We recently concluded a series at C3 Los Angeles called Defined in the Dark which was about our pain and how it can, if we choose to allow it, define the new levels at which we place our belief in Jesus. This belief plays a major role in our experience of living victoriously over our pain as opposed to it living victoriously over us. Belief is what Jesus asks of us in our pain. In considering this I keep coming back to the interaction between Jesus and Martha upon his arrival into Bethany four days after (four days late in Martha's mind) her brother Lazarus had died. In John 11:25-26 Jesus says to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (emphasis added). This moment shows us that belief in Jesus is the Kingdom method with which we overcome the pain of whatever present circumstance we may be enduring. Belief is the weapon forged and refined in our pain for the conquering of our pain.
To conquer is the mandate given to those who follow Jesus, to carry our cross not to death, but to resurrection. That's why Revelation 21:7 says, "The one who conquers will have this heritage (of the new heavens and earth), and I will be his God and he will be my son." Eternal life is the inheritance of those who conquer, which means we should expect to do some conquering in this life. What we conquer is what I would summarize as the pain of this world: the trials, the tribulations, the temptations. The way we conquer is through belief.
But let me drill down a little deeper, so we are not left with the impression that our ability to conquer is left up to us alone, as though it were the outcome of sheer determination and resolve. Our belief is something made possible, not by these things, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. I am convinced that a major role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to help us live as conquerors over the pain of this world. It seems to me that in John 14, 15, and 16, where we find Jesus repeatedly promising the Holy Spirit to the disciples, that He is connecting the necessity of this promise for the pain that they are going to endure throughout life. The reason for the Holy Spirit's role in our pain is because we conquer through belief, and we believe through the Holy Spirit. He is the One who enables us to believe in the face of all impossibilities. Because He is the Spirit of God, He is never in disbelief of God. Therefore to be filled with Him is to be filled with someone who always believes the promises of God, though your carnal nature struggles to, and never believes the lies of the devil, though your carnal nature wants to. You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to respond correctly to what Jesus is saying to you in your pain, "I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?" There is no alternative way to respond with a resounding, "Yes!" to that question other than to be filled with the Spirit. That is why Jesus says in John 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.." The reason the Spirit gives life is because He enables us to believe, and belief is the weapon we wield in the overcoming of our pain.
So how then do we ensure we are regularly being filled with the Holy Spirit? It's something that the Lord commands us to do in Ephesians 5:18 where He says, "Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (it is more than a little interesting to me that the behavior not condoned in this verse is drunkenness, which is one of humanity's most common ways of dealing with pain), but be filled with the Spirit.." That command is given in the present tense which means the original recipients of this letter would have read it like this, "keep being filled with the Spirit." It's an ongoing, habitual choice we are meant to make. So how do we do that? Jesus actually answers the question for us with his next sentence in John 6:63. After letting us know that our only hope of life is through the Spirit and that the flesh is zero help, He then says, "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (emphasis added). Further on down in verse 68, Peter reveals his understanding of this when he says to Jesus, "You have the words of eternal life." (emphasis added) The connection is that if the Spirit gives life, and the words of Jesus are spirit and life, then we are filled with the Spirit when we are filled with His word.
Colossians 3:16 ties it all together nicely for us in saying, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." That outcome describing the abundance of joyful praise and thanksgiving from being enriched with the word of Christ is almost verbatim the same outcome Paul goes on to describe in Ephesians 5:19 as a result of being filled with the Spirit. That's because His word contains His Spirit, and therefore to enrich yourself with His word is to fill yourself with His Spirit. So in being convinced of this, allow me to suggest some scriptures from the word of God for you to enrich yourself with each day. Read them repeatedly. Meditate upon them. Memorize them. Recite them. Declare them over your life each day in the secret place of prayer. In doing so, you will be filled with the Spirit and enabled to conquer whatever pain you are enduring through the weapon of belief. At the risk of this blog post becoming too long I will not expound upon each scripture but instead will allow you to draw out the meaning and applications through your own time of meditation upon them.
To combat anxiety // Isaiah 26:3-4 "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock."
Philippians 4:6-7 "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
To combat the temptations of the flesh // Romans 8:11 "If the Spirit of Him who raised jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."
To combat the worry of lack // Ephesians 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him."
Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
To combat the fear of man and the future // Colossians 1:17 "And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
Ephesians 1:21, "(Jesus is) far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come."
I pray this is helpful to you! See you in church!