Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Obeying from the Heart and the Filling with the Spirit

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obeying from the Heart and the Filling with the Spirit

To define outward conformity to laws or rules as a relationship to God is to somehow personify laws or rules reducing God to little more than a tyrant. Although God is just, God is also merciful and longsuffering in His mercy. God is a Person and all that a believer does should be part of the relationship we have with the Person Who is God. The filling of the Spirit is an outcome of a right relationship with God that comes from completely yielding our will to Him. The qualities involved in this relationship are twofold; FAITH/TRUST and LOVE. As we have already emphasized, there are five commands regarding the believer’s maintenance of his relationship with the Person of the Holy Spirit.

1. Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)

2. Grieve not the Spirit (Eph. 4:30)

3. Quench not the Spirit (I Thess. 5:19)

4. Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16 & 25)

5. Be transformed/transfigured (Rom. 12:2)

In our last chapter, we saw that being filled with the Spirit is connected with walking “in the Spirit” or walking “in the light” (I John 1:7). A person cannot “walk in the Spirit” if he is not “filled with the Spirit.” In this chapter, I want to deal with the two negatives; “grieve not the Spirit” and “quench not the Spirit.” These negative outcomes happen at anytime the believer is not “filled with the Spirit.” There is nothing a person can do in the strength of his own flesh that can be pleasing to God. Obedience from the flesh is still carnal. Even if your sepultures are white washed, they are still “full of dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23:27) apart from the supernatural operations of the indwelling Spirit. This is why Christ so emphatically condemned the “scribes and Pharisees” as “hypocrites.” His opinion of the pseudo-spirituality of externalism has not changed.

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:16-23).

“Grieve not the Spirit”

26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not {lit., stop grieving} the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:26-32).

To “grieve” the Holy Spirit is to cause Him to be mournful or sorrowful. A believer grieves the Spirit of God at anytime the things in Eph. 4:26-31 are manifested through the believer’s life. These things are a contradiction against the manifestation of the Spirit. A believer grieves the Spirit at anytime he yields his will to his fallen nature regarding anything that is contrary to the will of God. Any sinful thought, emotion, or action grieves the Spirit of God because it enjoins Him to the sinful act. God hates all sin, but He certainly hates the sin in the life of a believer who professes to love Him. To profess to love God and do the things listed in Eph. 4:26-31 is a contradiction of that profession and is unfaithfulness to God in spiritual adultery. This spiritual adultery grieves Him.

I find it interesting that only one act of what we call moral turpitude is included in Eph. 4:26-31, i.e., stealing. The rest of the things listed are issues involving the temper and sinful use of language to the spiritual harm of others. Most professing Christians would not even consider their carnality in these areas of life let alone that the failure to yield to the Spirit in these areas would grieve Him. However, it is apparent that even allowing this kind of thinking is to grieve the Holy Spirit in that it is a contradiction against His holiness.

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the body of the believer is God’s seal upon that believer’s life (Eph. 4:30). Although the believer forfeits the power of God when the Spirit is grieved by manifestations of yielding to the carnal flesh, the believer never leaves nor “forsakes” the believer. The presence of the Spirit is never lost. The seal of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is a testimony in His presence that the believer is a part of the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. Therefore, the seal of the indwelling Spirit is a supernatural testimony to the world of spirit beings that the believer has willfully made a choice to accept God’s redemption payment and has chosen to be His eternal servant.

However, when the believer yields his will to his Sin Nature, he joins himself in an unfaithful, adulterous relationship with the cursed world that is under the sovereignty of Satan and his emissaries. The great tragedy in this dynamic is that the cursed world that is under the sovereignty of Satan and his emissaries, to which the carnal Christian joins himself in spiritual adultery, is at enmity (war) against God and God is at war against the sinful rebellion of this satanic cosmos of corruption. When the carnal Christian yields to his carnal flesh, he joins himself to that rebellion against God and becomes part of the enmity against God. An aspect of God’s grief regarding this is that God must then war against His own “born again” children who are living in their flesh. The depth of God’s grief regarding this is hard to even comprehend. This reality is expressed in numerous Scriptures.

4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:4-6).


