PUFFED UP CARNAL
You who sit in the pews—who keep GOD from knowing you—commit two evils. You are more evil than the prodigal son, who committed only one evil by forsaking Me. But you commit two evils; you forsake Me and fashion Christianity to your choosing.
“The curse of a godless man can sound more pleasant in God’s ears than the Hallelujah of the pious” Martin Luther (ref#28, p9).
“Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me…” (Jer 2:22 ESV).
“…Their lives are perpetual fashion shows…” (Matt 23:4-7 MSG). “…they make confident assertions” (1 Tim 1:7 ESV). “These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they’re worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy” (Matt 15:3-9 MSG).
“…Christians are too puffed up by a sense of what they suppose they are doing for God, to earnestly study what God has promised to do for and in His people. They are so occupied with their fleshly efforts to ‘win souls for Christ’ that they feel not their own deep need of the Spirit’s anointing” A.W. Pink (ref#269. P6).
“…a Christian is a person who has faced realistically the problem of his own personal sin…Christianity is…a sinner’s religion” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p4).
FATHER, we all are so susceptible to being caught in doing instead of being. The enemy urges us toward “Christian service” projects and human nature jumps at the chance to “serve.” This is a classic example of the cart before the horse. Putting ourselves in relationship with You must come first.
“Whatever does not issue from waiting upon God, from depending upon the Holy Spirit, is unquestionably of the flesh” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p114).
“A man may go to hell with baptismal water upon his face” John Trapp (ref#225, Aug 21st).
“Because the story of Jesus is so impressive—God among us! God speaking a language we can understand! God acting in ways that heal and help and save us!—there is a danger that we will be impressed, but only be impressed. As the spectacular dimensions of this story slowly (or suddenly) dawn upon us, we could easily become enthusiastic spectators, and then let it go at that—become admires of Jesus, generous with our oh’s and ah’s…” The MESSAGE Bible, “Introduction to Acts” (ref#262, p278).
“Do not satisfy yourself with external ceremonies, with the observance of days and frequent communions, with tithing and charities. Is Christ dwelling in your heart by His Spirit” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 3rd)?
“It is not enough to make use of ordinances, but we must see if we can find God in them. There are many that hover about the palace, and yet do not speak with the prince; so possibly we may hover about ordinances, and not meet with God there…come to the ordinances with the desire of finding the living God” Thomas Manton (ref#225, Aug 21st).
“There can be no true following of Christ as our example if we lose sight of Him as a suffering Christ and a cross-bearing Savior. There must be fellowship with Him in His sufferings. In order to enter fully and sympathetically into the afflictions of His people, He stooped to a body of suffering; in like manner, in order to have sympathy with Christ in His sorrows, we must tread the path He trod in some degree.…mutual sympathy…The afflicted child of God who is led to view his Father’s discipline in the light of a privilege will be happy….They…know the honor of suffering with Christ or being made conformable to His death” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 25th).
“Look honestly and fairly at your condition. Discouraging and repelling as it may appear, look it fully in the face, and lay it open before God exactly as it is…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 10th).
“…if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach….” (Matt 7:26-27 MSG).
“Rightly did Jonathan Edwards affirm, ‘Many have been the mischiefs that have arisen from that false and delusory notion of the witness of the Spirit, that it is a kind of inward voice, suggestion, or revelation from God to man, that he is beloved of Him, and that his sins are pardoned—sometimes accompanied with, sometimes without, a text of Scripture; and many have been the false and vain (though very high) affections that have arisen from hence. It is to be feared that multitudes of souls have been eternally undone by it.’ Especially was this so in the past, when fanaticism made much of the Spirit witnessing to souls” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p138).
Samuel Chadwick defines this as ‘will-worship.” “…a kind of will-worship, by which man substitutes his own enthusiasms for the will of God” (ref#195, p126). These thoughts came from a spirit all right, but it was an unholy spirit and not the HOLY SPIRIT.
“…They tripped over what little they knew about him [JESUS] and fell, sprawling….” (Mark 6:3 MSG).
