The Opposite Spirit

531-2This is a term I first heard from a friend of mine to describe the ways of God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is contrary to our natural inclinations. Yeshua taught us to love our enemies; to give out of our poverty; to turn the other cheek when struck; to forgive those who despitefully treat us; summed up – to lose our life in order to save it. This teaching goes against every natural reasoning and inclination we have, thus it seems “the Opposite way”.

God says to his people, they seek me daily, seem eager to know my ways, ask me for just decisions, and take delight in approaching me. “Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed? Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.  Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.” (Isa. 58:3-4). Simply bowing down humbly in sack cloth and ashes were hollow religious acts. The people needed to turn and move in the opposite way.

God describes a true fast that pleases Him. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isa. 58:6-8).

The opposite of insincere religious practices is not sincerely performing religious duties. It is not self-denial alone that pleases God, but rather, faith in God to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Finally, the last illustration of God’s ways being opposite to those of the world is seen in God’s promise. God is not simply a merchant of heaven offering his favor in return for our piety. God lays out in great detail the consequence of following Him wholeheartedly. “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isa. 58: 8-14).

God is love, rich in mercy, He is the One who reaches out to us; He has no need that we can supply. Cast yourself into His arms, surrender your life, submit to Him and rest in His promise. Your Hope and faith in Him are well founded. Lay aside your striving and the burden of going your own way and go in the opposite way of the Holy Spirit.

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