“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.
This is long because it is extremely important to understand. I thought about dividing it into two pieces, but I don’t want to lose the flow and possibly miss the full impact.
Communion with God, discerning the voice of God’s Spirit, is vital to our ability to pray in agreement with His will and way in life. It is necessary for our ability to fully, and truly follow Him in fulfilling His purpose in us, just as Jesus did. That said, we all tend to wax and wane in our ability to hear and follow God. We tend to quench the Spirit of God for many reasons: doubt, uncertainty, fear, and probably the most frequent reason, falling to old habits of our flesh: just to name a few.
Scripture tells us that, upon receiving Christ and the Helper Spirit He gives as a seal, the old person we were dies. We become a new creation. In an instant, the old becomes new; but how is that, and why this wavering in our possession and living of the new person we are?
Yesterday, our Associate Pastor brought a wonderful message on this cooperation with the transforming work of the Spirit. I believe it will help us to understand more clearly the importance of our relationship with the Spirit: not quenching Him, but working in unity with Him through radical faith. We must understand our need to discern this mind of Christ in us, so that we may follow His lead.
By way of review, remember, in James 1 we see where James advises that seeking God for wisdom and receiving it only to doubt the wisdom given us, is a result of our being double-minded. The struggle of double-mindedness in the believer who has the Spirit of God, who gives us the mind of Christ to help us, comes from our fleshly mind arguing against the mind of Christ in us. Yesterday, as Pastor Tim taught on this subject, I found myself reminded of things important to realize at this point in this series.
When God created humans, Scripture says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). This passage reveals that God created in mankind a body (formed of dust), a spirit (given the breath of life that comes from relationship to God), and a soul. He made our soul in likeness to His own, granting us a mind with which to think and understand our surroundings, a personal will by which we may choose our paths for life, and emotions that allow depth of comprehension and expression.
- Our body allows us to relate with our surroundings through our five senses: hearing, sight, smell, and the sensations of touch and of taste. These allow full experience of our world and the people and things in it.
- The spirit God breathed into human flesh is eternal. The intent and specific purpose of the spirit God breathed into humans was to equip them to relate with God. It was the place where people could experience true understanding of God and relationship with Him. (Stay with me.)
- The soul (our mind, will, and emotions) relates with both God and all of creation. Anything that touches our lives, stirs our souls. These experiences lead to the expression of that which makes up our personalities and way of being ~ we learn from those things that touch our soul and become who we are as a person. The soul evaluates and stores the understanding found in the experiences of the body and the spirit. Without our God-breathed spirit to equip our understanding of God, our soul easily distorts the experience of God. This distortion takes place because our finite mind cannot fathom God without the aid of God-breathed spirit; our desire for our own will and way in life leads away from God; and the emotional highs and lows that color our understanding distort clear vision. I.e., Failure to see God work the way we think He should (mind), coupled with failure to recognize His reality in ways that stir us (emotions), and inability to understand our reality in light of the way we think things should be (will), is often distorted to mean that God does not exist or that He doesn’t care.
So now, why the past tense on the description of the God-breathed spirit given humanity at creation and its intended work in our ability to understand and relate with God?
When Adam and Eve sinned by refusing God’s way for them, the ability of the spirit of humankind to commune with God so-as-to know Him in truth, died. Everyone born to man from then on was born with a spirit that has no capacity to relate with the truth of who God is and how He functions. All that remained within us to help our struggle to realize and know God is the soul, which is fickle and based on personal opinion apart from the guidance of the spirit-connection. Our soul is prone to make God into our image, seeing Him with our finite understanding, the same as we view all other things. The soul is unable to truly comprehend that which is beyond our understanding. With our connection of spirit shut off, we cannot truly know how great and awesome God is. We cannot comprehend His voice or understand His ways because they are higher than our souls can fathom.
Then came Jesus. Upon believing in ways that truly receive Christ as God’s redemption for us, Jesus gives us the very Spirit of God, restoring our ability to see and know God as He truly is. His Spirit grants us the ability to understand the Infinite. In that instant, the being we were who could not comprehend God dies. Made new by the Spirit of God, Jesus restores our relationship with the Father.
This is the mind of Christ: the ability to see, hear, know and perceive truly all that God is and desires, and to communicate with Him. By the work of the Spirit in us, we understand all that He is doing as He reveals Himself to us, as well as how we fit into His plan and purpose. Walking through life, dictated by this mind of Christ is true and righteous innocence with God. Such innocence allows us to draw near to God, where He hears and knows us fully, and we hear and know Him.
The problem all of us face to varying degrees is this: We are still flesh beings with a soul that has a mind of its own. Our mind wars against the mind of Christ and we too easily return to the old ways of the familiar, quenching the work of the Spirit of God in us. We fail to realize and fully acknowledge the right of rule that belongs to this mind of Christ in us. We quench the work of the Spirit because it is strange to our experience, or because we keep resurrecting the flesh-man so that we may go our own way.
Walking in relationship with God so we have His heart for life and for prayer requires innocence. Possessing it means we actively seek to discern and surrender to the mind of Christ within us, the Spirit of His Presence. The stronger we grow in this eternal practice, the better, as the consistent practice of being Spirit led and fed deadens the rule of a selfish soul that seeks its own way over God’s way.
We cannot truly communicate with God through living, life-giving communication without this bond made by the God-breathed Spirit found in Christ. We cannot be the true person God intended us to be without this connection with Him. Beware those things, beloved, that cause you to quench the work of the Spirit in you.
“If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds and keep them set on what is above, the higher things, not on the things that are on the earth. For as far as this world is concerned you have died, and your new, real life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in the splendor of His glory. SO KILL, DEADEN, AND DEPRIVE OF POWER THE EVIL DESIRE LURKING IN YOUR MEMBERS, those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin. …for you have stripped off the old, unregenerate self with its evil practices, and have clothed yourselves with the new, spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him Who created it” ~ Colossians 3:1-10, AMPC/Amplified Classic.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world (which is separated eternally from God and cannot truly know Him), but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (only having His Spirit living in us equips us to truly and fully understand and believe). But he who is spiritual appraises (understands) all things, yet he himself is appraised (understood) by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (so that we may know Him and receive His instruction with understanding, comprehension)” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, NASB (author’s understanding).
“Since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose, patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God. For whoever has suffered in the flesh, having the mind of Christ, is done with intentional sin, has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God, so that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by his human appetites and desires, but he lives for what God wills” ~ 1 Peter 4:1-2, AMPC.