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The Spirit-Filled Life (Part 2)

The Walk by Means of the Spirit

The Difference Between Indwelling and Filling

The Indwelling of the Spirit

As shown in the previous lesson, a number of New Testament passages call attention to the fact and nature of the Spirit’s indwelling of New Testament believers. Some examples are:

John 7:37-39 On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and 38 let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.

In the ministry of indwelling, the New Testament describes the Holy Spirit as an anointing, a seal, a pledge, and our Helper or Enabler. Regarding indwelling, Ryrie writes,

The indwelling ministry of the Spirit is the heart of the distinctiveness of the Spirit’s work in this Church Age. It is also the center of our Lord’s promises to His disciples concerning the ministry of the Spirit after His departure from earth. Too, the doctrine of the indwelling is foundational to the other ministries the Spirit performs today.61

Indwelling is, however, distinct from the filling of the Spirit and the two should not be confused. There are a number of biblical facts which demonstrate this distinction.

(1) Indwelling is a distinctive ministry that is true of only believers in Christ. The only condition for indwelling is the obedience of faith in Christ (John 7:37-39) whereas the filling of the Spirit is dependent upon faith in the Spirit for His control.

Ephesians 1:13-14 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

(2) Though all believers are indwelt regardless of their spiritual state (even when living in carnality as seen in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), all believers are not filled with the Spirit.

(3) This indwelling is declared as permanent and a declaration of a believer’s security. It is described as “forever” and “until the day of redemption.” Romans 8:9 teaches us that indwelling is a proof of the believer’s salvation, “…Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.” Compare also John 14:16-17 and Ephesians 4:30.

The indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit is that ministry wherein the Holy Spirit comes to make the new believer His permanent dwelling place, the place of His personal presence as the foundation for all the various ministries He will have within the life of the believer.

The Filling of the Spirit

While believers are never commanded to be indwelt with the Spirit, they are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. Because our perception of the word “filling” suggests the intake of something, many have equated the filling of the Spirit with getting the Spirit within, or getting more of the Spirit. They have confused the filling of the Spirit with His indwelling. This is false and leads to erroneous ideas about the filling of the Spirit.

After the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, we have a number of references in the New Testament which refer to the filling of the Spirit using such words as “full” or “filling” or “filled.” A sample of these verses are Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3-5; 7:55; 9:17; 13:9, 52; and Ephesians 5:18. The questions is, what does the concept of “full” or “filled” mean?

In the Acts passages only two Greek words occur, the noun plerhs, “full,” and the verb pimplhmi, “fill, be filled.” The noun form is also used of “wisdom, rage, envy, power, grace,” etc. As a noun it looks at a state or condition which, however, refers to what takes control and possesses the person so that it becomes the dominating force. When a person is full of rage, they are clearly out of control and the trait which characterizes them is rage. A person who is full of the Spirit as mentioned in Acts 6:3 and 5, is one whose life is animated and controlled by the Spirit.

The use of the verb form in Acts as it pertains to the Holy Spirit seems to refer to a special filling that is a sovereign work of God in contrast to the normal filling of the Spirit that is commanded in Ephesians 5:18. Several things support this idea:

Pimplhmi always occurs in the aorist tense and generally in the indicative mood (emphasizing an historical event and not a state). Acts 4:8 is an aorist participle and could be translated, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, …” The same idea applies to Paul in Acts 9:17 and 13:9.

It is always in the passive voice (pointing to a sovereign work of God). No conditions of filling are mentioned, only that the recipients were filled by the Spirit.

The filling was for a specific task and was temporary. This can be seen by comparing Acts 2:4 with 4:8 and 31. Acts 4:8 seems to refer to Peter’s normal walk under the control of the Spirit, but in the other two passages, a special filling occurred for a special task.

But because of the analogy and comparison used, and because it is the one passage where believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit, the meaning of “filled” is best seen in Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”

“Filled” is the verb pleroo, “to fill, make full, fill to the full.” It is used of things such as sounds and odors (Acts 2:2; John 12:3), and of persons with powers or qualities like joy, righteousness, wisdom (Acts 2:28; 13:52; Phil. 1:11; Col. 1:9). But how do we understand the word “filled” with regard to the Spirit? Is He the content with which one is filled, or the means by which one is filled?

Some understand the Spirit as the content with which one is filled like water in a jar, but grammatically this is very unlikely. It is better to understand the Spirit as the means by which one is filled, not the content. Greek is an inflectional language that uses various cases that determine how a word is being used in a clause or sentence. And it is a rule of Greek grammar that a verb may be used with more than one case in order to distinguish certain ideas or to make ideas clear.

In the Greek text, “with the Spirit” represents the preposition en plus the noun pneuma in the dative case ( pneumati). To interpret this construction to refer to the Spirit as the content with which one is filled is grammatically suspect since normally a verb of filling takes a noun in the genitive case to express the idea of content, not the dative. Such a genitive is called a genitive of content.62 Let me illustrate it this way.

  • With the genitive case, the noun in the genitive refers to the material, the content of filling, as when the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus (John 12:3).
  • With the dative case, the noun in the dative refers to the agent or instrument that causes the filling, i.e., “be filled by means of the Spirit.”
  • With the accusative case, the noun in the accusative refers to the thing filled, as when grief fills the heart (John 16:6).

In Ephesians 5:18, the contrast with wine shows that the obvious idea in “filled” is that of spiritual control by means of the Spirit who already indwells and is present in believers. The analogy with a drunk person is designed by the apostle to make the issue crystal clear: to be drunk with wine means to be controlled, brought under the influence of wine. Visible behavior characteristics begin to take place as a person comes under the influence of wine.

