A Spirit-Filled Life

31 May

I just bought a new book from Barnes and Noble called The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life by Charles Stanley. I’ve never heard of the guy or the book before but I’m pretty pumped about it. I’m hoping that it will give me some insight into what it means to rely on the Holy Spirit. Right now, I just know that I don’t do hardly at all…and I feel like I don’t know how to.

It’s one of those Christian phrases that are tossed around loosely, assuming everyone knows the definition and is on the same page. And when I first became a Christian, I didn’t question it. I felt the Spirit working. I saw my life change. I did a complete 180 in my lifestyle and values.

But over the past year (and especially within the past couple of months), I’ve really started questioning what it means and looks like to depend on the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to do things in God’s strength?

I have to be honest, a big reason why I struggle so much with relying on the Holy Spirit is that it sounds like a bunch of hooey (this is my unbelief talking). Maybe I’ve just become really skeptical and cynical about the whole thing (though I don’t really know how I got this way…oh wait, I bet it’s because I’m a sinful human being…never mind!) But I just can’t wrap my mind around a Spirit living inside me, enabling me to do what I couldn’t do on my own, even though it’s still me actually doing the actions.

In short, I wonder what the difference is between my sheer willpower and the Spirit’s work in me. How do I tell the difference? How do I keep myself from acting out of my own power and instead act out of the Holy Spirit’s power? Especially in those moments when I’m angry and need some help to not rage on whoever is making me that way.

When I don’t rely upon the Spirit, it’s totally obvious. I sin constantly and usually end up lamenting and mourning what a horrible person I am. And then, inevitably the questions creep into my head, “Where is the Holy Spirit? And why isn’t He doing anything about this? Why isn’t He helping me not sin as much? Why don’t I see any change in my life? Why am I still struggling with this?”

I’m only 27 pages into Charles Stanley’s book but I love it already. Everything he has written about the Christian life being about “just doing my best” for many Christians hits home with me.

I just want to share 2 excerpts from the book that have had an impact on my thinking already:

1. “The Christian life is not simply difficult. It is not something that gets easier with time. It is not something you grow into. It’s impossible. You can’t live it. I can’t live it. God doesn’t expect us to live it. He knows it’s impossible. Jesus knew it was impossible. It is time we come to grips with this liberating truth–it is impossible…The problem is that you have been trying to live it apart from the help of the Holy Spirit.”

[This is totally true in my life!! And what a wonderful reminder that it’s no surprise to God that I continue to fail at living the Christian life…because for a sinful human being like me, it’s impossible! That’s why I need Jesus as my Savior!]

2. “To tap into the power of the Holy Spirit is not to enhance one’s ability to carry out one’s will. Oh, no! On the contrary, the power of the Holy Spirit is available only to those whose intentions is to carry out His will.”

[For me, these sentences help define what the Spirit does. He enables me specifically to carry out God’s will, whether it be trusting in God, forgiving my husband, or loving a neighbor.]

Those passages are hopefully just the beginning of revelatory study and look into the Holy Spirit. I pray that it will make me more attune and perceptive of the Spirit’s work and presence in my life.

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