DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

The Spirit Empowers (Zechariah 4:6-10)

  • please open your Bible to Zechariah 4, the second last book of the Old Testament

  • when I was just a child, I developed a tremendous respect for those engaged in God's service
  • at that time I thought mainly of pastors and vocational Christian workers like missionaries
  • I thought that it would be great to grow up and to become a pastor myself
  • as I grew, I shook off these childish notions
  • but eventually, as I graduated from school, I still felt God tugging at me
  • and so I enrolled in seminary
  • and today I believe I'm where I should be, doing what I should do, and I thank God for calling me as a pastor

  • on my graduation day, they gave me a piece of paper saying I had earned a degree
  • they had filled my head with knowledge, and I was ready to take on the world
  • the pastoral search committee here was obviously getting a bit desperate, so they agreed to take me on
  • and on September 1st, 1991, I began as pastor of Park Lawn Baptist Church

  • now think back with me to that day
  • job description:
  • to preach and teach God's Word in such a way that individuals have their lives transformed and literally become new people
  • to evangelize so that hell-bound sinners repent and turn their lives around and come to trust in Christ as their Savior
  • to lead and provide spiritual direction for the church
  • to provide pastoral care for people
  • to equip them to use their spiritual gifts so that they can impact others for God

  • now, how was I going to accomplish these tasks?
  • was my seminary education enough to see lives transformed?
  • were the powers of eloquence and my exceptional charismatic personality going to impact people powerfully?
  • you can stop laughing now
  • you see, essentially I was and am powerless to accomplish the mission that God gave me
  • I can't lead sinners to repent
  • I don't have the ability to bring conviction to people
  • my speaking gifts are not sufficient to transform lives

  • now, this problem isn't just confined to me
  • let's talk about you
  • God has given us all a mission
  • it's not just pastors and vocational Christian workers who run up against these barriers
  • God has given us all the task of spreading his Word, of using our gifts, of impacting others with the love of God
  • who among us has the ability to do this?
  • the answer: no-one
  • that's why I say that the Christian life is not hard - it's impossible
  • there's no way that you and I can accomplish what God wants us to on our own

  • there's a passage in the Old Testament that relates to this, however
  • this passage has three lessons that give us the answer to this dilemma
  • the problem is basically this: how can we be useful to God despite our severe human limitations?
  • and this passage gives us the answer
  • Zechariah was a prophet and a priest, writing when the Jewish nation returned from exile
  • as they returned, they had a crucial task awaiting them: the rebuilding of the temple
  • God gives Zechariah a number of visions regarding this task, but the one I want us to look at is the fifth of eight visions, taking place probably around 519 BC, and it's found in Zechariah 4:6-10
  • and what applied to Zechariah and the rebuilding of the temple applies to us today
  • there are three lessons

  • the first lesson is this:
  • IT'S GOD'S POWER THAT'S IMPORTANT, NOT OURS
  • (Zechariah 4:6) So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.
  • God says to Zechariah, when the King Zerubbabel rebuilds the temple, he doesn't have the royal might and power that the original builders had, King David and King Solomon
  • there's an acknowledgement right off the bat that the human capabilities are lacking
  • but God says, "That's all right, because I'm not concerned about the power and the might you possess - the power of the Spirit is going to be enough"

  • now think about us
  • we don't have the human resources to defeat Satan
  • the Scriptures teach that Satan is our enemy, prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour
  • Satan is a deceiver and a liar, and he possesses powers enough to render our mission impossible
  • it's like what Martin Luther wrote in that great hymn, A Mighty Fortress:
  • For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe;
  • His craft and power are great, And armed with cruel hate
  • On earth is not his equal.
  • Did we in our own strength confide,
  • Our striving would be losing
  • Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing

  • friends, left to ourselves, we would be defeated by Satan
  • our powers are no match for his
  • but it's not our power, it's God's power
  • it's not by might, nor by power, but by the empowering of the Holy Spirit
  • (2 Corinthians 10:4) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
  • (2 Corinthians 10:5) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • I love the old movies where a fight or a shoot-out is about to begin
  • and the referee comes out, opens up a case containing some guns, and says, "Gentlemen, choose your weapon"
  • I saw the second Crocodile Dundee movie almost ten years ago now
  • Dundee is walking down the street in New York with his girlfriend
  • some guy jumps out to rob them
  • one guy pulls out a knife and says, "Give me your money!"
  • Dundee's girlfriend cries, "Oh! He has a knife"
  • but Crocodile Dundee remains calm
  • he reaches back and pulls a huge knife, about five times the size of the robber's
  • and he says, "That's not a knife, this is a knife!"

