Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dealing with the Root of Sin

A while back, my mom spoke at a Women’s event at our church.  I appreciate what she explains in this sermon and wanted to share it with readers of the Emma Joy blog.

If you would like to share your opinion of it or what is on your heart, please do not hesitate to write to me at:

"A few years ago I asked (my husband) to turn off our sprinkler system.  This way I could go out there each morning to water the lawn and flowers.  I love to be out there in the morning sun with the cool breeze, no traffic speeding by, listening to the birds sing and watching the beautiful blue jays flying by.  There is no one around and I feel as though I am in my little corner of heaven on earth.  It really is such a serene atmosphere.

A few months back I missed several days in a row due to circumstances that kept me away.  When I again returned to watering the lawn, I noticed something very interesting… The lawn had turned a dull brown color from lack of water, BUT… The weeds were as green as ever. …As I thought about that, I felt a teaching coming on…

Today, we will be looking at our relationship with the Holy Spirit, who He is, how He relates to us, our reaction to Him, and so on.

Let’s begin by looking at who He is:  

*We know that He was sent from God - John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

*He was sent in Jesus name - John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

*He is part of the Trinity – Second Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”  There are several other scriptures that cause us to see that He is part of the Trinity.

*He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment - John 16:8, “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment...”

*He has a distinct personality:

  • He has a will – First Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
  • He has intelligence – First Corinthians 2:10, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
  • He has emotions - Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Power is ascribed to the Holy Spirit - Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Ephesians 3:16, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man…”

Something that a new Christian doesn’t always realize is that at the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the life of a believer.  John 14:16-17 “And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

He becomes the resource, energy and power for that believer’s life.  The key to living the Christian life is the Holy Spirit.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is not just Jesus by our side, talking to us, but the Holy Spirit in us actually living the life of Jesus out through us.

Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” 

Did you know that we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Let’s take a look at Ephesians 5:18.  We want to concentrate on the 2nd part of this scripture for now.

The word “filled” there, is the Greek word “Pla ruus tha” meaning: “filled, controlled, intoxicated, permeated, thoroughly influenced.”  It’s like being overcome by a power greater than your own.  Think about the first time you fell in love - intoxication!  All you wanted to do was spend time with that person, think about that person and be with that person.  This is what God wants for us in regards to Him.

To get an idea of how strong this word is, let’s take a look at a few scriptures where this same word “filled” is used:

Luke 4:28-29, “So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.

And again, in Acts 13:45, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.”

Also, the word “filled” in Ephesians 5:18 is a continuous action (the actual verb in the original tense is continuous action).    

Some translations read this way:  “Be being filled…”

So, that brings me back to the garden.  It is a continuous action, each day, watering the lawn to keep it green.  Are you seeing the connection???

In order to keep our gardens thriving and beautiful to walk through and look at, it will take effort on our part.  You see, the weeds are just waiting to rear their ugly stems and ruin our grass and garden.  Much like sin does in the life of a believer.

Just as it is a struggle to keep our lawns and gardens free from weeds, so it is in the life of a believer struggling to keep ourselves free from sin.  There is a conflict that arises in us as stated in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

Romans 7:18 says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not”.

The flesh is that part of us that serves sin.

We have a propensity for sin.  Doesn’t matter what our age.  Just watch a toddler snatch away a toy from another kid, or hit someone for no good reason.   

To understand this concept better let’s look at two men in the Bible - David and Joseph.  Both moved up from being a shepherd to being royalty.  Both men found favor in the eyes of God and both were confronted with the temptation of adultery - David with Bathsheba (Second Samuel 11) and Joseph with Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39).

David thought he was strong.  He led armies that killed thousands, but even with his accomplishments, he had a hidden weakness.  Joseph, on the other hand, knew he wasn't strong.  In his weakness, he learned to depend upon the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Being tempted was probably the last thing on David's mind when he went to his rooftop for some fresh air.  But it was there that he saw Bathsheba and gave in to his flesh.  In Joseph’s case, when Potiphar's wife approached him, he instantly recognized the temptation, refused it, and ran!  He said, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). 

Looking at David's sin, it wasn't outward protection he needed, it was inward protection.  He needed the inward strength of God's Holy Spirit and God’s Word.  Joseph, on the other hand, having gone through and learned how to deal with his struggles as a slave by depending upon God, became strengthened by God's power to fight Satan's attacks.  He knew what it was to rely on God’s Spirit for help in time of need.

I love Joseph’s story.  He didn’t allow his circumstances to keep him down or make him bitter toward God.  Instead, he drew close to God and learned his lessons well.  

Let me share a story from a man who has been a pastor for 31 years.  His name is John Barnett.  This is how he tells it:

Seven years ago through the love, prayers, and hard work of so many friends we moved into our very first new home of our lives.  It was fantastic, especially considering the size of our family.

