Tonight we are coming to Ephesians chapter 4, I want you to turn with me there please, Ephesians chapter 4. Let's pray before we come to God's word: Father, we come to You in the name of our Lord Jesus. We've been singing tonight about the Name that is over all, the Name that is above every name. We read the other evening from this epistle that You have given Jesus a Name that is high above all principalities and powers, might and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also that which is to come. We uplift, tonight, the name of Jesus, the Lord and Christ. We pray that His Lordship will be evident in this place, in this moment, in this atmosphere, in this space and time - but that we would, as we thought about last evening, step into the fourth dimension of that God-space, that there would be that transaction of eternity upon our temporal existence now, and that we would know that God is here by His Spirit, and You would take a dealing with us tonight. We pray with the apostles, we believe that Acts 4 and 5 have been prophetic words to this conference for various reasons - and, Lord, I just take an excerpt of it now and bring it to You: ''Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus'. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness'. Would You do that tonight, Lord? Would You shake this place, shake our lives, fill us with the Holy Spirit that we may speak Your word boldly. In Jesus' Name we ask it, Amen.
OK, verses 1 through to 6 first of all of chapter 4, then we're skipping down to verse 17, and I'll keep you right after that. Verse 1 of chapter 4: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body" - isn't that interesting? Just pause there. 'There is one body', what's he talking about? The church, the new humanity we focused on on Thursday evening - one body. In another place 'one church', that's interesting, isn't it? I used to pastor a church on a road called 'Templemore Avenue', and the name of the road was typical of the way it was - because there were little temples, little churches all the way down it, I can't remember, but there were about seven churches on the Avenue, and off the Avenue there were various other churches. So what does it mean, that there is 'one body, one church'? Well, what it means is that God is nondenominational, did you know that? Jesus Christ came to found one church. It doesn't really matter whether you say 'Oh, I'm of the Catholic Church', or 'I'm of the Protestant Church', or 'I'm of the Presbyterian Church', or the Church of Ireland or whatever - there is one church, and that is made up of those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who believe in Him alone having died for our sins according to the Scriptures, being buried, and rose again according to the Scriptures. If you agree with that, I agree with you, and you're my brother and you're my sister - and I don't care where you come from. I could go on on a rant, but I'll not.
Let's read on: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all". Do you not love the word of God? Mighty, isn't it? Down to verse 17, please: "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk" - there's that word again, we saw it in verse 1, 'walk worthy' - "no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, 'Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour', for we are members of one another. 'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you".
Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 5: "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And" - that word again - "walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling aroma". Now down to verse 8, please, of chapter 5: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: 'Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light'. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God".
The first three chapters of the book to the Ephesians outlines for us what we are meant to believe, and we saw that so often our belief is on paper - but we are required by God to unwrap the gifts, the incalculable gifts that He has given us; to draw down from the bank account that is in Christ, where all the credit has been deposited to us by grace, through faith we are to draw down from that and live in the good of those blessings as possessions. Remember we asked the question on night one: do we have the will, or are we in the wealth? Are we enjoying what God has given to us in Christ?
So, what is exhorted of these Ephesians is to walk worthy of the calling with which they have been called. Paul is emphasising: 'Listen, your beliefs affect your behaviour'. The first slide on the screen shows us that, that our walk is affected by what we worship, by what is worthwhile and worthy to us. We've seen already from reading, haven't we, the prevalence of the word 'walk', but also in connection with the Spirit - so often, if you look at it at home at your leisure, you'll see that they are connected. First of all, verse 1 of chapter 4: 'Walk worthy of your calling'. Also, 'No longer walk as Gentiles walk', verse 17. Don't walk the way you used to walk in darkness. Verse 1 of chapter 5: 'Walk in love'. Verse 8 of chapter 5: 'Walk as children of light', don't walk in the darkness. Verse 15: 'Walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise'. Your belief will affect your behaviour - walk circumspectly.
