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Spirit Overcomes Flesh

FlyingIn my last post we saw how the spiritual walk, specifically prayer in the spirit, will bring change from the inside out. This truth is also brought out in other parts of the Scripture.

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Romans 2:29

This is another piece of that same puzzle. Our outside will never change unless we have a change of heart. The problem is that our heart itself is very deceptive. We can’t always trust what we’re feeling.

That’s why true change can never be imposed upon it from the outside, by the written code. It must come from the inside, by the power of the spirit. Isn’t it great to know that your spirit can change your heart?

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:16

Our new knowledge of the power of prayer in the spirit should give us a whole new insight into what this verse is actually saying. Many times, when people quote this verse, they’re using it as a weapon.

I’ve heard people say things like, “Look at how that person lives, and they call themselves a Christian. They’re walking in their flesh so they must not have the Holy Spirit in them. They can’t really be saved.”

This isn’t a verse that Paul gave us to test whether a person is saved or not. This is a passage of Scripture to tell us how to receive the power we need to walk in victory over the flesh. The only way you’ll have the power you need to not gratify the flesh, is to live your life in the spirit.

You cannot do it by exercising the will power of your soul, or even disciplining your body. This means that you spend time praying in the spirit, communing with God in the realm of the spirit. That’s where we access the power to overcome the desires of the flesh.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

This is one of the most popular passages with many Christians. Unfortunately many believers have no clue what this section is actually saying.

What is fruit? Fruit are those yummy balls of sweet goodness that hang from various kinds of trees. How do they get there? Does the tree have to sweat and fret and work hard to push them out? Does a tree try and fail and get frustrated and try again to do better?

Of course not! Fruit are a natural result of being an apple tree. They are produced simply because the tree is healthy, and has access to everything it needs (air, minerals, water, and sunshine).

This is something that most Christians miss. They think that producing the fruit of the spirit only comes by hard work and a lot of will-power. That’s not what God intended. The fruit mentioned here will not be produced by reading the Bible or going to church.

They will not even come by will power or guilt. These things are the fruit of the SPIRIT. Why would we then think they would be the product of our works, will power, or trial and error?

The fruit of the spirit are the natural product of a life lived in the realm of the spirit. As our spiritual relationship with the Lord grows, then so will the fruit. They will not be from our strength.

In my next post, I’ll give some examples of how this works.

Question: Why is it impossible for our flesh to discipline itself?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Change – From the Inside Out

ButterflyI’ve been talking about walking out the spiritual life. In my last post I said that because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we hold the mind of Christ.

Having this access to the mind of the Lord is a very powerful thing. It affects our lives in a number of ways if we’re willing to walk in it. Remember, power is the ability to produce change, and the power of God changes everything it touches. Let’s take a look at some of the changes it affects in our lives.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 1:20

What you need to note about this verse is that the word and is not in the Greek text. It should read, build yourselves up…praying in the Holy Spirit. What we need to realize is that God wants to explain things to us on His level.

When I pray in the gift, I build up my most holy faith. This is the faith that’s resident in my spirit. It’s a faith that goes beyond what I know about the Scripture or the situation I’m in.

There are times when there may not even be a Biblical verse that covers my situation. What do I do then? I pray in the Spirit. This helps me to trust God when there seems to be no earthly reason to put my faith in Him. It’s a faith that goes beyond what my mind can understand.

As great as that is, there’s even more that this gift can accomplish.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

This is a very interesting verse. If you just skim through it you’ll miss what it says. We understand, according to the Scripture, that we’re dead to sin and alive to God. Elsewhere in Romans we’re told to count ourselves dead.

This is based upon the truth that we were crucified with Christ, and this death separates us from the dominion of sin. That’s NOT what the above verse is telling us about. This verse is very different because it contains the word if. This verse is telling us something we could do or we could choose to ignore.

There’s a battle that rages in my being. Even though I’m saved, my flesh is still subject to its sin nature. I find that even though I’m dead to sin in Christ, I continue to fall to the temptations that come before me. Even Paul wrote about this struggle that we all face. How do I overcome this dilemma?

