I normally do not study in the early morning hours but I’m headed to LA for an overnight trip to see the relatives.
As I was reading this morning, one thing stood out and that is how quickly our hearts can become hardened and unable to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Blackaby described the process in a classic sense, a progression of things that you do with the subsequent steps becoming easier and easier, until you “wake up” one day and wonder how the heck this happened.
I talk about that frequently in class, how it is so important to not take the first step off the path. I know that Blackaby’s process is true because I have seen it so often, not only in the lives of others but especially in mine. Nothing like experience to learn truth.
In today’s study, he lists three points about obedience.
Resisting the Holy Spirit â€“ this is the section wherein he described the hardening of the heart as a process. One of the sentences I underlined is “the word that comes from the Holy Spirit will be difficult”. Isn’t that true. It’s difficult because, regardless of my words, most of the time I really just want to do what I want to do.
Grieving the Holy Spirit â€“ he used a passage from Ephesians to illustrate the results of disobedience. Eph 4:30 warns us not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God”. The context of this is an exhortation of how to live in verses 25-29. I think this is where most people “err” in the way they look at sin, morals, good and God.
Oftentimes, we look at sin as a list of rules that we can either follow or break. This view of sin enables us to justify our behavior using comparative methods to those around us. In effect saying, hey, I’m not breaking as many rules as that guy, therefore I’m better and I’ll be the one headed to heaven.
Another way we look at sin is as a set of moral principles or compass. By viewing sin in this manner, we can always fall back on the “try harder” mantra, hey, I didn’t do so well this week but I’ll try harder next time. By using this method, we never need to change our ways because there is always tomorrow, always another chance to follow the path. Many times we confuse this with good character.
What I need to understand is that sin has nothing to do with rules or a compass. Sin is about my relationship with my Creator. Sin is betrayal, pure and simple. Betrayal hurts my Father, my Creator. Blackaby’s line is “to know that every time I sin, God views it as a rejection of Him personally”.
- Don’t Quench the Holy Spirit â€“ the NET translates 1 Thess 5:19 “Do not extinguish the Spirit”. Once again, we turn to the condition of the heart. The parable Jesus uses in Matthew 13 of the sower is the ultimate explanation of this. We must have open, fertile hearts if we expect the Word to take root and grow.
As I mentioned earlier, there are examples of the way to live as Christ all through the Bible.
Ephesians 4:25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
26â€“27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angryâ€”but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
31â€“32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.