How to Have a Real Relationship With God

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Disclosure-Our material is biblically-based information gleaned from my personal Bible study, experience, and the efforts of other men I have learned from. Some of the materials we provide are taken from a wealth of different materials from several good men everywhere. Please be advised that because an author is mentioned, quoted from, or we have used their material, does not mean we blanket recommend or endorse any or all of their ministry. It is our hope that you will be able to glean from this material to help you in your life or ministry. It is not to be used by those who would make a charge for their counseling. It is to be used for the glory of God. God alone is to receive all glory from the lives of those who are helped through this teaching found in the Word of God. We believe the answers for men’s problems and issues are found in God’s Word. We do not use psychology. We believe God desires to change lives through His Word and are thankful that many lives have been changed to the honor and glory of God through this ministry. May God put His blessing on you as you share these teachings with those who need them most. The articles may be copied in their entirety to help Christians in developing a real intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. They are not to be changed in any manner or to be sold. This header should be on all copies. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the author. Proverbs 11:14, Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

I want the following booklet to be an encouragement to all who read it. It might be one of the most important booklets that have come out of our ministry here at Hope Biblical Counseling Center. It will contain some life changing material, I hope it will change the lives of many who have the opportunity to read it and pass it on to others. Our desire is to help people who truly need and want help in their lives and in their homes.

How many times have I heard the statement, “Pastor, please help me” and then hear the details of on-going destruction in a person’s life. Proverbs 13:13, Whoso despiseth the word (does not give proper attention to) shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

Through Hope Biblical Counseling Center we get the opportunity to counsel many Independent Baptist people with their life issues.

The question is how do I start to have a real relationship with God and be filled with the Holy Spirit? First of all you need to make sure you really are a Christian. You can never have a relationship with God unless you have really been saved. Do you know a time in your life that you realized you were a sinner and repented (turned from your sinful self and your dependence upon yourself) to Jesus who alone is the only one who can save you? Did you sincerely ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and ask Him to come into your life and be your Saviour? You are not a Christian because you are a church member, been baptized, are a good person, etc. The Bible tells us very plainly “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. We need to repent of our sins and ask Jesus to come into our heart and save us. Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Are you a Christian? If not, you can become a Christian right now.

How to Go To Heaven When You Die

Have you ever thought about what happens to you when you die? Death is no respecter of persons. It comes to the old, young, and those in between. Death is coming! Each of us is going to die. Then what? Is it possible to be prepared for death? The Bible tells us there is a heaven and a hell. It tells us one of those places will be our eternal destination depending on what decision we make about Jesus Christ. John 3:16-17, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son (Jesus Christ), that whosoever believeth in him should not perish (in hell), but have everlasting life (in heaven). For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (go to heaven).

John 3:36, He that believeth on the Son (Jesus Christ) hath everlasting life (in heaven): and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him (in hell). So there you have it, heaven or hell. Did you notice these verses say believe or not believe in Him (Jesus Christ) and what He did for you? What did He do? Matthew 1:21, And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus (the name “Jesus” means “Saviour”): for he shall save his people from their sins. There you see it, “their sins.” Do you realize today you are a sinner? If you are honest today, you know that you have sinned (done something wrong in your life).

  1. You have to realize you are a sinner. Romans 3:23, For all (me and you) have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
  2. Because you are a sinner, you will die (everybody does). Romans 6:23, For the wages (payment) of sin (all the wrong things we do), is death (physical and spiritual death). Luke 16:22-24, … the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments… and he cried and said … I am tormented in this flame. People die because they are sinners! This means eternal separation from God in hell. Hebrews 9:27, …. it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
  3. Because God loved you so much, He gave his Son to die for your sins so that you might have the gift of eternal life (in heaven). Romans 6:23, …. but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. If someone gives you a gift, what would you have to do to receive it? You would just have to simply accept it to make it yours.

The question is, “How do I accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus died to give me?”

  1. You must repent of your sins. Luke 13:3, … except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (hell). Acts 17:30, God…. commandeth all men everywhere to repent. Mark 1:15, Jesus said, … The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. What does it mean to repent? You must see your sins as wrong and as willful rebellion against God. You must realize that you have no hope of going to heaven in your own power. Your only hope is in Jesus Christ who died for your sins. You must turn from yourself, realize your sins have separated you from God and heaven, have sincere sorrow over the wickedness of your sins, and turn your heart, mind, emotions and will to God as the only One who can save you. You must turn to God with a sorrowful heart because of your sins against Him. II Corinthians 7:10, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…. If you are not willing to acknowledge that you are wrong, you are saying that you don’t need to repent. That means that you see yourself as having done no wrong in the sight of God.

Repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that you are a sinner and that Jesus died on the cross for your sins to personally save you. You must turn away from your sins and yourself, change your mind about your sins, and turn to Jesus Christ alone who can save you.