In contrast, to be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit so the filled believer does things that are unnatural for him under the control of the Spirit even as the drunken individual does things that are unnatural for him under the control of the spirits.63

The comparison is in the matter of control. A drunken person is controlled by the liquor which he has consumed. Because of this he thinks in ways normally unnatural to him. Likewise, the man who is Spirit-filled is controlled, and he too acts in ways that are unnatural to him. This is not to imply that these ways are erratic or abnormal, but they are not ways which belong to his old life. Thus being filled with the Spirit is simply being controlled by the Spirit.64

The issue is not getting the Spirit within, but of allowing the indwelling Spirit to take charge and move into every area of the believer’s life.

Reduced to its simplest terms, to be filled with the Spirit means that, through voluntary surrender and in response to appropriating faith, the human personality is filled, mastered, controlled by the Holy Spirit. The very word filled supports that meaning. The idea is not that of something being poured into a passive empty receptacle. “That which take possession of the mind is said to fill it,” says Thayer, the great lexicographer. That usage of the word is found in Luke 5:26 (KJV): “They were filled with fear,” and in John 16:6: “Because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.” Their fear and sorrow possessed them to the exclusion of other emotions; they mastered and controlled them.65

The Nature and
Purpose of the Filling of the Spirit

What exactly is the nature and purpose of the filling of the Spirit? Is it enablement for service, or is its design the sanctification of the believer? In Acts the filling of the Spirit is clearly seen as God’s enablement for service and for witness and proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. also Acts 4:8; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9, 52).

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

Acts 4:31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously.

In the book of Ephesians, the filling of the Spirit produces worship, submission, and changed relationships in the home and on the job (cf. Ephesians 5:18-6:9).

As in other similar situations the question arises, why make a choice? There is an evident connection between the character of the witness and the impact of the witness; furthermore, the call to be filled with the Spirit comes in a context of concern for the lost and the impact of believers on the world. There is a call for moral purity in Eph. 5:1-14 and a call for careful commitment in Eph. 5:15-16 followed by the command to be filled with the Spirit, which results in the worship, submission, and relationships mentioned above.66

It is evident that these results from the filling of the Spirit in Ephesians 5 occur in a setting of witness and testimony on the part of the church. As a result, the most effective way to resolve the issue is to answer that the filling of the Spirit is both an enduement of power for sanctification and service, and that there is a direct relationship between service and sanctification, since character confirms witness (note particularly the relationship between unity and witness in John 13:34-35 and John 17:21-23).67 (Emphasis mine.)

The Walk by Means of the Spirit

Is there any difference between the command to be filled with the Spirit and the command to walk by means of the Spirit? Though they would seem to be basically synonymous, there does seem to be a difference in focus or emphasis.

Walking by the Spirit Described

Galatians 5:16 commands Christians, “live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” It is an imperative of the daily life—not an option. The verb “live” is in a tense (continuous present) that stresses a continuous, moment-by-moment responsibility and need. In essence, all believers are responsible to walk by the Spirit. Failure to do so constitutes a sin of negative volition to God’s grace, an act of failing to walk by faith in God’s resources. Just as a person who walks with the aid of a cane, leans on and depends on the cane so to walk by the Spirit is to be faith-dependent on the Spirit for each step of one’s daily life. The promised result that comes from walking by the Spirit is simply that the believer begins to experience behavioral changes: growing deliverance from the control of the flesh or from the reign of sin, but also the positive production of the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 stresses that the alternative to walking by the Spirit is the control of the flesh. Unless the believer walks by the Spirit, he will fulfill the desires of the flesh. In essence, then, the believer is either controlled by the Spirit or controlled by the flesh. That which he depends on as his resource for daily living determines who or what controls his life and the direction his life will take.

Walking by the Spirit Defined

Walking by the Spirit is a Spirit-dependent walk which means a conscious determination to trust or rely only on the resources of the indwelling Spirit for strength to obey God and overcome the desires of the flesh. It is negative, a turning away from, and positive, a turning to, i.e., the believer chooses to turn away from self and turn to the Holy Spirit for ability to live the Christian life. This is accomplished through faith (cf. Gal. 5:5). But vital to an attitude of moment-by-moment dependence is the study of the Word, prayer, worship, fellowship with others, and keeping short accounts with God through bonafide, honest to God confession that seeks to maintain a right relationship with God. The results will be the fruit of the Spirit rather than the works of the flesh.

Galatians 5:18-26 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God! 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.

Distinction Between the Filling of the Spirit and Walking by the Spirit

The filling of the Spirit initiates the Spirit’s control through submission, whereas walking by the Spirit maintains the Spirit’s control through step-by-step dependence. In filling we submit or yield to the Spirit—in walking we depend on the Spirit. As we saw, to walk by means of anything is to depend on that element in order to walk. In that sense, walking by the Spirit means depending on the Spirit for daily living. However, in the Greek text, both commands are present imperatives of continuous action; both are the products of faith and obviously occur simultaneously. The main difference is in the meaning of the verbs and in their voice.

“Filled” is the passive voice while “live” is active. The idea of “filled” meaning “control” and the passive voice suggest the concept of submission or being yielded. We are volitionally to continue to release control of our lives to the Spirit. He is allowed to take control and make Christ at home in the believer’s life (Eph. 3:16-17). In the filling of the Spirit, we give up the right to run our lives; we submit to Him. The filling of the Spirit is very much parallel with Romans 6:12-13.

Ephesians 3:16-17 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,

Romans 6:12-13 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, 13 and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.

The active voice plus the basic meaning of the word “live” places stress on actively choosing to take each step by faith in the Spirit as the means of walking. The goal is to maintain the Spirit’s control along with an attitude of submission or yieldedness. In reality, the two commands are just two ways of saying the same thing, but with a different focus.

Why We Must Be Filled With and Walk by the Spirit

1. It is commanded in the Word

God would not give us these commands if they were not necessities. The fact God has commanded it, settles it. This is not a matter for debate nor an option that can be ignored without serious consequences.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit,

Galatians 5:16 But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

2. There can be no production without it

Since the flesh (our human resources) profits nothing and gives no capacity for real spiritual life, we desperately need God’s resources—the filling of the Holy Spirit. The great necessity of the filling (control) of the Spirit is evident by the many ministries He alone can accomplish in our lives. As the Lord reminds us, “The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).

