You may not know this, but I’m a huge baseball fan. And it’s been such a fun, surprising season for our first-place Giants. In fact, as we’re calling today “Welcome Home”…the Giants have been using this same theme.
It’s been great to be able to go back to the stadium this year after not being able to in 2020. But you know who missed Giants games the most? The seagulls. If you’ve ever been to an evening Giants game, you know that towards the end of the game – seagulls begin to invade the bleachers. They love whatever is left of your concession stand food – hot dogs, nachos, and whatever else you didn’t finish. They are attracted to these things and they flood the stadium on game nights.
Somehow the Giants figured out a way to remove the seagulls, at least temporarily. The trick? Playing the “Cha-Cha Slide”. If that doesn’t sound familiar, it’s the one that goes like this, “Everybody clap your hands.” Somehow that song repels them. So food attracts seagulls and that song repels them…and you’re wondering, “Where is this illustration going?” Here’s where it is going: How you live your life will either attract or repel the Holy Spirit. How we live as a church community will determine whether or not the Holy Spirit is attracted to this Epic Church community or whether He’s pushed away from it.
Today we conclude our 11-week series on the Holy Spirit – what a journey it has been! And I want to give us a vision for our individual lives and for our church. Here’s the question before us that has massive implications:
Will we live lives that attract or repel the Holy Spirit?
When I say that our lives can attract or repel the Holy Spirit, let me be clear about what I’m not saying. I am not saying that how we live determines whether or not God loves us. His love is unconditional; He loved us while we were still sinners. I’m also not saying that God’s blessing on our lives is always determined by how we live. Jesus said that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
But what I am saying is that we do have a part to play when it comes to whether the Holy Spirit is welcomed into our lives or shunned from coming into our lives.
Ephesians 5:15-18 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
It really matters how you live.
Be careful. Give consideration to it. Don’t be unwise; be wise. Make the most of every opportunity. The literal translation of this verse is to “redeem or buy up the time.” The idea is of a merchant knowing the value of some article and getting all of it that he or she can get. Here’s a sobering question for each of our earthly lives: Are you wasting the time or redeeming the time?
Do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is. One of the great questions we will have to wrestle with on a daily basis – my will or God’s will?
Do not get drunk on wine. To be drunk on wine is to be controlled by the wine. But be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit.
You can be filled with the Spirit of God or you can grieve the Spirit of God.
I want to talk about three areas where we can attract or repel the Holy Spirit: our relationships, our personal holiness, and our church.
Ephesians 4:29-32 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
How we talk to and treat each other will reveal and determine whether the Spirit is present or absent in our lives.
*Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. How? Unwholesome talk. Bitterness. Rage. Anger. Brawling. Slander. Every form of malice.
*Attract the Holy Spirit. How? Building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen. Be kind and compassionate. Forgive each other.
Personal holiness (or the lack thereof) also goes a long way in what the Spirit might do or not do in our lives.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
holiness – separation from the ordinary or profane and set apart for God
Think of this logically for a moment:
How will the HOLY Spirit feel at home in us if our lives are filled with unholiness?
Our minds and our bodies are two places where we’ve been called to be set apart.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Do you belong to Jesus? If you do, do you know that ALL of you belongs to Jesus? We don’t just follow Him in some areas. If you’re a Christian, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are not your own. Honor God with your body.
We don’t do this only to obey Jesus. We also live with purity because we want the presence of God in our lives more than anything. And sin that grieves the Spirit of God takes Him out of our lives.
You’re thinking, “Really, Ben?” It’s 2021 and you’re standing on a stage in downtown San Francisco. I realize all of that, but listen to me. I deeply want to see your lives filled with the Holy Spirit and this is an area that I have seen destroy way too many people.
Whoever or whatever is keeping you from God’s presence – it’s not worth it!
What if your pattern has been to do whatever you wanted to with whomever you wanted to? Is there any hope for you? There is so much hope for you. Listen to the promise of Scripture.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
You confess. He is faithful. He forgives, but that’s not all. Look – he purifies, cleanses, and removes all unrighteousness.
David gives us language we need in this moment. He had committed adultery with Bathsheba and he had her husband murdered. And he confesses his sin to God. And he begs God for purity and for God’s presence and for a steadfast spirit.
Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
I sense that many of us are at a crossroads. What kind of life will we live? What do we want most in our lives – presence and power of God? Or something else? What are we going to be filled with?
Is there anything in the world that is worth you missing the presence and power of the Holy Spirit?
This sin, this habit, this addiction is so powerful in your life. I know and you’ll never be able to defeat it on your own. But the Holy Spirit is able to empower you to overcome that – whatever it might be and however powerful it might seem. You don’t have to be addicted to pornography. You don’t have to keep the casual sex thing going. You don’t have to let your anger get the best of you. You don’t have to live with bitterness.. You can be free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And there is life. And there is transformation. And there is power.
What about churches and more specifically, what about Epic Church? Churches also have the ability to attract or repel the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit loves to show up in churches:
-who rely on him and not their own personalities or gifts
-who seek unity rather than division
-who are filled with humility instead of pride
-who care about what God cares about
-who are desperate for a move of God
-who sacrifice for the good of others and generously give away what God has given them
-who live by faith and take God at His word
-who care more about making the name of Jesus great than they care about making their own name great.
You can help us become this kind of church even more. Daily prayer. Live a life of repentance. Forgive others and asking for their forgiveness. Ask the Spirit to anoint those serving and leading. Ask for protection from any evil sources that could keep us from what God wants to give us. Ask for the Spirit to open eyes and open hearts. To keep us unified. To fill every space we inhabit and to fill every person in our church community. The last thing I’ll say today for us individually and collectively is this:
The Holy Spirit loves to show up where He is wanted and needed.
-Confession. Welcome the Spirit into your life.
-Maybe you’ve spent your entire life resisting the Holy Spirit. Ask Jesus to save you from your sin and give you life in Himself.