In order to fully experience all God intended for His children, it's essential to understand and embrace the Holy Spirit. Jesus called Him the Spirit of Truth, a helper. Here are several clues for understanding this somewhat mysterious member of the Trinity. Today's message is titled, The Spirit Who Is Not a Ghost, and Chuck begins by describing the scene. In this upper room, they are sitting around a table and there's small talk and then the focus turns to the Lord Himself. And in quiet tones, He begins to communicate to them messages regarding life after His death. And they are seized with panic.
These guys are confused. Before you're too harsh on them, imagine what that must be like. It isn't hard for me to imagine. Right after the Second World War, my father had a physical breakdown. Maybe some would say an emotional breakdown.
Maybe it was both. But I will never forget the tragic feeling as the youngest in the family of three to be called into the bedroom and to have his hand sort of work its way from my elbow to my shoulder and hold me close as he trembled. Although he wasn't an old man, but exhausted from the endless work, 16, 18 hour days for four or five years of his life. And I knew I would never see him again. At least I thought I wouldn't. He gave me some information about life. He talked to me about the character he wanted me to model and he told me to take care of my mother and to cooperate with my brother and sister. And I left in tears. I am thrilled to say he lived on.
In fact, he lived many years beyond that. But at the time, if my life depended on it when I walked out of the room, I couldn't tell you what he said. Because I had one thing in my mind. My daddy is going to die.
And that cancel that eclipsed everything else he said, important though it was, I can still pick up in my memory a few words and I'll never forget the look in his face, but I can't recall the meaning of his words. That's what happened with these disciples. They're listening to the Messiah as he says, I'm going to die, but don't worry, I won't leave you as orphans. I'm going to send another helper. We want you. We don't want someone else. Well, he'll be even more helpful to you than I am because he'll be everywhere at once and we don't want that. You know, that kind of feeling. Now centuries have passed and we've been able to work over these verses.
In fact, we've got the verbs and prepositions and nouns and subjects and predicates down pat. But those people heard these words. That's why they responded like they did. Sorrow filled their heart, verse 6. The word is grief. They were grieving over the imminent loss of their Savior, their Lord. Even when he was raised from the dead, they didn't believe it. Some had to be proven by seeing the prince in his hands and in his feet and in his side.
The scars. These men were convinced that he would live on and on, but now he says sorrow has filled your heart. But it's to your advantage I go away. If I do not go away, the helper shall not come to you and if I go, I will send him to you.
Why would it be more advantageous to them that the helper come? Well, when the Lord Jesus was on earth, he could only be one place at one time. He was shackled by the body that he had taken at Bethlehem. He could only be one place at one time, but when the Spirit came, he would be everywhere at once.
Isn't that remarkable? You never wake him up. He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. He who watches over you is never interrupted. Morning, noon, or the middle of the night, he's available and he'll give power. He'll guide.
He'll comfort. Furthermore, by having him invisible, their faith would be strengthened. It doesn't take any faith to fly if King Kong lifts the plane up and carries it from Los Angeles to Dallas and sits it down there. That's no faith. You just wait until King puts you back down again and you get out of the plane.
But when you've got to rely on air, it gets a little shaky at times. Jesus says, I'm not going to be with you, but I'm going to send one who is with you and he will be with you forever. Look at how he puts it. I will send him to you, verse 8. What will he do? When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. In verses 8 through 12, he talks about the Spirit's ministry in the world of unbelievers. You may be surprised to know that the Spirit is working in a world of the unsaved, but he works at all times. As a matter of fact, over in Thessalonians, we read that he is restraining sin. Do you know how much evil would be on this earth if the Spirit of God were suddenly removed? He is an envelope of righteousness, a bubble of purity. He holds evil in check, and when he is removed, literally, hell will break loose on this earth. Right now, he restrains sin.
It says in verse 8, he convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. Now, I find myself comforted to hear that. I don't have to moralize when I'm in a mob of unsaved people. I don't have to wave flags to talk to them about how unrighteous they are. They know they're unrighteous.
I don't have to fly flags over my home saying, we're pure and you're nasty. My ministry is not to convince someone else that they're unbelieving. That's the Spirit's ministry.
That's what he does. He convicts the world of sin because they do not believe on me. Merrill Tenney has a good word regarding the meaning of convict.
The word is a legal term that means to pronounce a judicial verdict by which the guilt of the culprit at the bar of justice is defined and fixed. The Spirit does not merely accuse men of sin. He brings them an inescapable sense of guilt so that they realize their shame and helplessness before God.
That's what the Spirit does. It reminds me of that moment Nathan stood before David who had committed adultery with Bathsheba. He was cornered when she became pregnant. So he manipulated the death of Uriah, her husband, and then he lied about it to his flock of people, the nation. He lived a lie for a year until Nathan came and stood before him and after a brief parable regarding taking someone else's little you lamb, he looks at David and says, you are the man. And David, without hesitation, says, I have sinned.
