Challenging teens and young adults.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit is often one of the most overlooked facets of our faith. By turning the Holy Spirit into a spooky modern day character, we have missed out on the powerful work that we can experience through His filling.The result of never experiencing a true filling of God’s Spirit is evident in our walk with God. When our relationship with God through Jesus Christ has become dry, boring, and redundant, we are operating in our own strength and not experiencing the refreshing filling of the Spirit.
In Ephesians 5:18, there are three concepts to experiencing a Spirit filled walk with God:
The Concept of a Consumption
The first part of verse eighteen teaches us that whatever consumes us is what will control us. Just as a drunkard is controlled by the consumption of alcohol, we are controlled by what consumes us. The Bible uses the illustration of a sinful consumption which will certainly hinder Spirit fullness. Although, many times we can become controlled by good things that have taken the place of the “God things.” There is nothing wrong with education, dating, friends, social media, to name a few, but if these good things begin to consume you and control your thoughts, actions, and lifestyle, they are not in the proper position.
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
The Bible teaches that we should chase after God and have a desire for the things of God. You cannot experience the true and complete filling of the Holy Spirit until you have become empty of the things of this world that consume and control you. What is controlling your life right now? What sin or vice rules your every action? Or what pleasure of this modern world has gotten out of order and taken the place of God? The good news is that once we are empty of the world, God offers an alternative.
The Concept of an Alternative
The Lord shows the concept of the consumption of the world and how it can control you, but He does not choose to leave us empty. Immediately following the counterfeit filling of the world in verse eighteen, God commands, “but be filled with the Spirit.” The world will always offer a knock-off of the things of God, but God always offers an alternative that is far better. It is our choice whether or not to be filled with the world or with the things of God.
The Concept of a Filling
If the filling of the Holy Spirit is a choice we make and we can operate without it, why would we want to be filled? Simply because the work and filling of the Holy Spirit changes us.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
24 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Christianity is the only “religion” or faith that not only changes your eternity, but also has the power to change your life until eternity. When filled with the Spirit of God while on this earth, we have the opportunity to change the make-up of our fleshly nature. The truth is that there are many Christians who never experience fruit (verses 23-24) because they are stuck in the flesh (verses 19-21). God never intended the Christian life to look like the same as a life without Him, but without the work of the Holy Spirit, we are working on producing fruit on our own.
So the question is not, “Why would I want to be filled with the Spirit?” The question should be, “Why would you not want to be filled with the Spirit?” Instead of shying away from the Holy Spirit, let’s choose to embrace Him and the power of His filling so that we can experience His transforming work.
In our last post, we talked about how the thought of becoming a living sacrifice for God will assist in breaking the negative stereotypes of our generation. While people respond to a life that is willing to be sacrificed for God, people will also respond to a life that is distinctly separated from the world. As Paul writes to the Christians in Rome in chapter twelve, he begins by pleading with them to become a living sacrifice to God as we have already discussed. In verse two, we find that we are given yet another way to break the stereotypes of a culture.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Have you ever considered why you do something? For instance, why do you wear a certain style of clothing or a certain brand? Why did you choose to get on social media? Why do you strive for certain achievements or a particular status? Many times, our reasoning behind some of these decisions is because we were influenced by someone making it sound great. While there is nothing sinful or inherently wrong with any of the above examples, there is an example of the power of a trend. If you can make something feel or look cool enough, many people will get involved.
Our flesh has a magnetic attraction to the world and sin, but according to Romans 12:2, we are not to be conformed to the world. The world has a mold that it wants to place you in. The world wants you to believe that purity before marriage is impossible and that everyone lives for money. When we choose to fall for these lies, we have placed ourselves in that mold and conformed to the world and the culture around us. If we are going to break a generation or culture, we must not fall for conformation, but rather, focus our lives on transformation.
For every counterfeit the world offers a Christian, there is an alternative. Satan offers you conformation to a mold, but God offers transformation from the world. If you want to stand out in your generation, not only must you not fall into the mold or template of the world, but you must be something totally different than the world. Living for self and chasing the next big thing in this world is conformation, but living a life with a higher purpose is transformational. Showing love to those around you is transformational. Saving yourself for marriage is transformational. All of God’s alternatives, if we choose to do them, are transformational in the eyes of a culture who has been told the only option is conformation.
Hopefully, you’re sold on living a transformed life! If you are, you probably have some questions. For instance, “How do I transform?” Or, “Why would I want to transform?” God actually gives the answer to both of those questions in Romans 12:2.
How do I transform?