  1. You must believe in Him. Simply believe in Jesus Christ as the One who bore your sins on the cross, died in your place, was buried, and was resurrected by God. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you can claim the powerful, miraculous promise of Christ’s resurrection-eternal life with God in heaven.
  2. You must call upon Him in prayer. Romans 10:9-10,13, That if thou (you) shalt confess with thy mouth (call on Him in prayer) the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead (the resurrection of Christ), thou shalt be saved (heaven). For with the heart man (you) believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession (in prayer) is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call (in prayer) upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (heaven).
  3. Receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. God loves you, and He wants you to speak to Him sincerely from your heart. Pray this prayer: Lord I know I am a sinner. I believe you died in my place on the cross for me. I ask you to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and be my Saviour. I repent of my sins, and I receive you now as my Saviour. Thank you for saving me. If you have prayed sincerely from your heart to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, the Bible says you are now a child of God, John 1:12. Please contact us and let us know of your decision to trust Christ as Saviour, and we will provide material to help you get started properly in your new life.

My wife, Kim, and I hold Hope Biblical Living meetings at different churches throughout the year. We also have a book table where we provide a wealth of information for those needing help in their lives with their marriage, children, or other matters of the Christian life. We hear from hundreds of people around the world on a regular basis who need help in these areas. Our church, Hope Baptist Church, of which I am the pastor, has a counseling center that is open to people needing help. In our meetings, Hope Biblical Living Conferences, it never fails that after a service; a parent of a wayward child comes up and shares with Kim or me the painful demise of their child. It is always the same story only a different person. The pain and the agony by these parents breaks my heart. What is the answer here? Why are so many young people growing up in an independent Baptist church and then leaving their parent’s home and living a disastrous life? I hear this story hundreds of times a year. Many times parents weep and ask Kim and me the answer.

Many times I have heard a statement like this, “Pastor, I just do not know what happened. Our son/daughter grew up in this church. They attended the Christian school (or they were home schooled). We had family devotions, and we made sure they read their Bible. In fact, they memorized many Bible verses. I just do not understand; can you help me understand?”

The painful answer is yes, I can. The short answer is your child did not have a real relationship with God. Parents still do not understand when I give them that answer. There is a woeful lack of understanding today on the subject of what Proverbs 22:6 means. Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old (means when he departs the house), he will not depart from it.

Let me start by giving a bit of my personal testimony regarding this. I got saved at the age of 19, just a few days short of my 20th birthday, and neither one of my parents were saved. I did not come from a Christian home. After I got saved, I began to attend an independent-fundamental Baptist church. I was on fire for God in the sense that I wanted to do something (very important statement you will understand later in the article). I began to run a bus route, and saw several children make professions of faith. I heard my pastor say, “Read your Bible through in a year.” So, I made an effort to read my Bible. As a young Christian I started in Genesis. I realize the Bible says “all scripture is profitable.” However, some scriptures are more profitable than others. It was not the place for me as a young Christian to start reading and after a while I became spasmodic at it, but still made an effort. I tried to pray and turned in a long list every day to God. Did I get answers to prayer? Not really. After about a year, I was discouraged and defeated. Maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe I am not saved, I thought. I knew I had repented of my sin and asked Jesus into my heart. But still doubts lingered, and I talked with my pastor several times. He was virtually no help except to say “read your Bible.” In fact, he was given too many doubts and fears as well in his life. Many of the families in our church lived worldly lives. Oh, they dressed properly, but were ungodly in many ways they lived. The young people did not exhibit godly lives. They were interested in fun and activities but not a real relationship with God. After a time of defeat, I stayed home from work one day. I wanted to pray about what the answer was. Later in the afternoon, Kim sent me to the grocery store. I was desperate and virtually cried out to God to help me. In this particular store, there was a small display of Christian books that spun around in a rack. I stopped to look at it. As I was looking at it, I noticed a book called How to Study the Bible. God said, “There is your answer.” I bought the book and devoured it. It gave me thoughts I had not considered about my relationship to God’s Word.

I realized I needed to make a change in my life. However, let me say here that many Christians read their Bible daily, but do not have a real, intimate, personal, passionate, relationship with God.

I decided that I was going to have a time with God daily. Near the plant I was working was a park. I had an hour for lunch. Kim fixed me a sandwich daily, and I went to the park for lunch. I parked my car under a tree, and, while I was eating my lunch, I listened on the radio to a Bible teacher, who helped me immensely. He helped me to understand some things I did not know. After about 10 to 15 minutes, I would turn off the radio and begin to pray. I would ask God to show me if there was any sin that stood between Him and me that day. God, the Holy Spirit would speak to my spirit and show me my sin. I would confess that sin and turn from it. Then I would ask God to speak to me and give His message to me that day. As I would read, God would minister to my heart. Many times the Holy Spirit would stop me in my reading and show me a truth and speak to my heart about that truth. Many times, I would weep over that truth and thank God for showing it to me. God’s Word came alive for me. I would ask God what he wanted for me and what He wanted me to pray about. The relationship between God and I became intimate, personal, and passionate. I began to grow by leaps and bounds. I devoured my Bible. I looked up the meaning of the words and God continued to minister to me. In that car, under that tree, the God of the universe changed my life. It started me toward the development of an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with the Saviour. I look back on that time, and the Lord was gracious in so many ways to me. Virtually, the Holy Spirit of God taught me, and I am forever grateful. It energized my Christian life which up to then, in the first year, had been miserable.

