Biblical principles are absolute and they work! So it’s pointless and foolish to try and counter them, or presumptuously attempt to adjust them. We must accept that it’s all part of God’s great witness and presence in our circumstances and environment.
Life, too, is full of storms and hassles. It is part of a process, just as our bodies will finally submit to God’s planned obsolescence programme! So you need to get used to getting old if that is your fear or concern. Yes, we are all going to die one day and it takes greater faith to face death than to try and avoid it.
Problems come our way for many reasons. Sin and man’s fallen nature contribute hugely. Snags and inconveniences also present themselves if you are a Christian because it is the devil’s daily business, his prerogative, permitted by God, to oppose, jostle, test and tempt believers.
God also allows obstacles and hurdles as part of His pruning in our growth and education. And, of course we must never forget that we often come unstuck just because of our own stupidity! Indeed, we do stupid things that reap uncomfortable results. We are human! It is a blunt truth of the Christian walk, this “relationship” with God, that we all end up precisely where we choose to be.
Of course, we don’t readily accept this, preferring the road of rationalisation or denial. But whether we want to admit it or not, we become the product or result of our own decision-making. And so we experience and live in the fruit of our choices.
Consequently, there are those who would be best described as spiritual “streakers,” chasing every whim and fancy and having to learn the hard way. Then there are others who are unashamedly aware that they are simply “saints under construction” and wisely have submitted themselves totally and utterly to the solid ongoing process of uncomfortable change in their lives. Change never comes easy!
At the outset, we are all born “natural man.” When God originally made Adam, He was very pleased with what he had made, says the Bible. The three vital components -- mind, body and spirit -- were in unison, and consequently Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect relationship with God. The spirit in Adam and Eve was the image of God. But then came the temptation and the fall and with it man died spiritually, he lost the protection and wisdom of God, became a sinner and subsequently passed that “fallen” nature, the sinful, rebellious inheritance, on to the rest of mankind.
That’s why we are all born sinners. We are the Adamic race. We are born unregenerate, meaning that our spirits are dead. We are physically alive with the mind and the body operating efficiently and effectively but the dead spirit ensures that we cannot, and don’t want to, understand spiritual things. They are foolishness to us. We see everything in the material and physical and even when we read the Bible we interpret everything in the light of our natural intellectual and emotional understanding.
Then we get born again and the spirit in us comes alive. The “previously dead spirit has been quickened” says Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. We have made a decision to change our thinking and our allegiance but unfortunately many continue to live by natural senses and never seek to develop spiritual faculties or fullness. We are “saved” but worldly, flying by the seat of our pants, rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit!
As spiritual babes we love the milk, not the solids and we are literally tossed to and fro by the latest teaching or fad and we chase after men and their ministries. We are always looking for the spectacular and we become self-justifying and often very critical as we cruise around looking for fellowships and/or preachers who speak the words we want to hear. Contrary to popular belief, that type of attitude stunts growth!
In the early Azusa Street days of the great Pentecostal movement, there was a prophesy warning that in the end days of this movement there would be three significant trademarks heralding trouble! The first was that the adherents would seek “power” rather than the “righteousness” of God; the second that there would be more interest in the “gifts” than the “Lordship” of Jesus and finally that we would be totally taken up in “praise” to a God that we no longer even “pray” to. Just look around!
The bottom line is that you and I are exactly where we have chosen to be, spiritually speaking. You do not have to be a carnal Christian! Spiritual commitment is your choice, your option. But it means total submission to the Lordship of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
“We have to give up our independent right to ourselves,” writes Oswald Chambers. We have to abdicate the throne of our lives, die to self and bury the ego. It is a huge decision! A decision of the heart and will.
The spirit in us then truly comes alive and starts to develop, as we no longer rely on natural instincts like feelings and emotions. As we become more serious and diligent in our faith we submit reasoning and logic to Holy Spirit motivation and inspiration and as we pray, read our Bibles, fast and have fellowship with fellow Christians, we steadily grow. The secret place, as described in Psalm 91, becomes our lifeblood.
