Sunday, June 26, 2022

Living in Step with the Spirit: How to Know the Will of God

"It was Christmas Eve 1875 and Ira Sankey was traveling on a Delaware River steamboat when he was recognized by some of the passengers. His picture had been in the newspaper because he was the song leader for the famous evangelist D.L. Moody. They asked him to sing one of his own hymns, but Sankey demurred, saying that he preferred to sing William B. Bradbury's hymn, "Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us." As he sang, one of the stanzas began, "We are Thine; do Thou befriend us. Be the Guardian of our way." When he finished, a man stepped from the shadows and asked, "Did you ever serve in the Union Army?" "Yes," Mr. Sankey answered, "in the spring of 1860." Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?" "Yes," Mr. Sankey answered, very much surprised. "So did I, but I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post, I thought to myself, 'That fellow will never get away alive.' I raised my musket and took aim. I was standing in the shadow, completely concealed, while the full light of the moon was falling upon you. At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes to heaven and began to sing...'Let him sing his song to the end,' I said to myself, 'I can shoot him afterwards. He's my victim at all events, and my bullet cannot miss him.' But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly: 'We are Thine; do Thou befriend us. Be the Guardian of our way.' Those words stirred up many memories. I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother. She had many times sung that song to me. When you had finished your song, it was impossible for me to take aim again. I thought, 'The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty.' And my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side."
-K Hughes, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, Tyndale, 1988, p. 69.

It reminds me of how many times I nearly died in the past, and yet God kept me alive, he preserved my life, because he knew he had called me by name to his service. And for many of you today, God has guided you through a thousand different troubles and difficulties to bring you to this place today.

That is who our God is, he is a redeeming God. He preserves our lives so we may bring him glory.

Today our topic is living life in step with the Holy Spirit.

Our scripture today is from Galatians 5:16-26 (NLT) which says, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

If we are truly Christians today, we are led practically by the Holy Spirit. The holy Spirit is God himself living inside of us and showing us the way to go through life. He guides our decisions. He convicts us of sin. He encourages us when we are troubled. And he reveals God’s will to us.

So to walk in step with the Holy Spirit is to live out the will of God. To walk in step with the Spirit we must have a deep relationship with God. Then we can know God’s will.

Romans 12:2 (ESV) give us a good hint. It states "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

The will of God can be understood as something we can discern. The scriptures urge us to "test" to discover what the will of God is.

It also says in Ephesians 5:17 (ESV), "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

The Holy Spirit within will reveal God’s will to us for our lives. That is clear. We can know God’s will. We may not know all the details. But we can know God’s will for us.

Hebrews 10:36 (ESV) For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

As Hebrews 10:36 says, we have great need of endurance. To do the will of God means to endure the journey of faith in Christ, one day at a time. It's not always easy. But with God, all things are possible.

What do we say about a man or woman who is an inspiration to us in their dedicated faith? For me, I would say that person is one who is led by the Spirit of God.

Similarly Romans 8:24 (NIV) says "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God."

The will of God seems to be linked to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 says "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

For all followers of Jesus Christ, those who have truly been reborn and embrace the new life... the will of God is that we obey God. The will of God is that we incorporate the teachings of the Bible intently upon our souls, until we think in biblical terms and live in biblical terms. The will of God is that followers of Jesus Christ be led by the Spirit given by Christ.

How can we be lead by the Spirit?

1. We listen for the leading of the Spirit.

2. We pray to the Lord for guidance.

3. We study the scriptures.

4. We love God and our neighbors.

5. We share the gospel.

That is how we follow the Spirit.

The will of God for the non-believer is simple: Come to Christ for life. Call on Jesus for life.

The will of God encompasses many areas... justification, sanctification, and perseverance. The will of God the Father is that we first come to Jesus Christ. His death on the cross is something called "penal substitutionary atonement." We believe and know, that Jesus Christ took the penalty for our sins on the cross. He paid the price that we should've endured. God's will is that we come to his son for life and accept that offering. Second, God's will is our sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which we grow into a flourishing follower of Jesus being made into a better and better person in measures of selflessness, love, caring for the poor, serving the needs of others, and sharing the gospel with the unsaved.