  • when Jesus left this earth, he commissioned his disciples
  • (Acts 1:8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
  • Jesus said we would receive power - in the Greek, dunamis, from which we get the English word dynamite
  • the power to accomplish God's mission, which otherwise would be humanly impossible
  • it's the Holy Spirit difference
  • Tony Evans says that this power of the Holy Spirit creates a powerful people who have his powerful presence carrying out his powerful program
  • weak men who fled from Christ, spiritual weak-kneed wimps who ran when the going got tough, received power from the Holy Spirit
  • when they received power, they preached and thousands were saved
  • Acts 4:13 tells us that the Jewish authorities marveled at their courage
  • nothing could stop them
  • even after they were beaten and ordered to stop preaching, they went out and preached some more
  • where did they get this power?
  • from the Holy Spirit
  • the Spirit empowered the early Christians to work miracles as they proclaimed the Gospel
  • he gave power to the preaching of the early church so that when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they proclaimed the Word boldly and with great power

  • now listen to me
  • we too have been given the task of building God's kingdom
  • I needn't remind you that this task is humanly impossible
  • but as the Holy Spirit empowers us, we will receive more than adequate power to accomplish this task
  • (Zechariah 4:6) So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, ' says the LORD Almighty.

  • the second lesson from Zechariah 4 is this:
  • IT'S GOD'S POWER THAT REMOVES THE OBSTACLES, NOT OUR POWER
  • (Zechariah 4:7) "What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!'"
  • those who were going to rebuild the temple faced all sorts of obstacles, but God promised that he would open a way for them

  • this is not too different from what Jesus promised
  • (Luke 10:18) He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
  • (Luke 10:19) I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
  • (Luke 10:20) However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
  • as we minister, God does away with the spiritual opposition that hinders us
  • God removes the obstacles

  • God even overcomes the obstacles of our own inability
  • when God called Moses to rescue his people out of Egypt, Moses protested:
  • (Exodus 4:10) Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."
  • but God replied:
  • (Exodus 4:11) "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
  • (Exodus 4:12) Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

  • I had lunch with a pastor friend the other day
  • God is blessing his ministry
  • the preaching of the Word has been powerful in his ministry
  • they were joking the other week that they ought to put tissues in the pews, because almost every week people were being moved to tears by the proclamation of the Word
  • people pray before the service that a "God-moment" would take place
  • you know, a moment in the service where God breaks in and everyone knows that he is working
  • and my pastor friend said to me, "It's not my eloquence, it's not what I say - it's God working"
  • what God is doing is overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way

  • as we serve God, as we accomplish the mission that he has given us, we minister in the power of the Holy Spirit, and he's the one that removes the obstacles
  • he enables us to overcome spiritual opposition to the preaching of the Gospel

  • a third and final lesson is found in this passage
  • and it's this
  • GOD REJOICES OVER OUR WORK
  • (Zechariah 4:10) "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. "(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)"
  • it turns out that some who saw the original temple thought that the rebuilt temple was insignificant
  • to the eyes of men, the temple project was just a small thing, but to the eyes of God, it was a source of great joy

  • God delights in using small things
  • Warren Wiersbe points out that God used
  • Moses' rod (Exodus 4:2)
  • David's sling ( Samuel 17)
  • a jawbone (Judges 15:15)
  • a hammer and a tent peg (Judges 4:17-24)
  • a piece of rope (Joshua 2:15-21)
  • a basket (Acts 9:23-25)
  • loaves and fish (John 6:9)
  • a cup of cold water (Matthew 10:42)
  • and even mud (John 9:6-7)
  • who has despised the day of small things?
  • God loves to use small things
  • because when the Spirit empowers small things, there's no telling what will happen

  • I don't know what small abilities you have
  • but I know that if you are a believer, you have received a spiritual gift
  • speaking of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul writes:
  • (1 Corinthians 12:11) All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
  • when we use our spiritual gifts, even if we consider them to be small, we are showing the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit
  • God delights in using small things

  • I need to say that we should never seek the Holy Spirit's power for our own ends
  • some people talk about harnessing the power of the Holy Spirit
  • the Spirit's power cannot be harnessed
  • his power cannot be used to accomplish anything other than the Father's will
  • but the power of the Holy Spirit is given for a specific reason - to enable us to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ
  • but God promises his Spirit to enable and empower us to accomplish the task he has left us

  • I can't transform lives
  • I can't convict people
  • I can't be an effective pastor on my own strength
  • we aren't very powerful
  • we don't have the abilities and the boldness necessary to turn the world upside down with the truth of the Gospel
  • but that's all right
  • because God says, "It's not by your might, it's not by your power, it's by my Spirit"
  • and God removes the obstacles and turns our small gifts into wonderful things that can be used to please him

  • would you pray with me that God would empower us?
  • (Ephesians 3:20) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
  • (Ephesians 3:21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The Spirit Illumines

  • isn't God good?
  • I've been encouraged these past few weeks as I've been thinking about the Holy Spirit
  • when we become Christians, the Holy Spirit moves in
  • and when he moves in, he begins that critical work of turning sinners into saints
  • he fills us, he moves us, he convicts us, he purifies us

  • but there's one problem
  • I'll explain this problem very bluntly: we're dumb
  • we're pretty simple-minded people
  • we lack the cranial capacity to really grasp what we need to know in order to live the spiritual life

  • to give you an example, I have a pet dog who is rather intelligent for being a dog
  • but the one thing I find is that my dog lacks the cranial capacity to grasp the nuances and subtleties of human thought
  • I talk to my dog, and unless I say her name, or walk, or food, or one of the 50 or so words that she knows, basically I get a glazed look in response

  • now, let's think about the mind of God
  • think about God's mind compared to our mind
  • God tells us in the Bible that his mind is vastly superior to anything we can know or comprehend
  • (Isaiah 55:8) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
  • (Isaiah 55:9) "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  • (Romans 11:33) Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
  • (Romans 11:34) "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"

  • we cannot begin to grasp the mind of God
  • basically, we as human beings are limited to things we can understand
  • have you ever noticed how many times Jesus spoke in the Gospels and people were confused?

