The Communion of the Spirit Part 4

Part of the fruit of communion with the Holy Spirit is wisdom in warfare. Let’s break down the famous spiritual armour passage a bit.

11  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:11-13 (NKJV)

In looking at the role of the Holy Spirit in our warfare I want to highlight a few words. In verse 11, ‘stand against’ and in verse 13, ‘withstand’ and ‘to stand’ all capture the idea of maintaining ground that has already been taken. The focus in our spiritual warfare is not on taking ground, Christ has already taken the ground that needs to be taken. Our task is to partner with the Holy Spirit to stand our ground, not retreat, and enforce Christ’s victory. In doing so we experience in our lives the reality of the victory Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection. In His graciousness He lets us feel like it is our victory, and in a sense it is – often a victory over fear, insecurity, doublemindedness or other similar things.

So how do we stand in victory in this battle? Look at what Galatians teaches us.

19  Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:19-25 (NKJV)

Here Paul contrasts the ‘works’ of the flesh with the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit and encourages us to walk in the spirit. When we do we enforce Jesus victory and the fruit of the Spirit is seen in our lives. Once we have been born again the works of the flesh are not who we are inside, we have Jesus nature in our spirits and that is what we need to declare using the sword of the Spirit, His word (Eph. 6:17).

A simple example, Paul’s Galatians list is illustrative not exhaustive. So, use anger/frustration with someone you have a close relationship with. If that is something we are feeling it does not come from Christ in us (Col. 1:27). So we declare in the spirit realm that we choose to walk in love toward this person and say to ourselves, and by extension the spiritual realm opposed to our victory walk, that we will act in and think in an attitude of love toward the individual. Something like, “Jesus, I thank You that Your love has been poured out in my heart (Rom. 5:5) and in You I have the capacity to walk in love toward XXX. So I choose this love now. I release from my spirit love for them.”

I leave further applications to you. This example is merely to prime the pump and provide a theological underpinning for a simple practical way to live out the reality of what Paul presents in Ephesians 6. True warfare is not some odd mystical expression (not that I am opposed to mystical experiences, I enjoy them) but a simple practical faith lived out in the real world revealing Jesus to those around us.

Enjoy this aspect of walking in and communing with the Spirit!

The Communion of the Spirit Part 3

How does communion with the Spirit relate to revelation in/from the bible? For me it flows from being with Him. Those of you who know me know that I am very rooted in the scriptures. Depending on our gifts and calling our relationship to His word will vary. I know that personally mine needs to be strong as it is inextricably linked to my calling in the area of teaching. One of the things I find is that He (the Holy Spirit) often speaks to me as I read His word. Let me illustrate starting with the scripture below.

33  Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, But what is in the heart of fools is made known. Proverbs 14:33 (NKJV)

On the surface this tells us that those who have understanding possess wisdom that rests in their hearts and fools do not hang onto wisdom. That is a fine and accurate application and interpretation of the verse. Yet one day when reading this a number of years ago what dropped into my heart is that Jesus rests in the heart of those who have understanding. Now every time I read or think about this verse that reality is alive in me.

So how did I get to what this scripture does not overtly say? Not from a commentary, I rarely read them. I do however spend time in His word. See the verses below.

30  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – 31  that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NKJV)

Now meditate on this phrase, “Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God.” If Jesus is wisdom, and He is, then He rests in the heart of believers who understand this, hence my personal application of Proverbs 14:33.

There is another verse on wisdom below.

20  There is desirable treasure, And oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man squanders it. Proverbs 21:20 (NKJV)

On the surface we see that the wise possess natural treasures, the fruit of godly practical wisdom. However, every time I read this verse I think of the spiritually wise possessing/carrying anointing and spiritual wisdom. This doesn’t deny the natural practical meaning but it does add a deeper understanding and application.

The basic principle in what I am sharing is in Deuteronomy. This was Jesus favourite book to quote from in His earthly ministry.

29  The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29 (NKJV)

What we know by revelation has a much greater hold on our heart than what we know by reason. After all, there is the old saying, ‘A man with an experience has no mercy for a man with an argument!’ I pray that as you spend time in communion with the Spirit you receive revelation that more deeply roots you in your calling and purpose!

