Last week we challenged ourselves to examine our spectator status, asking the same question the Apostle Paul asked the new disciples he bumped into at Ephesus:
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?” (Acts 19:2 The Message)
Having the Holy Spirit inside you changes everything. Having the Holy Spirit in your mind only, and not inside you, changes little. It’s sort of like the advice we give to engaged couples: “Marriage (like the Holy Spirit) changes everything.”
Typically it goes like this: the young man is expecting marriage to be like adding a room to his house. He assumes his house (his life) will be pretty much the same; but, yes, of course, with his new wife added.
The young lady is expecting a whole-house renovation. She’s expecting everything to change, including and especially her new husband. He’s a spectator; she, however, is an invested participant.
Being an invested participant is what the Holy Spirit does for and in you. Listen to the Apostle Peter, a former spectator, who originally thought he could just add Jesus to his life, and still keep fishing for fish: “he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4 Bold added)
What a precious promise: to actually participate in the divine nature. Let that sink in for a moment, please. You can participate in Jesus’ divine nature, not just be a spectator. But it involves a whole-house renovation, to which we king and queen-of-our-castles are loathe to submit.
Trying to add Jesus, without being filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, results in a tired, beat-up, and harried attempt at being good and being religious, as highlighted by an amusing story in Acts 19. Some priests had seen the Apostle Paul driving out demons through the Holy Spirit, and thought, “Hey, that’s cool. Let’s give that a try.” However, it didn’t go as planned.
15 “One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” Acts 19
Can’t you picture this: “they ran out of the house naked and bleeding?” It’s almost comical.
But it’s not, is it? Because many of us feel this same way after a few years on a church committee, or trying to serve our fellow man, or trying, trying, trying real hard to be a good Christian.
We’ve added outside effort, but we have not been renovated inside. We’re still spectators, not fully invested participants. And it just won’t work.
Jesus did not die for you to add him to your already busy life, and certainly not so you could add his name to your resume. He died for you, and promised the Holy Spirit to live within you, to remove your old C- life, and renovate you completely.
A whole house renovation, no mere addition.
And then, don’t miss this: he plans to fill your newly renovated (and continually being renovated) house with wonders and riches and treasures you cannot begin to imagine. What a great God: a renovator of hearts and an interior decorator!
But you have to let him.