Renewing the Spiritís
Passion for Christ
1 Corinthians 2:1-17
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Some will never discover how to do
the work of God with the Spiritís power. They will find
themselves totally helpless in eternity.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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
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.
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.