanced and soon, the one who is begging for attention will end up hurt by all the weight. And that person may eventually walk away.
So, let me ask you.
What did you do after you gave your life to Christ? I’ll tell you what I did. Several times in the past, I gave my life to Christ, over and over and over again. In fact, I can’t even count how many times it was. All I know is that wherever there was an altar call and I was present, I gave my life to Christ. It was mostly out of guilt because I felt I was going to hell if Jesus came and indeed, I was headed there. The truth is that I had no understanding of what I was doing or the commitment it entailed. However, the last time I gave my life to Christ, it was different. I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart as usual. I was baptized but I still didn’t know what to do. God, in His mercies, brought people around me who started to engage me in the Word of God and also introduced me to the Holy Spirit. I didn’t even know there was anyone like the Holy Spirit. Well, I knew He was a part of the Trinity but He didn’t seem that important till I started to get to know Him gradually.
Let me pause here and Let’s take a look at our anchor scripture.
“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” – Ephesians 4:22-23
I already said that in a relationship, the two parties involved must be committed to seeing that relationship progress. There’s no question on the part of the Holy Spirit because of more than anyone, He wants to see you grow to full maturity in Christ. It is His work. That is why He is in you but the real question is, how committed are you to making your relationship with God work? How committed are you to grow in Him? I’ve had to ask myself this question this week because sometimes, what we say is usually different from what we do. Most of us have good intentions for instance when it comes to honoring God but somehow, we find ourselves being pulled back to what we just told God we’d turn away from. You wouldn’t know what God hates and how to please Him if you don’t make an effort at getting to know Him.
The first part of that verse carries an important message that shouldn’t be overlooked. You are asked to throw off your former way of life… To throw means to quickly and forcefully get rid of something. In my experience, you only get rid of something that has caused you great discomfort or something you know you love; something you find somewhat irresistible but you know it will very unhealthy for you. There are certain things that cannot go where God is taking you. You cannot say you want to get serious with God and still have friends or perhaps your ex, who are walking reminders of who you used to be. And who won’t really understand the fact that this is the new you. You need to grow first and this is why priority comes in. So, sweetheart, you have to make a choice because as long as they are there, the temptation to abandon who you are now in Christ will always be present, getting stronger by the day.
You can’t keep clinging to those habits, hobbies, thoughts, and attitudes that are obviously displeasing to God – things that pull your focus away from walking with God. You have to make a deliberate choice to get rid of those things by laying it all down at the feet of Jesus. Laying it at His feet doesn’t mean the temptation won’t come again. It simply means you’ve exchanged those things for the wisdom that God gives such that when those temptations show up, God’s wisdom will be there to help you make the right choice. Don’t be the one to keep throwing yourself in the face of temptation. If you will be tempted, let it be the devil trying to get in not you leaving the doors wide open for him to do as he pleases.
What I’m saying to You Today is Leave Your Past Behind!
Stop toying with those things God is asking you to let go of. Let me share my experience with you. Shortly after I came to Christ, I started feeling this urge to reconcile with the guy I used to date. Now, we had a terrible breakup and it was so bad that we ended up very hurt. So, the best option at the time was to break away and let God heal me. But I felt really bad about how I mistreated him during the breakup. While I was nursing these thoughts, He popped right back into my life and I figured that was God opening a door for reconciliation. But it wasn’t God…
Sometimes what you hear in your heart is usually not God speaking to you which is why you need to clarify the voice to be sure it is in line with God’s Word. Another dangerous thing is that you can even start giving yourself Bible verses. Take me for instance. I used the Bible verse, “Pursue peace with all men” to justify what I was trying to do. The peace I was trying to achieve wasn’t what I got because I was going about it all wrong! Slowly, all God said to me about leaving my past behind seemed to be fading away from my memory because the closer we got, the more I started to see “foolishness” in what God had said to me. I thought my way was wiser and I could eat my cake and have it. Little did I know that even the things God does which may seem foolish to us at the time are wiser than the smartest thing we can ever try to come up with.
God always uses the foolish things to confirm the wise.
He took a step back and let me do what I thought was right and I ended up making a bigger mess of things. Not only did I disobey God’s voice but I reopened the wounds that were trying to heal. I became so lost in my own stupidity and I also made it worse for the guy as well. Imagine dragging someone into your own sea of confusion and giving off all kinds of signals you didn’t even know you were giving. So it became a case of “Had I known” for me. If I had just listened to God’s warning, telling me to leave my past behind, things would have turned out better. I struggled on my own for a while trying to fix the mess I just created but I couldn’t do it anymore. So, I asked God to forgive me and help me undo what I just did. But then again, God isn’t some magician. He uses our mistakes to teach us lessons and funny enough, those lessons are the ones that stick with us the most. This time, I chose to obey Him and not question His Word again.
