Friday, March 24, 2017

The Work of the Holy Spirit

INSIGHT #12 MARCH 25, 2017
First Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson
"The Work of the Holy Spirit "
March 25, 2017
 The following story was written by Lois E. Johannes and was used as an illustration to explain holiness. To introduce the story the author quoted, Psalms 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew the right spirit within me."  The story is as follows:
"Addi wasn't really her name, but it served to identify our wrinkled, little Aborigine patient. Entering the hospital, Addi straightened her slight shoulders and without so much as a glance toward the registration desk, passed all the patients waiting their turn to see the doctor, then stationed herself just outside his office door. It was evident she understood that no one enters a doctor's office while he is seeing a patient. When the door opened, she darted in, seated herself by the doctor's desk, and began a vivid description of her infirmities.
An examination suggested that she did have reason to complain but that the difficulty was not life-threatening. The doctor could correct it by a relatively simple surgery without charge to her. She was to go with her nurse to the supervisor to schedule the surgery.
Addi and the nurse left the doctor's office. Moments later the nurse returned with the information that Addi had gone home, refusing to set up a time for surgery. Before the week ended, Addi, following the same pattern, again sought the doctor's attention and received the same response. After repeating this procedure two or three times a week for a month, the doctor advised her that he was unable to do much more for her until she was willing to schedule her surgery.
Bristling, Addi left the office in a little flash of fury, only to return shortly, plop her arm on the doctor's desk, and demand, "Well, then, you can take my blood pressure!" "Her blood pressure duly checked, she left the hospital seemingly happy.
We all smiled at little Addi's naivete! But as I considered the episode, I realized that possibly I was somewhat like Addi. How many times have I prayed, "Lord, take away my unpleasant disposition, especially my hasty and unreasonable temper. Please take it away, Lord."
God responds, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you" (Eze. 36:26).
 "A new heart?" I ask. "Nothing's wrong with my heart, Lord. Why, a new heart might completely change my personality, and one thing is certain, I do want to be me! No, Lord, no new heart. Just take away this disagreeable temper."
"But God indicates He really wants to give me a new heart and a new spirit to enable me to walk in His paths with Him. Then, He says, "I shall be one of His distinctive people, and He truly will be my eternal God" (Eze. 11:19, 20). So, I can become a completely whole, yielded, victorious Christian. Yet, I've been insisting on a blood pressure check when I could have had restorative surgery!"
If we are honest, spiritually we are like Addi. We say we want change, but all we really want is a superficial change. When the Lord says, "be ye holy," we say ok, and begin to focus on outward behavior. But alas there's no change of heart -- no transformation of mind, to the mind of Christ. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, says Jeremiah. Therefore only the Lord can perform such an operation. How does He do it? To answer this, let us first look at God's character. 
According to Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2 and Hebrews 12:9, 10, "'God is holy'." The Scripture further states that the Law is Holy; this should not surprise us since the Law is merely a transcript of God's character. Unfortunately many of us look at the law as a list of do's and don'ts. So we think being holy is comprised of engaging in the do's and avoiding the prohibited don'ts. Yet in the Gospels, Jesus asked a young man, how do you define the law, to which the man responded, all the law is predicated on love – love supremely to God, and then to man as we love ourselves. The apostle John went on to say in I John 4:8 that God is love; meaning that His nature or essence is Agape, and that if we do not love, it's because we do not know God. Paul describes this self-denying love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 --
"Agape suffers long, and is kind; Agape envies not; Agape vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own way, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Agape never fails."
If holiness is the essence of who God is, and God is love, then it stands to reason that I Corinthians 13 also describes holiness. Lastly, since love is the fulfilling of the law, and the law is holy, it then follows that love is the outward expression of inward holiness.  
How can we love as God loves? According to Romans 5:5, the Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts. In the Old Testament, the Lord expressed this to His people by telling Jeremiah, "I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33). And through Ezekiel, He said that He will put His Spirit upon His people, and give them a new heart. The old natural heart cannot produce holiness no matter how much effort is put forth. Only the reception of the holy "living" law inscribed in our hearts can make us holy.
For this reason, let us not hinder the Holy Spirit's work by resisting what He has already promised to do. With great heart-felt appreciation, let's thank and praise the Lord for all He has done, is doing, and will do. Let us yield to 'this' work, trusting that He will do a thorough job transplanting a new heart in us. This procedure is of the greatest importance being both a somber yet delicate undertaking; therefore, let us rest in the hands of the Great Physician.

~Raul Diaz