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Renewing the Spiritís Passion for Christ

 

1 Corinthians 2:1-17

 

Jim Davis

 

Every culture has its profile of human impressiveness. It could be Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Oprah, Brad Pit, Donald Trump, or Bill Clinton. Each profile we have for human impressiveness panders to human pride.

 

There is something I donít like about America; it is actually frightening to me. I have seen bumper stickers promoting the power of Americaís pride. You have seen them saying, ďThe Power of Pride.Ē Solomon tells us pride is destructive. Our pride will destroy us.

 

Churches have bought into the idea that the world needs to be impressed. Many are afraid to invite their friends to church because they think the church is unimpressive. Itís not something they are proud of. If you wait for the church to become impressive before you invite others to church, you will never invite them to church.

 

Pride seeks to impress. The cross of Christ is emptied of its power when we seek to showcase the church to impress the world. Some sincere believers think we should do this to improve the gospelís chance of success. Christians in Corinth were seeking to impress. Paul addressed the problem.

 

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. NIV

 

Showcasing of the message always directs our attention away from the power of the cross. What happens when we seek to impress the world in a prideful way? The word of God may be preached, but it is no longer listened to as the word of God. The world needs a message that demonstrates the Holy Spiritís power among believers today.

 

The Cross Unimpressive

 

The apostles passionately preached the cross as the power of God and wisdom of God. It looked like foolishness to the world. As the Greco-Roman world beheld ignorant and unlearned men and women preaching Jesus they considered it foolishness. Nothing impressive to the world about a man choosing a path in life that got him nailed to a cross.

The wisdom of their world certainly made that look foolish. The wisdom of the world prevented them from taking up their crosses to discover the power of God. Their carnal spirit divided Godís people.

 

Many are oblivious to the power of the cross. A little boy was flunking math in public school. His parents decided to send him to a Catholic school to get more personalized instruction. He immediately started making Aís in math. His parents ask him how he made such improvement so quickly. He said, ďI knew they meant business when I saw that man nailed to a plus sign.

 

The cross tells us that God means what he says about sin, and it reveals the power of God over sin. But we must discover the power of the cross. Paul did not seek to adopt the worldís sophistication to impress the world with the message of Christ. The Holy Spirit led him to use a more powerful means to demonstrate Godís power. But it looked foolish to the world. It still looks foolish to our world.

 

It was the passion of Christ to save the world that drove the apostles to preach Jesus crucified. There are many whose lives are driven by passion. Religious leaders around Jesus passionately pursued what the scriptures required. They were driven by their fleshly passion to impose their selfish desires upon the requirements of the law, but it culminated in self-righteous. It culminated in their desire to occupy the upper seats in the synagogueótheir desire was to be the greatest.

 

The most prevalent interpersonal conversation among Jesusí hand picked disciples during his earthly ministry revolved around the question ďWho will be the greatest?Ē The most prevalent conversations in Corinth when Paul wrote Corinthians revolved around ďWho has the greatest spiritual gift?Ē ďWho baptized them?Ē Essentially it was the same questions asked by Jesus disciples while he was on earth.

 

Today there are many seeking to build the church with worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom is no substitute for spiritual wisdom. Worldly wisdom is driven by worldly passion, or should we say fleshly passion.

 

We should expect those converted to Christ from a worldly philosophy to initially come to Christ with worldly ideas on how to build Christ kingdom. What else do they know? However, we have a responsibility in teaching the spiritual nature and function of Christ kingdom. Having Jesus as the foundation to build on is important. However, how we build our personal lives upon that foundation is crucial to our success.

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. NIV

 

Lives must be built upon the powerful message of the cross. The kingdom of God is not built upon the tangible, but upon the unseen world. Seeking to build the kingdom of God upon tangible things is an attempt to build it upon our own self-sufficiency. The disciplesí lives were a continual demonstration of the Spiritís power. Jesus made every effort to teach his disciples that Godís kingdom does not come through human will power, but rather through the power of God. It was the Holy Spirit that brought Godís power to bear on the lives of those first Christ followers. They were not there to claim any human sufficiency.

