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Lesson 6: The Holy Spirit and Living a Holy Life *

Introduction: One of the greatest blessings of my spiritual walk was realizing that I was saved by grace alone. I've seen those who struggle with obedience express great joy when they first understand grace. They feel free! The great danger is misunderstanding the reason for obedience. God does not call us to obedience as some sort of test. He does not intend for obedience to be a burden. Rather, obedience brings blessings to our lives and glory to God. God is looking for followers who want to obey Him, those whose hearts desire God's will to be done on earth as well as in heaven. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Life Motive


    1. In Deuteronomy 28 God lays out a simple rule for life. Obey God and be blessed. Disobey God and be cursed. Read Deuteronomy 30:1-3. What does this text assume? (That God's people have suffered because of disobedience, but God is offering a positive future if they obey.)


    2. Re-read Deuteronomy 30:2. What kind of obedience does God desire? (Obedience with "all your heart and with all of your soul.")


      1. What do you think it means to obey with "all your heart and all of your soul?"


        1. If obedience is annoying to you, if it is a burden to obey, is that what God desires? (No.)


        2. If obedience is annoying, what should we do, quit trying to obey?


    3. Have you ever worked hard for anything? If so, why? (The reward was worth the work. I recall sitting in the law library and looking out the window at the green grass and sunshine. I would rather be sitting out in the sunshine! But, I knew that if I just continued to work, instead of playing, that I would be a lawyer for the rest of my life.)


      1. Is that an acceptable model for obedience? It might not be easy, but you want to do it because of the ultimate reward?


  2. Love Motive


    1. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. What is the hope of the Christian? ("An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade." This is the same kind of motivation that we just discussed - a blessed life.)


    2. Read 1 Peter 1:6-7. Here is some bad news about living a blessed life. What does it tell us may come our way while following Jesus? (Suffering through trials.)


      1. What is the reason for this suffering? (We are given two reasons. First, that being faithful through suffering shows that we are serious about following Jesus. Second, suffering results in "praise, glory and honor" when we reflect Jesus.)


      2. We recently studied the book of Job. One major theme of the book of Job was that the normal rules about obedience and blessings do not always apply. Why is that? (Because evil is in this world. Satan wants to harm us.)


    3. Read 1 Peter 1:8-9. What motivates us to obey? (Love for God and our goal of faith.)


      1. Why are we motivated by love? (We go back to the first text we read in Peter: Jesus gives us new birth through His death and resurrection. What Jesus has done for us causes us to love Him. He saved us from death and from the just penalty for our sins.)


    4. Think about what we have just discussed. One motive God gives us for obedience is enjoying a blessed life. A second, and natural, motive for obedience is that Jesus loved us and died to make a future life possible for us. If you combine these two motives, are they consistent with the call to obey God with all of our heart and all of our soul?


  3. The Role of the Holy Spirit


    1. Read 1 Timothy 1:8. Does this mean that there is an improper use of the law?


    2. Read 1 Timothy 1:9-11. Let's break this down. Paul says that the law is not made for the righteous. Would applying the law to the righteous be an improper use of it?


      1. For whom is the law made? To whom is it properly applied? ("Lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious....")


      2. From time to time people want to debate what is meant by "the law?" What law is being referred to here? (At a minimum, it refers to the Ten Commandments because it specifically refers to things condemned by the Ten Commandments.)


    3. Let's assume that you at least tentatively agree with me so far. If you are someone who is highly motivated to obey because you love Jesus and want to live an enjoyable life, what, exactly are you obeying? If you are a righteous person, then applying the law to you would be an improper use of it, right?


    4. Read Galatians 5:13-14. What does this say that Christians should obey and what should they not obey? (We should not "indulge the sinful nature." On the other hand, we should "serve one another in love.")


    5. Read Galatians 5:16-17. If you desire to obey God with all your heart and all your soul, what do you need to do? What does this have to do with the Holy Spirit? (There are two attractions in the life of the Christian. One is to live in accord with the leading of the Holy Spirit. The other is to live in accord with the desires of our sinful nature.)


      1. Do you know what I'm talking about? Have you felt this conflict?


    6. Read Galatians 5:18. This accords with what we just read in 1 Timothy 1:9 that the law is not made for the righteous. How are the righteous, those lead by the Holy Spirit, not constrained by the law?


    7. Imagine that you had good parents, but they were not around all the time when you were a teenager. Which would be better: absent parents and a list of their rules; or your parents being with you and able to give you direction in life?


      1. Is "your parents living with you and giving advice" what it means to live a life led by the Holy Spirit?


    8. Well intentioned people will say "God calls us to keep His law." I think this is a subtle, but grave, misunderstanding of God's will. Why? Because the goal is too small, and the standard too low. Ask yourself, why did Jesus say in Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 5:27-28 that the Ten Commandments prohibit murder and adultery, but the thought process is just as important and deadly? Anger and a desire to commit adultery are also contrary to God's will. God has a much higher goal for His people, and that is to live a life led by the Spirit of God. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to live in us and guide our thinking and our actions.


  4. Figuring Out the Difference


    1. How difficult is it to tell if you are living a life led by the Spirit or a life led by your sinful nature? One of the good things about the law is that it has a certain clarity. Can we enjoy the same clarity when living a Spirit-led life?


    2. Read Galatians 5:19-21. Is this a life led by the Holy Spirit? (No. These acts are what result from living in accord with our sinful nature.)


    3. Read Galatians 5:22-23. Aside from the prior list being bad and this list being good, what other important difference do you find? (The first is mostly a list of actions. Not completely, but mostly. The second is a list of attitudes.)


      1. Can you see why the law is relevant to someone who worships idols? You are doing it and it is on the list of legal misdeeds. What if your goal is love, joy and peace? Does the law help you with that? (Of course not. This is another illustration of why telling Christians to keep the law understates God's goal for our lives. The only way we will have love, joy and peace is to have the Holy Spirit living in us and directing our actions!)


    4. Read Galatians 5:24-25. What needs to be crucified? (Passions and desires. Notice that it did not say "wrongful actions." That goal is too low!)


    5. Friend, will you ask the Holy Spirit to live in you and direct your thoughts and desires? It may require determination, but you will bring glory to God and live a more enjoyable life!


  5. Next week: The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit.
* Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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