Placing No Confidence in the Flesh

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  • Placing No Confidence in the Flesh

    Written by S. E. Ray as inspired by the Holy Spirit - 03/04/08

    I write these Spirit-lead words addressing those who seriously want a victorious and effective walk in Christ. In these thoughts are shared truths that require a passionate and yielding will that seeks the purpose of the Father. The heart is indeed very deceptive, inasmuch as to convince ourselves that we are attaining when in reality we may be wandering. It is only when one earnestly seeks to live the supernatural life, deeply longing for the fullness of God that they are prepared to hear these admonitions.

    We know that the pride nature in a Christian can cause one to try and to impress other believers with their abilities, skills, talents and certifications. God is not at all impressed nor honored by such motivations. He cannot work through a soul who is self-absorbed, whereas pride is the foundational essence of sin, and the nature of the fallen one. I know very talented musicians who lead worship, ones who do it in their own power, not understanding that the confidence they have in their talent nullifies their usability by God. I have sat under pastors who eloquently expounded scripture, but whose message lacked soul-moving power because the Spirit was squelched by human wisdom and techniques. God's radiant glory cannot transverse through a soul who hinders His power by ruling his own house. The Shekinah Glory only moves by reflecting off souls polished with humility and holiness. I fear that there are many self-impressed workers employed for the Kingdom who should spend time in the desert to learn humility.

    Moses is prime example of death before use... a pharaoh, a very wealthy and educated man, who crudely tried to stand in the gap by killing an Egyptian task master. God, in essence, made it clear that is not how it is done, “You want to be used to set your people free, Hebrew?” God essentially stated, by action “I will resign you to the desert for 40 years until you have nothing left of self, and only then can I use you.” (60 years, as defined by Josephus' agrees with two Aggadic accounts) Moses became an old man of 80 years with a speech impediment before God could use that stubborn and proud vessel. When the pruning came of age, Moses was so empty of self that he argued that God could not even use him. (Exodus 3:11)

    Saul experienced a similar account. His father was of the strict sect of the Jews, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, of pure and unmixed Jewish blood, and a Roman citizen. Saul was honored to be a pupil of the celebrated rabbi Gamalie. In the end, Saul would be as one with a Seminary Ph.D. He become a proud Jewish teacher who followed the law to the letter, and knew scriptures better than any scribe. But the crisis of his life was at hand. He had reached the last stage of his journey, and was within sight of Damascus. As he and his companions rode on, suddenly, at mid-day, a brilliant light shone round them, and Saul was laid prostrate in terror on the ground, a voice sounding in his ears, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" The risen Savior was there, clothed in the vesture of His glorified humanity. In answer to the anxious inquiry of the stricken persecutor, "Who art thou, Lord?" He said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest" Saul did not eat or drink for three days, and lost his sight for a time. Straight away, he traveled to Arabia for three years in searching solitude before God could use him. We, too, have to lose sight of what we trust in ourselves if we ever hope to be genuinely useful, or God may well have to bring about an occurrence to help us comprehend!

    If we take a moment to learn from Gideon and his men. We read that "he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers." Judges 7:16 The pitchers had been presented empty, as we are called to be empty; then Gideon had his men place the lights or torches inside the empty pots. This clearly reveals to us the meaning of the treasure in the earthen vessels of which St. Paul speaks in 2 Cor. 4:7, which says "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." It was God who had commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who had shined in our hearts, which does not come and go, but remains as an abiding possession and enlarges as we relinquish our selfish ambitions.

    The Lord Jesus said to His disciples (not to unbelievers) in Luke 9:23-24. "If any man will come after me, let him deny HIMSELF, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."

    Another scripture that shows us the mind of God in this area of the empty vessel is John 12:23-25. "Truly, truly, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit. He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."

    God chooses to use those whom the carnal mind would never consider.

    “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

    I think of D. L. Moody, who was a great 19th century evangelist who had the worst possible grammar skills. Despite this, God used him to reach students at one of the great learning centers of that time, the Cambridge University in England. Some students came to ridicule him. He began his message with “Young gentlemen, don’t ever think God don’t love you, for he do!” Terrible grammar, to be sure, but the message reached their souls and some came to Christ. Moody's level of learning would not qualify him to enroll in Moody Bible Institute if he tried today.

    In 2 Timothy 2 it is written "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work." In these words, the Spirit is giving us direction about purity by association. To be a usable soul, ready for the Master's hand, "a person" must choose separation from those of dishonour, thus affirming the principle of defilement by associations and consequent disqualification for service. Only as purged from the vessels of dishonour can one become a vessel unto honour, one which the Master will delight to use.

    The question is then asked, "Is it possible for the Christian to be an empty vessel?" One of two things are always true: either a person will be filled with Christ, or with himself, and the things which center upon himself. The Lord promises to send His chosen into service, embellished with power, wisdom, grace, and the message of the good news. It is of supernatural origin that all must be received from Him. Nothing of our own, nothing that springs from self, can be effectively used by Him. Albeit, the believer will not be in a condition to be employed unless he is already filled. And the more filled we are, the more Christ empowers the soul to achieve the Kingdom work.