As I have studied down through the years, I now want to share some very important truths with you about that relationship that I have learned about having been saved 42 years. I have been preaching and teaching the Bible for more than 38 years.

I had tried to read the Bible before, but failed to get much from it. Many of God’s people seek to read their Bible daily. It is important to understand that the Bible is not an information book – it is a book for transformation. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…, Romans 12:2. There it is folks, that word transformation. God wants your life to be transformed. He wants it to be changed, and to develop a real relationship with Him.

Let me ask you, how many times have you read a chapter in your Bible and then got down to the end and did not know what you had read? Many people will make the effort to read their Bible through in a year. They do not get much out of that. They sit in church half paying attention, and they get some information about God. Folks, this is a huge spiritual danger to your children. Many of God’s people are giving their children a considerable amount of information about God. However, there is no development of a real relationship with God. This is the greatest tragedy that any Christian home can have.

I have known Christians who have memorized many passages of scripture and lived like the devil. I can hear someone say they must not be saved then. I do not think that is the answer. I know the answer is the real relationship with God is not there.

Here is the child who grows up in a Christian school, the family has family devotions, they have their children read the Bible daily, and yet there is this disaster when the child leaves the home. What happened here?

I believe the Bible teaches it is important for a person to have a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. The most important thing outside of salvation in the life of any Christian is to be filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit. I also find that most Christians have no clue about what this means and to practically have a real relationship with God. Therefore, destruction takes place in their lives and in their homes.

When you got saved, the Holy Spirit came to indwell you. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Christ is in believers in the person of the Holy Spirit. John 15:5, I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Therefore, if we are filled with His Spirit, he works fruitfully through us. If we are not filled with the Holy Spirit, we are unproductive and great tragedy results. Have you ever wondered why so many children from Independent Baptist homes grow up to live wicked and vile lives? The lack of being controlled by the Holy Spirit and not having a real relationship with God is the problem. What is the average young person taught at home, or in the church?

In our counseling, we have found that the average saved person has absolutely no clue about this. Folks, it is almost impossible to exaggerate how dependent we are on the Holy Spirit. We are dependent on Him for convicting us of sin after our salvation, for giving us understanding of the Gospel, causing us to be born again, empowering us to witness, guiding us in our prayer life, in fact, for everything. It is no wonder Satan tries to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit and confuse His work.

There is probably no subject in the Bible upon which there is more confusion today than that of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Satan places two obstacles before men: first of all he tries to keep them from getting saved, and, secondly, if he fails in this, he then tries to keep men from understanding the importance and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Once a man is converted, Satan has two different approaches. He tries to get men to associate the filling of the Holy Spirit with emotional excess, or the opposite swing of the pendulum, to ignore the Holy Spirit altogether.

One of the false impressions gained from people and not from the Word of God is that there is some special “feeling” when one is filled with the Holy Spirit. So, let’s look at what the Bible teaches we can expect when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and, then, we will see what the Bible says about how to be filled with the Spirit.

What to Expect When Filled With the Holy Spirit

  1. There are nine temperament traits of the Spirit-filled life in Galatians 5:22-23. Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

They are love, joy, peace, long suffering, (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, (self-control). Any person who is filled with the Spirit is going to manifest these characteristics! He does not have to try to, or play a part, or act out a role; he will just be this way when the Spirit has control of his nature.

Many who claim to have had the “filling” or as some call it, ‘the anointing” or “the baptism of the Spirit” know nothing of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, or self-control. These are, however, the hallmark of the person filled with the Holy Spirit!

As an example a well-known preacher talked about laying on his unsaved father’s grave for days, and, then, he was filled with the Spirit. The same person was given to fits of rage, pride, arrogance, excess, and a life out of control.

Ephesians 4:29-32, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, (building up) that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Obviously, he did not understand the Bible’s teaching on the subject and has done injury to many by erroneous teaching on how to be filled with the Spirit.

  1. A joyful, thanksgiving heart, and a submissive spirit. Ephesians 5:18-21, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

A singing, thanks-giving heart and a submissive spirit, independent of circumstances, are so unnatural that they can only be ours through the filling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is able to change the gloomy or griping heart into a song-filled, thankful heart. He is able to solve man’s rebellion problem by increasing his faith to the point that he really believes the best way to live is in submission to the will of God.

