Knowing the Ruach haQodesh
(Holy Spirit)

Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 22 December 2001

by Christopher C. Warren

    "Everyone is terrified when a lion roars - and ordinary people become prophets when Yahweh-Elohim speaks" (Amos 3:8)

Last week we looked at the mystery of Hanukkah by examining the musical scale. We discovered that there are seven primary notes but that an octave isn't complete without the eighth. We saw this pattern repeated in the Seven Overcomings of the Book of Revelation and then discovered an eighth "Overcoming" which, in reality, wasn't an extra overcoming at all, but a summation of the previous seven. Once we have begun to sing that eighth note within, Christ tells us, we become the adopted sons of God. Not before. This is what He said:

    "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev.21:7-8, NKJV).

Today I want to ask the question: how do we avoid these eight evils? How do we actually acquire the eight virtues which are the counterparts of these sinful categories? How do we obtain courage to do what is right, how do we develop the faith to literally take God at His word and obey Him joyfully? How do we successfully avoid the corruption of the world? How do we become so salvation-minded that our primary drive in life will be the spiritual welfare of others' souls? How do we maintain our Christ-focus at all times? How do we really worship our Heavenly Father, Yahweh, in spirit and truth? And finally, how do we enable our lives to be steered by the truth, and nothing but the truth? For without these eight spiritual notes singing in our souls, there is no spiritual adoption by God as sons and daughters. Like having to pass a series of tests in a car driver's examination, every single one of these eight octave notes is essential. And if you examine each carefully, you will discover that you can't fail in one and not fail in the other. The spiritual song which is our lives has to be in harmony. And if you don't believe me, just go and listen to a choir sing where one of the singers is singing flat. The result is ugly even if all the others are singing in tune.

When I was younger I used to sing in choirs and play in a school orchestra. I particularly enjoyed the latter where I played the timpani. We used to practice for hours going over the pieces again and again. I can still remember one in particular - an American Indian war dance. It was great fun thumping away on the timpani but I had to be careful not to get too enthusiastic and hit the drum too hard or it would drown out the other instruments and so disrupt the balance of the orchestra. I remember the conductor, Mr. Brown, scowling at me when I got too carried away. Anyway, performance night came and the concert went ahead. It all went just fine until one of the violinists started screeching - it made you grit your teeth and I'm sure some of the audience were gripping their chairs. Everyone else played just fine but that one violinist, who created a sound like a cat being tortured, spoiled the whole performance. I suppose he just lost his nerve, and when that happens, things just go wrong.

Everybody else played just fine, and even I didn't thump the timpani too hard to impress the audience. But that one screeching violin was enough to ruin all our hard work. What use is it if we, as Christians, succeed in seven of the overcoming virtues but flop in the eighth? What use is it if we are courageous, faithful, incorruptible, salvation-minded, sexually-pure, Christ-centred, and worshipful but are habitual liars? Or if we're cowards and don't do what we're supposed to be doing? Or so absorbed with ourselves that we never think about the need to get out the message of salvation to the world? What good are all the other virtues then?

Now if you were running a pilot-training school and you had a pilot who was brilliant at taking off and flying, but couldn't land a plane for a toffee, would you give him his pilot's license? If you were running a police academy and one of your trainees was brilliant in everything except firing a gun, would you pass him? We all know that in order to get certain jobs you have to pass a whole battery if tests and you can't flunk in any one part. To become the adopted sons and daughters of God we have got to be able to sing all eight notes.

Once we accept that this is what we must do, we can make progress. You would be surprised, though, just how many Christians ignore certain sin areas in their lives, even to pretending they aren't there. I knew a man who really had a problem with swearing but didn't think it was important enough to deal with because he was so strong in the other areas of the Gospel. Yet he was breaking one of the Ten Commandments on a more or less continual basis. And because he didn't think it was important, after a while he began to slip in other areas too. As men and women seeking salvation and eternal life, we can't pick and choose what we like in the teachings of Christ - we take the whole packet or nothing at all.