I was born and brought up in East Belfast, and I had a number of relatives who lived right in the inner-city, and they had what you call 'yards' - do you know what a 'yard' is? It's instead of a toilet! The yard was the place you went to go to the toilet, not upstairs but out in the yard. I remember my great aunt's and having to go out to the yard, but she had a yard wall, and the yard wall was covered in broken glass that was cemented. I remember many-a-time looking out her living room window and watching cats negotiate the glass on the yard wall, maybe you've seen that. That is what walking circumspectly is, walking carefully - one translation puts it: 'Pay careful attention to how you walk'.
Tonight we are looking at 'New Life' is 'A Life Of The Spirit's Fullness' - and before we get into all the wham, bam, and the boom of what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in the power of His gifts and all the rest, we need to be biblically balanced and understand that God calls upon His church to walk wisely. We saw last night that there are a lot of one-dimensional Christians about, linear, and all they are really interested in is: 'How can I get from here on earth to over here in heaven?'. They have no vertical relationship with the Lord. There are 2-D Christians, they have no third dimension of depth, and area, and form as well. We are looking for the fourth dimension, of course, but 1-D and 2-D Christians, they often talk the talk rather than walk the talk. I wonder are you walking the talk, are you walking, paying attention to how you walk? You could be a Christian by name or by religious practice, you've got the right language - as Jesus put it, quoting from Isaiah: 'They honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me'. There are even people who are born-again and believe everything the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, but they engage in an awful lot of talk with not much walk. Big claims, and little substance. To be even more serious and tragic about it: there are people who take the name of Christ, and even are involved in Christian service, but then it's discovered - because there is a great exposure - that they are living in flagrant sin all the while, they're ministering but they're living a double life. How is that? Did you ever think about that?
Well, if I can help you, and maybe there is someone here tonight and that has actually turned you off Christianity - because you've seen that type of behaviour, maybe even in the church. Romans chapter 11 verse 29 says: 'The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable'. Do you know what that means? The New Living Translation puts it like this: 'God's gifts and His call can never be withdrawn'. That means that when God calls you, and saves you, and gives you certain gifts; He doesn't necessarily take those away when you start living wrong - so that's why people can be a wonderful evangelist and see many people won for Jesus, but can be living in sin at the same time; because God hasn't taken His gifts away. He's maybe not pleased with how the person is living, but He hasn't taken the gifts away. That might confuse you, just get into the word of God and see it for yourself. I've seen it several times, where a person's gifting can take them farther than their character has gone. Do I need to repeat that? Your gifting can take you farther than your character has gone - that's why the fruit of the Spirit must grow in conjunction with the gifts of the Spirit.
I hear some people say: 'Well, the fruit of the Spirit is more important than the gifts of the Spirit' - nonsense, that's wrong. But the gifts of the Spirit are not more important than the fruit of the Spirit, they are equally as important as each other. When you think of the attributes of God, who would dream of saying that it's more important having a God of love than a God of power? That would be ridiculous, because if you had a God who loved everybody - the way we were talking about 'Oh, how He loves us' - but He had no power to do anything, to change our circumstances, what good would His love be? What good would His power be, if it wasn't a loving power that was compassionate? He would probably have wiped us all out by now! In the same way, the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit are equally important, because they give the full-rounded character of the Holy Spirit Himself. That's why, by the way, 1 Corinthians 13, the great love passage, is sandwiched in between the two passages to do with the gifts of the Spirit - chapters 12 and 14.
So what am I saying? I'm saying this: some people have an obsession with the power, and the gifts, and the work of the Holy Spirit; but we need some balance to understand that the Holy Spirit is given not just for a buzz, but so that we will walk holy lives. Sometimes - and I have to say, I believe in the gift of tongues, Paul said 'I speak in tongues more than you all put together', and he was talking to the Corinthians and they were crazy on tongues, so he must have spoke an awful lot in them. But some people are so obsessed with supernatural tongues, but unable to control the one natural tongue that God has given them. Talk is cheap, isn't it? Actions are priceless. Some people make great claims, but they are not backed up in their personal life. Then there are others, and they no longer talk about their faith - I've noticed this - Christians in the workplace and in everyday life, they don't talk about Jesus, why? I've got a hunch that it's because they feel like hypocrites because they aren't walking it out themselves. That's why churches, that's why sometimes preachers don't address certain subjects that are topical in our day and age, because they can't do it authentically because they are caught up in those things themselves.
