The Written Word (Bible), the Incarnate Word (Jesus), and the Spoken Word (Preaching) all receive their power from the Holy Spirit. For the next couple of weeks we will focus on the Spirit's work through the Word. This week's lesson focuses on the Holy Spirit's connection to the Word. We will look at how Satan will subtly try to twist God's Word until he can break us off from the Spirit's power. This will show us that without the Holy Spirit the Word will not be able to do its work. How comforting it is to know that God puts himself into his words, so that we know his promises are true! (This lesson like many others will draw heavily upon John T. Pless's book Word: God Speaks to Us in the Lutheran Spirituality Series [Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis, 2006].)
1) Read Hebrews 4:12-16
What does God's Word do? (Pless, 2006) Who makes the Word living and active?
Hebrews 4 gives us a powerful reminder that it is God's Word that judges us. We do not judge God's Word. We live in light of the Word, because God has given it to us and we are to revere it by keeping it in its pure form. In that form, the Holy Spirit makes it living and active. The Holy Spirit gives it life so that it can call us back to God, forgive our sins, strengthen our faith, and give us eternal life.
2) Read Genesis 3:1 (Pless, 2006)
Notice how Satan is trying to twist God's Words. Adam and Eve rejected the Holy Spirit when they wanted be like God. Have you ever been tempted like this? Have you ever wondered if God really meant what he said? This is Satan and our sinful nature trying to cut us off from the Spirit in God's Word. In these times we have a Savior who has been tempted in every way, just as we are tempted. When you start to question cry out to God for help! Thank God that Christ has conquered Satan and the sinful nature so that we can be forgiven for the times when we pull ourselves away.
3) Read Matthew 4:1-17 (Pless, 2006)
Satan is using the same strategy that he used against Adam and Eve. How does Jesus defend himself against these temptations?
What does this tell you about God's Word?
God has given his children a powerful weapon. The Holy Spirit brings us under God's Word. This Word becomes a shelter against Satan's attacks. The Spirit uses these words to repel even the strongest pitfalls. Satan and the sinful nature aren't strong enough to separate God's Word from the Holy Spirit.
4) Is it possible to have the Word without the Spirit? (Pless, 2006)
No, if you lose one you lose them both. You cannot obey God on your own, and you cannot sanctify yourself. God has graciously given us both his Word and his Spirit in the fullest measure to redeem us, and sanctify his church.