Ministry of the Holy Spirit: Control (part 1)

More pondering from the Ponderosa. The last ministry of the Holy Spirit that I will cover is His controlling ministry, or His filling. This will take a few posts, but please bear with me. We are told to walk by means of the Holy Spirit and not by the flesh (Galatians 5:16). The reason is clear.  The flesh – the old Adamic nature that still remains in us – lusts (wars)against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5:17).  It’s an ongoing inner battle that we will wage as long as we are in this fallen body.

Christians are by our very nature people of faith. We are given life from God by personal faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are not only saved by faith, but we are to grow in faith and learn to live our entire lives by faith. Paul said that we are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). What did he mean by this? Catch this glimpse!

Walking is an interesting physical movement. We push forward into the walking motion by putting weight on one leg and then shifting that weight to the other. Our bodies move forward, one step at a time. There is a brief moment (ever so slight) when we must trust that the next leg will hold us up. We really do not know for sure, but we learn to trust it. When we are very young, we take short unsteady steps learning to trust our legs.  But as we grow older, we no longer even think about it.  We just walk and run. This is why God used walking as a picture of learning to live by faith. He’s a genius, is He not!

Walking by faith is placing our spiritual weight upon the truth of the Word of God, moment by moment, throughout our lives. At first, we take small steps of faith, learning to trust God for little things. But as we mature in Christ, we take larger steps of faith, trusting God for more important things.

Moses told the Jews that God had humbled them, allowing them to go hungry in the wilderness so that He could supply their need. God creates needs in order to teach us to trust Him. He fed the Jews in the wilderness with manna. The word actually means “what is it.” That would be an appropriate description (Exodus 16:31-21).  God gave exactly what was needed by each one for that day – no more, no less.  If they gathered too much, it would spoil and rot. God was teaching them to trust the Giver and not the gift. He was teaching them that He is true to His word and that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of His mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3). God wanted them to realize that He was faithful! They were to learn to walk by faith.

Paul was growing old. His body was wearing out, but that which was going on inside him—in his spirit—grew stronger with each passing day (2 Corinthians 4:16–17). He called the problems he faced in this life “momentary light affliction.” What was this momentary light affliction? In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times he received forty stripes minus one. Three times he was beaten with rods; once he was stoned; three times he was shipwrecked; a night and a day he was in the sea; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of his own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting’s often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, including his deep concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23–28). I don’t know if Paul ever had to endure a novel virus of any kind, but there is a good chance that he did. 

 This was momentary light affliction?! Compared to the exceeding and eternal weight of glory awaiting Paul beyond this world, it was. Paul wrote that the fleeting trials that we face here are crushed by the weight of the glory that awaits us. He then told us how to strengthen our faith in the things to come. We are to learn not to look at the things that are seen but at the things which are not seen. Things that are visible with human eyes are temporary, but the things that our eyes cannot see are eternal things (2 Corinthians 4:18).

We are not to put our confidence in the visible things that are locked in time and space in this physical world. Walking by faith means that we work hard to understand the clear teaching of God’s Word and allow the Spirit to unravel for us the divine wisdom found there. We then submit our human wills to what is written. The Bible is to become the absolute source of our faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). We are not to build our lives by becoming attached to the stuff in this life. Why? Because all that is seen with the eyes is said to be temporary and destined to perish. We are to learn to trust in the Giver, not the gift. Stay safe and stay tuned.