Many people try differing methods to bring about the victory. Some try to live right in their own strength. I’ve found that if I live trying to use my flesh to overcome my flesh, by shear will power, I will fail miserably. The above verse tells us that if I use my flesh, then death will reign in me. The problem is, to use a computer term, there’s a virus in the software.

The good news is that I can use the power of God’s network. I can use my spirit to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. This is a truth that we have totally missed in the modern church. You can use your spirit to change your flesh.

In simple terms, you can download God’s anti-virus program and it will change the way you live. This is a powerful change because you’re allowing God to change you from the inside out.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit changed the way you live?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Worship in Spirit and Truth

DoveIn this post I’m continuing to talk about the encounter between the woman at the well and Jesus. He told her that He could give her living water. She replied that she wanted it so that she wouldn’t have to keep coming back to this well.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
John 4:16-18

We usually miss what’s happening here because we live in a different culture. To us, having five husbands means that you must have low morals. In that culture it probably meant that she couldn’t bear children.

When each new husband realized that she couldn’t produce an heir, she was sent away. She was also under the stigma that if you can’t bear children, then you’re under a curse from God.

Jesus was showing her that God knew everything about her, and he loved her anyway. She was still a candidate for a blessing.

The woman was floored by that thought. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to bless you”, if you don’t know me. But to know everything about me and still love me enough to bless me; that’s overwhelming…let’s change the subject.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:19-24

This is the key to what John wants to teach us by this encounter. The highest relationship with God is accomplished only in the spirit. The Lord is talking about being baptized in the spirit and continuing the relationship by praying in the spirit.

The natural is alright – but the highest and best is accomplished in the spirit. You can’t worship in spirit and truth simply using your flesh and your soul. As a matter of fact, you can sing, clap and dance without even thinking about it – it’s automatic sometimes. There are other times that I can think deeply about what I’m praying for. Those things are good and acceptable.

But the truth is that God desires a relationship with your spirit.

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
John 4:25-26

Christ then reveals Himself to her. In this discussion we see God’s heart for us. He wants us to relate to Himself on a level that’s deeper than our minds can fathom. He wants us to communicate in the spirit. That’s why prayer in the spirit is so important. Don’t neglect this great gift.

Question: How often do you spend time praying in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Transformed by the Spirit

GalaxyI’m posting about Christ as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. In my last article I showed how Christ walked in the power of this baptism as our example.

“For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.”
John 3:34

This is what the Lord said about Himself. Jesus had unlimited access to the Spirit.

I’ve heard people use this verse as if it only applies to Christ. Think about what it means to have the Spirit without measure.

Maybe you’ve seen the example of the glass that’s full of water. That’s like us being filled with the Spirit. Then if you take that same glass and immerse it in a fish tank; that shows what the baptism in the Spirit is like. I’ve used this example many times.

How much water does the glass have in the fish tank? There’s no way to measure it. That’s what Christ is talking about. He was the first one to experience a life that was baptized in the Spirit.

In talking about this to the disciples, the Lord said…

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 7:38

This can happen because I live in two realms. In the spiritual world I live immersed in the Spirit – the living water Christ talked about. In the physical, this water gushes out and is evident to those around me.

It doesn’t matter how much power I have to put out in ministry, in the spiritual it’s without limit. The truth is that we have that same unlimited access – if we live an immersed life.

But that’s not the best part, in my opinion! At one point Jesus took the three closest disciples up on a mountain to pray.

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Luke 9:29

This verse literally says that He was changed as He prayed and His face became different. Jesus was transformed by the Spirit. He had no sinful flesh as we do. But as He prayed His flesh, His physical appearance, was changed. He was transformed to a higher, more glorious appearance.

We’re told in Scripture that God desires to take us from glory to glory. How will this happen? I believe it’s through prayer in the Spirit. It will be accomplished through living an immersed life.

That’s why an understanding of the gift of the Spirit is so vitally important to this generation. We need it. In order to transform the church we need a manifestation of the power of God. We need the Holy Spirit’s life changing work.

It will only come as God’s people press in and do what Jesus did. Live a lifestyle of prayer in the spirit – a life of immersion.

