How to Live a Spirit-powered, Spirit-filled, Spirit-led life for the glory of God.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit now dwells in you. But have you tapped into the full potential of what it means to have “the Spirit of the living God” (II Corinthians 3:3) as your ever-present source of comfort, strength, wisdom, and guidance?
I. WHY PAUL NEVER BURNED OUT
(A) Paul allowed God to be his strength.
The apostle Paul led as strenuous and taxing a life as anyone could imagine. Beaten with rods three times, shipwrecked three times, facing danger at every turn and “constantly on the move” (II Corinthians 11:25-26 – NIV), he labored day and night bringing the gospel to those who did not know Jesus:
”I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?” (II Corinthians 11:27-29 – NIV).
Yet, nowhere in the Bible do we hear Paul saying “I can’t take it anymore,” “I give up,” or “This is more than I can bear.” Rather, Paul reports, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians 4:8-9 – NIV). In one illustration of this divine unstoppability, in the city of Lystra, Paul was stoned and left for dead, but got up and went to the next village and continued preaching (Acts 14:19-20)!
How was Paul able to stand up through all of these pressures and afflictions? He shares the secret with all of us: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 – NKJV – italics added).
(B) Paul Had an Everlasting Power Source.
Paul never burned out because he had an eternal power source, the Holy Spirit, who was able to constantly supply him with the strength and energy and inspiration he needed to serve God, even in amazingly trying circumstances. Because of this, Paul could boast in the Lord: “By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10). Paul outworked every other Christian on the planet, but it was not in his own strength! Rather, it was the power of God which was with him and in him. And, because God never runs out of energy, Paul never ran out of energy!
The demands on a leader’s life are draining, but there is a divine solution and that is to team up with “God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 – NLT)!
II. WHY WE NEED THE HOLY SPIRIT
(A) God’s Strength is Perfect for Our Weakness.
Paul suffered through all kinds of weaknesses, attacks and distresses, but through them he discovered that the grace of God was always sufficient for any trial that he encountered. Paul attributed his matchless track record as an apostle entirely to God, and said of himself: “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (II Corinthians 3:5 – ESV). “Sufficiency,” in the Greek, means ability or power; hence, Paul’s ability to serve as a missionary and power to be an apostle came not from himself, but from God.
Paul had one “infirmity” or weakness that he battled on a regular basis. We do not know exactly what it was, but God gave him a special promise regarding it: “And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (II Corinthians 12:9). Paul so exulted in God’s keeping power in these challenging trials that he carried a “Go ahead, make my day!” attitude into his Christian walk: “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:9-10 – NKJV).
Though we also may find ourselves facing weaknesses, trials and difficulties, the truth is that God will abundantly supply us just as He did Paul with all of the divine resources necessary to handle and triumph over every one of them. And that power supply—the indwelling Holy Spirit of God—is nothing less than the very same power which raised Jesus from the dead! Paul writes: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you“ (Romans 8:11- NKJV).
The true Christian life, lived by faith and prayer to God, is a God-powered, Spirit-filled life in which God supplies the strength and wisdom to handle every weakness, temptation and attack of the enemy that we face. Reflecting on God’s consistent faithfulness to him, Paul wrote: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ“ (II Corinthians 2:14).
(B) God Supplies All of Our Spiritual Needs through His Spirit.
Whether it is to be an effective leader or a good marriage partner, parent, friend, neighbor or employee, we all need the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill our God-given roles. As a part of our “contract” with God (“new testament” actually means “new contract”), God promises to back His people with the full resources of heaven. In Ephesians 1:3 (NAS), Paul exclaims: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
In Philippians 1:19, Paul tells us that he lives by “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word for “supply” here, “epichoregeo,” signifies a complete and full provision such as someone furnishing a theatrical production would make – food, clothing, scenery, stage setting and everything else necessary for the production to succeed! Since the Holy Spirit is God, our supply of all that we need to live the Christian life could not be more complete as Colossians 2:9-10 tells us: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:9-10 – NKJV).
(C) We Need the Holy Spirit in Order to Fulfill Our Calling in Christ.
For a Christian, the filling of the Holy Spirit is not optional; it is mandatory! If we truly understand why God has placed us upon the earth and what He has called us to do, we will realize that none of our divine job descriptions can be fulfilled without His assistance. For example, we are called to: (1) Win the world for Christ (Matthew 28:19-20); and (2) Be just like Jesus (Romans 8:29). Neither of these callings are things that we can do in our own strength, and God knows this. Hence, he has provided us with His Holy Spirit to be our Helper (John 14:26 – NAS).
After Jesus’ resurrection, He rounded up his scattered and somewhat discouraged disciples and gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5 NIV). Jesus further told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV).