40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! 41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy” (Psalm 78:40-42).


7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. 8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. 9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them” (Isaiah 63:7-10).

“Quench not the Spirit”

16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:16-23).

Although anything that grieves the Holy Spirit would also quench the Holy Spirit, the idea of quenching has more to do with failing to yield to doing what God commands us to do regarding the “work of the ministry” than it has to do with sins of moral turpitude. When a believer is filled with the Spirit of God, but fails to do the work that the Spirit filling empowers him to do, the believer quenches, or extinguishes, the power that is potentially released through the work God has saved him to do.

God’s filling of the believer can only be manifested when the yielded believer is in motion (doing) according to God’s will. We quench the potential power of the Spirit of God at any moment we resist the leading of His will as He directs the believer to witness, to speak to someone about Christ, or to initiate conversation that would involve another believer in discipleship. What God loves, the Spirit filled believer will love and in the same way God loves. The loving compassion, mercy, and the longsuffering of God are intended to be communicable attributes that are manifested through the life of a Spirit filled believer. These communicable attributes are never intended to be merely possessed by the believer. These communicable attributes are only communicable when they are communicated through our lives to those to whom God directs us. To somehow think that we can possess these communicable attributes and never express them in any real, tangible way is the most subtle form of spiritual self-deception imaginable. Yet, this self-deception is common amongst the vast majority of professing Christians (even evangelicals and fundamentalists). This is undoubtedly the common way the Spirit of God is quenched in his supernatural enabling of the believer’s life. We are filled, but never engage our Spirit filled life in any kind of real ministry. Grieving the Spirit keeps the believer from being filled. Quenching the Spirit is extinguishing the empowering of the Spirit by not using that empowering for its intended purpose of fruit production and disciple making.

Once we understand the five commandments regarding our relationship with the indwelling Spirit of God, we must understand the four conditions necessary to restoration when we grieve or quench the Holy Spirit. These four conditions are necessary to restore the ongoing inner creative work of the Holy Spirit that progressively transfigures the way a believer lives his life and that brings forth “fruit” to God’s glory. Salvation is presumed: the first prerequisite to a personal relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit is salvation “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9). The natural, unregenerate man cannot have “fellowship” with God or neither the indwelling or filling of the Spirit of God.

1. Repentance: the saved sinner must live in the ongoing, moment-by-moment, repentance of sin. Repentance simply refers to a complete (180o) change of mind and heart about sin. This involves more than a mere change of mind about selfish acts of sin, but a complete turning away from allowing the Sin Nature to dominate our will. The turning must be so radical that we come to hate the very innate desires/lusts of our own fallen natures.

2. Confession (I John 1:9): the saved sinner must live and think within the framework of constant awareness of God’s presence, openness with Him regarding our weaknesses and the fragility of our character, and a transparency about ourselves with Him that necessitates constant communication with Him regarding our failures and weaknesses. To “confess our sins” simply means to have the same mind as God has about our sins. It does not mean to merely tell Him what we have done or not done that is sin. God already knows what we have done and He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. In other words, He knows the sins of the heart as well as those that we perform before His eyes. God is not concerned about low self esteem or high self esteem. God wants us to think of ourselves as He thinks of us. We are sinners that He loves. He knows we are sinners, hates our sin, and loves us enough to establish a partnership with us to overcome that which He hates.

3. Yield: we must completely yield our wills to His will. There is no middle ground here. This is where the vast majority of “born again” people fail miserably. They think that total yielding is only for pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. Total yielding of our wills to God’s will is His expectation of all His “born again” children. This yielding involves completely trusting God with every aspect of our lives as each moment of the day we seek to be filled with His Spirit and obey from the heart both the things He tells us NOT TO DO and the things he tells us TO DO. We cannot say we are totally yielding if we are not committed/dedicated to both of these aspects of yielding.

4. Dependence or Faith: “the just shall live by faith.” We must live every moment of our lives in complete dependence upon the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit intent upon bringing God glory through each and every moment our lives.

At any moment that a believer fails to fulfill any one of these four conditions, that believer will break all five of the commandments regarding his relationship (“fellowship” or working partnership) with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Primarily, at the moment when any one of the four conditions is not met, the believer will grieve the Spirit of God, quench the Spirit of God, or both. These are two outcomes of two different forms of failure to yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit.