At some stage or another all of us look through the list of the commandments or mitzvot and ask ourselves: "How on earth will I ever manage to do all these things?" And I must admit it does look pretty daunting. But it's not as hard as you might be tempted to think so long as you focus your life correctly. That is why we were given the Ten Commandments. And yet people still complain at how hard just ten commandments are. Christ made it simpler still by summarising them as two. It's so easy that even a small child can understand them: Love God with your whole soul's energy, and love those within your reach as you would yourself.

So where do we start? We start in our heart. And as we look into it, we need to ask ourselves some basic questions, most of which we ought to be able to answer. Like, "What is love?" And "How can I know that I am really loving God with my whole soul?" Well, we have discussed such questions at great length before. Christ tells us that if we love Him we will be obeying His commandments. If we don't love Him, we won't. That's a pretty simple guideline. Christ told the young wealthy ruler that life is to be found in the Ten Commandments. The way we treat others tells us whether we truly love or not. We know that God is love. We know that love, when we receive it, can't be hoarded but has to be given away. We know from Paul's sublime revelation in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is non-compulsive, gentle, and kind. We know that it doesn't boast. We know that it comes without a price tag. Love accepts sinners but not sin.

We have many revelations on love in the Olive Branch and whilst we rarely cite these in public meetings I thought one might be appropriate today:

    "...seek always to be filled with My love, and if you have this love, you are blessed ... And if a man or a woman loves with this pure love then he is truly a disciple of Mine, and I shall acknowledge him before My Father, before angels, and before all the saints ... And how will you know if you have this love? Truly, truly, I say to you, it shall be by your works. Such a person who has this love shall have the fruits that My servant Paul wrote of: patience, kindness, generosity of spirit, overflowing warmth, affection, praise, consideration, faith, hope, belief, trust, and all that is righteous. But one who does not have this love is impatient, jealous, boastful, rude, self-serving, irritable, resentful, mean, cold, uncaring, short on praise, inconsiderate, faithless, hopeless, without belief or trust, and all that is unrighteous. O My beloved children, are these but words to you? Will you forget them after you have heard them? Or will you turn away from your lack of love, and repent? For if you will not turn around from all selfishness and embrace My love, then I cannot replenish your cup, and you must remain dry. And if you are dry and empty because you will not love, woe to you! Behold, it is not easy to love those who are unlovable; nevertheless you must love, both the lovable and the unlovable, even as I have taught you so many times. Therefore I say these things again, pleading with you to forget your own desires, for your own desires lead only to spiritual death. You still follow after the loves of the world and because you do, you do not grow.
    "These are the three loves: 'I desire', 'I like', and 'I forget myself'; and the greatest of these is 'I forget myself', or service. The first is self-satisfaction, and the lowest of all loves, and is sexual. The second is friendship and sociability, and is the highest love in the world, but not in My Gospel. And the third is the pure love of Christ; and only from this comes the pure warmth and radiance of heaven. With this love your faces will shine, your eyes will burn brightly, your mouths will smile and laugh, and your hearts will burst with energy and freshness; and people will know that you are My disciples. Are your hearts cold? Are you full of resentment, bitterness or indifference? Then repent, otherwise I will not send My Spirit to you but must leave you to wander in your own loneliness and coldness. I am warm and generous, and I will send a flood of living love to you, but only as you forget yourselves and go forth in service to the saints and to your fellow man. This is the whole way of the Gospel and from it every other righteous principle flows. Therefore blessed is he who finds it. Amen" (OB 298:3-4,6-28, with modernised English).