Usually, when God demands something from us, we tend to think He’s being unfair and then we try to do it our own way. Then somewhere along the line, we start to see that God was right after all. You have the chance now to begin right with God. The past is the past. The guy in question is actually a great guy who would have made a great friend if only I understood the purpose of that relationship beforehand. Unfortunately, I didn’t and things turned out messy. God gave me a clean slate but I went back and made an even bigger mess. It’s been a long time since that incident but I’ve been learning every day that obedience is the only thing God requires from us. That is the key to a successful relationship with Him.
I like to let the Word of God speak for itself
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.” – Colossians 3:5-9
The life you had before now was displeasing to God but He has let it go. Jesus paid in full!!! You have been recreated for His good pleasure. I cannot overemphasize the fact that the devil hates you and he wants you back there so badly that He is willing to go the extra mile. He can come disguised in any way – could be through the words of a friend, a book… Which is why a relationship with the Holy Spirit is so important. The Holy Spirit gives you wisdom and He works within you, both to want to please God and to actually please Him. You only have to let Him lead. Commit fully to this relationship.
There is no sitting on the fence when in a relationship with the Holy Spirit. You must be willing to commit fully. It is all of you or none at all. I have to remind myself sometimes that my life is not my own anymore because I have chosen to let Jesus take over. No one can successfully follow two different routes at the same time and expect to end up in one destination. You’ll only be confusing yourself and prolonging your progress. God will always be there when you choose to come back but the danger with that is that you may be too late and you may just have wasted time here doing absolutely nothing! Always remember that you are accountable for your actions and you will give account for whatever you decide to do with your life when you go before God in judgment. Commit your ways to God and trust Him to lead you. Get committed to this relationship!
How Do I Get Committed?
So I guess the next question would be, how do I get committed? Here is what Paul had to say: Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.” – Colossians 3:10. I already talked about what it means to renew your mind in the preceding post. The goal of every believer should be to become like Jesus Christ. If that isn’t your goal yet, then I honestly don’t know how you expect to live a life that is pleasing to God. The first thing to do is consecrate yourself. Separate yourself from your past – those things you do that you know aren’t pleasing to God. Empty yourself – Rid yourself of those things so the Holy Spirit can have space to do His Work. No relationship can work if you carry the baggage of your past into it. Which is why Jesus said, “Drop your burdens and every other baggage at my feet and take the yoke I’m offering. Get to know me!!!”
Over time, I’ve noticed that if you want to become like a person you admire, all you have to do is spend time in their presence and do as they do. In a case where you are unable to meet them physically, you can spend time reading their books or articles that they have written, listening to their podcasts, or whatever it is that they have put out there. The more you get to know them and closely observe their ways and the more you apply the knowledge gained, the closer you are to becoming like them.
It’s pretty much the same thing with your relationship with Jesus Christ. In order to become like Him, you need to be willing to exchange your time for knowledge. For every relationship, time is a seed sown to produce intimacy. I know how busy we all can get but do you think it’s right to get so busy that you don’t have time for the One who created you and sent you down here? So, what exactly are you busy doing since you obviously don’t have the time to receive instructions from Him? Sometimes, we forget that we were created for His pleasure. Everything you are able to accomplish here on earth is because of His mercies. But for His mercies, you’d be dead. That’s a fact.
If you say you want to have a relationship with God, you need to be willing to make a sacrifice of your time.
That’s something you have to do because it is very important. Very important!!! Look into your schedule and prioritize. If we let the devil steal the most important thing we need to stand up to Him, what hope do we have? Are you willing to exchange the time you spend entertaining yourself for time with God?
Choosing to spend time with God is key which is why I’m emphasizing on it. And you need to be deliberate about it because it doesn’t happen accidentally. If you don’t make out time, other things – distractions will come up and take your attention away. Start small. Look at your schedule and prioritize properly. If something means so much to you, you will make out time for it. Where your treasure lies is where your heart will be. Saying you love someone doesn’t make any sense till you start to commit and the best way to show you appreciate someone is giving them your undivided attention. Now, in this case, you’re not just trying to show God you care but you are coming because you know how much you need Him. Until you realize how helpless you are without Him, you’ll keep trying to make the time for Him and fail woefully at it.
Before I Wrap This Up,
The Holy Spirit is the teacher and I’d be talking about Him next. But I should mention that the way to spend time with God, speaking to Him and hearing from Him is in the place of Bible Study. I’d encourage you to have a quiet time schedule. Set apart time each day to talk to God and hear from Him. If you don’t know what to read, just pick up a devotional for now and make sure you let God Himself, teach you something from it every day. I believe you’ll progress from depending on devotionals to studying God’s Word with the help of the Holy Spirit. But just start somewhere. Commit to God with your time. Exchange your time for knowledge gained in His presence this week.
I hope you come back here next week for another lesson in this series and don’t worry! I won’t disappoint this time by His grace. I’m making my own commitment right here, right now! Have a great week and Merry Christmas!