Ask a typical Christian to describe themselves, and you will likely hear one of a few answers, ranging from “sinner”, to “sheep”, to the more esoteric “nothing”. Likewise, if you ask them to describe their position, status or power, they will often tell you that they have none. Most believers think that they are utterly helpless and totally powerless today, due to a lack of understanding of what the Bible teaches regarding such things.
While it is true that we have no power, authority or position of ourselves, it is also true that we have great power, authority and position in Christ Jesus. The scriptures go into wonderful detail when explaining who we are in Christ and what we have in Him as well. This is what we will be studying today: the realities of the Holy Spirit of God on the inside of us, and what this has made us in Christ.
Right at the start some may be asking “Isn’t it good to think of yourself as a nobody? Isn’t it being humble to think of yourself as nothing?”, this is a valid question because especially in our culture today, it is seen as a sign of being truly humble to debase yourself. I thought this way as well for many years, I would mentally and even sometimes verbally abuse myself continually because I thought I was keeping myself humble. I would always call myself stupid and remind myself that I was worthless – and I would do it in the name of God, saying that this was a holy and right thing to do by keeping myself humble.
The reason why this is not true for us anymore, beloved child of God, is that it is no longer who you are, it is who you were. Sure, before we were born again, we were all helpless, we were all powerless and we were all foolish. That is not who we are anymore. The Bible is very clear on the fact that when you received Jesus, you became born again, and don’t shy away from that terminology, because it contains a wonderful truth; that the things which used to define your existence, do not define you anymore. What defines you now is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of God which dwells in you.
The people of the world define themselves by their lineage. “Well, my great grandfather had this condition, and my grandfather had it, my father had it too, so I guess I’m next!” – it sounds logical, it’s pattern recognition, until you realize the truth that you have been born again. You have been born from the inside out… your spirit has been made alive by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. And that very same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, also quickens your mortal body (Romans 8:11). That sickness or disease that has plagued your generations does not define you anymore! The power of Christ has redeemed you from the curse (Galatians 3:13).
When we get into the area of miracles and including physical deliverance and healing, there are many in the body of Christ today who will recoil. They consider it extreme, fringe or just plain weird; however this was not true in the scriptures. Consider in Numbers chapters 13 and 14 as we read the account of the twelve spies; I know that many of you are familiar with this story, but I want to focus your attention on a particular detail. Starting with Numbers 13:25, the spies return after scouting the Promised Land which God had already told them was theirs. They had a promise from God, which had been passed down from the very beginning. They heard the word of the Lord that the land was theirs, yet we read in verses 25-29, the following:
“And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word to them, and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
And they told him, and said, We came to the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.”
The spies report back and say yes, the land is flowing with milk and honey. The fruit of the land is great and it is a bountiful place! Never-the-less… and this is a phrase that we have become accustomed to in the body of Christ. It is a very destructive phrase – a very damaging attitude. The mere presence of this phrase has destroyed many lives and shipwrecked the faith of a lot of people. They say things like “Yes God is good, He is a great provider and a magnificent healer… But never-the-less…” and then they proceed to list all of the reasons why God will not do those things in your particular situation. It’s extremely destructive. The bottom-line however is that as far as God is concerned, a promise is a promise and we should never let the low-minded reasoning of man outweigh the words of God.
What should our response be when such stumbling-blocks are put in the way of our faith? Continue on to verse 30:
“And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”
What a stark contrast! Caleb (one of the twelve spies), stilled the people before Moses. Translation: he silenced them… he shut their mouths. And then he said something that could only be said through the influence and power of the Holy Spirit; let us go up at once, and posses it; for we are well able to overcome it.
You and I today are likewise given fantastic promises directly from God to each of us, and the giants and high, thick walls for us come often in the form of doubts, fears, thoughts and contradictory symptoms or evidence from our human senses. Make no mistake, these things are giants in our land, and walls that may appear to be unbreachable. When these things stand in our path though, we should respond as Caleb did here… we can go up at once and possess every single promise that God has given to us! We are well able to overcome our foes!
Now child of God, be prepared, because when you stand on the promises of God, sometimes even your brothers and sisters will think that you are insane. And this is exactly what we see in verses 31 through 33:
“But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched to the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
Take special notice of verse 32, in which their report of doom, failure and fear is called an evil report. Anything that runs contrary to the promises of God is absolutely evil, no question about it. If God gives you a promise, anything that tries to stand against that promise or undermine it, really only has one source behind it: evil. And as we continue on to Numbers chapter 14, we see how the effects of their evil report progress… in verses 1-4:
“And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said to them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
And why has the LORD brought us to this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”
It was ten of the twelve spies that returned with the evil report, but here we see that the entire congregation went into a state of mourning, weeping and wailing. When an evil report is received, it can have wide-reaching implications sometimes, not only for you, but for those around you as well. Every time that a believer accepts defeat, it sometimes causes others to doubt the faithfulness of God as well… and that’s exactly what we see here in verses 2 and 3. We see that the entire congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron, but it was ultimately God that they were doubting. Why did God bring us out here just to die? Well, the answer of-course is that He didn’t! Remember He promised them the land! He guaranteed the victory! The land was already theirs as far as God was concerned; but they didn’t believe the promise. They were so busy looking at what their senses told them, that they had forgotten what God had said, and in verse 4, we see how far doubting God can make us fall, as the people say: Let us appoint a captain, and let us return to Egypt. They wanted to return to their bondage! All because they wouldn’t believe the promise of God, in the face of their giants.
