Do you ever feel alone, abandoned, outnumbered?
On the night Jesus was arrested, He told His disciples that He was leaving, but He gave them a command and a promise.
If you love me, keep my commands.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17.
We saw last time that this description highlighted a major difference between Jesus in the last 3 years and the work of the Holy Spirit. For Jesus’ followers to benefit from Jesus’ wisdom, they needed to be physically where He was so they could ask Him questions and listen for His answers. However, the Holy Spirit would live inside them.
Probably computers give a good explanation. A computer has an operating system. It has default settings. For Jesus followers, the Holy Spirit is their operating system. The Holy Spirit gives them new default settings. Where before they reacted with anger, for example, the Holy Spirit is able to create a default setting of patience.
Paul of Tarsus explained it like this:
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Galatians 5:19-25, New Living Translation 1996.
How do you respond to that contrast between the old self-directed default settings and the Holy Spirit-empowered default settings?
Perhaps your first reaction is, “I know some Jesus followers who were not very kind or gentle or patient with me.”
Yes, I can well imagine. The problem is that all too often, we choose to allow the old default settings to operate – and we’re not proud of it.
Paul of Tarsus wrote about this too:
I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing Romans 7:19.
He goes on, What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25.
Jesus followers fail a lot. But as they again and again ask Jesus’ forgiveness and the forgiveness of those they hurt, the Holy Spirit again takes control. It’s a long, slow journey. Jesus followers (at their best) lovingly critique and challenge one another as they together follow Jesus, surrendering themselves again and again to the Holy Spirit’s new default settings that will empower them to live lives of greater emotional, relational and spiritual health.
Looking back, it’s sometimes possible for the Jesus follower to see the results of those new default settings in the individual life.
How are your default settings working for you?