Friday, May 17, 2013

We Need the Holy Spirit to Overcome Our Sins

As we struggle to overcome our carnal nature, we learn lessons. One lesson is, we cannot, of our own human power alone, overcome Satan and our sinful nature. We need God's help, and that help comes through God's Holy Spirit. We still need to make our own effort and strive with all our might (Judges 16:29-30), but it is God's Spirit that gives us the extra power we need to overcome.

The Holy Spirit helps us understand God's word. It helps us understand how to apply God's word to the decisions and choices we have to make. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). The Holy Spirit can help us see through our own rationalizations and see ourselves as we really are. It can give us the motive to desire God's will more than our own.

Yet, our evil, carnal nature remains with us in this physical life and wages war against God's Spirit in our minds, tempting us to sin. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish" (Galatians 5:17). "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin" (Romans 7:14-25).

As this war goes on in our minds over a long time, we learn more and more how evil and worthless our fleshly nature is, and how worthless we are apart from God.

No man or woman can be truly righteous apart from God's Spirit. It is God's Spirit in us that is righteous. All we can do is to choose to go where the Holy Spirit leads us.

This can be a humbling lesson to learn, but God wants us to learn that humility. "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:10-14).

It is only the power of God's Holy Spirit, added to our personal effort, that enables us to please God and live according to His will. "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Here are links to other posts in this blog related to Pentecost:

"Pentecost is Unique", published June 7, 2011, link:

"Pentecost Should Remind Us to Be Thankful", published June 9, 2011, link:

"Pentecost Helps Us Understand What the True Church Is", published May 14, 2013, link:

"Pentecost Teaches Hierarchy", published May 15, 2013, link:

"Lack of Controversy about Holy Spirit in New Testament Text - What That Tells Us", published May 16, 2013, link:

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