    These are some of the evident fruits as a Christian dies to self-preoccupation and lives for Christ.
    • When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set aside, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is content as one of no reputation in Christ.
    • When your good is spoken of as evil; when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, but you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but process it all with non-offense and meekness.
    • When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any unpunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with waste, folly, extravagance, and spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus endured such with patience.
    • When you are content with any food, any support, any climate, any society, any clothing, any shelter, and any conflict, fully trusting God through Christ as your provider.
    • When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendations; when you can truly can be at peace being unknown.
    • When you can see your brother prosper and his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater, or even desperate.
    • When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart.

    A non-Christian cannot comprehend these words, nor can a Christian attain this level of selflessness based upon their own efforts. Such requires a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit within, starting first with a fervent desire to be poured out and in turn be filled with Him. The genuine fact is that the Christian walk is impossible in our own effort. It is not our work, it is His; we only have to submit. He promises to do the work and provide the power; however, we must choose to lay down our life, as He did for us.
    An addedum written June 20th, 2009

    The spiritual landscape is flooded with delusions and false precepts of what Christianity is really about. It is not about a social circle, a family support system or an emotional experience. Yes, these can be the overflow, but not the primary purpose. It is about dying to self. When one comes to Christ, we are no longer our own, but bought with a price. The precious blood of Jesus Christ. When we confess Christ as Saviour of our souls, we are suppose to be committing our aspirations, purpose, hopes and dreams to Him. The Church is the bride, he is the Groom. We confess to “marry” Christ in spirit when we confess Him as Savior. What happens more often than not, the seed of the Good News fails among the rock and weeds, failing to grow properly if at all. The largest percentage of the those who come into a relationship with Christ do it for the wrong reasons less the relationship. A fire escape from hell, a Rolaids for an upset life, a Band-Aid for an emotional wound. Albeit, once we feel better, off we go back into the world system wallowing again in the muck and mire of darkness. Some may stay active in a church, but only as a support structure or for a circle of friends. There is no real relationship with God through Christ less denial of self and full abandon of self-will to the purpose of God through Christ. Praise unto God, there are those who do get it, whose seed did fall upon the fertile soil. They soon understand it is a lifetime commitment, that personal ambitions become secondary, that love and forgiveness go hand and hand, and one without the other is of none-effect. If only we would give it all to God, the overflow would come back in a manner which we could not contain.

    So then, no matter your life, position or condition, it is destined to all once to die and then the judgment. To come to God as a child with simplicity, we say “Yes Father.” I have sinned by selfish pursuits and godless persuasions, I accept the forgiveness found in Christ fully, and now operate with a new purpose. And I know that I cannot possibly attain the “Imitation of Christ” if I continue to cherish sin hidden in my life. Anything that the flesh lusts is in opposition to the Spirit, and to choose the lust of the flesh is a choice to sacrifice the purpose and fullness of the Christ-life. If Sin in me dies, God in me lives. If sin in me prospers, Christ in me perishes. No options, no alternatives, no other way. Yes, it can be a progressive challenge to overcome the flesh, however it should indeed be progressive. If we are in Christ, we are changing daily, from the corruptible to the incorruptible. We should choose to be either hot or cold, completely a Christian or not at all, but if we choose to be a casual Christian, we may find that we are not allowed to enter in the sanctuary on the day of reckoning.

    If you find yourself bound by some darkness, a habit, a snare, then it is critical to come to an end of yourself, even desperate. Only in that condition do we really seek God’s face for genuine change. And in that moment of breaking, when your soul can bear no more, then speak out against that darkness by name of its poison, and command it to leave in the name of Christ. And equally, speak a petition of genuine repentance, asking God the Father through Christ the Son, to forgive you of your wanderings, your apostasy and evil thinking. Ask God to place within you a new heart, willing to submit to the counsel of His will. Let that old rebellious heart and nature be slain under the old rugged cross, allowing the pure and untainted blood of Christ to conquer it. Yea, even so, we cannot succeed less the Holy Ghost enter in and subdue our nature, but that realization is set squarely upon us. If we do not willingly submit and quickly stray, we should not think we can continue under the peace and confidence found in Him. Going back to feeding the old nature, the pride, the lusts, all is a choice to walk away from the inner joy and peace realized when in God’s love.

    The equation is not difficult to comprehend. Our life is about each one of us, our choice each day sets the course for our tomorrow. Choose the high path and reap the riches of a bountiful life. Choose the immediate pleasures of sinful nature and become a slave to inner darkness whose bars include confusion, depression and loneliness as it’s masters. The good news is, as long as there is life, there is hope. We can start this very second and realize a new tomorrow. To borrow an adage “The past is history and the future is mystery, but today is a gift, that is why is it called ‘The present’.”

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