An issue that must be addressed at this point is the false notion that the Mosaic Covenant believer “under the Law” had no other option than mere outward conformity (externalism) to God’s moral commands. Although these believers did not have the indwelling of the Spirit, they did have the filling of the Spirit and the anointing of the Spirit. These operations of the Spirit of God were with or upon them, not from within them.

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:15-17).

The failure of Israel, both the saved and natural Israel, was that the failure of the priesthood; who were anointed for the purpose of teaching the people and who were responsible for teaching them both how to be saved “through faith” and how to live their new lives empowered by the Spirit of God Who was with them and upon them. Because of this failure of the priesthood of Israel in understanding this dynamic and teaching it to the people, the vast majority of the priesthood and the vast majority of the people of Israel never were saved and regenerated. As a result of this, they sought to obey the Law through the outward conformity through the strength of their own will power (“flesh”) rather than through God’s supernatural enabling “from the heart.”

There are many today who claim that God never expected obedience “from the heart” under the Mosaic Covenant. They make that claim on the false premise (presupposition) that God could not expect of people what they were powerless to do. The fact is that many Scriptures teach us that God did expect obedience “from the heart.” Obedience “from the heart” was the emphasis and daily reminder of the Shema, recited twice daily at morning and evening prayer (Shema is the shortened version of Sh'ma Yisroel, which are the two Hebrew words hear and Israel).

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Although the Shema was a twice daily reminder of obeying “from the heart,” this became little more than a vain repetition and outward conformity where the words were said, but never heeded or obeyed except in a very external way. The Jews lived primarily according to the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses commonly called the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). In the book of Deuteronomy alone there are 44 different verses spreading through almost every chapter from beginning to end warning about heart obedience to God and maintaining their relationship with God out of love for Him. By the time of Isaiah, Israel had fallen almost completely into dead ritualism and outward moral conformity.

13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding” (Isaiah 29:13-16)?

Christ quotes Isaiah 29:13 to the Pharisees and applies it to them in Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6. Neither has Christianity escaped this fa├žade of outward conformity. This is what defines the hypocrisy of Pharicism. Pharicism is not about expecting people to live by rules or according to God’s standards of holiness. Pharicism is teaching people that mere outward conformity and white washed sepulchers are somehow pleasing to God (Gal. 3:1-4).

The great tragedy of New Covenant Christianity is that the vast majority of people who profess to be believers (however they might define that) have failed in exactly the same way Israel failed. They have trusted their souls to the teaching of priests, pastors, or clergymen who often are not saved themselves and who certainly do not understand the spiritual dynamic of being “filled with the Spirit” and “walking in the Spirit.” Therefore, the vast majority of professing Christianity is doomed to either misplaced faith and a false hope of eternal life or being saved but living out their lives in mere externalism to outward conformity to the commandments of God and thinking that somehow God is pleased with them for such nonsense. This latter failure is not limited merely to the liturgical/sacramental Christianity. The vast majority of both evangelical and fundamental Christianity fall into this subtle deception as well.

Once a person is saved out from the condemned old creation in Adam and made part of the New Creation “in Christ,” there ought to be a change in the way he lives. Not just an outward change, but an inward change of heart; i.e., motivation and desires. When I refer to a new way, I am referring to the supernatural enabling of the indwelling Spirit of God. There ought to be a change from living under the control (lordship) of the fallen nature of Pharicism, and under the dominion of a fallen angel called Satan, to living under the control (Lordship) of his new nature (II Peter 1:4) and within the New Creation (“into this grace in which we stand,” Rom. 5:2) through the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is God’s expected transition for the life of every believer. If a person is genuinely saved, God expects that believer to chose to cease being a servant to sin (his sin nature) and to choose to become a servant of righteousness “from the heart” through the supernatural enabling (“grace”) provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit. There should be a change of heart!

This chapter can be heard in two audio sermons at SermonAudio.com links below:

I. Obeying from the Heart and the Filling with the Spirit

II. Obeying from the Heart and the Filling with the Spirit

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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