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Scripture: Romans 8:10-13, John 16:12-14, Acts 2:38, Titus 3:4-7, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Introduction: Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is impossible. The presence of the Holy Spirit makes some very important things to take place. These include: We can be born again. We can grow in Christlikeness. We can accomplish the mission of Jesus.

One of God’s promises to us is this: We have a helper who empowers us. That helper is the Holy Spirit.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe that there is one God in three persons – the Father Almighty, Jesus Christ, His only Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Today, I want us to focus on this very essential element of discipleship. This is that disciples of Jesus are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as disciples is essential.

First, let’s look at the basics of discipleship.

1. There is the CALL. A disciple of Jesus is someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus and is committed to the mission of Jesus.

2. The COST: The cost of discipleship is everything we are and everything we have.

3. The COMMAND: The command of discipleship is to make disciples who make disciples.

Just as there are stages in the physical development of our bodies, there are stages of growth in discipleship. A person begins as spiritually dead. Then he progresses through the stages of infancy, a child, a young adult, and finally a spiritual adult.

In that mature spiritual adult, there is the completeness of discipleship. The evidence of this stage is that our relationship with God must impact every area of our lives. That includes our relationships with God, the church, our family, and the world. Other essentials of discipleship include love, Jesus, the Bible, and prayer.

And, to those, we add the essential role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a disciple.

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit isn’t just something tacked onto Christian life as an afterthought. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is impossible. Unless the Holy Spirit is present and doing His work, nobody can be born again or grow in Christlikeness. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot accomplish the mission of Jesus. Attempting to live the Christian life without the supernatural assistance of the Holy Spirit, is like trying to begin a cross-country road trip without any gasoline in the tank.

The way the Holy Spirit works is that He works in the background, and doesn’t seek to bring attention to Himself.

In John 16:12-14, Jesus explained this to His disciples when He said: “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify me because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

In a book called Your Father Loves You, the author, James Packer compares the work of the Holy Spirit to a floodlight illuminating the exterior of a building. He says, “If it’s done right, the floodlight calls no attention to itself and you might not even be aware of the source of the light. Rather, the floodlight just calls attention to the building it illuminates.”

That is how the Holy Spirit works. He doesn’t draw attention to Himself, but rather His purpose is to illuminate Jesus so that we can see Jesus and understand Jesus, and learn how to better follow Him. And, even more importantly, the Holy Spirit helps us to become more like Jesus.

You may be asking yourself, “But how does the Holy Spirit enter into my life?” The Holy Spirit comes to live in us at the time of our conversion to Christ.

You will remember what the apostle Peter declared in his sermon in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). And further, Peter and the apostles also said, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32).

The apostle Paul explained about the Holy Spirit’s role in Titus 3 when he wrote these words: “But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace; we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

The Holy Spirit brings regeneration (rebirth) and renewal through the washing of baptism and God pours out His spirit abundantly – not sparingly! How blessed we are to know that when we professed our faith in Christ and were buried with Christ in baptism, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit who now dwells in us and gives us life – abundantly!

So, how does the Holy Spirit working in our lives help us to live as disciples of Christ? First of all, we must understand that the Holy Spirit helps us to overcome the flesh and to live in obedience to God.

Next, Paul tells us in Romans 8:12-13: “So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Although the temptations brought to us through the flesh are strong, the power of the Spirit is much stronger. The good news for us is that there isn’t any temptation we face that we can’t overcome by the power of God’s Spirit in us. That is what Paul meant when he wrote 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it. “That way out is the presence and the empowering of the Holy Spirit within you.

We are not automatically strengthened with power. We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit and depend on the Holy Spirit. And, by doing so, we can overcome the flesh and live in obedience to the Lord.

The Holy Spirit helps us to become more like Jesus. This change is a process, not an instant achievement. First, comes a disciplined and habitual approach to walking in the Spirit. The components required are prayer, Scripture reading, fasting, worship, and service. By practicing these disciplines, we allow the Holy Spirit’s transformative power to work in our lives. As we walk in the Spirit and look into the Word of God, we are changed.

The second way that the Holy Spirit helps us to become like Jesus is through suffering.

In James 1:2-4 we see these words: “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

See trials with great joy? It certainly takes some spiritual help to view our trials with great joy! But we also know that our painful trials refine us and can prove the genuineness of our faith.

At some point in our lives, all of us will experience suffering. It will come to each of us in different forms. We might experience the physical suffering that comes from cancer, chronic illness, or life’s accidents. We might experience emotional suffering from childhood trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence, or mental illness. We might experience relational difficulties that pierce our hearts – betrayal, insults, gossip. Suffering can come as a result of our own sinful or foolish choices, and some of it comes because of the sinful and foolish choices of others.

When these sufferings come, God is present through His Holy Spirit, and ready to help in ways that transcend our ability to understand. As we continue to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, then we will be pleasing to our God. Fruit-bearing, that is, spiritual maturity does not happen in a day or a week. It is, instead, the task of a lifetime, an ongoing growth process. It will take time, but it will happen because the Spirit will help make it happen if we don’t give up.

We cannot succeed in the Christian life in our own strength and ability. We, in our humanity, don’t have the ability to follow Jesus, be changed by Jesus, and join in the mission of Jesus without help. We need the Holy Spirit to be able to do these things. God promises to give us the strength and ability that we need to please Him through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

And, of great importance to understand, we all have to start at the same place. We have to first believe, confess, repent, and be baptized into Christ, to walk in the newness of life. And when we do, we are born again and receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Gary K Fair

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