David Jeremiah — A God-Inspired Life
In these messages I've encouraged you to make nine decisions that will transform your life. But behind each of these decisions is one decision that impacts all of the others, and that decision is, what will you decide to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says that Jesus came into this world to deliver us from a life of sin and selfishness and separation from God. In a very familiar verse to most of us, the Scripture says: "All of us have sinned and we have fallen short of the glory of God". But through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that barrier between our holy God and sinful man has been removed. And when we decide to put our trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life and we invite him into our hearts and our lives, he gives us a life beyond amazing, the life you've been listening to in these weeks. The Lord Jesus wants us to have that life but it cannot begin until we make that defining decision to put our trust in Jesus Christ.
So if you've been listening to these messages and you've been intrigued by the kind of motivational content of some of it, that's all well and good but you can't even start any of these things until Jesus Christ is at home in your life. If you've never accepted him, if you've never invited him into your life, let me give you that invitation today. Make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life. Ask him to forgive your sin and he's never refused to do that for anyone who comes honestly to ask. In these messages that we have been sharing, I have focused on what a life might look like if Jesus is involved, and how we might activate that life in our everyday lives. Now, there's one more decision to make. Here is the question you must answer. Will I be willing to turn my life over to the Holy Spirit, the person God has given to each of us to orchestrate this life beyond amazing? Am I willing to let him take control?
Let me suggest to you that living a life empowered by the Holy Spirit is the only way you can ever be successful as a Christian. If you've tried to sustain any of these nine characteristic traits that I have taught you over these last weeks, if you've tried to do that in your own strength, you've discovered that it's simply too difficult for you and, you know what? You're absolutely right. The Christian life is not hard. It's not difficult. It's impossible, unless the Holy Spirit is in control. In the entire history of humanity, only one person has lived a perfect life. That person is Jesus Christ. But you may be amazed to discover that even Jesus Christ did not live that life by his own power. Though he was one with God in power in heaven, to be a complete and perfect human, the Scripture says that for the years he was on this earth, he voluntarily laid aside the independent use of his divine attributes so that he could identify with us in every way.
So guess what? While he was on this earth, he lived by the power of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. One day, Jesus told his disciples, "The words that I speak to you I do not speak of my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me, he does the work". Jesus lived and thought and worked and taught and conquered sin and won victories for God in the power of that same Spirit who lives within all of us, the Spirit whom all of us may have if we will accept his control of our lives. Well, you say, "Pastor Jeremiah, how do I do that? I'm a Christian, I know that I'm saved, I know I'm on my way to heaven. I know my sins are forgiven, but I have these things in my life that I've tried to get my arms around and I never seem to get victory over them. It's really frustrating. If there's something I'm missing out on, please tell me".
Well, I just wanna tell you, you're not missing the Holy Spirit. He lives within you. But you may not be appropriating him properly or allowing him to have control in your life. And if that's true, you will never be able to live the life beyond amazing with any consistency at all. There are certain things that you are going to have to recognize and realize if you want that edge in your Christian experience. Living a life engaged with the Holy Spirit. I hope that, as you've listened to these messages and heard me talk about all the possibilities to be a person of love and joy and peace and a person that has integrity and a person that has self-discipline, I hope if you listened to all these things, that you found within your own heart a hungering and thirsting after this and saying, "I want that to be true of my life".
Well, I wanna tell you again that that's one of the most critical things that you can have, and that's a desire. The Holy Spirit takes up residency in our hearts the moment we believe but we do not at that moment instantaneously become a fully mature Christian. It takes time for the fruit that the Spirit brings to ripen and become visible in our lives. And we have to do our part and here's the first thing we have to do. We have to desire the Holy Spirit to be in control. You say, "Well, that seems kind of, I mean, why would you say that? Wouldn't anybody desire the Holy Spirit"? No, we don't. Let me tell you where many Christians and I think if I could quote people that I've read and if I could look down into the hearts of people that I've met, way too many Christians get saved and the only thing they care about is that they're not going to hell and they're going to heaven and now they're gonna do their own thing all the way through life.
If you said to them, "Do you want more of God? Do you want more of the Spirit's control in your life"? Many people would say, "So what does that mean"? And then when you start talking about what God may do in their lives, they back away and say, "You know, I'm cool. I'm great". And many of them will say, "Don't bother me with all that stuff. I know I'm saved. I know I'm going to heaven. And I'm confident of that and I'm comfortable with that, and that's all I want. I'm not into all of this," and they think, really, walking in the Spirit is some kind of over-the-line, out-of-control walk. The Bible says if you want the Spirit of God to control your life, if you want his power source turned on, you have to desire it. At the climax of one of Israel's festivals, Jesus stood up in the temple and he said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink".
