RSS

Tag Archives: spiritual life

Spirit vs. Flesh

In my last post, I started talking about Paul’s teaching on the Spirit-led life.  He tells us that we must cultivate our spiritual life if we want to overcome the flesh.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Galatians 5:16-17

When I read verse 16 in the original language, it’s very powerful.  Paul says that if you walk in the spirit, you will not bring to completion the things that the flesh is passionate about.

It doesn’t matter how much will-power you have or how many good intentions.  I’m writing this in September – how have your New Year’s resolutions turned out?  The only thing that can change the destination of our life is a walk in the spirit.

Verse 17 explains why this is true.  Your flesh is passionate against what your spirit wants.  Your spirit also has different goals than your flesh.  The two of them are battling for control of your mind.

But it’s the last sentence that gives us the understanding.  Because of their conflict, you cannot determine the things you do.  That’s the literal meaning of that verse.

You may not want to hear it, but your mind has very little to do in determining the path your life takes.  It usually bends either to the will of your spirit or your flesh.  Whichever has the stronger voice, determines what your mind will decide.

The teaching that “whatever you put your mind to you can accomplish” is a lie.  The illusion is strengthened by the fact that your mind can change course over the short term.  Like the first month of the gym membership that you knew would change your life.

The only time it appears to work is when your flesh and your mind are passionate about the same things.  If your flesh wants to be rich, or to own a large company, or to have great political power; that’s when it seems like your mind’s in control.

Other times, your flesh my use self-control as a means to an end.  That’s why many people who look like successes on the outside, turn out to be alcohol, drug, or sex addicts.  Then we’re shocked when their life ends in a tragic overdose or a suicide.

That’s why it’s so important that a Christian doesn’t fall victim to this false teaching.  You can’t bring about God’s plan for your life by disciplining your mind.  It has to be done in the spirit.

Paul brings this out in the next verse.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Galatians 5:18

Being led by the spirit is not about controlling yourself.  The only way to walk in God’s plan for you is to strengthen your spirit.  Then, your spirit will take over in plotting the course for your life.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:6

Spend time praying in the spirit.  Activate your spiritual walk.  Only then will you see the change in your lifestyle.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Question: How has your life changed since you started praying in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Life that’s Over the Top

SkateboardI’ve been posting about the Gift of God, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s a river of life bubbling up from within us. Jesus told us that it’s eternal life. It’s His perpetual, continual life that’s flowing through us.

But in calling it eternal life, the Lord was speaking about more than just length. It’s not just about how long you live for. Look at how Jesus describes it.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

If I tell you that something is full, would you only think about it in one dimension? Full implies more than just length.

The word full that the Lord used actually means superabundant in quantity, superior in quality, and excessive in amount.

Think about it this way. I come to you and ask you, “Can I borrow your car to go grocery shopping?”

You say, “Sure.” But the next thing I know is that a 2016 stretch limousine with a chauffeur pulls up to my house. That’s the picture this word evokes.

In spite of that, we usually settle for the Flintstone mobile – spiritually speaking. We should be expecting so much more from our walk with God. He wants to lavish His life upon us.

The gift of God is where this spring of life comes from. When Jesus called it a spring of water, the word He used was of the surface fountain. The source was not included.

That’s how it is with us. You can’t see the source because it’s in the spirit. I’ve got to tap into the Holy Spirit to get the spring going.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
2 Timothy 1:6

This verse tells us that the gift of God is received by the laying on of hands. It’s imparted from one who has already received it. The gift must be passed on and received.

But this verse also makes it clear that it can lay dormant after it’s received. Why would anyone want to ignore the gift of God’s eternal life flowing through them?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

How does Paul describe this gift of God? The apostle says that He’s a Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Boldness comes from this Spirit. Why? Because He gives us a life that’s over the top. If you have perpetual life to draw upon, who cares what people think?

If you borrow money for a mortgage, the bank tells you how big a house you can get. But if you win a Powerball jackpot, no one can tell you what to buy.

That’s what God gives us in the spirit. We have power, love, and a saved mind. Because you can draw on the Holy Spirit and His perpetual life, you now have the power for everything God calls you to do.

You have enough love for all who come your way. You have a saved mind to know God’s will.

What else do you need? It’s up to us to seek it out. All we have to do is to trust God to receive it or fan it into flame.

Question: How have you experienced God’s abundant life working in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Investigations

magIn my last post I started talking about the spiritual Christian. We were looking at a verse that the apostle Paul wrote.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

My last statement was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated. You may wonder why I used the word investigate when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case. It’s the investigation stage of the trial. Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things. On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out. It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer. They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I have taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God. Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them. Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from. I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it. What study books do you use?”

The soulish Christian just cannot wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit. They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord. A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He has made available to us by His Spirit.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English. The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used. What he literally said was who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That is a very powerful question. He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord. All the answers that we need are right within our grasp, if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life. This is why we need to daily live in the spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift. Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Believers

DoveIf we want God’s best, then we need to develop a rich spiritual life. Unfortunately, in this generation there are not many examples to follow.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

The phrase man without the Spirit is literally the soulish man in Greek. The New Testament actually speaks of three different kinds of Christians. This is one of those described.

