Changed by the Spirit

I wrote this for my English class.  but I think applies to more than my teacher.

Change by the Spirit

Everyone on the planet wants to be happy, and they are searching everywhere they can to find it.  Many look to drugs, sex, relationships, jumping out of planes, and all kinds of crazy things.  This desire comes because we are made to live in the presence of God.  When God created man, he designed us to dwell with Him in the Garden of Eden.  The problem we face today is sin.  Sin has corrupted the world in which we live.  Sin is the barrier that keeps us from the presence of God.  Sin blinds us.  It keeps us from seeing the truth.  Fortunately, God has not left us in the dark.  He has revealed Himself multiple times throughout history and has trusted the church with the responsibility with relating this truth to others.  The Church is composed of those who have heard this truth and accepted it. The truth is that there is a God who created you, who wants to be with you, and who loves you.  It is the truth and the manifestation of the truth that for which everyone is longing.  The manifestation of this truth is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the essence of God.  God is where all things worthy of being called good come from.  He is love.  He is Joy.  Experiencing His presence is what we are longing for.

The Church has been given the responsibility of sharing the truth with the world.  In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of  all nations,  baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching themto observe all thatI have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Disciples are people who devote their life to Jesus.  They eat, breathe, and drink Jesus.  The goal of a disciple is to emulate everything Jesus did.  One of those aspects is how he served.  They serve with the idea that they are serving on behalf of Jesus.  This has come from the Church being described as the body of Christ.  God works through people, and we are his hands and feet.  Here in America, the Church has failed at making disciples and being the hands and feet of Jesus.  This is due to the lack of reliance on and saturation of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the presence of God.  It is our power source, our joy, our peace, our comfort and our hope.  Without it, Christianity is just a religion, a set of beliefs and rules to live by.  Without the Holy Spirit, God is only the all-powerful creator and judge.  While this is true, it is only part of the picture.  God is also close.  He is near, waiting for us seek Him out.  Most of the Church seems to view God in a manner that places him at distance.  It has made it our goal to please Him so that we don’t go to Hell.  If we do a good enough job jumping through the hoops, God will grant our wishes of health and wealth.  It is this misconception that has lead to the American Church’s failure.  It has turned Christianity into a check-list.  It has cut out the heart of the matter and focused on the tiny details of how it is lived out.

God’s whole goal is to restore the relationship that He and humanity once had, the one He originally designed; for whatever reason He longs to be with us.  It’s not just a matter of rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked.  We “church people” often think we are so awesome because we don’t drink, smoke, or fornicate, and those who do should be eliminated because they are bad and terrible people.  The truth of the matter is we are all bad and terrible.  Even our good deeds, our righteousness, are as filthy rags before God.  God is so holy that Mother Teresa looks like Adolf Hitler when compared to Him.  So, we need get any idea of superiority out of our heads.  Any good we do is because of the change the Jesus has caused in us.  Without Jesus, we would be in the same place as they are.  For those of us who “believe”, it is because God has opened our eyes and drawn us to Himself.

God doesn’t tell us not to do these things just because he wanted to make up some rules.  Every command He gives comes from the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-40, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all of your mind, and all of your soul….”  He then adds, “Love your neighbor as yourself…”  What we need to understand is God loves all of humanity.  Anything he calls a sin either harms us or someone else.  The people that are participating in “sinful” activities are often killing themselves.  They have bought into the lie that these things are going to make them happy.  What they are doing should break our hearts.   They are killing themselves, walking down a path that ultimately leads to their destruction, an eternity in Hell, separated from the love of God.  If we truly have accepted Jesus and His presence lives in us, then we should never look down on these people in judgment.  Instead, we should be filled with compassion and pray that the Spirit of God will soften their hearts and open their eyes to see the truth.

So, we have discussed how Christians shouldn’t be defined by a lack of substance abuse and bad behaviors, even though that is not a bad thing.  Our lives should be marked by the presence of God.  Our goal should be to spend as much time in his presence as we can.  Who/what we spend our time with decides who/what we become; it’s like a law of nature.  What you are around rubs off on you.  If you spend all you time watching or listening to things that are full of “bad stuff” then you become more and more like that.  If you spend your time reading the word of God, conversing with God, and singing songs that reinforce those things, then you are going to become more and more like God.  The word “Christian” was applied to the disciples as meaning “little Christ.”  There were not two groups of followers: one being the generic Christians who are like your average person and then disciples who are the people that become pastors and such.  They were all disciples.  The goal is for all us to become as much like Jesus as humanly possible.

