If you want to walk in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit, you need to know your spiritual heritage. You need to know how to draw upon the inexhaustible resources of God's love, wisdom, power, forgiveness, and abundant grace by faith alone.
It is impossible to walk vigorously and dynamically in the Spirit without spending unhurried time in fellowship with our Lord in his Word — in prayer and in personal study. You must listen attentively to him for his directions for your daily activities and witness for Christ.
After many years of working with thousands of Christians, I am convinced that one cannot enjoy the full and abundant life, which is your heritage in Christ, apart from the proper balance between Bible study, prayer, and sharing Christ with others out of the overflow of an obedient, Spirit-filled life. God calls you not only to experience this great adventure with Christ for yourself, but also to share this good news with others.
A word of caution is in order at this point. You become spiritual and experience God's power as a way of life as a result of faith and faith alone. The Bible clearly teaches that "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17), and that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebews 11:6). The practice of spiritual disciplines and activities is the result of faith. Bible study, prayer, witnessing, and obedience are vitally important, but they should be regarded as the result — the overflow — of the life of faith, not as the means of faith, though faith grows as you see the faithfulness of God through an understanding of his Word.
Paul says, "I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord's mighty power within you" (Ephesians 6:10). Jesus Christ, the visible expression of God in whom dwells all of the fullness of the Godhead bodily — to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given — lives in all of us who have become his children through faith in Christ. You do not have any strength in yourself. You must rely totally upon the mighty resurrection strength of our Lord through his Holy Spirit.
As a young man in college and later in business, I used to be very self-sufficient and proud of what I could accomplish on my own. I believed that a man could do just about anything he wanted to do on his own if he was willing to pay the price of hard work and sacrifice, and I experienced some degree of success. Then, when I became a Christian, I was introduced to a whole new philosophy of life that was diametrically opposed to my previous philosophy. A life of trusting in God's power replaced my life of trying in my own power.
Now I realize how totally incapable I am of living the Christian life — how weak I am in my own strength and yet how strong I am in Christ. As Paul said, "I can do everything through him (Christ) who gives me strength."
In John 15:4-5, the Lord stresses the importance of drawing your strength from him:
"Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. For a branch can't produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart form me. Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me, you can't do a thing."
In your own strength you are helpless, spiritually impotent and fruitless; you are like a branch cut off from the vine if you try to live your own life, even as a Christian. But if you abide in Christ, and his Word abides in you, it is his life-giving power that is expressed through you and enables you to live and witness for him.
Jesus explained the importance of a fruitful witness in John 15:8: "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
I have never led anyone to Christ and I never shall, though I have had the privilege of praying with thousands who have received Christ as a result of my witness. The new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I cannot boast over much fruit or be discouraged with little fruit. The responsibility for fruit belongs to the Holy Spirit, who works in and through me, producing fruit and changing the lives of individuals. My role is to trust God and obey him. The words of a great old hymn, Trust and Obey, express this well:
When we walk with the Lord, in the light of his Word, What a glory he sheds on our way. When we do his good will, he abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.
All that God expects of you is your availability, your trust, and your obedience. Success in witnessing is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. In Ephesians 1:19-12 Paul writes,
"I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in heaven, far, far, above any other king or ruler or dictator or leader. Yes, his honor is far more glorious than that of anyone else either in this world or in the world to come. And God has put all things under his feet and made him the supreme Head of the church — which is his body, filled with himself, the Author and Giver of everything everywhere."
The Lord Jesus commissioned the disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, with the promise that he would always be with them. Jesus didn't say to them, "Go into all the world, and good luck." He said, "Be sure of this — that I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
Our living Savior, the One whom you serve, is the omnipotent God! He is the One whom the Bible says,
"...is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all, and, in fact, Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can't; the spirit world and its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory" (Colossians 1:15-17). "...For God wanted all of himself to be in his Son...In him lie hidden all the mighty untapped treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
"...Don't let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on men's thoughts and ideas, instead of on what Christ has said. For in Christ there is all of God in a human body; so you have everything when you have Christ, and you are filled with God through your union with Christ. He is the highest Ruler, with authority over every other power" (Colossians 2:9-10).
If you have Christ, you have everything you need, for, as Paul writes to the church in Colosse, you are complete in him. Do you need love? Our Lord Jesus Christ is the incarnation of love. Do you need joy? He is joy. Do you need peace? Christ is peace. Do you need patience? Christ is patience. Do you need wisdom? Christ is wisdom.
Do you need material possessions so that you can better serve Christ? They are available in him. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and I would remind you of his promise to supply the needs of all who trust him. Christianity is Christ, and you are complete in him. He will provide all you need.
A careful study of Romans, especially the first eight chapters, can have a revolutionary impact on the life of any sincere seeker after truth. Romans 6 especially reminds us of four truths:
1. We are no longer under sin's control.
"Your old evil desires were nailed to the cross with him; that part of you that loves to sin was crushed and fatally wounded, so that your sin-loving body is no longer under sin's control, no longer needs to be a slave to sin; for when you are deadened to sin you are freed from its allure and its power over you" (Romans 6:6-7).
2. We are alive to God.
"So look upon your old sin nature as dead and unresponsive to sin, and instead be alive to God, alert to him, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).
3. We must give ourselves completely to God.
"Do not let any part of your bodies become tools of wickedness to be used for sinning; but give yourselves completely to God — every part of you — for you are back from death, and you want to be tools in the hands of God to be used for his good purposes" (Romans 6:13).
4. We must obey God.
"Don't you realize that you can choose your own master? You can choose sin (with death) or else obedience (with acquittal). The one to whom you offer yourself — he will take you and be your master, and you will be his slave" (Romans 6:16).
One day my wife Vonette and I were wading down a shallow stream in Yosemite Park with our two sons. Because the rocks were slippery, I was holding our five-year-old, Brad, by the hand to keep him from slipping. Suddenly Brad did slip on one of the rocks, and his feet went out from under him. He would have had a serious fall and could have been injured had I not held him firmly until he regained his balance. As we continued our walk, Brad looked up into my face with a radiant expression of gratitude and said, "Daddy, I'm sure glad you saved me from falling."
In the flash of a moment, it was as though God had spoken to me, and I looked up to him and said, "Father, I am so glad that you have kept me from falling!" Oh, this Christian life is wonderful. It is exciting! It is filled with adventure for those who obey God and let him control their lives — who walk with him moment by moment, day by day, allowing him to hold their hands.
This personal, intimate walk with Christ, our Savior and our friend, is Christianity — not the fleshly striving, strain, labor, and self-disciplining which is usually characteristic of the average, misinformed Christian. If you desire to walk in the Spirit, be sure to know your resources as a child of God so that you can say with the apostle Paul, "I can do everything through him (Christ) who gives me strength" (Phillipians 4:13).