Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: A huge issue in our churches and in our Christian lives is that we are not filled with the Holy Spirit—and that creates havoc. That’s what creates disunity and conflict and emptiness and shallowness and hypocrisy—and all the things that the world looks at the church and says, “Who wants that?”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, November 22. Happy Thanksgiving.

Repentance, honesty, holiness, forgiveness, purity: put them together and you’ll be experiencing revival. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been teaching us about those qualities and she’s back to explain how the Holy Spirit relates to being revived.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I talked with a woman a week or so ago who has just been through the Seeking Him series. She said, “The chapter on the Holy Spirit transformed my life.” Coming to know the Holy Spirit and to experience His ministry in your life will transform anybody’s life, I believe.

As we’ve talked over these past few days, aren’t you thankful for the ministry of the Holy Spirit? I wonder if you’ve heard some things or thought about some things that maybe were fresh to you, as we’ve talked about the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit: God wants to lease and unleash in our lives and through our lives into this world.

It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that transforms our lives into the image of Christ. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that empowers us and enables us to obey God and then to serve Him—to be useful. We can’t serve Him apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we talked about in the last session, I am so thankful for the power of the Holy Spirit within us that enables us to overcome the pull of our flesh with its sinful tendencies. If it weren’t for the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I would always have to live under the gravity of our sinful flesh—our corrupt flesh—this body of sin that lives within us.

It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that overcomes that power of gravity—that power of sin—that power of our flesh. Coming to recognize and live under the influence and the ministry of the Holy Spirit will transform every area of your lives.

Not only is the Holy Spirit a person who wants to work in us and do things for us and through us and in this world, but we need to look at how we are to respond to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. That is what I want to focus on today—some “do’s” and some “don’ts” about responding to the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us.

First, the don’ts. Scripture is very clear about some things, some ways we are not to respond to the work of the Holy Spirit. First of all, we are warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is a real person. He’s not a thing. He’s not an "it." He’s not “Casper the Ghost.” He is not an ethereal thing out there. He is a person, and He has feelings, and He can be hurt.

We are cautioned in the Scripture not to grieve the Holy Spirit—not to cause Him to sorrow. I think one of the saddest verses in the Old Testament is found in Isaiah chapter 63, where it is speaking of God’s people. It says, “They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit” (verse 10). They rebelled against God. They resisted His authority.

Those of you who are moms know that when your children rebel against God’s authority or against your authority and they make choices that are foolish choices—when they say, “No I’ll have it my way,” that that grieves your heart as a mother. Not only because they are resisting your authority, but even more than that, you want them to be blessed.

You want them to experience God’s best in their lives. It grieves you when you see them make choices that are rebellious choices because you know they are going to reap consequences. You know God is not going to be glorified in their lives when they’re in a state of rebellion. In the Old Testament, the Jews rebelled; they got off the track. They went after false gods. They forsook Jehovah. In the process, they grieved the Holy Spirit.

Paul says to the Ephesians believers in Ephesians chapter 4, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (verse 30). Then he also tells the believers, “Don’t quench the Holy Spirit,” in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 19.

“Do not quench the spirit.” That word quench means, “to extinguish or to stifle the power or the energy of something.”

If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit lives in you. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit within you, you are not a child of God. You don’t get the Holy Spirit as a second additional blessing sometime after you get saved. At the point that you are birthed into the family of God—born into the Body of Christ—you are given the Holy Spirit within you.

That Holy Spirit is at work within you, to make you like Jesus, to sanctify you, to use you, and to work through your life to be a blessing to other lives. Paul is saying, “Don’t stifle His work. Let the Holy Spirit have His way. Let Him do what He wants to do in you. Let Him work in you. Don’t quench the Holy Spirit.”

Then we go to Acts chapter 7. As Stephen is being martyred for his faith, he looks right into the eyes of those that are putting him to death and he says, “You stiff-necked people . . . you always resist the Holy Spirit.”

We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit; we are not to quench the Holy Spirit; we are not to resist the Holy Spirit. When you think about it, what makes us think that we could possibly succeed in resisting God? As one old-time speaker said, “Your arms are not long enough to box with God. He will win.”

But at times we are foolish enough to try. “Lord, I want my way. I don’t want Your way!” So God convicts us of something and we try to drown the conviction in chatter or food or shopping or sleep—just resisting the Holy Spirit; ignoring His promptings; ignoring His conviction.