The same three results of the Spirit-filled life are also the results of the Word-filled life, as found in Colossians 3:16-19, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (17) And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (18) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (19) Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

It is no accident that we find the results of the Spirit filled life (Ephesians 5:18-21) and those of the Word–filled life to be one and the same. The Lord Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Truth,” and He also said of the Word of God, “thy Word is Truth.” It is easily understood why the Word-filled life causes the same results as the Spirit-filled life, for the Holy Spirit is the author of the Word of God. This highlights the error of those who try to receive the Holy Spirit through a once-for-all experience rather than a real intimate and personal relationship with God which Jesus described as “abiding in Me.” This relationship is possible in the Christian’s life as God communes with him and fills his life through the “Word of Truth” and as he communes with God in prayer guided by the “Spirit of Truth.” The conclusion that we can clearly draw here is that the Christian who is Spirit–filled will be Word-filled, and the Word-filled Christian who obeys the Spirit will be Spirit–filled.

  1. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to witness, Acts 1:8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

As an example, daily I ask God who He wants me to witness to today. The Lord Jesus told his disciples, John 16:7, Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient (necessary) for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (Holy Spirit) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

That explains why the last thing Jesus did before He ascended into heaven was to tell His disciples, Acts 1:8, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Even though the disciples had spent three years with Jesus personally, had heard his messages several times, and were the best trained witnesses He had, He still instructed them, Acts 1:4, And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

All of their training obviously was incapable of producing fruit of itself without the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible testifies when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, they witnessed in His power, and three thousand persons were saved.

We too can expect to have the power to witness when filled with the Holy Spirit. Would it not be great that there was as much desire on the part of God’s people to be empowered to witness in the Spirit as there is to have some ecstatic or emotional experience with the Holy Spirit?! The power of the Holy Spirit is not always discernible but must be accepted by faith. When we have met the conditions for the filling of the Spirit, we should be careful to believe we have witnessed in the power of the Holy Spirit whether or not we see immediate results.

One evening I went to the home of a friend I worked with named Steve and witnessed to him and his wife. I had made sure I had met the conditions to be filled with the Spirit. I went through the plan of salvation with him, and, when I ask him if he would like to receive Christ he said, “No, not tonight.” I went away disappointed and thinking I had not done something right. The next morning at work he came walking up to me with a big smile on his face and said, “Last night after you left, my wife and I read the tact you left us and got down by the bed and asked Jesus to come into our heart and save us.” I was very glad for him.

It is possible to witness in the power of the Holy Spirit and still not see an individual come to a saving knowledge of Christ. In the sovereign plan of God, He allows people free choice and does not violate that. Therefore, a man can be witnessed to in the power of the Holy Spirit and still reject the Saviour. The witness may then go away with the erroneous idea of having been powerless merely because he was unsuccessful. We cannot always equate success in witnessing with the power to witness!

Do you realize that prior to getting saved, the devil, the adversary of your soul, sought to stop you from getting saved? However, once you did get saved, the devil now wants to derail your relationship with God. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, II Peter 3:18. Growing means change. The word here for knowledge does not mean to have knowledge about God, but the knowledge is to be transforming. Dear friends, many people graduate (from Bible colleges, Christian schools, or home schools) with years of knowledge about God and live a wicked and vile life. Their knowledge is not transforming. The devil wants to stop you from having a real relationship with God and, folks, he is subtle and has done a marvelous job in derailing the lives of God’s people. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: I Peter 5:8. God is speaking to Christians here. Who does the devil devour? Those who do not have an intimate, personal, passionate relationship with the Saviour.

It is important to realize that man is three parts—body, soul, and spirit. Just because you got saved does not mean the devil is no longer interested in you. In fact, dear friend, the battle is on. So, are you going to win and have victory in that battle just because you read the Bible and do not get anything out of it? Do you pray and do it faithfully and never see answers to prayer? The relationship is not a real relationship! It is self-righteousness, living the Christian life in your own power.

When you got saved, the Holy Spirit of God came to dwell in you. Up until that time your spirit was dead. But when you got saved, your spirit was made alive. Now the Holy Spirit of God can speak to your spirit. Something to remember is God always deals with our spirit through the Holy Spirit through His Word. Romans 8:9-11, 13-14, 16, But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (revive again) your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: I John 4:13, Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

It is plain that the Spirit of God lives in us and bears witness with our spirit, and God wants to control our body through His Spirit. Folks, the Spirit of God always works from the inside of us to the outside of us. The devil always works from the outside to the inside of us. Remember, I said we are three parts—body, soul, and spirit. The devil desires to control our soul. God always works through His Spirit to our spirit. If God controls our spirit, then, He also controls our soul and body. The devil always desires to put outside pressure on us to try to control our soul and body. In essence, if the devil controls our soul (which is the seat of our mind, emotions, and will), he controls our body and that means he controls what we do. He cannot possess a Christian, but he certainly can and does oppress the Christian with outside pressure.

