Last month we spoke about consciously fixing our minds on Christ. This month we turn to someone who can help us with that – the Holy Spirit.
Who is the Holy Spirit and What does He Do?
When we become Christians the Spirit of God miraculously comes to live inside of us. While in us during our time on earth the Holy Spirit acts as God the Father’s deposit, guaranteeing that the Father will complete our salvation in Heaven one day. During our time on earth the Holy Spirit works to keep our minds focused on Jesus all day, every day. He shows us our sin and helps us become more like Jesus.
But as Christians we live in two realities. We have the internal reality of the Holy Spirit living in us. And we have the external reality of day-to-day life. Living in this world is fraught with struggles, and temptations to sin. Difficulties, as well as our sinful natures, Satan and the allure of this world all conspire to draw our attention away from God.
So, What Do We Do?
We turn our eyes from the day-to-day reality and fix it on our internal reality – that miraculous renewal and transformation that the Holy Spirit is working inside of us. We also have a third reality: the Heavenly one. The goal, says Wendy Alsup in Practical Theology for Women, is to ‘mesh these [different realities] into one consistent perspective through which we view all the issues of life. On earth I’m bruised and beaten by external forces. In Heaven, Christ has secured a place for me in God’s presence for eternity.’
I find this enormously encouraging. In practical terms it’s like having two pairs of glasses. (Think of those giant, plastic, brightly coloured glasses you get at The Party Shop). One pair is your old-self glasses, the ones you wear when you watch the TV news at night and despair at what is happening in South Africa. The other pair is your new-self glasses, the ones you wear when you watch the TV news at night and trust that Jesus is in control of both South Africa and you. The goal is to consciously, constantly wear our new-self glasses and gradually discard the old-self ones.
Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Philippians 3:12 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
One Last Thing
We have spoken about actively setting our minds on Christ, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in us. But sometimes – in really difficult situations - we don’t even know how to fix our eyes on Jesus. We don’t know how or what to pray. It is at times like these that the Holy Spirit faithfully groans and pleads with the Father on our behalf. How wonderfully comforting and encouraging this is. Romans 8:26 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(The above adapted from Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Alsup).
So, let’s get to Bible study! In our COMA method this month we focus on Application. Once again, there are no changes in the questions from previous months but set aside a little more time to get this section right.
The passage: Colossians 3:5-17 New International Version (NIV)
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[a] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Now go through the passage together and discuss the following:
Context – What can you learn about the person or situation to which the letter is written? What clues are there about the author and his circumstances? What was the main point of the passage immediately before this one? Are there logical or thematic connections to the passage you are reading?
Observation – Are there any major sub-sections or breaks in the text? Are there key connecting words (for, therefore, but, because) that indicate the logical flow of the passage? What is the main point or points? What supporting points does the author make? What surprises are there in the flow of the argument?
Meaning – How does the text relate to other parts of the book? How does the passage relate to Jesus? What does this teach us about God? How could we sum up the meaning of this passage in our own words?
Application – How does this passage challenge (or confirm) my understanding? Is there some attitude I need to change? How does this passage call on me to change the way I live?
Set a date for next time. Pray together about what you have learnt.
by Brenda Daniels
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20,21.