Continuing in our short series on The Principles, we take a moment here to consider #3 on my list. It is one which I have tried to articulate often the congregation here at ECF, and to keep at the forefront of my own thinking at all times – not always successfully.
Principle #3 The Christian life cannot be lived any other way than by conscious, constant, deliberate dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Beloved, if you never learn anything from listening to or reading anything I have ever communicated, I pray this will drop down into the innermost recesses of your soul and find solid lodging there. So important was the giving of the Holy Spirit to us by Christ Jesus, that He raised it to the level of being a greater blessing than His incarnate presence with us before the cross.
Listen to the nature of Christ’s love for us, and the Father’s lavish giving Him to us with the Son in sending the 3rd person of the Trinity to indwell us: John 16:7–8 “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. “Aren’t those words staggering? That it is MORE advantageous that the incarnate Christ leave and the Spirit be poured out upon us, than if He remained? It is mind boggling. Certainly we remember that in His going, He will die on the cross in our place and be raised again for our justification – but even those glories are not independent of His going SO THAT He might send the Spirit to. Salvation is not complete without The Spirit. And this He bids us to consider of such infinite value as to be looked for in His place with us. Amazing.
Now it is just because this is true, that the Apostle Paul can tell us that therein lay the secret to the Christian walk: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” Galatians 5:16. Herein is power to overcome sin; The reality of fresh, vital, real communion with our God and Savior; gifts to bless the Church; illumination of God’s Word; power in prayer and ministering the Gospel – and countless other glories.
But note how we have put in in our principle. We must be CONSCIOUSLY looking to the Spirit as God’s indwelling presence. We must be cognizant on relying upon Him. And such reliance must be CONSTANT, not simply the fallback when things get rough. We must be DELIBERATE in our dependence – truly leaning upon Him, resting our weight upon Him, and not simply giving lip service to it. Running to Him 10, 100, 1000, 10,000 times a day. And it must be DEPENDENCE upon Him. He is not spiritual power steering, just giving us a boost to so that we can still do the job – but looking to Him to work righteousness in our hearts, to change desires and goals and ambitions and mindsets, opinions, attitudes and forging in us new likes and dislikes, loves and hatreds in accord with His own holy nature.
Consciously, constantly, deliberately depending upon Him to impart to us and work in us God’s own love. Love that manifests itself in joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, uprightness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Recognizing these are not human characteristics to be psychologically developed, but the very character of Christ to be lived.
Apart from this way of living, we will walk in constant defeat at the mercy (mercilessness) of our lusts. We will be exhausted in “trying” to be holy. We will be frustrated at every turn, living either in perpetual self-delusion that we are fine as is, or in perpetual guilt and dismay at our brokenness.
This world is toxic. Like a scuba diver who puts on his equipment so that he can operate in an environment that would otherwise kill him in minutes – we take up the “air” supply of the Breath of God, and cling to it and try to breathe no other way so that we might live, and thrive where no life can apart from it. And then, we can even enjoy the swim.