11- LIFE IN GOD'S KINGDOM
Understanding The Holy Spirit
By Colleen Donahue
Dr. Myles Monroe in his very fine books about rediscovering the Kingdom of God opened my eyes to the role of the Holy Spirit more than anyone else. He had grown up in the Bahamas which at that time was a colony of Great Britain. He called the Holy Spirit "the Governor" and explains why.
The governor of any colony in a kingdom is always appointed by the king (not vis versa). He came only from the original kingdom (not from within the colony). He represented the king only and was accountable to him alone. He never expressed his personal opinions -- only those of the king. He was responsible to "convert" the colony by transferring the kingdom's culture, values, nature, language and lifestyle to the people. Eventually the colony would begin to look like the home country.
The Governor would prepare the people for citizenship which only the king could grant. It wasn't automatic. Citizenship was a privilege with special benefits and rights. Once a person became a citizen the king was responsible to take care of you.
The Governor lived in a residence built by the home country. He wasn't just a visitor but actually lived in the colony. His presence was the evidence that the kingdom itself was in the colony. The Governor only left the colony if its citizens declared independence. If and when a Governor left, it meant the kingdom was no longer the officiating government.
As Governor of a colony he had the authority and ability to supply whatever power and resources were needed by the people. This was because the king had a commitment to protect and care for the people in his colonies. By enabling colony citizens with the resources and power needed, they could fulfill the king's will which they learned from the Governor. Can you see why the restoration of God's Spirit to humanity is central to the restoration of God's Kingdom on the earth?
From Adam to Jesus, the Holy Spirit did not dwell in anyone because all human vessels were unholy. Prior to Jesus there was no sacrifice good enough or sufficient to make us holy again. In the Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit would occasionally come upon an individual for a certain purpose and time but would then depart. In New Testament times, the Holy Spirit fills believers and comes to live in them permanently.
The cleansing of our lives by the blood of Jesus and the death of our old nature on the cross with Jesus makes us prepared to receive the Holy Spirit who can again connect us with God's kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the vital link between God's dominion in Heaven and ours here on earth. As God within us, He reveals God's will to us and then provides the wisdom, guidance and power to carry it out.
The Holy Spirit identifies us as citizens of the heavenly kingdom and without the Holy Spirit we can't be a citizen (John 3:5-6). If the Holy Spirit is in control of our lives and leading us everyday, then wherever we go we are a little bit of "heaven on earth".
THE NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
- Though the Holy Spirit (or Governor) is the most important person on earth, He is misunderstood and ignored. The Holy Spirit is a person with a personality. He is not a cosmic force, mind, or feeling. Notice when John writes about the Holy Spirit he does not speak of "it", but of he/him.
- The Holy Spirit is God. He is one with God and the expression of God. He is God extended to a person or situation to work out the purpose and will of the kingdom to that person's life or circumstance. While Jesus was sent to RESTORE us, the Holy Spirit was sent to EMPOWER US.
Matthew 3:11 / Acts 1:8
- Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit "proceed" from the "Father" to accomplish the work needed on earth.
John 8:42 / John 15:26
"Father" doesn't mean greater or older but refers to the SOURCE from which Jesus and the Holy Spirit came from. Here is an analogy of our "Trinity-God" that has been helpful to me. Water is one formula -- H2O -- but it exists in three states. Water in the liquid state is like God the Father and is the natural state of water. Frozen water becomes ice and is like Jesus -- "the word became flesh". He was tangible and could be seen, heard and felt. Water that boils becomes steam and is like the Holy Spirit. Although invisible, the Holy Spirit generates power.
Jesus cleanses us
The Father forgives us
The Holy Spirit renews us
HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT COME TO US?
- Jesus was sent by the Father to enable everyone of us to start over and be rightly related again to God the Father --- IF-- we are willing to repent (change our thinking) and recognize the work of Jesus on the cross. The Holy Spirit comes to indwell our lives when we ask the Father to send Him.
If you ask for the Holy Spirit you can be certain that He will be given to you because God always keeps his word.
There is no "official" way to ask but you could pray something like this:
"Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to live here on earth so that we could see and hear what you are like. Thank you for Christ's willingness to die on the cross to cleanse me from my guilt and sin. Thank you that in a cosmic miracle my old nature was placed in Jesus on the cross so that when He died I too died to the sin and death that my old nature brought me. And now Lord Jesus I ask you for your own Holy Spirit to indwell my life so that I have your resurrection power in me to live my life to the fullest. God has promised to give the Holy Spirit to all who ask and I am asking you today. I receive Him now and commit myself to listening to his voice within me and obeying him." Amen.
OUR RETRAINING PROCESS
- It is a great privilege as kingdom citizens to have the Holy Spirit indwelling our own spirit and He immediately begins a retraining process so that we will eventually have the same qualities as our Father and Jesus had. What are those qualities?
- The Holy Spirit retrains us in how we think, talk and walk so that little by little our fruit ripens and matures. Jesus tells us how to spot another kingdom citizen.
Matthew 7:16,20 / Luke 6:44
- The Holy Spirit indwelling our lives means that the Kingdom of God is within us. But the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan is still all around us while we live on earth. In addition, remnants of our rebellious nature lie dormant in our lives. Therefore, no sooner does the Holy Spirit move in we begin to experience a culture clash.
