Controlled by the Spirit – Part 3

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

“‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!’” (Revelation 3:15 NIV)

In Revelation 3, Jesus spoke to the church at Laodicea.  This was a Christian church—one of the golden lampstands in that prophetic picture.  These were Jesus’ people.  Yet he said to them, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (vv. 15-16).

We’re not sure what Jesus meant by hot or cold.  We do know … that one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit is fire, and of course, fire is hot.  It’s easy to imagine how a Spirit-controlled church could be “on fire.”  And we can picture that cold means the opposite, absolutely no evidence of the Holy Spirit, no fire, no flame.  But this church was neither hot nor cold.  They were just lukewarm, and Jesus was about to spit them out of his mouth because of that.

Now if some are compelled by their doctrinal position to insist that the Laodicean Christians were actually full of the Holy Spirit—because they insist that to be a Christian is automatically to be filled with the Spirit—then what they are saying is this:  Jesus was vomiting Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled believers out of his mouth.  If that’s the case, then lukewarmness means nothing and the words of Scripture become meaningless...

The apostle Paul told the church at Ephesus:  “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  If all Christians were already filled with the Spirit at all times, why would there be this strong command from Paul?  Just a few verses before this Paul said, “Be very careful, then how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (vv. 15-17).  It seems that Paul was saying we need to keep on being controlled by the Spirit if we want to live wisely, to understand the Lord’s will for our lives, and to make the most of every opportunity.  If we’re not Spirit-controlled, we will miss out on being what God wants us to be.

So here’s the question:  If the Bible makes it clear that being controlled by the Spirit is so vital, what prevents so many of us from fully surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit?

To be continued…

-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from Spirit Rising)

Read Revelation 3:14-22.

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