The Good News - Home
The Key: We Are Not Our Own
By David A. DePra
And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:43-47)
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power the apostles gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:31-35)
God was moving, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the early church. In the above two passages, we read of a particular phenomena which happened within a short period of time after Pentecost. In the Acts 2 passage, we read that, "fear (reverence for God) came upon every soul." In other words, there was an overwhelming sense of the holiness and primacy of Jesus Christ. One result was that the believers, "had all things in common." They, "soldtheir possessions and goods, and distributed them to all men, as every man had need."
In Acts 4, we read of a similar effect. The disciples had prayed for boldness in preaching the gospel. The place where they were praying was shaken. Then, Luke records, "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common." This was all the result of GREAT GRACE being upon them all. Luke goes on to say, "There was no one among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostleís feet."
Search if you will, but you will not find a single command to these people given by God, or by the apostles, to the effect that they ought to sell their possessions and give the money to those in need. Not a hint or suggestion. There was no command, compulsion, or religious practice which mandated such actions. And when you realize that to sell land and possessions in that day was not to be taken lightly Ė for these people were not rich Ė their actions become all the more profound. Why did they do this?
It goes back to a Truth they expressed in their prayer to God for boldness. They prayed, "Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ." (Acts 4:24-26)
The disciples were here expressing the fact that they had seen a great Truth Ė the key to almost everything in the Christian life. They had seen that everything and everyone belongs to God. None of it belongs to man.
What we are seeing here is clearly the EFFECT of these people having experienced GOD HIMSELF through the presence of the Holy Spirit. We read that, "fear came upon every soul." They had come to realize that everyone of them now belonged to God. They belonged to Him, as did the corporate church belong to Him. The result was that they began to GIVE of themselves -- to each other. What they gave, in this case, was material in nature: Money.
We need to grasp this. These people GAVE to each other as the result of seeing that they owned nothing. They saw that their persons, and their possessions, belonged to God. This motivated them to relinquish their ownership over their possessions. It was the way in which the Holy Spirit moved them to manifest this Truth at that time.
Herein is the key: We do not belong to ourselves. We are not our own. We belong to God. If we would grasp this Truth it would change EVERYTHING. Not only would it result in a reverence for God and His purposes, and a holy life, but the Holy Spirit would be free to do the kinds of things we read in Acts. These people saw the KEY: We are not our own.
How much less do the things of God Ė such as the gifts of the Holy Spirit Ė belong to us! How much less does the corporate church belong to us! Our failure to see this accounts for more problems than we can imagine. We end up using the things of God for ourselves, and thus pollute them.
The early church gave of their property and possessions as the outcome of seeing that they were not their own Ė but that all belonged to God. But the key being revealed here Ė that we are not our own -- applies to ALL that we are, and ALL that we have received from God. This is the key to all ministry, church growth, and to personal holiness in Christ Jesus. WE ARE NOT OUR OWN. WE EACH BELONG TO GOD.
The church is composed of people who have given their lives to Jesus Christ. That alone should tell us that if we are a Christian, the issue is already settled: We donít belong to ourselves. But add to that the fact that God calls His people by the name, "saints," and the point is pressed home. The term, "saint," mean, "holy one," or "one who is set apart for Godís use." In the vernacular, this means that a SAINT is a person who BELONGS TO GOD.
Get that. A saint Ė a Christian Ė is someone who belongs to God. That is what you ARE, by definition, if you have been converted to Christ. It is the ONLY KIND of Christian there is! It is the ONLY KIND of Christian the Bible knows anything about. The very name by which God calls His people proves that we belong to Him Ė and that His possession of us is fundamental to our relationship to Him through the new birth.
If there is one Truth which has been forgotten, indeed, trashed, down through two-thousand years of Christian history, it is this one. There is probably not a single problem that has plagued the church as a whole, nor a problem in the personal lives of people, that does not go back to the violation of Godís ownership over His church, and His people.