  • but there's a solution to this problem of our lack of comprehension
  • the solution isn't more brains, the solution is a better teacher
  • the answer is that God has given us his Spirit, and the Spirit has taken on the role of teaching us and illuminating us
  • somebody has called the Holy Spirit "the go-between God"
  • what he does is he takes the things of God and makes them real to us on one hand
  • and he also takes our longings and prayers and brings them to the Father on the other
  • in essence, the Spirit is a translator, making known to us the incomprehensible things of God

  • that's why Jesus could say in Matthew 11
  • (Matthew 11:25) At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
  • (Matthew 11:26) Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

  • this morning I would like to describe three aspects of this ministry of the Holy Spirit
  • the technical name for this ministry is illumination - the concept of turning the lights on in our souls so we can perceive spiritual things
  • these three aspects of the illuminating or teaching work of the Spirit make a tremendous difference in our lives

  • THE FIRST WAY IN WHICH THE SPIRIT ILLUMINATES US IS BY GIVING US SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING
  • please open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 2
  • (1 Corinthians 2:14) The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
  • this verse describes the man without the Spirit
  • Jude 19 describes this sort of man as one who follows mere natural instincts, and do not have the Spirit
  • the man without the Spirit, or the non-Christian, is basically dominated by the merely physical, or worldly life
  • they can see, they can smell, they can hear, they can touch, and they can feel
  • and that's it
  • they do not have the Holy Spirit, and therefore cannot receive the truth that comes from the Spirit

  • before you become a Christian, you're missing out on a whole other world
  • (1 Corinthians 2:9) However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"--
  • (1 Corinthians 2:10) but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
  • (1 Corinthians 2:11) For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
  • (1 Corinthians 2:12) We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
  • verse 9 talks about the great things God has planned for us
  • and then verse 10 tells us that God has revealed these things to us by his Spirit

  • you see, without the Spirit, there is no revelation
  • without the Spirit, we are unable to grasp the wonderful things that God has planned for us as believers
  • Paul goes on to explain this in verse 11

  • who knows you best?
  • no one knows you better than you
  • no one knows your private thoughts and your inner struggles better than you do
  • there are things about you that no-one else could ever know unless you revealed it to them
  • what Paul says in verse 11 is similar
  • no-one can know God's thoughts except for the Spirit of God
  • but God, verse 12 says, is pleased to freely reveal these thoughts to us
  • God has chosen, through his Spirit, to reveal himself to us as believers

  • think about it - through the illuminating and revealing ministry of the Holy Spirit, we have access to the very heart and mind of God
  • someone has said that the Spirit of God is like a scuba-diver who goes down to the depths and finds out what's down there
  • the Spirit does "deep thought fishing" to connect us to the mind of God

  • but the unbeliever does not have access to the mind of God
  • (1 Corinthians 2:14) The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
  • you see, the things of God are silliness to the lost person
  • they have no apparatus to receive the truths of God

  • you see, what happened when we became believers was that the Spirit allowed us to comprehend the things of God
  • they made no sense to us before
  • but all of a sudden, we were no longer limited to what we could pick up from our five senses
  • in a sense, we were given access to the very mind of God

  • now, let's think about this
  • when we share the Gospel with someone, it's going to be silliness to them
  • but it's not our job to convince them; that's the Spirit's job
  • when we present the Gospel to someone, your job isn't to lead them to Christ
  • only the Spirit can do that
  • your job is to be an instrument that the Spirit can use
  • if this morning you have not received Christ as Savior, you need to come to Christ and pray that he would open your mind to spiritual things

  • THE SECOND THING THE SPIRIT DOES IS HE TEACHES US
  • (John 14:26) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
  • (John 16:13) But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

  • we tend to forget, don't we?
  • even after we read the Scriptures and the words of Jesus, we need the Spirit to teach us and to bring these things to our remembrance

  • when Jesus said these words in John 14, the Gospels were of course not written
  • in fact, s ome of the books of the Bible were written forty years after Jesus died
  • how could ordinary fishermen and tax collectors and laborers remember what Jesus had said, and write it down later?
  • because the Holy Spirit enabled them
  • Jesus said in effect, "When the time comes, the Spirit has everything on file, and will remind you of what I said"

  • but even for today, the Spirit teaches us and opens up the Scriptures for us
  • the Spirit is involved in teaching us through the Scriptures the mind of God
  • every believer has the Spirit as a teacher, a teacher who puts us on heaven's frequency
  • a pastor can't do that
  • no human teacher can do that
  • but the Spirit can
  • (1 John 2:20) But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
  • (1 John 2:27) As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.
  • it's easy to misunderstand this last verse
  • John isn't disparaging human teachers, since he himself was one