Guilty as charged. That's the way it is when the Spirit works. Don't you believe for a moment that those without Christ struggle with their unbelief?
It's a fact. They just try every way in the world to escape it. Through a bottle, through drugs, through travel, through activity, through education, through philosophy of some kind, through education, through some means of escape, they try to get away from it, but it is inescapable because he is God. He convicts the world of sin and of righteousness. He is like the prosecuting attorney saying, these are the facts, here is the evidence, there is the guilty, and they are shut up without excuse in light of facts and evidence. Some can do 30% good in their lifetime, some may be able to do 45%, maybe you'll find a person that can spend half his life doing good, maybe 60%, but like Mark Twain said, we all have a dark side, we don't want anybody to see.
The Spirit reveals the dark side. I often think of Catalina Island that's 26 miles from my shoreline. I may be able to find a fellow who can jump off the pier at Huntington Beach 15 feet or 20 feet.
You may locate a decathlete or a triathlete who can jump 25 feet. I've never met anyone who can jump to Catalina. Never met anyone yet. I don't think we're going to find somebody in our generation.
You cannot jump to Catalina. I have a wonderful grasp of the obvious. You know why? It's impossible. All have sinned and fallen short of perfection. The Spirit of God makes it clear.
Every person who comes into the family of God has been visited ahead of time by the Spirit. And his irresistible ministry has been, you are guilty. You are guilty. You are a sinner. You are separate from God. You are lost.
You are distant. You are without hope. You must have Christ to measure to the standard of perfection. If you haven't such a ministry in your life, you've never been brought face to face with Christ.
Right now he's speaking to some of you, right this moment. You're trying to picture yourself jumping to Catalina and you can't make it. You are never going to even get halfway.
Most couldn't even swim there. And judgment, now there is the hard part. Look at how he puts it. When he comes, he will convict the world of judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged.
Why that's so clear. When human sin is confronted by the righteousness of Christ, condemnation is evident. Judgment, that's the ultimate. And the reason it's so significant is because the ruler of this world, that's Satan himself, stands judged. It's perfect tense, which means at the cross he was judged. And every moment that Satan exists since the cross, he's just moving closer to his doom.
He's finished. Reminds me of when I taught my boys to play chess. Bad decision on my part. Boy, did they learn how to play chess. Now both of them can beat me.
They love playing chess with me. What bothers me is when I make a move, I'll think it through. They go get a hamburger, finish it, come back. I got the move. And what I hate is when I make the move, I take the night and I go... They go... I hate that laugh when they laugh like that. They'll say things like, before you take your hands off, you want to take that move back?
No. You're through. That's the way it is. Every move Satan makes is closer to the end of the game. The prince of the world stands judged.
Now the point is clear. If that's true of the prince of the world, it's certainly true of the lost person. Every day of your life, you move closer to judgment.
Every day. And the spirit of God just gives you irrefutable proof, evidence after evidence after evidence, that says lost, lost, lost. Judgment's coming. Now the reason I'm hammering away on this is because I want to take the panic out of evangelists. I don't want to take the passion.
I want to remove the panic. My responsibility is to communicate the Lord Jesus, to present the righteousness of God, to tell everybody I meet as often as I can the Lord Jesus died for them, that there is hope beyond the grave, that there is forgiveness and cleansing and a relationship with God through faith in his son. If they'll only believe, and I don't even have to convince them that they're lost, that's God's job. I just tell them about the bridge. And I say, get on it.
Get on it. And more and more do. Wonderful, wonderful thought. Now, when the spirit of truth comes, look at what he does in our lives, verse 13. He guides us into all the truth.
It not only means he takes the scriptures and makes them clear, that's the ministry of illumination. But he takes circumstances and he gives us insight into them. He takes pressures and he uses them, pressures to mature us. He guides us into all realms of the truth.
He matures us. He nurtures us. He comforts us when we're fractured with fear. He tells us there's hope when we can't see the end of the tunnel. He gives us a reason to go on though we get up in years and it looks like death is near. He guides us into all the truth and the beautiful thing is he doesn't speak on his own initiative. He's not on a lark just telling us what we want to hear. He's taking from the things of Christ and he discloses them to us. In fact, verse 14 says, he glorifies Christ.
I want to give you a tip. Don't ever forget it. If you are ever involved in a ministry that glorifies itself, the Spirit of God isn't in that ministry. If you ever follow a leader that is getting the glory for that ministry, the Spirit of God isn't empowering his leadership. If you're a part of a school or an organization or a ministry or whatever team you may be on in which Christ is not being glorified, it is not being ignited by the Spirit of God.
Mark it down. He glorifies Christ. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say if the Spirit is being glorified, he isn't in it. Christ is glorified.
