Are we really, Biblically, personally following Jesus? Part 4 Following Jesus transforms us from the inside out.

God only blesses the broken sinner who fully surrenders to God and receives His forgiveness. The broken sinner stops his resistance to the will of God. He stops making excuses for doing things his own way. Instead, he now humbly FOLLOWS HIS LORD JESUSFor godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

What happens to those who really repent?

Remember the Ezekiel prophecy says that two things will happen to the born again. All receive a new spirit and a new heart.

So first of all, at the point of repentance, the Holy Spirit enters the spirit of the broken sinner. This is what it means to be born again. And now the supernatural transformation begins. That is right the Almighty God pours Himself into the human spirit.

Everything about this is miraculous! Can you comprehend the fact that the living God lives inside a person’s spirit? This is not a theological theory, but a new reality! The great promise of Ezekiel, “I will put a new spirit in you” is fulfilled in every true Christian. Everything is DIFFERENT! Everything changes!

What is the evidence of a new heart?

The first thing the Lord Jesus tells us about this new heart change is found in Matthew 5:6. Immediately brand new godly passions surge from the grace the Holy Spirit releases which cause a starving desperate hunger to gnaw inside the new believer. With the evil heart removed the new heart pangs of hunger for God and His goodness. The great desire to please and obey God floods into their soul and forces the Christian to use their mind to read the Bible and pray. Desire always precedes action.

Remember the good heart can produce a lot of good fruit. The evil heart produces NO good fruit. But the harvest is in response to understanding the word of God. As Jesus taught, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Matthew 13:23 (NLT)

So this NEW hunger and thirst is the first evidence of salvation. This is not a natural hunger but the miraculous change of God’s presence inside a new heart. The desire to please God and not sin, the hunger to read God’s Word, and the pull to be with other Christians is the work of the Holy Spirit and the tender, responsive heart.

But there is far more to this miraculous transformation than just desires. Jesus promises the born-again Christian will be flooded and stuffed with righteousness. We know this from His words in Matthew 5:6, “they will be satisfied.” The Greek is “gorged” a stronger meaning than just satisfied. Years later the apostle Paul clarifies this truth by saying, “…Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)

Next, the apostle Peter writes, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! 4  We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.” 2 Peter 1:3-4 (MSG)

The miraculous grace of God brings people to repentance and continues to miraculously transform the Christian as the Holy Spirit lives inside their spirit. Peter also makes it clear that “terrific promises” like we find from Ezekiel are the ticket “that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:4 (NLT) This is amazing grace!

How does the tender heart of obedience affect the human spirit?

The divine nature implanted in our spirit releases endless grace inside us from the Holy Spirit. Again grace is the “divine influence upon the heart” but now a tidal wave that floods from the new divine nature of God Almighty dwelling within every Christian. This is what frees the disciple of Jesus from the “corruption” of the old sinful heart.

This is important, you must understand that this is not a fair fight! Your human desires (strong desires for your own will and sin) are overpowered by God’s divine nature. This is why Ezekiel’s promise is your ticket to freedom! The promise is CLEAR! “I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”

Notice also, He does not say that you should, ought to, or are supposed to obey God’s commands. No, it says,  “…you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”

What will be gushing from your heart by the Holy Spirit?

Jesus described the result of spiritual birth as “Rivers of living water will flow from (your) heart.” The Greek used here is a gushing flood. But what exactly will be gushing from your heart by the Holy Spirit?

Again remember the born-again Christian is flooded and stuffed with righteousness. Now he has a good heart, not an evil heart.

Now one of the first things we discover is that righteousness floods from the Holy Spirit lifting the normal Christian to live life in such a way that they easily do far MORE than fulfill the law of God.

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 (AMP)

You must understand this righteousness is not just an applied righteousness from God like a coat, but the real righteousness from within that transforms your behavior. You cannot live like the Pharisees and just believe you are more righteous because of Jesus. He makes this abundantly clear through the next whole section of His talk.

He compared the lifestyle demanded by the Law that the Pharisees taught to the FAR MORE righteous lifestyle of the new heart and new spirit that He provides through the Holy Spirit.

In fact, the very Greek word that is translated more or exceed is not the same as we use in English. It is superabounding and it means not just a little more, but it is the difference between having one billion dollars and everyone else having a penny. Jesus is not saying Christians must have two cents worth of righteousness instead of one cent like the Pharisees, but the Pharisees have zero and true Christians have billions.

The Lord makes it clear in Matthew 5, the superabounding flood of righteousness, mercy, purity, and peacemaking gushing out of the Holy Spirit alters the way a Christian thinks, acts, and feels about others.

The ABUNDANTLY MORE RIGHTEOUSNESS of the Spirit drives Christians to such extremes that they show so much mercy that murder is not even an option. Instead of revenge, they forgive, reconcile with their enemies, and settle their differences even when it is the hardest thing they ever had to do in their lives. Nothing stops them from restoring relationships. If the Christian has offended or wrongfully gained from another they let nothing stop them from doing the right thing by paying the last penny back without going to jail. The narrow road follower of Jesus shows mercy and forgiveness and works hard to restore any relationship back to where it was before an offense was committed.

The righteous Christian does the will of God because they are flooded by the Spirit of God.

How does the Holy Spirit affect the human spirit?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” [2 Corinthians 5:17] And God’s Word guarantees “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” [Romans 8:16 NKJV] How does He “bear witness with our spirit” so that we know we are Christians? Well, remember, a witness in a courtroom gives testimony and evidence. So when the Holy Spirit invades your spirit He brings life-changing evidence!

A born again person is someone who has a direct connection with Almighty God by receiving the Holy Spirit inside their human spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. They are new creatures by the revolutionary change that takes place inside them when the Holy Spirit enters their spirit, and this permanent transformation establishes them as adopted children of God.

Like plugging a pinball machine into the electrical wall socket, new spiritual life ignites and activates all kinds of new things once dormant or non-existent in the human spirit without God. Yes, the Holy Spirit activates or gives life to the dead spirit of the sinner. His grace rushes into you and connects you directly to Him which makes you a brand new, supernatural creature.

This grace of God…

1/ surges into the human spirit lighting up the conscience,

2/ establishes and stretches real faith,

3/ starts cravings for fellowship with God and other Christians,

4/ activates spiritual gifts,

5/ initiates a hunger for worship,

6/ kickstarts new ideas of creativity,

7/ stirs up new thoughts and ideas for discernment,

8/ and enlightens the heart with new wisdom.

All these functions of the human spirit were turned off or fully corrupted because your stubborn evil heart was dead in trespasses and sin, but immediately at salvation, spring to life by His mighty power! This flow of supernatural energy never ceases, because God’s grace has no end. And these new spiritual experiences are the evidence of being a new creature in Christ.

For example, before new birth, the conscience of the human is clouded and dark without God’s presence emblazing the holy standards of His Law upon it. Before salvation, the evil heart cannot produce good fruit. After salvation, the harvest of the good heart produces massive activity in your spirit.

And finally, the great harvest of fruit promised by Jesus grows from each true disciple because the bent of the heart is driven by the love of God. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14 (AMP) “For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us…”. No longer does selfishness and personal dreams drive the disciple of Jesus because the “love of God has poured into our hearts” and we focus our love and obedience to following Jesus and fulfilling His will. We disciple others because He gave us all that command. We help teach new Christians how to follow Jesus because we love to obey Jesus. The harvest of the fruit of the Spirit is a reality that strengthens us to fulfill God’s will and goals!

Called to die to my goals. Called to live for His goals.

Jesus says in John 15:8-11 (NLT)

8  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

9  “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.

10  When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

11  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

 

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