This might seem an extreme statement. But it is not. Indeed, self-ownership is exactly the definition of the sin nature! To own myself, to rule myself as my own god Ė THIS IS SIN ITSELF -- as it is expressed through the Adamic race. Thus, we can immediately see that to belong to God is FUNDAMENTAL TO REDEMPTION ITSELF.
Right now, you are either, "in Adam," or, "in Christ." You cannot be in both, or in between. If you are, "in Adam," you are not saved; not born again. If you are, "in Christ," you are saved and born again. But note: If you are IN CHRIST, you got that way by doing what? By surrendering yourself to Christ. You repented of the sin of self-ownership, and gave your life to Him. Thus, you no longer belong to yourself. You were bought with a price. No one who is born again ever belongs to himself again.
Yet such a fundamental Truth is almost never preached, let alone practiced. Think about the ramifications. If I do not belong to myself, but to God, this automatically means that I must live according to the will of God, and not my own will. In other words, obedience. If I am holy in identity, I must begin to live a holy life. Likewise, if the church does not belong to me, but to God, then I do not have the liberty to do as I please with Godís property. I will obey the Bibleís mandates with regard to the church. I will WANT to.
It is a simple, yet profound and fundamental key: We do not belong to ourselves. We belong to God. Realize this, and begin to act like it, and you have a holy Christian life. Ignore it, and you donít. Indeed, what you will end up with are people, and churches, much like we see today: People doing, in the name of Jesus, what Jesus would never do. Or people refusing to do, in the name of Jesus, what Jesus would do.
The Bible could not be more clear about who we belong to if we are Christians:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Cor 6:19-20)
For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. (1 Cor 7:22-23)
It may come as a shock to some people, but to take ownership over that which belongs to God is the VERY DEFINITION of UNHOLY. To God, to act in accordance with the Truth that we belong to Him is a HOLY thing. To act as if we belong to ourselves is UNHOLY Ė even if what we are doing isnít necessarily an immoral thing. It is the ownership that is in question here. It is the motivation and FAITH behind the actions that defines those actions as holy or unholy at the root.
Can we see now why those people in Acts who sold all their possessions and gave them away, were doing a holy thing? It was not because of the outward action itself. It was because they recognized THEY were holy Ė that THEY belonged to God. Their giving was the outcome of revering God Ė of recognizing they, and all they owned, belonged to Him.
A Real Move of the Spirit
Down through the centuries there have been many people who, having read this account in the book of Acts, have attempted to turn what these people did into a kind of "law" as to how the church ought to function. There are those who have tried to form "communes" and groups which MANDATE that those living there have, "all things in common." This becomes the LAW of that place, and anyone who doesnít comply is considered out of Godís will, and not part of a place which is "really walking in the Truth." After all, isnít this how the church operated then? Shouldnít we be doing this now?
That isnít the question. The question is never so much what we ought to do, as to what our relationship is to God. What these people did was the outcome, not of their relationship with each other, or of following a law, but of their relationship with God. If that isnít right, or based in the Truth, the outward actions mean little.
We need to see that the book of Acts is a narrative, not a list of commands. And while what it records did happen, and contains a model for us today, if we take what happened there by the power of the Spirit, and try to duplicate it through the power of religious flesh, we are going to end up with dead religion or something worse. This is the usual outcome of many so-called, "Christian communes." They donít work because behind them is not a move of the Holy Spirit.
The key to grasping what happened in this account in the book of Acts is to understand what was going on IN these people. What they did was the product, not of keeping some rule or command to give, but of seeing the Truth of God in Jesus Christ. They saw that themselves, and their possessions, all belonged to God. They saw that Jesus Christ was the Head of the church. They saw this to such a degree, in itís reality and Truth, that it motivated them to cheerfully GIVE.
Now note: To simply GIVE like this Ė out of duty or mandate Ė is not the point. Neither is some attempt to prove we all love each other by giving each other our possessions. Lots of people give to others but for the wrong reasons. What happened in Acts was all the result of peopleís relationship with God Ė and of their realization of His ownership over them.