Our walk is so important. You see, we're not just to be in the Spirit, we are to walk in the Spirit. This is how we walk wisely, we walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called - especially in a world as wicked as this! It's the Spirit-filled life, and only that life is going to cut it! In Galatians 5:16, Paul said: 'I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh'. Verse 27 of chapter 4 of Ephesians says 'don't give place to the devil' - if you walk in the flesh, you will give an advantage to the evil one, you will give a loophole, a foothold in your life that will become a stronghold. Verse 36: 'If you're walking in the flesh' - and he gives some descriptions of what that might look like - 'you will grieve the Holy Spirit'. The Greek word for 'grieve' there is the word that describes 'sorrow' or 'bereavement' - that the Holy Spirit can become vexed with us when we're walking in the flesh.
We've seen already that when we are born-again, in this epistle, we are sealed with the Spirit. But isn't it interesting that you can be born again, sealed with the Spirit, and still grieve the Holy Spirit? That's news to some people, because they are just saved and stuck - and as far as they're concerned, they've got everything that they need, and they have arrived, and they're just waiting for the rapture, or for heaven when they die - and nothing else is going on. But you can grieve the Holy Spirit - so it's not enough to be called, saved and sealed; we need more, we need to walk in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit, we must be filled with the Spirit.
So what does this life of spiritual fullness look like, and how can we walk in it? Let me share three things with you tonight: first of all, you need to put on a new mind. To walk in the fullness of the Spirit, you need to put on a new mind. Look at verse 17 of chapter 4, Paul says that we should no longer walk in the 'futility of the mind of the Gentiles', the way we used to think. We ought not to think that way any longer. In verse 18 he says that they have 'their understanding darkened', that there is ignorance in them because of the blindness of their heart. Verse 20: 'But you have not so learned Christ'. Verse 23: 'Be renewed in the spirit of your mind'. What Paul is saying here is: 'If you're going to walk in the fullness of God's Spirit power, you're going to have to put on a new mind, you're going to have to think differently'. You don't often hear that, do you? It's all very ethereal and mysterious, and spiritually airy-fairy - but Paul comes in here and says: 'Change your mind'.
The word for 'repentance' in Greek is 'metanoia', and it means literally 'to change your mind'. But it means more than that, it means 'a new mind altogether' - not your mind, but the mind of Christ. If you're going to live differently, if you're going to walk differently, and behave differently, you're going to have to think differently, Paul says. Proverbs 23:7: 'As a man thinks in his heart, so is he'. Change your mind, and change your life, Paul is saying! This is not merely the power of positive thinking - some people, when I go on like this, say: 'Oh, that's Norman Vincent Peale', no, it's not! It's supernaturally receiving the mind of Christ spoken of here in chapter 4 verses 23 and 24: 'Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness'. This is something that God has created through the death and resurrection of Jesus! He wants to give you this new mind. It's not just positive thoughts, but it's thoughts in alignment with God's thoughts, God's truth.
Some people, when it comes to the Holy Spirit, want God to zap them, want God to sort out all their problems - but they're not prepared to change anything, let alone their thinking. It doesn't work like that. Jesus said in John 8:32: 'You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free'. If you want the Spirit to work long-term in your life, you're going to have to submit to the Holy Spirit changing your mind. Romans 12:2: 'Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind'. Do not underestimate the supernatural power of a renewed mind. Some of you are here tonight, and you've new hearts, you are born-again, but you've got an old head. Are you with me? Your thinking has not been redeemed.