The Holy Spirit does guide, nurture and teach and finally the Spirit in us grows to the extent that it no longer is dominated by the mind and body but is in fact the controlling influence in our decision-making. And that represents a huge swing in the balance of control and power in our lives! “In Him we live and move and have our being,” as Paul states in Acts 17.
It is Gods plan then to infect and affect the world by this spirit that indwells His “church” because it lives in His people. It is about Spirit-filled believers working practically and actively in their respective areas of influence bringing salt and light. As we seek to make a difference we recall D.L. Moody’s words: “Work as if everything depends upon you but pray knowing that it all depends upon God.”
“Born again” is just the start. It is by grace alone that we are saved. Hopefully we experience “sinner revelation” -- recognising that we are undeserving wretches!
The Holy Spirit does convict on sin, righteousness and judgement for a very simple reason – to convince us of our sin and the need for repentance. How can I repent if I don’t think that I am bad? It does not work unless I really am convicted about the need for change. Repentance means turning around 180 degrees. And never to do it again! Sadly, it is right here where most so-called “commitments” collapse.
I am not saved just because I put up my hand or came forward at a crusade. It is only the honesty and sincerity of the decision within that counts. Then you will experience change, an excitement and enjoy what appears to be an initial period of a kind of super-grace, almost as if God allows us a “time-out” before the real work begins.
It’s rather like the welcome-home party the prodigal son’s father threw for him. How exciting as you start to recognise your own spirituality, as the gifts and fruits of the Spirit start to “kick in.” Scripture comes alive and “revelation” truth adds to the excitement.
There is of course nothing new under the sun but “revelation” is when something old becomes new to you. Oh, what halcyon days! There are just not enough services, not enough crusades, not enough DVDs and CDs, not enough time to praise and serve the Lord.
Hopefully this “first-love” excitement and energy is never forgotten as our faith develops and matures. But it should not have to rely on continuous mountain-top experiences. True faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see. Hope is not just wishful thinking but unshakeable confidence and we have no doubt about the invisible, the unseen and the eternal. The assurance of salvation is absolute, it’s a relationship not a religion, it is childlike not childish and in quietness and confidence is its strength.
Truly, this is when you become God’s warriors, fighting in His battle and armed with His weapons. It is very important to recognise that we have be called and equipped to allow God to work through us, and certainly not to fight our own material and physical battles in our own personalised and emotional arenas.
Prayer thus becomes an absolute reality and necessity, for the simple reason that without it you are going into the battle positively naked. God’s “General” is the Holy Spirit and just like the ordinary world does not even begin to understand what its like to be in the army, so is the difference between being just another carnal Christian doing his religious duties and a warrior of the Great Commission in God’s mighty army!
It’s the difference between being players and spectators. We live in a world of spectators! Sports stadiums are packed and those who can’t get tickets are crammed in front of their TV sets. And everybody watching these days seems to be an expert.
But as any true champion of the sports fields knows, the game is won out there in the middle by the players, the active overcomers. It is not won on the stands! It’s wholly participant. And it’s only the players who meet, need and rely on the coach. The true kingdom of God is not a passenger-liner. It’s a battleship.
Clearly the modern church has got stuck at the infancy stage, perhaps because we are told that we don’t really need to go any further. Baby Christians abound. It is an excellent most appropriate description and comparison because we know that babies are selfish and self-centred. They scream if they don’t get their own way and they are only aware of their own needs and desires. They never say thanks. Cannot help others. Babies can’t give anything, they can only receive and they are absolutely and utterly pre-occupied with self. The priority is always to have one’s own problems solved and one’s own comfort elevated. I don’t think we can plead to anything but guilty as charged!
John MacArthur writes: “Christianity today is shallower than at any other time in history.” In his book Reckless Faith, he points out that while infancy is a vital stage in the normal process of life, “arrested infancy” is quite another problem!
Has the maturing process been stalled? It is time for solid food. An army and its warriors need solid food, not milk! The gifts and ministries are not for self-edification, self-amusement, self-gratification or self-glory but to serve the army of God.
The world today is not a playground. It is a battlefield! Its time for God’s true warriors to rally. Open your ears! The trumpet is sounding!