Walking in the Spirit; the power of 'integrity'.

The power of 'integrity'.

In my last post I was sharing about the King Tide. The highest tide of the year that surges further up the beach than any other tide of the year. Breaking down defences and bringing sweeping changes into all it touches. I likened this to a great surging forth of the Holy Spirit.

How many times do we hear the word revival, the promise of sweeping change, yet see nothing. Prophetic words are more often than not, time sensitive, and require from us a mutual co-operation with the Holy Spirit, in what He is doing.

Look back at all the great revivals of the past, they were initiated by one or two dedicated believers who humbled themselves in earnest prayer and dedicated themselves into working with the Spirit. So how do we work, and walk with the Spirit in releasing His power?

So how do we work with the Spirit, how do we walk with Him?

Can you give me some suggestions? How do we walk in the spirit, or what are the important things to consider when we do walk in the Spirit?

I wonder what your answers would be?

I believe walking in the spirit has two aspects, but generally we only ever consider one. The side we seem to focus on, is the action and obedience side of walking with the Spirit.

We operate in the spiritual gifts, we hear, we obey, we take action. My guess is that this was your perception of walking in the Spirit?

So what would the other aspect perhaps be? If what we do is one aspect of walking in the spirit, what could the other be?

Who we are. Our character

In other words, the fruit of the Spirit. Which often gets so overlooked, but is absolutely foundational in walking with the Spirit.

We often see walking in the Spirit as a kind of obedience programme. The Holy Spirit says do this, so off you go to do it.

This isn't wrong, the doing is certainly an important side of walking in the spirit, but we cant neglect the being side.

Being is the fruit of character, its who we are.

Being reflects the fruit of our character, its who we are, its our attitudes and our thoughts. Its our desire to embrace holiness, and righteousness.

The very basis of walking in the Spirit is founded on who we are, not just on what we do.

Its who we choose to be, not just about what we choose to do.

Why is who we are so important?

The explanation is found in Galatians 5.

So I say walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh, for the flesh sets its desire against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Gal 5v 16 -17

Can you see a really important issue here with walking in the Spirit, we cant walk in the flesh and the Spirit at the same time?

They are in opposition to one another. Living in the flesh, as the bible calls it, is living in direct opposition to living in the Spirit.

So we can learn to discern His prompts and direction. We can learn to operate in the gifts, but if we are living lives in the flesh, we are living in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit.

Do you see why we are called to holiness, and why we are called to not get entangled in the world? Living selfish, self consumed lives can stop us walking in the Spirit effectively. We can be the block that holds back the work of the Spirit

Character undergirds everything. Without the fruit of a regenerating character, we will walk in the Spirit sporadically.

Paul certainly tells us to desire the spiritual gifts, but he also tells us that without living in love, when we operate in the gifts, we will be clanging gongs.

We may have enough faith to remove mountains, we may give all we have away to the poor, we may surrender our bodies to the flames, but without love, it all means nothing.

And what is love, its a fruit of the Spirit? Paul is saying, doing stuff is ok, but without the fruit behind it as a foundation, it can all be empty.

Lets just take a second to get our heads around Holy spirit basics;

The Holy Spirit isn't a vibration, or an energy or a force like in Star wars, he is a person.

And as a person, He has feelings, He has purpose, He has an identity. He is a part of the Godhead.

So walking with the Spirit, is taking a journey with a person, who was sent by Jesus to communicate with us and to walk with us.

Jesus reinforces that the Holy Spirit is a He, just listen to how many times Jesus makes His point in John 16

.... But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own: but whatever He hears, He will speak:, and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from Mine, and He will disclose it to you. John 16v 14-15

So the Holy Spirit is definitely a He, not an it, and He takes from Jesus and makes it known to us, and He guides us into all truth.

Our job then is to work with Him, to learn from Him, and to be guided by Him into all truth

Like anyone we are going to spend any time with, we need to get to know Him, and know what pleases Him, and what offends Him, because we can upset Him, we can grieve Him.

In the Eph 4 it says,Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.’

When we act in the flesh we act in opposition to the Spirit.

When we act in the flesh we act in opposition to the Spirit. Operating in pride, losing our temper, living in unforgiveness etc.. it makes the Spirit recoil. We grieve the Holy Spirit

On the other side of that, demonstrating the fruit of the spirit in our words, attitudes and actions, aligns ourselves with the Spirit.