As we look closely at the life that Christ led whilst He was on earth - the life which we are supposed to imitate and which gives us a panoramic vision of the heart of our Heavenly Father - we see divine love revealed in many ways. We see it in His countless acts of healing. We see it in His teaching about Yahweh's acceptance of sinners. We see it in His grief-stricken attitude to human disobedience. We see it in His being the friend of society's outcasts. And most of all we see His love in His saving activity, in the way He delivers us from the consequences of sin by simply asking us to sorrowfully turn away from sin and trust Him to lead us right. The whole drama of His redemption is the greatest revelation on love that there is. We cannot begin to understand the love of God until we understand just what He did for us on that execution stake at Golgotha. We understand the love of God - which should in turn inspire us to love Him the more - when we understand how the almighty Creator was willing to become a mere man and to suffer degradation, torture and death just for us. He made a short-cut possible for us so that we would not have to pay for our own sins throughout eternity.

If these are the ways that God demonstrates His love for us, then how are we in our turn supposed to demonstrate our love for Him? Simply by imitating Christ - by giving acts of compassionate service to the sick, the afflicted, prisoners, orphans, the hungry, the homeless, and the disadvantaged. We demonstrate our love for Him by accepting sinners as human beings just as He did whilst at the same time viewing sin and disobedience to Yahweh's Word with horror and grief. By being the friends of the outcast. And finally, and not to be omitted, by leading all to the salvation of Yah'shua (Jesus) by revealing God's hatred of their fallen ways of living and showing how through faith and obedience they may obtain forgiveness and a new life.

Now this love is not human love but is supernatural, godly love, and for this reason it is not resident within us. We have to obtain it from somewhere outside of ourselves. We are to love not only those who are nearest and dearest to us but our enemies and persecutors too. That love comes through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and it is the evidence that we have it.

But like most things, it is something that has to be learned through practice. That is why Yahweh first gives us our families and then the Family of God. The apostle John spends much time pleading with Christians to love one another. If we can't love those who are saved, how on earth can we begin to love those who are not? Love begins at home and then reaches out. No success in life can ever compensate for failure on our part to love those in our own family. We must begin with our parents, brothers, and sisters, work our way to loving the fellowship of the redeemed, and then reach into the world. It is in love manifested, experienced and embraced at home that we are equipped to love those who hate us and despitefully use us.

How can we love others? Simply by seeing and understanding that Christ loved that person enough to die for him or her. When we look at a fellow believer we are looking at a person in whom Christ lives. It is this love that creates unity and breaks down all barriers of fear. That we love on another is the sign that the love of God is in us and that we are truly obeying the commandments.

Now I began this sermon with an unusual scripture quotation. Let me remind you of it again: "Everyone is terrified when a lion roars - and ordinary people become prophets when Yahweh-Elohim speaks" (Amos 3:8).

Unfortunately, we are not usually that well tuned to God. And so from time to time He has to roar at us like a lion. That can be quite frightening. Most people aren't prophets because they aren't tuned to Yahweh like the prophets are. But when Yahweh roars, everyone hears Him!

Fortunately, Yahweh does not roar that often, otherwise we would probably die of fear. For the most part He is hard to hear. And because His voice is usually soft and gentle, we mostly turn off and lose the ability to hear Him. So we stop listening. And when we stop listening to God, we start listening to other voices on a different spiritual wavelength instead.

How can I know whether I am hearing the Lord? That's very simple. Firstly, you "hear" Him when He speaks in the Bible and you respond by obeying. Secondly, you "hear" Him when His Spirit-anointed ministers preach. If your mind wanders when the Word of God is preached to you, you aren't listening. Thirdly, you "hear" Him when those who are filled with His love interact with you and you respond by building relationships with such people. God speaks through all three. And when He does, they always agree with each other, because God does not contradict Himself. And when people cannot "hear" the Word of God, or are turned off by it, it is proof that they are not the children of God. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:

    "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (Jn.10:27-28, NKJV).

One who is born again - one who is saved and belongs to Christ - listens and hears. He is attentive to what his Master says, because of his love for Him. We become part of the Body of Christ ... part of the Family of God ... only when we hear His voice and obey. And what is it He wishes us to do first of all, before anything else? To love Him with all our hearts, and to love others as ourselves. The evidence that we are actually hearing Him is the way we respond to Him and in the way we treat and love others. As a result, Yah'shua (Jesus) says, "they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:16, NKJV). When we hear Him, unity prevails, and we become His flock - we become a dynamic family. When we hear Him, we cease to be alone, but start belonging. We become integrated with others.

