, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This question is not meant as an offense to anyone. Instead, I want to make sure that nobody misses out on something that would be theirs in Christ by their spiritual nature. So many struggles as to ‘keeping the law’ by living according to what is written in the Bible WITHOUT the power of the Holy Spirit could be avoided, I believe. T. Austin Sparks offers some very practical and helpful explanations on how we could discern whether the Holy Spirit is acting in and through us all the time or whether we might detect a lack of spiritual guidance in our everyday life. We do not need to worry if we cannot fully understand what TAS was talking about below. However, we might ask God to fill us with this divine life if we have not known it the way it has been described ourselves. Jesus affirmed this promise here as He said,

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:13 ESV)

“The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2). To have such a Person resident within is a very wonderful thing.

“And so, if He has all Divine intelligence, and we are in His school, living with Him, keeping fellowship with Him day by day, we shall grow in this intelligence, which no natural man has. We shall be growing in knowledge, growing in understanding, growing in ability to grasp the things of God, which no man, apart from the Spirit of God, can understand. I want to lay emphasis upon that. It is the Holy Spirit Himself. I know that Christians as such believe in the Holy Spirit – the majority of evangelical Christians believe in the Person of the Holy Spirit. They put the article there – the Holy Spirit – whereas others speak of ‘Holy Spirit’. It is a part of our Christian faith to believe in the Holy Spirit as a Person; to have some knowledge of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, His work and His power. And yet there is among Christians a lamentable lack of understanding of what it means to have the Holy Spirit really dwelling within. This is disclosed and manifested by the very fact that they can sometimes act and speak so contrarily to the Holy Spirit without seeming to be checked up by Him. It is truly astonishing how many Christians can speak in a manner in which the Holy Spirit certainly cannot acquiesce, and yet seem to be quite unconscious of the fact that the Holy Spirit disagrees with them. Many Christians can believe lies about others, and repeat them, and yet never register the Holy Spirit’s disagreement. There is something wrong here in regard to the practical expression of the indwelling Holy Spirit – for He is the Spirit of truth.

“Now the true Christian life means that wherever the Holy Spirit is in disagreement with anything that we say or do, or with the way we say or do it, we should be aware of it. At once we should register – not a voice, but a sense: the Holy Spirit saying, in effect, ‘I do not agree with you – that is wrong, that is not right, that is not true, that is not kind, that is not good, that is not gracious.’ There is a very great need for the reality of the indwelling Spirit to be expressed. It is not that the failure to recognise and sense and discern means that the Holy Spirit is not there; it simply means that, if it is like that, we are not walking in the Spirit. There is something needed on our part by way of adjustment.

“But, coming to the positive side, the true Christian life can be, and should be, like this. With the Holy Spirit resident within, when you or I say or do anything with which He does not agree, we know it at once. We have a bad feeling right in the middle of us, and we do not get rid of it. We have to say, ‘Evidently I was wrong in what I said, or did. Lord, forgive me and put it out of the way.’ If it has done someone any harm, well, let us try to put it right. That is a life in the Spirit. It is very practical.

“That is what happens when we become Christians. It begins like that. The beginnings are very simple. If you are still quite young in the Christian life, you surely must know something of this in simple ways. Perhaps you go to do something that you used to do, and something inside you says, ‘Oh, no, not now – that belongs to the past.’ That is a simple beginning, is it not? If you go on, you burn your fingers – because you are alive! If you were dead, you would do these things and not feel them. Because you are alive, you are sensitive.

“Yes, that is what happens when we become Christians. It is very simple; many of us know about it from experience. But it is important for the many who are coming to Christ in these days, who are at the beginnings of the Christian life, to know really what they have come into, really what has happened to them. They should be able to say: ‘Yes – well, I could not have explained it, I could never have put it into words or defined it; but I know what you mean. That is true to my own experience.’ But, you see, it is something more than just feeling. We need to understand, we need to be intelligent about these things. May God make us intelligent Christians – Christians who are going on in life-fellowship with His Spirit within, and growing all the time. God forbid that any young Christians, reading these lines, in five, ten or twenty years’ time should be just where they are now. That is not necessary, because of course – praise God! being born again is not the end of things – it is only the beginning!” (1)

God never contradicts Himself nor would He ever put up with continuous sin in our lives. If we are Christians who are being led by the Holy Spirit from within, we should know the answer to the following thought-provoking question,

Do we believe that people who committed adultery, got divorced AND remarried can be right when they claim to have done the will of God as they decided to remarry? 🙄

I am not saying here that there are no cases when divorce makes sense. What I am saying is that we must be cautious to not confuse tolerance toward the sinful life of non-Christians with opening up toward fellowship with Christians who still act as if they fully belong to this world. Rather, we should heed what the apostles John and Paul told us,

“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. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 Jn 2:15-17 ESV)

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2. Cor 6:14-18 ESV)

(1) https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001125.html

“In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statment included.”

All images by Susanne Schuberth 2018