  • John was writing at a time when Gnostic teachers claimed to have "higher knowledge" that only they possessed
  • and John's point was this: you don't need any higher knowledge
  • you already have the anointing of the Spirit, and he is teaching you everything you need to know

  • now let's get practical
  • D.L. Moody said, "The Bible without the Holy Spirit is a sundial by moonlight"
  • when we read the Scriptures, we need the Spirit to teach us
  • sometimes I'm reading a book, and I can't understand what the author is saying
  • I sometimes wish I could talk directly to the author, and say, "What did you mean by this?"
  • when we read the Bible, we can talk directly to the author!
  • we should pray that the Holy Spirit gives us his illumination as we study Scripture
  • we don't need any additional spiritual knowledge other than what the Spirit reveals to us as we study the Scriptures

  • you see, Christian living requires a continual openness to the Spirit and his communication to us, not about strange mysteries, but about what Christians have in the gospel and about its significance for life
  • we continually need insight into the faith, because we have a darkness that needs enlightening
  • the teaching ministry of the Spirit does not involve the revelation of new truth
  • but it does give us a capacity to appreciate and appropriate God's truth already revealed

  • have you ever had the experience of reading a passage of Scripture that you have read many times before, and the Spirit gives you fresh insights into that passage?
  • as we read the Holy Word of God, we need to request the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth
  • we need to ask the Spirit to teach us

  • some time ago, a young man became a Christian
  • this man was a soldier, and not long after his conversion, he was sent to North Africa
  • there was no way for his Christian friends to help him take his first baby steps in the faith
  • and his Christian friends became worried for him

  • some months later, his friends heard that he was organizing a Bible study in his North African quarters
  • and not only his piers were coming, but also his higher-ups in the army
  • this man had no human teacher, but he had the Spirit of Christ and the Scriptures, and through them he grew in knowledge and in spiritual stature
  • this is the great teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit

  • THE LAST THING THE SPIRIT DOES IN THIS MINISTRY OF ILLUMINATION IS THAT HE GIVES US CONFIDENCE
  • (2 Timothy 1:7) For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
  • you know, the road God has chosen for us as Christians is not always easy
  • but we don't have to be timid as Christians
  • through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we know where we're going and we therefore have confidence

  • the Holy Spirit gives us confidence because he reveals to us things that other people don't see
  • when other people look at a situation, they see what is visible
  • but when Christians look at an event, they see God's power and purpose behind it
  • I love the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6
  • Elisha and his servant woke up one day and were surrounded by the Arameans
  • the servant looked out and panicked
  • he said, "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?"
  • but Elisha said, "Don't worry - we've got them outnumbered"
  • I think his servant probably thought Elisha had lost it
  • but then listen to what happened:
  • (2 Kings 6:17) And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
  • when God opens our eyes, he allows us to look beyond our circumstances to see the vast amount of resources we have in him
  • when God gives us illumination, everyone else is panicking around us
  • but God opens our eyes and we see the mountain full of God's chariots and horses providing protection and deliverance
  • we see what can only be spiritually discerned, and as a result we have confidence

  • one of my favorite stories is about the church's first martyr, Stephen
  • in Acts 7, Stephen had just been charged with blasphemy, and was about to be killed for his faith
  • the religious leaders were furious with him
  • but listen to Acts 7:55:
  • (Acts 7:55) But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
  • in other words, Stephen saw something the others didn't see
  • and instead of being scared or timid, Stephen received incredible confidence and boldness

  • now if we look at circumstances, we're going to be scared
  • but if we, like Stephen, see Jesus standing at the right hand of God, we're going to stop looking at our circumstances and we're going to start looking at the glory of God
  • and I can guarantee you, you're going to be confident!

  • it's like the two men who were walking to Emmaus in Luke 24
  • they were dejected and downcast, because Jesus had been crucified
  • but then a stranger appeared to them, and just before he left, the passage says, "their eyes were opened"
  • their emotions changed
  • that's illumination, and that's what the Spirit does in our hearts

  • do you want to know the mind of God?
  • or are you simply going to live in the realm of the five senses?
  • would you like the Spirit of revelation to do his work in your hearts, that you may know God better?
  • would you like increased confidence in your life as God reveals spiritual truths to you?