First, there is the carnal or fleshly Christian. This is the type of believer who serves God according to the way he or she feels. If I feel like going to church, I’ll go. If not I’ll stay home. Their flesh is in control of every decision they make. Carnal Christians are very nominal at best.

Next there’s the soulish or natural Christian, depending upon the translation of the Bible you use. This kind of Believer serves God because he or she has made a conscious decision to serve Him. They have decided that the Lord’s way is best no matter what they feel like.

They will give their best for the Lord because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They serve the Lord with all of their soul. They are very strong in their faith, and they can accomplish a lot for the kingdom of heaven.

There is, however, another class of believer spoken of in the Word of God. That’s the spiritual Christian. He or she is the believer who lives their life by using their spirit to its fullest extent in their interaction with God.

This is the one that we either hear very little about or we mistake it for a soulish Christian who is doing great works for Christ. Over the years we have redefined many of the terms used in the Scripture. It’s time to straighten out the rough spots. In the above passage, Paul makes a clear distinction between a spiritual and soulish Christian.

According to Paul, the soulish person cannot understand life in the spirit. The Greek literally says the he does not have the power to accept them. The apostle actually uses the Greek word dunamis in this verse.

A soulish believer does not have the dunamis – the power – to receive the things that can only come by the Spirit. This person is left to rely upon earthly means of communication to receive what he needs from the Lord. This is because, as Paul writes, these things are spiritually investigated.

I want to take a few posts to talk about what Paul describes as a spiritual Christian.

Question: How far do you venture into your spiritual life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Life in the Blood

heart CrossIn my last post I talked about the relationship between the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the blood of Christ. This is important to us because we are told from Scripture that we are cleansed from sin by the blood.

The big question is; how do we access the blood? Listen to what Jesus said about the blood.

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
John 6:53

Clearly the Lord says that our spiritual life is tied to His blood. What exactly is this blood that He’s talking about? I believe it’s about more than just taking the communion elements.

This goes along with teaching found in the Old Testament. The ancient Israelites were prohibited from eating an animal’s blood.

But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.
Deuteronomy 12:23

As Jesus was teaching this to His followers, He brought out the meaning of what He was saying. In the same context as the above verse, the Lord said…

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63

According to Jesus, the Spirit gives life. But the life is in the blood. It’s through the blood of Christ that we receive life.

Can you see it? Right now, the Holy Spirit is the life blood of the body of Christ. That’s what’s flowing through us. The Spirit of God is cleansing us and giving us His life.

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

It’s by the Spirit that we’re made clean from the sin nature. As a matter of fact, everything that blood does in a body, the Holy Spirit does in the body of Christ. He flows through us touching every part with His presence.

The impurities are removed and the life giving nutrients are brought to us. To remain in the Spirit is to remain under the blood. What an awesome truth!

I don’t have to “plead the blood” over my life. If I’m praying in the spirit, communing with the Holy Spirit, then I’m accessing the blood of Christ and all that it does for me.

Don’t neglect this marvelous provision that Christ bought for us on the cross. Remain in Him. Spend time in the Spirit. And watch the life-changing power of God work on your behalf.

Question: How has the blood of Christ changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Getting Things in Order

SpotlightIn the last couple of posts I’ve been talking about how those of us in ministry run the risk of getting too busy. By that I mean we start to neglect our intimate times with the Lord. Specifically, what Christ said in the following verse.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

What do you do if you find yourself in this condition? How do you get your spiritual life back on track?

The answer to this problem is clear from the Lord’s own words. The first step is to remember. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Think back to what your walk with the Lord used to be like. Allow a hunger to be birthed in you for the way it was. This will make the next step that much easier.

Step two is really the key to the whole process. Restoration always involves repentance. At this point, you may complain, “But I didn’t backslide – I still love the Lord, and I’m still doing the work of the ministry.” That’s probably very true. However, to God, the most important thing is your relationship with Him.

In any relationship, it’s not the fact that you love the other person that brings you closer. It’s the time spent communicating. If you haven’t deepened your walk with the Lord, through time in the Word and in prayer, then there needs to be repentance. I’m sure you already know that true repentance includes a 180-degree turn around to the right path. It’s time to renew your walk with Christ.

You also need to realize that if you ignore His call, you’re missing out on God’s best for your life. The words of the Lord in Revelation 2:3 above make it clear that if this condition is left unchecked long enough, then the church will suffer for it. Jesus said that He would remove the lampstand from its place.

It doesn’t sound fair that just because a church leader is out of relationship with the Lord, that the whole church can be dragged down with him or her. Unfortunately, that’s the way of spiritual things. Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch. The church will never progress beyond the depth of the leadership’s walk with the Lord.

At this point I have to pause, and give a special exhortation to pastors and teachers. Too often we fall into the rut of self-deception. Sermon and Bible Study preparation time is NOT the same as a personal time in God’s Word. Interceding for your congregation is not intimate, personal prayer time with the Lord.

In my experience I’ve found that many leaders substitute the work of the ministry for the walk of relationship. The key to renewing your first love is to cultivate your relationship with God in personal time with God’s Word and in prayer. Above all else, we should be deepening our relationship with our Lord.

Question: How have you struggled in setting aside time for intimacy with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 19, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,