“People who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, NLT)
“The delicate and the refined natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God.” –Charles Spurgeon-
My step-grandfather, N.B. Smith, once said to me, “Boyd, I like my pastor. He’s smart and he works hard. But he needs to be more spiritual.” I was only a young man in my twenties when he said this, and I was kind of shocked by it. His words sounded a bit judgmental to me. After all, what did he mean by spiritual? Did he want someone pretentiously religious, who was self-righteous and looked down his nose at other people? Or a moralistic “stick in the mud”?
Of course, he didn’t mean either of those things. He was talking about wanting his pastor to be a little less concerned with all the business of being a “man of the cloth” and a little more concerned with the things of God.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand exactly what N.B. was talking about. It’s possible to become so overly familiar with our faith that we drift away from daily dependence on the Holy Spirit, the most necessary thing for understanding and applying the truths of God in our lives and in our leadership. In our familiarity, we can get complacent about our relationship with God and listening to His leading. We can replace seeking an intimate communion with the Trinity with a dependence on our own gifts and talents. We can rely on what we know rather than listening for God’s voice.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25)
The Holy Spirit fuels spiritual living. This is where freedom resides and where fruit bearing takes place. The flesh is pre-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on self to secure security. The Spirit is post-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on God to secure earthly and eternal security. The Spirit and the flesh conflict, but the flesh has been put to death by faith and the Spirit has come alive. Spiritual living submits to Christ.
Spirit led living thrives as we daily surrender our soul to Jesus. The same way we became a Christian — by grace through faith — is the same way we continue as a Christian. Yet, the flesh tries to flaunt its old habits as teasers for us to not trust God. But we know better — it’s better to not boast in the flesh, but to be humbled by the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit we are empowered to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
The Spirit brings wisdom when we consider ways that are unwise. The Spirit brings conviction when we begin to drift from our convictions. The Spirit brings comfort when we struggle with discomfort. The Spirit leads us into God’s will when we are tempted to follow our own will. The Holy Spirit is heaven’s secret to spiritual living. When we walk by the Spirit we are everything, if we ignore the Spirit we are nothing.
Are you looking to love better, rejoice more and be at peace? If so, allow the Spirit to grow love, joy and peace in the soil of your soul. God is your Gardener whose green thumb of grace always grows an abundance of fruit. Forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all seeded by the Holy Spirit to produce the Lord’s luscious fruit that remains. Fertilize with faith and then water with God’s Word.
Invite the Holy Spirit to pull out any weeds of sin from your heart. And like a kudzu plant climbs, coils and covers in a hot and humid climate, let the fruit of the Spirit cover your life in Christ-like character. Your part is faith and His part is fruit. Your part is surrender and His part is victory. Your part is prayer and His part is answers. Your part is humility and His part is a harvest of righteousness. Spirit led living lives by the Holy Spirit’s power.
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I surrender to Your Spirit’s empowering me to spiritual living.
Application: Where is the Holy Spirit leading that I need to take a significant step of faith?
Related Reading: Romans 8:3-5, 14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 2:11; 1 Peter 2:16
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