When you think of spiritually mature individuals, what comes to mind? As we continue in our sermon series 1 Corinthians, Timothy Ateek walks us through the miracle of spiritual growth by showing us four realities of the Spirit, the result of the Spirit, and a right response to the Spirit.
Standing Firm In A Fallen World | 1 Corinthians 16
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14
A Church Marked by Love | 1 Corinthians 13
How To Build A Church | 1 Corinthians 12
God's Design for Men and Women | 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Repentance, Allegiance & Deference for the Glory of God | 1 Corinthians 10
Giving, Sharing, and Living for the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9
Christians and Controversial Topics | 1 Corinthians 8
Being Single | 1 Corinthians 7:7-40
Fighting For Your Marriage | 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Sex and Glorifying God | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Conflict: An Inevitable Opportunity | 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Church Discipline: Sin, Grace, and Shepherding | 1 Corinthians 5
The Resurrection Is the Remedy to Our Hypocrisy | 1 Corinthians 15
The Purpose, Plot Twists, and Power of Christ | 1 Corinthians 4
Being a Healthy Church | 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
The Miracle of Spiritual Maturity | 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Priority, Preference, and Power | 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Called, Gifted, and Kept by Jesus | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
When you think of spiritually mature individuals, what comes to mind? As we continue in our sermon series 1 Corinthians, Timothy Ateek walks us through the miracle of spiritual growth by showing us four realities of the Spirit, the result of the Spirit, and a right response to the Spirit.
Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? It's good to see you. I am so excited for what the Lord has in store for us as we open up his Word again. Anytime we open up the Bible, I firmly believe we're opening up God's mouth. Anytime we gather together and study the Word of God, we should expect to hear from God, so I hope that's your expectation today.
I want to start this morning by sharing with you a goal I have. My goal is to become the GOAT (the greatest of all time) in the 41-year-old age bracket of tennis in Richardson, Texas. That's my goal. I'm just letting you know. I'm declaring it now. If you're 41 in Richardson, I'm coming for you. That's all I'm going to say.
My journey with tennis started at a really young age. My brother and I, growing up, were obsessed with Andre Agassi. If you're not familiar with Andre Agassi, I'll put a picture on the screen. That was Andre. We loved Andre Agassi, so much so that we bought his clothes. We still have his clothes. I went over to my brother's house yesterday to wear Andre Agassi's clothes.
I'm telling you, people, I have every intention of becoming the GOAT in the 41-year-old age bracket of tennis in Richardson, Texas. There is only one problem, and here's the problem: I can't hit a forehand. I lost all hand-eye coordination when I was in sixth grade. I still remember being at PE, and I was like, "Oh, it's gone." I tried to throw the ball to first. It didn't go to first. I was like, "That's it. Hand-eye doesn't work."
That shows itself in my forehand. I have tried so hard to hit a good forehand. I've watched YouTube videos. I have gone to the courts and tried to hit the ball against that wall. It just goes over the wall, but I've tried. I can't hit a forehand. Weeks ago, though, I went to the tennis courts with one of my friends, John, and the good news about John is that he was a professional tennis player, and he actually runs a tennis academy in Dallas. His expertise is teaching people how to play tennis.
So, I went to the court, and I was like, "Hey, man. I need you to know I cannot hit a forehand. It's not possible." He was like, "Well, let me just see what we're working with here." He began to hit me balls, and I began to hit the balls over the fence into the creek behind the tennis court. Mimosa Park… There are tennis balls in that creek. Those are mine. Actually, they're John's. I hit his tennis balls into the creek.
I was like, "Man, it's not possible. It doesn't work." I firmly believed that in that moment John was seeing the first person he could not fix, but he walked over to me and was like, "All right. Here's what you do. You're going to change this. You're going to hold the racket differently. You're going to swing in this way. You're just going to do this, this, and this. Try it."
Thirty minutes later, I'm telling you, people, I'm having an out-of-body experience. I'm just rifling forehand shots over the net. I mean, it was just every single one. At least that's how I remember it. Please don't go to John and confirm whether it went the way I'm saying it, but I'm telling you, a miracle happened that day, and now I can hit a forehand. That's all I wanted to tell you. We can pray and get out of here. I just wanted to share that.
The reason I do tell you that today is that what was impossible alone became possible with John. Praise God for that. One of the reasons I share that with you is because here's the reality. I want to talk this morning about how spiritual growth and spiritual maturity come about. Many people in this room… If I were to ask you, "What is your aim spiritually?" your desire is to grow in Christ. Your desire is to be a spiritually mature person. That is a very good thing, and that's a very noble thing. The question is…Do you know how that happens?