  • I hope you will let me pray a prayer for you
  • if you have a pen, this prayer is found in Ephesians 1:15-19
  • please close your eyes as I pray this prayer
  • I am praying this prayer for you

  • (Ephesians 1:15) For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
  • (Ephesians 1:16) I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
  • (Ephesians 1:17) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
  • (Ephesians 1:18) I pray also 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 the saints,
  • (Ephesians 1:19) and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
  • Amen
  • Open our eyes, Lord,
  • We want to see Jesus,
  • To reach out and touch him,
  • And say that we love him.
  • Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen,
  • Open our eyes, Lord,
  • We want to see Jesus

The Spirit Purifies

  • somewhere in your possession, you probably have something made of gold
  • if you have a ring, and you look inside of it, you just might see a number followed with the letter K
  • it refers to the purity of the gold piece - how much is gold and how much is not
  • a 10 carat piece of gold is 42% gold
  • a 12 carat piece is 50% gold
  • and a 24 carat piece of gold is - you guessed it - pure gold
  • of course, the more purity, the more value

  • it's my experience that there are 10 carat Christians, 12 carat Christians, and 20 carat Christians
  • one of the Holy Spirit's tasks is to refine us as believers until we become 24 carat Christians
  • now, this process is never completed in this life
  • but it carries on continually

  • this morning I want to talk to you about how the Spirit goes about purifying us
  • the ultimate goal is a simple one: to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ
  • that we progressively become more and more free from sin and more and more like Jesus Christ in our actual lives

  • we have to understand the Biblical picture of the human condition
  • according to the Bible, there are really only two masters we can serve: sin or the Spirit
  • many of us think it's possible to sit on the fence
  • the reality is this: if you're not serving God, you're serving Satan

  • when we become Christians, the Bible says we are new creatures
  • we stand justified before Holy God, and everything about us is new
  • (2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
  • but perhaps it has been your experience that you have not always lived up to this new position
  • sometimes our conduct does not match our position in Christ

  • the story is told that the emperor Napoleon was once embarrassed by the behavior of one of his soldiers, who also happened to be named Napoleon
  • the emperor looked at his fellow Napoleon and said, "Either change your behavior or change your name"

  • once we're saved, God looks at us, and instead of seeing our sins, he sees the righteousness of Christ imputed to us
  • we have a holy standing before God, not because we are holy, but because Christ is holy
  • the problem is, we still have this thing called the sin nature
  • the reality is, even the most mature Christian is not perfect
  • and the Holy Spirit's job for the rest of our lifetimes is to make our conduct match our position in Christ
  • I'll say it again: the Holy Spirit's job for the rest of our lifetimes is to make our conduct match our position in Christ
  • now how would you like a job like that?
  • you think your job is hard!

  • let's start at the beginning
  • before you believed in Christ, what were you like?
  • you were probably a very nice person
  • your mother probably loved you
  • you probably had friends
  • and compared to other people, you were probably a morally upright person
  • if you ask the average person on the street, they would have to say that they were hoping to go to heaven because they've tried their best to obey God

  • but here's the catch
  • God's opinion is completely different
  • (John 16:8) When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
  • (John 16:9) in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;
  • (John 16:10) in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;
  • (John 16:11) and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

  • the Holy Spirit begins to work
  • and what a work he has to do
  • this is the first purifying work that the Spirit ever does
  • if you read the passage, the Spirit convicts the world of three things:
  • first, the Spirit convicts the world of sin
  • if you haven't noticed, sin is a four letter word in our society
  • where do you ever hear the word sin?
  • even in churches, the concept of sin is pass?
  • it's a lot easier to say "shortcomings" or "blemishes" or "flubs"
  • but then the Spirit comes along and convicts us of sin
  • here's the reality he brings to our attention:
  • (Jeremiah 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
  • (Romans 8:6) The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
  • (Romans 8:7) the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.
  • (Romans 8:8) Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
  • the Bible is very clear that we have a sin problem
  • and the Spirit convicts us of our sin
  • the greatest sin, according to John 16:9, is that people do not believe in Jesus Christ
  • because he is the only means of salvation given to us

  • the Spirit also convicts us of righteousness
  • instead of measuring ourselves by other people, the Spirit convicts us by revealing the holiness of God
  • and like Isaiah, we cry "(Isaiah 6:5) "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
  • as we see the righteousness of Christ, attested to by his return to the Father, we become convicted of our own lack of righteousness
  • we realize that God doesn't grade on the bell curve

  • and the Spirit also convicts us of the coming judgment
  • how do we know about the coming judgment?
  • because Satan, "the ruler of this world," is already condemned

  • Tony Evans has said that before the Spirit begins his convicting work in our hearts as unbelievers, we are like a wasp that lands on a sandwich
  • the wasp begins eating the juice of the jam
  • he is so busy enjoying the sweet stuff that he doesn't even notice that the person on whose sandwich it had landed had picked up a knife to slice the sandwich in half
  • in other words, that wasp was suddenly in great peril
  • but it keeps on eating
  • the unredeemed person is like this, eating the jam of the world, but unaware that God is about to raise his arm in judgment

  • if you're a true and genuine believer this morning, you've experienced the Spirit's conviction
  • but some people resist it
  • when Christ appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, he said to him:
  • (Acts 26:14) 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
  • in other words, why are you fighting the Spirit's convicting power?
  • before Stephen was became the first Christian martyr, he preached a sermon in which he said this:
  • (Acts 7:51) "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
  • it's possible to resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit

