By Hermanus W. Smeenk
we know whether God has imparted his Holy Spirit within us?How can we tell?
How does the Holy Spirit effect us after we have received it from God?
Do we physically feel different or do we feel "holier" upon receipt of
God's Spirit? In this, our eighth bible study, we'll examine those questions
and find the answers as revealed in the bible.
Requirement for Receiving the Holy Spirit
In John 6:44, Jesus tells his disciples, "no man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day."
In Acts 2:38 Peter said: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit".
And, in Acts 8:14–17, we read "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: (For as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."
So, we find that four things are required to receive the Holy Spirit.
first be drawn by the Father to Christ, then repent of one's sins, be baptized,
and have hands laid on us by God’s servants whether they be apostles, such
as at the beginning when first the gospel began to be preached to the world,
or ministers of today.
How Do We Know When God Draws Us?
We first knew that God was calling or drawing us out of the world when he began to show us our sins and granted us the power to repent.
No man or woman can genuinely repent of their sins unless God grants them repentance.
Oh, many people may be sorry for things that they have done, and may even decide to do things differently from that time forward, but their repentance is not a real, heartfelt repentance that results in a complete turn about of their ways.
Their "repentance" is usually limited only to one or more things that they have done; they do not repent of everything that they have done.
That is an impossibility as long as their human nature controls them.
Only God can open our minds and show us how sinful and wretched we really are when he enables us to compare our sinful selves with God's own glory and perfection.
However, when God does grant us repentance, and we genuinely repent of our sinful life, our rotten attitude, and hate towards God's statutes, laws and commandments, then God also grants us our first love of the truth.
As a result, we won’t be able to get enough of reading the bible, or looking for instruction on how to please God, reading church booklets, listening to sermon tapes, and attending services and bible studies.
God grants us a genuine hunger and thirst for instruction in living our new lives.
In Matthew 5:6, Jesus told his disciples, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
We are filled first with spiritual milk (church doctrines), then with stronger spiritual food (how to live a righteous life as disclosed in the Bible).
Once we begin to study the Bible in earnest, looking for instruction, for correction, or reproof (II Timothy 3:16), we begin to increase in understanding and to grow in grace and knowledge of the truth.
This allows God to mold our character in His and Christ's image, and to help us on the road to perfection.
things mentioned above are the result of Christ working in us to help us
to change and continue to walk in the new way that we entered after we
have repented and been baptized.
The Initial Stage After Receiving the Holy Spirit
After our repentance and baptism, we receive God's Holy Spirit through the prayers and laying on of hands by the ministry.
After receiving the Holy Spirit you do not feel any different than you did before but you can begin to see that you received the Holy Spirit by the things you do and your change in attitude from a rebellious nature to a humble and teachable nature.
We do not receive the Holy Spirit in power today as the early church did but from the seed planted by the Father it becomes an embryo similar to the conception and growth of a human foetus in the womb.
The embryo grows as we continue to nourish it with the spiritual food that we receive from studying the bible, meditation, prayer and fasting.
The ministers, also, feed us with the spiritual nourishment through the preaching of the word.
After a year or two, when we have been satiated with God’s truth, we may find that we no longer have that strong inner drive to know more.
We may be starting to slack off sometimes, we didn’t spend as much time any more on our knees praying to God, or meditating on His Power or His Works, or fasting to draw closer to God.
We didn’t stop to think anymore about whether the things we did or said were pleasing to God.
Does this mean that perhaps we never received God's Spirit or, worse, that we had it for a little while and then lost it?
Suddenly, it may have occurred to us "Do I really have God’s Holy Spirit?"
How do I
know whether God’s Spirit dwells in me?
The Fruits of the Human Spirit
First of all, can we know that God’s Spirit dwells in us?
Yes we can, and we can even differentiate between our human, carnal spirit and God’s Spirit.
How can we do that?
First, we need to identify the fruits of the spirit, both the carnal and God’s spirit. Jesus told us in Matthew 7:16 and 20 speaking of false prophets, and good and corrupt trees: "By their fruits you shall know them…"
What are the fruits of our carnal nature?
Jeremiah 17:9-10 states: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked [sick]: who can know it? I, the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."
Again, Jesus stated in Mark 7:21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders".
In Acts 7:51 Stephen told the scribes and Pharisees: "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you".
Paul also lists the fruit of carnal man when he berates the church in Corinth in I Corinthians 6:9-10 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
Are we stiff-necked?