The Holy Spirit says in your heart, “Don’t say this,” and you say, “I’m going to say it anyway.” Or He says, “Don’t go there.” You say, “I’m going there anyway.” When we do, we’re being stiff-necked. We’re being stubborn. We’re resisting the Holy Spirit.

When we grieve or quench or resist the Holy Spirit, we find that we lose His power. His empowering departs. We lose the blessing—the fullness of God in our lives. We cannot afford to be without the power, the blessing, and the fullness of God. So the Scripture gives us a caution not to quench, not to grieve, and not to resist the Holy Spirit.

How are we to respond to the Holy Spirit? Let me give you several “do’s”—ways we should respond to the Holy Spirit, as we find them in the New Testament.

First, we are to be led by the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:18, “Be led by the Holy Spirit” (paraphrase). To be led suggests that we are to submit ourselves to Him, that we are following—we’re saying “yes.” We’re agreeing with whatever He says by our lives.

  • The Holy Spirit leads us through the Word of God.
  • The Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the Scripture.
  • He is the one who illuminates it to our understanding.
  • He personalizes it to us.

As I’m reading God’s Word—it was written thousands of years ago and yet a verse pops out or a passage or a principle or a truth, and the Holy Spirit says, “This is for you. This relates to what you just said to that person or what you’re about to do or this decision you’re about to make.”

The Holy Spirit is leading me through the Word of God, so I need to learn to recognize when the Holy Spirit is personalizing the Scripture to me; when He’s applying it to my life. I need to say, “Yes, Lord. I will do what You’re saying. I will follow You.” Be led by the Spirit.

Then in Ephesians chapter 5—you’re all familiar with this verse—we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God—to “Be filled with the Spirit” (verse 18). To “be filled with the Spirit,” simply means to be under the control of the Holy Spirit; for every part of my life to be dominated by and under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit filling every part of me—not just a compartment of my life that is “Sundays/church time/ministry time,”—but when I’m in the workplace, when I’m sitting at my computer working, when I’m with my family, when I’m on vacation, when I’m playing, when I’m reading. All day long, every part of my life is to be permeated, filled with the influence, the fragrance, the effects, the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit. Think about somebody who has been caught for driving under the influence of alcohol—DUI—under the influence. What is true of the person who’s under the influence of alcohol? They’re under its control.

When they’re under its control, they become a different person. They start to do things they would not otherwise do if they weren’t under the control of alcohol. It makes them do things that are out of character with who they are generally and naturally. They’re under the influence of alcohol.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be under the control—the influence not of a negative substance like alcohol, but the Holy Spirit of God.

That is why Paul uses this word picture—actually it’s a word picture of drunkenness in Ephesians chapter 5, when he talks about being filled with the Spirit. He says, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled [drunk, under the influence, controlled] with the Spirit.”

I'm afraid when we preach this verse today or when we think about it in the church, we tend to emphasize the first part. "Don't get drunk with wine. Drunkenness—that's bad. It's wrong. It's serious. It's sinful." Everyone agrees with that.

Then we treat the second part like an add on: "But be filled with the Spirit." I have to say that I've seen far more damage done in the church of Jesus Christ by “un-Spirit-filled” Christians, if I could coin that term, than I think has probably ever been done by drunks.

Drunks are not having a whole lot of negative impact on most of our churches. There are people who struggle with alcohol (and I don't mean to diminish the significance of that issue), but I'm saying that a huge issue in our churches and in our Christian lives is that we are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

That creates havoc. That's what creates disunity and conflict and emptiness and shallowness and hypocrisy and all the things that the world looks at the church and says, "Who wants that?" Because the people in our churches are not being filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit—if you take this command lightly or you ignore it or you gloss over it or you don't stop to think about it or to obey it, if you're not filled with the Holy Spirit—you will do great damage to the church of Jesus Christ.

It is not just about your life. It is about the impact of the whole Body of Christ. This is a command: “be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not as some suggest. It's not an ecstatic, mystical experience. It's not a one-time experience. It's not, "Oh, yes, I was filled with the Spirit back in 1985, and I've lived like a heathen ever since."

“To be filled with the Holy Spirit,” means being filled perpetually, continually, for all of your life, 24-7—being filled under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It's a way of life—always under His control and His influence.

I would just ask even at this moment, "Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?" You say, "I don't feel anything." Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a matter of feelings; it's a matter of faith. Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to permeate, to control you? Are you saying “Yes,” to Him? Are you following His influence? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?