When the devil seeks to pressure your life from the outside, if you are not walking in the Spirit, you will cave in to that temptation because the devil will continue to put pressure on in different forms. He does this in three ways. I John 2:15-17, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The devil operates with the three ways mentioned here:

  1. The lust of the flesh: which is an overwhelming desire to do something. The devil preys on the Christian’s mind here.
  2. The lust of the eyes: which is an overwhelming desire to have something. The devil preys on the Christian’s will here.
  3. The pride of life: which is an overwhelming desire to be someone or something. The devil preys on the Christian’s emotions here.

The devil operated in the same way with his outside pressure on Adam and Eve. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve fell when they had pressure put on them from the outside by the devil. They caved in. Men and women have been caving in the same way ever since. So, just because you are saved does not mean you will not cave in. If you do not have a real relationship with God, you will cave in and the devil will control what you do.

Through our counseling ministry, I have spent quite a few hours with a former pastor who has had a horrible life because of his failure to have a real relationship with God. When I went through this process with him, he said, “I graduated from a Bible college, and I had no idea. I have lived after the dictates of the flesh, and the devil has controlled my life.” Unfortunately, by the time he got to us he had already lost his oldest child, but we have been able to help with his other children. Nobody in the family had a real relationship with God, nor did they know how to have one. The family has had great disaster. Folks, I have found this to be extremely common among God’s people. You see most of God’s people understand that they cannot work for their salvation. However, they think they can live the Christian life in their own power by their good works. By the way, that is living for the dictates of the flesh or self-righteousness. There are three ways Christians seek to live the Christian life: in unrighteousness, self-righteous, or righteousness. Unrighteousness means they are given over to the lust of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life. Self-righteousness means they are seeking to live the Christian life in their own power. Do they go to church three times a week or more? Do they read their Bible daily? Do they pray from a long list about things they want to pray about? The answer is yes to all the above. However, they do not have a real relationship with the Saviour, and it leads to destruction and much pain in their lives and in the lives of their children.

If the parents do not have a real relationship with the Lord, how can they teach the children to have a real relationship with the Lord? The answer is they cannot, and the disaster will be extremely painful for all involved. The devil will control and sift their lives, and they will not have a clue about what happened. When people come through our counseling program, I hear phrases like, “Pastor, I am trying hard here.” Or, I have got to try harder.” What are they saying? “I am seeking to live the Christian life in my own power.” The devil is controlling their soul; therefore he controls their body (what they do). Mark 8:36-37, For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Remember I John 2:15, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. The devil’s desire for each of us is to love the world. Did you notice in Mark 8:36-37, gain the whole world? You see, that is what the devil wants to do in your life through outside pressure. To get you to seek the things of the world through the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life, he puts pressure on you to do so. If you do not have a real relationship with God, you will cave in and you will be led by the soul (mind, emotions, and will), which leads into sin and disaster every time.

As hundreds of people contact us about their children or marriage through Hope Biblical Counseling Center, it is always the same process. The devil does not have to change his program. He has been pretty successful clear back to Adam and Eve as to the way he has operated.

He wants to derail your life and destroy it. He makes war on babies, and he will make war on your babies.

Listen to me carefully, parent. You must have a real relationship with God and convey to your children how to have a real relationship with God. Exposure to information about God will not be the answer for your children; it will lead them to disaster. It will lead you to disaster as well. They will be destroyed by the destroyer through unrighteousness or their self-righteousness. You will be in great pain as they will. The sad part here is that Christians do not know how to turn their lives around. They end up in the hog pen and do not know how to get out. They do not fit in at church, they do not fit in in the world, and they are miserable. They are seeking pleasures from the world through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The devil continues to put outside pressure on, and the Holy Spirit continues to convict them of their sinfulness. What a miserable, wretched experience.

Many times when the Christians are seeking to live a life of self-righteousness, they eventually tire of keeping up the grueling self-work with very little joy. They have no answers, and so they spiral down and quit. The destroyer is destroying their lives. So who is the devil looking to destroy? It is the one who does not have a real relationship with the Lord. The one who is not controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5 explains this in detail. Galatians 5:16, This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The answer is the Holy Spirit who indwells us wants us to be Spirit controlled. Our walk is our daily life. The promise is if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

So, the answer is to have a real relationship with God by walking in the Spirit.