Question: What will it take for you to live a life of immersion in the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Christ the Baptizer

 

DoveI believe that America is ripe for revival. I also believe that prayer in the spirit will play a major role in this move. John the Baptist preached about this subject.

And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:7-8

We will need an understanding of this if we’re going to flow in revival to the level God desires. I want to take a few posts to talk about Christ, the Baptizer. He’s the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

But there’s a question that this brings up. How can Christ do that if He wasn’t baptized Himself? I believe that Jesus was baptized in the Spirit and prayed in the spirit.

Of course Jesus prayed in the spirit without the manifestation of tongues. The reason for this is that speaking in tongues is the reaction of our sinful flesh to the work of the Spirit. Our flesh can’t comprehend what’s happening when we pray in the spirit.

In the Gospels, we see John the Baptist witnessing something unique.

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”
John 1:32-33

This was unheard of in their day – the Holy Spirit remaining upon a person. This was the point where Jesus was baptized in the Spirit. I believe that from this day forward, Jesus prayed in the spirit.

But I think that the key word here is remained. The Holy Spirit remained upon the Lord and Jesus remained in the Spirit.

That’s something we need to see the importance of. Very often we think that what Jesus did was a special case. He said that the same works He did, we would do. But in order for that to happen it will take the same preparation.

We need the same remaining in the Spirit. You could also call it immersion in the Spirit.

Before He ascended to the Father, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this gift. Don’t preach, don’t make disciples, don’t do anything, just wait.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

That was fulfilled in the baptism found in Acts chapter 2.

What about Jesus. He was baptized by John who testified that the Spirit remained on Him. Then Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days. There, the Lord was tempted by the devil himself, yet…

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:14

What power did He walk in? The power of His immersion in the Spirit.   We need this same power to be evident in our lives. We must remain in the Holy Spirit.

Question: How does Christ exemplify the Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Learning God’s Language

LanguageIn my last post I began to talk about the Gift of the Spirit.  We looked at the following verse.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:4-5

According to Christ, the Gift of the Holy Spirit is the Baptism in the Spirit.  This gift brings up so many questions surrounding it.  Is it important?  Is this gift even for today or not?  Was it just a one time thing to get the early church going?

I believe the Scriptures answer all these questions.

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.  Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:2

At one point, Paul wrote that he spoke in tongues more than all who were in the church of Corinth (I Cor. 14:18).  This tells me that he had an intimate knowledge of the use and the function of the gift.  Paul wrote about his experiences in the Greek language, which is a very descriptive language.

In order for us to understand what Paul wrote we rely upon translators to help us.  I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of these translators.  I’m in awe of the amount of work they have before them and realize that I could never accomplish half of what they do.  I’m very grateful for their work.

That being said, I also have a problem with a particular portion of their work.  As I’ve said, Paul wrote to us about his experiences in the deep usage of the gift of the Spirit.  Unfortunately, the translators who worked on that passage may not have even experienced the Baptism of the Spirit, let alone the deeper works.

In reading the words that Paul wrote, these translators didn’t understand why Paul was using the words that he used.  So they tried to explain Paul’s words instead of telling us exactly what he said.

Because of this, many of the deeper truths of the Gift of Tongues were lost.  It’s my prayer that the Lord will once again restore our knowledge of these concepts through godly teachings such as this.

The verse I just quoted is one such verse.  The English words used in the translation are not the Greek words used in the original text.  After Paul tells us that the person is speaking to God, not to man, the next sentence actually reads (in Greek), Indeed, no man hears him; his spirit speaks mysteries.

This gives us fresh insight into the gift.  When I pray in tongues, I’m not speaking to man, but to God.  What is coming out of my mouth is immaterial to the spiritual communication.

According to Paul, no man even hears what I’m saying to God.  It’s not your flesh that’s communicating with Him.  There’s no correlation between what’s coming out of your mouth, and what is being exchanged with God in the spirit.

This is an important truth in understanding the gift of the spirit.

Question: How important is the Baptism of the Spirit to your walk with God?

©Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit

 

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