THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CONSCIOUS MIND
For the areas of the mind that are below the level of consciousness, God must take the initiative and cleanse and heal us by His Holy Spirit. God must deliver us. God must heal the hurts, and God must help us to extend forgiveness to those who have sinned against us or abused us. The Spirit of God must express the nature of Christ and manifest the gifts and enablings of Christ through us.
However, for those areas of the mind that are above the level of consciousness, we must assume more responsibility by taking the initiative and actively cooperating with the Spirit to effect the renewal process. The renewal of that part of my mind which is above the level of consciousness--the SUPEREGO--is my responsibility, and how I relate to the world through the EGO is a result of my decisions.
In discussing the work of the Holy Spirit in the renewing of the Superego, we must analyze two vital areas of our personalities, the Conscience and the Ego ideal. We have acquired our concepts of right and wrong and our moral values from parents, teachers, peers, or other significant persons in our lives. We have probably never taken the time to formulate a precise, logical, definitive value system of our own. Rather, our values are a hodge-podge of concepts pieced together. Many times we accept as true what society has legislated as being true without questioning the validity of the supposition. However, as Christians, we must bring this patch-work of ideas into harmony with the truth as it is revealed in Christ Jesus.
For many of us, our self-concept, our self-image, has been defined for us by our parents, who handed us a script which we are expected to act out on the stage of the world. We are not sure who we are. We feel as though we are chameleon-like individuals trying to adapt to whatever social situations we find ourselves in. We do not know who we are or who we want to be. Even the churches hold forth so many pictures of Christ that we find it difficult to know who the "Christ of the New Testament" is so we may follow Him.
Sometimes I wonder where all of my ideas about God came from. I have had to change my mind many times as the Spirit would reveal Jesus in a new glory (II Cor. 3:18). Often, I have made the statement that probably no two churches preach the same Jesus. Each church seems to see Him differently, and each stresses a different aspect of His person and work. I am not saying this is bad, but I believe this is why it is so important for us to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and bring about a transformation of our lives in harmony with the Word of God. Each of us, as a child of God, should desire to serve the Father "In Spirit and In Truth."
CHRIST IN THE CONSCIENCE
In the Old Testament we find that a way was provided for dealing with both the conscious and unconscious sins through a two-fold sin offering. If a person committed a specific type of conscious sin, he would bring a corresponding type of offering, an ephah of flour, a dove, or a lamb. But for the unconscious sins of the people, the high priest entered the Holiest of Holies once a year to offer a blood sacrifice for their errors--their sins of ignorance. Their consciences were never purged from the knowledge that they were sinners so they could never get free from a consciousness of sin. They could only roll their sins forward for another year. So every year the high priest offered the sacrifice and took the blood into the Holiest of Holies to atone for the sins of the people. The writer to the Hebrews states graphically that,
If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the sprinkling of the ashes of the heifer sanctify through the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Jesus Christ, Who without spot, offered Himself to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:12-13).
Our great salvation purges our conscience. We need not go around with the consciousness that we are sinners because our consciences are purged. If we sin, we repent. But we need not go around feeling guilty or condemned. The Holy Spirit is purging our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. We have a two-fold atonement. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from the sins of which we are not conscious--our sins of ignorance, our errors--and for those sins that we knowingly commit, we repent and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the cleansing us from all sin.
CHRIST OUR ETHICAL TEACHER
The Holy Spirit reveals Christ, the Word, as our ethical teacher who renews and regenerates every part of the personality. For that part below the level of consciousness--our desires, our instincts--Christ is formed in us and His nature changes our natures. In us the fruit of the Spirit is borne and the gifts of the Spirit operate. There is forgiveness and cleansing for all of the hurts, all of the trauma. All of this is in the sub-conscious. For that part above the level of consciousness, the Holy Spirit helps us to gain a proper understanding of right and wrong and to accept the truth as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. The conscience is that part of our minds that contains our ethical value system. The values in our consciences are learned. We were not born with a value system; we were born with the ability to know right and wrong, but what we believe to be right and wrong, we have to learn. We all have different concepts of right and wrong. Our conscience sets the standards of what we believe to be moral and what we believe to be immoral. Therefore, our consciences--our knowledge of right and wrong--must be conformed to the written Word of God and Jesus Christ becomes our ethical teacher.
The conscience is like a tape recorder. We play tapes about things that are right and about things that are wrong. Paul teaches us:
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (I Tim. 1:5).
Charity, or love, is the end of the law and it is the fulfilling of the law. We must have a good conscience. But without God, we cannot depend on the conscience, for there are three things that can happen to it. The conscience can be defiled, seared, or shipwrecked. That is how tender it is.
