Last week, we learned how to walk in the Spirit from the real-life example of Jesus as He was doubted, questioned, challenged, and even hated. When we remain filled with the Holy Spirit, the greater One dwelling within us leaves no room for the enemy to trip us up. He can’t get a foothold or a stronghold or an any hold in our lives if we were just able to stay filled with the Holy Spirit.
We are unstoppable!
Paul reminds us that when we choose to walk in the Spirit, and not by our flesh, we live fruitful lives that are unstoppable!
21 …I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
No matter how bad things get in the world, even when Christianity is outlawed, there is still nothing that can stop us from living a Spirit-filled and Spirit-fueled life!
No one and nothing can stop you from loving others.
No one and nothing can stop you from being joyful.
No one and nothing can stop you from having peace.
No one and nothing can stop you from being patient.
No one and nothing can stop you from being kind.
No one and nothing can stop you from the goodness of God.
No one and nothing can stop you from being faithful.
No one and nothing can stop you from being gentle.
No one and nothing can stop you from having self-control.
As the days grow darker and darker and more and more evil, always remember these facts. Even under severe persecution, nothing can stop you from reaching your full, God-created potential. No one can stop you from being a bold and courageous witness to the Presence of God within you and the salvation that you have received.
In fact, the more that persecution comes and tries to stop it, the greater that the power of God is revealed through our lives! We turn now to just one of the many examples of what a Spirit-fueled life looks like as the church was just getting started:
12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
The greater the manifestation of God’s glory, the greater the opposition from the enemy and it often rises from the least expected places as well. Sadly, opposition usually rises from “religious” people who claim to be God’s representatives while more and more of the lost is reached with the hope found in Jesus.
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
Remember, our lives were created as containers and they will be filled with something. They were intended for the Spirit of God, but they’ll accept whatever we choose to fill them with. In this case, it was jealousy.
18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
When we step out of our comfort zone, our flesh, and into the Spirit-realm, we become unstoppable! When God is for us, no one can truly stand against us! When we desire to tell people about the new life available to them, God gets excited and will do all that He can to equip and empower you to do it! The angelic realm serves our needs while we serve Jesus. Man bound them up, but Jesus set them free; literally from the public jail!
21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
Here is an easy-to-miss, but tremendously critical difference between God’s people and the religious people. God’s people feared God, the religious people feared people. Fear of man will prove to be a snare. When it comes to sharing your faith, who do you fear? Honestly, take time to pray and consider that question. When it comes to sharing your faith with others, do you fear God or man?
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Unstoppable, right? The persecution became so severe that a man named Saul who was passionate and zealous about God, a Jew like no other among the Jews, oversaw the murder of Stephen for telling people about Jesus.
8 And Saul approved of their killing him.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
They were trying to stop the spread of the news about Jesus and the salvation and new life that He provides. However, their severe persecution and attempts to stop it actually caused it to spread even stronger and further! Unstoppable!
Just like Gamaliel warned, they found themselves only fighting a losing battle against God, Himself. They could not stop what God had started and was sustaining through the Holy Spirit. In fact, here we are almost 2,000 years later; a part of this same movement and continuing the ministry that these pioneers started!
As we celebrated a few weeks ago, Jesus was a clear example of how nothing can stop God. Not the temptation of the flesh, no demon (or even the devil, himself!), not the doubt of others, not even the hatred of thousands chanting, “Crucify!”, not even death itself, can stop the power of our great God!
With this in mind, Paul wrote to encourage the church in the midst of persecution. He wrote all about the critical key of Jesus’ resurrection to our faith and hope, then said about us:
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Stand firm. Let nothing move you. After all, you are unstoppable!
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Let’s take the advice of the angels and get out there and tell people all about this new life that we’ve received!
Let’s heal the sick, free the bound, and save the lost!
Through the infilling and in-fueling of the Holy Spirit, we are unstoppable!