I recently attended the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Church Leaders in January. Let’s just say it was needed. Very needed. The Lord in his grace exposed much in my own heart as it related to my own resistance to the Spirit’s work in my life. The fact the conference says “pastors and church leaders” shouldn’t be a deterrent for you. I think you would benefit greatly from the abundance of wisdom God provided through the sessions, all of which are freely accessible here.
Don’t resist the Spirit. This was the constant refrain I continued to notice as the conference went on. By resisting the Spirit I mean…
Don’t resist the convicting work of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit of God is the most profound gift the Lord has given to us as his people. One of the greatest ways we are gifted by the Spirit is through his convicting work. The Spirit works in us as a spotlight exposing the internal sins of our thoughts and desires to us. This can be a painful experience. Many of us (myself included) are so focused on the difficulty of conviction that we miss the benefit of it. The convicting work of the Spirit is a profound gift from God. It exposes the accurate view of who we are so that God can begin his redeeming work of moving our desire for that sin out and moving a greater dependence on the Spirit in.
Thankfully, even the way God convicts us is gracious. If the full weight of our sin was unfolded before us simultaneously, we in our weakness would not be able to bear it. So, he exposes and reshapes little by little as we grow in grace.
Don’t ignore the prompting to pray.
One of the quickest ways you and I can resist the Spirit’s work is to ignore the prompting to pray. This can be ignoring the opportunity to pray for others or yourself. It can be ignoring the opportunity to praise and worship God through adoring him or expressing your gratitude. We can also be ignoring the prompting to pray by dismissing opportunity to confess sin directly to the Father in prayer.
Think about this for a moment: What form of evil would prompt you to pray? No sinful desire of your body or mind will prompt you to pray. No demonic influence will prompt you to pray. Evil turns us away from God not toward him. Any opportunity you and I are presented with to pray is an opportunity presented to us by the Spirit’s power. Don’t resist it, enjoy it! Perhaps the reason praying out loud feels awkward to you is because you have resisted consistently the opportunities God has given you to practice.
Don’t forget where the power comes from.
We are notoriously forgetful. What I mean is we consistently entertain thoughts in our minds to take credit for the work God accomplishes through the Spirit. I have been reminded through God’s grace how often I am prone to trust in my own ability to do something the Lord has called me to. Serving my wife, being a dad, fulfilling the responsibilities of my job are all things that may come to mind for you as well, but what about even small things like learning.
”Everything you know about God is due to the work of the Holy Spirit.” -Sam Storms
Think about that for a moment. Every single true thing your mind can think of or you have been taught about God and his ways is a gift imparted to you by the power of the Spirit. When we undermine the work of the Spirit through forgetting where our power lies as believers, we resist him.
The battle for dependence
Your health in Jesus is bonded to your dependence on the Spirit. Through this conference, I am reminded of how quickly I resist, ignore, and forget the Spirit’s work in my own life. I operate much out of my own power and strength instead of relying on the incredible power the Lord has poured out on me through the Spirit.
One of the most painful aspects of this convicting work was coming to grips with the fact that I rely on the Spirit substantially less than I would like to think. Yet, the greatest joy was the realization that God in his grace has not held the Holy Spirit out of reach. I have unlimited and total access. I cannot lose it and I didn’t earn it.
God isn’t shaking his head in disappointment at our resistance. He is patiently and graciously working in us a desire to tighten our grip on him so that we might experience the eternal riches and fruit of reliance. I need the Spirit desperately, so do you. May we trust in the Lord to accomplish through the Spirit far greater things in us and through us than we could ask or imagine.