God at Work: Within You

Do not by pass what God wants to do within you.  When Jesus was preparing His apostles for His departure, He assured them they would continue to have His presence.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  He promised them His presence through the Person, the Holy Spirit.  “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you . . . the Spirit of Truth . . . He abides with you and will be in you.”

Once you have made that commitment to receive Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, then the Lord, as the Holy Spirit, takes up residence in you.  He places His character in you.  He then begins a work in your life to mature His Character in you.  “For those whom God did foreknow, He also did predestine to be conformed to the image of His Son . . .” (Romans 8:29) “The world may argue against Christianity . . . but there is no convincing argument against a person who through the Spirit of God has been made Christ-like.” (Dr. Billy Graham, The Secret of Happiness)

Spiritual maturity is becoming like Jesus Christ in the way we think, feel, and act.  God gave to you a new life and a new nature when you received Christ Jesus, and He wants to continue the process of maturing your character.

What does this process look like?  The first place to start is to focus on what the Holy Spirit is developing within you.  Now are you a person who loves God and people?  Do you have real genuine joy and peace?   Are you at peace with God and able to be at peace with other people, when before this seemed impossible?  Are you more patient with others than before?  Sometimes the ones we are most impatient with is our immediate family.  At times we speak harsh words and “snap” at them when with other people, outside the family, we are so kind.  These are some Christ-like characteristics from the list the apostle Paul gives us as “the fruit of the Spirit.”  These reflect how you think and feel.

What about how you act!  In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul focuses on some of the changes that will take place in your conduct because of the change that has taken place within you.  “If so be that you have learned Him, (Christ Jesus) and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  That you put off the former lifestyle (conduct) of the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful desires; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new nature, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Paul gives a list of examples:  If you have been prone to lie, stop that and speak truthfully with everyone.  Do not allow anger to posses you to the point of being sinful.  Learn how to control your anger.  Getting angry is a natural emotion, but do not allow it to posses your every thought.  It can develop into destructive actions.  If you have had a problem of taking things that don’t belong to you, Paul says to learn to work for the things you need and want.  If you have had a problem with your choice of words, such as using God’s name in an irreverentway or using curse words, Paul says as a new person in Christ Jesus, that too should change.  Jesus Himself said, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes I will or no I won’t.’ for whatever is more that these words comes of evil.”  (Matthew 5:37)

The apostle Paul sums it up this way.  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.  And, be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

Step back and take a look at yourself, within, to see how far along you are in becoming more like Christ Jesus.