Acts 16:6 “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Acts 2: “14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only [e]the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.”
The last post was titled “Walking According to the Spirit”; this is what we see happening in the lives of Christ first disciples turned Apostles. Peter said that in the last days “I (God The Father; John 14:15-21) will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh”. However, not all flesh will keep Christ commandments and not all will see (not with our eyes) Him. Therefore, if we choose to go our own way, we will not receive the Holy Spirit. I thought that it might be worth mentioning because people tend to look for contradictions in the Bible so in order to have an excuse to continually live in sin. If we love Him, it is an honor to keep His commandments. This is not about keeping the Law of Moses, but the royal law of love (James 2:8). Royal is the Greek word ‘basilikos’, which means “befitting or worthy of a king”. Moses was never a King; on the other hand, Jesus Christ is King of kings and LORD of Lords…so we obey our King.
Toward the end of chapter fifteen, Paul and Barnabas disputed over John/Mark returning with them to the newly established churches in Galatia. In this, I see that even the so-called greatest among us can be flawed. Paul could not help to remember that this young man bailed on him once before in Pamphylia. Maybe he was still nursing old wounds. We all have similar situations in our lives from our brothers and sister in the household of faith. Sometimes we are the one who crushed someone else’s spirit. Either way, Christ teaches us to forgive one another of our trespasses, even as God has forgiven us. He places our sins in a metaphorical place called the sea of forgetfulness. The truth is, there is no verse of scripture that says that. Christians, including myself, have been quoting this coined phrase for centuries. The closest the Bible comes to it is:
Micah 7: 19 “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” You can also look in the margin of most Bibles and find similar references (2nd Sam. 12:13; Isa.38:17; 43: 25; Zech. 3: 9 and Heb. 9: 26). We must be careful not to read into God’ Word what is not there. Having said that, it seems that the Apostle Paul did not want to have a repeat performance by the same person. Even though the contention became sharp, I truly believed they repented and remained in love. The Greek word for ‘contention’ in Acts 15: 39 is ‘paroxusmos’ which means: 1) an inciting, incitement 2) irritation. In our modern-day vernacular, they worked each other’s last nerve. We learn from the Holy Spirit that we cannot always see eye to eye on every single matter. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). The proof is in the pudding, because the Holy Spirit was not grieved (Eph. 4:30), nor was He quenched (1st Thess. 5:19). This is where Barnabas and Paul parted ways. Barnabas continued his journey to Cyprus. While Paul and Silas, who happened to be a Prophet, continued their journey through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. Most importantly out of all of this, the show (mission) must go on.
Even though Paul had some quirts about traveling companions, he remained obedient to the truth. We can clearly see him and his fellow-brethren prompted by the Holy Spirit. The question is; how is the Spirit leading them? Did they hear an audible voice? Does He appear as a pillar of cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13: 21-22)? The answer is no, not in this dispensation. The Spirit of God was in these men. He led them from the inside out. Let’s take a look at something from my last post:
Conscience: Is the discerning organ that distinguishes right from wrong. Not by knowledge stored in the mind, but rather by spontaneous and direct judgement. The conscience is a blank slate at birth, it is developed over time; a slate written on by parents, siblings and our environment. Once developed, it’s independent and direct and will not bend to outside influence. (Rom. 2:14-16; Heb. 9:9-14; 10:19-22)
Intuition: instinctive knowing (without the use of rational processes); an impression that something might be the case (hunch; suspicion) e.g. “he had an intuition that something had gone wrong”. (Matt. 26:41; Mark 2:8; Acts 18:5; 1st Cor. 2:11
Communion or Fellowship= koinōnia: 1) fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse; 1a) the share which one has in anything, participation; 1b) intercourse, fellowship, intimacy. (Acts 2:42; 1st Cor. 1:9; 1st Cor. 10:16; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 3:9; Phi. 2:1; 1st John 1:3; 1st John 1:6)
These are three basic functions of the human spirit. Whether we are a Christian or not the human spirit is influencing our thoughts and actions. For instance, if a child is born to racist parents, their views of the world will most be imprinted on that child’s conscience. We learn right from wrong from whoever happens to be our caretaker. If they repeatedly express hatred for some other culture or ethnicity, that hatred becomes the compass for their conscience. The Bible says in Prov. 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it”. This verse is a two-edged sword. If a child came up in a dysfunctional environment, nine times out of ten, when he is old he will be dysfunction. They will think and behave like their parents. Their conscience will curse what their parents cursed, or bless what their parents blessed. This is something we need to understand ourselves if we want to live as spiritual men and women.
Gal. 5: 16 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 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”.
I want to leave you with this thought. If our flesh is lusting or at war with the Holy Spirit, and The Holy Spirit is at war with our flesh, wouldn’t it stand to reason that our flesh would have lost that fight thePmoment it stepped into the ring with Almighty God? To be continued….