I want you to notice in Galatians 5:19-21 that a person who is not walking in the Spirit will be involved in the lust of the flesh, Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (unbridled lust), Idolatry, witchcraft (same word we get our word drugs from), hatred, variance (person who quarrels with everyone and everything), emulations (an attitude of deep rage, jealousy and envy), wrath, strife, seditions (division and dissension), heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings (orgies, carousing), and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Folks, if a person can continually and habitually do these things and is never convicted about them by the Holy Spirit, he or she is lost. However, there are people who are saved who do such things and are miserable as they are convicted by the Holy Spirit. The end result is the person is deceived. Galatians 6:7-8, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsover a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. So, if I do not have a real relationship with God through the Spirit of God, I will have a disaster even though I go to church, read my Bible daily, pray, and memorize the Bible. The person who does these things without a real relationship with God is mocking God (means they treat God with contempt). Unfortunately, a number of people in church fall into this category. They sow to the flesh because of a lack of a relationship with God.

Notice Galatians 5:25, If we live in the Spirit (we are saved), let us also walk in the Spirit. Folks, we have to have a real relationship with the Spirit of God to control our walk. Otherwise the devil will control our soul and he will control our walk. God speaks to our spirit from the inside of us. The devil seeks to control our soul by putting outside pressure on us.

Our relationship with God is a matter of worship which is the Holy Spirit of God speaking to our spirit. One of the great joys of my life is to daily have God speak to me through His Word. John 4:24, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. My daily time with God is worship.

How to Be Filled and Controlled By the Holy Spirit

Now, let’s talk about how to have that real relationship with God and be filled with the Holy Spirit. When I met Kim, who is now my wife, I decided I wanted to have a relationship with her. I wanted to be around her. I wanted to talk to her and listen to her. Communication is the most important thing about building a relationship. A relationship is not a one-way street. It is a two-way street of talk and listen, listen and talk. God speaks to my spirit through His Spirit through His Word. To have communication with God I must first deal with my sin. Therefore, to have a real relationship with God and be filled with the Spirit, I must do several things:

  1. I have to deal with my sin daily. Remember talk and listen, listen and talk. I learned several years ago to ask God if there was any sin that stood between Him and me that day. Lord, show it to me. He will. When He does, I need to confess the sin and turn from it, I John 1:9. I am now free to communicate with God. You know, I found out how gracious and loving God is as He dealt with me through His Word in dealing with my sins. Sometimes it almost literally hurt to see how ugly my life was. The joy of sins forgiven and the degree to which God now opened His Word to me I thought was incredible. Then I would ask the Lord, “Please fill me with your Spirit, I submit myself to you.”
  2. We developed a program here at Hope Biblical Counseling Center several years ago called “How to Have a Daily Time With God”. The premise is to have a notebook called a “Daily Spiritual Diary”. Each day I use a page of the notebook, and write down 1. God’s Message to Me Today. 2. A Promise from God. 3. A Command to Keep. 4. My Application. 5. Additional Comments. I recommend you have a composition notebook for your “Daily Spiritual Diary”. Folks, the notebook does not lie as I put the date of each day right at the top. It is a record of my faithfulness in my relationship with the Saviour.
  3. Each day I ask God to give me His message for me today. In essence, I want to hear from God for real. “Lord, show me what you have today for me from your Word. Please make it real to my life.” Folks, God does not bless Bible readers; He blesses Bible meditators, Psalm 1:1-6. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. As I am reading down through my Bible, when the Holy Spirit shows me a truth I stop! I read the verse over several times. I break down the verse. If I do not know what some words mean in the verse, I look them up. Listen carefully, the reason I stopped is because I have asked the Holy Spirit to give me His message for me today. God speaks to my heart (meditator) about this passage. Meditating is thinking about the passage. Psalm 119:11, Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. This verse is not about memorizing the Bible for knowledge purposes; it is about putting it in your heart (meditator). I am stopped to listen to God. It is time to stop (not talk), and listen and learn from the Master Teacher. I then write it down in my own words. I then proceed and the Holy Spirit stops me again for a promise, command, etc. I dissect the verse that the Holy Spirit has stopped me on. Psalm 19:14, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. I have a page in my “Daily Spiritual Diary” where I write special thoughts from God and meditate on them. I want to have a real relationship with the God of the universe, and I want Him to speak to me. I then write down under “My Application” what all this means to me and how I can apply it to my life. I write it down in my own words, sometimes as a prayer.
  4. Now we come to the prayer time. Remember a relationship is about talk and listen, listen and talk. The essence of the Christian life is to ask God questions. That is submission. As I come to prayer, I ask God to speak to my spirit today about what He wants me to pray about. “Lord what do you want me to pray about today?” This is very important. Remember I John 2:15-17 where the devil is seeking to control my life through outside pressure through the lust of the flesh (an overwhelming desire to do), lust of the eyes (an overwhelming desire to have), and the pride of life (an overwhelming desire to be). Listen carefully, after asking God what He wants me to pray about today, and praying about it as He speaks to me. I, then, ask God what He wants me to do today, what He wants me to have today, and what He wants me to be today. Effectively, I have disarmed the devil’s approach by turning these three areas over to God. Folks, would it not be better to pray about what God wants you to do, have, and be? The people who come through our counseling program are always talking about what they want to do, what they want to have, and what they want to be. I know immediately they are being controlled by the devil’s influence on their soul, and he is controlling their body and, therefore, controlling what they ultimately do.
  5. There are three more things I want to ask God about. First of all – who does He want me to witness to today? Then I stop talking (be quiet) and listen to God. Remember a relationship is a two way street, talk and listen, listen and talk. After God tells me who to witness to today, I, then, ask him who He wants me to encourage today. When He brings up that person, I pray for them and then maybe give them a call or write them a note. Thirdly, I ask God what I can praise Him for today. There are many passages of scripture that tell us to praise God. However, I want to know what He wants me to praise Him for. Why do I pray about whom to witness to today, encourage today, and to praise God for? I do this because I am focusing on others and not myself. When most Christians pray, they have a list and they go down that list and it is, “Lord give me this, and I want that or let me be this.” It is a self-righteous way to pray, and it is not accomplishing anything. It is the focus of the devil to get the Christian to love the world. I John 2:15, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. Does that mean he is lost? No, it means he does not have a real relationship with God. His love is somewhere else: toward the world. When you develop a real relationship with the Saviour, it will be a love relationship. Think about it, the God of the universe is speaking to me, and I am listening to Him, I am talking to Him and He is listening to me! What will really effectively increase your faith will happen when you ask God what to pray about, and He tells you, and you pray about it and that prayer is answered. When was the last time you had a real answer to prayer? Are you self-righteously praying?

