The Holy Spirit Living Within
“for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [what one likes], but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)
Christians are happy because God gives them the Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts. When the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart, He fills it with sunshine, gladness, and joy unspeakable.
One Monday morning a woman came to my door, rang the bell, and said she wanted to see me. My daughter said, “You know he sees no one on Monday .” She said, “I know it, but I have got to see him.” When I came down, I saw one of the members of my church, a poor woman who had to work hard for her living.
“Oh,” she said, “Mr. Torrey, I knew you didn’t see anybody on Monday, and I didn’t like to trouble you, but I received the Holy Spirit last night. I could not sleep all night, and I made up my mind that I was going to give up one day’s work and just come and tell you how happy I was. I just had to. I can’t very well afford to give up a day’s work, but my heart is so full of joy I could not keep still. I had to tell somebody, a d I didn’t know anybody else I wanted to tell as much as I wanted to tell you. Though I knew you didn’t see anybody on Monday, I thought you would be glad to have me come and tell you.”
“Yes,” I said, “I am glad.” That woman was so happy that she could not work, her heart was full of joy.
I don’t care how discouraged your heart is today or how full of sadness you are. I don’t care if you think your situation is hopeless. If you will take Jesus as your Savior and surrender your who,e heart and your whole life to Him, your heart will be filled with a sweetness above anything to be known this side of heaven.
A Christian can “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). But you have to be a true Christian. Just going to church won’t do it; just saying your prayers won’t do it; just reading the Bible or a prayer book won’t do it; just being baptized and confirmed won’t do it; just going to the Lord’s Supper won’t do it. But if you take Jesus into your heart to be your Savior to rule and reign there and surrender all to Him, you will get a joy that is heaven on earth.
People say to me, “Do you expect to get to heaven?” Yes, I know I am going to heaven, but I am in heaven now. I now have a present heaven to live in until I go to the future heaven. Thank God, I feel like singing all the time. I used to be one of the most depressed men on earth. I was despondent; I was gloomy; I used to sit and have the blues by the hour. But I never have had the blues since I accepted the Lord Jesus. I have had trouble. I have had trials. I have seen the time when I had a wife and four children and not a penny to buy them another meal. But it came in time, for I know where to go- right to God, and He provided. I knew whom I trusted (2 Timothy 1:12). I knew He could get me out somehow, and He did.
If you want darkness turned into sunshine, if you want sadness turned into joy, if you want despair turned into glory, if you want defeat turned into victory, if you want all that is bad turned into all that is good, receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive Him right now.
Have you ever wondered what gave Daniel the ability to sleep in the lion’s den or what gave the three Hebrew boys the courage to be thrown into the fiery furnace? Have you thought about how Steven could have joy even as he was being stoned to death or how Peter and John could rejoice that they had been beaten for the lame man being healed? Have you considered what gave Paul and Silas the ability to sing praises to God at midnight in the dungeon after being beaten and put into stocks or how John on Patmos could “be in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” after being banished to that barren rock? Have you ever thought about what gave Jesus the power to face the cross with the “joy set before Him”?
Do you ever wonder how you can find joy in the midst of the chaos, trials, and troubles of life? Is is possible to do exactly that once you find the secret of being in Christ Jesus and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Our text tells us the secret: what brings joy is not the things of this earth but through the righteousness of Christ in us, through the peace that He gives us and in the joy brought to us by the Holy Spirit. In Galatians we read that the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit within us. Notice that the word is singular indicating that the fruit of the Spirit brings every part and piece of the fruit. It is inseparable and we don’t exhibit one part separated from the other parts. Let’s read the scripture:
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit].” (Galatians 5:22-25)
The fruit is the result and outward indication of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. In the same manner as the DNA of an apple tree causes it to produce apples, the DNA of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us produces the fruit of the Spirit. Neither can do anything else.
James describes it this way:
“Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” (James 3:11-12)
Now you may say that it is impossible to live such a life that is filled with overflowing joy and peace in the world today with all the things tugging and tearing at your spirit. Yet when we read the stories of our examples we find that they were facing an equally corrupt world and its pressures to conform.
What we will discover in each story is not that these were some kind of super heroes or giants of perfection. These were those who walked in the presence of God, those who sought God, those who had fully surrendered their lives to Him, and those who had relinquished control to Christ as Lord and Master. What I have found in my own life is that the areas I fully surrender to God are the places of peace and joy and those things I wish to retain control of are the places of stress and anxiety and distress. Perhaps it would be good for us to do a spiritual inventory and discover which things we have surrendered fully to God and which things we still wish to control. I think we would see that the defining differences is the measure of peace and joy against the anxiety and stress.
James again speaks to the simplistic method of receiving the joy of the Lord:
“But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “ God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].” So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you. Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people]. Be miserable and grieve and weep [over your sin]. Let your [foolish] laughter be turned to mourning and your [reckless] joy to gloom. Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].” (James 4:6-10)
To recapture what James says: He(God) gives us more and more grace through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin. God gives grace to the humble. So we submit to the authority of God. We resist the devil. We wash our hands (ceasing to handle the things of this world) and we purify our hearts through the renewing of our minds and controlling what we think. We grieve over our sins and we repent in humility. And God exalts us, lifts us up and gives us purpose.
Paul, who could sing a midnight in a dungeon tells us how to live a joyous life. He himself had lived a life of religious ritual that had left him empty and angry and incomplete but when he met Christ on the road to Damascus, his whole life and its purpose had new meaning. From a man who demanded strict observance of the law and religious ritual to a preacher and writer whose major topic was grace, Paul tells us that when Christ came into his heart and he was also filled with the Holy Spirit, his entire perspective changed. We too, can experience that same transformation. I remember at one church a brother and sister that had not spoken to each other for years happened to be in church one Sunday morning. That Sunday the sister came to the altar and received Christ as her Savior. It was one of those glorious salvations. God had taken a bitter, hateful woman and transformed her by His power. I remember watching the transformation of her face that day as it changed from her normal frown to expressions of joy. As the Holy Spirit moved over the congregation, it fell upon the brother. Though he was a Christian, he was still holding unforgiveness toward his sister. But that Sunday the Holy Spirit brought it to light and as he repented of that bitterness I watched as this brother and sister met at the altar and with tears and brokenness asked and gave forgiveness to each other. I cannot describe the joy on their faces that day when they both fully surrendered it all to Christ. O friend, if something is keeping you from experiencing the full joy of the Holy Spirit, give it up today. Let God remove the bondage of sin and pride and anger. Release your hurt, your despair, your fear and anxieties to the God who loves and cares for you more than you can imagine and receive from Him all that heaven has.
Romans 12 gives us instructions of how to bring this about:
“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” (Romans 12:1-2)
You may say, “I know I can receive the joy and peace of God, but how do I keep it? Again the Bible tells us how:
“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” (Philippians 4:6-8)
I promise you that if you will apply these principles to your life, you will experience the joy of the Lord in immeasurable ways. You will find His peace and joy even in the midst of adversity. So empty yourself of all those things that weigh you down and be filled with the Holy Spirit until He overflows your soul with overwhelming joy.
Dr. John Thompson