Without proper direction and teaching we tend to miss out on the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (Jesus speaking) John 3:6-8 – ” That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7) “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8) ” The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Unless there is a supernatural conversion manifest by the Holy Spirit through our surrender to Jesus Christ there can be no escape from sin, corruption, death and slavery to the devil who easily manipulates sin in the flesh to be his slave. 2 Cor 4:3-4 – But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4) whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
John 14:25-26 – “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Sadly even when we are born of Spirit we can go astray in our own good works and labor thinking that God approves of such works. Well, He doesn’t, however, he will allow us to continue on this path in the flesh to teach us His ways. For me this went on for a several years until I became dissatisfied with my Christian life to such a point that I was ready to return to my old life in the world. I thank God for He is merciful, kind and gracious. Just at this point of my life other circumstances where arising in that was breaking my heart. One morning I got up to “practice my daily routine” of bible reading, praying in the Spirit and seeking Him for direction. Suddenly, I heard what seemed to be an audible voice, which said to me, “That’s how my heart feels about you.” Immediately the Spirit of God said to me, “You have left your first love.” He then took me to the scripture Rev 2:2-5 – “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3) and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent. Needless to say I was repentant and the Holy Spirit began teach me how this was able to take place, to such a point that I was even ready to turn my back on God and return to the world.
The Holy Spirit began to teach me what had happen that would cause such a radical turn in my life. Within all mankind, there is an deep need within us to be approved by others. Our tendency is to do things to gain the approval of others. This is really just the working of the self referential nature within us. When I was growing up I sought the approval of my Dad and my friends. I have always been one that would serve and help others for the need of approval. I was in the military for 4 years, Fire Department for 26 years and now my wife, Pat and I have been pasturing an inner city mission in North Charleston, SC for 22 years. It is really serving that brings fulfillment in our lives as long as long as we are seeking no gain out of it. However, the devil hates it and will bring every form of adversity against us you can think of. However, this too is for our benefit, causing us to grow up in Christ. I have recognized over the past years that there is only one we need approval from and that is our Father in heaven. What is awesome about our Father in heaven is that He approves all mankind through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In this we surrender and become slaves of righteousness just like Jesus Christ who didn’t come to be served but to be a servant of all. Christians must learn to serve without putting expectations upon those we serve. Rom 13:8-11 – Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9) For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. We die to self in serving one another, because we are naturally self referential and full of pride. John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is how the Holy Spirit mortifies the deeds of the flesh. (Rom 8:13) Like Christ we take up our cross daily no matter what the cost, for in every test there is there is upgrade of the new man in Christ, becoming more and more like Him in character and nature while putting off the old man. Like Christ, a Christian will go through intense trials and suffering, putting on Christ, while putting off self. Matt 11:28-30 – Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
When Jesus confronted Paul on the road to Damascus and was thrown to the ground. Jesus told Paul that He would go through great suffering for Jesus’ name sake. Paul went through suffering above and beyond others, but most important was that in the suffering He would be established and built up in the new man, within him made in the likeness of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 4:7-12 – But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8) We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9) persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed 10) always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11) For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12) So then death is working in us, but life in you. The greatest point to be made here is that in all of Paul’s trials, tribulations, and testing he was putting off self and putting on Christ, while the love of Christ within him, through his own death, was bringing life to others. This is the true vocation and purpose of every servants life who is in Jesus Christ. We live to die but in dying to self, we gain the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10.