Monday, April 24, 2023

Are you led by the Spirit of God or the spirit of the World?

As believers in Jesus we are his representative body on the Earth. We are the body of Christ. This means Jesus does his work through us, as we are led by Him. That’s something I think we need to emphasize more and more, being led by God’s Spirit practically on a daily basis. Are you led by the Spirit of God?

If you are, this proves you are a child of God.

It’s very important that we obey the leading of God, because Jesus says, those who do my will, they are my true family.

That’s what we’re talking about today, family, you might say, fellowship. Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ today, if you are born a second time, a new being, with the Sacred Spirit within you, and it’s really real, then you are closer to me than my own flesh and blood family. We are family by the Spirit of God.

The amazing thing is, in this peculiar family, the family of God, we did not necessarily choose Him, but he chose us. We know that’s true particularly for His twelve disciples. The apostles.

We see in Mark chapter 3 Jesus gathering the twelve. Here is what happens, starting in verse 13:

“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

These twelve men are appointed to the service of God, they are leaders. The same thing happens in The Salvation Army at commissioning each year, the new Lieutenants are given their “appointment.” They are appointed to service as pastoral leaders of a corps.

All these leaders are appointed to various corps around the Midwest area of our territory and they begin to serve in the kingdom of God. We are part of that. We’re part of the body of believers worldwide. The Salvation Army is. We are. So then the goal is, the body of Christ is active in small cities, big cities, medium cities, different counties, across the entire state of Michigan, and indeed across all fifty states, and even further to 130 countries.

We being here in Owosso function as one of about 40 churches in Owosso. The goal being that we all work together and separately, to achieve the ends of God, for people to come to know Christ as savior, and then to equip those people to bring the message to others.

But I want you to notice something, all of the Christians in the body of Christ, in this city, and worldwide, if they are genuine believers, they have been given authority.

Notice three things in Mark 3:14-15: He is with them, first of all. Second, that they would preach the message, and thirdly, they may drive out demons.

That is spiritual authority. They are given permission by Jesus, to have the Spirit within them, to share the message with their mouth, and to speak in Jesus name to command demons to come out of people.

You have that same authority today. You are a kingdom representative on Earth. I want you to start thinking about that as you live your life. You are a kingdom representative of kingdom of God. You have authority in the name of Jesus Christ, to speak forth, and the world changes. You can pray to God in Jesus name, and demons are cast out. You can pray in Jesus name, and people are healed. You can pray to God in Jesus name, and people will be healed.

One of the deadliest tricks of the enemy is to try to steal our hope, our joy, our courage, and to make us think we can't make a difference.

You can make a massive difference in Jesus name. You just need to start to believe again, that you can. Believe that you have that kingdom authority. Because it’s true. You can believe it, because it’s true.

Don’t let the enemy lie to you, and tell you that you’re a victim. You’re not a victim. You’re a hero. And as you live for Christ, the world is changing because people’s lives are being reshaped by the message you bring. Believe. Be courageous!

All authority in heaven and on Earth belongs to Jesus Christ, we know that because Jesus told us when he gave the great commission. And Jesus then shares that authority with us, in His name. Amazing!

We are the “house of representatives” of the body of Christ on earth you might say. That’s why when we unite and love one another deeply, from the heart, and stand united as one, and pray in Jesus name, in unity, the whole world changes.

I’ll give you an example, one thing that basically every believer was united on was praying for Ukraine. I mean, every denomination, every group, every church, was praying, and what happened? There were these miracles happening, Ukraine soldiers had these impossible victories. Russian bombs would not explode, Russian tanks would break down at critical moments, weather patterns would disrupt Russian troop movements, and still today, it should’ve been easy for Russia, but they still haven’t been able to conquer Ukraine.

When we stand united and pray, the enemy trembles. Understand your authority, when you pray boldly in Jesus name, that is your vote, in the courts of heaven, and it counts for something big. 

Keep that picture in your mind, house of representatives, your prayer is your vote.

So the twelve disciples are gathered here, and Jesus has this sort of ceremony where he gives them authority. So what happens next? Jesus encounters his blood family.

In verses 20-22: "Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”"

Notice that so many people are being converted, so many people are coming to Jesus and his disciples that they can’t even eat!

This chapter is really all about what being a true disciple of Jesus is.

Here we see a contrast in the scriptures. First, we see the twelve disciples faithfully being called.  But then, we see how his blood family responds to his growing fame and teachings. They think he’s out of his mind. They want to kind of bring him back home to Nazareth and say calm down, you’ll be ok, let’s get you outa here. But Jesus is not having it.