The problem is churches aren’t focusing in on this idea of spending time in the presence of the God of the universe.  We are focusing in on the little details and rules.  This is creating dead and dying churches and people.  We are removing the power and the drive that made the original church so alive.  Churches in America are dying.  There is no growth; Christianity is looked at as something that doesn’t work.  It is because the average Christian does not spend time in the presence of God other than on the occasional Sunday.  It needs to be an everyday event.  Every time that Jesus did a miracle, the Bible mentions that the Holy Spirit was involved.  It was the Holy Spirit that empowered the first century Church to do miracles, and it is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to storm the gates of Hell and set free the captives.

I once was your average normal Christian with good intentions.  I meant well and tried not to do bad things.  There are two main things that attribute to the change that has happened in me.  First it was the confession of sin.  I had a major relapse into porn, and it was around the time that I confessed that things began to change.  The other thing that changed was my prayers.  I began to ask God to teach me how to seek his face.  I began to pray out loud as drove in my car.  I did this because I believe God is real.  I believe that God is with me wherever I go.  I believe that there is power in the spoken word.  And I believe that I can speak to God like He is my friend.  Since then the frequency of having intimate time with God has increased.  And it is these intimate times with God that have changed who I am.  It is time for Christians everywhere to get to know the God of the universe as their friend, as their Abba Father, to be engulfed by His spirit.

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4 thoughts on “Changed by the Spirit

  1. Jeffery, I`ve read this and I was not aware that the Holy Spirit will empower us to storm the gates of Hell and free the captives. I`ve never heard this anywhere. Is this a fact? Then there is hope for those that may not be saved when the pass? What will be required of them once we storm the gates of Hell…..will they have to ask for forgiveness from the Lord and pronounce that he is their savior? This part I don`t understand. Can you clarify it for me?

    1. I don’t think is refering to the literal Hell but its power. The captive aren’t those who are dead physically but spiritually. I’m sure you have heard that we are in a spiritual war with the powers of darkness. Satan and his demons want to stop everyone for coming to know God. His main weapons are lies. He uses this lies to blind people from the truth. The idea of this statement comes from Matt 16: 18 And I tell you, ae you are Peter, and af on this rock2 I will build my church, and ag the gates of ah hell3 shall not prevail against it. I took this verse and interpreted it as we should be on the offense not defense. Gates don’t move and attack. Weather or not that is a sound interpretation is a mute point. There is also Luke 4:18 j “The Spirit of the Lord ak is upon me,
      because he has anointed me
      to al proclaim good news to the poor.
      am He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
      and an recovering of sight to the blind,
      ao to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
      The Idea is we need to get out there and do something. We can’t just sit in our churchs and go about our lives and expect something to happen. We need to be intentional and stratigic about rescuing the lost. (Those who don’t know God)

      I hope that helps.

  2. OK, I was thinking about after the revelation that you meant that we would be empowered to storm the gates of hell and save the unsaved. To allow them one last chance to follow the lord to heaven. To claim God as their savior. You are just talking about “OUR CHRISTIAN WITNESS” to others and witness to them about the Bible and have them convert to the ways of the Lord and live the rightous ways now. To be as pure of heart as possible while having a “carnal heart”. My mother believes we make our own hell here on earth and claims to be an atheist. I don`t believe that at all. I have been saved but swayed away from my belief for a while and I feel the need to get back in touch with my true feelings again. ok, so like I said it`s our “Witness” for others you are talking about so now I`ve got it and not for a later time……………yes, it helps. I know what you mean.

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  3. Ok, I’m glad I made that clear. As I read your response I feel you may have missed the point of this paper, or don’t agree with it. There so much more to our life with God then changing our behavior. Thats a given, I’m not saying our behavior isn’t a major factor. What I am saying is a change in our behavior is a result of being change by the presence of God. There multiple times in the Bible when the idea of seeking God comes into play. Jesus say I have come so that you may have life abundantly. The Holy Spirit is refered to as gift. As I said it doesn’t only empower us to live holy lives, but it brings joy, comfort, peace, hope despite our circumstance. I’m not down playing the idea that we should live holy lives. The things is we can’t. God looks at more than our behaviors he looks at our hearts, at our attitudes. I’ve recently started reading a book that addresses this, called the “Jesus Creed” by Scott McKnight. He does a great Job getting at the heart of God and how our hearts should reflect His. By heart I don’t mean emotions, I mean the very core of who we are. There is no way we can change our hearts on our own. It is the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, that changes us, and as our hearts change our behavior will follow. It wont have to forced. We wont have to play nice when we feel the opposite. We will be fill with the love of God, and genuinely have love and compassion for others, even those who may of wronged us.

    Anyway, I will leave at that. I could probably go down that rabbit trale for a while. I also want to thank you for your responses. I may have gotten the wrong impression from your previous response, but if I did some else may have as well. So, this may or may not apply to you, but maybe I will help someone else to get a better grasp for what I was getting at. I had a limit for this paper so there are some things I didn’t get to.

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