First, we may defile the conscience. If we defile it, it will not be pure. Paul warns the Corinthians that they could go to the market, buy meat that had been offered to an idol, eat it, and not feel condemned because they believed an idol was nothing. However, one of their brothers might do the same thing and defile his conscience.
Howbeit, there is not in every man that knowledge (that an idol is nothing): for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled (I Cor. 8:7).
Paul recognized there were differences of opinion concerning what a person should eat or drink and which days a person should keep holy. However, if a person practiced something that was questionable for him, he risked defiling his conscience. So it is for us. Most of the time, Satan does not try to get us to do something very evil; he just starts weakening the conscience, encouraging us to defile it. He puts doubts into it.
Second, we may sear the conscience. The Spirit gave Paul a prophecy concerning the latter days:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron (I Tim. 4:1-2).
Their conscience was seared so that it had no feeling. If a person suffers a severe burn, scar tissue forms and that portion of the skin loses much of its feeling. So it is with the conscience. Paul told the Romans that God punishes sin by sin, and the process is in three stages. When the Gentiles knew God they did not glorify Him, so
God gave them up to...dishonour their own bodies between themselves (Rom. 1:21-24).
If they continued to reject God, then
God gave them up to vile affections (Rom. 1:26).
Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28).
When men reject God and do not glorify Him or acknowledge Him, God gives them up physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Ultimately, the conscience may be shipwrecked. As Paul warns Timothy,
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (I Tim. 1:19).
The crux of the matter is faith, for if we do not believe that our lifestyle is pleasing to God, but we continue to live in it, we will shipwreck our conscience and cause our minds to become reprobate. Paul emphasizes this to the Romans,
Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:22-23).
As the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit comes to renew our consciences, to purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. He begins to reform the conscience around the values and the absolutes of God's Word. And, we, instead of taking the value system of our parents, our culture, our peer group, or our world, bring our consciences into harmony with the truth of Jesus Christ. If we want to know what good is, we look at Jesus. If we want to know what truth is, we look at Jesus. If we want to know what righteousness is; we look at Jesus. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, reveals Christ the Word to us so that we might have the mind of Christ, that we might have His righteousness imputed to us, and that we might have His grace teach us how to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the conscious mind--reproducing the ethical values and moral teachings of Christ, the Word of God, in our consciences.
CHRIST IS MY EGO IDEAL
The work of the Holy Spirit in the EGO IDEAL is very exciting because He is conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ. Our EGO IDEAL is our self image, our visualization of ourselves as we want to be. All of us pattern our lives after various ideals whether they are as we visualize ourselves as being or what our parents have programmed us to be.
Some children might as well wear a sign on their backs that says "be stupid", "be late," "kick-me," "be perfect," or "be lazy." Their parents have told them that they are stupid so long that they go around thinking "Oh, I'm stupid. You can't expect anything from me. I am stupid." Others have a "kick me" sign on their backs. "It doesn't make any difference what I do, kick me, I am a failure." Other children have been given good life scripts. They have been told that they have many sterling qualities--intelligence, beauty, wit, grace. They have been programmed to be doctors, preachers, lawyers, or business people. Whether we have been handed a good, bad, or indifferent script, we are living out the image that we have of ourselves. That is why it is important to bring the EGO IDEAL into harmony with the vision that God has for our lives in Jesus Christ.
To maintain a proper self-image is probably one of the most difficult things for a young person to achieve. When I was a young man, there were very few
life-styles from which to choose. Today, however, there are dozens. A new style may develop in California or New York, television will spread it across the nation, and young people in the remotest areas will adopt it immediately. This constant changing of life-styles makes it difficult for many young men and women to know who they are. Even in the church world, we find such a variety of expressions of what a "Christian" should be or should do that it is difficult for an individual not to be in conflict concerning his life-style. Many Christians suffer from a feeling of guilt and unworthiness.
We all pattern our lives after some ideal, whether consciously or unconsciously. We are reaching out toward a self-image which we use to pattern our lives. We either pattern our lives according to what the world says, what Satan says, and what self says, or we pattern our lives after the Word of God, after the Holy Spirit, and after the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, most of us are conscious of what Satan thinks about us. He continually reminds us of our fears, our doubts, our failures, our weaknesses, and our sins. He wants us to believe we are unloved, unacceptable, unworthy, unrighteous, and unappreciated. He torments us with the past, harangues us with the
present, and distresses us over the future. But he is a liar, the accuser of the brethren, and a slanderer. He comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy (John 10:10).
On the other hand, many of us do not understand what God thinks about us. God does not parade our inabilities and weaknesses before us, but, rather, He constantly reminds us that we are "complete in Christ Jesus."
