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The Highest Calling of the Church - Faith Part 9
Dr. Allen M. Barber
March 23, 2008

The Law of Abiding in the Spirit

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that when He went back to the Father's throne, He would send the Holy Spirit to indwell them as a permanent possession during the Pentecostal Age:

John 14:18 NKJV

"If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

I once asked a class of Southern Baptists how they knew they had the Holy Spirit. Most looked at me like, "Well that is a given; if we are Christians we have the Holy Spirit; some quoted this verse. When I got more personal with them and rephrased the question - but how do "You" know you have the Holy Spirit, they were more timid and unsure of the answer. The reason for their uncertainty is that most Baptists are weak on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and think it belongs to the Charismatics or that we are not to spend too much time focusing on the Holy Spirit lest we rob the Lord of His glory. That is not a correct biblical position.

Unless we know by personal experience the Holy Spirit indwells our being and that it is a command of the New Covenant that we be filled by His presence and power, we will not and cannot live by faith, for it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the gift of faith or the ability to operate by faith. The entire spiritual experience of the believer in Jesus Christ is impossible without the acquaintance of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.

If you ask a Charismatic how they know they have the Holy Spirit, the usual answer is they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit with evidence in speaking in tongues, yet some of the meanest Christians I have known are tongue speakers. In one Church I pastored, one of the yokemen (deacon in training) beat his wife and kids (later found to be bi-sexual with a male sex partner), yet spoke in tongues and shouted Hallelujah louder than anyone else on Sunday morning.  Tongues is a baby gift and grossly misused in the body of Christ today and is not the evidence of either salvation or having the Holy Spirit.

In order to obey God and do His will, we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in our lives. I tell you this  - sin in our lives will cause Him to recede so far back in our spirits that we cannot hear His voice or know that he lives in us. The Holy Spirit is very sensitive to sin and will have no part with it. We are told in the Scriptures of His sensitiveness for holiness:

Galatians 5:16-25 ESV

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

This passage teaches us how the Holy Spirit reacts to the flesh with its many sins and to holiness and the things of God - He is strongly opposed to the flesh! The KJV uses the word "lust" to emphasize the struggle between the flesh and Spirit. In Verse 25, we are told that if we live by the Spirit, and we do if we are truly born-again, then we are to walk by Him, which is to say that we yield to His influence and control of our lives. Some professing believers live as though there is no Holy Spirit and do as they please without any restraints. They curse, tell coarse jokes, get drunk, have sexual affairs whether married or single, go to R-rated movies, dress half naked, and are dishonest. If they were sensitive to the Holy Spirit, they would respond to his conviction and repent. Habitual sin will cause the presence of the Holy Spirit to diminish or cease to be a strong power in one's life. That does not mean He is not present in the Christians' life. What it means is that He chooses not to be felt because of sin.

When a believer is sensitive to the Holy Spirit's presence, he or she will immediately confess each sin as the Holy Spirit convicts. This keeps our conscience clean before God and our fellowship will Him constant. Isaiah 59:2 says our sins separate us from God's presence. If we are to walk by faith, we must maintain a sensitive spirit toward the Holy Spirit.

Many times when we sense a check in our spirits not to follow our first inclination, it is not our thought, but the leading of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, when we sense a calmness in our spirit and our thought is clear on some direction we are seeking, that also is the Holy Spirit guiding us to make the right decisions. How often we fail to bow our heads and thank the Holy Spirit for keeping us out of trouble and blessing us with making the right choice.

The Bible says we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit or to quench His power from working in our lives (See Eph. 4:30 and I Thess. 5:19). If we are not cognizant of his abiding presence, we will not detect either sin. We grieve the Holy Spirit in many ways and stop His power from working in our lives by our unbelief. When we lash out at others in anger and say mean things to our spouses, children and other Christians, if deeply grieves the Holy Spirit. If we keep doing it, He will bring chastening in our lives. The agent of Chastening or correction in the Christian's life is the Holy Spirit, that is, He has to give Satan permission to attack us or the devil cannot touch us:

1 John 5:18 NLT

18 We know that those who have become part of God's family do not make a practice of sinning, for God's Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them.

