by Jerry Gentry
"Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst" (Neh 9:20).
In gut wrenching repentance, King David once prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me." (Ps. 51:10-11).
David had learned a great lesson from his predecessor, King Saul, of whom it is said: "But the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him" (1Sam. 16:14).
Now we usually think of evil spirits as coming from the dark side, even from Satan and his demons. Even so, these spirits have no power unless we give way, even as King Saul gave way, and "an evil spirit from the LORD" was sent upon him. Yes, even the demons do the LORD's bidding. God loves us enough to send a demon to torment us and bring us to repentance.
Have you ever experienced a melancholy spirit? Have you ever been overcome by a lying spirit, an argumentative and belligerent spirit, a cocky spirit, a rebellious spirit, an insulting spirit, an angry and bitter spirit, or all the above?
Some people have given ground to a multitude of evil spirits. The Bible teaches: "And certain women. . . [were] healed of evil spirits and infirmities, [among them] Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils" (Luke 8:2).
The Bible does not list those devils by name, which are elsewhere called "tormentors." Another fellow had a multitude of evil spirits, whom Jesus confronted: "And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many" (Mark 5:9). These wicked spirits are used by our Father in heaven to bring His erring children out of their living hell on earth, and into the glorious liberty and light of Jesus Christ. Perhaps one of Mary's "devils" was that of unforgiveness; we do not know for sure. Unforgiveness opens wide the door to the troubling and cancerous spirit of bitterness. We are warned: "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Hebr. 12:15).
The price of unforgiveness is a bitter spirit. Learn now the lesson of the unmerciful servant, who was forgiven a debt of ten thousand talents. That "same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest" (Matt 18:28).
"And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all" (v. 29).
"And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt" (v. 30).
"So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done" (v. 31).
"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me" (v. 32).
"Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee" (v. 33).
"And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him" (v. 34).
"So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses" (v. 35).
"And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him" (v. 36).
An unforgiving spirit invites "tormentors" into our lives, to chasten us, that we turn to the LORD with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. When persons persist actively in open heinous sin without repentance, the apostle Paul cammands: "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1Cor. 5:5).
What a sad commentary on the Christian walk of some of us. We claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, who forgave us the debt of "ten thousand talents" of sin, yet we parade our sins and unforgiveness proudly before the world, as if we have no accountability to headship! It would be better that we choose obedience rather than all the sacrifices of a carnal, rebellious spirit?
Lord, teach us today the meaning of a new spirit. Teach us how to receive a new spirit.
The LORD promised unto Israel through His prophet: "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh" (Ezek. 11:19).
And what is the purpose that He "will put a new spirit within you?"
"That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God" (Eze 11:20).
Without such a new spirit, Israel has historically been stiffnecked, hard hearted, and unresponsive to God's commands. We are continually warned, "Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you" (2Chr. 30:8).
"Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked" (Deut. 10:16).
We understand the circumcision of the male foreskin. But what exactly is a circumcised heart? Circumcision of the male child marked that person as being of the physical seed of Abraham. Under the New Covenant, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). And exactly how do Abraham's fleshly seed become "Christ's?"
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9).
The physical seed of Abraham, who know not Christ, though they be circumcised in their flesh, have a stiffnecked, uncircumcised heart. It is "The Spirit of Christ," a new spirit, whereby believers through faith are converted unto God. That conversion is the circumcision of the heart, whereby we "yield yourselves unto the LORD." A circumcised heart is then a heart that has received a new spirit, the Holy Spirit of Christ, whereby it is possible now that we begin to love the LORD our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. And how do we know for sure that we love God?
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1John 4:20).
"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him" (1John 3:17).
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (v. 7).
A new spirit is a spirit of love and compassion, kindness and affection. It is the very spirit whereby "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
A circumcised heart is more than an emotional feeling, even though we cry many tears in pain and sorrow for our sins. Tears alone, however, are no proof of a circumcised, converted heart, as with Esau, "for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears" (Heb 12:17). Weep on, carnal man, in your worldly sorrows and sufferings, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death" (2Cor. 7:10).