 

1 Corinthians 2:10-16

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:

 

16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord

that he may instruct him?"

 

But we have the mind of Christ. NIV

 

The apostles were seeking to build up Godís people through the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit. The cross demonstrates Godís power overruling the weakness of men and women. The message of the cross is powerful. The cross demonstrates our need to surrender ourselves to the power of Godís Spirit. After all it was Godís Spirit that led Jesus to the cross. When we surrender, we will experience a personal resurrection, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Itís this kind of powerful living that continues to demonstrate the power of God to a lost world today.

 

The Greeks placed a lot of stock in the verbal skills of their orators. They often failed to weigh what was said. They were too enthralled with how it was said. Verbal skills are impressive. Verbal skills usually impress people with our personal presence. The Word of God revealed Godís wisdom as he demonstrated his power.

 

Romans 8:22-27

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

 

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

 

Sometimes we read the Bible to gather the facts but we never see the overall picture. We never connect all the dots. Youíve seen pictures given to kids at a restaurant where they have to kill time connecting all the dots until their food comes. They have to connect all the dots to see the whole picture. When they connect all the dots it makes a picture of an animal, etc. Sometimes in our Bible studies we never connect the dots. We never see the picture.

 

We know Romans 8:28-30 almost by heart. However, do you see the connection with Godís Spirit in the overall picture? Itís when we are responding appropriately to the leading and work of the Holy Spirit that brings Godís power to bear on our circumstances.

 

Romans 8:28-39

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

 

"For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 

 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NIV

 

The power of the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives when we are unable to clearly see the direction God wants us to take. The Holy Spirit is busy working out Godís plan for us. We donít have to understand how he is working or have a clear vision of where he wants us to go. All we need a commitment to follow the path he makes for us as he works all things out for our good.

 

The Holy Spirit has the wisdom and power to lead us to places we may think we donít want to go, or to places we think we canít go. Jesus says to Peter, ďI tell you the truth, when your were younger you dressed yourself and went where your wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hand, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.Ē   

 

Too often our response to Jesus is a fleshly response because we havenít connected all the dots. We are sincerely seeking to do Bible things in Bible ways, but we never see the need for Godís Spirit to descend upon our lives. We remain unconnected to Godís Spirit. Our walk in Godís ways is solely a fleshly response. Listen to the cry of those seeking God in such a manner.

 

When Paul strove to live up to the law without the Spirit he cried out, ďO wretched man that I am.Ē Paul was crying out because his fleshly passion only brought failure. The flesh always brings destruction. When Paul found Christ the Spirit of life set him free from the law of sin and death.

 

Romans 8:1-2

8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. NIV

 

John 6:63

63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. NIV

 

Some will never discover how to do the work of God with the Spiritís power. They will find themselves totally helpless in eternity.

 

Matthew 7:21-23

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' NIV

 

A Spirit Led Passion

 

Philip Yancey asks us to imagine somebody whoís studying for a masterís degree. In order to meet the requirements for the masterís degree they have to learn a language. Letís say itís German. They pay their dues. They have to do it. They struggle and they slog and theyíve got their little cards and they memorize and they try to get their mouth around the awkward, unfamiliar grammar and fill their mouth with words that feel like rock and stone inside. They do it because thatís what the requirements are. Image the same man meets and falls head-over-heels in love with a woman, and she speaks only German. Suddenly the manís motivation to learn undergoes seismic upheaval. Thereís something within motivating him to do this, because heís in love. Thereís wonder in her eyes when he gets it right, and he says the things she wants to hear and he wants to say in her language. Before he was trudging through because thatís what the external requirement was. Now thereís hunger within. Before it was duty bound, now itís lovesickness.

 

A Spirit controlled life makes all the difference. The Spirit of God is empowering, while the passion of the flesh is powerless and enslaves. It was a Spirit filled passion that led and empowered Christ and those first disciples.

 

Acts 1:1-5

1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." NIV

 

Jesus promises them they ďwill be baptized with the Holy Spirit.Ē One meaning of the word baptized is to be overwhelmed. The disciples placed themselves in a position for the Holy Spirit to overwhelm them. Lukeís gospel account describes what happened a little different. Jesus tells his disciples to stay in the city of Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high.

