Are You Faithful To The Holy Spirit?

February is known by many as “the month of love” because this is the month when Valentine’s Day is celebrated — and, in particular, the idea of romantic love is at the forefront of people’s minds.

Of course, believers in Jesus Christ who understand the love of God celebrate every month as a month of love, making no distinction of one month over another. After all, the love of God was “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” in the new birth we experienced when we came to Christ (see Romans 5:5). We love Jesus, and Jesus loves us!

The Holy Spirit lives in the heart of each one of us like a Divine Lover. I use that term “Divine Lover” because it is so fitting! For example, when believers allow the things of the world to usurp the place that should belong only to Him, the Holy Spirit — like a violated spouse — feels hurt and grief. It is therefore vital that we gain a deeper understanding of how sin affects the indwelling Holy Spirit so we can purpose to change any permissive attitude toward sin that may linger in our lives — and to live holier and more consecrated before Him in love.

In James 4:4 and 5, James referred to this nature of the Christian’s relationship with Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart when he wrote, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Throughout the New Testament, believers are most often referred to as “brothers and sisters.” Yet here James referred to his readers as “adulterers” and “adulteresses”!

Imagine if a great spiritual leader wrote to you and called you an adulterer or adulteress! This is especially strong language when you consider James was writing to Jewish believers, who could have been stoned for committing adultery. In fact, James couldn’t have said anything more shocking or outrageous to his audience! However, this adultery James referred to was not a physical act; rather, it was a spiritual adultery they had committed by giving their hearts to things other than Jesus Christ.

The Greek word for “adultery” is moichalis, and it carries all kind of connotations. Unfaithfulness, impurity, and violating a commitment to marriage are just a few. This word paints the picture of a wounded spouse who feels rejected, betrayed, misled, and deceived because the sanctity of his or her marriage relationship was recklessly thrown away by the act of adultery. All of these ideas are embedded in the Greek word moichalis.

So what had these believers done to be addressed by James in such a shocking way? He explained: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God...?”

To illustrate James’ point, let me share an example from my own life. In the early years of our marriage, Denise and I led an adult singles ministry in a large denominational church. During this time, we developed a program to help single adults who had recently gone through a divorce. As we listened to the concerns of these precious believers, we discovered that most of them felt like they were outcasts from the Church. So we made it a point to open our hearts and emphasize “life after divorce” as a primary message of our ministry.

Soon newly divorced people came to us from all over to receive ministry, love, acceptance, and healing. It was one of the most gratifying, yet troublesome, periods of ministry we had ever experienced. It was gratifying to see people who had been so rejected and wounded being healed by the love of Jesus Christ. However, it was very troublesome to hear of the pain many of these believers felt as a result of being betrayed by someone they loved and trusted. Day after day, we would listen as each one privately shared his or her story with us. Out of approximately 100 cases, although certain elements of these stories were unique, nearly all sounded similar in nature. They were so similar, in fact, that eventually I could almost finish most of their stories.

Again and again, these emotionally wounded people lamented, “I just don’t understand how he could do that to me. After all these years of being faithful to him, raising our children together, and working to help him through school, how could he hurt me this deeply?”

Or, “How could she do this after I’ve given her so much? I gave her my love, my attention — I did all that I knew to do. How could she do this to me?”

These intense, painful emotions are exactly what Jesus the risen Savior felt toward the believers James addressed in James 4:4. By embracing a sinful relationship with the world, they had been unfaithful to their sacred relationship with Him as the Bride of Christ, after all He had done for them.

In today’s world, with the opportunity for more distractions than ever before, it’s important that we each take time to look inward and to carefully examine our lives. Is there anything in us that would cause the Holy Spirit to feel similarly grieved and violated as our Divine Lover? After all He has done for us individually — regenerating us, filling us with Himself, and sanctifying us, we wouldn’t want to cause the Spirit of God pain and sorrow!

I can answer for myself that, although I have certainly missed the mark at times as a believer, I would never want to do this! I want to make sure that I’m living in such a way that brings Him pleasure, not grief and pain.

I believe you feel that way too. It wouldn’t hurt to ask yourself if there’s any way in which you’ve made the Holy Spirit feel violated because of sinful attitudes or actions you have perhaps allowed to persist in your life. If this is the case, you can tell the Lord you’re truly sorry, and you can ask Him for higher discernment to know when you’re doing something that hurts or grieves Him.

Don’t we all want to live a life that is pleasing to the Holy Spirit as our Divine Lover? If we want to honor His presence, we’ll have to do it by the way we live our lives. We’re not perfect, but if we do something that hints of displeasing Him, we can quickly recognize it and repent and turn from that attitude or behavior. If we refuse to permit wrong actions and attitudes to rule us — and surrender to His help and counsel — He will help us! Day by day, He will work to produce the life and character of Christ in our lives. And He will make us more sensitive and aware spiritually to the things that displease our Lord.

How can Denise and I and our team be praying for you this month? We pray for our partners every day. But when you let us know your deepest concerns and heart’s desires, we can add our faith to yours about those exact situations — and expect Heaven’s best to invade your life and flood those circumstances with God’s goodness.

Request-Prayer How can Denise and I and our team be praying for you this month? We pray for our partners every day. But when you let us know your deepest concerns and heart’s desires, we can add our faith to yours about those exact situations — and expect Heaven’s best to invade your life and flood those circumstances with God’s goodness.

We love you and thank God for you!

We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,

Rick-Signature

Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families