Romans 7:15-25 For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want—instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. 21 So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. 23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Romans 8:3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

3. We cannot please God without it

The opposite of the filling of the Spirit is to be fleshly minded. To be fleshly minded is to have a flesh-dominated life, one that is concerned with self-centered pursuits, with the earthly, and with the temporal at the expense of the spiritual, the heavenly, and the eternal. We are in the world, we can use the world and enjoy the blessings God gives, but this is not to be our focus or that which controls us. Take time to read and think on Matthew 6:19-33; and 1 Timothy 6:6-19 as well as the passage below.

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. 6 For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

4. There is no spiritual growth without it

A casual reading of John 16:7-15; 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:3; Galatians 3:1-3; Ephesians 3:16-19 show how involved the Holy Spirit is in our ability to understand and apply the Word and, as a result, grow in Christ. After all, He is the Spirit of Truth.

John 14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.

Sin in a believer’s life grieves the person of the Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and quenches His power (1 Thess. 5:19). Fellowship and submission to the Spirit is broken. The Spirit is still present and at work in the believer’s life, being grieved, the control of the Spirit is hindered, quenched. The solution for known sin is confession (1 John 1:9) which is basically synonymous for repentance. When we truly confess sin with the goal of spiritual change and the Spirit’s control in mind, the control of the Spirit is restored as is fellowship with the Lord. This truth is evident in two passages that deal with growing in the Word. Note 1 Peter 2:1 dealing with sin (which must include confession) precedes the exhortation to hunger and growth through the Word in verse 2. The same emphasis can be seen in James 1:21a when compared with 1:21b.

1 Peter 2:1-2 So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation,

James 1:21 So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls.

5. We cannot glorify God without it

When we walk by the Spirit, we are walking by faith in God’s resources and will be concerned with God’s purposes. This is true even more so as we grow and mature in the Lord (1 Cor. 6:19-20). When we walk by the flesh, we are arrogantly walking by our own resources. This is a lack of trust in God and amounts to seeking to handle life apart from Him (Jer. 17:5). This obviously dishonors God, even if we are involved in religious activity or works. Glorifying God always begins with the Spirit-filled life.

Jeremiah 17:5 The Lord says,
“I will put a curse on people
who trust in mere human beings,
who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength,
and whose hearts have turned away from the Lord.

6. We are powerless without it

This should be obvious, but since the Spirit is our divine Enabler, to walk without the control of the Spirit is to walk in the weakness of our own resources (cf. also Rom. 7:15-25; 8:3-13; Gal. 5:16-25).

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, 16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

7. We cannot know joy and peace without it

Note this clear emphasis in the following passages:

Romans 8:6 For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace,

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Psalm 32:4 For day and night you tormented me;
you tried to destroy me in the intense heat of summer. (Selah)

Psalm 51:12 Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance!
Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!

How to Walk by or Be Filled With the Spirit

The commands to be “filled with the Spirit” or “live by the Spirit” are commands for believers to get in proper adjustment to the Holy Spirit through faith so they are brought under the control, enablement, and direction of the Spirit who already indwells them. It is a spiritual state where the Holy Spirit is free to fulfill all that He came to do in the heart and life of believers.

Note the following five points by way of clarification and review:

(1) All believers, whether babes or mature, may enter into all the ministries and blessings of the Holy Spirit when properly related and adjusted to the Spirit through faith.

(2) The filling of the Spirit is not a matter of securing more of the Spirit, nor of gaining the presence of the Spirit again after some sin. The Holy Spirit comes to permanently indwell the believer from the moment of personal faith (John 7:17-39; 14:16). The presence of the Spirit is a proof and guarantee of salvation (Rom. 8:9). Though any known sin grieves His person and quenches His power, it does not remove His presence which is promised “unto the day of redemption,” a reference to glorification at the return of the Lord (Eph. 4:30).

(3) The filling of the Holy Spirit is a matter of submitting to and being properly adjusted to the reality of His blessed presence through faith so that He is free to enable and take charge of the believer’s life—mind, heart, and will.

(4) The filling of the Holy Spirit is a moment-by-moment relationship with the Spirit that may be hindered at any time by failing to actively trust and live by those principles and promises of Scripture that tell us how to be properly adjusted to the Spirit’s presence.

(5) The Spirit-controlled walk seems to have both an absolute and a relative aspect. As to fellowship either we are under His control, enjoying His fellowship, or we are controlled by the flesh, grieving the person of the Spirit. Romans 8:4-7 shows that either we are walking according to the flesh, minding the things of the flesh, or we are walking according to the Spirit, minding the things of the Spirit. But in another sense, there are degrees depending on one’s growth, and this is somewhat related and maybe a little confusing. On the one hand, the element of degrees is related to maturity wherein believers learn to surrender and depend more completely on the Holy Spirit for strength as they more and more come to realize their total inability to handle their lives. So even when in fellowship with no known sin unconfessed and walking in dependence on the Spirit, because of the matter of maturity, no one is totally under the Spirit’s control. If they were, there would be sinless perfection, a state impossible in this life. Paul makes this clear in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive…” (Italics mine.)

Furthermore, it seems clear that the Spirit may empower a person more at certain times than at other times, but if we are in fellowship and walking with Him, this then becomes more a matter of His sovereign purposes than of our fellowship (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4-12). As explained earlier, this was the case in several instances in Acts (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31). It is certainly not a matter of receiving more of the Spirit.

