TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – CONTENT IN THEIR STATE

“A believer may fall into a drowsy state of soul—not so profoundly as to be entirely lost to the voice of his Beloved speaking by conscience, by the Word, and by providence; yet his grace may have decayed so far, his love may have grown so cold, and his declension may have been so hardened, that he is content in this state.  Oh, alarming symptom of soul-declension: the indulgence of laziness and self is preferred to a visit from Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th)!

“They are converted; they know what it is to have assurance and faith; they believe in pardon for sin; they begin to work for God; and yet…there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s Spirit in them” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p9).

FATHER, backsliders have walked in Your ways long enough to have “…seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit…” (Heb 6:4-8 MSG).  They have personally experienced the sheer goodness of Your Word and the powers of the age to come (Heb 6:5) but have, at some point, turned away from CHRIST.  (These words in Hebrews may describe one who has never experienced regeneration but these Scriptures also fit the definition of a backslider.)

GOD…”would walk with them all the day long, and sun them with the unclouded light of His countenance.  But when He hides Himself for a little moment, He is driven from their embrace by their lukewarmness of heart and unkind resistance of His love” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th).

FATHER, You tell us to not grieve Your SPIRIT; we grieve You when we do that.  There are endless ways we injure You, GOD.  How continually You must discipline us to move us back into a right relationship with You.  We are constantly “high maintenance.”  But that shows Your longsuffering love and faithfulness.  Once we are reunited we possess much to praise and glorify You.

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

SPIRIT CHECK_4

“Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).

Am I content with the service I decide to do for GOD?

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform…many miracles?”  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt 7:22-23 NIV).

Is my belief more important than my service?

“By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain.  It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference…” (Heb 11:4 MSG).

Do I attempt to appease God with my good conduct?

“…a righteousness of my own that comes from the law…” (Phil 3:9 ESV).

Do I work for GOD the best way I know how?

“Our doing and working are but the fruit of Christ’s work in us.  It is when the soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do, that its energies are stirred to their highest activity, that we work most effectually because we know that He works in us” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p25).

Do I act differently in church than the rest of the week?

“…There is great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate!…” (Matt 10:21-23 MSG).

Do I totally submit my entire life to GOD as JESUS did?

“…not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42 KJV).

“God is sovereign, self-sufficient, and free.  If we do not have this foundational vision of God in place when we ask how we can please him, it is almost certain that our efforts to please him will become subtle means of self-exaltation…” John Piper (ref#220, p209).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

ONCE SPIRITUAL NOW FLESHY

“How foolish can you be?  After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort” (Gal 3:3 NLT)?

The reason so many think the above is they have never been told of the intimacy GOD has in His plan after regeneration.  Actually, most churches don’t teach regeneration, but simply stop at a person’s consent to the facts of a saving JESUS.  They are all about making sure the congregation knows that JESUS saves them from their sins, but then say nothing of how to become sanctified, holy and Christlike.

“The idea they have of grace is this—that their conversion and pardon are God’s work, but that now, in gratitude to God, it is their work to live as Christians, and follow Jesus.  There is always the thought of work that has to be done, and even though they pray for help, still the work is theirs” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p24).

“…These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it.  They act like they are worshiping me, but they don’t mean it.  They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy…” (Mark 7:6-8 MSG).

The heart occupied with its own plans and efforts for doing God’s will, and securing the blessing of abiding in Jesus, must fail continually.  God’s work is hindered by our interference.  He can do His work perfectly only when the soul ceases from its work” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p120-121).

“If there were more diligent and prayerful study of God’s Word, more regular and constant attendance at a stated ministry…frequent seasons of retirement, consecrated to meditation, self-examination, and secret prayer, there would be less superficial Christianity…We need more depth of knowledge, more spirituality, more experience, more of the life and power of true godliness; in a word, we need more of the anointing and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit in the Church” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 9th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

NO SHORTCUTS

“False teaching is easily identified by the fact that it is willingly received by all, and is to everyone’s liking.” John Calvin

“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).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

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).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

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).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

RULE-KEEPING

“…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).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

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).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

MORAL CONFORMITY

Babes in CHRIST are carnal-like.  They have little of GOD’s SPIRIT because flesh predominates and the SPIRIT does not “rule their whole life” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p13).

“…my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13 ESV).

There is a definite distinction between the Gospel and moral conformity. Timothy Keller (ref#123, p69).  The wandering Israelites fell into the trap of “moral conformity.”  Speaking to Israel GOD said: “…in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.  But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God and you shall be my people….’” (Jer 7:22-23 ESV).

FATHER, the carnal babe in CHRIST does what he thinks best [moral conformity] instead of obeying Your voice [Gospel].  Forgive us, LORD, for we all have a natural tendency to go our way without communicating with You.

“How much Christian work there is to-day which has…simply sprung into being by impulse!  In Our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father….saints…are doing work for God at the instigation of their own human nature…” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Sept 9th).

“In becoming partakers of the union with Christ, there is a work God does and a work we have to do.  God does His work by moving us to do our work.  The work of God is hidden and silent; what we do is something distinct and tangible.  Conversion and faith, prayer and obedience, are conscious acts of which we can give a clear account while the spiritual quickening and strengthening that come from above are secret and beyond the reach of human sight” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p44).

“There is but one way of being delivered from this life of self.  We must follow Christ, set our hearts upon Him, listen to His teachings, give ourselves to Him every day that He may be all to us; and by the power of Christ the denial of self will be a blessed, unceasing reality” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p37).

“…The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them…” (Rom 11:7-10 MSG).

TRUE CHRISTIANS OR FAUX?

SATISFIED CHRISTIANS

Satisfied Christians are “static Christians.”  “…there is a carnal root ruling…they are living more after the flesh than after the Spirit” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p16).

FATHER, being satisfied is such a dangerous position.  Instead of being spiritually united to CHRIST some are outwardly attached to Him, possibly only by a one-time profession of His name and a halfhearted attempt to adhere to His cause (ref#241, p120).  I pray for anyone who sees himself in the following words:

“We’re satisfied with a little bit of biblical literacy.  We’re satisfied with occasional moments of ministry.  We’re satisfied with manageable debt that allows us to put a few coins in the plate.  We’re satisfied that we’ve been married for a while and it doesn’t look as if we’ll break up soon.  We’re satisfied with a bit of a grasp on the theology of Scripture.  We’re satisfied with faithful attendance at the weekend services of our churches.  We’re satisfied with quick morning devotions. We’re satisfied with a little ministry experience.  We’re satisfied that we don’t act out most of our lust and we don’t communicate most of our envy.  We’re satisfied that in our disappointment with God, we don’t walk away.   We’re satisfied that we can harness a good bit of our fear of man.  We’re satisfied to use most of our material resources to make and keep ourselves comfortable.  We’re satisfied to be mere consumers of the work of the church rather than committed participants in it.  We’re satisfied with hearts that occasionally wander and with thoughts that contradict what the Bible says is good and true.  We’re satisfied with the amount of conflict we have in our lives.  We’re satisfied” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Oct 25th).

FATHER, we are creatures that long to be satisfied.  I think of the tract I have that reads on the front: “How to go to hell.”  On the inside it is blank.  If it were up to us we would tread the Christian waters until our strength failed and we would sink into hell.  But, praise be to You, FATHER for You make a way for us to swim and not drown.

“…we serve a dissatisfied Redeemer.  He knows we still need the transforming work of his powerful grace.  Isn’t it wonderful that, in gracious dissatisfaction, he will not relent until every microbe of sin is removed from every cell of every one of the hearts of his children” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Oct 25th)?