“He who is seldom with Jesus in private will only exhibit, in all that he does for Jesus publicly, the fitful movements of a mind urged on by a feverish and unnatural excitement” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 17th).
“Man-made enthusiasm and emotionalism is superficial and cheap. In real revival emotion is not produced or manipulated by man. It is a response to the unsought, unexpected, but powerful working of God’s Spirit upon the inner depths of people’s souls” Wesley Duewel (ref#341, p12).
“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matt 7:13-14 MSG).
“We can be committed to a set of Christian values or to a lifestyle of discipleship without being committed to God Himself” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p149).
“When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me” John Piper (ref#220, p124). “If we love Christ, it is because he loved us first (1 John 4:19). If we are Christians at all, it is not because we have decided for Christ, but because Christ has decided for us” John Stott (ref#258, p18).
FATHER, it is so easy for us to choose our own work we are going to do for you. Caution us when we find our choice doable and satisfying—even if it is “difficult and meticulous at times” it still can be our own choosing. John Fischer (ref#3, p10). The standards we tend to set for ourselves in work choices are just “difficult enough to weed out the undesirables but not so difficult as to become overly burdensome” John Fischer (ref#3, p10). The sin of pursuing Christianity by human methods disguised itself so easily as spiritual activity. FATHER, prompt us to recognize the subtlety of working for ourselves instead of following GOD’s choice.
“…self is the cause for every sin, every shortcoming, all failure, and all that has been dishonoring to God…let us allow Jesus Christ to take entire control of our life, in the faith that His life can be ours” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p38).
CARNAL – NOT YET FULL OF THE SPIRIT
“There is a notion today that people can walk up an aisle, pray a little prayer, and do God a favor by making their decision…” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p17). “It will not do to say merely, Christ died but now lives, and therefore I shall live also. There must be a vital union between our souls and him by faith or we must assuredly perish” Charles Ross (ref#241, p103).
“Because of the lack of clear and spiritual views of the freeness of the atonement—the perfectly unconditional bestowment of the blessings of pardon and justification—many are kept, even among those “called to be saints,” from entering fully into the liberty and peace of the gospel. They have been convinced of their need of Christ; they have been made to hunger and thirst for pardon and acceptance; they may have been brought through a deep law work of the soul to stand as on the very borders of the land that flows with milk and honey; but looking more to themselves, and less to Christ,…waiting for some condition to be performed, some fitness to be experienced, or some price to bring, they are kept back from those rich and untold blessings which a closing in with Jesus the Savior of sinners would assuredly bring into their possession” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 18th).
“…if…we desire to enjoy…the Spirit’s power and blessing, we must give Christ the throne of our hearts and crown Him the Lord of our lives” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p45).
“The…mark of the carnal state is a man’s inability to receive spiritual truths….We give…men spiritual teaching, and they admire it, and understand it, and rejoice in such ministry; yet their lives are not practically affected….we dare not say they are spiritual men, full of the Holy Spirit” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p14).
“Therefore, I say that I must never attempt by any means or method to get to know God or to try to make myself love God except in and through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I must avoid every other direct approach to God…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 26th).
INOCULATED CARNAL CHRISTIANS
Christians who keep GOD at arms length are in much peril. Satan finds many ways to convince wanta-be Christ-followers that the way he choses to be a Christian is an adequate way. This satisfaction can be labeled “inoculation” for it makes him feel safe that all will turn out well in the end. The enemy makes his life pleasant enough.
“It may impart just enough light to the mind to leave its atheism without excuse, but it cannot impart enough light to convince the soul of its sinfulness, guilt, exposure to the wrath of a holy God, and its need of a Savior” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 25th).
Carnal Christians have a zeal for GOD but do not walk in tandem with Him. They consider themselves inoculated and thus not in need of CHRIST the Physician. “They work for Christ in a certain way, but we can scarcely recognize the true sanctification of the Spirit…” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p14).
“One grain of the truth of God experienced in the heart is more valuable and precious than the whole system in the head only….Welcome whatever makes you more acquainted with God…Welcome the cross, though it may be heavy; welcome the cup, though it may be bitter…welcome the wound, though it may be deep. Welcome to your heart whatever increases your knowledge of God” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 10th).
