The Ruach haQodesh: The Gift of Yahweh
Sabbath School: Saturday 10 May 2003
People who like sports often join sports clubs because they want to be with people who have similar sporting interests; those interested in politics join political parties in order to work together for a common goal; and those who have the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) join local assemblies (churches) in order to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. To join a sports association or political party you normally have to pay an annual subscription because it is assumed that you want to share in the work of promoting the particular sport or political party. Similarly, Yahweh expects those who are in the business of building His Kingdom to make donations of time, money and skills for exactly the same reason. People who join sports clubs usually have sporting skills like, say, football - and those who join political parties may possess skills as speakers, administrators, canvassers, and so forth. And those who join local assemblies (churches) possess the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) ... or at least they ought to. As we saw last week, there are nominal Christians who have never been born again or baptised in the Ruach (Spirit) and I guess there are people who join sports clubs and political parties for reasons unconnected to sports or politics - because that's what a friend, parent, or spouse is involved in, and they may therefore do so to show solidarity or curry favour, or because it is illegal not to. And people join assemblies (churches) for many unspiritual reasons as well.
The effect of the Ruach (Spirit) on a believer is not at all unlike the effects we see on someone who is in love. People in love often seem to undergo a change in personality. Previously passive people can suddenly be galvanised into action. Mean people can suddenly get generous. There is a power in love even if it can often appear selfish. And you know there are many different kinds of love.
A person who has the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) undergoes profound changes within. These changes are spoken much of by the apostles. The apostle James identifies eight qualities possessed by a believer who is baptised in, and transformed by, the Ruach (Spirit) which we should make special note of (Jas.3:17):
Firstly, such a soul desires purity. He starts hating the coarse, vulgar, and dirty. He is aware that his nature and personality is stained by sin, and even though he knows he has been freely forgiven by the blood of Christ through faith, he is nevertheless conscious of the fact that impure impulses within him continue to surface. When they do, he is distressed and no longer wants to cleave to them as perhaps he might have in his unredeemed state, and so he actively intercedes before the Throne of Grace on behalf of himself, asking for the gifts of the Ruach (Spirit) that will enable him to overcome and conquer these impulses. His hostility to filthiness is evidence that the Ruach (Spirit) is present working on him. The moment he is no longer revolted by sin and filthiness he knows that the inner alarm bells need to be sounding and that there is some area where he has slipped where rapid repentance needed.
The second sign of the gift of the Ruach (Spirit) is inner peaceableness. Yahweh does not promise us peace on the outside necessarily, but does promise us inner peace when we receive His gift. A person baptised in the Ruach (Spirit) is no longer disturbed, agitated, fretful, flustered, or anxious about the perplexities and difficulties about life in mortality with all its troubles and difficulties. He is not oblivious to them, however, and knows that he must make the necessary responses when called to do so, such as opposing sin and taking the necessary steps to look after the welfare of those he is responsible for. And yet inside he is calm. This is something that those who are not saved or Ruach (Spirit)-baptised do not usually understand and often misinterpret as indicating indifference or coldness. There is a difference between being at peace and being cold - coldness may indeed give the appearance of peace but is merely the temporary freezing-down of a firestorm within. The gift of the Ruach (Spirit) gives calmness to the soul when others are in panic because the bearer of that gift knows that Yahweh is in charge, guiding the soul in making the correct responses.
A sign of the absence of the Ruach (Spirit) in a soul is inner conflict which spills out into conflict in relationships. There is nervousness as to how we will be perceived and an anxious response to preserve an artificial poise. It never works. Only the Ruach (Spirit) can heal our inner distresses, however much we may try to cover them up. Many people are reflexly aggressive, accusing, always defending themselves, which they do as a means of protecting themselves - as they suppose. Part of them may want to behave differently but inner compulsions caused by inner spiritual damage lead them to compulsively attack or complain on a more or less continual basis. And they may do it so often that they stop noticing that they are doing it and become agitated when those possessing the Ruach (Spirit) do not respond to their demands in the way they would wish. Such people are in bondage to inner forces they do not always readily understand. The Ruach (Spirit) changes all of that supernaturally.
The third sign of the gift of the Ruach (Spirit) is consideration for others. This is not something that is taught as one might be taught by ones parents to have good table manners, for imnstance, because no human agency is involved. Some people can have impeccable manners and yet be devils inside. Consideration and sensitivity towards others is something that is done supernaturally by Yahweh and is naturally spontaneous. It isn't something done because it is expected but because the moving power is from Heaven itself. A person can be taught to be helpful but at any time the carnal man can rebel and refuse to be helpful any longer. Or they may continue to be helpful out of fear - the fear of being rebuked, the fear of being punished in some way, the fear of having love withdrawn, or the fear or being rejected as a person. There is no fear in godly love (1 Jn.4:18). The consideration I am speaking of here is once again that which is placed in the human heart by Yahweh Himself. With the gift of the Ruach (Spirit), self-interest diminishes in proportion to interest in the welfare of others. It is not conscious of itself and simply acts without counting the cost because the soul is being led by Yahweh Himself in Yah'shua (Jesus).