You say, "Well, yes, it's not so hard while I'm sitting in here today, listening to you teach the Word."

Let me ask you this:

  • Were you filled with the Holy Spirit when you left home this morning?
  • Were you filled with the Holy Spirit when you talked to your mate this morning?
  • Were you filled with the Holy Spirit last night when you were dealing with that issue with your children?
  • Are you filled with the Holy Spirit in your workplace?
  • In your church?
  • In your relationships?
  • In your private time?
  • In what you're eating?
  • In what you're drinking?
  • In what you're saying?
  • Are you being filled with the Holy Spirit?

It's something we need to always be conscious of, consciously, constantly, consistently, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

We are to walk in the Spirit. Be led by the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, and then walk in the Spirit. This is similar to the other two, but it's just another phrase the apostle Paul uses in Galatians chapter 5.

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh . . . If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (verses 16 and 25).

I think that walking in the Spirit, similar to being led by the Spirit, refers to a responsiveness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It's being conscious of when He is moving us and when He is leading us, and walking in accordance with those promptings.

A lot of people get off the track here. God gets blamed for more acts of disobedience and un-biblical behavior by saying, "Well, I'm just following the Spirit. I'm just following the promptings of God." And people are doing things that are utterly inconsistent with or even contrary to the Word of God.

Let me assure you that anything the Holy Spirit prompts you to do will be consistent with the Word of God. The Spirit of God will never lead you or ever prompt you to do anything that is contrary to the Word of God.

I'd go even further to say that if you're not in the Word of God you will not have promptings of the Spirit. You won't know what they are. It's through the Word that the Holy Spirit leads and prompts us.

I've heard people talking about God leading them to divorce their mate. God will not lead you to do anything that is contrary to God's Word. God will not lead you—those of you who are younger women—God will not ever lead you to marry a non-believer. Therefore, God will probably not lead you to date a non-believer.

So you say, "God is prompting me to date this guy. He doesn't love the Lord. He's not under God's authority. He's not walking with the Lord." That is not the prompting of God's Spirit. That is your flesh. That is your desires. That is you saying, "I want to do what I want to do." God will not prompt you in ways that are inconsistent with His Word.

We justify so many things by saying, "The Spirit of God led me." The Word of God always trumps our own feelings, our own imagination, our own promptings, and He works through the Word of God.

Paul says, "Walk in the Spirit, and as you do you will not fulfill the lusts of your flesh."

I don't know about you, but I need that verse daily and all throughout the day. My flesh has so many drives, so many passions, so many things that want to be fulfilled that are not from God.

A lot of women I meet and a lot of women who love Revive Our Hearts, love reading my books, and love doing the studies I've written and come up and say, "We love your ministry." I find that many of these women know the truth; they know the Word; they're committed to doing everything "just right."

They dress modestly; they're not involved in immorality; they prioritize their family, and they protect their kids from ungodly influences. Some of them home school their kids. They're involved in Bible study and church life. They're busy serving others. They're keepers at home.

But in many cases they don't exude, they don't exemplify the fullness, the fragrance of the Spirit of Christ. What do I mean by that? Some of those women are rigid. They're uptight. They're inflexible. They're judgmental. Now, I'm not speaking of all—of course. You know that it takes one to know one. This is something I wrestle with in my life.

I find that I can be so quick to criticize others; quick to be perfectionistic; quick to cut off people that don't see it the way I see it. They're not joyful women. They're not free women. There's not a fullness there. They're critical of those that don't measure up to their standards. Again, this is where I tend to gravitate myself. They dot all their "i"s; they cross all their "t"s, but they're missing the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit.

I look at some of these women and I think, "For you the Christian life is a chore. It’s not a joy." They look like they're enduring Christianity rather than enjoying Jesus, its Author. They're turning it out.

Your kids know. They see that. They're not so impressed that your orthodoxy—your theology is right and your behavior is right. What they see is your spirit. Some of your kids are getting turned off to the gospel, turned off to Christ, and turned off to the church because of what they're seeing in their home or in the church is this uptight, rigid, joyless, lack-of-fullness approach to Christianity.

I think we're responsible for some of what's happening in this next generation, as kids are saying, "I don't want that," and they're being drawn to things that are of this world; things that are not godly because they see there a fullness—they think. It's not really full. But that's where we want our lives to draw people and to be winsome, to be joyful, to be full of the Spirit of God.