If you're not careful, you will believe the way to spiritual maturity is through spiritual activity. If we were to sit down and I were to ask, "What are the marks of a spiritually mature person?" you might tell me what you would do. You might say, "Well, you read the Bible a lot. You pray regularly. You give sacrificially. You serve faithfully." Those are all good things, but I just need you to understand that spiritual growth and spiritual maturity are impossible apart from a miracle happening in your life. It is impossible.
You can read your Bible, and you can pray, but that doesn't say anything about how spiritual you are. That just says everything about how disciplined you are. Spiritual growth, spiritual understanding, and spiritual maturity don't have nearly as much to do with what you're doing as much as they have to do with what the Spirit of God is doing inside of you. See, what is impossible alone, which is spiritual understanding, growth, and maturity, is only possible by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
If you were with us last week, the truth we established was salvation is a miracle. Period. I just want to piggyback on that this morning and say not only is salvation a miracle, but sanctification is a miracle. When I talk about sanctification, I'm talking about growing in Christlikeness, growing in your understanding of Jesus, growing in your life with Jesus. It's only possible by the Spirit of God working a miracle in your life.
So, here's what I want to do. I want to devote this entire morning to talking about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is a really important message, because the Holy Spirit is the least understood person of the Trinity. I think we understand God the Father. We pray, "Our Father who is in heaven…" I think we understand Jesus. He's the one who died for our sins and rose from the dead.
But when we talk about the Holy Spirit, we don't know what to do with it. Some people just equate the Holy Spirit with feelings, and that's not exactly what the Holy Spirit is. Other people are like, "You know what? I know the Spirit is in the mix somewhere, but I'm more comfortable with Father, Son, and the Holy Bible." That's kind of the way you operate.
So, we need to get our minds and hearts around the Holy Spirit. That's what we're going to do this morning. If you have a Bible, turn with me to 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. What I hope you understand this morning is that spiritual growth and maturity are not nearly as much about spiritual activity as they are about spiritual availability. It's you making yourself available to the work of the Spirit in your life.
We're going to walk through 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. If this is the first time you've been with us in a while, we are walking verse by verse through the book of 1 Corinthians. It's going to take us months to do, but there is something extremely sweet and rich about just opening up God's Word, reading it, understanding it, and applying it.
This will never be opinion time at Watermark. We just want to be people who faithfully study the Word of God, understand the Word of God, and live out the Word of God. So, that's what you're jumping into. We're going to break chapter 2 down. Really, here's how we're going to talk about the Spirit. We're going to understand the realities of the Spirit, the result of the Spirit, and the right response to the Spirit. Let me read you the entire chapter. Here's what it says.
"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him'—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ."
A. The Spirit orchestrates conversion. You need to remember the context of what's going on in Corinth. This is a culture that values wisdom but thinks the gospel is foolish. They value rhetoric. Orators would come to town, and people would fanboy and fangirl over them, but they thought the gospel was foolish. At the same time, the believers in Corinth were fighting.
So, they have all of these issues going on in the church. Paul's goal is to draw people back to the gospel. He's even reminding the Corinthians of how they became believers. Watch this. Here we go. Verse 1. We're just going to go verse by verse here. Paul says, "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God…" We'll find out what that is in the next verse. "…with lofty speech or wisdom."
In Corinth, they placed a high value on human wisdom. Orators and philosophers would come traveling to town. People would drop what they were doing. They would go and pay money to these orators. They would fanboy and fangirl over them. When these orators would come to town, their first trip to town was the most important one, because that's where they would establish their reputation. They would entertain dinner guests at the finest banquets, and the goal was to get people's applause.
In Corinth, they valued the delivery, at times, even more than the message. The more eloquent the person, the more status they achieved, the more powerful they became. People elevated them because of their ability to speak very eloquently. Paul is saying, "I did the opposite. I did the opposite of what culture values." He says, "I came proclaiming to you the testimony of God. I didn't come with lofty speech or wisdom."
Then he says in verse 2, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." That tells us what the testimony of God was that Paul was proclaiming. He was proclaiming the gospel, that Jesus Christ was crucified for you and me, for the sins of mankind. Here's what I want you to understand. In Corinth, they valued power and success. So, if there was a path to being right with God, it would be through power and success. It would be about intelligence. It would be about your upbringing. It would be about your achievements and success.