Earlier I discussed the importance of repentance (changing your mind and bringing it into harmony with the word of God) and confession (speaking the same thing about the situation that God speaks). In no other area of Christian experience are these concepts more important than in the development of the EGO IDEAL. We must change the negative images we have about ourselves as well as any positive images if they are contrary to the will of God for us, in order to bring our self-image into harmony with the Word of God. A self-image based upon the Word of God must be our confession.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives this witness:
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain (I Cor. 15:10).
Paul says that the grace of God, which was bestowed upon him by the Lord Jesus Christ, was given to make him a complete person in Christ. Since that grace was not bestowed upon him in vain, Paul had become, and was a partaker of, everything that Jesus Christ died on the cross both to make him and to provide for him. This is Paul's confession: "I am everything and I have experienced everything that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ have provided for me; not one of the provisions of God's grace has been in vain; I have received them all." What a testimony! What a confession!
In the letter to the Romans, Paul makes a statement about the Sonship of Jesus:
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:3-4).
Jesus could make two confessions: 1) According to the flesh He was the seed of David, and 2) According to the Spirit He was the Son of God. Very few times did Jesus confess anything according to the flesh nor did He echo what the religious leaders said about Him. Jesus made his confession according to the Spirit. He confessed that He was the Son of God. He confessed that He did the works and spoke the words of His Father. He confessed that He came from and would return to His Father. He confessed that He and His Father were one. Every confession was made according to the Holy Spirit and not according to the flesh. This was the confession of Jesus.
Earlier we talked about the faith of Abraham. If he had made his confession according to the flesh he would have said, "I am about a hundred years old, and Sarah is old and barren." However, he confessed according to the Spirit, according to the promise of God, and said, "I am the father of many nations." Paul emphasizes that Abraham staggered not at the promise of God but was strong in faith. Abraham made his confession according to the Spirit: I am the father of many nations.
As children of God, we also have two confessions: 1) We may say, "I am what I am according to the flesh," or, 2) We may say, "I am what I am according to the Spirit." God has given us His Spirit that we "might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Cor. 2:12) in order that we might make our confession according to the Spirit. If we are not experiencing the fulness of the grace of God, that portion of the grace of God is bestowed upon us in vain.
CHRIST LEFT US AN EXAMPLE
The total provision of the grace of God is for the purpose of making us Christlike:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (I Peter 2:21).
Christ is our example. The Greek word for example is "hupogrammon"--a writing template. In order to learn how to make certain characters, one placed a piece of paper over the hupogrammon and traced the outline of the letter. Thus, the admonition to the Christian is that Jesus is our hupogrammon--we place our lives over His and trace the outlines of His life on ours.
WE ARE TO BE CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE
In his letter to the Romans, Paul establishes the fact that God desires His children to be conformed to the image of Christ:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son
John echoes these words in his writings:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (I John 3:2).
Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, relates the process by which the
transformation is taking place:
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord (II Cor. 3:18).
Paul used the image of a mirror to enable the Corinthians to see how the Spirit was transforming them. He writes, "Now we see through a glass (mirror), darkly" (I Cor. 13:12). Our vision of Jesus is only a reflection of His true glory; however, He wishes to reflect the image of that glory in every child of God. Every time we see Jesus in a new experience, in a new relationship, in a new glory, the Spirit of God transforms us into His image, reflecting His glory from glory to glory or from each new experience to the next new experience. The complete transformation will be accomplished when we no longer see a reflection of His glory, but when we see Him face to face at His second coming. Then, the transformation will be complete, and Paul says that not only does the Christian groan within himself but that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain" awaiting the final transformation, the transformation of the body (Rom. 8:22-23).
THE EGO IDEAL IS RENEWED BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT WE ARE IN CHRIST
In his letter to the Colossians Paul states that:
In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:9-10).
In light of the fact that "in Christ" is the fulness of God, that "of his fulness" has the Christian received, and that each Christian is "complete in Him," we conclude that we have a complete perfect salvation "in Christ." Therefore, it is necessary for every believer to know and comprehend what God has made us "in Christ."
In Ephesians, Paul reveals the believer's standing "in Christ":
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual bles-sings in heavenly places in Christ...he hath chosen us in Him [Christ]...he hath made us accepted in the beloved [Christ]...In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins...In whom [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance...in whom [Christ] also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise...[God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
...we are his workmanship [poema], created in Christ Jesus...for to make in himself [Christ] of twain one new man...in whom [Christ] ye are also builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 1:1-2:22).
OUR STANDING IN CHRIST
In the Lord Jesus Christ, I am:
I am born again.
I am ransomed from the bondage of sin.
I am declared righteous.
I am pardoned of my sins.
I am received by God just as I am.
I am rescued from the power and consequences of sin and the power of Satan.
I am restored to fellowship with God.
I am set apart for God.
I am dead to sin through Christ's death on the cross.
I am raised from the dead to walk in newness of life.