The church in Acts had seen the great Truth that no person who is a Christian belongs to himself. Consequently, the church, which is composed of Christians, does not belong to the people either. Each of us, individually, and the church corporately, belongs to God. Jesus Christ has purchased us by His Blood. Thus, we really DO have all things in common, starting with the fact that we all belong to the SAME LORD. The outcome of this Truth is that we should STOP acting as if we have ownership over anything in the church. And we should START acting like we all belong to Jesus Christ.
This was the reality which motivated the early church. It was REAL, not religious. It was voluntary, not commanded.
These people in the book of Acts, having seen this Truth, were motivated to sell all their possessions and give the proceeds for the common good. If we see the same Truth they saw, we too will experience a great change in motivation. We will recognize that nothing belongs to us, but that all belongs to God. This will free us to give whatever seems good to give: As God directs. But more than this, it will motivate us in any number of areas to begin treating other people, and the church, as something that belongs, not to us, but to Jesus Christ.
Again, this is THE KEY: We are not our own. We were bought with a price. We belong to God. That is the place from which God always works. If we want to be in harmony with Him, we have to work from that basis as well. No other way of operating is going to work according to Godís will and purpose.
Ananias and Sapphira
In Acts 5, we find the tragic account of Ananias and Sapphira. This story has been greatly misunderstood by many Christians, simply because we have not understood the Truth Ananias and Sapphira violated. That Truth is THE KEY we have been seeing: We are not our own. The church doesnít belong to US. The early believers were moving under the impact of the Truth that the church belonged to God. But right when the church was living in the reality of belonging to God, Ananias and Sapphira tried to use what belonged to God for their own purposes.
Many in the church were selling their property and bringing the proceeds to the apostles for distribution to the poor. As we read, they were so overcome with the reality that everything belonged to God, that they no longer considered anything to belong to THEM. The natural outcome was to GIVE. Ananias and Sapphira also sold a piece of property. However, in Acts 5 we read that they did not bring all of the proceeds to the apostles. Not only did they hold back some of the proceeds, but they lied about it. They gave only half of the money, but lied by saying that what they were giving was all of it.
Now, if we donít see the real problem here, we are going to miss the whole point. Ananias was NOT REQUIRED to sell this property! He was not even required to give one cent to the church once he sold the property! No. He could have come up to Peter and said, "We sold our property for $10,000, and here is $5,000 for the needs of the poor." This would have been no problem. Indeed, this is exactly what Peter said to Ananias:
But Peter said, Ananias, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Before you sold it, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was the money not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but unto God." (Acts 5:3-4)
The problem here had nothing to do with what Ananias gave. The problem is that he lied about it Ė misrepresented himself. But wait. There was an even greater sin involved. Ananias had corrupted this move of the Holy Spirit. Ananias had taken what belonged to God and tried to use it for himself Ė and in doing so, did a very unholy thing.
Donít misunderstand. When I say that Ananias took what belonged to God and used it for himself, I donít mean the money. No. I mean the spirit of GIVING ITSELF. Ananias entered into a move of the Holy Spirit and attempted to use what God was doing to make himself look good. That was the sin: He took what belonged to God for himself.
Anytime we take something which is holy Ė which belongs to God Ė and try to use it for ourselves, we are doing a very unholy thing. We are actually practicing a LIE Ė which is what Peter said Ananias was doing. We are saying that the church belongs to us, not to God.
Ananias and Sapphira were lying to the Holy Spirit, rather than just lying to men. The WORDS they said were lies. But their action, as supposed believers in Christ, was the greatest lie. They were saying that they had the right to use the things of God for themselves. But they did not have that right. They were lying because they were misrepresenting God Himself, and actually coming against what He was doing in the church.
Their sin, if we read the account, was premeditated and deliberate. Certainly they KNEW they were lying, and that it was wrong. But worse, they apparently had such an irreverence for the things of God that they jumped right into a HOLY move of the Spirit, and brought into it an UNHOLY purpose.
This sin cost Ananias and Sapphira their lives that day. But before we indict God as being harsh, we might want to consider that WE are callous to the magnitude of His holiness, and to the importance of His church. Why did God see it just to bring this judgment upon them?
