Today (31 May) is one week after Pentecost, the day when, “there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:2). The “mighty rushing wind” refers to the Spirit of God and “they” in the “entire house” were the early disciples of Jesus. Peter later says in Acts 2:16-39 that this is the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel—the outpouring of the Spirit on all. He ends by saying, this “promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” We may not fully understand this unfathomable momentous truth; but the fact remains, those whom the Lord calls are or will be filled with His Spirit. The issue we face is: Now what?
The apostle Paul gave us a perspective. He said, we are “debtors” not to live according to the flesh, but to live by the Spirit by putting to death the deeds of the body (Rom 8:12-13).
Privilege involves responsibility. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit places us under obligation. That obligation is not to the sinful nature, to live according to its demands. What we once were no longer has any claim on us. We are not obliged to obey the desires of our old earthly nature. In fact, if we do live under the control of our lower nature, we are “on the road to death”. But if by the power of the Spirit we keep on putting (continuing action) to death the evil practices of the body, we will live.
The lower nature does not automatically fade away when a person comes to Christ. The need to put to death the evil practices of the body is ongoing. The way to crucify the old self is to obey the promptings of the Spirit. The key to freedom from what we were is constant reliance on the active presence of the Spirit.
The Christian is one in whom the Spirit is constantly at work through instruction, exhortation, and discipline to bring to an end the misdeeds of the body. Although there may be times in a Christian’s life when he/she is living according to the flesh, over time there should be evidence of progress (Phil 1:6).
Our relationship with the Spirit of God ought to be like that of a shepherd to his sheep. We are ‘led’ by him as our guide and protector.
The only way for a person to become a child of God is through faith in Jesus Christ. The corollary is that unless people are continually being led by the Spirit, they are not members of God’s family.
Pastor Robert Chew