Do we resist the Holy Spirit?
Do we covet (which is idolatry)?
Do we lie to others?
Do we seek to please ourselves?
Do we put ourselves before others?
Are we unwilling to serve others?
Do we want others to serve us?
Do we dislike (hate) the people we meet or have to work with?
Do we find fault with others?
Do we seek sympathy from others by telling them how someone else offended us?
Do we make others look bad so that we can look good in someone else’s eyes?
all fruits of our carnal nature.
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
On the other hand, the fruits of the Holy Spirit are the very opposite.
If we exercise God’s Spirit in us, we’ll find that we strive to be humble, we're willing to accept admonishment, we make every effort to overcome the fleshly desires in us, refusing to even entertain any such thoughts in our minds.
We look to God and try to please Him, instead of seeking to engage in that moment of carnal pleasure that can leave a bitter after taste in our minds.
We seek to please others, we learn to be happy for others when something good happens to them, we rejoice with those that rejoice, feel sad for those that hurt, pray with genuine concern for others that God would be merciful to them and take away their pain or affliction.
We look for the good in others, and rejoice when we find it.
We will go out of our way not to offend anyone.
We’ll do our best to serve others and to please them.
We are patient with them, forgiving and forgetting real or imagined offenses.
When we live the way of the world, God will show us our sins and we’ll look at our own failures and short-comings to correct them, rather than accuse others of their short-comings.
We do not steal and maintain scrupulous honesty in all things.
We love, not hate our fellow-man.
We help others, we do not hinder them.
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:16 "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
In dealing with the world, we must take care not to be led astray by people with whom we come into contact, while at the same time not doing nor saying anything that can be misconstrued and cause offense in anyone.
If you do offend someone, apologize quickly lest that person spreads evil rumors about you.
Give in and don’t argue.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God".
In Galatians 5:22 Paul sums up the fruits of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law."
Also, in I Corinthians 13 Paul explains the importance of Love and the Fruit of Love: It suffers long, envies not, vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails.
Which fruits do we exhibit, those of the carnal mind and spirit, or those of God’s Spirit?
Do we feel frustrated at our inability to overcome the lusts of the flesh, the temptations of the world or the temptations of Satan and his demons?
Do we cry out to God for help and bitterly repent of our failures to overcome the temptations that seem to come from all sides upon us?
If so, Jesus Christ is leading us from within and through God’s Spirit.
If we see more of the fruits of our carnal nature than of God’s Spirit, and find ourselves rebelling against our conscience (God’s Spirit), our problem may be that we haven’t exercised God’s Spirit enough.
We may not have gone to God in sincere prayer and cried out for help to overcome our human carnal spirit.
If so, then we need to focus in sincere prayer to God on our problem and cry out to Him to help us overcome that carnal spirit.
Or, we may NOT have God’s Spirit if we rebel even at the thought of praying to God and crying out for His guidance and direction in our life in our every thought and activity.
Paul described the struggle between his human spirit and God’s Spirit within him when he wrote in Romans 7:14-23;
"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do I allow not;
for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent
unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know
that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform
that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that,
when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but
I see another law in my members, warring against the law of the mind, and bringing me into captivity to
the law of sin which is in my members."
If we find then that the Holy Spirit has entered our hearts, let us, then, diligently continue to seek God’s guidance and direction in our lives so that we may cry out with Paul in Romans 7:24-25
"O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?
I thank God through
Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the
law of sin."
Let us look to God and Jesus Christ for direction and guidance in our lives that we may follow the example that Jesus set for us when He walked here upon the earth.
With God's help, we can overcome our human nature and keep God's laws, contrary to what you may have been told by your minister.
No, we can't become perfect in this life, but to behave like sons of God, we must continue to overcome our human nature, the temptations of the world and of Satan.
God looks for someone with a humble and obedient spirit.
With such a one, He is able to perform His work and mold that man into His own image and Godly character.
Those of a rebellious spirit refuse to repent and change but will continue to defy God and His commandments.
These will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire to be burnt up.
God has no use for rebels in His Kingdom and will allow none to enter it.
What is your decision, are you ready to be taught, to exercise the Holy Spirit within yourself and be obedient to God's laws, or do you want to continue in your old ways, refuse the admonishment of the Holy Spirit and be condemned to eternal death?
Continue on to the next chapter where we'll see how we can overcome an attitude of complacency within us as members in the end-time church. The chapter's title is, "Complacency in Our Attitude"
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