Paul's message is contradictory in the eyes of Jews and Greeks. His message is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the one Jews were waiting for, the one they believed would be a ruling, conquering king who would deliver them from the oppression of Rome… That Christ, that Messiah, was crucified. So, that Messiah endured the most shameful form of punishment…punishment that was reserved solely for insurrectionists and slaves.
So, Paul's message is not a message of power but of perceived weakness. The king who should have conquered was actually conquered. Paul's point is salvation is found in no one but him. So, put what I'm telling you… Put verses 1 and 2 together. Paul is saying, "I didn't do anything right. I didn't come with eloquent words. My delivery was very basic. My message wasn't one of power and success. It was a message of perceived weakness." What's the point? Nobody is taking pictures of Paul speaking and posting to their story with fire emojis. Paul isn't going viral here.
He doubles down on it in verse 3. He's like, "And I was with you in weakness…" He's building a point here. He's trying to get the Corinthians to remember how they got saved, because his point is "It shouldn't have happened. I did nothing right. Everything society values, I did the opposite. I didn't speak well. My message was weak. When I was with you, I didn't come with power and status. I was with you in weakness."
He says, "…and in fear and much trembling…" He's not talking about his countenance before people. He's talking about his disposition before God. He's like, "I came, and my aim was to please God." That was different, because the goal of the rhetoricians who would come to town was to win applause for themselves. Paul is doing everything wrong, yet in verses 4 and 5, what does he say? "…and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest…"
That word rest in the Greek means to exist or to have its being. "…so that your faith might not [exist] in [or because of] the wisdom of men but in the power of God." Do you see the argument Paul is building? He's just basically saying, "Look. I did not give you a reason to value me, yet you now follow Christ. Why? It's not because of anything I did.
But when I came to you, my trust was in the Spirit of God to move through the powerful message that Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross for your sins and for mine. And when he went to that cross, he absorbed the wrath of God that was destined for us, and through faith in Jesus Christ, the punishment that was rightfully yours fell to Jesus Christ, so that now, through the resurrection of Christ and your faith in Christ, only love, acceptance, and approval come to you."
That's the gospel message. Paul is saying, "I put my trust in the Spirit of God to do a work through my message, and as I was speaking, the Spirit of God did a miraculous work in you. The Spirit of God moved in power, and you responded to a message that the rest of the world sees as foolish. It was delivered to you in a way that people look at and say, 'That's basic; we're not following that guy,' yet you now follow Christ."
I went through all that explanation just to show you the first reality of the Spirit is the Spirit orchestrates conversion. Salvation is, in fact, a miracle. The reason you are a Christian, if you're a Christian, is because the Spirit of God convicted you of your sin, and then the Spirit of God regenerated you. That's a theological term that basically means the Spirit of God took you who were dead spiritually and made you alive. It's the idea of being born again.
God gets the credit for your conversion. Conversion is just the idea that you came to faith in Jesus Christ. He gets all the credit. If you were to come up to me after the service and ask, "Hey, TA, where were you born?" wouldn't it throw you off if I was like, "You know what? I decided to be born in Dallas"? Wouldn't you be like, "No, you really didn't. You don't get the credit for your birth. Carla Ateek gets the credit for your birth"?
It's the same thing with your spiritual birth. You're not a Christian because you heard the gospel, it made sense to you, so you chose to believe it. You're a Christian because you heard the gospel, and as you were hearing it, the Spirit of God did a miraculous work inside of you so that you could understand it and respond to it. Some of you are sitting there this morning, and you walked into this place spiritually dead, and God is speaking into your life. Something in you is realizing for the first time that you need Jesus. Do you know what's happening? The Spirit of God is working a miracle inside of you.
The second reality of the Spirit is going to take us a minute to get to. In verse 6, Paul kind of pivots and changes his thought, where he's headed. I'm just telling you, we're committed to teaching the text verse by verse, but this passage is a little clunky. It is. We're going verse by verse. We're in verse 6 now. What we're trying to do is get to verse 10, because verse 10 is where we're going to get our second reality of the Spirit, but we need to understand what Paul is saying in verses 6-9.
Paul shifts his train of thought. Just remember that Paul is railing against a culture that looks at the gospel of Jesus Christ and calls it foolish, even though they prize wisdom. Inside the church at Corinth, you have Christians who are kind of shaping their lives according to culture, and they've begun to elevate different pastors.
This is the first account of celebrity pastors. They're elevating different people, and they're like, "You know what? I only like learning from this guy." They're like, "Yeah, but this guy is actually better than that guy." Possibly, the Christians had begun to value the eloquence and the wisdom of their pastors more than the gospel itself, so Paul is going to battle here.
