DELIVERED FROM THE POWER OF SIN

Acts 1:8 – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses.

The power which the Lord is promising comes from heaven’s authority. That authority was given to proclaim the good news of the gospel of the kingdom. It is an authority to live a life above sin. It is an authority to set captives free from Satan’s control. In Acts 1:7, the KJV uses the word “power” from the Greek word, exousia, which means “authority”. In Acts 1:8, the Greek word for power is “dunamis,” where we get our English word “dynamite.” The Lord is giving His disciples delegated authority which comes from His Father.

Many have the idea that the benefits of receiving the Holy Spirit are limited to being born again and going to heaven. Jesus makes it clear that receiving the Spirit is so much more. The Spirit of God brings “authority” and “power” to live a life of victory over Satan’s control through sin and darkness. As we walk in the light, as Christ is in the light, we walk in delegated authority to live out His life presently and release that life to others. The Lord has delivered us from the “authority” of Satan, his kingdom of darkness, and the power of the enemy through sin.

As we have seen previously, we were set free from the “penalty” of sin. That freedom began in our spirit when it was regenerated by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. See Titus 3:4. Today we are learning that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be free from the “power of sin” in our daily walk. Sin takes root in the areas of our intellect or human reasoning, imagination, memory, affection, and conscience. It is a daily battle to bring our reasoning into alignment with God’s word. Paul instructs us to cast down imaginations that exalt against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Hurts and wounds of the past are stored in our memories. Unclean images can also be stored in the memory of our mind. Have we set our affections on earthly realms or things above, as Paul admonishes in Colossians 3:2? If we do not deal with sin daily, it is possible for our conscience to become seared and fail to work on behalf of godliness. See Hebrews 9:14; 10:22.

Today, receive the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life free from the power of sin. Let us choose to walk in the authority the Lord has given to every believer. In our daily walk, let us choose His kingdom rule over our soul, mind, emotions, and will.

Father, I choose to be an over-comer in my daily walk. I receive the authority and power that You have made available through Christ Jesus the Lord. Thank You for power to overcome the enemy, to allow the Holy Spirit to rule in my life, and to minister Your victory to others day by day.

NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL

Matthew 26:39 – My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will, but as You will.

This passage is the clearest picture mankind has of absolute surrender to the will of God. This is the turning point leading away from Adam’s rebellion, insisting on his will and not God’s.

Christ, whom Paul calls “the Last Adam,” fully fulfills God’s redemptive purpose for humanity. Jesus, chose to lay aside His will for the will of God. Once and for all He made it possible for the one who puts their faith in His redemptive work, to be able to do the same as He did. Our minds, emotions, and will have been liberated to fully surrender to God the Father.

Peter stood strong before the religious leaders that wanted to kill the disciples. Peter chose the will of God even in the face of death. One of the Pharisees named Gamaliel gave sound counsel to the group of religious leaders saying, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (Acts 5:33-39).

Because of what Jesus accomplished for mankind, setting our will against God’s will becomes a much more serious matter. Gamaliel’s counsel is good counsel for us as well. We never want to find ourselves setting our will against the Lord’s. When we do, we are fighting against God. Later, the disciples found themselves in need of help in caring for the needs of the people. They made a determination to appoint seven men full of the Holy Spirit to serve the people and their needs. They willed to do the will of God and to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4-6).

Paul declared, “I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!” (Acts 21:13-14). Here is another example of choosing God’s will over one’s own will and the will of friends. The elders of Ephesus tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but Paul felt that He had heard from God. They came to the conclusion that they should become silent concerning the matter, and acknowledged that God’s will be accomplished.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that’” (James 4:13-16).

Father, teach me and empower me each day to say, “If the Lord wills.” Help me to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit.

DO NOT LOSE HEART

Galatians 6:9-10 – Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

One of the most often encountered problems in the lives of God’s people is the loss of hope. Many times, I hear people say, “I have tried, but it does not seem to help.” Discouragement tries to find its way into the heart. When it does, it opens the door for unbelief. Unbelief is not just an attitude of the mind, but is a stronghold of the heart.

The writer of Hebrews establishes principles that will help to keep the believer strong in their heart when he says, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:22-25).

To keep our hearts from discouragement, we must be in regular fellowship with the Lord. “Draw near with a sincere heart.” Next, as we draw near to the Lord, come with a “full assurance of faith.” Come to the Lord with His word fresh in your heart and mind. Allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse you constantly, making sure your “conscious is clean.” Remind yourself of your baptism when you died with Christ. We must “hold fast” our confession that originally brought us to hope. The challenges of the Christian walk can cause some to “waver.” If one does waver in their faith, the enemy gets an upper hand.

“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). The key to strong faith and not losing heart is staying focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we remind ourselves of what Christ endured in His human life, we are strengthened and able to press forward in our own walk. I find that when I reach the point of giving up, I am about to encounter a breakthrough. When my back is up against the wall, I know that the Lord is ready to help.

Father, I ask You to help keep my heart from discouragement by drawing close to me as I regularly fellowship with You. I come to You with a sincere heart. I come with full assurance of faith. Help me to be disciplined in Your Word that it will be fresh in my heart and mind. Thank You for the blood of Jesus that cleanses me constantly and gives me a clean conscious. My confession is Your victory in Christ.

EXAMINING OUR HEARTS

Jeremiah 17:9-10 – The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

The Word of God spoken through Jeremiah His prophet is a beginning point for our understanding of the heart. There are many verses before Jeremiah’s statement we could examine, but these Scriptures go to the depth of the human problem and God’s dealings with mankind.