And if you read the next verse, you find out he was talking about the Holy Spirit. In another passage, Jesus said, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him"! Both of these passages indicate the same thing. We have to desire the Holy Spirit to control us. We have to thirst for his direction in our lives. The direction to the destination and the power to get there but the decision to continually drive forward to the correct... How many of you know when you get in your car, they haven't done this yet, at least, they're working on it. You don't turn on the ignition, punch the GPS system and then sit back and fold your arms and the car takes you where the GPS system says it's gonna take you? That doesn't work.
By the way, I have a running dispute with the lady in my GPS system. She's not always telling me the truth. Sometimes she says, "Turn right," and I know better. I'm supposed to go forward. And you know what happens when you don't follow the lady in the little box in your car? You just wait a few moments and you hear these words: "Recalculating, recalculating". And I thought to myself this week, "I wonder how many times the Spirit of God has directed me and I've gone on my own way and the Spirit of God has said, "Recalculating". One of the things I know is that God never gives up on us. We take a wrong turn, he doesn't say, "Okay, that's it for Jeremiah. He went right and I told him to go straight. I'm done with him". No, he keeps after us. He keeps recalculating and bringing our lives back. But here's the issue. The Holy Spirit doesn't do the work. He shows you what to do, gives you the strength to do it, but you have to make the decision to follow it. And if you don't, then your GPS system's worthless, and you will be lost. And you won't find your way.
So you have to ask yourself the question today, do you want these qualities developed in your life? Do you wanna be in a cooperative program with the Lord God to work out your own salvation, to work out what God has worked in? Then the Holy Spirit's gonna be involved and you have to give him control. Second, you have to denounce your sin. I love to tell people when I talk about the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit has two names and his first name is Holy. Because he is holy, the Holy Spirit cannot thrive in a contaminated environment. Ephesians 4:30 says this: "Do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way that you live". I think the New King James says: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit". And as you become sensitive to the things that you know are not pleasing to God, you don't just blow them off or you don't just excuse yourself for them, you deal with them, and you ask God to forgive you and you repent and repentance means to turn from it. It means to take a 180. You're going this way in this particular practice and God brings conviction to your heart about it and you say, "Lord God, I know this is wrong and I repent of this and I'm sorry for this". But that's not the end of it.
When you do that, you turn and you go the other direction. Repentance is not a matter of sorrow and tears and crying. Repentance means to stop doing what you're doing and start doing the right thing, to repent. And what is so wonderful about Charles Ryrie's statement is that we think what I'm talking about is some kind of subnormal or abnormal. No, this is the way that Christian life is. Someone once told me that Christian life is getting up and falling down, falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up all the way to heaven. Nobody lives a perfect life. Nobody gets there without challenges. But the issue isn't are you gonna be challenged in your life. The issue is what will you do when it happens? How will you respond to it? How honest are you willing to be before God when he puts his finger on something and he surely will if you wanna walk with him, and he'll say, "That spirit you have toward that person is wrong". Lord God, I'm sorry. "That's not enough. Go fix it".
Walking in the Spirit, not grieving the Spirit, is living a life where you listen to the Spirit of God when he puts his finger on something in your life. In 1 John 1:9 is the great encouragement that "if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Do you know that verse wasn't written to unbelievers? That verse was written to young believers, and the Apostle John said, "Listen, when you're walking along the way as a Christian and you mess up or you step in a hole or you do something you shouldn't do or you say something you shouldn't say, listen to me, here's what you need to know. If you confess your sin, he is faithful and just to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. And get back on the road and keep walking and don't stop". The Christian life is not an uninterrupted road from where you become a Christian all the way to heaven. You're gonna have some stops and some starts.
Here's the third thing: devote yourself to the Word of God. Well, what does that have to do with anything? The process of growing in Christ is impossible without this book. Did you know that nobody has ever been saved except for two things. You have to have the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Nobody will get to heaven unless the Spirit of God and the Word of God has worked in their life. That's how you become a Christian. But did you know also that once you become a Christian, nobody ever grows in their faith without the Spirit of God and the Word of God? Let me tell you how this works. If you want the fruit of love to develop in your life, read the passages in the Bible about love, 1 Corinthians 13, others. If you want to learn how to endure and have greater endurance, study the lives of men like Job or Moses. Do you wanna grow in integrity? I suggest you get acquainted with Noah and Abraham and Joseph and Hannah and Daniel and a whole bunch of others. If you do not put the Word of God on your hard drive, the Holy Spirit doesn't have anything to work with in your life.