We want to live the kind of lives that make our families, the people in our workplaces, the people in our churches, to be drawn to Jesus so they will say, "That's what I want to be like," as they see the fullness of Christ in us.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. You may be putting pressure on your husband by doing everything right but making life rigid and uptight. "We're going to be a good Christian family. We're going to keep these rules. You are going to be a spiritual leader. We are going to have family devotions. We are going to live within these guidelines." Who wants that kind of Christianity?

I'm not saying, “Throw out the standards and the guidelines and the theology and the appropriate behavior.” I'm just saying, “Make sure it's driven and motivated by the Holy Spirit of God.”

Jesus said, "If you believe in Me, out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water," John chapter 7. Then it goes on to say, "This he spoke of the Holy Spirit, which they who believed in him would receive" (verses 38-39, paraphrase).

Is there fullness flowing out from you? Fullness. Rivers of living water. Are you just gutting it out? God does not intend for you to just eek out the Christian life. He wants it to be an expression of fullness in you and through you.

My concern for the fullness of the Holy Spirit is not just for our individual lives, but I carry a burden for our churches to experience the fullness of God's Spirit. It's the Holy Spirit that makes the presence of Christ real in our churches. We must worship in Spirit and in truth.

I've noticed that churches tend to gravitate more toward one or the other of those. You have some churches that have a lot of emphasis on the Holy Spirit, and you have enthusiasm, and you have emotion. But these churches, in many cases, are not biblically grounded. There are violations of Scripture going on in some of those churches—doctrinal error. That doesn't please the Lord.

Then I see some other churches that respond, "We're not going to get carried away with all that emotion and all that enthusiasm. We are grounded. We are a church that is based on the Bible. We are based on truth." They are orthodox. They're straight. But in some of those churches there is an absence of the Spirit, the power, the presence, the life, the joy, and the fullness of God.

Satan loves to keep us in one extreme or the other, individually and corporately. We need both. If you're listening to me and you're saying, "Well, my church isn't balanced. My church is off in one direction or the other." That's not a license for you to be critical.

Walk in the Spirit. Pray in the Spirit. Intercede on behalf of your church. Say, "Lord, there's a lot of truth in my church, and I thank You for that," or "There's a lot of emphasis on the Spirit and a lot of freedom, and I thank You for that, but Lord, would You balance us? May we worship you in Spirit and in truth."

God's Word says, "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground" (Isaiah 44:3). That's a picture of the Holy Spirit of God—the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God.

I don't know about you, but I sense so often in my own life barrenness—dryness, a need to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. I need that. You need that. Our churches need that. We need an outpouring—the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God on His people in our day.

I believe we will experience that, as by faith, we are willing to be led by the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, and to walk in the Spirit.

Lord, how I pray that we would not grieve Your Holy Spirit; that we would not quench the Spirit and that in no way would we resist Your Spirit this day, but that we would be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Lord God, may my life have a fragrance—the fullness that comes from You. May our lives demonstrate that to the world, so people will look at us and say, "That's what I want. I want the fullness of Jesus." May it be, so we pray for Jesus' sake, amen.

Leslie Basham: Have you ever heard that you're not supposed to grieve or resist the Holy Spirit? If you're like me, you sure hope you're not doing that, but you wonder exactly what “grieving the Holy Spirit,” means.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has offered a lot of help today showing us what it means to surrender to the Holy Spirit.

Surrender can be one of the toughest, yet most important things we're called to do. Nancy offers more help in a book called Surrender: The Heart God Controls. Too little is said on this important topic, and it's something all of us need to learn more about.

In the book, Nancy will give you a picture of what a life devoted to God looks like. She'll walk you through Scripture to help you understand surrender. She'll provide practical, day-to-day examples of a life given to God's will.

Order Surrender: The Heart God Controls at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call toll free 1-800-569-5959.

To help you understand to surrender to God daily in all kinds of life situations, I hope you'll sign up to receive a daily email called, Seeking Him. This is a transcript of a 60-second feature that airs on many radio stations. The daily transcript in your inbox will remind you of the types of things you're learning on Revive Our Hearts.

Sign-up for the Seeking Him daily devotional transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, Shirley Dobson, Tom Elliff, and many other wise, godly Christian leaders will pray with Nancy for the revival of people living by God's Spirit. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.