The classic case of just how gentle, unobtrusive and unassuming (but powerful) the Holy Spirit is, is to be found in Matthew 16:13-20. But before we read that scripture let us look at Proverbs 7:11-12.
“11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)
That’s not talking about a woman; it is talking about the flesh. The flesh is loud; and it is all over the place. The flesh always wants to advertise itself.
But the church is not a place for advertising who we are, nor the things of this world and of the flesh which are, incidentally, temporal. On the contrary, the church is a place for the quiet dealings of the Holy Spirit, which are eternal. If a Christian wants to be known in the flesh, he or she is a carnal Christian.
So now, let us look closely at Matthew 16:13-20. Here I will just quote a few relevant verses.
“15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven… 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ.”
Now, did we say that God does not want to be known, nor His power to be proclaimed?
Hardly. The Bible is filled to the brim with scriptures that declare the glory and power of God. But then God is not flesh. He is Spirit, and He is holy. He does not want to be advertised in the flesh.
It is not that Jesus did not want the world to know that He was the Christ. But He wanted this knowledge to come as a work of the Holy Spirit, not of man. I recall some years back we had a phrase in church, “Running with the vision.” It began in the Spirit all right. In those early days men and women truly heard from the Lord. But it didn’t take long for the flesh to raise its ugly head in church and now, today, people are piling up in churches to hear all kinds of visions from all kinds of visionaries… We are living in different times all together.
But when Jesus was here on earth, He did not give the flesh a single opportunity to express itself. In this particular case, He did not want His disciples to go and tell people that Jesus was the Christ while, just a while back, they had been openly jostling for the No. 1 position in Jesus earthly government! He did not want Simon Peter, who did not want to face the cross (Mat. 16:22) to proclaim that He was the Christ!
Jesus would allow His disciples to declare that He was the Christ after the Holy Spirit had done a work of the cross in their lives. That was long after He had left this earth in the flesh.
This is exactly what God is looking for in our lives. God is looking for men and women who have accepted the work of the cross in their lives. He desires us to be changed by the cross in us. God is more interested in what we can allow Him to do in us rather than what we can do for Him.
In 1 Pet. 3:1-4 we read,
“1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
Notice in verse 1 that the Biblical way for wives to win over their unbelieving husbands to the Lord is not through the word; but
“by the conversation of the wives”.
The word “conversation” means way of life. In other words, the way the wife talks and behaves in the fear of the Lord. Not the preaching. That is the Biblical way to win over people’s lives to the Lord.
Secondly, notice, in verse 4,
“the hidden man of the heart” and
“the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit”.
What does the Bible say about these two qualities?
It says they are
in other words, they are eternal. Secondly, they are
“in the sight of God of great price.”
We should not desire to be seen. Neither through our preaching nor through anything else we do. On the contrary, we should desire the work of the cross through the Holy Spirit working in us to be seen in us. The reason for our doing should only on account of what He has done in us.