So you have spiritual family, then physical family, then we see Pharisees, the family of Israel. Here is what they say in verse 22: "And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

Next, in verses 23-30 we see Jesus’ response to the religious teachers:

"So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

This is one of those mysteries of the Bible that people always wonder about. 

What exactly does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

I’ve always been taught that it’s the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ as savior and dying without him as your savior. That's probably at least somewhat correct... That you’re resisting the leading of the Holy Spirit. But in particular, it seems to be publicly spreading the message that Jesus is led by a false spirit, by a demon, or something.

It seems to be describing a situation where you are actively fighting against the leading of the Holy Spirit, and in a public way testifying about it as well. This could connect closely with teachers and leaders in particular, because Jesus calls out the religious leaders for blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Apparently, from what I can tell, something about this sin of publicly condemning the Spirit can harden someone to the point they can never and will never repent.

Some have connected this with the unforgivable sin mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, but I don’t know that they’re actually connected in any way. The same word is not used in the Greek when mentioning the unforgivable sin, though in Hebrews 10:26-30, it does mention that when a Christian makes a practice of sinning, they can be eternally lost, because they’ve “insulted the Spirit of Grace.” But the word "insulted" there isn't the same as the word blaspheme in Mark 3. 

It says this in Hebrews 10:26-30: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

But you see there that it includes trampling the son of God, which for me disconnects it from the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, to be something a little different, because the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable while Jesus says that those who blaspheme against Him can be forgiven.

In any case, Jesus says to the Pharisees that they are so committed to blaspheming the Spirit, that they are eternally lost. How exactly this works is a mystery, but these Pharisees had done it! Lord may it never be so of us, may we always declare that your Spirit is holy, holy, holy, and gives glory to Jesus Christ the savior of the world!

Next, we see again an issue with his family. I assume they must’ve come right when he got there, then they left, now they’re back, but they can’t get to him because so many people have gathered. But they send word for him.

It says in verses 31-35: “Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Here we find the key to the entire chapter, it’s all about family, being a disciple of Jesus, and we’ve seen how various different groups respond to Jesus:

1. His twelve disciples follow Him faithfully (aside from Judas)

2. His blood relatives disbelieve in him (at first)

3. The crowds of people listen to him (though many don't believe)

4. The religious leaders reject him (many did believe though)

And all of it comes down to the final question: Who is family to Jesus?

Is it a religious Pharisee because they are so good at the law of Moses? Not necessarily, no. The gospel is open to them, yes. Is it the crowds because they listen to him? Not necessarily, though many do believe in the crowds. Is it his blood relatives because they are related to him? Not necessarily, though many did believe in his blood family. Was it his twelve disciples? Not necessarily, eleven of them believed, but one would later betray him.

So how do we really know who Jesus body is on the Earth? It is evidenced by this simple fact: They do the will of God. 

They practically live for Jesus. They obey God in their daily life. That is the evidence. That is who is family to Jesus. You claim to be a Christian? Ok, let’s test it. Do you obey the will of God in your life?

Jesus said, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ -Matthew 7:21-23

We see two factors there, a positive and a negative command. First, we positively do the will of the Father in heaven on a daily basis, we really live for God and in service of His kingdom.

Secondly, we see a negative statement, that these people turned away at heavens gates are lawless, they practiced sin. So we want to make sure we are turning away from sin, and living out holiness in reverence for God.

Now, I’m speaking to two groups here, for some of you I’m trying stir you up a bit, inspire a holy fear, so that you will take your faith walk more seriously, and really live for Jesus.

For some of you, you already live for Jesus, so I’m trying to make sure you don’t start condemning yourself or feeling mad anxiety about this issue. Two different groups.

Group one, ask the Holy Spirit to help you really do God’s will and put sin to death. You're in danger if you don’t, plain and simple.

Group two, ask the Holy Spirit to grant you greater joy, peace, and success in your daily path of doing His will. You are not in danger, you are in faith, stop condemning yourself. 

We are the body of Christ. We are each members of it. And we all have gifts, spiritual gifts, that are unique, and we all must contribute those gifts to our mission on planet Earth, to get the world saved. And to teach all people everywhere to obey God’s commands, as his disciples ought to. That is our mission. What is your spiritual gift? How can you put it to work for God’s kingdom? That’s the challenge for you as well. Pray now, and look at this list of spiritual gifts. Which do you have? Ask Him for other gifts, new gifts. He will equip you in every way to serve. Is it serving? Is it administration? Is it preaching? Is it teaching? Is it prophecy, or exhortation? Is it showing mercy? Pray now, and ask God about your giftings. Take a spiritual gifts test. Then pray God would teach you to use them effectively for His kingdom, in Jesus name, amen.