  • this morning, it's possible that someone has been convicted of the Holy Spirit
  • you know that you haven't come to Christ in repentance
  • if you were to die today, and you were to stand before the judgment of God, you know that your all your righteous deeds and efforts wouldn't be enough
  • you realize that your only hope is in Jesus Christ, that he gives you an infusion of his perfect righteousness
  • but you haven't believed and trusted in him yet
  • this morning I would say to you: "Why are you kicking against the goads?"
  • come to Christ this morning

  • as I mentioned, when we come to Christ, we are new creatures
  • and the Spirit does an initial cleansing work on us, making a decisive break with the patterns of sin that were in our lives before
  • Paul says of the Corinthians:
  • (1 Corinthians 6:11) And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you w ere sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
  • he gives us an initial break with sin
  • and we become new creatures

  • the Bible is clear that from the point of conversion on, we are no longer ruled or dominated by sin
  • we no longer love to sin
  • (Romans 6:11) In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
  • (Romans 6:12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
  • (Romans 6:13) Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
  • (Romans 6:14) For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
  • this means that we, by virtue of the power of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection life of Christ working within us, have power to overcome the temptations and enticements of sin
  • sin is no longer our master, as it was before we were saved
  • although we sometimes sin, the Holy Spirit re-orients our desires so that we no longer have a dominant love for sin in our hearts
  • this is the Spirit's second great work of purification
  • the first one was bring us conviction
  • the second great work was in giving us a decisive break from the mastery of sin at our conversion

  • but if you're like me, you still struggle with sin
  • no-one here can say, "I am completely free from sin"
  • the reality is that for the rest of our lives, the Holy Spirit is doing his purifying work in our lives, gradually making us freer from sin, and more and more like Christ
  • (Romans 6:19) Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
  • in other words, Paul says that our task is to grow more and more in sanctification, just as we previously grew more and more in sin

  • we could all echo the words of the apostle Paul who said:
  • (Philippians 3:13) Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
  • (Philippians 3:14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  • I won't dwell on this, because we will be talking about the fruit of the Spirit in our lives in a few weeks
  • much of the New Testament is taken up with instructing believers on how they should grow in likeness to Christ

  • the important thing to realize this morning, though, is that the Spirit is at work in your life purifying you from sin until you become more and more like Christ
  • as a postscript, I can say that this work will only be completed in one sense at our death, but ultimately on the resurrection day

  • it's application time
  • the third person of the Trinity is called the Holy Spirit
  • and it should come as no surprise to us that one of his primary activities is to cleanse us from sin and "sanctify us" or make us more holy in actual conduct of life
  • my first application is that we ought to praise God the Holy Spirit for taking on this great task
  • it's primarily the work of God
  • we can take little credit for our spiritual growth
  • Paul prays:
  • (1 Thessalonians 5:23) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
  • Paul tells the Philippians:
  • (Philippians 2:13) It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
  • the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit specifically works within us to change us and sanctify us, giving us greater holiness of life
  • Peter speaks of the "sanctifying work of the Spirit" in 1 Peter 1:2
  • Paul talks about the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5
  • the Holy Spirit is the spirit of holiness, and he produces holiness within us

  • my second application is that we have a role in this
  • the Spirit is purifying us, but we are not just passive spectators
  • we have a role in this as well
  • (Romans 8:13) If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit's help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life.
  • Paul says we do this with the Spirit's help, but he also says we must do it!
  • it is not the Holy Spirit who puts to death the wrongful things that our sinful selves want, it's Christians who must do this - with the Spirit's help, of course

  • Paul tells the Philippians:
  • (Philippians 2:12) My dear friends, you have always obeyed God when I was with you. It is even more important that you obey now while I am away from you. Keep on working to complete your salvation with fear and trembling,
  • (Philippians 2:13) because God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him.
  • Paul encourages them to keep on working to complete their salvation, because God is working in them
  • they need to further work out the realization of the benefits of salvation in their lives

  • the Bible never suggests any short-cuts by which we can grow, but simply encourages us repeatedly to give ourselves to Bible reading and meditation, prayer, worship, Christian fellowship, and self-discipline or self-control
  • we're going to come back to this theme in a few weeks when we talk about the fruit of the Spirit

  • but let me ask you some questions this morning
  • the Spirit has quite a job turning you from a sinner to a saint
  • have you been resisting the Spirit's conviction?
  • do you realize that you have been holding back, not wanting to come to Christ in repentance and to let the Spirit give you a new nature?
  • if so, this morning is the time for you to come

  • question two: do you praise God for continuing to make you holier?
  • aren't you glad the Holy Spirit doesn't give up on you?
  • aren't you glad you don't have to do it yourself?
  • the Holy Spirit is at work in you even today, making you into a holier person, day by day

  • question three: are you cooperating?
  • you have an active role in this, you know
  • (Ephesians 4:30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
  • it's possible to bring grief to the Holy Spirit by resisting his work of sanctification in our lives

  • let's pray right now and ask him to do this work in our lives

The Spirit's Filling (Ephesians 5:14-18)

