In Revelation 21 and the early part of chapter 22, we see the description of the New Jerusalem as John saw it. Revelation 21:11-21 describes in great detail the outside appearance of the great heavenly city. The description changes to the inside of the city in Revelation 21:21-22:5. What we find by reading this account is that God has revealed to us that the inner part of the city, which is hidden from view by the magnificent external beauty, is just as beautiful. So here’s the point we want to get down for this lesson: What people see on the outside should match what is truly going on inside our hearts, where people can’t see. The outward appearance of our families and marriages should reflect what God’s doing on inside.
People are only able to see the outer portion of man. But based on what they see on the outside, people will make generalizations about what is on the inside of a man. Of course, that’s not always a correct assumption, because what may be going on outside the body may not match with what is going on within the heart of the person. But be aware that you and God are able to evaluate and assess both the outer and inner man. When things don’t match up, one way or another, there are a couple of possible scenarios.
The first reason your outer actions and inner being don’t coincide with each other is the case of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a willful and calculated decision to act differently than the way you feel on the inside. For example, in Matthew 6:5, Jesus explains there were hypocrites praying in the synagogue giving a grand outward appearance of piety, yet it was all for show, as they wanted the praise of man. Jesus said not to be like that. This goes to our motives for why we do things. In Matthew 23:27, Jesus states it this way, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed APPEAR BEAUTIFUL OUTWARD, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Also, think of the rich people making very large public offerings in the temple out of the abundance that they had, yet, though this poor woman gave very little in appearance, Christ pointed out that it was more than the rich people gave because he evaluated her motives versus their motives (Mark 12:41-44). In these cases, there is a disconnect between what people see outwardly contrasted with what’s really going on on the inside. In these cases, there was a clean appearance on the outside, but a very dirty and dishonorable state on the inside.
Secondly, we have the case of a person who is very true and honorable on the inside, but is very spiritually weak, or is ignorant of what is expected out of a saved individual. Philippians 1:27 begs us to “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ…” Because we are saved and called to be lights in this darkened world, we should be Christlike in our actions, appearance, and manner of speech. We are children of God and should show forth the change that has been wrought on the inside. But brand new Christians may be still cussing, or drinking, or occasionally slipping and doing occasional drugs or partaking in immorality. These things will become less and less as the new Christian grows in spiritual strength. This type of Christian is not like a person who is willfully putting up a false front by being a hypocrite at the same time. No, this person truly wants to do right, but hasn’t won victories over sin just yet. These people have a dirty outward appearance, but on the inside they are clean spirited and sincere in their motives and goals to be Christlike.
These two scenarios are found in family units all over Christendom. There are complete families that could be tares from the parents on down to the children. These families feel there is some benefit to being in church and will play the part on Sundays, but all the while these families have no interest in ever truly being on the inside what they are trying to portray to everyone else when they all gather for morning worship. Then you have the brand new saved families that have just started attending church, and mom or dad have made a profession of faith, and they are just starting to grow and learn the very simple and basic truths of Scripture. These are the same people who may be faithful attendees to church and even baptized, but will show up at the next church picnic with a six-pack in the cooler, and tell an off-color joke…all out of ignorance. It’s these families that are the focus of this lesson. How do we get the light in these families to reflect what God’s doing on the inside? This is done by focusing on the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives, and incorporating that into the lives of our families.
Heaven is the place where God dwells, but He will make His presence known everywhere on this earth, so one way to have heavenly blessings here on earth is to have the very real presence of God in your families. Jesus Himself promised this to us in John 14:23: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” But that requires learning about what He expects out of us, and to begin living for Him. As we do that, our outward actions and appearance will begin to match the work God is doing with us on the inside.
To help us become who we ought to be as individuals, God gave each saved person the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within their heart. Now the ministry of the Holy Spirit is multifaceted. There no doubt are more, but at least six of them are: He speaks, He teaches, He bears witness to Christ, He labors, He forbids, and He intercedes. So it’s my contention, that, the Holy Spirit should be the One who gets us to where we need to be spiritually in our individual lives. I’d like to carry that over to put forth the premise that the spiritual leaders in our families (dads and moms) should take on the roles of the Holy Spirit in our families. It’s our responsibility to take what God has shown us, and teach it to others (2nd Timothy 2:2). Now let’s quickly see what the Holy Spirit does and what we should be doing to get our families to be on the outside what God is doing on the inside.
