Devotional | The Power of The Spirit
“The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!” (Romans 8: 4-6 MSG)
During His time on earth, Jesus embraced everyone: Samaritans, Jews, men, women, little children, sinners, soldiers, tax collectors, fishermen... the list is endless. None of the ordinary and extraordinary people, who came to Him for healing, council, teaching, or blessing, were rejected. In fact, there was only one group of society who rubbed Him up the wrong way. Far from being the worst of humanity, these were the crem de la crem of the neighbourhood, teachers of God’s law: Pharisees. Jesus went so far as to criticize them openly,
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27 NIV)
The Pharisees were great at following rules.They strictly adhered to every element of God’s law, but their good behaviour did not amount to righteousness. Their hearts were ‘unclean’, rotten, dead. Striving for holiness only exacerbated their condition. Their obsessive rule-keeping did not facilitate heart transformation, and, whilst “man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NASB). Throughout His teaching, Jesus shifts focus from outward behaviours to inner attitudes. For example:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28 NIV)
God desires a purity of heart unattainable through human effort, a sanctification that can only be achieved through the power of the Spirit. When we received the Holy Spirit, he set to work, changing us from within, healing our hearts, fashioning us into the likeness of Jesus. All we need do now is follow His lead. By shifting our focus from our own efforts to the power of the Spirit and putting our faith in His ability, we will access transformation from the inside out.
Why is it then, that so often as Christians, we return to religion to keep us in line, like a dog to vomit, reducing Christianity to a list of legislature, keeping God at a safe distance?
A few months ago, I overheard a conversation about beauty. A girl was discussing with her friend how she felt that God had called her, for a season, to stop wearing make-up because she used it as a mask to hide behind. You can imagine my surprise when the Holy Spirit interrupted my thoughts to tell me to start wearing make-up regularly! I couldn’t believe my ears. Before that day, I rarely wore make-up because I was afraid of my desire to get attention and notice from men. I decided that, because I had such evil intentions, I should avoid cosmetics like the plague. Fair enough, right?
Wrong, actually. Believe it or not, this seemingly noble decision was in fact, an huge error. Spotting a heart issue, which, as we just read, the Bible states needs ‘deep healing’, I instead, chose to manage the damage using behaviour modification. This enabled me to pretend to myself that the problem was solved and enveloped me in a false halo of holiness. I was a whitewashed tomb with a stinking corpse inside. Refusing to wear makeup didn’t alter my desire for attention, it simply limited my opportunity of receiving it. I was unchanged underneath. By telling me to wear makeup, the Holy Spirit was forcing me to bring the hidden darkness and decay within out into the open, so that He could bring His healing. I love you Holy Spirit. Only you can change me!
Is there anything in your heart that carries a deathly odour? Are there hidden desires, struggles and shame that you’ve buried in a whitewashed tomb? It’s time to take out the trash and present it to the Holy Spirit so that He can pour His healing love upon it. Why not ask Holy Spirit now if there's anything hidden that needs bringing into the light?