1) Salvation is more than just being saved from Hell
God has a much greater purpose for my life here on earth and into eternity.
John 10:10 (Jesus said) … I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind—God prepared this for those who love Him.
2) Man is a unique creation of God
God set man apart and put His spirit into him.
Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The entire animal kingdom was created by God. However, the animal kingdom is limited in scope, and without a “spirit”. God breathed into man alone His “breath of life.”
Genesis 2:7 Then theLord God formed the man out of the dust from the groundand breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.
3) The problem started with Adam and Eve
God gave a commandment (a law), which they disobeyed. As a result of their disobedience, sin and death entered into the world.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.
The Bible describes God as: Loving, Perfect, Sovereign, Faithful, Holy, Just, Merciful, Forgiving. He can do no wrong. He cannot lie. He never changes. He is totally trustworthy.
Satan portrays God as someone who cannot be trusted, nor counted on to do what is in my best interest. Satan’s lie is that I can obtain peace, happiness, satisfaction, joy and lasting pleasure independent of God. (the “root” problem of humanity). It is critical that we understand God's character and His trustworthiness.
The joy and peace that God intends for me is only possible in companionship with Him.
John 14:27 (Jesus said) “… My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.…”
Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
4) Not everything an unbeliever does is evil
An unbeliever can do many good things from man’s perspective. The problem is that man cannot do good that measures up to God’s perfection.
All that man does is blemished, distorted, and falls short. God cannot accept “my best.”
Their works (fruits) have no life (eternal), are less than perfect, and cannot please God. Even their good deeds are temporary, only for this life.
Ephesians 4:18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short …
Romans 3:10-12 … There is no one righteous, not even one. … there is no one who seeks God.… There is no one who does what is good,…
Romans 8:7-8 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The human nature is pictured as a bad tree.
Matthew 7:18 (Jesus said) … neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.
My human nature can only produce artificial fruit. It may look good, but it has no life. How much nourishment would I get from eating a piece of artificial fruit? Would it be satisfying?
An unbeliever comes to the conclusion (after enough pressure) that things are hopeless and cries out to God.
Romans 10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
I need to clearly understand that I can do nothing to earn or deserve salvation. Jesus did that for me.
Salvation is just the beginning of the Christian life. “Eternal life” is not an object; it is God’s life, without end.
The “event” of salvation (my “new birth”) is just the first step in my spiritual walk with God, just as physical birth is the first step in the human experience of progressing from childhood to adult maturity.
Many Christians emphasize the event of salvation (and obviously it isn’t optional), but then fail to emphasize the importance of the Christian’s life between the experience of salvation and the departure from this body.
6) At salvation I receive the Holy Spirit and a new life with God
At salvation I was put into this position of fellowship with Him, by virtue of Jesus’ righteousness, not through my own merits.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became … for us—our righteousness,
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON!
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit …
John 16:13 (Jesus said) When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.…
Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Before (as an unbeliever), I was a guilty sinner before a holy Judge. Now (as a believer), I am a child of the Father, cared for by a divine Person, the Holy Spirit.
Note: The circular “dotted line” in the image above represents the “conditional” aspect of abiding.
7) There is good news and bad news!
Bad News! My human nature has not been changed; it still cannot produce perfect fruit. . I still have the same potential for committing sins after being saved as before.
John 6:63 The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. …
Good News! It doesn’t matter that my old sinful human nature has not been changed, because God has given me a new nature, His divine nature in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature.
MY HUMAN NATURE WAS NOT CHANGED WHEN I BECAME A CHRISTIAN.
The same sinful human nature, (depicted above as the "dark shady tree) is not the least bit improved, still incapable of producing acceptable fruit.
Galatians 3:3 … After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other,…
THE LAW EXPOSES THE CHARACTER OF MY HUMAN NATURE.
Romans 3:19-20 … because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.
My human nature is pictured as a salty spring, unable to support human life.
James 3:11-12 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.
Imagine the Law as a sign by a water hole in the desert; “WARNING! This water is contaminated and unhealthy to drink.”
8) More good news and more bad news
Good News = The Holy Spirit is permanent. He will never leave me.
John 14:16 … the Father, … will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.
Note: The Holy Spirit helps me to understand and follow Him. He should not be regarded as a Servant who waits for me to command Him.
Bad News = My human nature will not leave me until I physically die. All humans have the same sinful human nature.
9) Acknowledging Him as Lord
The Lordship decision is a submission of my will to His authority, followed by the abiding process (sanctification / spiritual growth).
Note that I not “giving up something to God” when I acknowledge Him as Lord and Master, because He already owns me. I am already His. He has bought me. Therefore, to do anything less than unconditionally yield myself to Him is to usurp authority over that which is not mine.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
He is rightfully my Lord, and I need to acknowledge and accept it. He will not “become” my Lord sometime in the future. A refusal to acknowledge God’s stated truth will result in forfeiture of blessings both here on earth and at the Tribunal of Christ.
(see Lesson 3-5 for more discussion on Lordship)
10) Abiding in fellowship with the Lord
The condition of living in fellowship with Him is called ABIDING. Everyone starts the Christian life here.
Abiding Illustration If I hold a small object and then let go of it, the force of gravity overcomes the object and it immediately falls. Think of gravity as a representation of the way in which my human nature repels me away from God and towards sin.
Now I place that object on my open palm. Because the power of my hand is greater than the force of gravity, the object can safely “rest” on my palm. The object does not fall, even though the force of gravity has not diminished.
My hand represents the Holy Spirit and the object represents me. I can confidently “rest” in Him however long I choose. That is, I can continually experience His power over my sinful nature.
This is a place of rest. This is the condition of a branch on a tree. (John 15)
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
11) Should I expect to live a sinless life?
