PART 1 THE CHRISTIAN’S DESIRE
PART 1 THE CHRISTIAN’S DESIRE
Now that we are a Christian, what is probably the most important spiritual thing we should desire?
Depending on who you ask, the answers will vary. If a loved one or friend is severely sick, our desire would be for God to heal them. Our desire might be for God to help us with our finances. If someone we know is in the military, our desire would be for God to keep them safe. For an addiction, we would desire for God to take away the urge for it. Some have a desire to find a boyfriend or girlfriend. All of these are desires I am sure most of us have asked God for at one time or another.
In 1977, at the age of 26, I came to know the Lord in a personal way. Over time, I began to attend a church that was located in my home city. This was a church of about 100 members whose male pastor was young and energetic. Here I was, a young single male Christian. If you were to ask me what my desire was, I would probably have said my desire was for God to help me find a Christian wife. I’m sure that each of us has a desire? What’s yours?
As I continued to attend this church, something started to happen to me. I began to experience God’s presence. I can honestly say that I didn’t at first understand the content of the messages at all. But what I found was a release in my life of anxiety, worry, fear, insecurity, self-centered thoughts, etc. I would walk out of the church services with a smile on my face from ear to ear. I’m not going to say that this smile lasted for a long period. It seemed that once I left, the cares of this world would come back into my mind, along with insecurity, anxiety, worry, and fear.
While my desire for a Christian wife was still on my mind, it was no longer as much of a priority. I became more and more desirous of getting to know God more and more. I couldn’t wait to attend the next assembly gathering in order to experience the release from outward pressures, and from my own internal mental and emotional battles. Something was going on in my life, but I didn’t know how to explain it in words other than to say that I knew God was doing a work inside of me.
Church services were held on Sunday morning, along with a Bible study during the week. On Friday night, I would attend a church service in another part of the state whose speaker was the president of an affiliated Bible college. Each time I attended one of these assemblies, I would be impacted by God’s presence. And I was slowly beginning to understand by means of the teaching of the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit as to who I now was in Christ.
My desire for why I was attending church had changed full circle. I slowly began to understand what the biblical terminology was for experiencing God’s presence. In Ephesians 5:18, the apostle Paul is writing to the believers at Ephesus, instructing them to stop being continually acted upon by an excessive use of alcohol, but to be continually acted upon by the filling of the Holy Spirit.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Paul didn’t say to them, well, if you drink less or not at all, you will be ok. Paul knew that the answer for addictions or, as a matter of fact, for all of our problems was twofold: learn how to think differently about ourselves and be empowered by the Holy Spirit. To be empowered by the Holy Spirit means to be filled with Him. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be constantly controlled by Him in our mind, emotions, and will. When we are filled, we will express the nature of the Spirit-filled life. Over time, our natural perceptions of what the kingdom of God is all about will begin to be reshaped according to the declarations of the Word.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
In the early church, there was an issue with eating meat or drinking drink that was offered as part of sacrificial rituals in pagan temples. While this issue was eventually addressed, the idea was that our Christian walk should not be based on outward observances, rituals, commandments, etc. Rather our Christian life should be based on righteousness (correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting), peace (that regulates, rules, and harmonizes the heart), and joy (inner happiness) by means of the Holy Spirit.
What is your Christian life centered on?
Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Whatever it is, it will determine what your desire is. There is nothing hidden from God. He knows every rising thought and every budding desire.
So, why doesn’t God grant us our desires?
Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
It is because He wants us to have His desires. In other words, He wants us to seek His kingdom first. God knows we have need of food, drink, and clothing. His advice to us is to seek intensively, earnestly, again and again, His kingdom and His righteousness (holiness of heart and purity of life) with exclusive priority, and if we do, He will provide us with all of these other things.
Luke 17:20-21 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you
What is this kingdom that He wants us to seek exclusively for? It’s an internal kingdom. It’s the heavenly newness of life. It’s the filling of the Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit controlling us in our mind, emotions, and will.
Do you want the filling of the Holy Spirit to be a reality in your life?
You might respond by saying I don’t know unless if I am first made aware as to how this would benefit me. This is an understandable response. In the chapter that follows, we will learn about what these benefits are of being filled with the Spirit.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Why do we try to obtain certain things? Probably because we believe that in getting them, they will provide for us a benefit. An alcoholic or drug addict wants to obtain these chemicals because it provides for them the benefit of satisfying their bodily cravings along with, in some cases, helping them deal with stressful, regretful, or abusive situations. We might want to purchase a new car because it would provide for us the benefit of getting from one place to another without breaking down. Finding a girlfriend or boyfriend, hopefully, might provide for us the gift of companionship. All of us seek after things that we hope could provide for us some benefit.
What are you seeking after in your spiritual walk with God that you believe will provide for you a benefit? The Bible talks about the usefulness for the Christian of being filled with the Holy Spirit. I think that for many Christians, this has been a missing ingredient in many church teachings. Let’s ask again, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be constantly controlled by Him in our mind, emotions, and will.