I used to play professional baseball as a pitcher. When I would stand on the mound I would look at the catcher and ignore the hitter. When I threw a 92 mile an hour fast ball by the hitter, I was focused on me and the catcher. In baseball terms it was called “he is in the zone.” Nothing else was focused on. I liken that to my relationship with God. It is personal (between God and me), intimate (it is a love relationship, very close to each other), and passionate (there is real desire there). Nothing motivates you more than to know that God will speak to you today and will hear you speak to Him. Talk and listen, listen and talk.

Without the intimate, personal, passionate relationship between God and me, I am doomed to disaster after disaster and failure in many parts of my life. It will always affect my wife and children. If I am living the Christian life in unrighteousness or self-righteousness (seeking to live the Christian life in my own power), I am doomed to a lot of pain and destruction in my life. The devil really does not care if I live the mechanical Christian life; either way, it is fine with him.

  1. You must learn the submission principle. James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. The devil every day, multiple times a day, will put outside pressure on your life. He does this many times with our lusts. Romans 6:12-19, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield (submit) ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield (submit) yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield (submit) yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded (submitted) your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield (submit) your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

So, how do I submit? I have to learn to submit and be controlled by the Holy Spirit at different times throughout the day at the point of spiritual impact. Every time a lust, evil thought, or outside pressure comes up, which I call the point of spiritual impact, pray “Lord, I want to turn this over to you. Forgive me for this thought or desire, and I want to turn from it. I submit myself to you to be controlled and filled by the Holy Spirit.” In the book of Philippians, it talks about “Rejoicing in the Lord always.” The only way to rejoice in the Lord always (moment by moment) is to be a Spirit controlled person by submitting at the point of impact.

Philippians 4:4-9, Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation (self-control) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand (in your life). (6) Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

I want you to notice in verse 6 the phrase “prayer and supplication.” Supplication means to ask for something humbly (submitted). Then, I want you to notice in verse 6 thanksgiving. Then, notice in verse 8 praise. So, at the point of impact rather than be anxious, pray Lord I want to turn this over to you, I ask you to forgive me, I want to submit this to you and to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Since most problems begin in the mind, Lord what do you want me to praise you for and thank you for? Then verse eight commands proper Spirit controlled thinking rather than let your mind worry, fret and think on the wrong things. It must become a daily moment by moment part of your life to be a Spirit controlled person. Hebrews 13:15, By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

In the Bible, the heart and the mind are used interchangeably. There is a very important principle in II Corinthians 10:5, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

See the word imaginations? It means fantasies. Every person who has rebellion in their life is because they are living in a fantasy world: a place where they allow their minds to run off and fantasize about living in another time, another place, with another woman, another man, being immoral with a boy or girl, man or woman, sports, activities, etc. Many people spend hours in their virtual reality world where they think no one else sees. Let me clue you in, God sees!

II Corinthians 10:4, (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Notice the phrase, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”  

We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Therefore, our weaponry is not carnal (fleshly). However, it is in fact powerful through God for the pulling down of strongholds. (Interesting word). Strongholds where? In the mind. The word strongholds literally means “a heavily fortified containment and is used of a false argument in which a person seeks “shelter” (a safe place) to escape reality.” Ephesians 6:13-18 describes some of the spiritual weaponry God has given for us.