A new spirit is known to others in a change of life. If we will be honest, genuine change of life is rare. Many of us talk about yieldedness but have yet to experience it. Many times we purpose to change, but are held captive by our poor habits and lack of self discipline. We openly flaunt our self will, rather than being "subject one to another. . . clothed with humility" (1Pet. 5:5).
The psalmist prayed, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit" (Psa 51:12).
"Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee" (v. 13). Whatever spirit we be of is the very spirit we teach others, all the more reason for us to purpose above all things to find a new spirit. Even when we receive such a new spirit, such a spirit only takes hold as we learn to yield.
Sinners are converted, only through the baptism of a new spirit, the Spirit of Christ, called elsewhere the Holy Spirit, a new spirit from God. This spirit is unknown to us at physical birth. This is the life changing, born again spirit that genuine converted believers receive upon repentance. Have you received a new spirit? Are you born again? The only reliable evidence that you have received a new spirit is found in the way you live your life today, compared with the way you lived your life yesterday. Examine yourself today, and ask, "Of what spirit am I?" Take a personal test and determine whether or not you have received a new spirit.
The fundamental message intended to pierce the stony Old Covenant Israelite heart intensifies under the New Covenant. Sometimes a new spirit requires that we hear hard words of rebuke. How do you fare when you are rebuked? The last words of Stephen's last sermon resounded: "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Act 7:51). Do you resist the Holy Ghost?
He continues: "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (v. 52).
"Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it" (v. 53). Who will stand up for keeping the law of God today? If not, of what spirit are you? You, brother and sister, are of an antinomian spirit from the devil.
Did Stephen's listeners repent? Quite the opposite: "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. . . And cast him out of the city, and stoned him" (Act 7:54, 58).
"A new spirit" brings a message of hope through the application of the words of God. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Brother and sister, do you desire a new spirit in your life? Did you once have that spirit? Will you today "Quench not the Spirit" (1Th 5:19). Then learn to speak the words and follow the deeds of a new spirit .
Yes, "A new spirit" works through the application of the words of that "Just One" spoken of by the prophets of old. That "Just One" is Jesus Christ. "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner" (Luke 20:17). He is the very "Word [that] was made flesh" (John 1:14).
Not only must we speak the words of a new spirit, but those words will be put to practice in our daily life, if we will yield. God gives a new spirit, not to those who make great worldly sacrifice, but to those who walk in lowly obedience. Yet even the best Christian often stumbles. And when we stumble, we come back to God, over and over again, in contrite humility and genuine sincerity. "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief" (Prov. 24:16).
"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:32).
"Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities" (Ps. 141:5).
"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Prov. 6:23).
Christian, look into your heart today. Are you keeping your committments, or letting them slide. Will you confirm your baptismal vows, to fight manfully and even womanfully against Satan, the world and sin nature? Or do you wallow in a lifestyle of neglect and hardheartedness, between moments of heartfelt remorse?
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1Pet. 1:22). A new spirit leads us to look at ourselves more than at others. A new spirit teaches that "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1Cor. 11:31). A new spirit teaches "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:4).
A new spirit "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Col. 3:12-13). Such a new spirit is of "the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11).
Such a heart is a tall order for the natural person, impossible, even inconceivable. Will the stony hearts today bring words of yieldedness? Will the hard hearts among us fall upon the Rock, and be crushed? Will the stiffnecked, uncrcumcised hearts feel the sting of the High Priests skillful knife of circumcision called "the Word of God [which] is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebr. 4:12)?
What are your thoughts today? And what are your intents? More significantly, what are your words and actions? A new spirit begins His work when we "offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Hebr. 13:15).
"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34).
"As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever" (Isa. 59:21).
A new spirit changes the natural, human heart of stone, into a soft, pliable and yielded heart of flesh. A new spirit changes our words and our actions. Christian, hear and heed the lesson today. Find and walk in a new spirit today and everyday.