If we don’t know what the benefits are of being filled with the Holy Spirit, then why would we want to seek after them? So, let’s take a look at the benefits of being filled with the Holy Spirit so that you will be able to decide as to whether these benefits are worthwhile for you to seek after or not. When we are filled with, controlled, or led by the Spirit, His fruit (spiritual qualities; all proper and regulated affections; elements of character) will be produced in us and subsequently evidenced in our responses to the circumstance of life and the relationships with our fellow man.
The following words are descriptive of the spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit that are produced in us when we appropriate God’s Word and activate the ministry of the Spirit who will influence us in our mind, emotions, and will.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
- Suffereth long - patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.
- Envieth not - neither jealous (to envy other people1).
- Envieth not - not grieved because another possesses a greater portion of earthly, intellectual, or spiritual blessings.2
- Vaunteth not itself - does not desire to be noticed or applauded.
- Vaunteth not itself - does not sound one’s own praises.
- Is not puffed up - does not bear oneself loftily.
- Is not puffed up - is not inflated with a sense of one’s own importance.
1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
- Not unseemly - gives reverence and respect to superiors.
- Not unseemly - does not seek one’s own happiness to the injury of another.
- Not unseemly - desires our neighbor’s spiritual welfare.
- Not unseemly - not easily angered or argumentative.
- Seeketh not her own - not selfish.
- Is not easily provoked - though he may be injured, yet he governs his passions, restrains his temper, subdues his feelings.3
- Thinketh no evil - not inclined to revenge.
- Thinketh no evil - does not suppose that a good action has a bad motive.
- Thinketh no evil - not disposed to find fault in others.
- Thinketh no evil - does not keep a record of wrongs done by other people.
- Thinketh no evil - will not think evil of another person’s motives, opinions, or conduct until we are compelled to do so by the most unbreakable evidence.
1 Corinthians 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
- Rejoiceth not - does not take delight when others are guilty of a crime.
- Rejoiceth not - does not find pleasure in the report that someone has done something wrong, and in the following up of that report, find it to be true.
- Rejoiceth not - does not take pleasure in injuring or hurting others.
1 Corinthians 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
- Beareth - does not make the sins of others, if alone privy to them, the subject of conversation or censure.
- Beareth - betrays no secret.
- Beareth - not resentful (the feeling of displeasure at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult4).
- Believeth - believes the best of every person.
- Hopeth - always confident.
- Hopeth - sees the bright side of things; does not despair.5
- Endureth - bears up under persecution from enemies and friends.
- Endureth - never says of any trial, affliction, or insult; this cannot be endured.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
- Never faileth - never falls powerless.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
- Love - self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved.
- Joy - inner rejoicing, which does not depend on circumstances because it rests in God’s sovereign control of all things.
- Joy - the exultation that arises from a sense of God's mercy communicated to the soul in the pardon of its iniquities.6
- Joy - tranquility of mind as a result of a right relationship with God.7
- Peace - causes us to be reconciled with one another.
- Peace - the calm, quiet, and order, which take place in the justified soul, instead of the doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings8 (strong inner feeling or notion of a future misfortune, evil, etc.).9
- Longsuffering - remaining quiet when persecuted.
- Gentleness - conciliatory to others.
- Longsuffering - patient endurance of wrong under ill-treatment, without anger or thought of revenge.10
- Gentleness - unruffled disposition.
- Goodness - gracious giving, no strings attached.
- Goodness - reaching out to do good for others even when it is not deserved.
- Faith - conscientious carefulness in preserving what is committed to our trust, in restoring it to its proper owner.11
- Faith - faithful to one’s word and promises.
- Faith - not disappointing the confidence of our employer.12
- Meekness - compliant to the teaching of the word.
- Temperance - mastery of one’s own desires and impulses.
- Temperance - not fulfilling in outward action the desires (passions; natural inclinations) of the sinful nature.
Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
- Love - to regard the welfare of or to desire good for our enemy.
- Bless - to give good words for our enemies’ bad words.
- Bless - to speak of those things which we can commend in an enemy; if there is nothing that we can commend, say nothing about him.13
- Good - to perform a good action toward those who hate us.
- Pray - pray to God for the salvation of those who have unjustly accused us.
Now that you know what the benefits are for being filled with the Holy Spirit, the question is, do you want these benefits to be produced in you and evidenced in your relationships with others? I hope that your response is yes, yes, yes.
In the next chapter, we look at what are those things that inhibit us from being filled with the Spirit.
1Dictionary.com, 01 Feb. 2014 ˂http://dictionary.reference.com>.
2Adam Clarke’s Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2004, 02 Feb. 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
3Barnes’ Notes. Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 05 Feb. 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
5Robertson’s New Testament Word Pictures Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 10 Feb. 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
7UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 15 Feb. 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
10Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 18 Feb. 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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