The only way to transform is to get a new mind. Start saving lots of money cause I can imagine new minds are pretty expensive. Fortunately, God has given us a free option for renewing our mind through His Word. Our minds have been so inundated with the world and our culture that God’s Word and truth found within are transformational. The Bible says God’s Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Not only does the Word of God have the power to change us according to Hebrews 4:12, but the truth found in God’s Word is a sanctifying agent as well.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Have you let God’s Word change you lately? When you open God’s Word, do you ask God to show you something to change in your life? If we are going to be transformed it starts by getting a new mind and the only free way of receiving a new mind is by opening God’s Word and getting the mind of Christ through the truth.
Why do I need to transform?
Have you ever felt like you weren’t smart enough to prove something? I know I have. I may have an assumption about something or maybe even something I know is true, but I am just too dumb to be able to prove it. Why is transformation necessary? Because your life can prove something to a lost and dying world! Here’s a scary thought – someone that is headed to Hell could base their decision on eternity on the proof of your transformation. Wow! When I consider the fact that there are lost people who are looking at the impact Christ has made in my life and deciding whether or not they want to be a Christian, that is scary in so many ways.
Are you a Christian who is so different from the world that people are attracted to Jesus Christ as a result? Or do you make people turn their backs on Jesus Christ and the Gospel? By becoming a transformed individual, you are proving God’s will. By becoming different from the culture and the world, you are showing the world what God can do with a transformed life.
So here’s the question, will you choose to fall into the mold of the world and conform to the culture? Or, will you choose to be a picture of God’s will by transforming your mind through God and His Word? Breaking the negative stereotypes of a generation requires some people who choose to transform instead of conform.
There has never been a generation surrounded by more hype than the millennial generation. Campaigns have been launched, blogs have been posted, articles have been written, and even whole books have been written trying to peg this generation. All of these different facets have created a generation of stereotypes. Unfortunately, many of these stereotypes tend to lean toward the negative side rather than the positive. In the midst of these negative assessments, there is still some who find this generation to have a huge upside. The most common word used is “hope.”
As a Christian millennial, we must understand that while there are many negatives, yet still some glimmer of hope in our generation, the only true source of hope for any generation is found in Jesus Christ and the Gospel. So how do you break a whole generation? How can Christians rise to the top in one of the fastest up and coming groups of people our world has ever seen? God’s Word answers these questions in Romans 12:1-6.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.
As the Apostle Paul begins to close out the epistle to the Church of Rome, he gives them a pretty clear way to stand out in a culture that was not distinctly Christian or even religious at that time. The following three posts are three ways we will discuss three ways that we can begin to break a stereotyped generation. In today’s post, we will consider the thought of our sacrifice.
We must become a sacrifice to God.
Paul is writing this to the Church at Rome. While many believe heavy persecution for Christians at Rome did not occur until several years after this epistle, the Christians at Rome were challenged and even begged by Paul to stand out by providing their bodies a living sacrifice to God. Do you think these words may have rang out in their minds several years later as they stood on the arena floor of the Colosseum ready to give the ultimate sacrifice? While Paul may not have fully known why God inspired Him to write these words, God saw into the future and knew that these Christians would be faced with a choice whether to live for their faith or die for their faith.
Just as God saw the future of the Christians at Rome, He sees us today. Many Christians today have placed their faith low on the priority list of life. They have punched their ticket to Heaven and chosen to enjoy their time on earth for themselves. If we, as Christian millennials, will choose to stand out and reverse a whole generation, it must begin with a life that is willing to be sacrificed to God.
Paul qualifies the sacrifice with several adjectives. First, he ask them to be willing to present their bodies as living sacrifices. If you have ever studied the Old Testament practices of sacrifice, you understand that God always asked for the best lamb and the best offering. Too many times we are giving God something that neither of us want. If God did not want the sick or near-to-death lamb in the Old Testament, He does not want us to give our left overs. What if we were a generation that became characterized by giving our best to God? Too many generations before have given Jesus Christ prominence but not pre-eminence. What if your job was just another way to share your faith? What if your social media was controlled by the thought of God? What if your education was another form to glorify God? To reverse a generation, we must begin with a sacrificial life that will be lived for and influenced by God.
The people who are looking at the Christian faith do not need to see any more people who have been saved by Jesus Christ living for themselves. Rather, we need to be living our lives in contrast to the rest of the world. The greatest contrast to selfish living is sacrificial living. Besides, according to Paul, this “sacrifice” is reasonable when we consider all that God has done for us! Would you consider making this reasonable sacrifice and living your life for God?
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