When a person is in rebellion to their parents, biblical authorities, boss, etc. it never fails that they have not controlled their thought life, or they do not know how to do so.

The essence of the submitted Christian life is to ask God questions. Remember James 4:7 says the devil is involved, and the only way to walk in the Spirit is to have a submitted life with God. That is where our power comes from, being submitted moment by moment, at the point of spiritual impact. In the question-asking with God, use the: who, what, when, where, how, and why method. Lord who do you want me to witness to today? Lord what do you want me to pray about today? Lord, what can I praise you for today? Questions are submission. Remember to stop, think, turn it over to God, and listen. Always ask God questions.

The sadness of the hour in which we live is that many Christians do not have a real relationship with God. Folks, do not think that I have said memorization of Scripture is not good. It is, but by itself will create a self-righteous life. If you memorize it, meditate on it. How does God speak to you through the verses? Also, you have to read your Bible to meditate, but you have to stop to study and listen to the Spirit of God when He wants to show you what He wants for you from God’s Word. Do not just keep on going because you have three or four chapters you must read today. You have to stop and listen! A real relationship requires we spend quality time together. Kim is my best friend. She is someone I can talk to and listen to. She is the love of my life. My relationship with the Lord is to be like that as well.

We have a booklet on our web site www.hopebiblical called, How to Have A Daily Time With God. It will show you step by step how to have an intimate, personal, passionate relationship with the Saviour. Remember, my baseball story. While I was pitching, the infielders behind me would chatter to try to distract the hitter and disrupt their concentration. I was in the zone, just me and the catcher. After the pitch, I would hear an infielder say, “Way to go, hum baby!” When you have a real intimate personal, passionate relationship with the Lord, you are in the zone and humming. When the devil comes along with his outside pressure, you are focused on the Spirit of God speaking to your spirit, and your soul is then controlled by the Spirit of God and so is your body; thus, you are Spirit controlled and walking in the Spirit.

When there is outside pressure from the devil, instead of responding to people with anger, meanness, harshness, or other responses, you are responding with the fruits of the spirit: Galatians 5:22-22, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.”

Once I learned what it was to have a real relationship with God, as a father, I knew I had to teach it to my children. I wanted them to really know the Lord. I discussed it with them about what all this meant. I wanted them to know how to have a real relationship with God. Without a real relationship with God, their lives will be a disaster when they leave my house. Many times I would ask my daughters when they were growing up, “What is God speaking to you about?” Their answers were always revealing to me. I did not just hope it would happen. I wanted them to taste of the Lord and see that He was good! We spent time talking about our relationship with God. I would ask them what God was speaking to them to pray about. We talked about it, and, as they got older, they would come with real excitement to tell me what God was speaking to them about, or what God had taught them. We would have that excitement and joy together.

I believe the principle of Ephesians 6:4 is very important here. And, ye Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: How would a father provoke his children to wrath? Could it be because he did not teach them to have a real relationship with the Lord? So they learn in their lives, when the outside pressure comes from Satan, how to respond by being controlled by their soul and respond in the dictates of the flesh. One of those is “wrath”: Galatians 5:19-21. The rest of Ephesians 6:4 says, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It means training with structure. I say again folks, how can a parent get the heart of their child and train them to have a relationship with the Lord if they are living a self-righteous (living the Christian life in their own power) or unrighteous life? It is not going to happen, and the end result for the child’s life is the works of the flesh list of Galatians 5:19-21. (Read that list over and meditate on it. Are you or your children in that list?). The kind of life the self-righteous Christian lives is a real grind. It is over and over the same thing keeping the rules, but not experiencing the power of a real relationship with God. The Christian who lives that way takes on the 19 characteristics (from II Timothy 3:1-5) of the apostate age in which we live. How does it end? “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” What a miserable life and a destructive life! It does not have to be that way. We can have victory through the power of the Spirit of God who indwells us and wants us to have a real relationship with Him.

If you do not know what to do and need help because you are caught in the sins of the flesh because of outside pressure from the devil, feel free to contact us. May God help you today to seek to have a real relationship with Him and a Holy Spirit controlled life.


Some information for this booklet comes from, How to Be Happy Though Married.


Dr. Terry L. Coomer is the Pastor of Hope Baptist Church and the Director of Hope Biblical Counseling and Training Center. He has also served as the Publisher of the nation's fastest growing daily newspaper. Pastor Coomer holds Bible Conferences in the local church dealing with Biblical Counseling and how to make Biblical long term change in lives. He also teaches how to have a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. His Biblical Counseling ministry has helped many people find the Biblical answers to the needs of their lives. To have a meeting at your church or other needs he may be contacted at (501)983-4403, There are many helpful articles and material on our web site to help you change your life at We serve the God of answers. If you need help finding those answers you may contact us at To be removed from our mailing list send an e-mail to DrTerryCoomer@

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