"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." (1Cor. 2:12-13)
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Dying To Self
There is a sense of unworthiness that accompanies the spirit of the poor, and in contrast brings a response of arrogance from those more fortunate. The innate selfishness of humanity always recognizes opportunities to take advantage of their less fortunate neighbor quite naturally.
This is the undeniable relationship between the prosperous and the oppressed that exists in the micro and the macro. It is simply the world we live in. Governments, doctors, theologians, and the rest are constantly trying to formulize guidelines for the masses to follow. The effort is to teach everyone how to treat one another for the cause of social peace while maintaining personal integrity in the process. It is the simple wisdom of humans entertaining the fantasy of psychology, trying to perfect what is innately imperfect.
Unfortunately, there are churches that have reduced the word of God to a handbook of Do's and Don'ts, impressing upon the congregations varying methods of 'proper spiritual behavior', rather than introducing them to a life in Christ. The congregants realize that deep within they are unable to achieve the church's commanded Biblical moral standards and are then left with a sense of hopelessness. What they come away with is not conviction by the Holy Spirit, but rather guilt that comes from oppressive teaching. The congregation is brought down to a state of unworthiness. They feel oppressed when they should be experiencing redemption. In this way, the 'lay' are spiritually brow-beaten, causing them to continually depend upon their 'spiritual' leaders for guidance toward moral perfection. We know, though, that over time, they will simply fall away from the church of "all talk and no power".
When the 'church' is built on human effort rather than divine inspiration, it quite naturally falls into a state of human depravity; the leaders and followers; the 'know' and the 'know-nots'; the prosperous and the oppressed. That is exactly what the current format of religious churches molds its people into. While one remains within its boundaries, true Spiritual growth will hit a very short ceiling.
Some will say, "You don't have a clue what you're talking about! Look at all the fun and socializing we enjoy when we get together! We have freedom! We have love!"
So some say, and they are partially correct; and it also has very little to do with the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit among their lives. How can I say this so confidently? As long as the assembly continues to demand others to lead them in their religion, it will remain spiritually oppressed. This design of hierarchy can accomplish nothing different than any other world organization that is led by the human mind, based on human wisdom.
The church doesn't need natural leaders; it needs Spiritual elders. There is a huge, massive, cosmic difference between human leadership and leaders who are simply present and led by the Holy Spirit. When believers begin to release their own understanding of what 'church' should look like, they will begin to know how the Spirit leads. They will begin to experience the Person of the faith they claim to have: Jesus.
Dying to self and releasing programs and agendas is what is lacking in much of today's church. The people simply have not been enlightened to the way of intimacy in the Spirit. They are not 'taught' this because the leaders, who should be leading by example, rather than over-lording the people, are void of this life themselves. They can not model what they do not possess, so they model what they do possess: knowledge. And because they are not led by the life of the Spirit, they will refute anyone or anything that juxtaposes their community. Thus, the Spirit remains continually quenched.
What, then, is all the clamor and commotion about the Holy Spirit and its 'miraculous' manifestation among the church? What is really so wrong with today's church? The answer is the Holy life and inspiration of its people. In the hearts of its members, the 'living gospel' is dead. The individual members of the common street corner church' appear and behave so much like the world it lives in and the world sees nothing different between its people and theirs. The only way Jesus will know you, after having sent His Spirit to dwell in you, is to receive back from the Bride a renewed and sanctified body that had denied its own agendas and programs by refusing its own wisdom and leading.
How do we accomplish what we are incapable of accomplishing? By authentically desiring the life of Christ over our own life. When we ask, we mean it. That's it. That's our part. When we become aware of the conviction of the Holy Spirit that accompanies the Word, when our flesh tends to have the greater control in all our dealings, all we can do at that point, when our heart is broken and contrite by the presence of our humanity, is ask God to renew us. But we must become empty of ourselves and submit to the self-defeating process of sanctification for the sake of establishing His authority in place of ours. This is what we are to welcome and endure as the Lord disciplines the ones he loves, and chastens every one He receives.
When Jesus said, "The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.", He was not giving precedence to the weaker flesh as having the upper hand in the process of sanctification. The understanding is that while the Holy Spirit renews us, the flesh will always be an inevitable present thorn in our side. It is humanity's fallen nature that strives to be its own god, even desiring to attach itself to the work and the glory that belongs to God alone. This was the fate of Satan. We actually witness this arrogance in others when they lose sight of their source of life and power.
The Holy Spirit enables the life of Christ in us to become more than just commands to obey and abide by. Yet it seems that the religion of the masses is to live under the old covenant, defining their righteousness and others failures by the law. But as soon as they find themselves judged by the law, they then turn quickly towards the new covenant, under the umbrella of grace and forgiveness. I call this "covenant jumping". This is the convenient religion that eliminates the difficulty of having to face Spiritual accountability or dying to self for the cause of Spiritual growth.
Yet Jesus is faithful, and no one will pluck us out of His hand. Evil may have its temporary moment of oppressing us, but that never changes this one truth: that Jesus has overcome the devil and the world, and because He called us, we are co-heirs with Him in this victory. But let's not forget why there will indeed be some who are saved, but only as though through fire.
Throughout the entirety of the Bible, we see the contrast of God and man. But it was not designed that man should take up his own wisdom, intelligence and resourcefulness to work for, or to get right with God. The redemption of man comes through Jesus' death and resurrection. However, the sanctification of the saints comes by the example that Jesus displayed for us. He willingly laid down His life for the glory to be received. It is not different for us. This is the essence of the cliche', "Let go and let God.". And if you think that's a cop-out, too easy, or much too simple to come from such an intricate and majestic God, you obviously have yet to deny yourself.
"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1)