“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” – Colossians 2:6
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16
A Word to You
You want to change the world, and do big things for the cause of Christ and His kingdom. You want to touch the heart of your culture, wherever that may be. You have big dreams about how God might use your time and your passions to reach people and to further His kingdom. If so, this word is for you.
You are in a fight with your own sin, your flesh, and you often feel like its a losing battle. Sometimes you wonder whether there is any hope of victory. You long to finally be able to say you are free from the chains of your sin. If so, this word is for you.
You feel like your world is collapsing, and you don’t know where to turn. Your future seems shaky at best, and though you know God is there, you wonder, in the depths of your heart, is He really here? If so, this word is for you.
Your Spiritual walk feels dry, even lifeless sometimes. Every time you hear the sermon on Revelation 3, you feel like you are pretty much destined to be projectile vomited out of Christ’s mouth with the church of Laodicea, whatever that means. You try and show up every Sunday as the “Christian” everyone thinks they know you as, but really, you know lukewarm would be a better definition of your walk with Christ. If so, this word is for you.
I have been there. Every one of the above situations I have felt, or am feeling this very moment. There have been times when I have looked my life straight in the eyes, and come away feeling discouraged, wondering if God is really evident, or questioning why He seems distant, or wondering why He isn’t giving me victory, or simply praying that He would use me.
I have a passion to see myself and others on fire, burning hot in their walk with Christ. I want to see us as teens rise up and lead the charge when it comes to spiritual revival, so I’d like to give my best shot at speaking truth to each of these situations, and I believe it all comes back down to one thing: the Holy Spirit.
Yup. I played that card.
The Last Card
Sometimes it seems that the very mention of the Holy Spirit in a conversation about spiritual life turns the conversation into a cliché, academic discussion. I am hopefully going to attack that notion straight at its root. Going along with my card analogy, it also sometimes seems like we use the Holy Spirit as the last card in our hand. It is almost as if we are saying, “read your Bible, pray, try to not sin, memorize some verses, and when all else fails, hopefully the Holy Spirit will show up and make everything better.”
Sure this is a bit extreme, but isn’t this how we often talk and think?
I think Paul might disagree with this notion. In fact, I think Paul thought the Holy Spirit was so much more than the last card in our spiritual deck, or a cliché term in our Christian lingo. Listen to what he says in Romans 8:
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Emphasis mine)
Powerful words there, Paul. The Spirit is life. Not, “the Spirit should be deeply involved in our lives,” or “we should pray that the Spirit would help us.” But the Spirit is our very spiritual life and breath.
The Engine that Drives Us
I once heard an excellent analogy on how all this works. When you are out driving, what is it that allows you fly along at high speeds? It is the engine, the raw power of hundreds of horses under the hood. Likewise, the “engine” for our lives as Christians is the Holy Spirit. He is unseen, just like an engine, but it is clear from this passage that He is the one who provides the power necessary to live in Christ. He is the one that raised Christ from the dead, and it is He who gives us the strength to fight sin, provides direction for us, guides us is in the Word, gives us gifts and passions to glorify God with, and to use for His kingdom.
This should flip how we think about the Spirit completely. He is so much more than some unseen mysterious force that we can talk about, but we never really experience, He is the very power of God in our lives! But a question arises.
I think we would all agree that the Spirit is the key to a vibrant Christian walk. But, if we all have the Spirit (if we are saved), why then does it sometimes feel like we are living in a stagnant pit of defeat, and lukewarm, almost fake Christian living? Why does it feel like the “engine” of our lives is often stuck in 1st gear? I guess the question I am getting at is how do we “harness” the power of the Spirit? Is His presence and help just something we hope for?
“Walk In the Spirit”
The key to answering our question lies within Romans 8, just before the passage we looked at before.
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Emphasis mine)
So what is it Paul is getting at here? To put it quite simply, we have responsibility when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Look at the language Paul uses, “set the mind on, walk in, and live according to.” Action words. Verbs. In essence Paul is saying, “how can you say you want the Spirit to be living and active in your life if you don’t prove it with your actions? Get up and start taking action!”
Do you want to see progress in your fight with sin? Start fighting! Memorize scripture. Take practical steps. If you already are doing these things, keep on friend! The Spirit will come to your aid. You want to get out of the pit of lukewarm spiritual sludge? Open your eyes to the wonder of God and His redemptive story in His word. Read it. Live in it. It may feel cold, dry, and lifeless at first, but you must trust that the Spirit will work. Likewise, you want to be used for God’s kingdom? See the culture transformed? Pray, and trust that the Spirit will work, and know He already is working.
Just because we cannot “feel” the Spirit’s work at times, if we are doing what God has called us to do (walk in step with the Spirit, according to His word), we can be confident that the Spirit is working powerfully both through us and around us.
Rev the Engine!
Just like the engine to your car won’t get you anywhere unless you turn the key, the Spirit won’t work in a life that has embraced the lukewarm, with inactivity as its home. Instead, we have to take tangible steps towards the life God has called us to live. The Holy Spirit is already there with us, guiding us in His word, interceding for us, giving us strength to obey God, so let us keep on.
I think as teens, we all have a desire to see our lives glow with the power of the Spirit. We don’t want to be “just another person” in this world. Instead we want to truly live. For those of us who have found Christ, we want to live for Jesus Christ himself. Let this be my challenge to you my fellow teen, my fellow worker of the gospel: let’s get to work revving the engine to our spiritual lives, walking in the Spirit and setting our minds on Him, praying for His work to come set our hearts ablaze! And then let us watch as He changes our hearts and the hearts of those around us, one at a time, for the glorious cause of the Kingdom of God!