It is certain that Ananias and Sapphira, while they knew what they were doing, did not know the consequences which would come upon them. But if you read the Bible, God does not always tell us the consequences for disobeying Him. The fact that we know to obey is enough. The fact is, Ananias and Sapphira had a complete disregard and irreverence for God. But rather than be an excuse for them, their ignorance was to their blame. There were lots of people who HAD seen the Truth, and WERE honoring God. The fact that they did not, while many of their acquaintances did, indicts them all the more as guilty before the Lord.
Note that the problem here was not a point of theology or Biblical interpretation. No. The point was reverence for God. This was a HEART problem, not a brain problem. That is why Peter was able to ask, "Why hath Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" (Acts 5:3) Satan cannot just decide to fill someoneís heart with his intentions. The person has to provide the material Ė has to open his heart to that possibility. This was what these people did. Peter sad so. He added, "Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?"
If we would just read this account and get the point, we would see that God says that to use that which belongs to Him for our own purposes is of SATAN. Yet we donít want to face this Truth. Today, in our churches, it is common practice to trash the things of God with personal agendas of all kinds. Not "sinful" or "immoral" agendas, mind you, but those which keep the ownership of the church in OUR hands, rather than Godís. Most leaders in churches today give little thought to whether the church is doing Godís will, or the will of men. The Bible is ignored as our guide, and we take ownership of what belongs only to God. We may not conspire to lie about things the way in which Ananias and Sapphira conspired to lie. But we ARE LYING Ė about God and His purposes in His people Ė because we are misrepresenting Him.
Ananias and Sapphira died that day because it WAS that serious. God is showing us that despite His mercy and long-suffering, that this is His mind on these things. The result of the death of Ananias and Sapphira, the Bible says, was that, "great fear came upon the church." In other words, great reverence for the things of God. If only this would happen today before it is too late.
Doing and Allowing
Today we donít see people dropping dead every time they violate the holiness of God. God is quite merciful. But the fact that this happened to Ananias and Sapphira at a time when the church was pure and holy ought to tell us how serious a sin this is in the eyes of God. You and I have no right to use the things of God for our agenda. We have no right to call ourselves, or our church, by the name of Christ, and then to do things in His name that He would NOT DO. If we do, and do not repent, we can expect to be judged for it.
There is more. Most of us probably donít overtly do unholy things in the church. Perhaps we arenít in positions where we even have the opportunity to do a lot of damage to the reputation of Christ, or to misrepresent God to very many people. But if we think we are off the hook, we are mistaken. First of all, God expects us to be responsible for the "little" over which we do have influence, and will hold us accountable just as if it is MUCH. If we influence just one person because of our irreverence for the things of God, we will be judged. Count on it.
Having said that, however, there is another way in which we are to blame for treating what belongs to God with irreverence. We may not be the person sinning, or doing wrong, but are we guilty of standing back and ALLOWING some of these violations of Godís holiness to continue? Do we make ourselves passive participants, by just getting out of the way? In our desire to avoid awkwardness and confrontation, are we, by silence, affirming the sins of others?
This is probably the way in which most people are guilty. We donít really want to do wrong. But we arenít willing to pay the price for right. So we just let things go on in our church. In time, we may even get comfortable with it. If so, we have been deceived.
There is a church near here that has, as itís senior and only pastor, a lesbian girl. She openly declares that she is a lesbian, presenting it as a blessing from God. Indeed, she lives in the church parsonage with her, "domestic partner," who is obviously another lesbian. These two women even have adopted children.
This church is a supposed "Christian church." They have a congregation of several hundred, and a large youth group. They have lots of activities. One big happy family. If you asked most of the people there what they think of the situation with their pastor, they usually say, "Well, at first, it bothered me. But she is such a nice person, and really good with the kids. Besides this is my church and Iíve been here for 20 years. Iím in the choir and my life is centered here. I donít want to be judgmental."