He does his work behind the scenes. I suppose I love that about his work the most. We Christians love to sing a chorus. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. And then the chorus concludes with this opening line, Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
I've thought a lot about how this applies to us. You notice I've stayed away from techniques. I've purposely not given you five ways to be filled with the Spirit or six steps to the victorious Christian life or nine guarantees to happiness or how to be almost perfect in three easy steps. I run out of those things, okay? But I can apply this in the area of melting and molding and filling and using. In fact, I could go back to my opening points and share with you these closing applications.
Here's the first one. Since he is a person, we feel him as he heals relationships. In doing so, he melts us. Since he is a person, we feel him as he heals relationships. And when he does that, he melts us. Some of you have yet to touch the work of the Spirit in this realm. You have big walls around your life, barriers of resistance, heavy, thick walls of distance with some people.
To break down those walls, you have to be melted. He does that. You feel his presence when he does that. Maybe with your child who's now grown, maybe with your parent.
And somebody may have the audacity to say to you, forget your parent, just move on your own world, but you can't. Somehow there has to be the melting work of the Spirit because he's a person as he heals a relationship you've got with someone else. That's one. Another way that we feel him, since he is active and involved, not passive, we feel him comforting us in our sorrows and guiding us in our pursuits. When he does that, he molds us. By the way, these go in order. First there's melting and then there's molding. First there are right relationships built. Then it's amazing how our sights get clear and we begin to pursue and the Spirit of God's presence is there to mold us, reshape us.
By the way, it can get pretty painful. In fact, at times you don't think you can go on. Third, since he is real and relevant, we feel him giving us power and perseverance. That calls for fulfilling us. I often begin my day by saying, Lord God, I don't know what my day holds.
I don't have any formula for this. This is not something you repeat after me, but it's kind of like this. Lord, I don't know what the day holds. I don't know what's in it for you or me, but I'm yours. I want you to guide me a step at a time and I want your power to mark my steps. Stop me if I'm moving in the wrong direction. Push me if I'm sluggish. Get me going again if I'm hesitant. Slap me around if I get out of line, but don't let me go my own way. Fill me with your presence and power.
And that's what I have in mind. He's not imaginary, he's real and relevant, and he turns that day into something else. Often a marvelous series of events. Number four, since he is God, we feel him as he controls our circumstances and transforms our lives. And that results in our being used. He melts us in relationships and he molds us in the pursuit, in the direction of his will. And then he fills us with power and perseverance to stay at it, stay at it, don't quit, don't even slow down. And then we realize we're not excess baggage, we're not models of mediocrity.
We have purpose and meaning and definition, reason to go on. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. You ready to say that with me?
Let's do it together. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Now I want you to close your eyes, just right where you are, just right there, close your eyes. I want you to see those words on the back of your eyelids. Okay, I've got my eyes closed too.
Just see them spelled out. When it comes to relationships, Lord, melt me. When it comes to objectives and the pursuit of life, mold me, Lord. M-O-L-D, mold me. And then as the day gets long and the journey gets painful, I need you to fill me, F-I-L-L. Fill me with power and perseverance. And as I face the circumstances that are upon me, I want you to transform me and I want you to be in control because you're God, I want you to be in control of these circumstances.
Use me. Your eyes are still closed and you're into your own thoughts. Can you find a time there in your mind when you said, Yes, Lord Jesus, I realize you died for me, but I've never told you I want you to be my Lord, my Savior. And if there's never been that time, now is the time. And that fifth word is take me, take me. I receive you, you take me. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. When you do that, our Father, all our lives will be unearthly, non-terrestrial, not mundane, unusual, supernatural.
Do that. Melt and mold, fill and use us for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. That's our prayer today as Chuck Swindoll describes the spirit who is not a ghost. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Here at Insight for Living, we make it our mission to help advance your walk with God and to help you understand the spirit's role in your daily journey. Along those lines, we've prepared a number of helpful Bible study tools for you. First, did you know Chuck provides a daily devotional by email? In that way, you can pause at any point in your busy day to spend time reading and reflecting on biblical truth. The daily devotional is free when you sign up at insight.org slash devotional. In addition, every sermon Chuck presents on Insight for Living is paired with interactive study notes. We call this resource Searching the Scriptures. By using this online document, you'll discover what God is saying to you as you dig into His word on your own.
To access this study tool, go to insightworld.org slash studies. Finally, I want to remind you that Chuck wrote a book that parallels this current teaching series. It too is called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. It's not a booklet.
The book is 22 chapters in length, covering some of the major theological tenets of our Christian faith. And you can purchase a copy right now by going to insight.org slash store. Insight for Living is made possible through voluntary donations from grateful listeners like you. If it's been a while since you've contacted us or perhaps you've never done so, we'd love to hear from you. Your gift, large or small, will be channeled directly into providing these daily visits with Chuck. To give a gift today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or you can go online to insight.org. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us again next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his message called Growing Deep in the Christian Life.
Right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Spirit Who Is Not a Ghost, was copyrighted in 1985, 1987, 2005, and 2011. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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