As we have seen, there are four simple commands in the New Testament with regard to the ministry of the indwelling Spirit. As commands to believers, these undoubtedly point out the issues involved with being controlled by the Spirit of God. The two negative commands clearly show us that there are things which may hinder His control just as the two positive commands point out definite positive conditions we must meet (by faith) if we want to be controlled by the Spirit and experience His power.

It would seem logical that there is a relationship between these four commands. How can believers be filled with the Spirit if they are grieving the Spirit? By the same token, how can believers be walking by the Spirit if they are quenching the Spirit? It is theologically and scripturally sound to conclude that if we deal with that which grieves and quenches the Spirit, we are then in a position to submit to and walk by faith in the Spirit.

That this is scripturally correct is clear from the following considerations:

(1) The ministry of the Spirit is vital to fellowship with the Savior, i.e., to sharing in His life so that Christ is literally “at home” in the believer’s life.

Ephesians 3:16-17 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,

(2) Walking in the light and fellowship are synonymous. To walk in the light is to have fellowship with the Lord and to have fellowship with the Lord is to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). By the same token, to walk in darkness is to be out of fellowship (1 John 1:6). To walk in darkness is to live in disobedience. Since the Spirit is crucial for fellowship and obedience, the Spirit must be both grieved and quenched so that His ministry is clearly hindered, stifled.

1 John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The Negative Aspect: Hindrances to His Control and Ministry

(1) Sin Grieves the Person of the Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 warns “do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” “Grieve” is the Greek lupew which means “to make sorrowful, grieve, pain, offend.” That sin is the cause of the pain or grief or of what is offensive is clear from the context and the use of the adjective “holy” to describe the Spirit. In both the preceding and following context, the apostle is encouraging believers to put off old sinful patterns and to replace them with patterns of righteousness.

Ephesians 4:24-32 and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.
25 Therefore, having laid aside falsehood , each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor , for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. 27 Do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need. 29 You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk. 32 Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Further, that known sin is the issue is obvious in that no person can intelligently deal with unknown sin, and only known sin directly constitutes overt rebellion or disobedience. Of course, all sin is ultimately the result of our rebellion and failure to appropriate God’s grace.

Known sin in the life of a believer grieves, pains, and offends the heart of the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit is holy and abhors sin. In the interest of God’s glory and His purpose to indwell us, He longs to control or empower us for God’s service, and to transform us into the character of Christ. When He cannot, He is grieved because He is offended by the sin, particularly by the sins of self-reliance and rebellion which hinder His purpose in indwelling us. Note James’ comment on this, “Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning?” (James 4:5)

(2) Sin Quenches the Power of the Spirit. First Thessalonians 5:19 warns, “Do not extinguish the Spirit.” It is used of extinguishing fiery arrows (Eph. 6:16), a smoldering wick (Matt. 12:20), and of the unquenchable fire of hell (Mark. 9:44). Since the Holy Spirit is sometimes likened to fire (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16; Acts 2:3), Paul used it figuratively in the sense of stifle, resist, or suppress in relation to the ministry of the Spirit. This does not, however, suggest the Spirit may be extinguished or removed.

In the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:19, the command “do not extinguish the Spirit” comes as part of a series of exhortations which end Paul’s message to the Thessalonians. The epistle praises the Thessalonians for their spiritual walk and witness (1:2-9), but it also challenges them to continue to live obediently, orderly, and in harmony with one another and with those in leadership. These praises and challenges are given in the light of the rapture and the imminent return of the Lord mentioned in every chapter of the book.

Verse 20 warns against despising prophetic utterances which entailed direct revelation from God (1 Cor. 14:29-32). Prophetic utterances in Paul’s day are comparable to the Bible in our day since the primary function of the prophet was to speak forth God’s revelation in a day when God’s Word was not yet complete as it is today. To despise prophetic utterances is the same as despising or treating God’s Word with contempt by resisting or refusing to obey it. To refuse to obey God’s Word is to walk independently according to the flesh; it is to think and act as though one has the ability to guide his own life (cf. Jer. 10:23).

To quench the Spirit, then, … is to act consciously and willfully against God’s written word, to deliberately disobey a known command of Scripture, and to do so in such a way that the promptings of the Holy Spirit are silenced in the conscience of the disobeying believer.

It is evident, once again, that such a believer cannot be depending upon the Spirit in such a response so he can neither be filled nor walking by the Spirit. As in grieving the Holy Spirit so in quenching it is inevitable that the flesh will be controlling such a believer and sin will be accomplishing its purpose in that person’s life.68

Writing regarding what he called the second condition of true Spirituality, Chafer wrote:

The Spirit is “quenched” by any unyieldedness to the revealed will of God. It is simply saying “no” to God, and so is closely related to matters of the divine appointments for service; though the Spirit may be “quenched,” as well, by any resistance of the providence of God in the life.69

Just what is the difference between grieving and quenching the Spirit?

In grieving the stress is on the person of the Spirit who, being Holy, is pained and offended by known sin in the life of any believer. Why? Because He longs to make us holy, separated unto God and His will. Grieving brings out the concept of fellowship and focuses our attention on what sin does to that fellowship with the Lord and the Spirit. Though a believer’s relationship as a child of God remains secure, fellowship is broken. There is a barrier that stands in the way (cf. Isa. 59:1-2). I am reminded of Amos 3:3: “Do two walk together without having met?”

Grieving the Spirit points to the need of readjustment to the Spirit or restoration to fellowship through confession of all known sin. Grieving occurs because of sin, because of disobedience. While obedience does not produce the filling of the Spirit—obedience is a product of the Spirit’s control over the flesh—disobedience does grieve because it constitutes unyieldedness and a failure, at that point, to depend, rely on the Holy Spirit.