Here's what he says in verse 6: "Yet among the mature…" That word mature is referring to anyone who has the Spirit of God inside of them. "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom…" What's wisdom? What is Paul talking about? Well, we know what wisdom is because of chapter 1, verse 30.
Paul says, "And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…" So, when Paul says, "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom," he's talking about the gospel, the message that brought salvation, but not only salvation; it's a message that leads to sanctification.
He says, "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." Here's what Paul is saying. He's saying the gospel message, the beautiful reality, the one that will change your trajectory for all of eternity… That wisdom did not come from somewhere inside the material world.
It did not originate from one of these popular orators, going and watching the sunset while listening to the Braveheart soundtrack, and they realized, "You know what? This is where life is found." No. It wasn't due to some inspiration from some human being. It didn't come from anyone within the confines of the material world. Paul is saying the people in this world who don't value Jesus, yet value wisdom, are on their way out. They're going to pass away.
The wisdom we're talking about isn't from this age; it's from another age. He's talking about the age to come, that somehow eternity future is being pulled into the present so that eternal life isn't something that begins the day you die; it is something that begins the day you believe. You begin to taste heaven now when Jesus Christ begins to rule and reign in your life. Paul is saying this wisdom didn't come from anyone or anything here. It has come from another place.
He said in verse 7 this is something God decreed before the ages, and it's for our glory. He's saying that this wisdom is outside of time and is for our glory. Meaning, the beauty of this gospel is it's not only the thing that connects us to Jesus now; it's the thing that will get us to Jesus and make us like Jesus for all of eternity.
Then he says in verse 8, "None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." He's basically saying, "If it had come from inside the material world, then the people you think are so smart wouldn't have killed Jesus." But they did. Why? Because they didn't know he was the Lord of glory. They didn't behold Jesus' glory.
John says in John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh…" That's a reference to Jesus. "…and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…" We've seen his glory. There's a concept in the Scriptures of spiritual sight, and it's this idea that you can have eyes and yet not see. The gospel is something where people in this world can have eyes and yet not see the beauty of Jesus.
Verse 9: "But, as it is written…" This is a loose quote from Isaiah. "…What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him…" He's just saying, again, the gospel, this wisdom, is not from within the confines of this world. You can't find it just by going to Barnes & Noble.
Verse 10. This is where we were trying to get. Don't miss it. "…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit." Do you see it? This is why I need you to understand that not only is salvation, but also sanctification, spiritual understanding, spiritual growth, and spiritual maturity are only possible through the Spirit of God doing a miraculous work in your life. Remember, we're talking about the realities of the Spirit. The first reality is that the Spirit orchestrates conversion.
B. The Spirit is God and knows God fully. There's going to be a progression here, so I really need you to follow me and watch the progression. The first part of the progression is the Spirit is God and knows God fully. Look at what he says in verse 10. "For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God." Verse 11: "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?"
He's making a point. Here's his point: no one knows someone's thoughts except that person. Isn't that true? Isn't it amazing? You can be in meetings or lunches, and you can act super interested, and your mind can be somewhere else, and they would never know it. I've had people ask me before… I probably shouldn't share this. They have asked me, "Hey, are there ever times where you're speaking and, while you're speaking, you're thinking about something else?" The answer is "Yes."
There are times I can be preaching and be thinking about how good Cane's is going to taste after church. That's just full disclosure. I promise I am all in and excited about what the Spirit of God is doing in this moment, but I'm also excited about Cane's. That can happen. You would never know that unless I told you, because only I know my thoughts, and only you know your thoughts. Only God knows his thoughts, yet what the text just told us is that the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God.
Put those two together. The Spirit is God, which means the Spirit isn't an impersonal force. The Spirit is personal. The Spirit is a person. The Spirit is God and knows God fully. I have to show you this connection with Romans, chapter 11. Listen to what Paul says in Romans, chapter 11. (I hope you guys are still tracking. The theology people are like, "Yep. Dude, let's dive deeper." Some of y'all are like, "Whoa. Let's come up for air." I'm doing my best here, people.)
Romans 11. Listen to what it says. Paul says in verse 33 (you have to put these two together), _ "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?'" _ Do you know what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2? "The Spirit." He says the mind of God, the judgments of God, are unsearchable.
First Corinthians 2:10: "For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God." Romans, chapter 11: "For who has known the mind of the Lord…?" Verse 11 in 1 Corinthians 2: "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." Do you see it? So, the second reality is the Spirit is God and knows God fully. Now watch the progression.