The Communion of the Spirit Part 2

When we think of communion with the Spirit there is a phrase that comes to mind that I read about three decades ago. It was in a little booklet on Christian meditation. There was a phrase that said, “We use the imagination to descend with the mind into the heart.” My own experience is that when I embrace this practice, which I consider to be a practical truth, I encounter the Holy Spirit. If we consider the facts we know that He is in us revealing Christ (Col. 1:27) and guiding us into all truth. 

17  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:17 (NKJV)

26  But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. John 15:26 (NKJV)

13  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. John 16:13-14 (NKJV)

So back to my experience. When I use my imagination to descend with my mind into my heart I encounter the Holy Spirit within, unveiling Jesus and His character. Practically it is simply a matter of turning within and letting my attention settle into my spirit which is experientially located in the core of my being (see Prov. 20:27). My qualifier is that whatever I experience or hear I need to weigh against His word. At the same time whether walking, in the middle of a conversation, weighing a situation – I, and you, can commune with the Holy Spirit to receive guidance and in the process either maintain our heart at rest if it is already there or bring it to rest if it is not already there. 

So, enjoy your heart at rest in Him.

The Communion of the Spirit Part 1

How much time do most of us spend reflecting on this verse, particularly the last phrase?

14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NKJV)

This verse references the Trinity in the reference to Jesus, God (the Father) and the Spirit. Paul prayed that all of the Corinthians would experience the communion of the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? How do we apply it? Let’s begin with the meaning and usage of the word in the NT. The range of meanings is below.

  1. κοινωνία koinōnia noun

Communion, association, partnership, fellowship, sharing, contribution.

The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary

The idea of communion, fellowship and mutual participation was a key concept in the early church and was captured by the term koinonia. The word koinonia is used 19 times in the NT, 13 of which are in Paul’s writings. 7 of the 19 references are to our fellowship with one of the three persons of the Trinity. One of those references is in Philippians where it is translated as ‘fellowship of the Spirit.’

1  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4 (NKJV)

Koinonia refers to relationship, connection, fellowship, interaction and interchange. Thus inherent in Paul’s prayer for us to experience the ‘communion of the Spirit’ is to understand two things; the need to develop an actual relationship of communion with the Spirit and the need to have the Spirit mediate our relationships with others through our submission to His leading.

Implicit in these ideas is our need to be aware of His indwelling presence. To understand our communion with the Spirit it is helpful to first reflect on what happened at our conversion. We were born again and His Spirit replaced our Spirit. We received a new spirit, His, in our innermost being (2 Cor. 5:17, 21).

Thus I believe a key factor in growing communion is a growing embracing of the reality of “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). I believe that if we are not already walking in this reality then to grow in communion with the Spirit we need to start by recognizing and thanking Him for His indwelling presence and expecting our relationship with Him to grow. These are the first steps.

More to come…

Knowing our Source Part 2

I said that in this post I would look at the role of our Father in Ephesians 1. In my experience most people when they pray for wisdom and revelation relate this to Jesus. However, let’s look at the passage and the context. I have added names/titles in brackets to make the passage clearer.

17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (the Father), 18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His (the Father’s) calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (the Father’s) inheritance in the saints, 19  and what is the exceeding greatness of His (the Father’s) power toward us who believe, according to the working of His (the Father’s) mighty power 20  which He (the Father) worked in Christ when He (the Father) raised Him (Jesus) from the dead and seated Him (Jesus) at His (the Father’s) right hand in the heavenly places, 21  far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. Ephesians 1:17-21 (NKJV)

Paul starts by praying that the Father would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation. In context Paul is praying this for the believers in Ephesus. We can apply it to our lives because while it wasn’t written to us, it was written for us. So the first thing we see is that the source of the wisdom and revelation we seek is our Father. Everything here is about what the Father is doing and when we recognize that Paul is praying that we would possess wisdom and revelation about His way we begin to see that He is the source, the strategic planner and the one behind all that happened prior to creation, through creation and on into eternity. Look at the passage below, the context being what Jesus does at His return, His second coming.

24  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27  For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 (NKJV)

Jesus work of salvation was accomplished in the cross and through His resurrection (25  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Romans 4:25 NKJV). His final act in this grand drama of salvation and redemption will be handing everything over to His Father. When we understand that our Father is the source and culmination of everything we can, in agreement with what Jesus spoke, declare – “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matt. 6:9-10, Lk. 11:2) and understand the passion of Jesus heart wrapped up in this expression! In doing so we bring delight to our Father’s heart.

8  The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight. Proverbs 15:8 (NKJV)