Living out a spirit-filled life is a commitment that a believer must make. Although he carries the fountain of life within himself, there are two things that can hinder the working of the Holy Spirit, says Pastor Bobby Chaw.
Over the weekend of Oct 19 and 20, City Harvest Church’s Executive Pastor Bobby Chaw preached the third instalment on the Holy Spirit. He reminded the congregation that the Holy Spirit is pneuma, or breath: He is omnipresent, omnipotent and unrestrained. Only the Holy Spirit can give believers a new life, that they may be born again (John 3:8).
Quoting John 7:37-39, he preached that believers carry within themselves the fountain of life, and then he explained how they can experience the continuous flow of life and power.
Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:25 that “If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit.” To walk in the spirit, said Pastor Bobby, means being led and directed by the Holy Spirit. He also provided an interesting image of how a person should be directed by the Holy Spirit, drawing a contrast between being drunk with wine, and being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
When a person is being dominated by alcohol, the presence of alcohol in his body and blood system overrides his normal abilities and actions. Likewise, believers filled with the Spirit come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Instead of doing what they want or know, they are guided by the Holy Spirit to accomplish things beyond their imagination.
The early church was described as people who were uneducated and untrained. But yet, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they were known to have turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
Jesus was also fully dependent on the Holy Spirit in His life and ministry. In Luke 4:1-2, He fully obeyed and followed the Spirit into the wilderness. Often, Christians are more than happy to have “mountaintop experiences” with the Holy Spirit, but they are much less enthusiastic about being led into the wilderness. However, after 40 days, Jesus eventually returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14).
According to Paul, “We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The phrase “be filled” shows that this is not a suggestion, but a command to all believers.
“Anything short of walking and living a spirit-filled life is less than God’s plans and purpose for the believer,” declared Pastor Bobby.
He told the story of John Sung, arguably China’s best-known evangelist. A brilliant student who chose to live fully for the Lord, Sung threw all his academic awards and diplomas on the ship back to China, a symbol that he refused rely on his achievements and abilities anymore. Over a span of 10 years, John preached the gospel and converted 100,000 people to Jesus Christ. He went on to become one of the greatest evangelists of the East, and is today remembered as the John Wesley of China.
Pastor Bobby asked the congregation if they would be willing to fully surrender to the Holy Spirit, “because that is when you experience the power coming upon your life.”
In John 7:37-39 (NASB), Jesus said that the fountain of life is in the believer. Every single day, believers carry within themselves a fountain—the Holy Spirit—out of which springs forth living water. Yet, people go from conference to conference, seminar to seminar, looking for the fountain of life.
“I am here to tell you, that the fountain of life is in you,” said Pastor Bobby. “And the question is ‘If the fountain of life is within us, then why don’t we experience the continuous flow of life and power?”
In Paul’s epistles, he mentioned two things that hinder the Holy Spirit.
DO NOT GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
The first barrier is when the believer grieves the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit loves His people (Romans 15:30), and will never forsake them, even when they cause Him pain. According to Ephesians 4:30, any action that is inconsistent with the nature of the Holy Spirit grieves and hurts Him.
“When we know His nature, we prevent ourselves from grieving Him,” preached Pastor Bobby, going on to explain that the Holy Spirit is four things:
He is the spirit of truth (John 14:17). Peter asked Ananias in Acts 5:3, why Satan had filled his heart that he had lied to the Holy Spirit – for Satan is full of lies, but the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.
Sometimes, people present a different side of themselves when attending church on Sundays, but live another life for the rest of the week. However, walking in truth means to live consistently, and not having anything to hide.
He is the spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13). Lack of faith, which comes in the form of unbelief, worry and fear, grieves the Holy Spirit. It is inevitable that believers encounter these feelings from time to time, but it is important not to abide in them.
Pastor Bobby called for the congregation to embrace the wild side of the Holy Spirit, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7).
He is the spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29). Pastor Bobby shared the testimony of a middle-aged foreign student from School of Theology. She found herself staying in a dormitory with younger classmates and faced many differences which arose from vastly different lifestyle habits. The woman was unhappy every day, and even request for a change of room but to no avail. Several weeks later, her blood pressure shot up, and she fainted during school.
Seeing the gravity of her situation, Pastor Bobby decided to preach a sermon about forgiveness. “The way to experience healing is to forgive and give thanks,” he explained. True enough,the message brought such conviction to the student that she started crying, finally released her bitterness and forgave her classmates. After that, she was healed of her health problems and even became good friends with her classmates. “It is not the environment, but the attitude of the heart,” explained Pastor Bobby.
The Holy Spirit is the spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4). Apostle Paul reminded the church that a believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and each is called to glorify God in his body and spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). When it comes to getting rid of sin, believers are also commanded to be ruthless, urgent and decisive (Mathew 5:29-30).
Pastor Bobby shared about Kathryn Kuhlman, a preacher who was used powerfully by the Lord to heal thousands during her services. However, her ministry started faltering after she entered a wrongful relationship with a married man.
“The conviction of the Holy Spirit was unbearable,” wrote Kuhlman, who eventually made the decision to leave the man. The day that she surrendered her relationship to Jesus, she was filled with the Spirit and went on to hold powerful meetings.
Pastor Bobby reminded the congregation that even if they have stumbled, they can make the decision to repent and obey the Lord.
DON’T QUENCH THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Bible describes the Holy Spirit as a fire. Quenching the Holy Spirit is thus similar to extinguishing fire. This can come in many forms, such as criticising and slandering the Holy Spirit, and being ashamed of the manifestations and workings of the Holy Spirit.
Another way of quenching the fire of the Holy Spirit is failing to add fuel, which is essential to keep the fire burning. As such, praying, worshipping and attending church is powerful, because they add fuel to the fire.
“When you feel like staying at home, and not come to church or go to cell group anymore, but you get up and go to church, you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice to God,” said the pastor.
At the end of the service, Pastor Bobby led the congregation through a corporate prayer, to get out of their old lives and come into the new life, abide in the Holy Spirit, and for the Holy Spirit to fill them with His presence, power and grace.