“Before the Holy Spirit moved in, the flesh just ran the show. Ahhh the good old days. . . “
In Acts 11 the Apostle Peter has just returned to his home church in Jerusalem after sharing the word of God with a Roman centurion named Cornelius. As a result Cornelius and his entire household, dreaded gentiles, were saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Peter is met back home with scorn and confrontation for this, him having cavorted with the filthy pagans. Peter shuts up these religious busybodies by explaining to them exactly what happened. Acts 11:16-17
Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” Who was I that I could withstand God?
Resistance is futile
Now there’s a fight I know way too much about; wrestling with the Holy Spirit. If you are serious about following the Lord, and especially if you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, be prepared for a lot of inner turmoil as the flesh will nearly always be at odds with the spirit. Before the Holy Spirit moved in, the flesh just ran the show.
Ahh— the good old days. . . Just kidding, those days were marked by emptiness and anxiety. Allowing the Holy Spirit to come in and give me new life through Jesus Christ, and then the power to overcome my flesh, just changed the nature of the struggle, but it put me on the winning side.
And still I ask, as does our title verse, who am I that I can withstand God?
An echo of the words of Peter as he relates his dramatic testimony of what he saw the Holy Spirit do amongst the gentiles as he preached the word of God to them.
Reminds me of something I read just recently a few chapters back in Acts, something that jumped out at me then and has continued to be in the back of my mind as I struggle with ‘What Lord, am I to do? Am I doing what you will for my life? Am I where I am supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I on the right road or did I miss a turn somewhere, or just wander off aimlessly?’
That saying I’m referring to comes from the words of Jesus to Paul as he waylays him on the road to Damascus to change his path. And that is: “It’s hard to kick against the goads.”
When everything seems to be difficult, or more of a challenge than it should be and it seems you are just getting bruised and bloodied for your troubles, it certainly makes you wonder if you are kicking against the goads.
We all struggle with that from time to time in our walk with the Lord, at least if you care enough about following the Lord to keeping pushing on in pursuit of him and working to advance his Kingdom with or through his bride, the church—the church who can either hurt or hinder you depending on who is prevailing in their struggle, the flesh or the Spirit.
A big part of the challenge is knowing who is holding the goad. Is it the enemy and the world, the weakness of the flesh, who is poking at you with that sharp metal tipped oxen poker to prevent you from following? Or is it Jesus urgently trying to get you to change course and head in the right direction?
Are we standing against evil, or withstanding God?
It can be hard to know at times. Whenever I feel like there needs to be a change of course, an attitude or perception adjustment, I am careful to not move too quickly, unless it is a clear and imminent word or prompting from the Holy Spirit, because there are ways to know. And sometimes it just means you need a rest, a reminder or a refreshing. Either way, patience usually pays a big role.
But whatever the season or the answer, In the end we must stand, we must not be silent.
That’s the thing about being baptized–filled, with the Holy Spirit–he will not leave you alone. Which is a good thing, because alone, I am very bad for my self and not much good to others. And who am I to withstand God?
I’ll let God have the last word, his words to Peter:
‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’
You are anything but common. Do not let them tell you, you tell them.
The enemy wants nothing more than to silence us, but we, if we remember God’s word, always have the last word, we have the power to stop the argument, to silence the voices of accusation and slander. We are Christian.
Please pray for me my friends, I’m a little weary, as I know we all are. . .