When the Bible asks us a question, it is not because God does not know the answer. Rather, it is to focus us on something which God wants us to know and remember, and not forget. Such is the case in First Corinthians 6:19-20 as Paul ask us:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Yes, when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit dwells within us, from that time. From that time, we are different, from that time our body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. If we are indeed in Christ and if indeed Christ is in us, we ought to be “renewed”.
What does “renewed” mean? It means to be more Christ like. It means to resemble the earthly characters which Jesus modelled for us. Ephesians 4:22-32 explains it in clear language just what we must do, so we many sure how we must act:
- Put off your old self.
- Stop your former life with its corrupt deceitful desires and falsehoods and lies.
- Renew the spirit of your mind.
- Put on your new self, which is righteous and holy, and created in the likeness of God.
- Speak the truth with your neighbour and one another.
- If you get angry, do not sin.
- Do not let the sun do gown on your anger.
- Let the thief no longer steal, but let him do an honest and fair day’s labour, so that he may earn his way and share with anyone in need.
- Let no corrupting talk come from out from your month.
- Speak only works which are good and build-up to others, and give grace to those who hear.
- Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.
- Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, malice and slander have nothing to do with you.
- Be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving to one another; as God in Christ, forgave you.
To me, the one which stands out in the list is number 11: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit”. This aligns with First Timothy 5:19 which warns us with the simple command: “Do not quench the Spirit.” This is not the only warning about the respect and reverence we must have toward the Holy Spirit, for Matthew 12:31 warns us explicitly saying “Therefore I say to you, all kinds of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men.” To drive the point home completely, Matthew 12:32 continues “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come.”
By interpretation, cooperating with the Holy Spirit seems like the correct thing for all Christian to do. How do we cooperate with the Holy Spirit?
The following are some eight means:
Mediate on the Word of God
As Matthew 12:31-32 and First Timothy 5:19 above give us insight into that which is pleasing to God, and into which He finds utterly offensive, let us be reminded of Psalms 138:2 where we are told that “You have magnified Your Word above all Your name.” God magnifies and God holds His Word above, higher than, His name. Our meditation on the Word of God is therefore important to God. We know this, because in Joshua 1:8 God says “This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it by day and by night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely.”
The root of the Hebrew word for ‘prosperous’ here means to rush, or go forward. The secondary meaning is to advance, to prosper, to make progress, to succeed, to be profitable. The Word of God allows us to go forward and succeed in what we do, for we are acting wisely in God’s eyes.
Secondly, Second Timothy 3:16-17 attest to the Word of God confirming to us that: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” God’s Word is in essence, good for us.
But if we read the Word casually and without attention, we lose the opportunity of having the Holy Spirit come and teach us and reveal the Word to us. Without meditation on the Word, without studying the Word, there can be no revelation of the Word within us.
A Christian life is a praying life. Colossians 4:2 requires Christians to pray saying “Continue in prayer and watch in it with thanksgiving.” Jesus implicitly implies this as He says Matthew 6:6 “And when you pray…..” Quite literally, Jesus expects us to pray and He was said so in His own words.
Neglecting prayer is neglecting God and God does not take kindly to that, for in that act, we break the most important of His Commandments which Jesus gave to us “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
As with Prayer, Jesus makes it implicit that Christians are expected to fast, as he says in Matthew 16:6 “And when you fast …..” This does not leave any opportunity for misunderstanding: Christians must fast.
Fasting, to some extent, seems to remove the spiritual clutter and debris from around our lives and allows us to hear God. Matthew 17:19-21 and Mark 9:26-29 provide good examples of this form the words of Jesus Himself.
Fasting, as Ezra 8:21 says, humbles us. “Then I called a fast there at the river Ahava, so that we might humble ourselves before our God, in order to seek from Him a right way for us and for our little ones, and for all our goods.” When seeking God, humility comes right at the top of the list of requirements, for as Psalm 51:17 says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” These cannot be achieved without humility, and fasting brings humility.