In extinguishing the Spirit the stress is on resisting the enabling ministry of the Spirit who longs to enable and lead believers in obedience to God’s will. Extinguishing is directly related to yieldedness or the dedication of our lives to God. Writing in connection with “do not extinguish the Spirit” in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, and in a section dealing with the yielded life in Romans 12:1-2, Chafer wrote:

What greater evidence of the fall do we need than that we must struggle to be yielded to Him? … It is because our daily life will be helpless and a failure apart from the leading of the Spirit, and because the Spirit has come to do this very work, that we cannot be rightly adjusted to Him, or be spiritual, until we are yielded to the mind and will of God. … A full dedication of our bodies to be a “living sacrifice” is the “reasonable service” and is an issue of first importance for the child of God. … There is no mention here of some particular service that might be made an issue of willingness. It is only self-dedication to whatsoever God may choose for us now, or ever.70

The opposite of quenching is the positive presentation or dedication of one’s life to God for His control as an act of faith that reckons on the reality of our new life in Christ.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit,

Romans 6:8-11 and 13 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus…13 and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.

The believer simply will not experience the control of the Spirit without this yieldedness on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis. But our yieldedness, as with all of the Christian life, is really a matter of trust or faith. The unyielded person is the person who thinks he can run his own life, who believes his way is best, and who therefore is trusting in his own ability and wisdom. Yieldedness grows with the realization of I can’t, but He can, and therefore, with faith in God and in the fact His will is always perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. 2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

The word “present” in Romans 12:1 is the same Greek word, paristemi, used by Paul in Romans 6:13 of presenting, offering, or yielding one’s life and members to God as those alive from the dead. Note the following translations:

Romans 6:13 and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.

Romans 6:13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (NIV)

Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (KJV)

Note several things that work against the Spirit-controlled walk:

(1) The two pulls—legalism and license. Legalism is man, operating in the energy of his own resources, seeking to do good deeds or religious works, and then thinking this somehow merits standing with God, or makes him better than others. In legalism, man’s faith is in his own ability. Christianity is reduced to a set of rules and laws without the inner heart relationship of faith and trust reaching out to God’s mercy. License, on the other hand, is the tendency of those who may know God’s grace and freedom in Christ, but abuse it for self-centered reasons in the pursuit of their liberty. This is the opposite of love and an evidence that this person is really not controlled with the Spirit but by his or her own self-centered desires. Galatians deals with both of these pulls (cf. Gal. 5:1-15 with Rom. 14-15; and 1 Cor. 8).

(2) The three powers vying to control us—(a) the world around us (Rom. 12:2), (b) the flesh (self-dependent living) within us (Gal. 5:16-17), and (c) the devil who is always against us (Eph. 6:10-18).

1 John 2:12-17 I am writing to you, little children, that your sins have been forgiven because of his name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, that you have conquered the evil one. 14 I have written to you, children, that you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one. 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 16 because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

(3) Four problems hindering growth and spiritual change by the Spirit—(a) ignorance of God’s Word (Rom. 6:1f), (b) bias: preconceived ideas from one’s background that blocks out the truth of Scripture (Mark 7:6-13), (c) unbelief or a spirit of self-trust (Jer. 17:5; cf. Gal. 3:3, 5; with 5:1-5), and (d) dishonesty with ourselves, our proneness to rationalize our sin rather than confess our sins in a truly biblical manner (Psa. 32:3-5; 51:6, 10, 16).

1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness

1 Corinthians 11:28-32 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. 31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.

(4) There are a number of crucial lust patterns through which man typically seeks to find happiness in the form of satisfaction, significance, and security—desires for position, possessions, wealth, power, praise, and pleasure. These are the killers. But they are also idols—gods of man’s making that he thinks will meet his needs and satisfy his longings. Each of these desires represent false sources of faith, things we depend on rather than the Lord and the ministry of the Spirit. They are the products of Satan’s and the world’s delusions—the lies people believe.

The Positive Aspect: The Spirit-Controlled Walk

This aspect revolves around two positive commands of the New Testament. As mentioned earlier, these are Galatians 5:16, “live by the Spirit” and Ephesians 5:18, “be filled with the Spirit.” There are other relevant passages like Ephesians 6:18 and Jude 20, both of which call on believers to pray in the power of the Spirit. They show our prayer life must likewise be dependent on the ministry of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

Jude 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit,

But what do we do when we have grieved and quenched the Spirit through some form of sin? What exactly is the process to both re-establish and maintain fellowship and the Spirit’s control in the life?

The first step of faith necessary to walk by the Spirit in submission to Him is honest confession of all known sin. This restores fellowship so the process of the Spirit’s control can continue if we immediately deal with our sin. Or, if we have been out of fellowship for a period of time (like David in the Old Testament who refused to deal with his sin until confronted by Nathan the prophet) confession restores the Spirit to control again (cf. also 1 Sam. 12:1-13; Psa. 32:3-4; 1 John 1:9).

Proverbs 28:13-14 The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper,
but whoever confesses and abandons them will find mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who is always cautious,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into evil.

Again, let me repeat, the first step of faith, submission, and positive volition to walk by the Spirit, where known sin has occurred, is confession, deep down honest to God acknowledgment of our sin and its effects on our walk with God and the ministry of the Spirit. But our understanding and confession need to go deeper!

The need is to see what is at the bottom of our behavior, namely, faulty sources of trust, as well as false perceptions of what we think we need for happiness or security. Remember, this too is a matter of trust and biblical insight. Until we see this as the real issue, the Spirit will leave us floundering in our own weakness. But why? To bring us to the end of ourselves and self-trust because at the core of our lives is faith in the wrong things. Here again we see the element of growth. This is the issue we need to see and that we must confess.

Further, confession needs to be done with a view to establishing the Spirit’s control so the flesh can be controlled and God glorified.

Included here is the need and the issue of brokenness wherein we come to the end of ourselves and our sources of self-trust. So, while on the one hand we may think we are submitting to the Spirit by faith, on the other hand we may still be trying to manage our own lives, and in reality we are walking by faith in our own machinations.

