INTRODUCTION TO SPIRIT CHECKS
“My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law” (Ps 119:136 ESV).
FATHER, CHRIST doing His work through the SPIRIT has caused me to cry out like the Apostle Paul did for his fellow countrymen: “…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers…” (Rom 9:2-3 ESV).
The SPIRIT floods my mind with thoughts to challenge pew-sitters to search their hearts to see if they really are true Christians. I dreadfully fear satan has lulled many to sleep with the comforting words that they have saving faith and can rest assured when in reality they have fallen short of that goal.
Reader, “…look well to your religion. Take nothing for granted. Think less of polishing your lamp than of having a large supply of oil, so that when the Lord sends or comes, you will not be found in darkness, not knowing where you are going. Without converting grace in your heart, your relationship to the Church is but the union of a dead branch to a living stem” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Apr 7th).
You are reading this probably because you are a reader. You enjoy being reminded of spiritual things. Maybe, like me, you derive great comfort making your nest of spiritual material—surrounding yourself with spiritual truths—it just feels comfortable and secure. Snuggling in can create problems, though. Gathering spiritual material to fluff your nest is addicting and may foster a resting place that becomes very harmful to you. Actually always living in your nest surrounded with spiritual facts will kill you.
Nest-living means you depend on the Truth you have gathered to keep you instead of being kept by the Truth-Creator. It’s hard, I know, to fly out of the nest and put the Truth into practice. Nest-living—independency. Nest-fleeing—dependency. Big difference.
Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). Our hearts will tell us we are good Christians because we know much Truth. Our hearts cause us to rationalize: “There are others GOD has appointed to jump the nest and mingle with the maddening crowd.” Someone has to do nest-fleeing to do Truth-informing but certainly I’m exempt for I am called to write.
Indeed, but words minus practical experience are, well, just words. And the writer who only writes will begin to wax eloquent. It’s inevitable; people get more flowery in their Truth-expression as they fall away from Truth-practice.
I can easily lapse into a “wordsmith” as I write day after day holed up in my nest. Actually I have experienced becoming a wordsmith waxing eloquent. Through journaling I have identified the subtle slipping into it. It usually comes after a GOD-commanded, especially difficult venture off the nest. I fly back home shell-shocked, convinced I’ve done my duty, and merit a break. I close my ears to GOD, pick up the pen again, and end up waxing eloquent. I follow my deceitful heart and ignore my heavenly FATHER who seeks to engage me.
Don’t do that reader; your heart is deviously deceitful; that heart of yours is watching your backside; it’s not a bit interested in being in relationship with GOD.
It’s okay to read and write truthful words but do it in the presence of GOD, ready always to fly when GOD says, “fly.” Truthful words should not puff up and make us spiritual prigs who won’t move off the nest. GOD will ask us to “fly”—to tell others face to face sometimes. It’s not all about constant nest-living.
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).
“…in whose righteousness do you stand at this moment?…Many have lived in an outward profession; they have put on Christ with external garb, have talked well of Him, have been baptized in His name, have given liberally for His cause…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 10th).
How perilous it is to know how to act like a Christian. I fool others and myself.
“They never give Christ any honor on account of His glory and excellency. They may, and often do, pay Christ an external and seeming respect, but they do not honor Christ in their hearts. They have no exalting thoughts of Christ, no inward respect of reverence towards Him” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p50).
“Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:23-24 ESV).
“…’I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’…” (Matt 12:6-8 MSG).
“…Compassion doesn’t originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God’s mercy….God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part…” (Rom 9:14-18 MSG).
“A biblical Christian is a person who manifests in his life that his claims to repentance and faith are real….Wherever there is true faith in Christ, genuine love to Christ will be implanted. And where there is love to Christ there will be obedience to Christ….(John 14:21-24). We are saved by trusting Christ, not by loving and obeying Christ; but a trust that does not produce love and obedience is not true saving faith” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p20).
“…go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him….do what you’ve been taught….quit studying the subject and start living it…” (Col 2:6-7 MSG).
SHUN VAIN BABBLINGS
“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?…God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense” (James 2:14-17 MSG)? “…It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts…” (James 3:13-16 MSG).
“When the Prodigal Son recognized his sin, he did not sit there and think about it, write poetry about it, or send telegrams home to dad” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p16).
“Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think. Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear….” (Eccl 5:2 MSG). “…when…words grow many, there is vanity…” (Eccl 5:7 ESV).
“…shun vain babblings, for they offer nothing but fine rhetoric and exquisite words to give credit to him that speaks and to show that he is well learned. None of this should be received into the church; it must be banished….the desire for anything new is always powerful….we are tempted to find something novel to say, and, in the pursuit of that goal, to veer into vain babbling” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 9th).
“…the real trouble with the person who is seated there in his study reading beautiful poems or books about love and who feels that he is controlled by it and that he is a fine Christian is this: What is really happening to that person is that he is simply in love with himself, because he appreciates these elevating thoughts” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p116).
“…Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God” (Rom 2:13 MSG).
“Christianity is not primarily teaching; it is a recorded history. Christianity is not urging men to think and to try to delve into the mystery and to discover the truth about God….our salvation depends not upon our understanding but upon what God has done in Christ” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, July 3rd).
“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).
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).
DOUBLE MINDED CHRISTIANS
“It is not enough to yield assent to the divine word unless that is accompanied with true and pure affection, so that our hearts are not double or divided” John Calvin (ref#164, March 2nd).
Double minded Christians are “babes.” They have the right actions but are only actors. They are yet fleshly but preform spiritually. They are “…people of the flesh…infants in Christ” (1 Cor 3:1 ESV).
“…you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next. Besides, the Master won’t put up with it. He wants us—all or nothing. Do you think you can get off with anything less” (1 Cor 10:19-22 MSG).
“…they flattered him [the Most High God] with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him…” (Ps 78:36-37 ESV). “…they were carnal, and not qualified to understand the deep mysteries of the gospel…” Albert Barnes (ref#299).
“Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh…” (Ps 78:38-39 ESV).
“…when we come to Jesus, a marvelous exchange takes place….He first lifts our burden and then lays his upon us instead. But too many people, influenced by the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ mentality of postmodernism, want the rest without the yoke; they want to lose their burden but not to gain Christ’s. Yet the two invitations of Jesus [Matt 11:29-30] belong together; we have no liberty to pick and choose between them” John Stott (ref#258, p128, brackets mine).
“It is possible for us to do the right action from a wrong motive…Holiness has to do with more than mere acts. Our motives must be holy, that is, arising from a desire to do something simply because it is the will of God” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p43).
“’Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit….For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:33-34 ESV).