I should continue to think of gravity as a picture of the way in which my sinful nature attracts me to fall. Do I go through the day expecting to physically fall? Of course not. Although I must always remain alert, I should not “expect” to be dominated by the sinful nature.
1 John 1:9, 2:1 … My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.
Galatians 5:16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
12) What is the Holy Spirit doing as I abide in fellowship with Him?
He is increasingly producing His fruit through my life.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
John 15:5 … “The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit,…”
He glorifies the Father through me.
John 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit …”
He is causing me to grow in spiritual maturity.
John 15:2 … and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.
Romans 12:2 … but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
He causes me to experience His joy.
John 15:11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
He is producing an eternal inheritance for me.
John 15:16 … I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain,…
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.
He is attracting others to Himself through my life.
Acts 1:8 (Jesus said) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
13) Living in abiding fellowship is “conditional”.
I still have the sinful human nature, and God will not take away my right to choose. At any moment I can choose to remove myself from the condition of “rest” (abiding), and allow my human nature to reign as my master.
Going back to the hand illustration; if I am not resting on the hand it is because I have chosen to remove myself. This has nothing to do with the issue of salvation, but rather with the fruitfulness of my life here on earth.
The Christian husband - wife relationship (or a close friend) is meant to be a model for abiding fellowship.
Ephesians 5:31-32 … a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Ephesians 4:30 And don’t grieve (offend) God’s Holy Spirit....
As a Christian I have that living water ready to flow through my life. But when I am out of abiding fellowship, the tap is turned off.
John 7:38-39 (Jesus said) The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit.…”
14) As a Christian, I can live out of fellowship and unreconciled with the Holy Spirit
If I choose to submit to the sinful nature I will find myself here, but I do not have to stay here!
I do not need to be out of fellowship with the Holy Spirit any longer than I choose to be.
Restoration to the position of abiding fellowship will take place immediately upon confession of the offense(s) for which the Holy Spirit is holding me accountable.
How can I know if I am out of fellowship (not abiding)? Usually symptoms indicate an ailing body. Similarly I should look for “on-going” spiritual symptoms of the sinful nature, such as:
- lack of peace
- sense of defeat
- addictive behavior
- critical or judgmental attitude
- other on-going symptoms?
IMPORTANT: In a healthy family the oversight of parent-child harmony is the responsibility of the parents, not the children. In the same way, the Holy Spirit oversees my abiding harmony with Him, and I need to be continually sensitive to His promptings, since my judgment is often flawed.
15) Why do some Christians live unreconciled with the Holy Spirit?
Some are unwilling to give Him authority over their lives. Do I think of myself as walking side by side with the Lord, but I am in charge (that is, He’s my Partner?). Is He just there to help me when I think I have a need? Or do I see Him as my Master, the One I follow as His servant? That is Lordship!
He doesn’t ask me to design my future and let Him fit in at my convenience. It is the other way around. He has a personalized plan and He desires for me to fit into it, if I am willing.
Some see God as the Divine 911. They call upon Him when things get out of hand. (Is God my co-pilot in case I get lost?)
Do I want God, or just His blessings?
Some think that God’s greatest priority is to make me happy here on earth! As a matter of fact He does want my happiness, but not just temporary happiness.
God wants to give me lasting satisfaction. If left on my own, I will usually accept temporary satisfaction.
Because God loves me and wants what is best for me, He will not let me be content with less than what He has planned for me, in companionship with Him. My happiness is a by-product of living in fellowship with Him. God loves me so much that He will only let me experience His true joy as I abide in fellowship with Him.
Who knows what will best satisfy me, God or me? I come into the Christian life with a perceived mental list of what is good and what is bad, what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I need to unlearn many habits and misconceptions that I brought into the Christian life, and some I’ve learned since I became a Christian. As a Christian I cannot expect God to fit into my program. He has better things, things that can only be experienced through trusting Him.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Can I do “good” spiritual deeds while living out of fellowship with the Holy Spirit? Absolutely! I can attend church services, read my Bible, pray, give money, etc.
Doing good things is no guarantee that I am abiding in Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (Paul warns us) If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
16) How to identify “Unresolved Issues”
Often, being overcome by sin is a symptom of a problem. There is a good chance that the most troublesome areas for me are symptoms and not the root problem. That is, He will not allow me to abide in fellowship with Him and have victory in one area of my life while I am consciously allowing disobedience and defeat in another area.
What is keeping me from abiding in fellowship?
Mark 11:25 …if you have anything against anyone, forgive him,…
Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.”
Matthew 5:23-24 ... First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Numbers 5:5-7 … When a man or woman commits any sin against another, that person acts unfaithfully toward the Lord and is guilty. The person is to confess the sin he has committed. He is to pay full compensation, add a fifth of its value to it, and give it to the individual he has wronged.
Unconfessed sin? (Consider “sin” to be “anything that is displeasing to the Lord.”)
Proverbs 28:13 The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.
1 John 1:9-10 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
17) Need for restoration
Yes, it is true that sin is an offence against God’s holiness. However, the greatest effect that my sin has on my relationship with God is that it disrupts my abiding fellowship with Him, and hinders Him from blessing and using me. God cannot bear His good fruit in my life while I am choosing to allow my human nature to reign.
John 15:4-5 (Jesus said) “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”
Only what is motivated by the Holy Spirit has eternal value.
King David is an example of a believer living out of fellowship for about nine months. Click here to read the story in 2 Samuel 11:1 - 12:25
God’s desire is for me to be restored to abiding fellowship quickly.
The Holy Spirit wants to reveal to me whatever disrupted my fellowship. I only need to be honest with Him and to acknowledge whatever He shows me. I must ask the Lord to show me in what way(s) I have offended Him.