What attitude do you have, for instance, toward yourself? Analyse for a moment - not too long, I don't want to lose any of you - your self-talk, the way you speak to yourself and about yourself to yourself, or about yourself to others. Often our attitude is exhibited in our words, and even in relation to sin, the things we struggle with - and there has been a whole sin list, a litany of transgressions that we have seen in our reading tonight - but when we are struggling and striving with temptation, we may speak words like: 'I can't defeat this, I can't overcome that, I will never be able to...'. That's our attitude toward sin, which is actually out of sync with the thinking of God. What about our attitude towards God Himself? Some of us see God and perceive Him to be a harsh taskmaster, a legalistic type of schoolmaster, policeman, judge, despot, a cruel overlord. We saw last night that breaking through into the four-dimensional love of God comes firstly with the revelation of the Father heart of God, that He is our Abba Father. What is your attitude to God like?
You see, some of us need to repent. We need to repent of how we're thinking about ourselves, what we're saying about ourselves, how we're relating to sin and how we're relating to God. We need to change our mind. Let me ask you a question: when was the last time you changed your mind about God? People in Northern Ireland, a lot of them, never change their mind about God - do you know why? Because they're right! They know everything about God there is to know! If you don't know what they know about God, guess what? You're wrong! You need to change your mind to be like them! But they're not going to change - why would they change their mind? They're right! I've got news for you: it was God who said, 'I am the Lord, I change not'. He is the only one who doesn't change, and if you're not changing you're either God - I'm pretty sure you're not - or you've missed something. You've missed the renewal of your mind.
You see, you should be changing your mind about God. If you're getting fresh revelation about who He is, and you're learning more and more about Him, you ought to be changing your mind. You ought to be changing your mind about His ways when you learn how He relates to you in grace, etc. You're not growing unless you're changing your mind to some extent. Paul says to these Ephesians: 'What you believe affects the way you behave'.
Can I just go on another rant about a hobbyhorse that I have? There is a song, an old gospel song that goes like this: 'I'm only a sinner saved by grace'. I want to say this - and it's a nice tune, and there are some nice words in it, but that is wrong - period. If you're a child of God, you're not only a sinner saved by grace. You see, if you believe you're only a sinner saved by grace - guess what you're going to do? Because what you believe affects the way you behave - if you believe you're only a sinner saved by grace, you're going to sin by faith, because that's what you believe you are. So if you believe you're just a sinner that's saved by grace, you're getting to heaven, but you're a sinner - that's your identity, that's who you are - you're going to live out of your identity, you're going to walk in it.
You've heard of fake news, haven't you? We're not getting into that one tonight, but there's a lot of fake news that floats around in the spiritual dimension - things that we hear, and we believe, and we receive in our hearts. How about, rather than designating yourself as a constant, wicked, wretched sinner, see yourself as a saint who sometimes sins? That could change things, because that's what the Bible says you are: you're now a saint. You may have a sin habit, but you should not be identifying with the sin nature, because the sin nature is not you. As we will see in a moment, the sin nature has been put to death with Jesus on the cross. So some of you here tonight have sought the filling of the Spirit for a long many-a-year, and you don't know why it has eluded you, or at least the witness of that fact - and for some of you, it's a change up here that needs to happen, a change of mind. You need to put on the new mind, you need to start thinking differently, you need to start seeing yourself as who God sees you, you need to start speaking over yourself what God says, you need to stop listening to the lies of the devil, the accuser of the brothers - stop listening to his fake news, and start tuning into what God says! Do you know what God says? That His thoughts toward us are more than can be numbered, they are more than the stars of the sky, the sand of the seashore. If you could just tune into His station - it's like that song we sang - you would be overwhelmed by His jealousy for you, His love for you, what He thinks and feels for you. 'Oh, but I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy'. You're not worthy! Get over it! He is worthy of you, He is worthy of you.
Secondly, to walk in the Spirit put on the new mind, but also put on the new man. We've touched a little bit on this a moment or two ago. Look at verse 22 of chapter 4: 'Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind', verse 24, 'put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness'. Right, remember the way we speak about our sin, the things we say, 'I can't'. When you say 'I can't overcome this temptation, I can't overcome pornography' - it went very quiet there! That's a real problem in this tent - I don't know anything about you, but, you know, the statistics bear it out, it's a problem. There are various problems, but when we say 'I can't', I'm going to ask you the question: who is the 'I' who can't? Oh, this is really deep, isn't it? I'm confusing you. Who is the 'I' that can't? What I mean is: is it the old you you're talking about, or is it the new you?
