“It is God who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13 (NKJ)
Last week, we focused our study on Pentecost and the person of the Holy Spirit. It is through His presence that we are empowered for service to the Lord. The work that has been entrusted to us is destined for success because of the Holy Spirit working within us (Phil. 1:6). If this success is underwritten by the Holy Spirit, why aren’t we Christians experiencing greater victory in our personal lives and ministries?
The key to unlocking the gift of the Holy Spirit is our willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Yes, I said cooperate. To cooperate means to work or act together toward a common end or purpose. It also means to acquiesce willingly. Cooperation is critical in every endeavor a person may attempt. Let me illustrate the importance of cooperation with the following illustration. You have recently received your pilot’s license. You have been trained in the areas of aeronautical engineering, flight routing, and are familiar with all the information manuals and charts. However, if you refuse to cooperate with the air traffic controller and the air tower, you are doomed to crash. The Holy Spirit is our “controller.” We must work with Him to insure spiritual success. How do we impede His work?
By grieving the Spirit. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph. 4:30, ESV) That which causes sorrow in the Holy Spirit is sin in the life of the believer. In Ephesians 4:29 and 31, Paul itemizes some of the sins that grieve the Holy Spirit—corrupt communications, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice. While many believers would classify only those grosser iniquities as sin, God mentions matters of the mind and spirit as well as those of the body.
By resisting the Spirit. “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51) To resist, in Greek, is translated antipipto which means to “oppose.” In Stephen’s defense speech, he chronicles the history of the Jewish people from Abram to Christ—a history marked by consistent refusal to follow the instruction and leadership of God. Stephen called the Jewish leaders “stiff-necked.” This term originated in ancient Israel where the farmers would plow their fields by using oxen. If the ox didn’t want to follow the guidance of the farmer it would stiffen the muscles in its neck thereby making it impossible to guide the ox where it needed to go. We resist the Holy Spirit when we refuse to follow His guidance.
By quenching the Spirit. “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, Paul gives final instructions concerning holy living. In verses 16-18, he addresses individual believers’ personal life before God; verses 19-22 focus on life in the assembly of believers. “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” references the Holy Spirit as a burning presence within individuals. In particular, it is the impartation of spiritual gifts to individual believers to edify and strengthen the local church. Refusal to uses one’s gifts and talents quenches the Spirit, thereby snuffing out the church’s ability to accomplish its purpose (Matt. 28:19).
I’d like to close by returning to the earlier piloting illustration. As the pilot, you may be assigned to “fly” your individual plane but it is the air traffic controller who “rules” the space in which your plane must operate, both in the air and on the ground. The air traffic controller knows the conditions ahead of you, the obstacles you may encounter, and your final destination, including you ETA—estimated time of arrival. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit is much like piloting a plane—you need to understand who really is in control. If you find yourself grieving, resisting, or quenching the Holy Spirit, seek forgiveness and then resolve to let Him guide your life. Learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit today. Happy landing!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. We resolve to cooperate with His leading and pledge obedience to the guidance He provides. Lord, forgive us when we act like stiff-necked oxen. We gladly receive your yoke which is easy and your burden which is light. It is in the name of our risen Savior that we pray. Amen