C. The Spirit indwells every believer. In chapter 2, verse 12, Paul says, "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God…" Why? "…that we might understand the things freely given us by God." You need to know this is the most beautiful reality of your salvation. When you put your faith and trust in Jesus, God put his Spirit inside of you.
It pains me when I talk to people, and they're like, "Man, the Christian life is just so hard. I mean, I'm trying. I'm trying to be good. It's just hard." I'm like, "There's a lack of understanding. You think spiritual maturity is about you doing for God. Spiritual maturity is about God doing in you, because he lives inside of you. He has put his Spirit inside of you." Just watch the progression. The Spirit, who is God and fully understands God, actually lives inside of you. Because he lives inside of you… Here's the fourth reality of the Spirit:
D. The Spirit cultivates understanding and application of spiritual truth. This is how spiritual growth and maturity happen. This is why it's a miracle: because you need the Spirit, and without the Spirit, it can't happen. Verse 12: "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God."
In verse 13, Paul gets practical and says, "This is how it happens." This is hopefully what's happening right now at Watermark Community Church. He says, "And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting [or explaining] spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." Paul is saying this is what should happen when we get together.
Here's the hope of what's happening this morning. The hope is that I, individually, have gone and met with God, and the Spirit of God has taught me, as I've studied for this passage, and now as I speak, while I speak truth that has been given to me by God by the power of his Spirit… At the same exact time that I'm speaking, the hope is that the Spirit of God would be working inside of you, giving you a mind to understand and receive and apply. That's how it happens.
In verse 14, Paul says, "The natural person [the person who doesn't have the Spirit of God in him] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one."
All Paul is saying here is, "Look. The Christian life doesn't make sense to people who aren't Christians." It makes no sense for someone to not have sex before marriage or to choose not to live with their significant other prior to marriage. It makes no sense…unless you know Jesus. It makes no sense to not go on a business trip and do what people do on a business trip. It makes no sense for you to not do those things unless you know Jesus.
I'll just say this. If your life makes perfect sense to an unbeliever, something is terribly wrong. Something is terribly wrong if your life makes perfect sense to an unbeliever. Why? Because you have the Spirit of God in you who is making you more like Jesus, yet unbelievers believe Jesus is foolishness.
Then Paul finishes that section. In verse 16, he says, "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" In the Old Testament, the implied answer would be "No one." No one understands the mind of the Lord. Paul says, "But we have the mind of Christ." These are the realities of the Spirit. The Spirit orchestrates conversion. The Spirit is God and knows God fully. That Spirit who knows God fully indwells every believer, and because he lives inside of us, he cultivates understanding and application of spiritual truths. Those are the realities of the Spirit.
That might just sound like psychology, but that's the Bible. What does Paul say in Romans 12:2? "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…" How are you transformed? By the renewal of your mind. What you think will determine what you feel, and what you feel will determine what you do.
I was doing this with my kids just yesterday in the car. One of my kids has been struggling to make friends at school, so we just had to trace up his thoughts. We just talked about, "Hey, here's the deal. If the thought in your head is 'No one wants to be my friend,' how is that going to make you feel?" He said, "Sad."
"And if you feel sad, how are you going to act?"
He gets it. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Let me define spiritual maturity for you. If you want to be a spiritually mature person, here it is. Spiritual maturity is simply thinking how God thinks. That's it. You're like, "No, that's too simple." No, it isn't. Spiritual maturity is simply thinking how God thinks, because when you think how God thinks, you're going to feel how God feels, and when you feel how God feels, you're going to do what God does. That's it.
If your marriage feels like it's on life support, ask yourself this question: "What does God think about my spouse?" I'm not asking you what God thinks about what you think about your spouse. That's irrelevant. What does God think about your spouse? He or she is created in the image of God. He or she was bought at a price. They're deeply loved by God.
If you have a struggle with porn, ask yourself this question. Not "What does God think about me looking at porn?" That's not the question. The question is…What does God think about the men or women you're looking at? Well, he went to the cross for those people. He created them in his image so that they have inherent dignity and worth. So, to look at them just for your pleasure is to strip them of their dignity. It changes the way you think about things. That's the result of the Spirit.
The result is that spiritual maturity is possible because you have the mind of Christ, and you can think like Christ. You just need to evaluate. Look at the various areas of your life where there is sin, and just trace it up to the initial thought. If there's sin in your life, it's simply because you've failed to realize you have the mind of Christ, and you're still trying to operate with the mind of the world.