There are many other voices in the world but Christ's sheep don't know those voices - they are strange to them. Our safety as Christians consists not in hearing or knowing all the different types of voices, but in knowing that they are not the one Voice which is life to us - the voice of Yah'shua (Jesus). All the rest are the voices of strangers.

Unity between brothers and sisters can only take place as together we become accustomed to listening to the Voice of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) together. We get to know each other in our families by listening and talking to one another; and the only way to get to know Christ is as we talk to Him together in prayer and listen to what He has to tell us through revelation. King David said:

    "Yahweh is our God, and we are His people, the sheep He takes care of in His own pasture. Listen to God's voice today!" (Psalm 93:7, CEV).

Listening isn't as easy as you may think. As a former school teacher I know just how hard it is for pupils to listen! Over half of what you say goes in one ear and out the other. And it is getting worse as our anti-family pagan culture encourages people to think only of self. And the more you think about yourself, the less you listen to others and end up listening to your own mind and heart, and any invisible powers who might happen to whispering to you and encouraging you to love yourself above all else.

Is it any wonder that people don't want to hear the Gospel anymore? The apostle John wrote:

    "We belong to God, and everyone who knows God will listen to us. But the people who don't know God won't listen to us. This is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies. My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given a new life" (1 John 4:6-7, CEV).

You see, it's that simple. He says also:

    "God's Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one in the world. These enemies belong to this world, and the world listens to them, because they speak its language" (v.4-5).

Now I don't know about you, but when someone is speaking in a language to me that I can't understand, it becomes very difficult indeed to listen. But consider this: God is telling us here that two people can be speaking English and yet they can be speaking two languages. Those who do not have the Spirit of God - and therefore the language of God - not only can't understand the Word of God but find it impossible to listen for very long. And they just switch off. It's another, incomprehensible world to them, which is both alien and boring.

People often ask me how we are judged on a daily basis and my answer is that we are judged by the way we respond to God's Word. Now if we can't hear or understand God's Word, it's because we aren't properly lined up with it ... we aren't doing what it tells us to do. That's why we can't hear or understand it. We are warned in Paul's letter to the Hebrews:

    "Make sure that you obey the One who speaks to you. The people did not escape when they refused to obey the One who spoke to them at Mount Sinai. Do you think you can possibly escape, if you refuse to obey the One who speaks to you from heaven? When God spoke the first time, His voice shook only the earth. This time He has promised to shake the earth once again, and heaven too" (Heb.12:25-26, CEV).

Yah'shua (Jesus) only calls us personal friends when we have a living, working relationship with the Father (Jn.15:15). Yah'shua (Jesus) testified:

    "Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19).

One of the keys to the supernatural power of Yahweh-God is to walk as Yah'shua (Jesus) walked, to teach as Yah'shua (Jesus) taught, to do what Yah'shua (Jesus) did. He said He was the way, the truth, and the life. This, then, is the way we are to walk - along the Way of the commandments, in His truth, and in the eternal life which comes to us from the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the life that enables us to hear, understand and respond properly.

You see, on our own we can do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Christ told us that we are like branches on a vine tree, and that when we live in Christ, we are spiritually fruitful (Jn.15:5). We are to behave just as Christ did in relationship to His Father. This is what He said:

    "I cannot do anything on my own. The Father sent Me, and He is the one who told Me how to judge. I judge with fairness, because I obey Him, and I don't just try to please Myself" (Jn.5:30, CEV).

I don't just try to please myself. In Christ, I become dependent on others in Christ, and they on me. Here is the key to listening - we are not seeking to please ourselves, but to please Him by loving and serving one another. Amen.

This page was created on 21 December 2001
Last updated on 21 December 2001

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