This is the fifth installment in a series on developing a conversational relationship with our God by His Holy Spirit. The previous posts were published February 6, April 16, 23, and 30.
The key to this entire process of conversational communion with our God the Holy Spirit is the absolute surrender of the person to our God. This is the crucified life in which all self-promotion, self-service, self-management, and self-protection has died with Christ. This is the open-hearted response of the redeemed soul to our God. The Holy Spirit will lead such a surrendered person only along the path of the fruit of the Spirit as revealed in Galatians 5: 22-25 (below).
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
The list of the fruit of the Spirit’s control in us is well-known and the topic of many sermons and books. Few people connect the fruit of the Spirit in us to the causal factor at the end of the list in Galatians 5: “Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Those who are truly crucified to the flesh and the self-life are those who live by the Spirit and exhibit the qualities of God in daily living. Conversely, those who have not crucified the flesh with its passions and desires do not live out the life and qualities of God.
Living a life crucified to the flesh, the self-life and the world is the pathway to the Spirit of God producing His life in us. The role of the Spirit is also to guide us into living as Christ would have us live; to make us Christ-followers. Jesus was clear that if any wanted to be Christ-followers, they would deny themselves and take up their crosses daily. Jesus further described that crucified life as losing one’s own life so as to find divine life in its place (Matthew 10:37-39, Luke 9:23-24). All aspects of our new life in Christ and His life in us by the Holy Spirit flow to the one who is living a crucified, fully surrendered life.
The questions for us if we would learn to hear and discern the speaking of the Holy Spirit are these: Are we fully and absolutely surrendered to our God? Can our self-life be characterized as dead and buried with Christ? Are we seeking to allow nothing to stand in the way of the Holy Spirit living His life and speaking the mind of Christ, in us? Such surrender, such self-crucified living is an absolute and unequivocal requirement of every true follower of Jesus, according to His words in Matthew 10 and Luke 9.
If we are absolutely surrendered, or absolutely committed to live that surrendered life and walk daily but the Spirit, hearing His voice will begin to happen in us. It will grow in us as our self-life dies and we are more and more surrendered to our God.
Those who live this life of surrender to the Holy Spirit will begin to experience the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised in John 14 and 16. These passages, along with Galatians 5 and Romans 8, are the true measure of Spirit-controlled living, by the way. These are the only passages in which specific manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s work are universally promised to those who are given over to the Spirit.
The measure of our faith-life is clear. Are we living a life of godliness, union with Him, conversational intimacy and communion with His Spirit in us, and rejecting the world and its systems? Is our living characterized by greater love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control under the Holy Spirit? If so, we can be certain that we are Spirit-led followers of our Lord and Savior. And we will hear Him speaking. Here are the words of Oswald Chambers on this:
“Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing— it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready. Whenever any duty presents itself, we hear God’s voice as our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with the total readiness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us just as His Father did with Him. He can put us wherever He wants, in pleasant duties or in menial ones, because our union with Him is the same as His union with the Father. “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).