Once we have confessed known sin with a view to yielding our lives to the Spirit’s control and God’s glory, what else is needed for the Spirit-controlled walk to be consistent and continuous? Well, obviously, believers need a continuously yielded life of faith-dependence on the Spirit as the source of strength and guidance. After all, in reality, the failure to walk dependently is the bottom line cause of all known sin. But how is this maintained and developed? That’s a key question!

Keys for Maintaining the Control of the Spirit

Comprehending the Truth of Identification (Rom. 6)

We dare not miss the importance of our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection to the Spirit-controlled walk. That it is basic, vital, and motivational for walking by faith in the Spirit’s control should be clear from the fact Paul placed the identification truth of Romans 6 before the ministry of the Spirit in Romans 8.

Why is Romans 6 important to the walk of faith in the Spirit’s control? Because it declares the believer’s liberty and assures us we do not need to “remain in sin” (Rom. 6:1). “For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14). We have the glorious potential of walking in newness of life because of our identification with the Savior in His death unto sin’s reign and with His resurrection unto newness of life. But as with all aspects of the Christian life, we must know, believe, and apply the truth we know.

Let’s note briefly the structure and truth of Romans 6:

The Foundation: Things to know and comprehend (Rom. 6:1-4). Because believers have been identified with Christ in His death and resurrection that they might also walk with Him in newness of life, it is inconceivable, a moral contradiction, that they would continue allowing sin to reign in their lives.

The Implication: The resulting certainty (Rom. 6:5). Union or identification with Christ in His death also necessitates identification with Him in His resurrection. The “if” in verse 5 represents a condition in the Greek text which assumes the reality of the condition. In this context, it can be translated “since.” “Certainly” represents the Greek alla, the strongest conjunction of contrast in the Greek New Testament. It emphatically declares that if the first clause and fact is true, and it is, then so is the second clause a fact.

The Application: Truth to believe, count on as true, and obey (Rom. 6:6-14). The application of the truth of verses 1-5 is seen and expressed in four key words:

(1) Know (vss. 6-10): Knowing we are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, we believe that we too may have the fruit of both in our experience.

(2) Consider or Count on as true (vs. 11): With this knowledge as a foundation for faith, we are to count ourselves as dead unto sin’s reign and alive to God in Christ Jesus. “Consider” (NASB), “count” (NIV), or “reckon” (KJV) is the Greek logizomai, “calculate, count on as true.” It was a mathematical term used of calculating a row of numbers to come to the exact sum. By adding up the truths of verses 1-10, we are to think and believe accordingly. This reckoning is not a “make believe” kind of response, nor simply positive thinking, but the reckoning of reality. Here are spiritual truths that must be seized by faith. The verb is a present tense of continuous action. Here are spiritual facts that must be seized and applied moment by moment as the foundation for deliverance, yielding by faith to the power of the Spirit.

(3) Yield, Present, Offer (vss. 12-13): Note in these verses the emphasis on our personal responsibility for obedience is presented both negatively (“do not let sin reign,” “do not present”) and positively (“but present yourselves to God”). While deliverance is supernaturally wrought in us by the power of God, it is our responsibility to appropriate God’s deliverance through presenting or yielding our lives to God. This is dramatically brought out in the Greek text. In these verses we have both a present imperative of prohibition which means “stop presenting,” followed by what grammarians call an ingressive aorist imperative meaning “but start presenting.” We accomplish the negative by the positive. Putting off is accomplished by putting on through the yielded life.

But what does it mean to “present yourselves to God as those alive …”? “Present” is the Greek paristhmi, “to place beside, to put at one’s disposal, present, offer.” It was used as a technical term in the language of sacrifice. This is the word the apostle uses in Romans 12:1 where he exhorts us to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices. There is, therefore, an active concept of presenting ourselves to God, but this is followed by the passive idea of yieldedness because in presenting ourselves to God we also place ourselves at God’s disposal for His power and will to be wrought in our lives.

(4) Obey (vs. 14): The concept of obedience is explicitly brought out in verse 12 and implicitly in verse 13, but that this obedience is not the product of human will power, but the grace of God working in the heart of the believer by faith, is made clear in the declaration of verse 14. Under the Law, we are left to our own strength while under grace we are brought under the power of God through our identification with Christ, and as chapter 8 teaches, through the ministry of the Spirit. But the point must also be made that if there is no obedience, then there is no corresponding reckoning on our union with Christ and no dependence on the Spirit.

Comprehending the Truth of Brokenness (Rom. 7)

We might title Romans 7 “Powerless Sanctification.” In it we see that the death of Christ delivers us from the Law as a rule of life (vss. 1-6), and that the life of Christ delivers us from the old nature as a hindrance to life—the two natures of the believer in conflict (vss. 7-25).

The Theme: The Law cannot produce sanctification in the life of believers and believers cannot produce sanctification in their life by depending on the desire of the new nature to try to keep the Law.

(1) The Believer’s Deliverance From the Law. Using the illustration of marriage under law and freedom through death, Paul shows believers are freed from the jurisdiction of the Law because of their co-identification with Christ in His death and resurrection (7:1-6).

(2) The Purpose of the Law (7:7-13). Being holy, the Law reveals sin (vs. 7). Being sinful ourselves, the Law provokes or arouses sin in us (vss. 8-9). The Law, though designed for man’s blessing, becomes a killer because of our sin (vss. 10-11). The Law, being holy and good, reveals the sinfulness of sin (vss. 12-13).

(3) The Inability of the Law and the Struggle with Sin (7:14-25). The Law, because of the power of sin, cannot change us (vs. 14). The Law, because of the presence of indwelling sin, cannot enable us to do good (vss. 15-21). The Law, though holy and good, cannot set us free because of the law of sin dwelling in our members (vss. 22-24).

In Romans 7:24, “wretched” is a Greek word which means “enduring toils and troubles, afflicted, wretched.” It was used of a person who is exhausted after a battle.

