1 Corinthians 3.16
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
Beginning today, I will be posting one devotional per week, which will be every Monday morning. I have several high-priority writing projects that I want to complete in 2023, and that requires a significant investment of time. Posting one devotional per week will give me more time to write other things… including The R Factor book. Thank you for your understanding and support!
The most amazing thing about the Christian life is that when we give our lives to Christ, God puts his Spirit within us.
Think about that. We are created by God to be vessels for his Spirit so that the Lord can work in us and through us to accomplish his purposes in the world. There are times when God ministers to the world directly, but the majority of the time he ministers to the world through the agency of his redeemed people.
The critical question is: Are we vessels that are fit for God’s purposes?
This was Paul’s message to Timothy, the young pastor of the church at Ephesus: “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Tim 2.20-21)
Our effectiveness for Christ is contingent upon being “set apart as holy” and “cleansed from what is dishonorable.” That means we must reject the belief and behavior patterns of the culture around us and fully embrace the truth and disciplines of the kingdom of God.
As vessels and receptacles set apart for the Lord’s work, we must not allow the polluted and nasty things of the world to get inside us. The world is constantly trying to pour its distortions and perversions into us, and we must be relentless about saying no. We must guard our hearts with all diligence.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12.1-2)
When we walk in the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, we are continuously transformed into the people the Lord created us to be. We grow. We bear fruit. We have a positive and prophetic impact on the world around us, and God gets glory.
But if we absorb the ways of the culture around us, we become “dishonorable vessels” that are not useful to the master of the house. James chapter 4 communicates a similar message, except it is put in even stronger terms. James says that it is a form of spiritual adultery for a Christian to embrace the ways of the world.
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?” (James 4.4-5)
God put his Spirit within us so that we would be set apart and be different from the world. The Lord wants us to be honorable vessels for his Spirit; but when we think and act and speak like the fallen world, we grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4.30) and become dishonorable vessels. James states the very heart of God on this topic: “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.”
This is a powerful picture of the God of the universe looking at his people and saying, “What are you doing? I didn’t put my Spirit within you for you to act like that! Don’t you understand what I want you to do? It is painful for me to watch you think and behave that way. Please don’t do that to my Spirit. Follow the plan!”
God wants us in the world, but he does not want the world in us. We will not be successful by copying the culture; nor will we be successful by condemning it. We will only be successful by engaging the culture with the truth, love, and power of the risen Christ demonstrated in the way we live our lives and do our work every day. As the book of James reminds us, this requires wisdom, discipline, and perseverance in the face of adversity, and the kind of faith that hears and does the word of God.
Let us, then, reject the influences of the world and the impulses of the sin nature, and let us respond to the presence and power of the Spirit within us so that we will be honorable vessels who are useful to the Master in our time and place in history.
The Lord is calling.