Speaks: “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot” (Acts 8:29). One of the Holy Spirit’s roles is to “speak.” In this context it basically means to guide and direct. Isaiah 45:13 says, “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all thy ways.” Today, God has given us the Holy Spirit to do that. In the family, God has given that task to the parents. It starts first with allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us and convict us as parents, as to the spiritual direction our families are headed, and make changes as needed. The path we ought to be on is the straight and narrow path that runs right through the land of separation. Just like any good GPS system, when we veer off the straight and narrow, the Holy Spirit will let us know, and begin to recalculate our direction to get us back on the correct path. Then it’s our turn to move the family as the Holy Spirit moves us.
Teaches: One of the aspects of the Holy Spirit that Christ told us He would do once Christ ascended to Heaven, is that the Holy Spirit would “teach” us. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you in all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). Our job as spiritual leaders is two-fold if we are going to mimic the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our families. First, we need to teach. That is, we need to share and instruct spiritual truths our spouses and children need to know in order that everyone contributes and adds to the godliness of the family. Second, we need to remind them of what they already know, and encourage them to make the spiritual application of those things into their lives. Psalm 32:8 shows God telling David that He will instruct and teach him. May we promise the same to our children.
Bears Witness: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit is directly involved in the process of sanctification in the believer. It may not be the most proper way to express this, but the Holy Spirit recognizes that it’s “not about Him.” It’s about Christ and directing, teaching, and guiding the believer to be more like Christ. As parents, even before we begin instilling in our children attributes we feel are important (usually the attributes in which we ourselves are strong) we should first be sure we encourage them to take on the attributes of Christ. It’s not about us when raising our children to be who we want them to be, but it’s about raising them to be like Christ. You may feel it’s important to raise your child to be confident and savvy and “street smart” while God may desire something totally different. Follow the example of the Holy Spirit and lead your family into Christlikeness.
Labors: The work of the Lord would be continued once He ascended to Heaven and this was another reason He was sending the Holy Spirit…to continue the work. One of the “works” we are charged with is found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the ends of the world.” In Mark 16:15 the charge is to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” So, guess who’s here to help? According to Acts 1:8 and Acts 4:31, it is the Holy Spirit’s role to help us boldly stand for Christ in word and deed. As spiritual leaders in our homes, we must give our children the confidence they need to stand strong amongst their peers in the public school. Praise them and encourage them when they are faced with these unpleasant moments. Until your children learn to draw the power of the Holy Spirit themselves, be there for them yourself. Pray before your meal even in a crowded restaurant. Lead and empower by example.
Forbids: In Acts 16:6-7 we find the account of the Apostle Paul being held back by the Holy Spirit from doing something. The Holy Spirit somehow, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally, forbade them from ministering in Asia and Bithynia. Many times the Holy Spirit will give us spiritual unrest to get us to do the right thing, thus preventing us from doing the wrong thing. This conviction and spiritual unrest causes us to lose the peace in our hearts, and this is the first line of chastisement God uses to allow the Holy Spirit to “recalculate” our lives back on the right path. God does not teach and guide us only to allow us to stray and hurt ourselves. Neither should we teach and guide our families only to allow them to stray and hurt themselves. We, as spiritual leaders in our homes, need to plead with our children emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and if needed, physically in order that we prevent them from doing what God does not want them doing. Remember, acting in the role of the Holy Spirit in the home, we want our families moving toward Christlikeness, and all attempts must be made to prevent the contrary.
Intercedes: If I had to rank these roles, I’d put this one at the top of the list. It’s last in this lesson because it is the power behind being able to do all of the aforementioned responsibilities. Romans 8:26 reveals to us that as we go to pray to God, we sometimes don’t know exactly what to pray for, or how to pray, but that it’s the Holy Spirit who makes intercession before God on our behalf for the things we need, according to God’s Will, as we strive toward Christlikeness and as we try to lead our families in the same. Our children and spouses may not have a knowledge of how to pray or what to pray for, but that’s where we come in as the representative of the Holy Spirit in our families. We must pay attention to our spouse and children to recognize what their needs are and bring those needs to God in prayer on their behalf…thus interceding for them the way the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Job knew enough that his children had at least the potential to sin, so he prayed for them in that way specifically (Job 1:5). Contrast that with a father (Eli) who didn’t stay on top of his two sons (Phineas and Hophni). God held Eli personally responsible for the state of the family and how his sons had turned out. From what we know, Eli was a hands-off dad while Job prayed and offered sacrifices for his children (interceded) DAILY.
So the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to help us develop Christlikeness through these roles: speaking, teaching, bearing witness to Christ, laboring, forbidding, and interceding. This Christlikeness will not only bring internal changes, but these internal changes will begin to be made evident on the outside as well. So long as we continue to grow stronger spiritually, it will become easier and easier to live out what we believe, thus allowing our outer beauty to match the inner beauty. And if we can achieve this, it will be one more way our homes can have a characteristic of Heaven.