We were never intended to live our lives apart from God. As Christians, God has not called us into a relationship with Himself, only to leave us alone to find our way through the maze of life. Prior to His departure, Jesus promised a Counselor who would guide us into truth and act as our guide and companion. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, not only empowers us to become like Jesus, but he also fills us with a supernatural ability to do great things for God (John 14:12).
In West Texas there is a famous oil field known as the Yates Pool. During the Depression, this field was a sheep ranch, owned by a man named Yates. Not able to make enough money on his ranching operation, Mr. Yates was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family, like many others, had to live on government subsidy.
Then one day, a seismographic crew came into the area and told Mr. Yates that they thought that there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract. At 1,115 feet the well struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. 50 years later, a government test showed that one of the wells still had the potential to produce 125,000 barrels of oil a day.
And to think Mr. Yates owned it all! The day he purchased the land, he received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he was living on government subsidy. A multi-millionaire, living in poverty! The problem? He did not know the oil was there. He owned it all, but did not possess any of it.
I know of no better illustration of the Holy Spirit than this. As Christians, the moment we receive Christ, we are indwelt (1 Cor. 3:16) and sealed (Eph. 1:13; 4:30) with the Holy Spirit, and as such, we have direct access to God's unlimited power source for strength and victory. But, like Mr. Yates, most Christians continue to live in self-imposed spiritual poverty, because they do not know how to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit, which is already theirs in Christ.
Not many sermons or talks are devoted to the work of the Spirit, but it's important to understand the Spirit's work in our lives, so we can experience the promise Jesus made to his followers in Acts 1:8 when we said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
What does the Holy Spirit do?
In looking at the biblical data concerning the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit's roles are numerous.
He assures us of our salvation (Rom 8:16)
He baptizes us (Acts 1:4,5; 1 Cor 12:13)
He convicts the world in regards to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8)
He directs us (John 16:13)
He empowers us (Acts 1:8)
He fills us (Eph 5:18)
He guarantees our inheritance (Eph 1:14)
He helps us (John 14:16,17)
He indwells us (1 Cor 3:16)
He regenerates us (John 3:5)
He seals us (Eph 1:13; 4:30)
He teaches us (John 14:26)
How do I get access to the Holy Spirit?
The regenerating, indwelling, baptism, and sealing by the Holy Spirit take place at the moment of salvation. However, the assuring, directing, filling, and teaching aspects are ongoing ministries of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life.
Because the Holy Spirit is the source of overflowing life (John 7:37-39), we must live in dependence upon Him, walking moment by moment in His strength and not our own. This is why Paul, in Ephesians 5:18, exhorts us to "be filled with the Spirit." That means we are to be controlled and empowered by the Spirit; the imperative "be filled" is in the continuous progressive tense, suggesting that one must "continually be being filled." By appropriating the fullness of the Spirit by faith, one is not only empowered to be Christ's witness, but also empowered to live life to its fullest (John 10:10).
How do you know if you are walking according the Spirit or not?
Check the fruit! As Romans 8:5 tells us, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit, have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." And as it says in Galatians 5:19-21, "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23). If you want your life to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, the solution is simple -- walk according to the Spirit.
If you have been living in spiritual defeat, wondering if there is any validity to the Christian life, there is hope for you! The same power that was available to Christ is also available to you in the person of the Holy Spirit. You do not have to ask the Holy Spirit to come into your life, because He is already indwelling you. But to be filled, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, simply yield to Him and ask for His fullness and power. It's the difference of a glass of milk with a bunch of chocolate sitting at the bottom of the glass, and a glass of milk with the chocolate stirred up, so that it looks and tastes like chocolate milk. Both glasses have the same amount of chocolate in them, but one looks no different than a regular glass of milk, while the other is taking on the characteristics of its indwelling force. Allow God to stir you up (fill you), so that others see Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Many people have the wrong definition of a successful life, one based upon the world's measurements: piles of money, fame, power, beauty, possessions, and the like. I want to suggest that Jesus gave us a very different definition of success. In Matthew 22:37-39, he said the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In two short sentences Jesus tells us the secret to a successful life-success is filling our lives with loving relationships. Join Gil Stieglitz as he takes you through the practical aspects of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, God's keys to "grapeness" in life and relationships.