Commenting on this subject, Manley Beasley says, "Many times we are interested in only mountain top experiences (without any chastening or correction - emphasis mine) when God has work for us in the valley" (where suffering and pain often endure - emphasis mine). We want the glory rather than the suffering, yet the Bible says, "All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (II Tim. 3:12).  It is only when we are "continually sensitive to God  can we know His mind. Only by abiding in the Spirit can we hope to walk by faith."

Manley further comments regarding these Seven Laws of Faith, "That they should  be evident in all of our lives if we are in proper relationship and fellowship with Jesus. If things are not working out in our lives, that is a call to go back to the foot of the cross and find out where we went wrong (You can be sure God is not wrong) and confess it to the Lord. This will restore our fellowship with the Father and give us faith to believe in Jesus that we may do the works of God" (See John 6:28-29).

These seven laws of faith are not of themselves a guaranteed axiom of our faith that they will work just because we acknowledge them, for it is not what we do that counts, but who we are! We must "be" before we can "do!" "Operating according to these laws will not give you faith, but if you have genuine biblical faith, they will be evident in your life. If you are having a difficult time believing God for a particular matter (many just believing in Him), it may be that one of more of these laws are not operating in your life. If this is your situation, then you need to stop reading self-help books and fall on your face before God and repent of your sins. When you do, God will forgive you, restore your fellowship, show you the area causing the difficulty and give you the solution.

Once our sins are confessed and our conscience clear before God and others (sometimes we may need to ask our Christian brother to forgive us of sinning against them or maybe a neighbor or friend) we will be aware of the Holy Spirit's presence. I have discovered in my life that my faith is the strongest when I am constantly abiding in the Holy Spirit for it is Him who brings the awareness of God's presence in my life. When I sin and disobey God, the Holy Spirit recedes back into my spirit and I cannot hear His still small voice (the Holy Spirit is never loud or boisterous). So-called Christian rock singers and bands, are you paying attention?

May I close by sharing an experience my wife and I encountered this past weekend. She wanted to buy a new outfit for this Sunday as she had trimmed down due to exercise and dieting (she has lost about thirty pounds and looks great), and of course, when she found a dress, she also had to have a pair of new shoes. The problem is she has a narrow width and shoes are hard to find. She first shopped at Macy's and tried on several pairs of shoes. The Black man who waited on her was very patient and had the most pleasant personality. After trying on several pairs, she didn't like any of the styles plus the width was not right size. She thanked the man for his patience and we were impressed with his comment, which was, "No problem for I am here to serve you."

Well, to make a long story shorter, we went to many shoe stores over a three hour period and could not find either the style or the proper width, so she decided to go back to Macy's in hopes she could find one pair of shoes she could wear. When we returned to the store, not only did the man remember us, but he remembered the shoes my wife had tried on. We were impressed again. We sat down while he looked for a pair of shoes that would both fit her size as well as the proper style.

After some time, he returned with two pairs of shoes and blessed be to God, one fit and she liked the style (by this time I was tired and bored - shopping does that to me). We thanked him for his patience and I commented on his patience and pleasing personality. I asked him if he sold a lot of shoes since he was a good salesman. His reply was unexpected, but fit him perfectly. He said, "I do not sell shoes, but service!  The sales happen because of the service." As we talked to him further, we learned what we suspected - he was a Christian. His smile was contagious and the love of God covered him like a blanket. When we left the store I found myself envious of his personality. You see he was abiding in the Holy Spirit by joyfully and cheerfully serving others.

There was no doubt in our minds that God had us return to this man so he could make the sale, for God takes care of His faithful children.

May the Lord bless you and may these seven laws of faith that I have taught in this series operate in your life and thank God for Manley Beasley who had the original revelation.