Sounds good, doesnít it? And letís face it, we sure wouldnít want to be the one who steps up and begins to question, in the light of Biblical Truth, what is being allowed to go on in that church! This might make us look bad. Thus, in order to look good, and not make waves, people just go along with a sin which is an abomination in the sight of God.
You see, this pastor is living in sin. That is a fact. But someone hired her. A pastoral search committee recommended her, and a board of deacons or trustees approved it. And then, once hired, the congregation kept coming to church. Kept supporting this ministry. Right now, every single person who has recognized this sin, but has done nothing, is guilty of compromise. They are just as guilty as that pastor because they have become a partaker of her sin. They are helping her destroy herself, and others Ė including all the young people. They are guilty, not because of what they have done, as much as they are guilty because of what they have allowed, and made themselves part of, in the name of Jesus Christ. They have taken what God calls holy, and used it for unholy purposes.
This kind of thing is going on everywhere today, all in the name of love, unity, and tolerance. God is going to judge people for it. You can take it to the bank. People, thank God, do not drop dead like Ananias did. But the judgment will eventually come.
For this particular church, the judgment of God is actually already upon them. What is that judgment? That they have exactly what they have chosen. They are deceived, and living in an unclean spirit, and THINK THEY ARE OK. That is always the first part of Godís judgment when we refuse His Word. He gives us what we choose. When we refuse the Light, He gives us the darkness we have chosen.
God says that we are responsible, not only for what we personally do, but for what we allow in the sense of becoming part of. It is true that we may not be able to change situations like the one above. But at that point, we either speak up, and if nothing changes, we leave. The alternative is that we become part of it. And if we become part of it, we are LYING Ė not by words Ė but by our representation of the church. We are doing in the name of Christ what Christ would never do. THAT IS A LIE.
The Principle of Giving
This key Truth, that all things belong to God, is a Biblical principle which stands behind all GIVING. Notice how once the early church saw that everything belonged to God that this resulted in GIVING! Sure. If everything belongs to God, then nothing belongs to me. Thus, it is not mine to do with as I please. It is not mine to possess and hold away from God. It is mine to GIVE Ė in a way that honors God.
Jesus said, "Freely you have received, freely give." (Mat 10:8) Give what? That which you have freely received. You and I have done nothing to earn or merit the things of God, or anything else in this world. It is all freely given to us by God. Jesus says that if we truly grasp this, the result will be GIVING.
But it does not end there. If we freely give what we have freely received, the result will be that God will give to us all the more. Jesus also said:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38)
Now note: This is not a promise which should motivate us to "give in order to get." No. There is no such motivation ever commanded by God. In fact, if we are, "giving to get," we arenít really giving at all. In that case, our motivation is to EARN or MERIT. Not to freely give.
When Jesus said, "FREELY give because you have FREELY received," He was saying that our motivation for giving should be governed by the same principle of grace which motivated God to give to us. And the fact is, most of us donít give to others FREELY Ė as God gave to us FREELY Ė because we have not come to reverence what God gave us. We still donít get it. We still think there was something we did to merit Godís gifts to us.
So we are not to, "give in order to receive from God." Rather, we are to give because we have received. And the fact is, if we truly grasp the value of what God has given, we will give. It will be the natural outcome of the value we place upon God Himself.
Can we see in this that my relationship to God, and how I view what He has given me, directly impacts my motivation for giving to others? How I am to God always impacts how I am to others. How I believe God is to me, always impacts how I am to others. This is precisely what we saw about the early church and their motivation for giving of themselves to the poor. They freely GAVE because they had knew they had FREELY received.
Christianity does not work, practically, and in real life, unless it starts with the individualís one-one-one relationship with God. The VERTICAL relationship between myself and God comes first Ė and will always define and govern my HORIZONTAL relationship with others. If I am right with God Ė and recognize that I belong to Him Ė then I will learn to give myself to others. Why not? I donít belong to myself. I belong to God. If He wants to use me for the sake of others, I will see He has that right.