V22-25 tells us the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace , patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

When you read that list, the fruit of the Spirit seem to be nothing more than nice character traits, or even evidence of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, but they are far more powerful than that, they are powerful important spiritual tools for walking in the Spirit.

When we live in the opposite spirit to the world, it opens the door for the Holy Spirit to move

When we walk in the fruit of the spirit, when we live in the opposite Spirit to the world, it opens the door for the Holy Spirit to move. When we think and act in love, or patience, kindness whatever... we are opening a door into that situation, to allow the Holy Spirit to flow.

Can you begin to see the importance of being?.

Walking in the fruit of the spirit, living in a spirit opposite to that of the world creates a doorway through which the Spirit can move.

Gal 6 v7 says Do not be deceived God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please the flesh will reap destruction, whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Did you notice the word ‘please’, we are called to sow to please the Spirit?

How do we sow to please Him, firstly by understanding the Spirit, and seeking to operate in the fruit of the spirit rather than the flesh?

V22-25 tells us the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace , patience, kindness, goodnesss, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit let us walk by the Spirit.

You see the qualifier there, the condition to the promise, as we die to the flesh, as we crucify it, we can then live in the Spirit.

Are we crucifying the flesh with all its passions and desires?

Galatians lists a few areas of the flesh, sensuality, immorality, jealousy, witchcraft, out bursts of anger, arguments, division, drunkenness, unforgiveness, enmities (which means to hold grudges). And there are many others mentioned in scripture.

Isn't it interesting, we look at sexual immorality, and witchcraft, as being really bad, but drunkenness, arguments, outburst's of anger, division, unforgiveness, they are all on the same list.

God sees arguments and outbursts of anger, in the same category as witchcraft.

Perhaps we are aware of the spiritual bondage that comes from witchcraft, but bondage can come from all the different aspects of the flesh.

Think about it, just as the fruit of the Spirit has power to bring power and freedom, the deeds of the flesh bring bondage and separation from the Holy Spirit.

Are we willing?

Its the Holy Spirit that brings about the change within us, brings us freedom and increases the fruit of our character, its not us. Its a work of the Holy Spirit but, there is a condition, we have to be willing.

He isn't going to change us against our will. He isn't going to set us free from bondage in stuff we choose to enjoy. We need to be willing to change, and being willing, is wanting to make the right choices when we face them.

What do I mean by the right choices, obviously our guide on this comes from scripture, over what is 'right' or not? But over the years our understanding of these ‘right' choices has been diluted and compromised, even from the background of scripture.

Lets mention the word immorality for a moment, its a worldly and fleshly word.

The opposite to immorality is obviously morality, or a word more often used these days might be integrity.

Integrity and morality?

How often do we hear about the importance of living in integrity, or living moral lives?

The enemy has had a field day sweeping morality and integrity under the carpet, especially in the church? Because the enemy knows, remove morality and integrity, or water it down, and the work of the spirit is undermined. We become a people that say one thing, but live another.

For instance, when under threat, do we lie to protect ourselves? Do we exaggerate, or perhaps tell half truths?

Lies, deception and half truths seem to be par for the course these days! A couple of years ago a statement was made by a politician which was a really big lie. But when he was caught out and exposed, he said it wasn't a lie, it was an alternative truth. No it was a lie.

Perhaps we expect politicians to lack integrity? But what about the church? Surely we have a right to expect more from the church? The outside world quite rightly has a high expectation from us in regard to integrity and holiness. The enemy has it high on his list of priorities to undermine and discredit this expectation wherever possible.

Take Dallas Willard the famous Christian author and professor. He tells the story of one of his students in a class where he was teaching Christian morality. One young man was studying to be a minister, and he excelled. He was a straight A student. His paper on morality was brilliant. But then another one of his students came to tell Dallas she was stepping down and leaving University.

When he asked why, he discovered it was because of the young man. The girl was on a scholarship, (free tuition), The boy was very wealthy and was incredibly cruel and offensive to the girl because she was poor. He considered her to be inferior.

