Walking In Love
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
1 John 4:13
Last week, we studied about the agape love that flows through us and is the assurance of the presence of the invisible God in us.
Today, we are going to learn a new aspect of walking in God’s love. The above verse basically means that if we are able to love, then it implies that we have the Spirit of God living in us. This further means that if we have the Spirit then we are abiding in God and He is abiding in us.
Let us break this down further to understand it better.
NATURE OF CHRISTIAN LIFE
Many of us have a basic misunderstanding about the Christian life. Here are some popular misconceptions of what the world considers Christian life to be:-
That it is about giving up certain sinful habits and going to Church religiously.
That it is about leading a moral and decent life.
That it is about holding to certain high and lofty ideals.
That it’s about a religious conformation. Let me explain what conformation is. It is a desire to fit in with the world around us so that we don’t appear odd. Religious conformity therefore means joining a religious group and agreeing to follow their rules and practices. Religious conformity does not make us Christians. It’s like driving a car in a foreign country with different rules and just following the person in front of us. Or it’s like a herd of cows that are following other cows walking in front of them, without realizing that they are being taken to the slaughterhouse.
That it is about their faith confession. They think that their belief in the Christian message – that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who lived as a man, died on the Cross, was resurrected on the third day and will return to gather us to Him – implies that they are leading the Christian life. In a way it is true but the moment it becomes just a random, habitual saying, it loses its value.
Now, not for a minute am I saying that any of them are wrong. These ideals and values are good, but Christian life is much more than just a lifestyle change or profession of a belief system.
Christian life is the transformation that occurs in us when we abide in God and He abides in us. It is what happens to us when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives.
POSSESS NEW LIFE
1 John 4:13 gives us the picture that we are in a relationship with God and that we possess new life. But like we learned last week, often doubts arise in our mind as to how we can be certain about a God who is invisible. But the Word of God in numerous places shows us that a Christian has Christ living in Him and He lives in Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit in His life helps him lead a radically different life in the world. 1 John 5:13 says, ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God’. Therefore, the Scripture, especially the New Testament is the resounding proof that we need about our relationship with this invisible God.
Let me explain it further. It’s like an unbeliever who is spiritually dead getting saved. Until then, he had neither any inclination nor any aptitude for God. But suddenly, he has come alive. He begins to engage in spiritual activities, desires to read the Bible and learn more about God. Just like a physically dead person receives life and recognizes that he is alive, a spiritually dead person also recognizes that he has come alive when he becomes saved.
PROOF OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN US
John says that the proof of our relationship with Jesus and His abiding in us is through the Holy Spirit’s presence in us.
Now, there are certain tests that we can apply in order to see if we have received the Holy Spirit. Let’s run through them one by one.
Many people have great interest in TV shows, movies, songs, cricket and many other exciting activities. But they might have hardly any interest in reading the Bible or going to Church or learn anything about God at all. Well, if a person shows no interest in the things of God, then that person does not have the Spirit of God in Him.
On the other hand, if we see a person who reads the Bible, prays, goes to Church and wants to know the things of God, we can safely say that the Spirit of God is in him. That’s because the Spirit of God causes that interest.
Of course, that does not hold true if the person has been dragged by his family or friend to the Church. Let me share a quick anecdote in that regard. An unbelieving husband was once threatened by his believing wife that she would leave him if he didn’t go to Church with her. To appease her, he tagged along to Church. Thankfully, God moved in his heart and soon he came to follow Jesus too. But we can’t forcibly “convert” or “change” anybody. It is the Holy Spirit who causes the interest and draws us close to Him.
Sense of sin
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. He creates awareness about sin and its evil, ugly nature that lurks in us. Paul, the stalwart of the Christian faith, himself acknowledged, ‘Oh what a wretched man I am. Who can deliver me from this body of sin?’
So, such a person, who recognizes sin, its destructive power and the need for Salvation, has the Holy Spirit working in him. Often, people don’t realize the tantalizing pull of sin and shrug off their wrong desires as something that God has made them with. They don’t realize that it finds its origin in Adam’s sin. But a believer recognizes the constant duel between the sinful nature and the new Christ-like nature in him. He is able to trust in the power of God that can rescue him from the overpowering clutches of the evil one. Romans 8:1-2 says, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death’. A believer therefore trusts in the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus to set him free from the law of sin and death.
Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ
John says that ‘unless a person has the Spirit of God he cannot confess Jesus as Lord’. Essentially, even our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is impossible if it is not prompted by the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:8-14 says, ‘which none of the rulers of this age knew, for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things 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 know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he now them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Paul says that not even the most educated, sophisticated and intelligent cream of society understood the message of the Cross. Even though Isaiah had prophesied about the birth and death of the Messiah almost 800 years before Jesus came into the world, nobody discerned what Jesus’ death on the Cross meant for mankind. But God revealed His truth to His followers who had His Spirit in them.
So, if we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior and follow Him, then it is a sign that God dwells in us and that we are in Christ. If not, even the most precious truth of God’s Word and His love will sound like foolishness.
God’s leading and guidance
Philippians 2:13 says, ‘for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure’. In Tamil, the word ‘will’ is translated as ‘virupatheyum seykayum’ or in other words, ‘desire and work’. It basically means that it is God who works in us both to desire and to work. So when God wants us to do something, He puts the desire inside of us and gives us the ability to carry out those desires. That’s how He enables us to reach our destiny. In fact the ability to desire is a precious gift from God. He uses it to prompt us and lead us into His plan for us.
Just like God created the beautiful Garden of Eden for man and called it good, He places desires in our hearts for our good. Let us not ignore the good things that He leads us to. The situations and circumstances that we are brought up in can facilitate in helping us fulfill God’s plan for us.
I have had quite a few similar experiences in which God led me. As a young boy, I heard a gentleman singing. That birthed in me the desire to sing and play musical instruments like the accordion. Later, as a young man, I was touched by the teaching of the book of Romans by a preacher. That led me to study God’s Word deeply and preach it to others too.
Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22 says, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law’. These wonderful characteristics come out of a person who is in Christ, has Christ and has the Holy Spirit living in him.
Gifts of the Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:8-11 and 31 says, ‘for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. But earnestly desire the best gifts. Yet I show you a more excellent way’
Paul writes to the Corinthian church and says that one of the evidences that a person is in Christ, that Christ is in him and that he has the Spirit of God in him is in the spiritual gifts that he possesses. Then he goes on to say that more than the spiritual gifts, it is the evidence of love in a person that proves his life with Christ. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 describes what that love looks like. It says, ‘Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails’.
Basically, Paul concludes that it’s wonderful if a person has the gift of prophesy or other spiritual gifts. But if he uses those gifts in a competitive manner then it is sad because it is the love of God and of the Holy Spirit living in him that prompts him to use the spiritual gifts.
Therefore, we can clearly understand that our brotherly love is the ultimate evidence that Christ is in us, we are in Him and that the Holy Spirit has been given to us.