Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, NKJV).
God transfers His holiness to us via His Holy Spirit. We are now the Temple of God, and as the verse above states, the Spirit of God dwells in us. So, today I want to look closer at the responsibility this brings for all Christians who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
One tends to think of the gifts of serving as menial tasks in the church that no one wants to do. Nothing could be further from the truth. These gifts keep the church running at maximum efficiency. So what are the differences between the gift of helps, hospitality, administration and serving? Are they individual gifts or were the writers of the New Testament using different words, but talking about the same thing? Let’s look at the verses where these words are mentioned and figure things out from there.
The first time I became confused about the gift of tongues I had just finished singing at a Pentecostal church, where I had spent an hour giving a concert, praising Jesus and I thought, encouraging other Christians in their faith. When I finished my concert and was talking to people afterwards the pastor of the church approached me and asked me if I spoke in tongues. I told him I did not. He then patted me on the back in a conciliatory way and said, “Don’t worry Sister, some day you’ll be saved!” I had been a Christian (or so I thought) for some years. But this man made me doubt my salvation. I believed in Jesus, and I loved Him. I served Him with my whole being, using the singing voice God gave me to minister in coffee houses, in homeless shelters and in churches, where I encouraged people to follow Jesus. If I wasn’t a Christian, what was I? Thus, began my long and confusing journey into the world of tongues.
Everyone has a certain level of discernment. Some might call it intuition, or their “Spidey sense”, whatever you want to call it, we all have it. But, the spiritual gift of discernment is somewhat different. As 1 Corinthians 12:10 clearly says, it is the ability to discern or distinguish “spirits”.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10, NKJV).
I have personally experienced three miracles in my lifetime. Two miracles are named Andrew and Sarah, my children. Their births were not without incident. With Sarah, I was ordered to bed for the first three months of my pregnancy because my doctor thought I was going to lose her. I was also ordered to bed for the last three months because I developed toxaemia. After twenty-four hours of labour, I had Sarah by emergency C-section, because the doctors thought I was going to have a heart attack. It was a miracle she survived and came out of me with all the necessary parts. It was a miracle I survived! My son’s birth was also not without incident. In my sixth month, I fell and slipped on some ice and developed Placenta Previa (where the placenta tears away from the uterine wall). Once again I was ordered to bed for fear I would lose my baby and once again I had another C-section. The only harm to Andrew was that he was jaundiced at birth. Yes, it was a miracle they both survived and it was a miracle I did too!
What is the difference between the Word of Wisdom and the Word of Knowledge? There is much confusion and debate about what these words mean, so it may be better to approach this from a different angle – what these gifts are not and how some Christians today are coming dangerously close to ignoring Scripture because of their misuse of these two gifts.
Mercy is described in Vine’s Expository Dictionary as “showing kindness, by beneficence, or assistance”, and is translated as “having compassion”. In general, it is to sympathize or empathize with the misery of another, so much so that you feel compelled to act. If not for mercy, you and I would still be lost. Jesus would not have died a gruesome death in order to redeem sinners from eternal suffering. It is mercy that drove Jesus to the cross and it is mercy that all Christians are to extend to others.
Mercy sort of sounds like grace, doesn’t it? But there is a distinction. Mercy is God not punishing us for our sins as we rightly deserve. Grace, is God loving us and blessing us even though we are sinners. Ephesians 2:8 tells us clearly, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves – it is the gift of God.” Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is unmerited favour. The two often go hand in hand.
When it comes to leadership within the church we invariably look to our Pastor. He is the one who is charged by God to lead congregants into all truth by exhorting from the Scriptures. In Romans 12:8 Paul says, “He who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The Greek word used for “lead” is proïstēmi and is translated as “rule or set over” but it literally means “to stand before, to lead, or attend to.” This word proïstēmi is also found in 1 Timothy 5:17, in reference to elders, “let the elders that rule…” It is also used with reference to family, where a man “rules” over his household (1Timothy 3:4, 12; 1Timothy 3:5), with the understanding of what the word means - “to stand before, lead, or attend to.” In other words, ruling is not dictatorial.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8, NKJV).
One would think that the spiritual gift of giving would require the person with this gift to have lots of money so that they may distribute it liberally. But if they thought that, then they would be misinterpreting the “gift” of giving. In fact, one would almost have to question whether the act of giving was really a spiritual gift at all if that were the case, because then only rich Christians would have it, which of course would be ridiculous. It is necessary therefore, to first look at the Greek words Paul used when he said, “he who gives, with liberality” and then to take what he said in the context of his letter to the Romans.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
Have you ever noticed the first line of the verse above? I mean, really noticed it? If you haven't, let it sink in for a moment. What is God's ultimate will for you? Your sanctification. What does it mean to be sanctified? It means to be made holy or consecrated. God's ultimate goal for you then, is that you would become holy and consecrated. Why? Because nothing sinful can enter heaven. This is why Jesus was born of a virgin. If he had been born the normal way, he would have been born into a sinful body. God needed a body to house His Shekinah glory on earth (His Holy Spirit). Jesus was able to do that because he was not born a sinner and he never sinned while on earth. This is why he was the perfect sacrifice and why he was able to enter heaven. It is also why all who believe in Jesus Christ are saved. By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5) and we are forgiven of our sins (Acts 13:37-39). How then should we live?
If you live your life following Christ's example, you do well. If however, you say in your heart, "I'm forgiven because I believe in Jesus, therefore it does not matter how I live my life. It is my own to live," then you are living a lie. For when you believed in Jesus and accepted his gift of salvation, his forgiveness of your sins and his gift of eternal life, you were in fact agreeing to live your life in such a way that it would honour Jesus' sacrifice for you and bring glory to God.