Tuesday, March 27, 2018

How do you train the spirit?

A young man, who was brought up in Christian parental guidance and a graduate of Christian education, was called into the bosses' office.  The boss declared how much the company appreciated his faithful work and wanted to do more than just words, so they gave him a significant financial bonus.  The young man left the office, looked up, and said, "God, I know that was you!"  That is an example of how a person who has a trained spirit reacts to things that happen rather than just think such events are good luck or happenstance.

If our greatest need (see prior post) is to train the spirit, how do you train the spirit?  A beginning answer is to depend upon the Holy Spirit.  The Word declares that the Spirit of God joins our spirit and comes to reveal Jesus, teach and guide us into all truth, and establish the relationship as sons who cry "Abba Father."   He will show us and lead us in the ways we should go, as we desire and seek to let Him work in us.

Man, similar to Peter's infamous declaration that he would never deny Jesus, seems to always think he can change himself, or by his own strength he can improve.  There are millions of self-help articles written with this underlying premise: man can better himself.  However, Paul points out that the ways of the flesh lead to death, it is the spirit that gives life.  Therefore, everyone falls short unless he learns to live by the spirit (empowered by the Spirit).  

Consider the foundation.  God wanted man to be spiritually alive so we could walk with Him (who is Spirit - John 4:24). Our spirit was intended to direct our mind, will, and emotions, just as we move in our body.  However, when man sinned, the central part of our existence, the spirit, died.  God the Father, desiring us to be reconciled to Himself, sent Jesus to pay for the consequences of sin.  Now through the power of Jesus' resurrection, it is possible for all men to be born again, and to receive a new spirit that can know God.  Born-again believers, are not only free from sin and eternal death in hell, but now can become sons of God (John  1:12) with promises that allow them to partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  Man, Romans 8:29 reveals, is predestined to be conformed to the image of His son.  The purpose of training the spirit is to become in our nature what Jesus Christ is.

Jesus, who is the Word personified, revealed to us the heart of the Father and accomplished all that was needed to bring man (us) back to God.  He further declared that He would send the Spirit who would teach us and lead us into all truth.  Now those born of the Spirit are given a new recreated spirit by which they can know God and His ways by revelation.  The Spirit confirms the truth of who Jesus is, and what He has done and taught, so our spirit, our inner-man can grow in wisdom and understanding.  Clearly the more we wait on God and allow the Spirit to show us truth, the more our inner man becomes strong and is able to direct our minds and body to line up.

What do we need to learn and apply to be trained in our spirit to live as God intended?  Obviously it starts with acknowledging that He is God and His promises are true.  Hebrews 6 states that "he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."  So the foundation truth is that God is exactly who He says He is, that He loves each one of us enough to have Jesus die for us, and that He desires us to know Him and be with Him forever.   Since the Word contains His promises, Jesus describes (in John 6) his words as "spirit and life."  The Word of God reveals God's nature, His power, His love, His truth, and everything about Him and His plan for man.  All is available for "Whosoever will," meaning the requirement is that we have to choose life over the death that reigns in our flesh.  We can choose daily to pick up our cross (death to flesh) and submit to the Spirit teaching and training our spirit to take control in how we live.  

So what does the Spirit teach our spirit? The first revelation is who God is and how much He loves us, which produces a new freedom that desires from the inside to respond to this love and please God rather than being forced to keep a set of rules.  Our spirit also learns spiritual disciplines such as prayer, thanksgiving, and praise which helps develop an intimate relationship with God.  Furthermore, the Spirit teaches our spirit to hear and discern the voice of God and His leading, and provides the power to obey Him.  Scripture in Philippians 2:13 describes this as "God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."  There are many aspects of knowing God and living in the spirit, of seeking His presence and having a constant awareness of the leading of the Holy Spirit, and of being transformed in our thoughts and choices that flow from being taught daily  precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. 

The purpose of parental education is to teach and train up a child in the ways he should go.  As the child becomes school-aged and grows in his understanding, nothing is more important than continuing to train the child's spirit, both at home and at school.  Children need to come to Jesus and accept His love and forgiveness at an early age.  Then it is important that all knowledge and truth presented is subject to the spiritual understanding of God's perspective and purpose, so the child's own spirit is trained to know God and to discern the voice of God so he can learn to make godly choices.  Sources of knowledge, such as public education, that can only teach the mind and body, do not have the capacity to train the spirit and instead are a detriment to growing in the spirit.

When public education was first instituted in this country, the Massachusetts law, called the "Old Deluder Satan Act of 1647", was designed to teach the Word of God so Satan wouldn't be able to deceive.  Unfortunately, public education has rejected the Word of God and now can only teach the mind and body, ignoring and often contradicting the spiritual development.  Children, or adults for that matter, who are not continually being taught and trained in spirit will always be immature and not capable of knowing the truth which sets them free indeed. 

From an eternal perspective, what could possibly be so important that it would distract us from daily being trained in the spirit by the Word and the Spirit, or from making sure that those in our charge are placed in an environment that acknowledges the Holy Spirit and is open to training our spirit to rule over our mind and body?

No comments:

Post a Comment