Of course, to many of us, we almost view the fact that we belong to God as an imposition. But read again Acts 4. Does it appear that these early believers thought God was imposing upon them? No. They were rejoicing over the fact that they belonged to God Ė rejoicing over it to the extent that they could hardly help themselves in giving to others.
Have you and I freely received? We have not if we think that we stand before God on any other basis than Jesus Christ. Solve that issue and you will give Ė freely. You will realize that you have been bought with a price, and no longer belong to yourself.
The Flow of the Spirit
In all of this we see a principle: The more I belong to God, the more God gives of Himself to me. And the more I will be used by God as a gift to others. This is not a "deal" God makes with us. Rather, it is the only way it can work. As long as my cup is full of what God has given me, and not poured out to others, God cannot refill my cup. But if I continually pour out my cup to others, then God will continually fill my cup -- give to me anew. Then I will have MORE Ė a continual flow -- to give to others.
Think of giving as the flow of a river Ė which is really the Spirit of God. This flow begins from God down to us. This is grace. God has given us all things freely through Jesus Christ. But then, once I receive the things of God, I have plenty to give to others. It is ALL OF GOD, but through me.
Is this not how the gifts of the Spirit operate? Despite the fact that God is able to do anything He wants to do, without us, the fact is, He has chosen to work through us. He gives to us, so that through us, He might give to others. And when everyone in the Body of Christ is functioning this way, everyone receives both from God, and from each other.
Now, the problem here is when we wonít receive from God. Or do receive, and then wonít give to others. The flow of the river of the Spirit, in that case, has to stop. God can only keep giving to us if there is a flow. Thus, the more we give of ourselves to others, the more we continue to receive from God.
Again, note that this is not, "giving in order to receive." Rather, it is, "giving because we have received." In Godís order of things, the more we give, the more room we make in ourselves to receive. And, in turn, then the more we have to give! And it just goes on and on.
More Than Money
Too often, of course, we think of "giving" in terms of only money. Thatís important. But there is much more to giving than simple a dollar amount. We all have ourselves to give. This speaks of putting ourselves at Godís disposal for the sake of others. In fact, giving ourselves first to God is what Paul said was important Ė even in a situation where food and money was being given:
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. (II Cor. 8:1-8)
These folks FIRST gave themselves to God. And then to others. This gave God the freedom to give through them, and minister through them. Giving starts with our reverence, and relationship with God Himself. Do we treat His church as if it belongs to Him, and not us? Do we realize that what we have in Christ does not belong to us, but to Him?
This principle applies to the function of the spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ. Note the term, "gifts of the Holy Spirit." The gifts of the HOLY Spirit are going to be HOLY gifts, which, as we saw, are things which belong to God. They are given to us, and work through us, but belong to God. Indeed, Paul writes:
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit allÖ..But all these work that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man as he wills. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Cor 12:4-7,11-12)
The Holy Spirit is not going to override the will of man. Thus, if you and I have an agenda, that is, operate under self-will, and act as if the church belongs to us, then we cannot expect God to minister. Why? Because God works through us. He will not forever work around us. Herein we see the importance of being open to God, and of realizing that we do not have the right to decide what ought to happen in His church.
Now, donít misunderstand. We do have the responsibility of following the Bible. The Holy Spirit is not going to do anything which is not in harmony with scripture. The point is, self-will, unbelief, and a neglect of the Bible, are things which will grieve the Holy Spirit. If we persist, not only will the Spirit fail to be present, but we wonít even know when He left.
The Bible says that HOLINESS Ė the reality that we belong to God Ė is fundamental to our relationship to Him. Realizing this, and living in it, not only results in a life which honors God, but opens up endless possibilities for the function of the Holy Spirit. The church is, in fact, the temple Ė the dwelling place Ė of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes:
Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Cor 3:16-17)
God takes seriously what belongs to Him because to purchase it, it cost Him the life of His Son. Peter writes:
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (1 Pet 1:18-19)
If the church today would simply grasp this one simple key Truth Ė that we do not belong to ourselves Ė and begin letting God BE God, it would result in a great release of Godís purpose through His Spirit. *
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