Seated in heavenly places:
I am seated with Christ at the right hand of the
Father, far above all principalities and powers.
OUR NEW CHARACTER IN CHRIST
We are new creations in Christ. The world had never seen anything like a Christian until Jesus rose from the dead. He is the firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8;29); the first born from the dead (Col. 1:18). On the cross, Jesus broke down the middle wall of partition that separated Jew and Gentile, and in Himself he created a new man, a new kind of person (Eph. 2:13-15). Some of the many different "identities" that believers assume when they are in Christ include: son of God, heir of God, joint heir with Jesus Christ, witness, member of His body, temple of God, stone, king, priest, branch of the vine, sheep of His fold, bond servant of God, ambassador of a king, steward of God's house, and citizen of the heavenly country. Each of these "identities" enables the Christian to play a unique role in the great drama God is producing on the stage of the world.
OUR ENABLINGS IN CHRIST
Jesus told His disciples that "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." He delegated this power and authority to the church. The Scriptures are replete with references to the power and authority given to the believer in the
name of Jesus. One of the most eloquent statements ever penned is in the letter of Paul to the Romans:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord
Jesus told His disciples:
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matt. 17:20).
One spring I planted mustard seed in my garden. I plowed a furrow in the ground with a garden plow, poured the tiny seeds into the palm of my hand, then scattered them in the furrow I had made. As I covered them with dirt, in my mind I heard them cry, "What in the world are we going to do now." The seeds were under clods of dirt which were many hundreds of times larger than they, and for the seeds to come up seemed hopeless. However, the seeds didn't worry or fret, they just lived. Finally, they placed their leafy arms against the clods and let the power of the life which God had placed within them exert power against the dirt. One day the seeds pushed the clods out of the way, their leafy arms waving above the ground, and I heard them testify, "We made it. Hallelujah!" Within each believer, as within each seed, is a principle of the life of God which is stronger than any force or power that can be against it.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24).
Jesus was the "corn of wheat" that God planted in the earth, and, from that planting, God is reaping a harvest (John 12:24). He planted a Christ, and He is harvesting Christians (little Christs). He planted an all powerful, victorious Christ; He will harvest an all powerful, victorious church.
The promise of the Holy Spirit was primarily one of receiving power:
Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you (Acts 1:8).
This power is inherent in a benediction Paul pronounced on the Ephesians:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Eph. 3:20-21).
The great miracles that are beyond the comprehension of the believer are going to be brought into existence through the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit working in him. This may be the reason Paul exhorted Timothy to
Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands (II Tim. 1:6).
If this is the gift of the Holy Spirit that Paul exhorts Timothy to stir up, then every believer needs to heed the admonition. As a young man, I worked as a roustabout in the oil fields. After we drilled a well to a certain depth, we had the well-shooter come out to "shoot" the well. A charge of dynamite and nitroglycerin was lowered to the bottom of the well and detonated in order to fracture the rock and allow the oil to flow freely. As the shooter prepared the charge, I must admit that I felt very uneasy. He would place sticks of dynamite on a board, slice them with a knife, and drop them in the torpedo he was making. Then, he took the container of nitroglycerin and poured the bluish-green liquid into the torpedo. There was enough power in those explosives to obliterate the hillside. I protested his slicing the dynamite on the board. His answer was that he was not exerting enough force to make it explode. Paul's admonition to Timothy took on new meaning.
There was enough power resident within those explosives to destroy everything around that drilling rig; however, until that power was stirred up, nothing happened. When the shooter lowered the torpedo to the bottom of the well and detonated it, the whole hillside shook. There is enough power resident within the church to wreak havoc with the gates of hell, if the believers would stir it up. Stir up the gift of God that is within you. God will do the "exceeding abundantly above" through the power that works in us.
Paul expressed the secret of his victorious life in the letter to the Colossians:
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me
Some know how to prosper, but are not able to suffer want. Some live in need, but are not able to believe for sufficiency. The Apostle Paul had learned that Christ enabled him to meet every situation in life victoriously. His testimony was that "I am able for anything through the Lord Jesus Christ who gives me power."
This brings us full circle: We have a complete perfect salvation in Christ Jesus. Again I quote the Apostle:
In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:9-10).
The reality of that complete perfect salvation is certain if I have Jesus Christ formed in the depth of my being by the Holy Spirit, if the fruit of the Spirit finds expression through my life, if the enablings of Christ are manifest through me by the Spirit, if Christ the truth is in my conscience, if Christ the life is the ideal in my ego ideal, and if Christ lives in me. Then, the life my ego expresses to the world will be the life of Christ. Because Christ lives in me, I can be open and honest with the world because when the world looks at me, they will see Jesus.
The reality of such an experience is the reason Paul could say,
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God (Gal. 2:20-21).