 

Luke 24:45-49

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." NIV

 

Pentecost happened because the disciples allowed themselves to be overwhelmed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. They spoke in languages they had never studied or spoken in. Jesus had foretold this.

 

Matthew 10:17-20

17 "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. NIV

 

The flesh says, ďWhen you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it. And hold on for dear life.Ē Jesus says to his disciples, ďWhen you get to the end of your rope, donít be anxious, simply trust in what God is about to do through you.

 

We must be overwhelmed by Godís Spirit today. We must allow him to overwhelm our fleshly ways. Jesus Christ provides the place of safety. The Holy Spirit keeps us safe as we allow him to lead us.

 

Paul says the Spirit has baptized us into one body.

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. NIV

 

The conclusion is that when the Holy Spirit leads us to be baptized into Christ, we put on Christ. When we put on Christ arenít we really allowing the Holy Spirit to clothe us with Christ? We allow the Spirit to overwhelm us with Christ. The Spiritís work is to clothe us in the mind of Christ. When we allow this to happen, we experience Godís power through the cross of our surrender to Christ.

 

Galatians 3:26-27

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. NIV

 

The Danger of Rejecting Holy Spirit

 

Our ignorance of the Holy Spirit or our rejection of him is very dangerous. Either will leave us living stagnant lives and at the very worst it will leave us lost.

 

Matthew 12:25-32

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 

29 "Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.

 

30 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. NIV

 

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is simply rejecting the Holy Spiritís work in our lives. Jesus was casting out demons by the power of the Spirit of God. Those around him were rejecting the Holy Spiritís work. They attributed it to Beelzebub the prince of demons. How many seek to accept Christ today, but reject the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Yet, rejecting the work of the Spirit of God leaves us lost.

 

The Bible came into being by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He seeks to minister to us through Godís word. To refuse the instruction of Godís Word is a rejection of the Holy Spirit. Some go to the Bible and seek to use its instruction with mere human wisdom and the power of the flesh fails them. They have refused the work of the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom to use it. The Bible cannot be discerned by the natural mind, we must ask God for the wisdom to understand (James 1:5).

 

The ministry of the Holy Spirit began on Pentecost. The disciples had actually received the Holy Spirit before Pentecost. Jesus bestowed the Holy Spirit upon his disciples immediately after his resurrection.

 

John 20:18-23

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

 

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

 

21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." NIV

 

However, it was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit began his powerful work. He clothed those disciples in an overwhelming way to demonstrate Godís power.

 

The powerful work of the Holy Spirit began with those believers on Pentecost. The gospels are about Jesusí earthly ministry. The remainder of the Bible is about the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the lives of those who believed.

 

The Holy Spirit was crucial for those first believersóhe was given to all those who obeyed.

 

Acts 5:29-32

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." NIV

 

Why not allow the Holy Spirit to witness Godís powerful presence in our lives. Allowing our fleshly passions to drive us to do Godís work will lead us to live a life of self-destruction.

 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. NIV

 

Imagine someone being burned at the stake being driven to make the sacrifice out of fleshly passion. What is gained?  Nothing!! There is a lot of passion in the world today, and much of it is misdirected. It is driving us toward our own self-destruction.

 

Conclusion:

 

Jesus says, ďThe Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothingĒ (John 6:63). The Spirit of God gave life to the first Christians. They were born of the Spirit and power of God.

 

Jesus reminds us to, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." We have learned the flesh is truly weak. Jesus encouraged his disciples to draw their strength and passion from their dependence upon the Spirit of God.

 

The Spirit of God brought Godís word to life through the apostles. Jesus didnít want them to fret and worry about what they were going to say or do when their backs were against the wall. He taught them to trust the Spirit to lead them to say and do what was needed. In doing so they discovered their freedom.

 

A spirit filled passion begins with giving yourself to Christ. A powerful life doesnít begin with giving your time to Christ, or giving you money to Christ. It begins by giving yourself to Christ through the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

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