The problem with some of us says: we are trying to live the Christian life out of the old man, rather than the new man. Some people say: 'Oh, I hate myself' - well, which self are you listening to? Are you listening to your old nature or your new nature? Well, I've got news for you: your old nature died when Jesus died on the cross. Turn with me to Romans chapter 6, keeping a marker in there at Ephesians, quickly, Romans chapter 6, turn to it - or scroll down! Romans 6 verse 6: 'Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin' - somebody say 'Amen'! 'For he who has died has been freed from sin'. You're free from sin if you died when Jesus died. 'Now if we died with Christ', verse 8, 'we believe that we shall also live with Him'. Look at verse 11: 'Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace'.
This is God's truth! You either believe it or you don't! If you believe that when Jesus died, you died, that will revolutionise your Christian experience. Graham Cooke puts it like this: 'When Jesus died on the cross, He didn't just die for me, He died as me'. Wow. Jesus has literally killed us with kindness. So, are you trying to live your Christian life out of the old nature? A lot of Christians are: sweat of the brow, pull your socks up, try better. Some of you are totally dejected because the old man is not behaving the way he should. I have a revelation for you tonight, Psalm 103 verse 10: 'He does not deal with us', God does not deal with us, 'according to our sins' - that means He doesn't deal with the old man, He deals with the new man in Jesus. He doesn't even recognise the old man's existence, because that old man died with Christ. So, 'Why then', you say, 'if that's the case, if he's dead and buried with Jesus, and God does not relate with him or deal with him - why does he cause me so many problems?'. Because you believe he's still alive, you're effectively giving him CPR, you're a gravedigger, dragging up this dead body and slapping him on the back, breathing new life into him. Because you believe he's still alive, and well, and powerful, and strong, you resuscitate him. But what you need to do is what Romans 6 says: 'Reckon your old self to be dead to sin', and then that means anything that resembles that old nature and behaviour, crucify it! Put it to death!
Do you know something? I think, tonight, as I stand before you, and I've been a Christian many years, I have a greater appreciation of the cross than ever - because the cross didn't just take away my sin, the cross has killed the power of sin. Is that the cross you believe in? That's the cross Jesus died on, but some of us are carrying around a dead body with us, this deadweight of a dead nature, when we need to leave it in the grave where Jesus left it. It dawned on me in February of this year that my emphasis in Romans 6:11: 'Reckon yourselves dead indeed unto sin', has always been on the reckoning of the dead to sin - you know? The equal emphasis of the verse is to reckon yourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord! You see, half the power is reckoning yourself dead, half the power of sin and victory over it is reckoning that you are alive in Jesus, believing that His life is in you! Haven't we been here these nights: that the very resurrection power of Jesus lives in us, that the very fullness of God who fills all in all this universe, in whom we live and move and have our being, is alive in me - and as we believe that, we receive it, and His life comes to us through His Spirit!
If you want to walk in the power of the fullness of the Spirit - do you? You need to change your mind, put on the new mind; you need to put on the new man, put off the old one once and for all - it's dead, you've got a corpse on your back! Paul said: 'Who shall deliver me from this body of death?'. Thanks be to God, we have the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thirdly and finally, you need to be filled with the Spirit. Put on the new mind, put on the new man, and be filled with the Spirit. Chapter 5 verse 18: 'Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit'. Now we receive the Holy Spirit at new birth - when you are born-again, OK, you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Another language for that might be, chapter 4:30, you are sealed with the Spirit. But obviously there is something different being spoken of here.
