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LIVING IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (PART II)
A SERMON DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
28 MAY 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (Romans 1:20)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Today we are going to continue in our spiritual adventure of living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are not really going to be doing any direct discussion about the Holy Spirit, but only upon the effect He can have on our lives and the way we live, for we are to always live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
All that we have been saying boils down to this: If we are truly born again, then the desire of our heart is to do all that the Lord our God desires us to do; and the Holy Spirit, who indwells all believers, helps us do just that.
So, if this is happening in our lives, then we should be the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God we are called to be for the benefit of the whole of creation (our fellow human beings, all the other animals, and the environment in which we all live).
Some people reject the things of God out-of-hand, and others just play church.
The desire to truly serve the Lord is not in their heart.
Thus the Holy Spirit is not in their heart, and His power is not with them.
Listen to what the Bible tells us of these people. In Psalm 10:4, it says:
4. The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.
All his thoughts are, "There is no God."
What a sorry state of affairs; and for a time in my own life, I was almost like that.
Probably almost all of us have known someone like this, so don't lose hope and don't fail to live in the power of the Holy Spirit before them; for who knows, they may turn around as I did.
These people who feel this way are those who have walked away from the church; but others, who feel similarly, remain in the church, and they are like those mentioned in Psalm 66:3:
3. Say to God, "How awesome are Thy works!
Because of the greatness of Thy power
Thine enemies will give feigned obedience to Thee."
These are the ones who just play church for social or some other reasons; but when they leave the Christian environment, they act like the world.
God knows the difference!
God judges the true intent of the heart.
Note Psalm 81:15:
15. "Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him;
And their time of punishment would be forever."
I don't believe we are to ever lose hope for those who appear to be lost, and we should always live in the power of the Holy Spirit before them and not join in with their ungodly acts, so that we would always be a witness of the truth.
And if they continue alone in their path, and have chosen to reject God, and His desire for us to live in His heavenly will, they will end up in hell for ever and ever.
But this is not the case for true believers.
We have the hope and promise of eternal life with the Lord.
In this hope and promise there is true joy; and we can be as the writer of Psalm 67 tells us.
This Psalm is a Psalm of thanksgiving and a request for God's blessing upon Israel; and if we feel the same way, it is also our request for God's blessing upon the church today.
Let's take another look at this Psalm:
1. God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us –
This is our request to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is our request to be in the presence of God.
2. That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among all nations.
Not by some spectacular miracle, but by the quiet miracle of our own conversion, for the world will see the presence of God in our lives.
3. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God;
Let all the peoples praise Thee.
4. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprightness,
And guide the nations on the earth.
There is a place in heaven for everyone who truly seeks the Lord, and in this there is true joy.
But God will still judge the true intent of the heart.
O, that the world would see and hear!
5. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God;
Let all the peoples praise Thee.
6. The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
7. God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.
All of creation speaks of God, so that we are without an excuse.
And our rebirth in Christ Jesus should speak even louder; and it will, if we live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is saying some of these same things to Titus, in the letter he sent to him in the year 65.
We talked about some of these things last week, and I would like us to continue where we left off.
Paul has just finished telling Titus what to look for in the character of the elders of the church.
Now, in 1:10, he begins to caution Titus about the inward character of some people, like those we talked about in Psalms 10, 66, and 81.
Let's look over Titus' shoulder, and read along with him:
10. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
11. who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.
There are people just like this in the church today, and many of them in high places.
They are there because we didn't do as Paul told Titus.
And there are many more of them in and around the church, seeking to take advantage.
In recent times we have heard about some of these things in the news, for the media love these kinds of things, since they also receive gain in reporting them.
This is so because the church is doing a poor job of correcting itself.
The Jews who were living in Crete knew the Scriptures, but because of their own pride and so called "ownership" of the word, they disrupted the Cretans.
This is also the way that the church gets disrupted.
So how do we stop them?
How do we silence them?
We don't kill them, do we?
No, we don't.
We silence them with our lives.
If the Cretans had read and studied the Scriptures, these self-seeking individuals could have had little or no effect on them; and the same is true for us today.
We need to hold fast to God's word, and the difference between His creation and heavenly intent, and the corruption that exists in the world today.
We need to reject the wicked ways of the world.
We need to live in the heavenly will of God.
We need to have more faith, and a stronger faith.
How do we get this way?
Reflect on what we are told in Romans 10:17:
17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
This is part of living in the power of the Holy Spirit, for He will clarify the Word for us, so that we may live by it and depend on its truthfulness.
Thus Paul gives an example (Titus 1:12):
12. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
Don't some in the world say similar things about Christians today?
And they get away with saying these things because Christians are generally scripturally illiterate and spiritually weak, or because they are deliberately self-seekers who twist the meaning of Scripture to try to justify their evil ways.
Paul even agrees with what is being said, but then tells Titus and us what to do about it:
13. This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith,
14. not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
Again, if we are sound in the word of God, we will not be easily led astray.
The people of Crete had a bad reputation, and those who became Christian should have changed from their old ways. Paul tells Titus to reprove them, so that they would set a better example.
And so it should be with us as a body in Christ, but all things should be done in love.
The world stands around waiting for Christians to make a mistake, so that they will be able to mock.
Some Christians do the same with other Christians, and that is not in the love of God.
Every one of us makes mistakes from time to time, but if we truly love God, each other, and the whole of His creation, we can help each other sin less often.
But none of this will work, if we are not solid in God's word.
Listen to why this is true:
15. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
16. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.
But then Paul turns around and encourages the church, for he knows that in the power of the Holy Spirit, they can do better.
As we begin Chapter 2 listen to the words he wrote, for they are written for us too:
1. But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.
How can we do this unless we know which doctrines are sound?
The answer is: we can't unless we read and study our Bible, and discern whether something is truly loving in it's intent.
And at the same time that we check out the doctrine, we are to make a good appearance.
Note what we are told:
2. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.
Well, men, here is our challenge.
Let's resolve in our hearts to try our best to achieve this result, and if we work on the love part, we can help each other do it.
And now, women, it's your turn; and God has given you even more to look at:
3. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,
And it doesn't have to be wine, for I have seen much coffee also lead into gossip sessions, among both men and women.
Why is it important for the older women to be like this?
4. that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
5. to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.
Society has changed today, and most women work out of the home; but is what Paul is saying wrong or out of date?
No, it isn't.
The word is true, and it is intended to protect the family.
When husbands and wives mingle freely and separately with other people's husbands and wives, there is a far greater potential for breaking up the family.
And when these things occur, God is dishonored.
The challenge to the church continues:
6. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible;
7. in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,
8. sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
Did you hear the real reason for living this way?
So that no one will have anything bad to say about us.
By this we will glorify the name of Jesus Christ.
This is living in the power of the Holy Spirit: that Jesus Christ be glorified.
And young women, because of the society we live in, this also applies to you.
We don't have bondslaves today, but we most assuredly work for other people. But we are to live the life of Christ there, also.
9. Urge bondslaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,
10. not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.
This is quite a challenge, isn't it?
We are to live our lives as Christians, all of the time, both in and out of church.
I know it's hard to do it alone, especially when everyone else around us seems to be doing the opposite.
But if we work together, as a family in Christ, we can do it.
Sure we will continue to make mistakes, but if the desire of our heart is not to do those things and we truly love each other as Christ loves us, and love God and the whole of His creation, we will overcome those mistakes, and Jesus will be glorified, for we will be living in the power of the Holy Spirit.