David, as a young man, treasured God’s word in his heart. “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:11). David understood his need to get the Word of God into the deepest area of his life, his heart. Many are aware of what God’s word declares, but have not treasured the word by memorizing and meditating on the Word.

Solomon exhorts us in Proverbs 3 concerning the heart. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” How could I ever say it better? This is the Holy Spirit speaking through Solomon.

Consider verse 3: “do not let kindness and truth leave you.” I call these the “twin sisters.” Both heart and mind are tied together. One can be so into the mind they are unkind in the application of truth. On the other hand, one can be so kind, they are kinder than God. God’s kindness never violates His eternal truths. The human danger is to be led by our emotions and not by the eternal truth of God’s Word. For some, they become legalistic in the application of God’s word and death is produced rather than life. God is always redemptive in His purpose. We too, need to be redemptive in our dealings with people.

The disciples of Jesus were arguing among themselves to which of them might be the greatest. “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great’” (Luke 9:46-48). There are so many New Testament Scriptures about the heart, this is one of my favorites. It captures the problem and the solution of our heart condition. Today, meditate on Jesus’ words to His disciples and see what the Lord reveals to you.

Father, help me to let go of any high mindedness that is in my heart and receive in Your name, a heart of humility toward others.

THE HEART IS THE SEED BED OF THE EMOTIONS

Jeremiah 11:20 – But, O Lord of hosts, that judges righteously, who tries the feelings and the heart.

In the KJV, the word for feelings is “reins” and means the innermost feelings. The Jeremiah passage is dealing with judgment. The prophet is crying out to the Lord, who is the only one that looks at a matter righteously. It is God alone that can see the intent of the heart, the motives of an individual, the very “seed bed” of what drives a person. The word “emotions” is not used in the Scriptures. As we read the Scriptures, we become aware that when we read about feelings and the heart it is referring to one’s emotions.

“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9). The King James Version translates the word feelings as “heart.” When we speak of having “empathy” for another person, it is because we can relate to what they are going through. The Lord is gracious to make room for this area of our soul. The Lord Himself is moved in His feelings and His heart, (emotions). When Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah on behalf of his nephew Lot, the Lord was moved Abrahams intercession (Genesis 18). Moses, as he interceded on behalf of rebellious Israel, moved God’s heart to repentance, that He would not destroy the children of Israel.

The greatest picture of the Lord’s heart and emotions is seen in the life of Jesus. Many times in the Gospels it is recorded that He was “moved with compassion.” God’s healing; His deliverance, His forgiveness, and His redemption come from the “seed bed of His emotions” toward mankind. Man, because of the evil in his heart, questions the motives of God saying, “If God is love, why does He permit evil and tragedy in the world?” In their hearts, they are blind to the “kindness” of God. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4-5).

The subject of human emotions is large. In our next devotion, we will look deeper into this major area of our soul life. As we put on the mind of Christ and think like Jesus, our emotions will be freed to be filled with compassion and kindness while maintaining a strong knowledge and wisdom of God’s word and how to apply it.

Father, I confess that my human emotions take over at times and I am not led by Your Holy Spirit, but by my own feelings. I surrender my emotions to You. I ask that my feelings would be more controlled by the Holy Spirit. Help me to bring together my mind and my emotions in a better way and be more fully led by Your Word and Your Spirit.

THE SOUL INCLUDES MIND, EMOTIONS, AND WILL

Mark 12:30 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

In Mark 12:30, Jesus covers four areas in which we are to love the Lord our God. The heart would speak to the emotions. The soul would speak to our whole being. The mind would cover our intellect and strength would cover our will. In the next few devotions we will address the mind, emotions and will as critical areas of the soul which the Holy Spirit desirers to dominate for the kingdom of God.

When we speak of the mind, we are speaking of the intellect. From one’s childhood, mindsets are established in one’s thinking and reasoning. All begin with the natural man whose thinking and reasoning is affected by family up-bringing, education, and life experience. For many, by the time they come to the Lord, their mindsets are well established and changing of one’s mind becomes a great challenge. This is why it is so important to give one’s self to the study of God’s eternal word. The word of God “washes” our mind and removes the abuse that has taken place over the years. Paul instructs the church, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15). God’s purpose in the new birth is not exclusively to get us to heaven, but to give us the capacity to discern or appraise spiritually. Paul goes on to say in the 16th verse, “We have the mind of Christ.” Daily, we can give up the natural mind of man and activate the mind of Christ. His mind is in us by the work of the Holy Spirit. All the potential of Christ’s mind is in our spirit. Through God’s word and through God’s dealings in our life, we learn to surrender our natural mind and receive His.

Years ago my spiritual father taught me to pray, “Help me to see things from Your point of view. Help me to see from heaven’s perspective.” One day the Lord challenged me by asking, “Do you believe I am answering your prayer”? I said, “Yes I do.” He then instructed me to receive the things He was showing me and not to argue or think they were merely my thoughts. He said to me, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

The “spiritual man” receives from the Spirit of God. Our mind, that is, our intellect, is to be dominated by Christ. Paul, the apostle was one of the most educated men of his day, but he had to surrender his education to Christ and as he said, “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:7-9). Is it your highest goal to gain Christ?

Father, today I commit my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength to you. Give me heaven’s point of view in all that I do and fill me with Your love through the Holy Spirit’s power.