Discipleship is supernatural.
I once saw a little sticker that still makes me laugh when I think of it.
“The two great facts of life: 1) There is a God. 2) You are not Him.”
There is a difference between man and God, a vast contrast between the methods of human ingenuity and the work of the Holy Spirit. Coaching a softball team is human and natural. Discipling Christians is miraculous and spiritual.
The task of discipleship requires a miracle.
The Apostle Paul contrasts the natural flesh[a]Flesh is a synonym for carnal nature, sinful nature, old nature, natural man. The word σάρξ (sarx) can mean meat, or the physical body, or the entire physical existence of a person, or the sinful … Continue reading, with the supernatural Holy Spirit. He warns us against following our own natural desires and wisdom. A disciple must be spiritual. Spiritual means Spirit-controlled. A disciple must stop letting his natural self control him. This is accomplished by dying to the old sinful nature, the flesh, and experiencing life in the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.[b]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:16–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Walk by the Spirit…
Human nature solves problems by natural means. The natural man pursues satisfaction in sex, impurity, and sensuality. It is natural to react to relationship frustrations with enmity, strife, jealousy, angry outbursts. It is natural to respond to social situations with selfishness, competition, envy, and dissension into team polarity.
The Holy Spirit solves problems by supernatural means. The Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled man pursues love, experiences joy, spreads peace, responds patiently, acts with goodness and kindness and gentleness, demonstrates faithful integrity, and has mastery over his bodily appetites and selfish desires. This requires a miraculous transformation of character.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love…
Disciples are led by the Spirit. This means that they are dead to the works of the flesh. They are not selfish. Disciples are filled with the Spirit and grow the fruit of the Spirit, love.
John 15 commands us to be fruitful.
The task of discipleship is to make extraordinary, sanctified, willing, faithful Christians out of typical selfish, ungodly, stubborn human beings. That is impossible. I perceive no natural way for it to succeed. It would take a miracle.
God commissioned His Church to discipleship. God is needed for the process of disciple-making. Natural solutions need to fail. Supernatural solutions must be presented. You may mistakenly think that a person with natural leadership traits and experience would be perfect to head up your discipleship program. If you find it natural to disciple others, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t strategize the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit out of your discipleship program or mentoring groups or curricula. Discipleship isn’t a business leadership program or a team-building exercise. You are unqualified to disciple anyone. You need God to qualify and equip you. Don’t rely on your own natural-born talents, astonishing intellect, magnetic personality, and stunning good looks. Deliberately devote yourself to the Holy Bible and the Holy Spirit with the view of producing supernaturally Spirit-controlled disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh…
The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the distinctive trait of disciples, those redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the life of a disciple, someone who identifies with the crucifixion of Jesus, the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit is transformation of character, a purified heart, a permanent placement of Jesus upon His rightful throne of the disciple’s heart.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit…
God provided a supernatural Paraclete so that His Church could miraculously accomplish an impossible mission: the discipleship of the nations. The Great Commission is tied to the Promise of the Father. Jesus was leaving his role as a disciple-making companion to His disciples so that God would be an indwelling disciple-making Companion to every disciple. The Holy Spirit brings the supernatural power needed for discipleship. Sadly, some churches simply don’t have room for the Holy Spirit. Maybe we can fit Him in for a 10-minute window on the second Sunday of August next year.
If you want to be a disciple, you need the Holy Spirit. If you want to make disciples, you need the Holy Spirit. Ask for the Holy Spirit. Pray in the Spirit. Live in the Spirit. Be controlled and led by the Holy Spirit.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[c]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 1:4–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
A disciple is an individual miraculously transformed into Christ’s likeness. You cannot make disciples until you are a disciple. You cannot lead others into the supernatural transformation of character until you have been transformed into Christ’s likeness. If you are not controlled by the Holy Spirit, you will never make a disciple that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is absurd for you to expect to pass along any quality that you do not possess.
|↑a||Flesh is a synonym for carnal nature, sinful nature, old nature, natural man. The word σάρξ (sarx) can mean meat, or the physical body, or the entire physical existence of a person, or the sinful Adamic nature that accompanies our human flesh. Context must tell you which definition to consider.|
|↑b||The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:16–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.|
|↑c||The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 1:4–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.|