Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 3 December 21:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Joel: https://youtu.be/zQLazbgz90c
Joel 2:28, 29 — “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”
The Spirit is poured out to all Christians without distinction of age, sex, occupation, social status, or race — “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) All people have equal potential access to the Holy Spirit through salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and subsequent obedience to Him. God’s Spirit does not discriminate. Christians should have nothing to do with any distinctions related to the flesh; we should not accept them as legitimate in any way; we should only acknowledge the truth of the Spirit. “But avoid foolish controversies.” (Titus 3:9) “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)
- Galatians 3:27-29 — For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
As stated in previous studies, one of the fruits of the Spirit, of genuine faith in Christ, is “university” – unity in diversity, and unity among God’s disparate people is one of the greatest testimonies to the watching, sinful, prideful, divisive world of the truth of Christ — “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
All Christians have equal access to the Holy Spirit and should be united in the power of the Holy Spirit and the selfless, sacrificial love of Christ. However, the Bible also points out that we can “quench” the Spirit, “grieve” the Spirit, and fail to “keep in step” with the Spirit, going astray by following the flesh (our self-centered passions, desires, and prideful presumption) rather than Christ:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:19 — Do not quench the Spirit.
- Ephesians 4:30 — And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
- Galatians 5:25 — If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
If you look further in 1 Thessalonians 5, Ephesians 4, and Galatians 5, you will see what causes us to quench, grieve, and get out of step with the Holy Spirit: anger, impatience, hostility towards others, pride, vengefulness, bitterness, wrath, clamor, malice, hardheartedness, unforgiveness, gossip, conceit, envy, and other unloving attitudes and behaviors. Also, these chapters make it clear that it isn’t the bad behavior of others which quenches the Spirit within you but rather your bad behavior as you return evil for evil –
- Matthew 15:11 — It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person [not the external world or others], but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person [you are responsible for your own behavior, regardless what others do or don’t do].
- Matthew 15:19 — For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
- Romans 12:17 — Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 — See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
- Luke 6:27-36 — “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
- 1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
- 1 Peter 3:17 — For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
- 1 John 3:11-18 — For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
If you are having a hard time hearing the Spirit and being led by the Spirit day-by-day, check your love for others. If you want to remedy all the divisiveness in the world, start by removing those things which get in the way of your unity with Christ, and love those around you unconditionally, selflessly, and sacrificially in the name of Christ, regardless their unlovingness.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 December 21: Declare your identity in Christ and Christ alone. Avoid all identity politics which distract from unity in Christ.