By the Spirit

Bible Reading: Romans 8

Romans 8:9, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

Galatians 3:1-3, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Every born-again believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God.  As a result of hearing the gospel and responding with faith, a person receives the Spirit. Yet, receiving the Spirit is only the start of the Believer’s ongoing relationship of dependency on the Spirit. 

The church in Galatia had a problem.  Paul had preached the gospel to those folks.  Some believed, and a church was born.  But then the church was infiltrated by individuals who falsely taught that one’s salvation depended on the keeping of the law.  Being thus deceived, the church foolishly departed from its Spirit-led beginnings, to venture off on a faulty flesh-driven detour. Paul’s admonishment of the Galatians reminds us of a sad reality: we humans tend to gravitate towards a works-based approach to salvation.  We pridefully assume we have what it takes in ourselves to do (and not do) what is required of us.  Yet we don’t have what it takes.  We need Jesus as much now as we did when we first trusted in Him.  We need the Spirit in the same way.  The Christian life is not about trying harder to be better, it is about walking in yieldedness to, and dependence on, the Spirit.

Let me attempt to illustrate.  Some years ago, we took our two-year-old grandson to the Portland Zoo.  If you’ve ever been there, you know how big it is and how many exhibits there are.  Plus, there’s the little train to ride—he loved that!  To help visitors, signs are posted everywhere directing them in which way to go.  In addition, a map is provided showing where the differing animal exhibits can be found.  Now imagine if we had brought our two-year-old grandson to the entrance of the zoo and dropped him off.  Here you go, son, we’ve brought you to the zoo, now it’s up to you to find your way.  That’d be akin to child abandonment because he’d never make it.  He’d get lost and get weary and who knows what would have happened?

The Christian life is not easy.  It is by a miracle of God’s grace that God takes us, radically depraved as we were, and delivers us one day into glory. It’d be impossible for any of us to navigate this journey, or persevere through life’s challenges apart from the indwelling work of the Spirit of God. At the beginning of your salvation, you were born again of the Spirit.  The Spirit came and took up residence in your heart.  You began your Christian life through the Spirit, so you are to walk with Him now.  You need Him now as much as you did when you first received Him!  Every moment of every day, He is guiding you.  Always directing your heart and thoughts Christ-ward—leading, teaching and empowering.  Having begun by the Spirit, one can only be perfected by the Spirit, and to attempt to do otherwise is foolhardy!


All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine. [Refrain]

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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