Tonight I want to speak with you concerning the confusion over the Holy Spirit. There certainly is a lot of misinformation being propagated concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit today. Unfortunately, many Bible-believing Christians are remaining silent on the issues, either because of the fear of offending someone, or because they simply do not know the Scriptures well enough to take a stand. Either reason is unacceptable.
I. Consider the problem of the Galatians.
A. The Passage: Galatians 3:1-3
1. Paul asked some questions of these believers.
2. "Who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?"
3. The word 'bewitched' doesn't necessarily mean that they were involved in the occult.
4. It means that they were fascinated or charmed away from the truth by someone or some teaching.
B. The Problem.
1. They had left the truth concerning their need for the Holy Spirit of God.
2. They were now relying upon the flesh.
3. He called the Galatians foolish because they trusted in God for salvation, but were relying on their own power and abilities to live their lives.
C. The point.
1. You cannot achieve a spiritual goal through natural means.
2. The Holy Spirit not only initiates spiritual life, He sustains it.
3. We are in danger of eliminating the Spirit of God from our life and ministry.
4. And unless we are perfected by the Holy Spirit, all our efforts are in vain.
II. Confusion About the Holy Spirit.
A. Misrepresentation of His work.
1. The Charismatic movement has contributed to the current de-emphases of the Holy Spirit's role in our churches and our lives.
2. For fear of identification with a lunatic fringe of Christianity many have said little about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
3. The result is that many believers try to live the Christian life in the power of the flesh rather than yielding to and walking in the Spirit.
B. An Overemphasis on the Miraculous.
1. Signs, wonders, healings, and miracles are associated with the Holy Spirit's ministry.
2. I have been told by a good number of people that unless these things are happening at our church...the Holy Spirit isn't working at Grace Baptist Temple.
3. It has also been said that if these so-called "miraculous" manifestations of the Spirit are not present in our lives, then we aren't really saved!
4. The Holy Spirit is seen as the "Magical" member of the Trinity who moves in ways that are either seen, felt, or heard.
5. All of this is totally unbiblical and untrue, but often the result of this is that the true ministry of the Spirit of God is overlooked or ignored.
III. Results of the Confusion.
A. Humanism is on the rise.
1. We have become man-centered.
2. Liberal theologians have examined the Bible in the light of human rationality and they threw out the parts they deemed irrational.
3. Man's mind has become his own standard, and many have come to believe that man has all the answers.
B. How this has infiltrated our lives and our churches.
1. A disinterest in prayer.
a. We understand the theology of prayer, the command to pray, and the various elements of prayer.
b. The problem is that we have come to believe that we don't need to pray!
c. Why pray and ask God to supply our daily bread when we can take care of it ourselves?
d. Someone who is desperate doesn't need a lecture on prayer, but those who think they have all the answers are the ones who need to be reminded of the importance of prayer.
2. A decline in God-centered preaching.
a. So much of today's preaching is man- centered.
b. The focus is man being reconciled to man rather than man being reconciled to God.
c. The term 'social gospel' describes much of what goes on in pulpits across America today.
d. The plight of the homeless, the rights of homosexuals, the dangers to our environment, and a host of other topics...anything except what man needs to hear...how to get right with God!
3. A lack of biblical understanding concerning the Sovereignty of God.
a. Many fail to understand this basic theological truth.
b. The humanistic approach to problem solving does not account for the sovereignty of God.
c. The humanistic approach also fails to recognize the depravity of man.
d. Man cannot solve his own problems, and God, because He is sovereign, can solve them.
4. An explosion of "professional problem solvers" has burst onto the scene.
a. Mental health centers, stress care specialists, psychiatrist and psychologists who are generally accepted as experts are practicing mental voodoo and many Christians are buying into it!
b. The ministry of the Holy Spirit has been disregarded and people have jumped head-first into a sea of humanistic philosophy and teaching on self-esteem, self-worth, and all sorts of man-centered so-called solutions to problems.
c. No wonder Paul exclaimed, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth..."
IV. The Final Authority for Problem Solving.
A. God's Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
1. You say, "Oh preacher that is too simple."
2. Who said it had to be difficult?
3. Many Christians have bought into the lie that deep emotional problems require some remedy that the Holy Spirit cannot provide through Scripture and prayer.
4. Do we believe ? 2Peter 1:3, "According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue."
B. Four ways that God has testified that His Word is wholly adequate for every spiritual need. cf 2 Timothy 3:16
1. Scripture teaches truth (is profitable for doctrine) it teaches us what is right.
2. Scripture reproves sin and error (for reproof) it teaches us what is wrong.
3. Scripture corrects behavior (for correction) it teaches us how to correct what is wrong.
4. Scripture trains us in righteousness (for instruction in righteousness) it teaches us how to stay right.
Our counselor must be God. The great tragedy of believers today is that their lives are filled with sin and with weakness. Solutions to personal, family, and church problems are found in God's counsel ministered through the Spirit of God. When we seek counsel it must be from those who acknowledge that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the application of the principles of God's Word that the solutions will come.
The Galatians had tried to perfect in the flesh what had begun in the Spirit, but it was a faulty solution then and it is a faulty solution now. God told Zerubbabel, "...Not by might, nor by power, but my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." cf Zech. 4:6
Have you neglected to rely upon the Holy Spirit for your strength to serve the Lord? We can put on a good show in the flesh, but it will not accomplish much and will not glorify God. Have you been bewitched? We must yield ourselves unto the Spirit of God and allow Him to fill and empower us to do the work that God has called us to do.