The suggestion here is that we will not find true deliverance until we come to the point and place of Paul’s cry in verse 24. This is the place of brokenness, the place of giving up so that we will turn to our resources in the Savior, not only our position, but God’s provision of the indwelling Spirit of God. Compare Psalm 51:1-17, but in particular, verses 16-17. “humble” and “repentant heart” are basically synonymous. Both verbs mean “to be broken, crushed.” As verse 16 suggests, it is not religious works that God wants or that we need. Rather it is coming to the end of ourselves, becoming crushed, broken by the load of trying to run our own lives or attempting to deal with our sinfulness apart from God’s provision of grace and the ministry of the Spirit.

Comprehending the Truth of Being More Than Conquerors (Rom. 8)

In answer to the cry of Romans 7:24, “Who will rescue me,” one of the keynotes triumphantly played in Romans 8 is that of freedom or emancipation. Even though the Christian still faces the conflict of the sinful nature or indwelling sin (Rom. 7:23), he can overcome the ruling power of sin through the control of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In fact, this chapter is the believer’s emancipation proclamation that expands the length, breadth, height, and depth of life.

Borrowing from Ryrie’s Study Bible, Romans 8 can be outlined as follows:

  • Emancipated Living: living victoriously by the power of the Spirit (8:1-11)
  • Exalted Living: living as mature sons of God (8:4-17)
  • Expectant Living: living joyfully in the midst of suffering (8:18-30)
  • Exultant Living: living gloriously as super-conquerors through Him who loved us regardless of what life may bring (8:31-39)71

For the Christian, there is:

(1) Freedom from judgment because for the believer in Christ, there is no condemnation (8:1-3).

(2) Freedom from defeat, no more under bondage to sin if we will but walk by the Spirit (8:1-17).

(3) Freedom from discouragement even in the face of the sufferings of life because of the glory to be revealed and the prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit (8:18-30).

(4) Freedom from anxiety because, as super-conquerors, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (8:31-39).

The revelation of this passage concerns the marvelous ministry of the Spirit of God as God’s perfect supply for living the Christian life. Building on the identification truths of Romans 6, the great obligation of Romans 8 concerns the Christian’s need to put to death the sinful deeds of the body by walking according to the Spirit (cf. 8:4-6, 12-13).

Comprehending the Consequences of Carnality

The American Heritage Dictionary (electronic version) defines “carnal” as: (a) Relating to the desires and appetites of the flesh or body; sensual. (b) Worldly or earthly; temporal. [ME < Lat. carnalis < Lat. caro, flesh.] carnality ( karnalite). Scripturally, the term comes from 1 Corinthians 3:3 which is translated variously:

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (KJV)

For you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (NASB)

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (NIV)

for you are still influenced by the flesh. For since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like ordinary people? (NET)

In the Greek text, the word translated above as “carnal,” “fleshly,” or “worldly” is sarkikos from sarx, meaning “flesh.” Sarkikos means “fleshly, adapted, fitted to the flesh” and thus controlled by the flesh. Words ending in ikos denote an ethical or dynamic relationship.72 This word is equivalent to kata sarka, “according to the flesh” in Romans 8:4, 5. In 2 Corinthians 10:4 the apostle wrote, “for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons” ( sarkikos).

The “flesh” may be defined as that strong and rebellious disposition in people to operate out of their own human resources to meet their needs and wants, the things they perceive they must have for security, satisfaction, and significance. Rather than trust in God, “flesh” as a ethical term, represents a spirit of independence, a commitment to do one’s own thing, in one’s own way, and from one’s own resources. Thus, to be carnal means to adapt our lives to the flesh way of life, to use fleshly resources or weapons to manipulate and handle life rather than the spiritual resources given to us by God such as the indwelling Spirit, the Word, and prayer.

Scripture is full of warnings concerning the disastrous consequences of carnality, the pursuit of life apart from faith in God, living independently of His direction and power, or pursuing our own way. For instance, compare just the small sampling of the following verses:

Jeremiah 17:5 The Lord says,
“I will put a curse on people
who trust in mere human beings,
who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength,
and whose hearts have turned away from the Lord.

Isaiah 50:11 Look, all of you who start a fire
and who equip yourselves with flaming arrows,
walk in the light of the fire you started
and among the flaming arrows you ignited!
This is what you will receive from me:
you will lie down in a place of pain.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way of death.

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, 8 because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

(1) Loss of Fellowship. The first consequence is the loss of fellowship with the Lord plus the absence of the control of the Holy Spirit and His fruit in one’s life (cf. 1 John 1:5-7). When the Spirit is grieved and quenched (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19), we are hindered in prayer (Ps. 66:18), in witnessing (Acts 1:8), in Bible study (1 Cor. 2:10-16; Eph. 3:16f), i.e., in all the ministries of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. To trust in one’s self is to fail to trust in the Spirit.

The ministry of the Spirit when He is grieved and quenched must of necessity be turned from His positive ministry of enabling to one of pleading and convicting concerning sin. As the one who convicts the world of sin (John 16:8), so the Holy Spirit pleads and works to convict believers to bring them to repentance and a return to fellowship. In this condition, there is the consequence of misery and the loss of joy and the blessedness of fellowship with the Lord. This pleading, reproving ministry is obviously also connected with the message of the Spirit in the Word. The letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, with the exception of one, were letters of rebuke designed to convict and restore these churches. Each is concluded with “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Psa. 32:3-4).

(2) Dissipation of Resources. When believers are controlled by the flesh, another consequence is dissipation or wastefulness of their spiritual, mental, and physical resources (Eph. 5:18). Included in this are the works of the flesh with their awful destructive consequences to health, integrity, human relationships, and society as a whole.

Galatians 5:15, 19-21 However, if you continually bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another…19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.