Look now at the response of Joshua and Caleb, the two of the ten spies, in verses 6 through 9:
“And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
And they spoke to all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which flows with milk and honey.
Only rebel not you against the LORD, neither fear you the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.”
Joshua and Caleb spied out the same land the other ten spies did. But they didn’t see the same thing! The other ten spies were going by their five senses, and Joshua and Caleb were going by their sixth sense, faith.
I love how in verse 9 Joshua and Caleb say: do not fear the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us, fear them not.
I will say it again, Joshua and Caleb saw something entirely different than what the other ten spies saw – because Joshua and Caleb were looking through their eyes of faith. And after Joshua and Caleb said this, all the other people came to their senses and decided to operate in like faith and go take the land… oh wait… that’s not what happened, look at verse 10, the entire congregation wanted to stone them! Some people will become so furiously angry with you when you stand on the promises of God, they will want you dead… but the LORD intervened for Joshua and Caleb… and we find that the LORD says something very interesting in verse 24; Caleb in-particular, the first one to speak up in favor of God’s promise has a different spirit. Caleb followed God fully, Caleb believed God’s promise and was not hindered by the sight of the giants or the thickness of the walls. Caleb, will enter the Promised Land and his seed will possess it.
Now what different spirit is this? It is the spirit of faith, the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit which only “came upon” people for a time under the Old Covenant, but now indwells us in the New Covenant. This same spirit of faith is inside of each and every believer in Christ (Romans 8:9). Caleb was not some super-spiritual figure that is so high on a pedestal that we can but dream about him. No, the Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 4:13 that we have the exact same Spirit of Faith today. You might think that you don’t have it because it doesn’t seem very active in your life… for that, turn to 2nd Timothy 1:6-10:
“Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Be not you therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be you partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”
If it seems as though the Spirit within you is weak, stir it up! The Greek used there means to fan into flames. When opposition to faith comes, don’t just lie down and let the naysayers roll over you… instead be exactly like Caleb and Joshua. Your loyalty is to God, your foundation is on His promises, not the words and opinions of men.
We see in verse 7 that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.
I’m so grateful that all three of these things are mentioned, because we tend to often forget them. The Holy Spirit is not a spirit of weakness or lack. It is not a spirit of timidity, but power. There is power residing in you right now, it is power over evil forces, power over Satan and all of his devices.
The Holy Spirit is also a spirit of love. This is the divine love of God. The love that keeps no record of wrongs, the love that is forgiving and benevolent and the love that reminds you of your righteousness in Christ Jesus. (John 16:8)
The Holy Spirit is also the spirit of a sound mind. The Holy Spirit brings peace to your thoughts and emotions. The Holy Spirit is the divine teacher, who always brings about order and eliminates confusion.
Notice then what is said in verse 8: Therefore (because of the Holy Spirit of power, love and a sound mind on the inside of you) do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner. It’s interesting that Paul would mention this here. Of all the things he could’ve said… he could’ve wrote, therefore, work harder, therefore give more, therefore fast longer. But no, he said, therefore, since you have this amazing Spirit of God indwelling you, don’t be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord. Then he goes on to say be a partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel. What afflictions are these? Remember what we read about Caleb and Joshua? When you stand for God, some people will hate you. When you trust in His promises, you will be called crazy, you will be called radical, fringe, hyper-grace. Whatever derogatory term is of the moment. It may cost you friendships, it may cost you family, and it may even cost you your life. But in the end, God can intervene. Paul was stoned by the very same stoning experts that stoned Stephen to death, but Paul got up and went on preaching! (Acts 14:19)
It is the Grace of God that is of supreme importance. Verse 9 makes it clear that God has saved us and called us to a holy calling, not according to our works, but by His purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Verse 10 then continues by telling us how very powerful the Gospel of the Grace of Jesus truly us, because Jesus even abolished death, and His Gospel brings both life and immortality to light. Why are both mentioned? One is for now, and the other is for eternity. That’s the power of the Gospel! That’s the grace of our God! Notice that this does not come through rules, laws or traditions, but it comes through the Gospel, it comes through the grace of Jesus Christ.
Never be ashamed of the testimony of Christ. Stand on the promises of God even when people laugh at you, because in the end, I’d rather be laughed at and healed, than accepted by the world and sick. I’d rather be mocked and blessed than accepted and cursed.
You are not of the world, you are born of God, and if so born again, you have a different spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and you have the gift of faith. Use it, hang on to it, and stand firm on it.