Posted on Apr 17, 2012 by Tom Gilson
From the series, Ten Turning Points That Make All the Difference
I wrote last time about the Holy Spirit’s work in believers. The sad fact is that we don’t see that work as consistently as we should. Bill Bright, who authored the message I linked to in my first talk on this topic, estimates that 95% of believers are living defeated lives, not experiencing the reality of God’s life within them. Why is that? Is God missing? No, what’s missing is our relationship with him.
Unbelief may be the chief culprit. To live in Christ is to live by faith. If we don’t believe the Holy Spirit is in us and will guide and empower us, we won’t give him room to do so. We’ll take over our own guidance systems, and we’ll try to accomplish things by our weak human power.
Having said that, I expect alarm bells to be ringing among the nonbelievers reading this. “Why shouldn’t we run our own lives?! What’s wrong with running on our own resources?!” The answer is that God does not turn us into puppets if we trust him as our guide. He loves us for who were are, and he works in and through who we are. I can testify that I am most free, and I am most myself, when I am most following the God who created me and loves the “me” that he created. I am least myself when I turn away from following him who knows me best, who loves me most. I am split. I do things I don’t really want to do, things I don’t fully believe in. I’m willing to bet you’ve had that experience yourself. Full freedom is found in being fully yourself, the self who was created specifically to live in relationship with God our King.
As for running on our own resources, there’s a lot to be said for developing confidence and competence. Nothing about God’s work in us overturns that. It’s part of his plan in us. But human power is just human. If there is divine power available for living according to God’s plan, why not tap into it?
What I’ve just been talking about relates to the second reason many are not experiencing the full power and relationship with God that he offers through the Holy Spirit: Unwillingness. It’s related to unbelief, I think. We don’t believe God’s ways are better, so we insist on our own, and we’re unwilling to accept his guidance and power in our lives. We’d rather do it our way than the way for which we were created.
And there is yet another key reason Christians do not experience the full reality of the Holy Spirit: Lack of knowledge. We don’t know who the Spirit is, we don’t understand what he came to do, we don’t know how to appropriate his resources in our lives. Even after years in church, many of us have never been taught the simple realities of being filled with the Holy Spirit by faith. I could share with you the life-changing explanation someone gave me about this many years ago, and I will, but not in my own words. The videos here, small though they may be on your screen, do it much better than I could. They are brief, and they are very helpful. You might even want to start at the beginning. You’ll find the “Life in the Spirit” list in the left sidebar, and then you’ll need to click a link in “related videos” on the right. (The first one is on how to be sure you’re a Christian—the crucial starting point for everything else in our lives as followers of Christ.)
The Holy Spirit is not missing. With faith, a real willingness to follow his guidance, and the proper knowledge, you can be experience all the guidance, direction, and power he wants for you.