Is The Holy Spirit Working As We Serve Our Flesh?

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Hi J____,
Thank you for sharing your story with me. You tell me that you are addicted to smoking cigarettes, and you wonder if you have the holy spirit living in you.
You ask:

The first thing you need to understand is that the word ‘allow,’ even by Webster’s definition, means “To facilitate.” So the answer is, yes indeed, God is using this to humble you just as he used Peter’s self confidence to humble Peter and all of his disciples, who thought they were able of their own will, to die with Christ.

Mat 26:31  Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
Mat 26:32  But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
Mat 26:33  Peter answered and said unto him, Though all [ men] shall be offended because of thee, [ yet] will I never be offended.
Mat 26:34  Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Mat 26:35  Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

“All the disciples” means you and me. We all deny Christ every time we commit a sin, and yet like all the disciples, we go through the humility of seeing our helplessness and we repent of our vain boasting and weep bitterly.

Mat 26:69  Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
Mat 26:70  But he denied before [ them] all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
Mat 26:71  And when he was gone out into the porch, another [ maid] saw him, and said unto them that were there, This [ fellow] was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
Mat 26:72  And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
Mat 26:73  And after a while came unto [ him] they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art [ one] of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
Mat 26:74  Then began he to curse and to swear, [ saying], I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
Mat 26:75  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. A nd he went out, and wept bitterly.

Repentance is not a casual thing. We must be brought to the point that we all must “weep bitterly” because we see our own deep seated inadequacies. This story of Peter and all the disciples is our story, and it takes time to have the holy spirit dominating sin in our lives.
Do you have the holy spirit living in you? Sure you do, but as a carnal babe in Christ, the holy spirit is not yet dominating your flesh. It is a daily process which requires many years of being a servant to Potiphar and the captain of the prisons of Egypt. But by God’s predestined will, Christ is always with you, preparing you to one day rule over Potiphar and the captain of the prison, to whom you right now may seem so subservient.
Just like you and me, Joseph wanted out of that prison long before it was God’s time to take him out. But when the time finally came, Joseph was given dominion over both Potiphar and the captain of the prison and over all Egypt. That is why we are told by our Lord:

Luk 21:19  In your patience possess ye your souls.

Be patient. Christ is in charge of your life. You ask:

Of course you should try to overcome it. There is nothing good about the habit – it stinks, it’s offensive to others, it’s unhealthy, it’s expensive and worst of all, any addiction is something that is between you (read that as preferred) and God. There are many people who cannot pay their bills, but they always have the money for cigarettes (or whatever feeds their particular addiction). Is your ‘treasure’ in those cigarettes or in serving God? We are expressly commanded to “work out your own salvation.” But what is so ignored by the false prophets of free will is the very next verse:

Php 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [ his] good pleasure.  

Mankind’s will is bound by and “worked in you” by God “both to will and to do.” Where very few Christians can go is right here where the scriptures take us:

Rom 7:15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom 7:16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [ it is] good.
Rom 7:17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [ how] to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Twice the holy spirit tells us that even our sins are not in our control, but are the result of our “sinful flesh,” and “it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

Rom 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [ how] to perform that which is good I find not.

God wants you and I to know that He is sovereign. It does not serve us well to believe the lies we are being told. Knowing that God works in us “both to will and to do His good pleasure” is just as applicable to our sins as it is to any good which He might work in us. God “is working all things after the counsel of His OWN will.” “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” The Devils food is the dust we are made of:

Gen 2:7  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Gen 3:14  And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou [ art] cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

We are all “by nature children of wrath,” and “the seed of the serpent.” But it is all just a necessary evil through which we all must pass as we are ‘called out of darkness into his marvellous light.’

2Co 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [ give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
1Pe 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I hope some day you will be able to fellowship with others of like mind, but our calling is to be hated of all men as a scattered flock:

Mat 10:22  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Mat 26:31  Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Those words are truer today than they have every been, but if we are patient and if we will “wait upon the Lord” our patience will be rewarded and we will all be given the dominion over the flesh and the peace of mind that accompanies that dominion.
I hope this helps you to see that the holy spirit is doing its work in you even as you fail to overcome the dominion of cigarettes, typified by Potiphar and the captain of the prison. It is God who has ordained that we must dwell for many long years in that prison before we will be delivered of the dominion that Egypt has over our flesh.

Gen 45:4  And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I [ am] Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5  Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Gen 45:6  For these two years [ hath] the famine [ been] in the land: and yet [ there are] five years, in the which [ there shall] neither [ be] earing nor harvest.
Gen 45:7  And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8  So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

“It is not you… but God,” be it good or evil. He, God, is “working all things after the counsel of His own will.”

Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

It should be of great comfort to you to know that He “ will have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the Truth.”

1Ti 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Your brother in Christ,
Mike >

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