Luke tells the same story in these words: “I’m sending you what my Father promised. Wait here in the city until you receive power from heaven.” (Luke 24:49 – NIV). In other words, “Don’t just go out in your own strength and work for me; let me equip you for all that you will be facing and asked to do.”
When the day of Pentecost came, God, true to his promise, sent His Holy Spirit, and all of the one hundred and twenty disciples waiting in the upper room “were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4 NIV). The Holy Spirit can turn weak and timid people into powerhouses for God, regardless of natural ability or level of education. The Bible records the amazement of the Jewish Council when confronted by two anointed fishermen: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 NIV).
III. HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US
(A) The Holy Spirit gives us life.
The Bible teaches that when a person genuinely receives Jesus Christ as their Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside that person, giving him or her God’s life on the inside. He or she becomes “regenerated” (Titus 3:5), and experiences a spiritual rebirth that Jesus referred to as being “born from above,” “born again” or “born of the Spirit” (see John 3:5-8). Hence, if one is a genuine Christian, one has the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, “…those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all” (Romans 8:9 NLT).
Without the Holy Spirit, we are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) – physically and biologically alive, but “alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:19). The Bible teaches that because of the Fall of Man, the entire human race became separated from God and cut off from His divine life. The tragic result is that every human being is born in a state of spiritual death or disconnection from God, and has a need to reconnect with Him. The Apostle John states this quite bluntly: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” (I John 5:12 NLT).
It is through the wonderful salvation of Jesus Christ we become “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4) and indwelt by the very life of God through his Spirit. Paul reminds his followers of this wonderful fact when he writes: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (II Corinthians 3:16 NAS). A reborn Christian becomes a “new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17 NIV) able to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4) because he or she has a new source of life! If we cultivate that life and fully partake of it, we can “have life…and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10) such that it becomes like a “spring” of “living water” within us “welling up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 14 NIV). Paul sums this up in the most simple terms when he says: “The Spirit is life…” (Romans 8:10).
(B) The Holy Spirit strengthens us.
Paul prays for the believers at Corinth to be “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). This strength can be physical, mental, emotional, moral or spiritual – whatever is needed for the situation that we are facing.
(C) The Holy Spirit imparts to us the characteristics of Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23 lists nine divine qualities which God supplies to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (NAS). This is not an exhaustive list of the characteristics and qualities that constitute the “divine nature” of God. Since one of our chief purposes in life is to become “conformed to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29), it is important to realize that these qualities are divinely supplied by God through the Holy Spirit as we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of” Him (II Peter 3:18).
(D) The Holy Spirit leads and guides us into the will of God.
The Bible tells that tells that “Jesus, full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Holy Spirit” as he went into the wilderness for a spiritual showdown with Satan (Luke 4:1 – Amplified). Likewise, we are instructed to be “led by the Spirit” as we live our lives for the Lord (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18) and to “Walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) or, as the Amplified Translation puts it: “Walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit.”
(E) The Holy Spirit helps us to overcome our sinful natures.
We all have what the Bible calls a “sinful nature” (Romans 7:18 – NIV) which causes us to act in sinful and un-Christlike ways. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can become free from these sinful tendencies, whether they be addictions or simply personality defects we need to overcome.
(F) The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts with which we can serve God.
Depending upon how one counts them, there are between nine and twenty-five “spiritual gifts” (I Corinthians 12:1) that God distributes among the members of His Body (the Church) to enable people to serve Him effectively. Many of these gifts are listed in I Corinthians 12:1-30, and others can be found in Romans 12:4-8. They include speaking gifts, administrative gifts, ministry gifts and even the often-overlooked gift of “helps” (I Corinthians 12:28).
(G) The Holy Spirit helps us to build a close relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit helps us to pray effectively (Romans 8:26), to understand spiritual things (John 16:13; I Corinthians 2:10), to tell others about Christ (Matthew 10:20), to worship God genuinely from the heart (John 4:24), to cleanse our lives from sins that offend God (John 16:8; II Thessalonians 2:13), and to obey Him (Acts 5:32), so that we can stay close to God on a moment-by-moment basis (Ephesians 5:18).
III. HOW CAN WE BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?
(A) Invite Jesus Christ into your heart to be your Lord and Savior.
Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ be your Savior? Until you do this, you cannot receive the Holy Spirit into your life.
(B) Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Luke 11:13 says that our heavenly Father will give us this precious gift when we ask Him to supply it!
(C) Pray a prayer like the following:
“Dear Jesus, I need you to be my Savior. Please forgive my sins and come into my heart to live. Please help me to know You, to walk with You and to do your will. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I can serve you and bring glory to your name. Amen.”