  • The bathtub was the size of our old plastic swimming pool, and easily held all three of the little buddies and all their toys in an ocean of warm water.  In fact the water roared out of that new plumbing with a roar and flow that sounded an awful lot like the Niagara Falls.  It seemed the water lines into our house were enlarged and very strong.
  • The washing machine was stainless steel, oversized and of such oceanic capacity -- that any mountain of laundry would just disappear into that huge cavern.  It was a small wonder to hear and see how fast the load would start as a torrent of water cascaded down upon the clothes like a geyser.  It seemed like the water pressure into our house was like a fire hydrant.
  • The dishwasher was huge and once the dishes were parked in their spaces the roar of water and swishing was amazing.  In fact it seemed that it started almost as soon as we shut the front because the water pressure of this new home was so strong.
  • And the shower.  Whew, what an experience.  Hot and strong came that flow.  It was almost like we had built the house over Old Faithful the geyser.  Just turn the handle and POW, out came the waterfall. What a shower.

But something happened one day the week before our first Christmas here in Tulsa.  Bonnie noticed that the washer slowed down day by day until it took all day to just do one load.  The dishwasher took 3 to 4 hours instead of 30 minutes.  And the shower began to wilt, until the only way to get wet was to stand under the nozzle and even then it was pitiful.

At first it was a bother and then the toilets, bath tubs and washers slowed to nearly a stop.  We were horrified that our new home was ruined, it was broken plumbing we thought.  A pipe burst in the slab or worse, the city waterline that ran under our cement approach to the garage.  We had nightmare scenarios of backhoes and mud and a torn up lawn and yard as we called our builder.  He smiled over the phone and said he knew exactly what was wrong.

In 15 minutes he arrived whistling and still smiling.  While we wrung our hands showing him all the terrible non-functioning appliances and fixtures - he just smiled.  And then after all our grief and disappointment about our new home was all spilled out he said to follow him.  He walked to our coat closet under stairs (a.k.a. kids hideaway) and knelt down chuckling.  He asked "Do you have any two or three-year-olds that play in here?"  In a moment he stood and said, “Go try the shower.”  We ran and 'voila', Niagara Falls was back.  He opened his hand and there was the small shut off valve handle that one of our precious buddies had been slowly turning bit by bit each day until the rivers of water into our home were choked, quenched and closed out of the house.

Why am I giving you the My Old House show?  Because the experience of the water slowly getting choked out of our home is so clearly a picture of what happens so often to so many believers!

That is exactly what happens when the water valve of our spiritual lives is twisted shut by sin.

This is what the Bible describes as quenching, grieving or resisting the Holy Spirit.  We’re commanded to keep our lives filled with the Holy Spirit.  Were supposed to walk in Him, live through Him, bear fruit by Him, and overcome sin with Him as our helper.

Several scriptures tell us to walk in the Spirit and stay far away from anything to do with the flesh:

Galatians 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." 
Romans 13:13-14, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
Ephesians 4:30, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

A pattern of sin that we continue to do leads us further away from the Holy Spirit as we quench the Spirit

Quenching does not mean that the Holy Spirit leaves us.  We know this because Jesus promised that His Spirit would abide in us forever.  But quenching does mean that the Holy Spirit ceases to supply us with the joy and power that we need for daily Christian living.

Let’s go back to the garden analogy: remember I mentioned that when I didn’t water for several days the lawn dried up, but the weeds kept growing strong.  This is what happens when we resist the Holy Spirit’s promptings and allow sin to take over.  Our relationship with the Spirit dries up, but sin continues to take over.  This is why it is so important to stay close to the one who can help us overcome.

We are called to actively follow the Lord by reading the Word, praying, disciplining ourselves and obeying His will.  This is how we continually 'walk in the Spirit' and avoid 'grieving' Him.

We will become spiritually stronger if we will allow the Holy Spirit more control of our lives on a daily basis.

We need His strength to make us inwardly strong against the schemes of Satan. So how do we get spiritually strong?

First, we need to learn to hear His voice above the noise of Satan who wants to deceive us and entice us into sin.  Remember!  First Peter 5:8-9, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”

Second, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit's call as he convicts us.  He wants to sanctify us and make us more like Jesus.  The day we are saved, the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification starts.  It involves making us holy, inwardly through transformation and outwardly by our actions, making us more like Jesus.  Sanctification separates us from the world and causes us to run from sin.  I love what Pastor always says, “Live like you hate your sin.”  That’s what the sanctification by the Spirit does for us.  We begin to love what is right and abhor what is wrong.  I want everyone to think back on a time when you could have done something that wasn’t right, but inside you just knew that it would put a wedge between you and the Lord.  That is what the Spirit living in us does for us.

As we go through each day asking the Lord to fill us with and lead us by His Spirit, we can draw on the assistance of the Holy Spirit who:

Strengthens us:  Ephesians 3:16, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”

Leads us:  Romans 8:14, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

Guides us into all truth:  John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

Indwells us:  First Corinthians 3: 16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Teaches us:  John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

As we do the things mentioned above we will be tending our garden well, causing it to grow green, to bloom and to be beautiful from the inside out.  And the results of tending to our garden will be:

We will be conformed to Christ’s image.

He will give us life:  Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

He will give us freedom:  Romans 8: 1-4, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

And we will be filled with the fruits of the Spirit!  (Galatians 5: 22-23)

Remember, it is an easy thing to let our gardens dry up and die - we simply do nothing!"


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