Satan does not want any one of us looking like his enemy and as new kingdom citizens you can expect all out war. You'll find the remnant of your old nature rising up to call your name and if you answer that call what results?
- You must know clearly that the Holy Spirit in you far exceeds the power of Satan.
1 John 4:4
God will actually use the temptations that Satan throws at you to teach you and make you strong but he will limit them so that you will not be overwhelmed.
1 Corinthians 10:13
- If we act as those in the culture of darkness, the Holy Spirit will rebuke and correct us in two ways:
A. First by the internal warning system of our conscience.
- Secondly, he'll remind us about what Jesus taught.
- Slowly but surely the Holy Spirit will lead you through temptation so that pretty soon you'll have some new habits formed when Satan strikes.
- As kingdom citizens we'll always be living in some degree of tension because we live in the midst of a culture of rebellion and death. We live to spread the Kingdom of God and push back the Kingdom of darkness. Although we live in the world, what advice does the Apostle John give to us?
1 John 2:15-17
- While it's true we live on this earth as kingdom citizens, it's equally true that we have a place in the heavenly kingdom. Read carefully these verses.
Where has God placed us? (verse 6)
- This means that while our feet are on the ground, our spirit is alive with Christ in the heavenly realms. Our position at the right hand of God with the Lord Jesus gives us a whole different perspective on the things happening in our life on earth. For example, we begin to see what is behind the actions of the person making our life miserable.
- In earthly wars, whoever has the high ground has the advantage. As kingdom citizens we have the high ground and we need never operate again from the "misty flats".
And that is precisely why Paul tells us to keep our hearts and minds set on things above and not on things below.
Our position at the right hand of God will mean victorious living even though we still operate amidst the kingdom of darkness.
THE ROLES THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL HAVE IN YOUR LIFE
- As we've already mentioned, the Holy Spirit especially likes to teach and guide. He will back up Jesus in what He taught and continue Christ's work.
Reread John 16:13-15 / 1 John 2:27
He will speak to us through the scripture, through our thoughts as well as promptings or impressions. Just like the governor of a colony trains the citizens to think and live out the standards of the home country, so the Holy Spirit will help us to understand the truths of what Jesus said and did.
One thing is certain. The Holy Spirit will NEVER disagree with God's word. If ever a believer feels called to a direction contrary to God's will in the Bible we can know without a doubt that it isn't the Holy Spirit speaking.
- The Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding".
That means He will help us take whatever knowledge we have and show us how to apply this spiritual knowledge to all aspects of our life. Knowledge is only information but wisdom is how to apply that knowledge.
- The Holy Spirit will be our advocate (or helper-- John 16:7) so that we can do the good works that God has planned for us to do.
The Holy Spirit wants us to succeed so that God's Kingdom is further established by our lives. He empowers us and helps us all along the way.
- God has given all of us gifts but we'll never know the extent of them until the Holy Spirit reconnects us with the Spirit of the Creator and reveals to us what we have.
1 Corinthians 2:9-12
The Holy Spirit will empower us to execute our gifts so that we can benefit others.
- And if we head down a wrong path, He will be there to convict us usually through our conscience so that we will again choose to live by kingdom standards.
- Another thing is certain. The Holy Spirit will NEVER control us. He will prompt us but never force us. He does not take over your life. God wants his children to desire what He desires and will always respect our free will.
Notice the word "led" in this verse. It implies a willing follower. True kingdom citizens are God's children that want to follow Him and gladly obey.
- The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. He frees us from things in our lives contrary to God which hinder our development and progress.
1 Peter 1:2
It is becoming more and more evident that man cannot solve his self-generated problems from within. This is evidenced by a spirit of despair that is becoming the norm. It's therefore realistic to conclude that help is needed from outside of ourselves. It was never God's intention that man would live on his own without Him. When God "breathed" the "spirit of life" into man he was energized on three levels. Adam's physical body enabled him to relate to the physical world. Adam's soul (mind, will and emotions) enabled him to relate to other people and to himself. And finally, Adam's spirit (full of God's own Holy Spirit) enabled him to relate to God. This is a picture of what a whole life should look like.
God created us to express His own image and we can only do this if we have his nature indwelling within us. Therefore the meaning of individual lives is totally dependent on having God's Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Jesus was essential in:
A. destroying Satan's power over the world,
B. bringing the Holy Spirit back to earth through himself and
C. preparing fallen mankind to receive him.
As we yield to the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives we will spread the Kingdom of God wherever we go. Our life will be light in our families and communities who in turn can influence the nation and the world.
We can depend on the Holy Spirit to work on our behalf, as well as to work within us. He will provide us with supernatural gifts and abilities to overcome the problems we face in our personal and corporate lives. He is the most important person on earth because He brings God's own heart and mind to us. The Holy Spirit is the presence and the power of God to bring his kingdom to this earth. Wherever you and I go in partnership with the Holy Spirit we are bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to that place.
Don't be afraid to place yourself under the perfect and benevolent rule of God your Creator. He knows why he made you and has given you His own Spirit to walk through everyday of your life with you.