Ten Turning Points: Is the Holy Spirit Missing?


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?!” There’s no need for alarm, though, for 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.

6 Responses

  1. Victoria says:

    Do you think that unbelief, unwillingness, lack of knowledge are why we see many former “Christians” who have shipwrecked their faith (if they every really had any), posting in the blog as atheists?

    (Hey, that might make a good blog topic – how to shipwreck your faith)

  2. G. Rodrigues says:

    Reading an excerpt of Roger Scruton’s new book, he ends with the following paragraph:

    We should not be surprised, therefore, if God is so rarely encountered now. The consumer culture is one without sacrifices; easy entertainment distracts us from our metaphysical loneliness. The rearranging of the world as an object of appetite obscures its meaning as a gift. The defacing of eros and the loss of rites of passage eliminate the old conception of human life as an adventure within the community and an offering to others. It is inevitable, therefore, that moments of sacred awe should be rare among us. And it is surely this, rather than the arguments of the atheists, that has led to the decline of religion. Our world contained many openings onto the transcendental; but they have been blocked by waste. You may think that this does not matter — that mankind has had enough of sacred mysteries and their well-known dangers. But I think we are none of us at ease with the result. Our disenchanted life is, to use the Socratic idiom, ‘not a life for a human being’. By remaking human beings and their habitat as objects to consume rather than subjects to revere we invite the degradation of both. Postmodern people will deny that their disquiet at these things has a religious meaning. But I hope that my argument has gone some way to showing that they are wrong.

  3. Victoria says:

    @G. Rodrigues

    Your quote reminds me of 1 Samuel 3:1, doesn’t it? ‘and the word of the Lord was rare in those days…’, following on the end of the period of the Judges…’and everyone did what was right in their own eyes’ (Judges 21:25)

  4. Melissa says:

    I just completed a paper on spirituality for mission. One thing that in particular stood out is the idea of spirituality as learning to look. That takes time and intention. Distraction and busyness are hindrances to the Holy Spirit working in us.

    Victoria, I think lack of knowledge is definitely a problem because they come here arguing against a “god” that I would reject as well. There also seems to be a quite compartmentalised view of reality. They do not have a holistic view of the person, instead there is a strong physical/spiritual split.

    Also it is entirely possible to have never grasped the truth of the gospel and not realise it. We had a lady get up and tell her story and how she had finally encountered Jesus late in the year before. She had lived her whole life in the church, had been at one stage placed in authority over the ministry I was involved in (her confession finally made sense of the difficulties we’d had with her at that time) and was in her 70s. By her own admission for most of those years in church she was not a Christian.

  5. David says:

    Some thoughts after reading G. Rodriguez’s post:

    Today’s society deluges one incessantly with all things trivial and inane, emphasizing self-indulgence, consumerism and pop culture obsession. I feel as though historic lifestyles offered much more in the way of time and thought on important matters of life and being (thanks perhaps in large to a lack of pervasive mass media technology), whereas now we have to try hard – very hard at times – to keep a handle on the bombardment of worldly trivialities that come our way. And it doesn’t help that life is more fast-paced than it used to be. Many don’t have time to think, period, let alone to debate and philosophize about life and theology, so perhaps it’s not surprising that there is little room for matters of the soul in all this. But I think it is important to be very conscientious about what matters in life and take the time to separate this from the vacuous noise of the world.

  1. April 18, 2012

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