Tuesday, July 5, 2016

P1 How forgiveness is the key to accessing God's power for daily living

Philemon 1:25  "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

Today's post is going to deal with how the Christian can access God's power in daily living through forgiveness. The opening verse above closes out Paul's short letter to Philemon. In that letter we find the overarching theme of "forgiveness". One could refer to this book of the Bible as "The Book of Forgiveness". As Paul made his appeal to Philemon to forgive a former runaway slave Onesimus, he noted in his closing remarks his desire to see God's grace operating within Philemon's spirit. 

"Grace" is God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. Grace is the sum total of God's power toward us. When reference is made to "spirit", it is Paul referring to the "human spirit" within Philemon. Passages such as Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23 speak of human beings as three-part beings: namely, we are a living soul, containing a spirit and all housed within a body. The "spirit" of a man is that person's innermost being. The human spirit is one's center of "God-awareness". In non-Christian people, the human spirit is vacant, devoid of the operations of God. Passages such as Ephesians 2:1-2 refer to unbelievers as "spiritually dead". However, at salvation, the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit "moves into" the person's human spirit. Faith springs forth to receive the work of redemption paid for by Jesus Christ, and thus the Holy Spirit resides within the spirit of a man or woman surrendered in saving faith (see Romans 8:14-16; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 3:16; 6:19-20). Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and power to operate and live out the will of God (Romans 8:1-5). 

These introductory remarks lead us to consider how forgiveness gains access to living forth in the power of God. Grace, as we mentioned, is the sum total of God's power as brought to us by the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is the key and the human spirit is the arena of the Holy Spirit's activity. Why would Paul close out his letter indicating his desire to see God's grace operating in full measure in Philemon's spirit? It all has to do with forgiveness being that crucial key to accessing the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Illustrating how forgiveness is the key to unlocking the power of the Holy Spirit.
At our home we have an interior door that we deadbolt and lock at night that functions as our main entryway into our kitchen and our home. Once that door is unlocked, one can enter into the kitchen and really the entire home. When we consider God's grace, God's grace is the door that is placed before us to enter into all the riches of His power and presence. At salvation, God's grace is placed before the sinner, with the faith being the key to access and enter through that door (Ephesians 2:8-9). The power of God is presented and access at saving faith through the gospel (Romans 1:16). 

In the post-conversion Christian life, we still find God's grace in the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit placed before the Christian (Ephesians 5:18). When we talk of the Holy Spirit's filling ministry, we are referring to the guiding ministry of the Spirit that leads to greater obedience, Christ-likeness and empowerment for Godly living (Romans 8:1-5; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16). How is it that the Christian enjoys the power of God in daily living as expressed in the Spirit-filled life? Certainly the key of faith, but there is a second key - obedience (Acts 4:32). Whenever the Christian consistently aims to do the known will of God and to walk out the measure of grace given to them, the power of the Holy Spirit in guidance and leading is granted (Galatians 5:16, 21-25). 

So now when we see God's doorway of grace placed before Philemon in Philemon 1:25, the question is: how is Philemon urged to access God's power? We know Paul is desiring to see God's power (i.e God's grace) operating in greater measure in Philemon's life. There are the keys of faith and obedience which Philemon has in his possession, as spelled out by the description Paul gives of Philemon's robust Christian testimony in Philemon 1:4-7. Yet, there is a third key that not only Philemon needs to access this particular door of grace, but really every Christian must have to unleash God's power in their lives: namely the key of forgiveness. 

More tomorrow........