Let's take some of those thoughts from last time on a bit...

Huw Williams | 20:45, Wednesday 02 July 2014 | Turin, Italy

Let's take some of those thoughts from last time on a bit. If our sinful nature pulls us to self-love and self-dependence, in what way does the Spirit guide us? What does a life of Spirit-led dependence look like?

There is a danger to reduce the work of the Spirit to behaviourism, to look on outward behaviour and to always assume that it is a work of the Spirit. But the Bible has plenty to say about outward displays of devotion which come from hard hearts - maintaining a true dependence on God will be a result of a new heart, from which a transformed life will flow. So with this in mind, in what ways might this transformed heart show itself? Let me suggest four key areas, and invite your further comments and observations.

Prayer. I remember being a child and hearing grown-ups speak with obvious appreciation for the old preacher who would frequently pray "Lord, forgive us our prayerlessness." I don't really know why that stuck in my mind, because I certainly didn't understand it then, and I think I've only come to understand it recently. When we begin to see prayer as something more than a presentation of our latest wish-list, and rather the exercise of our dependent relationship with our Father, don't we begin to see our prayerlessness in a new light, too? Isn't it often, beneath our excuses, a declaration of independence, self-confidence and ability.

God's Word. You don't need me to tell you that we are surrounded by so many competing voices every day. Won't a heart that is turned to God in joyful dependence also hunger to hear its Father's voice? I know we are busy, arguably busier than ever, but at least for me, I know that when I don't feel the need of listening to God's word, I have shifted to an "I can cope on my own" mentality. Which leads me neatly onto....

Repentance. To be truly self-aware in our relationship with God, is to be aware of our unworthiness as well as the wonder of who we now are in Christ. When my sin begins to look like not so much of a big deal, then the magnificence of God's gospel love will almost inevitably be reduced accordingly - I begin to act a little more like Simon the Pharisee than the woman at Jesus' feet, yet as Jesus says in Luke 7:47, "... I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."

Weakness. Scan the books of the new releases most Christian bookshops (or any of the others for that matter) and I would be very surprised if you don't find far more titles celebrating, identifying and developing our gifts than celebrating God's power being made perfect in our weakness. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not against identifying our gifts or developing them. And I am passionate about the exercise of such for the building up of God's people. I'm aware of the key passages in the New Testament in this area. But I've also been struck by some other passages too, not least in 2 Corinthians. And as the language of a lot of contemporary Christian discipleship seems to get closer and closer to that of the self-improvement manual, and the rhetoric of Christian leadership sounds remarkably like that of the business boardroom, I can't help but wonder if it is time to regain some perspective and join Paul in saying, "... Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor 12:9)

I'm sure you can add to my list. Let's not try and do the works to synthesize the inward reality. And let's not do them in an attempt to make the inward happen. Let's pray that God would do the work in us by His Spirit so that we would come to a happy, joyful dependence on Him, through His beloved son.

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