There are so many believers who aim at great things, yet they find themselves settling for the lowest common denominator. They remain contented in a life of compromise when they could be experiencing the power of God. They stay in the shallow end of the Christian life when they could cross oceans. They live on spiritual junk food instead of the royal banquets.
Does this sound like you? If so, there is hope. Every believer can live the abundant life Christ promised (see John 10:10). We simply need to yield to the work of God’s Spirit in our lives.
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, the apostle Paul declares, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.”
Here, Paul was saying to the believers in Corinth, “I long to speak to you on a deep spiritual level, but you are still acting like babies! You aren’t even living by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I grieve at how true this is of so many of us today.
How often do we attempt to live the Christian life without God’s help? How often do we read the Bible without going to the Author directly? How often do pastors and church leaders go rogue in their biblical interpretation because, long ago, they grieved or quenched the Holy Spirit?
In 1 Corinthians 2:12, Paul says, “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” We have the Spirit of God Himself living within us — the same Spirit “who raised Christ from the dead” (Romans 8:11). We need to live like the world no longer.
The challenge is this: When we become born again, our sinful nature does not just disappear. The Greek word Paul uses for “the flesh” is sarx, and it refers to the old nature before Christ came into our lives. Sarx is the natural mind before Christ transformed our minds. Sarx is that sinful nature that dominated us before Christ came in. Sarx is like an automatic gate that opens up the moment the devil and the world push the button. If you’re not living in and through the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s because you have allowed your flesh to open the door, permitting the world and the devil to enter.
The Lord has given us the three musketeers to defeat the world, the flesh and the devil: (1) a renewed nature, (2) His Word and (3) His Holy Spirit. Through them, we may live victoriously, above the enemies who are trying to get us down.
So, what’s the key to living the Christian life? It’s simple. The moment-by-moment prayer of every Christian should be, “Holy Spirit, take over. I give You control.” Fill your mind with God’s Word and surrender daily to His work in your life — for He is a gentleman, and He will not take control unless you allow Him to.
Who is the Holy Spirit? He is the one who opened our blind eyes to the Truth. He is the one who helps us grow in the knowledge of God. He is the midwife who delivered you when you were born again. He is our tutor, teacher and instructor — and He is eager to give you discernment, wisdom, understanding, power, and favor with God and man. He should be your best friend — for you cannot live the Christian life without Him!
No one, when they are born again, immediately becomes a spiritual giant. We grow into that greatness by submitting day by day to the Holy Spirit of God, as we are filled day by day by that same Holy Spirit — that wind of God that can pull our sails when we ask Him to — as we live under the authority of His book.
Ask yourself these questions:·
- Have I grown in my faith?·
- Have I grown to trust God more deeply?·
- Have I grown in the Word of God over the past year?
If the answer is no, it’s OK. You can start right now by allowing these words to be your moment-by-moment petition to God: “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Have Your way in my life today.”
Michael Youssef is the founder and president of Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, a worldwide ministry that leads the way for people living in spiritual darkness to discover the light of Christ through the creative use of media and on-the-ground ministry teams (LTW.org). His weekly television programs and daily radio programs are broadcast in 26 languages and seen worldwide, airing more than 14,000 times per week. He is also the founding pastor of The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Youssef was born in Egypt, but in 1984, he fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming an American citizen. He is the founding and senior pastor of Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia. Youssef holds degrees from Moore College in Sydney, Australia and Fuller Theological Seminary in California, with a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Emory University. He is the author of 40 books. His latest book, Saving Christianity?: The Danger in Undermining Our Faith — and What You Can Do about It is available in bookstores everywhere.