Bible reading for Aug 18.
I Samuel 10.
"But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, 'Set a king over us.' Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your thousands." (1 Samuel 10:19)
SAUL'S THE MAN. The Lord confirms his choice by Samuel's anointing, by the events that were prophesied to happen, by the influence of the Spirit, and by the casting of lots. Saul is the one to be Israel's first king. He's a changed man (vv 6, 9) but that seems to be more as an experience of power, rather than a fundamental change of character. We'll see more on this later. We have a heads-up that this will not turn out exactly as the people hoped, since their desires for a king were rooted in unbelief (v 19).
SAUL AND THE SPIRIT. In the Scriptures we sometimes read about individuals, like Saul, who experience the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is not a life-and-character-changing experience as in regeneration (the new birth). Balaam (Num 22-24) and Simon the Magician (aka Simon Magus, Acts 8:9-24) seem to be believers, and influenced by the Spirit, but they do not turn out in the end to be God's children. This may help explain the warning of Hebrews 6:4-6, about those "...who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit," but in the end deny Christ. And see Jesus' words in Matthew 7:21-23, "I never knew you." The Spirit of God conveys much life and power from God to all of his creation (Ps 104:30; Acts 17:25), but this does not mean that this includes a change of nature, the new birth, eternal life, or the blessing of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Perhaps Saul was a real believer in God, but it's hard to say, given what follows later in his story.
REFLECT. Thinking about Jesus' words in Matthew 7:21-23, it is evident that the people saying "Lord, Lord" thought they were in Christ's kingdom because of the mighty works of power they did. But they did not really know the Lord nor had they given up sinful ways. Jesus does not say, "I knew you, but you fell away." He says, "I never knew you." This is a warning to us not to put our faith in experiences or in any mighty works we may have done in Jesus' name. The question is, since I have trusted in Christ, do I have a heart that desires to turn away from sin and to do God's will? We must ask ourselves, are we trusting in the Lord Jesus or in our experiences, feelings of power, and spiritual accomplishments? Do we want to live holy lives for the Lord, humbly doing his will? Or, do we just want to have powerful experiences and be impressive to others?
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)
NEW LIFE IN THE SPIRIT. What a wonderful chapter this is! Being united with our Lord ("in Christ Jesus") we have died to sin (ch 6) and to the law (ch 7). We no longer have the desire to live defiantly in sin, but neither do we try to justify (or sanctify) ourselves before God by keeping the law. Jesus bore our condemnation upon himself, so we are free and justified before God. As Victor over sin and death Christ now gives the indwelling Holy Spirit to all believers (Rom 8:9; Eph 1:13-14). This is in fulfillment of God's words about the new covenant in Ezekiel 36:26-27, "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes..." The Holy Spirit "leads" us, that is, he prompts and motivates and empowers us to obey the Lord, to do his will, and to say no to the sinful flesh. He is the one who causes us to know and to trust the love of God, and so, as children of God we call to him in our troubles: "Abba! Father!" And his love endures forever for his children. Nothing will ever separate us from God's love and his eternal plan for us.
REFLECT. Why do we need the Holy Spirit? Read through this chapter again and note his various workings in and for us. Also, if time allows, read through the "Ten Evidences of the Work of the Holy Spirit in Us"* below. Have you seen any of those in your life?
*TEN EVIDENCES OF THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN US
1) When we experience conviction of sin, not mere guilt and desire to escape punishment, but an awareness of sin against God which draws us to Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8-11)
2) When Jesus Christ becomes attractive to us, and we begin to see him as glorious, powerful, and gracious (John 16:14; 1 Cor 1:23-24) – this is the work of the Spirit.
3) When God’s love is so understood and felt in the heart that we are moved to call out to God as our Father – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 5:5; Gal 4:6)
4) When we joyfully believe and confess that Jesus is Lord – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:3; 1 John 4:2-3)
5) When we have felt the truthfulness of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ and inwardly experience the authority and goodness of God’s word – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Eph 1:13; 1 Thess 1:5; 2:13)
6) When we have freedom, even boldness, to speak of Christ to others – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8; 4:31).
7) When we are receiving insight and understanding into God’s word, so that we are sensing its truth, power, and application to us – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 2:12; Eph 1:17-18; 1 John 2:27; 4:6)
8) When we turn away from sin and fleshly desires, and are being led and empowered to manifest God’s holy character in our lives – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-23)
9) When we truly desire to sing God’s praises and join with believers in corporate worship – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Eph 5:18-20)
10) When our service to others brings God’s blessing to the body of Christ, and gifts that he has given us work supernaturally to build up others – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:4-11)
Image credit. Photo from iStock.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.