Daily Archives: September 18, 2021

THE HOLY SPIRIT OR HOLY DESIRES?

THE HOLY SPIRIT OR HOLY DESIRES?

Did Jesus say that God will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask Him?

Lets’s look at what the Scripture says.

11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Matthew 7:11 NLT

13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Luke 11:13 NLT

Why is there a difference between Matthew’s version and Luke’s version if they both used a common source? Are they saying the same thing? Were these translations the opinion of the translators rather than an accurate understanding of the original text?

Firstly, let’s ask the question, “Did we receive the Holy Spirit by asking or by believing? “

What did Paul say?

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.”

Galatians 3:2 NLT

Therefore, if Jesus said that we receive the Holy Spirit by asking God for Him, we are making the Bible contradict itself. The whole drift of Scripture, according to Paul’s teaching, is that the Spirit comes to indwell us when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, what is the meaning of Jesus’ words according to Matthew and Luke?

Matthew speaks in general terms of “good gifts”. Luke is more specific. He said that God gives ‘pneuma hagios’ – holy spirit, to those who ask Him. Is there a difference between ‘holy spirit’ and ‘the Holy Spirit’?

The Greek term for the Holy Spirit is  ‘o pneuma hagios’. There are no capital letters in ancient Greek. Therefore, the little word ‘o (transliterated ho), meaning ‘the’, indicates that the writer is referring to THE Holy Spirit. Every time the Holy Spirit is mention in Scripture, the term, ‘o pneuma hagios’ is used.

In Luke 11:13, the ‘o is omitted, hence it cannot mean ‘the Holy Spirit’. Not only do the translators assume that it means ‘the Holy Spirit’, but their translation also contradicts Scripture, since we receive the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus as Lord, not by asking.

How, then, should we translate ‘hagios pneuma’ in Luke 11:13. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus said that God, the good Father, will give us ‘good gifts’ if we ask Him. Luke elaborates on the ‘good gifts’ by telling us that God will give us ‘holy spirit’.

‘Holy’ means separate from sin, separated to God. ‘Pneuma’ means ‘breath’ or ‘spirit’. Since the meaning is found in the context, in the context of Luke 11:13, ‘breath’ can also mean ‘disposition’ or even ‘aspiration: or  ‘desire’. Would it not make sense to translate this verse like this?

13 So, if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give a disposition (or aspirations) that are set apart from sin to God, to those who ask him.”

Luke 11:13 NLT

This rendering of ‘holy spirit’ is completely in line with the drift of Scripture.

4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalms 37:4 NIV

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6 NIV

31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way…

1 Corinthians 12:30-31 NIV

The Bible teaches us that we have been made holy by the blood of Jesus, but it also encourages us to work out what God has worked in us.

“… Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Philippians 2:12-13 NLT

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:1-3 NIV

Although we have become new creatures in Christ, with the nature of God in us, we still have the remnants of the old nature is us. Our flesh is at war with our spirit in which the Holy Spirit lives.

Our desires pull us either towards the flesh or towards the Spirit. How important it us, then, for us to have holy desires or aspirations that draw us away from our fleshly appetites towards God and an overcoming life in Jesus.

“12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Romans 8:12-13 NIV

Why do I need to ask God for holy aspirations?

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

James 1:13-15 NIV

18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For 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 7:18-19 NIV

Not only do we have evil desires in our flesh but our flesh is also too powerful to resist in our own strength.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:12-13 NIV

How important are our desires, good or bad?

“14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”

James 1:14-15 NLT

Our desires are the outcome of our appetites. A child who lives on junk food has no appetite for healthy, nourishing food. We, also, develop an appetite for the things we most feed on. If we live on the junk food of the world, we will have little appetite to “seek those things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

Does it not make sense, then that Jesus would teach His disciples, in the context of prayer, to ask the Father for a holy disposition with holy desires and aspirations that will feed our spirits, and draw us towards godly living? Then the Holy Spirit who is in us by faith, will lead us and keep us on track as we move towards the Father and our eternity with Him.

If we do not actively seek to live holy lives, our old, ungodly nature will pull us away from God and sink us into the cesspool of living in this world which is transient and passing away.

How important it is, therefore, both for this life and the life to come, that we ask God for the holy disposition and desires that lead us away from satisfying our fleshly appetites. If we live for the flesh we will be disconnected from God, but if we desire and seek after the Spirit, we will have the life of Jesus in us, bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus.

SOMEONE HAS TO WASH FEET

SOMEONE HAS TO WASH FEET

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

“The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so, He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” John 13:1-5 NIV.

This is such a familiar story that we can almost recite it from memory, but we don’t only know the story; we also know the ceremony. Hasn’t someone at some time washed your feet? Some churches even incorporate it into their Easter services as a ritual.

So, what is it all about? Since the roads were dusty and the people wore sandals, it was the householder’s responsibility to provide water to wash their feet. They either washed their own feet or it was done by a slave.

The disciples had just been arguing about who would be the greatest in Jesus’ new government (Luke 22:24). There was no slave in the house to do the job. They were certainly not about to wash each other’s feet! Jesus’ feet, perhaps, but that was all. No one made a move before supper, and still no one made a move after supper. Was Jesus waiting for one of them to get up and do the job or did He know them well enough not to expect any of them to do the courteous thing? Not one of them was willing to be humiliated by doing a slave’s work.

These guys needed to be taught something. What was His intention? To set up a new ritual for the church to follow? Not likely since He wasn’t interested in adding to the burden the Pharisees had already put on the people. Whatever Jesus did had to fit His nature — “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29), and the nature of His yoke which was “light”.

How could Jesus, who was the Son of God, stoop down and do so menial a task? He could have left their feet dirty rather than do a slave’s work. What Jesus did the disciples could not do for two reasons:

Firstly, He was secure in His identity. Had not He lived His entire public life out of the knowledge that He was the beloved Son of the Father? The Father had publicly affirmed Him at His baptism and given Him the mandate to represent Him in His life and work because Jesus had His unqualified approval. By washing His disciples’ feet, He showed that He had nothing to prove and nothing to lose.

Secondly, He did it because He loved them. It did not matter as much to Him that He was the Son of the Most High God as that their feet were dirty and needed washing. That’s what love does — love meets someone else’s need at its own expense. Two simple reasons why it cost Him nothing to wash their feet! He did not have to swallow His pride, humiliate Himself or make a show of what He was doing. It was an act of hospitality any host would extend to his dinner guests except that, this time it was the host Himself who did the honours!

This was completely in line with the disposition of Messiah we see so clearly in Isaiah’s prophecies. He gives us glimpses of the “Ebed Yahweh” — the Servant of Jehovah — across the 66 chapters of his magnificent writing. He was the one upon whom the Spirit of the Lord rested (ch 11); He would bring justice without raising His voice or trampling the weak (ch 42); He would be a polished arrow hidden in the Lord’s quiver (ch 49); He would be beaten, rejected and punished for the sins of His people (ch 52, 53) and He would bring freedom and healing to His people through the power of the Spirit (ch 61).

What was Jesus doing? He was showing them the heart of a true servant; not a ceremony to be performed but the disposition of a disciple that flowed out in loving service to whoever needed it. Simple but not easy! It depends on whether that disciple has anything to defend or to prove. If we, like Jesus, are secure in our identity in God and our love for His people, we can humbly “wash” one another’s feet as Jesus did without shame or embarrassment.

Acknowledgement

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.