In His Grip Devotions
by Dr. Chuck F. Betters
How to Short-Circuit the Holy Spirit – Part 2
Obstacle #1 Pride
Two weeks ago I suggested that most of us have a bucket list of things we would like to do and places we would like to see before we die. But does that bucket list include living a life that is fully controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Now, before you throw your hands up in despair, sure you can never fully obey this call to holiness, take hope! Agreed, that dream will never be fulfilled in this life because none of us ever live lives FULLY controlled by the Holy Spirit, even the holiest among us. There are obstacles that short-circuit that power every time. But grace….
The default setting of the human heart is a salvation by works. That same setting hinders our progress toward holiness. We forget that the same grace that saves us also empowers us to pursue holiness. Have you ever heard someone pray, “Lord keep me humble?” Is that really the right way to pray? You can file such prayers under “g” for gibberish!” Why? Because when I pray, “Lord, keep me humble” this presumes I am humble to begin with. Shouldn’t I really pray, “Lord make me humble and then do whatever is necessary to keep me humble?” Humility is the key to greatness. God’s conduit of spiritual power is humility. Peter, who knew all too well this principle, put it this way:
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7 E.S.V)
Did you catch that? We are to wake up each morning and get dressed (clothe yourselves) spiritually with an ensemble of humility. And did you also notice that this humility is to be practiced in the context of our human relationships (toward one another)? Keep in mind that Peter wrote this letter to suffering Christians who lived daily in the context of imminent suffering and intense persecution. It is the proud man who is the enemy of God. “God opposes the proud.” And isn’t that exactly what those who are depending upon their own strength to be saved are really being – proud?
Do we wake up each day and forget that it is by God’s grace we even have another day of life, let alone the power to live a holy life? Isn’t that really the default setting of the human heart? Pride will short-circuit holiness every time. We are not at the center of the universe. I am nothing but have become something because of a Savior who is everything.
We are saved by grace and kept by the same grace. God “treats as an enemy the proud.” But that verse continues “But He gives grace to the humble.” You see, humility is the key to spiritual power. As long as pride remains we short circuit the work of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to conform us to the image of Christ. Pray for humility. When you do, you can expect that God will place you into situations that will test your humility. Now that is what I call a dangerous prayer but a necessary one if we are ever to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Trying to keep the “rules” so that we earn favor with God is not redemption or a picture of grace. Instead, plant your heart in scriptures that remind you of the supernatural love of Jesus, the love that drove Him to a cross, to die a horrific death, with the words, “Father, forgive them” on His lips. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to the sin in your own heart that made you His enemy – the very sin that put Jesus on the cross. And then, revel in the FACT that if you are His child, God has placed those sins far from His sight – as far as the East is from the West. That kind of love encourages a response of humility, the same mind of Jesus, who did not look to His own interests, but to the deep need of His children for a Savior. Paul tries to capture this over powering picture of humility in Philippians and writes what actually became an early hymn of the church:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 E.S.V)
So what’s on your bucket list? How about adding, “To soak in God’s love every day, in a way that reminds me of the humility of Jesus and to live my life through the grid of His great love and humility and to ask before I even get out of bed, “How can I demonstrate the humility of Jesus today?”
In His Grip,
Dr. Chuck F. Betters
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