“The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is not sincerity, not deciding for Christ, not a determination to serve Him, but complete and entire recognition that we cannot begin to do it” Oswald Chambers (ref#83, p86).
“No matter what your experience or profession, no matter how certain of your conversion or how orthodox your belief: ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever 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’ (Gal 6:7-8). O the madness of men in courting eternal death rather than leave their sinful pleasures and live a holy life” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p111).
“…you can never make yourself a Christian…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p92).
“…there are…two ways of seeking holiness…The one is the carnal way, in which we put forth our utmost efforts and resolutions, trusting Christ to help us in doing so. The other the spiritual way, in which, as those who have died, and can do nothing, our one care is to receive Christ day by day, and at every step to let Him live and work in us” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p190).
“Rather resolve to trust on Christ…They…think to tame the flesh, and to subdue and root out its lusts, and to make their corrupt nature to be better-natured and inclined to holiness by their struggling and wrestling with it…” “…they trust in the grace of God through Christ to help them in all such resolutions and endeavours. Thus they endeavor to reform their old state, and to be made perfect in the flesh, instead of putting it off and walking according to the new state in Christ” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p191).
“…The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you….Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping…” (Gal 3:11-12 MSG).
“If you only preach the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ not only do you not solve the problem of mankind, but in a sense you aggravate it. You are preaching nothing but utter condemnation, because nobody can ever carry it out….” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, April 2nd). FATHER, what needs to be preached is CHRIST crucified and the meaning of that event. (ref#189, April 2nd)
“Stop trying to earn something from God. Stop trying to gain more of his acceptance. Stop trying to earn his favor. Stop trying to win his allegiance. Stop trying to do something that would pay for his blessing. Stop trying to morally buy your way out of his anger. Stop trying to reach a level where you will know lasting peace with him. Just stop trying. Just stop….It simply cannot work” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 3rd).
“…what we do is only the manifestation of what God is doing in us! The establishing in Christ is His work: He accomplishes it by stirring us to watch, and wait, and work. But this He can do with power only as we cease interrupting Him by our self-working” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p82).
MISSING: GRACES OF THE SPIRIT
“The Corinthians prided themselves on their wisdom and sought it above everything, Paul said, ‘I thank God that you are enriched in utterance, in knowledge, and in wisdom; nevertheless, you are yet carnal, your life is not holy…You cannot yet take in real spiritual truth” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p15).
“…the graces of the Spirit were noticeably absent. We may find this in our days as well as in the time of the Corinthians. I may be a minister of the gospel; I may teach God’s Word beautifully; I may have influence and gather a large congregation, and yet, alas! I may be a carnal man, a man who may be used by God, and a blessing to others, and yet marked by the carnal life” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p13).
FATHER, it is just like it is now days—the Corinthian Christians were knowledgeable and even possessed spiritual gifts but their actions proved they had yet to possess the graces of the SPIRIT. Therefore, not having a relationship with You they were not assured of their salvation.
“A Christian living in the daily neglect of self-examination must not marvel if, at a certain period of his religious course, he finds himself trembling on the brink of gloomy despondency, his evidence gone, his hope obscured, and all the past of his Christian profession appearing to his view as a fearful delusion” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 10th).
“To say ‘I hope so,’ or ‘I trust so’ is easy and there are thousands in the fold of Jesus who hardly get much further” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, April 21st AM).
Some distinctions of babes in CHRIST are: “Their pastor and their Christian friends must always be teaching and comforting them. They go to church, to prayer meetings, and to conventions—always wanting to be helped. This is a sign of spiritual infancy. The other sign of an infant is this: he can do nothing to help his fellowman….They take a part in work, as it is called, but there is little exercising of spiritual power and carrying real blessing….the joy of conversion and the first love is gone” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p10-11).
“…anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure…” (Gal 3:9-10 MSG).
“Christianity…is Christ Himself. He is not only central, He is absolutely vital, and therefore we have to see that we are concerned primarily and always with Him” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 1st).