Yesterday, I was too moody as a husband and as a dad. I'm an Enneagram Four, so moodiness is kind of my jam, but still, that's not an excuse. I had to ask my wife's forgiveness. I had to ask my kids' forgiveness, just because I was off yesterday, yet I spent time reading my Bible yesterday morning. The goal is not activity; the goal is availability. I just want to encourage you to do three things. That feels like I'm giving you activities. Let me encourage you with three things.
A. Sit with him. You will be amazed at what God does in your life when you create space for him to do a work inside of you. So sit with him. Sit with his Word and read it, because you can't know God's ways without knowing his Word, but then create the space for the Spirit of God to speak to your heart. Sit and listen. As you read the Word, just stop and sit and listen and allow the Spirit of God to speak to your heart. There's no point in connecting with God's Word if you don't connect with God. How do you connect with God? By the power of his Spirit.
B. Ask of him. Here's what I mean. Ask him to show you where the gospel is not being applied in your life. Author James Wilhoit writes about the gospel not being a means of transportation but a means of transformation. It isn't just about getting into heaven; it's about getting heaven into us. I love what he says.
He says, "From personal brokenness and reflection I have come to see that the gospel is not simply the door of faith; it must also be a compass I daily use to orient my life and a salve I apply for the healing of my soul. It is in returning again and again to the cross that we receive the grace that transforms us." He says, "The key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the persistent rediscovery of the gospel. All our spiritual problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. This is true for us both as a community and as individuals."
I'll just give you an example of what this looks like in my own life. Yesterday, I told you, wasn't my best day. As I was talking to my boys in the car about fears they might have in their hearts, what I realized was I had a fear in my heart. This is just me being honest. My fear was that I was behind on my preparation for this message, so there was a fear in me that the message wasn't going to be good enough for you, so you wouldn't truly like me. I'm just being honest. I don't say that so you'll come up afterward and be like, "We love you." Don't do that. It's not why I'm telling you.
The problem was I was failing to apply the gospel. I was actually operating like an orphan who has to seek out love and acceptance. The reality is because of Christ's cross, I've been made a child of God, so love and acceptance isn't something I have to chase; it's something I just have to enjoy. I failed to realize that yesterday. When I came back to that reality, it changed everything.
C. Surrender to him. I'll explain it this way: you have to evaluate whether you expect the Spirit of God to rent or own in your life. You might know what it's like to rent. We're renting right now. We love our landlords. They go to Watermark. If you're listening right now, we love you. But renting is different than owning, because you don't have any control over what the house looks like.
There's some wallpaper that isn't our preference. There's a wall that divides the living room from the dining room, and if we had our way, I'd just get a sledgehammer and take that wall out, but I haven't. It's not my house. We moved in, and we've done with the house what we can do, knowing that it belongs to someone else. But we've owned, and my wife has watched enough HGTV to make that house her own.
So, you're either going to hear today that the Spirit of God lives inside of you, and you're going to be like, "You know what? I'm glad you're in me, but don't tinker with too much stuff. I kind of like the way things are. Don't touch that room, because I like how I've decorated there," or you're going to let him own. You're going to say, "It's not my house. It's yours. You can do whatever you want." That's surrender. It's waking up every day and just saying, "You have access to every square inch of my life, and you can do whatever you want."
You do need to know the Spirit's style is holiness. He always decorates with holiness. His aim is to make you more like Jesus. South African pastor Andrew Murray said, "Water always fills first the lowest places. The lower, the emptier a man lies before God, the speedier and the fuller will be the inflow of the divine glory." Spiritual maturity comes with the power of the Spirit.
Do you want to see God do a miraculous work in your life? Sit with him. Ask of him. Surrender to him. I just want to give you an opportunity to do that now. We're going to sing in a minute, but before we do, I want to give you 120 seconds. Before you rush out of here and say, "You know what? I'll apply that at some point this week…" Let's just do it now. This is an opportunity for us to sit with him, to ask of him, and surrender to him.
If you're here this morning and you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you might sense that God is doing a miraculous work in your life right now. If that's you, come to him. Put your faith in him. Ask him for forgiveness, and let him know that you want him to be your Lord and your Savior. Let's pray.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for who you are and what you've done. We thank you for your cross, Lord Jesus, which is sufficient. We thank you that you've put your Spirit in us. God, my hope and prayer even now is that we won't quench the Spirit, but that we would be fully available to what you, God, want to do in our lives. In Jesus' name, amen.
Take time, 120 seconds. Sit, ask, and surrender.