  • please open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 5
  • can you point to wasted periods in your life?
  • perhaps you've been a Christian for a while, but you can identify a period in which you wasted your time
  • have you ever made unwise decisions?
  • have you ever been a believer, and yet experienced a period of sleepiness and sluggishness in your life?
  • have you ever had the queasy feeling that you aren't in the will of God, or that you don't know God's will?
  • read with me a few verses from Ephesians 5
  • we'll begin reading in the middle of verse 14
  • (Ephesians 5:14) This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
  • (Ephesians 5:15) Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise,
  • (Ephesians 5:16) making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
  • (Ephesians 5:17) Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

  • Paul says it's possible to be a Christian, and yet be asleep
  • to be a Christian, and yet waste your time
  • to be a believer, and yet be unwise
  • to be a Christian, and not know what God's will is

  • Paul gives a remedy to this sort of living
  • the next verse, Ephesians 5:18, is unexpected and unparalleled in the Bible
  • it is the imperative that is the key to all the others in this passage, and in fact the ultimate imperative in Paul's writings
  • (Ephesians 5:18) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

  • we've already established last week that every believer has been baptized in the Spirit
  • friends, here is the reality: if you are a believer, you have been Spirit-baptized
  • all believers have been
  • we've all been baptized in the Holy Spirit
  • we're all recipients of the gift of Jesus at Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • there's no such thing as a second class of Christians, a class better than ordinary, run-of-the-mill believers
  • we all have received the gift of the Holy Spirit

  • but the reality is that many Christians lead defeated Christian lives
  • their lives are not on target, they are not living wisely according to God's will

  • the problem isn't that we don't have enough of the Spirit
  • every believer has complete access to the Spirit's fullness at all times
  • the problem isn't that we don't have enough of the Spirit, it's that the Spirit doesn't have enough of us
  • this is what Paul means by his command, "Be filled with the Spirit"
  • the purpose of this command is that we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit be given a place in your life that he wants and that he deserves to have

  • we understand what it means to be filled with an emotion
  • we know what it means to be filled with grief, or joy, or other strong emotions
  • when we are filled with a given emotion, that emotion dominates our being and describes what we are really like
  • it in fact describes what controls us

  • there's a story in the book of Acts about Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple that lied to God about what they were giving him
  • Acts 5:3 describes Ananias by saying that Satan filled his heart
  • in other words, Satan dominated his impulses
  • whenever we are filled with something, that means we are controlled by it
  • Paul tells us that we are to be filled and controlled, and I might add, empowered, by the Holy Spirit

  • only when this happens can we live what is called the victorious Christian life
  • this is the key to growing in our faith
  • the more filled with the Spirit we are, the more we will grow as believers
  • the less filled with the Spirit we are, the slower we will grow as believers

  • in 1989, I was dating an attractive young lady
  • now in case you're wondering, no, I wasn't married in 1989, so it was okay to be dating
  • this woman I was dating, we'll call her, say, Charlene
  • and we went down to see the Symphony of Fire show down at the lake
  • Charlene at that time had a newfangled car, a 1988 Chevrolet Beretta
  • and it had a gauge in the car that would tell you how far the car could drive with the gas currently in the tank
  • as we left the parking lot, we were stuck in a traffic jam
  • and this gauge went down from 30 km to 15 km to 7km
  • and we hadn't even moved
  • we pulled the car over on the road, parked it, and took a public transit, and had to go retrieve the car the next day

  • now no-one in their right mind would say that we lacked a good attitude
  • we were in love; we had a great attitude
  • but the problem wasn't our attitude; the problem was that we had run out of gas

  • no-one would ever tell us that we didn't try hard enough
  • it didn't matter how hard we tried
  • the problem wasn't our effort, the problem was that we ran out of gas

  • no-one in their right mind would have suggested that we lacked faith
  • I don't care how much faith we had, the car was out of gas

  • but let's think about the Christian life
  • if you ever go through a spiritually dry time, the problem is that you aren't filled or controlled or dominated by the Spirit

  • some people say, "you need a better attitude"
  • some people would say, "you're not trying hard enough"
  • others would say that you lack faith
  • but these things forget the real problem
  • the problem isn't that we have a poor attitude or aren't trying hard enough or that we lack faith
  • the problem is that we're not filled with the Spirit

  • you see, it's impossible to live the Christian life on our own
  • if we could pull it off, God would be necessary
  • but in John 15:5, Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing"
  • that's why before he returned to heaven, he promised us the Holy Spirit
  • and without the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing

  • the Christian life is a supernatural life, and we need supernatural help to live it
  • the only thing that makes us more powerful than before is he that is in us
  • we need the Holy Spirit to provide us the enablement we need to overcome sin
  • we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit

  • think of the disciples
  • if anyone could live effective Christian lives without the Spirit, it was them
  • they were trained by the Master
  • they had seen lame men walk, blind men see, and the dead rise
  • they knew about the Father and the Son
  • they had even performed miracles themselves
  • nobody could have been more convinced, more motivated
  • but they were still missing something
  • that's why in Acts 4:1-8, Jesus told them, "Don't you dare begin ministry until you've received the gift of the Holy Spirit!"

