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When God Shows Through
OPEN: A little girl who, on the way home from church, turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the Preacher’s sermon this morning confused me."
The mother said, "Oh! Why is that?”
The girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?"
"Yes, that’s true," the mother replied.
"He also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?"
Again the mother replied, "Yes."
"Well," said the girl. "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?"
That’s what Romans 8 is telling us. Paul is saying that if we are Christians the Spirit of God dwells within us, and since God is bigger than we are - if we’re being led by His Spirit – God’s going to show through.
Now there are those who think the Spirit is a thing. They view Him as a lifeless blob that God sets inside of us that doesn’t physically affect us during our lives.
They tend to view God’s Spirit like a coin you put in a pop machine or a candy machine. The coin goes in and the candy comes out. But from that point on the coin lies dormant in the machine, doing nothing more of any value.
But Romans 8 is telling us that’s not so with God’s Spirit.
Romans tells us that the Spirit is a life giving, life changing force.
Throughout this passage Paul tells us the Spirit:
· helps us know what God desires for our lives (vs. 5)
· can help me control my mind (vs. 6)
· Helps me have life and peace (vs. 6)
· gives “life” to my mortal body (vs. 11)
· helps me put to death my “misdeeds” – helps me control my sin (vs. 13)
· testifies to the fact that I am a child of God (vs. 16)
When God places His Spirit inside us that Spirit becomes a life giving, life changing force.
Jesus said: "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." John 7:38-39
Up until Jesus rose from the dead the Spirit of God had not lived in anybody like He lives in you and me now. Now however Jesus tells us - because that Spirit does live inside of each Christian – He is a powerful force flowing inside us.
Now, as I was preparing this sermon several questions came into my mind that I felt needed answered:
1st - What does the Spirit DO in me?
What is it that He does that makes it so that God shows through me?
Well, primarily the Spirit is inside of me to change me.
He’s there to fine-tune how I react to life.
He’s there to remake me in the image of God…so I become more like God
Look again at Romans 8:5-6
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind CONTROLLED BY THE SPIRIT is life and peace.”
When I submit to God’s Spirit and allow Him to control my life, that Spirit teaches me what God desires – what He wants me to be like.
The best passage to explain this is Galatians 5:22-23
Turn there with me
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
The Spirit’s job is to strengthen those traits in you and me so that:
· We become more loving. When we’re around others we show love. We care for them/ love them even if they’ve hurt us.
· We create an atmosphere of joy wherever we go
· When there’s a conflict at home/church/work we try to be the peace makers
· We become more patient, and good and faithful and gentle.
· We have more self-control of our thoughts and words and actions.
These characteristics are gas gauge that helps us know how much of our lives the Spirit controls. You can go to church/ Sunday School/ mission trips/ give half of your money to God, and God will be pleased with those things. But those aren’t really the marks of the Spirit living powerfully within you and I. It’s only when the Spirit reinforces His fruit in our lives that we really know He is there.
So the Spirit wants to change me and fine-tune me.
He wants to alter how I look at life/ how I live my life.
He wants us to be so controlled by God’s thinking that it’s obvious.
Like that little girl said in our story this morning:
"If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?"
So I want God’s Spirit to be so big inside of me that He shines through.
Now that leads me to my 2nd question this morning:
How does the Spirit make that happen?
How does He bring about these changes in my life?
Well, Jesus said: “When he (the Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:8
When the Holy Spirit is inside you and I – He is there to convict us.
ILLUS: Where do we usually hear the word “convict” in our society? (in a courtroom)
When someone goes to trial it’s the job of the Prosecutor confront the accused with the evidence against them. If there’s enough evidence – the court “convicts” that person. So the Spirit’s job is to confront you and I with evidence that we need to change some part of our lives.
Now the difference between being convicted in a courtroom and being convicted by Spirit is that a courtroom you’re convicted so that you’ll be condemned. Whereas the Spirit convicts us that we than we can be freed from condemnation. Freed from our guilt/ our shame/ punishment we deserve for our sins.
Now that brings me to my 3rd Question: How do I know it’s the Spirit convicting me
How do I know it’s just not me… or even Satan.
Years ago people wore t-shirts that said “The devil made me do it”
The Bible teaches me that if I’m not led by God’s Spirit… a default mode kicks in.
It’s called “the flesh”… our sinful tendencies. Jeremiah said it this way:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Just as an example, years ago, I remember reading about rioting that was taking place somewhere in California. there were people running through the streets, throwing rocks through windows setting cars on fire… and of course there were looters.
One reporter stopped a man coming out of a music store with several music albums in his hands
“What did you take”, the reporter asked.
“Gospel music” the rioter replied, “I just love Jesus.”
If you’d talked to that man further he might tell you he’s a Christian.
He might tell you he felt led by God’s Spirit.
But in reality… the Spirit wasn’t leading him - the default mode had kicked in
Paul tells us about this “default mode” in Galatians 5:17-21
“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature (the default mode) are obvious:
1. sexual immorality (sleeping with someone who’s not your husband or wife; watching pornography on internet; or having dirty magazines or books in your home).
2. impurity and debauchery (telling dirty jokes/ saying & doing things that are morally questionable)
3. idolatry and witchcraft (this doesn’t just include bowing down before idols and casting spells. The word witchcraft comes from “pharmakea” which is where we get Pharmacy and pharmaceuticals – in other words the person who’s not walking by God’s Spirit is taking drugs).
4. hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy (this is where you can’t stand some group or person and so you say and do things to put them “in their place”. You become their judge and jury. You’ve decided they deserve to be treated badly… so that’s what you’re going to do).
5. drunkenness, orgies, and the like (going to parties where you wouldn’t want to preacher or elders to find you).
I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
God is telling us that if we live like that, the Spirit’s not in control of our lives and that could be disastrous to our salvation.
Well, how do I know then if the Spirit wants me to do something or not?
How do I know I’m not just being misled by my “default mode”?
The answer is in Ephesians 6:17 which tells us how to survive as Christians.
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
What is the Word of God? (the Bible)
The Bible is the Spirit’s sword
God’s Spirit uses Scripture to convict us/ change us/ make us into God’s image.
I mean – how did I know what the fruit of the Spirit was and what the works of the flesh were? I READ it in the Bible.
Now how are those words in Galatians going to make any difference in my life? (The Spirit will convict me with those words)
Hebrews 4:12 tells me
“… the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The Spirit uses the Bible to bring about the changes God wants in our lives.
He uses it to convict and convince us of what is right and wrong.
Now this is where we need to be careful, because some people believe that Christianity is just about the “dos and don’ts” of life. They figure if they just avoid the “works of the flesh” that will make everything all right. But they’d only be half right. It’s not enough to avoid the things that are contrary to the Spirit of God. We must also be filled with that Spirit so much so that people will notice our love/ joy/ peace/ patience/ kindness/ goodness, etc
In short – when the Spirit gets done with us God will be so big inside of us He’ll show through.
Now, there’s one last question about the Spirit:
This is quiz time.
How many of you think a person can be a Christian without the Spirit of God dwelling inside them? (no hands)
How many of you think a person cannot be a Christian if God’s Spirit is not in them? (most raised their hands).
You’re right. You can’t be.
ILLUS: Years ago I talked with a preacher from our brotherhood who believed that God would save you… and then LATER He’d give you His Spirit. And I know there are many churches across the land that agree with him.
But Romans 8 tells us that can’t happen:
“… if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Ro 8:9
You cannot be a Christian if you don’t have the Spirit inside of you.
And Ephesians 1 tells us why:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were MARKED IN HIM WITH A SEAL, THE PROMISED HOLY SPIRIT, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory.” Eph 1:13-14
The Spirit of the God is God’s brand on us.
It’s His declaration – this person belongs to me.
It’s His guarantee that when you come before the judgment seat of God you won’t have to worry about God looking through His book and judging you by your sins.
The Spirit is your free pass.
There will be no judgment seat for you… you’re going to be able to walk right on in.
ILLUS: How many of you have ever been inside the County Building up town.
They used to have 2 or 3 entrances to the building… but now they have only one.
And when you walk through that door the first thing you’ll see is police officers or two standing beside this big metal contraption. What is that metal contraption? (metal detector).
Every time I have to into the County Building to go the courts or Treasurer’s office or Clerk’s office I have to step up to the police officers and take everything out of my pockets – my keys, my cell phone, my wallet, spare change - and walk through that scanner. And invariably I’ll set off the alarm. They know it’s my belt buckle but they still have me turn around while they pass a hand scanner around my body to make sure I’m not carrying a gun/knife/ or some kind of explosive to blow the place up.
It’s just part of the deal. If I want to go into the County Building to do business I have to go through those scanners.
But one time I noticed that someone didn’t have to.
They just waved at the officers and walked around the scanner.
“Hey” I said jokingly, “what’s the deal? Why do they get to walk on in without going through the detector?”
The officer smiled and replied “they work here.”
And of course I knew that. The person had a name badge that told who they were and where they worked.
I have a badge of some sort that said I belonged there or if I were a policeman or had a name badge that identified me as someone who worked there I could just wave my hand to those policemen… and I could just walk on through.
That’s because that badge would indicate “I belonged there”
It would tell the officers in charge “You don’t have to stop me, I have a right to be here”
Ephesians 1 is telling us – that’s what the Spirit of God is for us.
He is our badge.
He literally shouts out “This woman/man belongs here”
When we stand before the judgment seat, the Spirit will allow us to wave at our Father and walk on in to heaven and no one will try to stop us…
Because – as Romans 8:16 says:
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
And because we’re children… we belong in Heaven.
So, how do I get this Spirit?
Acts 2:37 and 38 tell us that “When the people heard (that they were guilty of having crucified the Christ), they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
That’s not our church’s doctrine.
In fact, that’s not any church’s doctrine.
That’s a God doctrine.
God tells us that if we repent of our sins and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ He promises us that we will be forgiven our sins and… we’ll receive the gift the Holy Spirit.
We accept God’s gift of salvation by faith/ repentance, confession and baptism
But ultimately - it’s the Spirit inside of us that assures us we’re getting into Heaven.
ILLUS: Years ago Diana and I bought a home. We sat down in a lawyer’s office across the table from the people who were selling us their house. On the table between us was a piece of paper with a couple sets of lines at the bottom. It was the contract that said the owners agreed to sell us their home and we were agreeing to pay them a set amount for the honor of calling it our home now. Those two sets of lines were for our signatures.
Diana and I signed our part of the contract… but if the owners hadn’t signed their names to the contract we would never have owned the home.
Our signature on the contract for salvation is faith expressed in our repentance from our sins, confession of Jesus as our Lord and Master, and our allowing ourselves to be buried in the waters of baptism and risen up to a new life.
But it was God’s signature that saved us… not ours. It was His placing His Spirit into our hearts that made all the difference and allowed us to call His home ours.