The fourth sign of the gift of the Ruach (Spirit) is submissiveness. The carnal nature is afraid of losing control. It defines its world in terms of a complex set of expectations that it places before others as a condition of their being accepted and loved. The spiritual nature, on the other hand, simply accepts people as people even if it does not approve or recognise the sinful ways of the carnal man. Implied in submissiveness is, of course, submissiveness to Christ first and foremost. The submissiveness caused by the Ruach (Spirit) does not mean we should simple agree with, give way to, or blindly accept what others may want or expect of us. To be submissive in the context of the gifting of the Ruach (Spirit) is to be submissive to truth and thus true love. Yes, it does mean being sacrificial on occasion and not always seeking one's own rights - real or imagined - for the sake of peace, provided this does not mean compromising with Yahweh's Truth or Torah. In addition, we all have various rôles assigned to us by the Creator which means we are bound in obedience to Him to sometimes submit to others placed in authority over us. What we are not required to do is submit to those who place themselves in authority over us without any sort of heavenly mandate. There are many people in life who will, because they are carnal, try to dominate us unrighteously. We all know what it feels like to be dominated in an ungodly way. Sometimes we feel trapped but more often than not we just ant to run away from dominating people. Sometimes we appease them so as to postpone conflict arising from rejecting that domineering spirit. We are to submit to those whom Yahweh has ordained us to submit to (like wives to husbands, or dependent children to parents, or citizens to governments), but only in righteousness and within the context of Yahweh's rules of behaviour and conduct. There are times when, in order to properly serve Yahweh, we must stand up to unrighteous dominion, and to also to enable us to spiritually breathe. There is nothing quite as terrible as being emotionally and psychologically crippled by unrighteous dominion by a spouse, parent, friend, boss, or enemy. To say 'no' when unrighteous dominion is being exercised is no sin but lifesaving, but not to submit to truth is rebellion. So the submissiveness that is being spoken of here by the apostle James is, in the first instance, submission to Yahweh, His Messiah (Christ), and Torah, which we will be helped to do by the presence of the gift of the Ruach (Spirit) within us. Our submission to others must always be within this context.
The fifth and sixth signs of the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) are that a soul thus filled will be full of mercy and good fruit. Whilst the teaching of the Messiah (Christ) is indeed strict - for He was no liberal or compromiser of Truth - it is nevertheless filled with mercy, as His atoning work for us on the Cross proves. Because of this, we are required to show mercy to others by forgiving those who wrong us as often as necessary until they are finally touched by love and respond to the invitation of the Saviour. That is clearly stated in the Lord's Prayer (Mt.6:12). We are to show undeserved loving kindness to others in the same way that Yahweh has shown undeserved loving kindness to us. In many respects this is the defining mark of true Christians because it is very difficult - if not impossible - to do this on a consistent basis without the life of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) within us. To be merciful means not to count the cost of the evil that others do to us. Nevertheless, mercy is not indiscriminate either but intelligent and purposeful. There are some misguided Christians who think that one should just forgive no matter what. When Yah'shua (Jesus) forgave the woman caught in adultery, whose life was in the balance because of her violation of the righteousness of Torah, He forgave her but warned her not to do it again! Mercy, unless it is intelligent by being accompanied by a warning that connects to Truth, can be harmful.
Now the mercy that James is talking of here does not mean approval of sin. We are to be generous with those who wrong us per chance their hearts can be melted. We are to offer the other cheek. We are to endure hardship for righteousness' sake. But at the time we are under an obligation to state the truth uncompromisingly. Forgiving an adulterer without warning him of the fateful consequences of adultery and of the jeopardy he is placing his soul in, is irresponsible in the extreme. Notice that James couples mercy with good fruit. The mercy we show others should be of such a character that will lead to good fruit - positive change. In many if not most instances we cannot know what our forgiveness or mercy will lead to which is why we must be led and guided by the Ruach (Spirit). Christ forgave us our sins by taking our punishment on Himself. He accepts us as we are unconditionally provided we do not refuse to move on. Thus He saved the adulterous woman's life and added the caveat, "Sin no more" (Jn.8:11; cp. 5:14). If He had not added that warning, would He have shown genuine mercy? True mercy spells out for those whom we forgive for wrong against us the consequences for themselves when they walk the road of rebellion and chaos. To have not warned the adulterous woman to not commit adultery again would have been cruel, because He knew the danger she was in of losing her soul. His mercy showed her love and compassion, not just in enabling her to save her physical life but in saving her spiritual life too. Our mercy must always be coupled with the eternal dimension otherwise our mercy may well be in vain. Mercy, therefore, includes warning.