(3) Divine Discipline. Because God is our Father and the Vinedresser of His vineyard, carnality will eventually result in divine discipline—the heavy hand of God designed to train and restore His people to Him (cf. also Heb. 12:5-11).

Psalm 32:4 For day and night you tormented me;
you tried to destroy me in the intense heat of summer. (Selah)

1 Corinthians 11:29-32 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. 31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.

(4) Loss of Testimony. Another consequence of not walking in fellowship is the loss of our testimony in the world and dishonor to the Lord (cf. also 1 Pet. 3:15-17; 4:15-16).

1 Peter 2:12-17 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. 13 Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme 14 or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good. 15 For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. 17 Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.

(5) Loss of Rewards. Another consequence is the loss of rewards at the Bema (Judgment) Seat of Christ (cf. 1 John 2:28-3:3). See Part 1, Lesson 7 for a study on the Bema.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. 14 If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.

In addition to the above, if we continue to live in open rebellion and refuse to get right with the Lord, the following consequences may occur:

(6) Increased discipline from the heavy hand of God.

Psalm 32:4 For day and night you tormented me;
you tried to destroy me in the intense heat of summer. (Selah)

Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”

(7) Continuation in rebellion may require the church to take action even to the point of excommunication. The church today often fails to exercise church discipline or it is done in the wrong manner (cf. 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Cor. 5).

Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.

(8) Divine discipline to the point of physical death may also occur.

1 Corinthians 11:30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his fellow Christian committing a sin not resulting in death, he should ask, and God will grant life to the person who commits a sin not resulting in death. There is a sin resulting in death. I do not say that he should ask about that.

Other Truths Important to
Maintaining the Control of the Spirit

As expressions of faith and as further acts of yieldedness, believers need:

(1) Bible study and the hearing of the Word.

2 Timothy 2:15 Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

James 1:21-25 So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. 23 For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does.

(2) Scripture memory.

Psalm 119:11 In my heart I store up your words,
so I might not sin against you.

Proverbs 3:3 Do not let truth and mercy leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

(3) Prayer (cf. Ps. 119). Almost the entire Psalm is addressed to the Lord and concerns sanctification.

Psalm 139:23-24 Examine me, and probe my thoughts!
Test me, and know my concerns!
24 See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me,
and lead me in the reliable ancient path!

(4) Fellowship with believers, and public worship.

Acts 2:42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Hebrews 10:23-24 And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. 24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works,

Such are all to be done in the power of the Spirit, but they are nevertheless vital to one’s spiritual walk, to faith, and to a Spirit-dependent life. These biblical disciplines are designed by God to promote and cultivate a dependent walk with Him through faith. Though they are never to be done out of a spirit of legalism, when we neglect these things, we are quenching the Spirit by an unyielded life and by a life of unbelief. We are in essence seeking to live by the light of our own man-made firebrands, leaning on the arm of our flesh (our human resources), and building our own cisterns (Isa. 50:1-11; Jer. 17:5).

The author of Hebrews shows us the vital relationship between daily hearing the voice of the Spirit of God from the Word of God, and having a yielded and believing heart—a heart of faith that is so vital to walking by means of the Spirit. He shows this relationship in Hebrews 3 and 4.

First, there is the warning against failing to hear the voice of the Spirit which leads to a hardened heart of unbelief. Faith comes from hearing the Word.

Hebrews 3:7-8 and 15 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks!
8 “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness…15 As it says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Hebrews 3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God.

Romans 10:17 Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.

Second, as a protection against an unyielded, hardened heart of unbelief, there is the encouragement for fellowship with believers (vs. 13 and 10:23-24), and the need for the Word of God itself which is always the place where the voice of the Spirit of God is heard.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.

Peter implicitly gives us the same emphasis in 1 Peter 2:1-2, “So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation,”

Peter speaks of growing “up to salvation.” Since the word “salvation” can refer to any kind of preservation or deliverance depending on the context (cf. Acts 7:25; 27:34; Phil. 1:9; Heb. 11:7), it should always be understood from the context. For instance, in Hebrews 11:7 it is used for the deliverance of Noah and his family from the waters of the flood.

Here in 1 Peter 2:2, Peter is not writing about gaining eternal life or an entrance to heaven. Rather, he is writing about experiential sanctification (phase 2 of salvation), specifically, deliverance from the fleshly patterns mentioned in verse 1. And while deliverance is through the power of the Spirit, as the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit never operates independently of the Word of Truth.

There is the need, then, of a healthy appetite and a regular diet of the “pure, spiritual milk,” a clear evidence of a yielded life versus one that quenches the Spirit through a spirit of independent living. Remember, the command “do not extinguish the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19) is followed by “do not despise prophetic utterances,” a reference to the proclamation of God’s truth, which for us today, is equivalent to the Word. The truth of 1 Peter 2:2 can also be found in James 1:21f.

Keeping in mind the element of growth or maturity, the following chart illustrates the Spirit-dependent life:

The studies that follow will focus on those faith disciplines of the Word (Bible study, prayer, worship, etc.) that will enhance and develop yieldedness and faith in the indwelling presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit and His direction in the believer’s life.

61Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, p. 67.

62Daniel B. Wallace, Selected Notes of New Testament Greek, 4th Edition, p. 65.

63 William D. Lawrence, Class Notes, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1993, p. 11-14.

64 Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, p. 93-94.

65 Oswald J. Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, Moody Press, Chicago, 1986, p. 101.

66 Lawrence, pp. 11-13.

67Ibid., pp. 11-14.

68Lawrence, pp. 12-13.

69 Lewis Sperry Chafer, He That is Spiritual, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1967, p. 86.

70Ibid., pp. 87-88.

71 The Ryrie Study Bible, NASB, Moody Press, Chicago, 1976, 1978, pp. 1712-1714.

72 Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key To The New Testament, edited by Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., Regency, Grand Rapids, 1976, p. 393.

Related Topics: Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit), Basics for Christians, Sanctification