Here's one that's tough for all of us men especially: "die to your own ambition". Not to ambition. To your own ambition. The Bible says in Galatians 5: "Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and its desires. If we live in the Spirit, we have to walk in the Spirit". We're commanded to walk in the Spirit. It's simply a matter of obedience. We must be willing to let God be God, and all God's resources will be available to us if we simply walk in the Spirit. And Paul uses this word "walk". It's very interesting. How many of you know "walk" is one step at a time? Powerful. Taking one step at a time, that's how you live the Christian life, one step at a time. Putting one spiritual foot in front of the other. Sometimes you walk into the wind, sometimes you walk with the wind at your back. No matter, regardless of what you're doing in your life, the person who is walking in the Spirit is making progress. When we let go of our ambition, we say to the Holy Spirit, "Okay, I'm gonna get off the throne of my life and I'm gonna put you there. And from now on, what you want will be what I do".
I remember a leader who was going through some real struggles in his church and he said he finally came to grips with this is how he was going to handle it. Every day when he went to work, he'd open his office and look there at the chair in his office and envision that the Spirit of God was there and he would say to the Spirit of God, "I don' know what to do with this mess; it's in your hands". And he would go someplace else and study. Those of us who have grown up in the American ethic know that we're pushed and driven to be self-made people. We're motivated to do better and learn and be effective. All of that is well and good but you have to stop somewhere along the way and ask yourself, "Who is this for and what is this about"? And you have to ask God to give you clarity on that. No servant can serve two masters. You cannot have two CEOs in your life. You can only get to have one. And you have to make the decision. The Lord God isn't gonna make it for you. You have to decide, "Okay, I've been tooling along here in my boat with a whole lot less power than I think I should have. Maybe there's something else".
And then just stop dead in your tracks and say, "I'm gonna let God take control. I'm gonna let God run my life. I'm gonna read his Word. I'm gonna let the Holy Spirit direct me". Listen to me. God's plan for your life is better than any you can imagine. But as long as you keep holding on to your own ambitions and you wanna do it your way and you wanna do your thing and you're not willing to trust him, you will get what you can get but it will never be as much The Bible says: "Commit your way unto the Lord," listen to this, "and he will give you the desires of your heart". So ask yourself, what is it you desire and then The Spirit of God is just waiting for you to say, "Yes. Yes, take control. I'll follow your direction," and then you've got to commit yourself to do So the question is this. What do you want your life to be like? The Apostle Paul puts it very plainly: "If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, So here we are at the end of this series and here we are at the end of this message and where do we go from here? I just wanna leave you with this thought wherever you are on this journey. Many of you are Christians, have been for a long time, still looking for that power in your life to be used of God. Some of you are brand new in the faith. Maybe you've just been baptized and you're getting your start as walking with the Lord. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, just keep going. Don't quit. Keep utilizing what God gives you. Keep taking what you learn and putting it into practice. Don't just be a collector of information. I'm glad when I see you take notes but I hope you're taking notes so you can remember what the Word of God says so you can remember when you read it again what to do. The Bible says we're not to be hearers of the Word only, but doers. One of my greatest fears is that I'm a teacher of the Word of God and people come and they're more smart about the Bible than they ever were but they don't allow the Word of God to matriculate down into the everyday life that they live.
So here's what I'm saying. Just keep going. Don't quit. There's a story about a mother who had a young son who was struggling to learn to play the piano. And she thought it might encourage him to attend a concert of a great pianist who was visiting their city. As they were seated, the mother spotted a friend and left her seat to go speak to her. Her son, a very curious young man, took the opportunity to explore the grand music hall where this event was taking place. Soon, he wandered through a door marked "No admittance". When the house lights dimmed and the mother returned to her seat and realized that her child was missing, before she could do anything about it, the curtains opened on the spotlighted center stage and the audience gasped with a mixture of laughter and anger. When the mother saw the cause of her reaction, she gasped in horror. There at the keyboard of this grand piano sat her little boy, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star".
At that moment, the master pianist made his entrance. He quickly moved to the piano and whispered in the little boy's ear, "Don't quit, keep playing". And then the great piano master leaned over the boy with his left hand and began filling in the bass accompaniment to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". And a moment later, his right arm reached around to the other side and added a running obbligato. And when the last note sounded, the mesmerized audience stood to their feet and thundered their applause. Together, the old master and the young novice had transformed an awkward situation into a wonderfully creative moment.
And this is what God does with us. No matter how hard we try to live godly lives, our efforts always seem to come up short. But when God enters, he turns our halting music into a masterpiece. He takes our efforts, done in good faith, and he honors our efforts, but not only that, by his Holy Spirit he transformed those efforts into something beyond what we could ever do if we had the best day of our life. And that is what Paul was telling us when he wrote: "Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling". Sit down at the piano and begin to play. But don't worry, it is God who works in you both to will with his right hand and to do with his left hand what is necessary. So the indispensable key is what the master said to the little boy: "Don't quit. Keep playing".