“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14
I spent the first seven or so years of my Christian walk searching the Scripture carefully to make sure I understood what God wanted from me. First, and foremost, I studied every verse I could find on how to become a Christian. I thought that if I wasn’t really “saved,” there wasn’t much point in worrying about the rest. My next concern, was how to keep from falling from grace. Over the course of several years, I meticulously searched and listed every New Testament command I could find, trying to make sure I got it right.
Scripture alone was very affective for this approach. Although I flatlined in my prayer life, I was an expert at reading. With sixty-six books in the Bible, plus book stores filled with Christian self-help studies, I had plenty to read. And as an avid reader, I read. A LOT. I reasoned that if somehow, I read enough, posted tons of Scripture around my house and kept on trying, maybe I could overcome the sin and fear that plagued me. Maybe, God would eventually forgive me, and members of the church would accept me.
Striving in the flesh, with the works-righteousness mentality, it is hard to comprehend a relationship with the Holy Spirit. I mean, why would I dare open myself up to the Holy Spirit of the Living God, when I have the safety of so many neat words on a page; words that can be defined and analyzed; words that can be put together and translated into lists?
Sifting carefully through the Scripture, I’ve made lists on how to please God, how to overcome sin, how to share the “gospel” with others… the list of possible lists has no end! Take it from me. I created never-ending lists like the Energizer Bunny, daily measuring my progress or lack thereof, until one day my girlfriend spoke truth into my life. “Valerie, what do you hope to accomplish with your lists?” Donna asked. As I attempted to explain my objective, she lovingly asked, “How’s that working for you?”
I must tell you, that while there are some habits that have been very hard to completely let go of, I dropped my list making like a hot potato.
Just like addiction to drugs, alcohol, food or binge shopping, works-righteousness is “of the flesh” and is a form of escape. Works-righteousness is quite possibly more dangerous to our relationship with God than other strongholds, because first, since it is a very common thread seen throughout the church today, it is not as easily recognized as a problem. Second, when we strive in the flesh, we are refusing the gift God has so generously given, and third, we are basically proclaiming that we don’t believe God; that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough.
Even today, with increasing numbers of grace-based sermons and discussions, there still tends to be a disconnect between the intellect and the heart among many members of the Church. Without yielding to the heart of the Holy Spirit, following the letter of the Law is a hard practice to break!
The Bible is the infallible inspired Word of God. It is the final authority and everything else, including our perception of the Holy Spirit’s promptings must line up with it, like a compass.
But Scripture without the Holy Spirit’s power yields disappointment and frustration; and works without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment leaves us stumbling in the dark, confused as to why we can’t seem to overcome sin and fear. Like a sailboat without the wind, life without the Spirit leaves us short of victory.
In Ephesians 6:17, God’s Word is referred to as the Sword of the Spirit. But, it must be infused by the Holy Spirit or it has no transformation power. We might attend church services every Sunday morning and participate in multiple ministries. We might read and memorize Scripture until we are blue in the face. But without relying on the Spirit’s power within, we cannot experience the wonders of fellowship with Him and the transformation He offers.
So, how do we fellowship with the Holy Spirit? How do we walk in His power?
It begins with faith. If I don’t truly believe the Holy Spirit is the power of God in me, my default is to avoid that which makes me uncomfortable, and I rely on my own strength and effort. I focus my attention on that which I can see and do, convincing myself all is well, because I’m memorizing Scripture and staying busy “for the Lord.” But Paul, experiencing a Spirit filled life, prayed for his brothers and sisters in Christ:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:18-21
And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:11
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6
Trusting God’s Spirit is a day by day, moment by moment decision. I might step out in faith today, and think I’ve “finally got it!” Yet, I cannot count the times I’ve thought I had surrendered only to doubt again, another day, another moment, or another situation. This is where fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit is so amazing! No matter how many times we stumble, we can stop and give the controls back to God and ask His Spirit to guide us.
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