When Dallas spoke with him, first of all he lied to protect himself, but then openly admitted he couldn't see anything wrong in what he was doing in critizing her. He certainly couldn't see the irony.

He had the morality in his head, but it didn't make it into his spiritual walk as integrity

Tony Alamo, was a street preacher who planted a church that grew into a huge multi million dollar organisation with thousands of attendees, He was a well known for his spiritual gifts, but Tony was convicted with abducting and sexually assaulting young girls. Some as young as 8 years old. He was sentenced to 175 years in prison, where he died recently.

I will spare you the dark side of the stories I read in preparing this sermon, because there but for the grace of God, any one of us could go.

But I need to say, that from what I can understand from reading, none of those who got caught, resigned, or went to prison, thought they had done anything wrong. They all had in their heads legitimate reasons for what they did.

Did they think people couldn't see the lack of integrity? People today have been exposed to so many hypocrisies, they can see a lack of integrity a mile away.

Imagine someone going to church for the first time and seeing a lack of integrity, do you think you would ever see them again?

We can all be the same. Perhaps not to the same degree, but we are no different. We can read ‘into’ scripture and make it suit our lifestyle.

We do what we want to do, and then justify it with scripture

We can fool ourselves, but we can't fool the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sees through all our facades and pretentions, and He reacts to what He sees?

"I offended the Spirit, and He left"

Try to imagine this picture of walking with the spirit, of having a dove on your shoulder. When you do something that offends the dove He takes flight, He leaves.

When we suddenly drift into a moment of the pride, lies, the flesh, or whatever He finds offensive, the Spirit like the dove takes flight and leaves

I once had the experience where the Holy Spirit was helping me through a pretty bad physical experience, but then faced with yet another challenge, instead of saying Holy Spirit walk with me through this as well, I said, "I can do this, I can do this." I took over, pride took over

And as I did, I offended the Holy Spirit and He left.

And as He did, I was suddenly exposed to life as it really was, and boy was that painful and unpleasant. I hadn't realised how protected I was by Him

As soon as I realised what I had done, I prayed and said ‘I am so sorry for offending You, I am nothing without You, please walk with me’. Moments later His presence descended on me like a warm comforting blanket again

When we choose to live in the flesh or in a lack of integrity, the Spirit takes flight, He leaves.

Walking in the spirit is living in away that is honouring to God, in a way that doesn't make the Spirit take flight.

If we want to walk in the Spirit in power, if we want to truly know peace in the midst of our biggest storms, we need to be in the right place with Him

We need to know the Spirit, what pleases Him and what offends Him, and stop doing the things He finds offensive. Stop living in the flesh and making Him take flight.

Every day we are going to be barraged with temptation to go our own way and we are going to have to keep facing crossroads where we will have to choose.

Will I do this, or will I do that?

Will I be truthful?

Will I make the right moral choice?

Will I follow the commands of Jesus?

Will I turn the other cheek, will I forgive my enemies? Will I forgive those who wrong me and not keep a record of past hurts?

If someone asks of me will I turn away, when someone takes my cloak, will I give him my shirt as well? When I’m asked to go one mile, will I go two.?

Gal 6 v7 says Do not be deceieved God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please the flesh will reap destruction, whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Are we going to sow to the spirit, or the flesh?

The choices we make here on earth have heavenly and everlasting consequences.

We need to understand what offends the Holy Spirit, and stop doing it, instead choose to please Him.

Do you see the importance of who we are, when we are seeking to walk in the Spirit.?

Yes, walking in the spirit does involve doing.

Yes we need to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Yes we need to be obedient in what He asks.

Yes walking in the Spirit is about doing stuff that we are guided to do. That is living in the obedience to the Spirit

But if we only focus on the doing, and give little thought to who we are, to moral choices, integrity and fruit, we are going to take a very unbalanced walk.

Walking in the power of the Spirit is about the surrender of the heart, its about humility, about who we are.

For the tide to truly rise we need to be operating in the power of the Spirit, not just the obedience of the spirit, and the power of the Spirit comes from the state of our heart before God. Humble and contrite hearts that seek to live in integrity.

Its who we are that is so important, not just what we do, and its time to up our game folks.

When you face your crossroads and you have to make choices, don't live in compromise, don't offend the Holy Spirit, choose to please Him, choose integrity and morality.

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