Following Jesus 201: Living by the Indwelling Spirit of God
In our first “Following Jesus” lesson we looked at an overview of the New Testament and what it means for someone to follow Jesus. Now in this second lesson we will look at why someone would want to follow Jesus. We’ll also get into a bit more of the practical day to day aspects of following Jesus.
The most important thing to know about following Jesus is that Jesus is a living person. He has feelings, thoughts and dreams. We humans have been created in his likeness so that’s why we have feelings, thoughts, desires and dreams. We were created to have a relationship with this amazing Creator who has revealed himself to us in the Jewish man named Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus died a criminal's death to free us from our self-centeredness (sin) and three days later He rose again from the dead. He is alive forever. Now He offers us His own Divine life to live inside of us. The greatest reason to follow Jesus is to enter into an incredible friendship with the Creator of the universe. This is the reason that each of us was created. Following Jesus is to experience the life you were made to live!
In Paul’s letter to the believers at Rome we read “We were reconciled to God through the death of his son; if that’s so, how much more, having already been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. " (Romans 5:10)
As we’ve studied previously, the word “saved” means to be rescued and healed. So it is the life of Jesus that rescues us and heals us on a daily basis. The “Christian life” is one of trusting Jesus to live His life in and through us. The New Testament tells us that Jesus actually comes to live *inside* his followers through the agency of His Spirit. Paul goes on to write in Romans 8, “But you’re not people of the flesh; you’re people of the Spirit (if indeed God’s Spirit lives within you; note that anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to Him).” (Romans 8:9)
The simplest definition of a Christian is one in whom Christ lives. Christ is just the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah, which means “anointed one,” and by implication it means “King.” So following Jesus means that every day we surrender our lives to this King and we trust Him to live His life in us and through us.
Jesus gave us a beautiful picture of this in the gospel of John chapter 4. He was talking with a Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob in Samaria. He told her that He would give her living water and that she would never thirst again. Jesus was referring to spiritual thirst – the thirst for meaning and deep fulfillment in our lives. Jesus said to her, “Anyone who drinks the water I’ll give them won’t ever be thirsty again. No: the water I’ll give them will become a spring of water welling up to the life of God’s new age.” (John 4:13)
Jesus says that if we drink His water (and we do that by trusting in Him and surrendering our lives to His Leadership) then this water that he gives us will become inside of us a spring of water that will well up and produce the life of God’s coming age (eternal life). Water in the Bible is often a picture of the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit of God. Here Jesus is saying that the indwelling Holy Spirit will become a source of God’s life to us. Every day if we trust Him for this, the life of God within us will spring up and provide the energy, patience, wisdom, guidance, love, joy, peace and victory we need for that day. It is Jesus within us, through the agency of the Holy Spirit who is this LIFE.
Note that this is not a one time event. When we first believe that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead, our human spirit is brought to life. We call this being born again. That is a one time event. But, living by the indwelling life of the Spirit is a daily project for us followers of Jesus.
Paul, writing to the believers at Galatia (modern day Turkey) makes this amazing statement: “I have been crucified with the Messiah. I am, however alive – but it isn’t me any longer; it's the Messiah who lives in me. And the life I do still live in the flesh, I live within the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).
I believe this kind of life is available for every believer in Jesus. We count our old life to be dead – dead on the cross with Jesus – and we trust and believe for the Life of Jesus to work inside of us, changing our attitudes, emotions, thoughts, beliefs , words and actions. This life will grow in us daily as we stay in relationship with Jesus – talking with Him, listening to Him, trusting in Him and obeying Him.
This is the Life that Jesus offers us – His own pure, powerful, fearless and peaceful life. As we follow Him we experience the reason for which we were created and we begin to find deep fulfillment and purpose in our lives. We will truly never thirst again!