Second Corinthians 9:7 expresses God’s view on how we should give to others, whether it be alms, charity, tithes or just plain giving: “Each one, as he purposes in his heart, let him give; not of grief, or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
All we have belongs to God, and we are but temporary custodians of it for Him. All we have was provisioned by God and we are asked to be good stewards of His blessings. The bible is very clear about giving, be it an extra coat to he who has none (Luke 3:11), or simply to look after a whole section of society, such as the orphans and widows (First Timothy 5).
As we grow closer to God, the enemy will embolden itself and increase attacks on us, seeking to change our minds about following Jesus. They do that, because that is what they are called to do. Do not think that as you lead a nice quiet Christian life you are immune to enemy attacks. You are not! In Genesis 3:15 we read God saying to the Serpent, for Satan “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” That enmity still continues whether we choose to believe it or not. Indeed, First Peter 5;8 warns us of this “Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour.” It cannot me more explicit or clear than that!
In one sense, all of the ‘cooperation with the Holy Spirit’ works listed here, are warfare, because they are strengthening our relationship with God and in that, we come closer to Him. The enemy does not want this.
But to effectively fight an enemy, we need to recognise its existence and what it looks like. All born-again Christians need to know Matthew 16:19. Jesus says “And I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven to you. And whatever you may bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven, and whatever you may loose on earth shall occur, having been loosed in Heaven.” Prayer, with these God given keys, is our primary weapon in our warfare with the enemy.
Worship is more than communication with God, more than singing to Him. It is these but more, much more. It is entering into His presence where we can have intimacy with Him.
In Matthew 2:1-2 we read of the Wise Men, the astute scholars from a far off land who had interpreted the Old Testament prophecies of Daniel and others and ascertained the birth time and location of the Messiah. They then travelled very far to see Jesus. Why? “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He who is born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” They had come to worship Him!!
At great risk to their life and limbs, these men crossed mountains, rivers and deserts to worship before Jesus. As born-again Christian, we need to offer the same reverence, the same passion, the same desire, the same zeal to worship God as they did. For us it is easier, for the Holy Spirit is within us. We can worship the Lord anywhere and anytime. We just need to do it!!
Why do this? Jesus explains for us in John 4:23 saying “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him.” Yes, the time is now.
We can spend all day in prayer and worship honouring the Father, but we still need to go out and work for Him. Generally Christians are not called to a hermit style life, for we are called to serve. We are called to serve on another, to serve anyone who needs help. A Christian is required to interpret “neighbour” in the widest sense, not in the narrowest sense.
When we sit and seek God, he will find us. He will then tell us what we are to do for Him, for the furtherance of his Kingdom on earth. God undoubtedly, as the maker of heaven and earth, has the power to accomplish anything at all in His Will; yet he chooses to accomplish His Will through us, His children. If we refuse to act on God’s calling or request, He will simply get another to do the job and we will have lost our opportunity to serve Him and any and all blessings therefrom. Yes, as Mathew 17:20 says, there are times at which we can speak to the mountains of our lives (or the lives of others) and they will move. Other times we need to practice our physical muscles, and dig around the mountains. This many not be because our faith is lacking, but God is strengthening us for the next project.
This has always been the case – all have worked for God. Even the Apostles were specifically called by Jesus to work. John 21:15-17 exemplifies this:
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
As Christian, we are called to no less. As Peter was called to feed the Lambs and tend and feed the Sheep, so too are we. All Christians are called to servant-hood and the basic requirement of servant-hood is serving and working for others.
Exodus 20:8-10 gives us the Sabbath and describes what we must do.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.”
God has provisioned one day of rest in every seven days for His people, that they may commune with Him and rest. Jesus confirmed it was for Christians too as He said in Mark 2:27 “the Sabbath came into being for man’s sake, and not man for the Sabbath’s sake.” If God reckons we need one day of rest per week, then certainly, we need one day of rest per week. He made us, He knows what we need before we ask Him.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray that You will empower me to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and convict me to continue in a lifetime of cooperation. I willingly lay down my will before You, and I willingly ask You to lead my life.
Burden me Lord, for those things which burden You, and lead me, I pray, to fulfilment of my destiny in You, as You have determined for me.
In the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour I pray.
Amen and Amen and Amen.