Now, let's just pause for a moment, there is a difference of opinion around the teaching on the Holy Spirit. Now I'm not going to delve into that tonight, but I just want agreement from you all on this point: that what Paul is talking about here is an experience, and it's different than salvation, initially being born again - because he speaking to people who he has already told were sealed with the Spirit, but now he is commanding them to be filled with the Spirit. This is in the imperative mood, it's not an option, it's a command that you will ignore at your peril. It's also an ongoing experience, it's in the present continuous tense - which literally means 'Be continually filled with the Spirit'. People say: 'Oh, David Legge, he preaches second blessing' - I don't preach second blessing, I preach third blessing, fourth blessing, fifth blessing, tenth, hundredth, thousandth, millionth, incalculable blessings. Why? Because we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The Christian life is a life of ongoing blessings, and the filling of the Spirit is not a once-and-for-all experience. It is not. It's an ongoing experience, it's constant - not just on special occasions, though it can happen on special occasions for various reasons - and it's also in the plural, which means it applies to all Christians, it's not just for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and missionaries. It's not for the select few, it's for everyone - 'Be continually being filled, all of you, with the Holy Spirit'. It's in the verb, in the passive voice - that means this: we do not fill ourselves, we get filled, we get to a place where the Spirit fills us. So it could be translated like this: 'Let the Spirit fill you'.
Will you do that tonight? This is the paradox of the Christian experience: let the Spirit fill you. Like many things in the Christian life, it's ultimately God that does it - but you have to do something about it. The Christian life was not meant to be static, and it was not meant to be lived in a vacuum. There is meant to be this constant flow from the Throne of God, of God's Spirit filling us. Isn't that what Jesus said 'On that great day of the feast, He with a loud voice cried, 'If anyone believes in Me, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water''. It's not the Dead Sea in here, it's a living river flowing constantly.
There are two commands in this verse: don't get drunk - I hope you all agree on that one - but be filled with the Spirit. Do you notice that being drunk affects your walk? Have you noticed that? Just the way being filled with the Spirit affects your walk. This is not an analogy or an illustration I would have used, because I knew I would get in trouble if I did that, but the Holy Spirit through Paul uses this comparison, or let's say 'contrast'. The way the alcoholic spirit affects a man or woman in the negative, the Holy Spirit affects in the positive. Alcohol dominates the personality and determines the behaviour, so does the Holy Spirit. He affects our character and our walk. If you want to walk wisely, pay attention to how you walk. You need to walk in the Spirit by being filled with the Spirit.
Alcohol doesn't just affect your walk, it affects your talk. Jesus said: 'Out of the abundance of a person's heart, their mouth speaks'. It's very interesting, in the Acts of the Apostles, when there was that original baptism of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and subsequent outpourings of the Spirit, people spoke in tongues. It affected their speech, something happened to their mouth. Then we find occasions when Peter and Paul were going to stand boldly to preach, and it says 'and filled with the Holy Spirit', and Stephen 'filled with the Holy Spirit', spoke boldly. It affects their mouths. Here in chapter 5 of Ephesians verse 19, it says 'speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord'. If you're filled with the Holy Spirit it will affect how you talk to people, and it will affect how you talk about people.
Alcohol affects our walk, our talk, and also our smell. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2 that we, as Christians, are meant to have a fragrance of Christ about us in every place that we go. Have you ever sat beside a drunk man on the bus? Imagine if we walked past people, and brushed their shoulder, and they went 'sniff, sniff', 'There's something different about that person, what is it?'. They are filled with the Holy Spirit.
There's a lot of argumentation goes on about the Holy Spirit, isn't there? I have my views, I'm sure you have yours - I'm not going to fall out with you tonight, but I agree with what Billy Graham said when he said: 'I don't care what you call it, just get it'. Be filled with the Spirit! There is a story told of a school fire in Texas, when 263 were meant to be killed - I haven't had this verified, some have cast doubt on it - but it was meant to be after the War, a new school was built. It was advertised as having the finest sprinkler system in the area. This was after the fire, I'm talking about, after the great tragedy. The mastery of technology had allowed them to install this, and after seven years of post-war boom they decided to expand the school again. So they were doing a bit of building work, and they found that this state-of-the-art sprinkling system had never been connected - they weren't hooked to the source.
Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Well, you need to change your mind, and you need to put on the new man that is in Christ, and do you know what you need to do? You need to come in simple faith and ask Him. It's repentant faith, you might need to repent of known sin in your life that is a blockage to blessing - but, do you know something? I don't believe that, with the fullness of the Spirit, you have to almost be perfect before you get it. Some people believe this, you know: just empty yourself of everything, and get so holy that all of a sudden God will come. If you could do that, you wouldn't need the Holy Spirit. You need the Holy Spirit in order to do this. But you do need to be willing to repent, and say if there are things that are out of line and out of sync, if you are grieving the Holy Spirit. You need to surrender to Him, and you need to ask in faith.
It's not about feelings. Now, the Holy Spirit can give some wonderful feelings - but that's not what this is about. When people come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour, we don't say: 'Do you feel saved yet?'. We, in fact, encourage them not to look to their feelings but look to their faith. The feelings may come, but the important thing is: what does God say? 'Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved; whoever comes to Me, I will never cast out'. So Jesus said in Luke chapter 11:13: 'If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?'. He goes on to talk about a child who asks for bread, and his father gives him a stone - who would do that? Even the most wicked person may not do that to a child - but your Heavenly Father, He is the good, abundant God of heaven. If you come asking for what you need, will He not give it? Then there are some children, and they are asking a fish - would any father give the child a scorpion or a serpent? Who would do the like of that? But some of you have been scared off the Holy Spirit by preachers and teachers who have told you: 'Oh, don't go seeking an experience with God's Holy Spirit, or you'll get a demon! Don't let anybody lay hands on you! You'll get a demon!'. I'm sorry, that's not what the Bible says. I'm not saying there are not some weird and wonderful things going on in Christian meetings, there are - and I'm not saying you just let any Tom, Dick or Harry lay hands on you and pray anything over you. I'm not saying that. But I am saying this: only the devil wants you to be afraid of the Holy Spirit.
So, who here tonight will come? As the Passion Translation translates Luke 11:13: 'If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit's fullness when his children ask Him'. This new life is a life of the Spirit's fullness, this is what make the dynamic of Christianity different from every other conceivable faith - not just that there is the promise of sins forgiven, and assurance of salvation, but there is the very life of God! Our God comes to live in us! A man who experienced and taught the infilling of the Holy Spirit was asked by clergyman: 'Are you telling us that you have the truth, and we do not?'. The man said, 'No, I do not say that'. He thought about the way of explaining the difference between individuals and churches who are operating in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, and those who are not. Suddenly he found himself thinking about an electronic appliance that he and his wife had bought when they moved to their home in Dallas, Texas. He said to the clergyman: 'We both have the truth. You know, when my wife and I moved to America, we bought a marvellous device called a deep-freeze. There we keep some rather rare fine Texas beef. Now, my wife could take one of those steaks out, and lay it frozen solid on the table. It's a steak alright, no question of that. You and I could sit around and analyse it, we can discuss its lineage, its age, what part of the steer it is from. We can weigh it, list its nutritive values - but if my wife puts that steak on the fire, something different begins to happen. We can weigh it and list it, but my little boy smells it way out in the yard, and comes shouting 'Wow, Mum, that smells good, I want some!''. 'Gentlemen', this preacher said, 'that's the difference between our ways of handling the same truth: you have yours on ice, we have ours on fire'.
Now listen: my intention tonight is not to divide this group into haves and have-nots. God doesn't do that, because all of you are haves if you are in Jesus Christ, because all of you have every blessing in Christ. Every one of you has what Peter says: precious promises, so that you can be partakers of the divine nature and have everything for life and godliness. So you've got this, what you need to do is unwrap it, and draw it down from your heavenly account, and live in the experience of it; and start changing your mind, putting on the new man, and just come and by faith say like a little child: 'Lord, You said I need this, You said I can have this, and I want this' - and here's the next step 'I believe that You have heard me, and that You have given me this now'.
Now, God does give subjective witness that the Holy Spirit has come - and you let Him do that as He sees fit, and you look for it, and you seek it; but do it from the vantage point of faith, believing He has heard you. Who longs to be filled with the Holy Spirit? God bless you.
Don't miss Part 5 of 'New Life': "A Life Of Spiritual Conflict"...
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This sermon was delivered at the New Life Conference 2018 in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth recording in his New Life series, titled "A Life Of The Spirit's Fullness" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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