  • you see, living the Christian life isn't difficult, it's impossible
  • you can't live the Christian life apart from the help of the Holy Spirit
  • if the disciples dared not move until they had been assured of his presence and power, how foolish we are to leave the house every morning without giving the Holy Spirit a thought!
  • it's why we experience so much defeat in our lives
  • we can't live the Christian life in our own strength
  • we have a choice
  • as one person says, we can live the adequate Christian life, or we can live the wonderful, Spirit-filled life
  • which one are you going to choose?

  • so let's look again at Paul's command in Ephesians 5:18
  • (Ephesians 5:18) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

  • you'll notice it's a command
  • God isn't into giving suggestions
  • this isn't, "If you would like, maybe it would be nice to be filled with the Spirit"
  • it's a command
  • do it!
  • it's absolutely essential that we be filled with the Spirit

  • you'll notice it's for all of us
  • you can't see this in the English, but in the Greek, the command is in the plural
  • you could almost say, "Now y'all be filled with the Spirit"
  • it's not a command for one Christian, or an elite group of Christians, it's for all Christians
  • this morning the command is for all of us to be filled with the Spirit
  • it's for you to be filled with the Spirit

  • you'll notice that it's a continual command
  • the verb is in the ongoing tense
  • it could almost be translated, "Keep on being filled with the Spirit"
  • in other words, we don't get filled with the Spirit today and it's enough from here on out
  • we need to be filled with the Spirit daily
  • the filling is not perpetual
  • we have to keep being filled, or we will run low

  • the results of being Spirit-filled follow in Ephesians 5
  • to be filled with the Spirit does not lead to repeated charismatic experiences, as some claim
  • it leads to a transformation of our characters, actually opening ourselves to the transforming presence of Christ
  • the Spirit becomes the dominating influence in our lives
  • his filling transforms our worship, our thankfulness, and it leads to transformed relationships of mutual submission
  • (Ephesians 5:19) Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
  • (Ephesians 5:20) always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • (Ephesians 5:21) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
  • how many people here would like their worship and relationships transformed?

  • just a few more questions remain
  • what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
  • as I said earlier, it means being controlled by the Spirit
  • the contrast Paul gives is interesting
  • Paul says, "Don't be drunk with wine"
  • when we're drunk, we're what? under the influence
  • Paul contrasts this to being under the influence of the Holy Spirit
  • he says, in effect, "Instead of being under the control of liquor, which leads to debauchery, be under control of the Holy Spirit, which leads to a transformed life"
  • J. Oswald Sanders writes:
  • In the heart of the believer who is filled with the Spirit, He reigns supreme over the will, the emotions, the intelligence, but with his full consent and cooperation. The word [filled] carries the idea of being filled to the point of saturation, a fullness that leaves nothing to be desired...So to be full of the Holy Spirit means the habitual experience of having the Holy Spirit in the free and unhindered exercise of all his attributes - knowledge, power, holiness, peace, joy - exercising his sway and dominion in every realm of life.

  • let me wrap up by giving you some reminders, and then telling us how we can be filled with the Spirit
  • reminder #1: you can't live the Christian life without the Spirit
  • as I said, without the Spirit you have the adequate Christian life
  • with the Spirit you have the wonderful, Spirit-filled life
  • which would you rather have?

  • reminder #2: abnormal experiences aren't necessary to Christian maturity
  • we'll talk about the more spectacular gifts of the Spirit, such as tongues and prophesy and healings
  • suffice it to say today, that the filling of the Spirit leads to transformed lives, and not always to charismatic experiences

  • reminder #3: the Spirit's fullness is for all of us
  • it's not for a group of elite Christians, or more mature ones
  • it's for baby Christians, it's for mature Christians, it's for all of us

  • reminder #4: it's a continuous experience
  • yesterday's filling was yesterday
  • are you filled with the Spirit today?
  • we need to be filled with the Spirit continually

  • I've left the most obvious question until now
  • how are we filled with the Spirit?
  • I'll mention two ways this morning, and they're from Charles Stanley's book, the Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life
  • ONE: we are filled with the Spirit as we come to the place of TOTAL DEPENDENCE
  • listen to what Stanley writes:
  • "The Spirit-filled life begins once we are absolutely and thoroughly convinced that we can do nothing apart from the indwelling strength of the Holy Spirit...The Spirit-filled life begins with an overwhelming realization that we are absolutely helpless and hopeless apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit...[Until then], we will always be out there doing things for God in our own strength"
  • let me ask you, have you reached that point of total dependence in your life?
  • that without God's help, you can do nothing

  • TWO: we are filled with the Spirit as we come to the place of TOTAL SURRENDER
  • until we surrender to the Spirit's control in our lives, until we come to the place in which we give everything over to him, and remember, do this continually - we won't be filled with the Spirit
  • remember, to be filled with the Spirit means that we are controlled by the Spirit
  • in order to be controlled by the Spirit, we have to surrender everything to him

  • let's sing this little chorus together
  • Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me
  • Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me
  • melt me, mold me, fill me, use me
  • Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me

  • let's pray now that we will reach the place of total dependence and total surrender to the Spirit, that he may fill us and use us and that we might live the wonderful, Spirit-filled life