Coupled to mercy is good fruits. Mercy coupled to divine righteousness always produces good fruits. Yahweh may forgive us of our sins but sometimes He allows us to pass through hell. We may find that hard to accept because we can't see the mercy behind it. Ultimate mercy is that which brings us to salvation and sanctification, is it not? And if allowing us to pass through difficulties - sometimes very painfully - is all a part of His mercy. For many if not most of us would probably stand still and not progress if He did not permit the adversary to work on us. The justification of this toughness is always the fruits. Paul talks much of the godly fruits of suffering for righteousness' sake and we should not therefore despise the course set before us.
The seventh sign of the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is impartiality. To be impartial is to have no biases except the truth. And the truth is defined by Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) who is the embodiment of all truth (Jn.14:6). Yahweh, it is written, is no respecter of persons, meaning He is no respecter of personalities. Thus He doesn't favour you if you are prettier or more intelligent than others. He favours only those who love Him and obey His commandments through trusting in His free gift of salvation.
Yahweh loves every human being equally as only a perfect Father can but he nevertheless is obliged to reward His children on the basis of their faith in Him. We are justified by our faith - our trust - in the Creator. And the kind of things we do reveals just what kind of faith we actually have. Faith is always active. Impartiality is not just accepting everyone no matter what they believe or do.
The other day I received an e-mail from the Swedish Lutheran Church inviting me to join with them in supporting a mission to South Africa. The purpose of this mission was not to bear witness of the truth or preach the Gospel but simply to campaign against discrimination against homosexuals and other minorities. They wished us to show a false form of impartiality by simply accepting as OK whatever people do or believe in. But whether they like it or not, there is a difference between accepting people and what they did, otherwise Yahweh wouldn't have bothered to destroy Sodom and Gomorah. I accept homosexuals as people but I do not accept homosexuality. I will not persecute them but I will not endorse their behaviour nor will I allow them to indoctrinate my children.
The only favourites that Yahweh has are those willing to trust Him completely because in so doing they open up for themselves the windows of heaven's blessings. The ones that God favours are those who are willing to accept His free gift - the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). And if She has truly been received, then natural and joyful obedience to Torah will spring forth.
The eighth and final sign of the Ruach (Spirit) mentioned by James is sincerity. A sincere person is neither hypocritical nor deceitful. A sincere person is genuine. And genuine people are easy to trust and make for joyful companions and friends. Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another, and to be deceitful is to trick and mislead which is the character mark of the devil. Yah'shua (Jesus) taught His disciples to be truthful, honest, and open. Yes, He also told them to be as cunning as serpents so as not to allow their enemies to trick them into sin or compromising their welfare, but he qualified that by saying they should remain as harmless as doves. Thus when Yah'shua (Jesus) was interrogated by evil men trying to trick Him into compromising Himself He either remained silent or answered their questions in a way they were not expecting and which exposed their lying spirits.
A sincere person is an honest one. And just because he does not do what you want him to do, or answer questions he does not want you to answer, does not necessarily mean he is insincere or dishonest. He may simply be saying that he is not under your control and will not submit to your unrighteous manoeuvring to take advantage of him. To be sincere does not mean doing others' bidding.
Yah'shua (Jesus) taught us to be sincere by reminding us we should be transparent. Let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no' (Mt.5:37). Our word should be sacred. The effect of the Ruach (Spirit) in one who possesses this gift is spontaneous and natural sincerity. It does not have to be manufactured or act false. When a person is sincere in the Ruach (Spirit) his whole soul is in agreement because his whole soul is united as one under the sovereignty of Christ.
Purity, peacebleness, consideration, submissiveness, mercy, good fruits, impartiality and sincerity are eight qualities of a soul in possession of the Ruach (Spirit). There are, of course, others, but these happened to be the ones that James mentioned and labelled as 'Wisdom' or Hochmah, a Name of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Paul included nine in his list of qualities, namely love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal.5:22-23). And though this is the list I usually discourse on, I thought I would make a change and discuss James'. There are many other consequences of possessing the Ruach (Spirit) which include the ability to discern, teach, preach, lead, witness, heal, do miracles, and many others though these are usually distributed amongst the members of a local congregation to encourage them to learn to function together as one (echad). Hence the importance of the local assembly (church) and why there is no such thing as a 'solo-Christian' because no one person can make it alone for any length of time.
None of these fruits of the Ruach (Spirit) are contrived - they are real, unlearned, spontaneous and supernatural. I have seen so many people transformed by Her that I am in no doubt as to their source, and that source is not human. As we saw last week, some gifts of the Ruach (Spirit) are given to unbelievers, but not the full set as described by James and Paul. Mozart may have been given the gift of music by the Ruach (Spirit) - who can doubt that - but his life demonstrated that he did not possess the Gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), as we know from the kind of person he was. Do not be deceived, therefore, by the giftedness of unbelievers: it does not necessarily mean they are believers.
Why not receive the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) today if you have never done so? It is surely the most desirable gift of all after Salvation. Amen.
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