TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

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).

PRAYER

WHAT IS PRAYER?

“…prayer…The word that conquers God” Clarence Edward Noble Macartney (ref#212, p10).

“The Christian’s trade is praying…” Martin Luther (ref#54, p167).

“…prayer…is an agony and entreaty, a pleading and striving, a wrestling and persistence” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p73).

“Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus.  It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 2nd, AM).

“Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Aug 28th).

“True prayer uncovers the emptiness in the petitioner but the fullness in the Petitioned” Watchman Nee (ref#101, p52).

“…true prayer is the breathing of the life of God in the soul of man.  It is the Spirit dwelling and breathing in him” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Apr 11th).  “It is more than asking, it is communion, fellowship, co-operation, identification, with God the Father and the Son by the Holy Spirit.  Prayer is more than words, for it is mightiest when wordless.  It is more than asking, for it reaches its highest glory when it adores and asks nothing” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p61).

“Prayer is the means of unleashing God’s power on earth and the means of laying hold of God’s promises” Kay Arthur (ref#12).

“Prayer is the condition by which all foes are to be overcome and all the inheritance is to be possessed” E.M Bounds (ref#54, p27).

HOLY SPIRIT

THE SPIRIT’S SENSIBLE PRESENCE

FATHER, save me from being content with a little measure of the SPIRIT, thinking that is all I am expected to have.  So often I feel His absence and act using my own human spirit.  Grow in me a desire for the power of His presence all the time The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p29).

“The Holy Spirit is no temporary gift; He abides with the saints.  We have but to seek Him aright, and He will be found by us.  He is jealous, but He is compassionate.  If He leaves in anger, He returns in mercy.  Gracious and tender, He does not weary of us, but He waits to be merciful still” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Feb 12thPM).

Through sin and worldliness I lose the consciousness of the SPIRIT’s presence. I don’t lose You, SPIRIT, but You are behind my conscious awareness (ref#30, p115).  For instance, no matter how eager or clever I am in sharing the Gospel, it is insufficient without Your presence.  What I need is to experience continual power to be obedient to You, SPIRIT, Who alone truly teaches me (ref#33, p86).

“God is determined to have His child as pure and clean and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will prevent none of the working of His spirit” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 30th).

FATHER, sensitize me to watch for the SPIRIT.  In Him is the only way I can remain spiritual. (ref#101, p28).

ASSURANCES

CHRIST’S ACCUSATIONS

We will not understand or rest in the assurance of GOD’s salvation if first we do not examine our motives and actions.  Actually, we must examine the motives for our actions.

For all of us who have labeled ourselves “Christians,” naturally set about fitting ourselves into that role. We default to making an effort to be “good Christians.”

We are concerned about that because of the natural pride in us.  Thus we make every effort to prove to others and ourselves that we are preforming the activities of a Christian.

Unfortunately little is discussed from our pulpits about “…unspiritual preoccupation with outward forms and ceremonies, while neglecting utterly the great moral verities of true religion” James Coffman (Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, “Commentary on Luke 11:42”).

As I read the gospels I am stopped by CHRIST’s forcible language that condemn His listeners.  Why does He provoke?  The answer comes quickly to mind.

We easily slide into our natural mode described above.  Therefore, we must hear language that condemns.  We must have an accusing finger pointed at us telling us we are not on the Christian path we thought we were on.   To move toward Christianity and the peace of knowing we have the assurance from GOD that we are His we must, before anything else, recognize our sin. And that is the sin of being actors—acting like we are Christians but are not.

CHRIST’s convicting words: “…you…outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt 23:28 ESV).  “A man may appear clean without, who is unclean within; but outward purity will not avail in the sight of God, where inward holiness is wanting” Adam Clarke (The Adam Clarke Commentary, “Commentary on Matthew 23:25”).

We must check ourselves: do we make the decision of what good works we do—do we decide on them because we believe we have the ability to accomplish them successfully?  This is sin; we are operating with our born-with natural abilities.

“…the things done…may be good and godly…but if they are not undertaken in a spirit of complete reliance upon the Holy Spirit, then the flesh is the source of all…Whatever does not issue from waiting upon God, from depending upon the Holy Spirit, is unquestionably of the flesh.  Whatever one decides according to his pleasure in lieu of seeking the will of God emanates from the flesh….” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p114).

If these words convict you, repent and ask GOD to change your heart.  Only a renewed heart can override the flesh, for flesh “never has the sense of utter dependency” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p114).

ASSURANCES

GUILTY NO MORE

My FATEHR, one evidence of assurance is knowing I no longer have the guilt of sin.  “In Christ my guilt is removed….I cannot undo my past; I cannot make atonement for my misdeeds and for everything I have done against God.  I must be delivered from the guilt of my sin, and Christ—and Christ alone—can so deliver me” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 25th).

“…the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world”(1 John 4:14 ESV).

“If one desires to know whether he is regenerated or not, he simply need ask himself one question: Have I come to the cross as a helpless sinner and received the Lord Jesus as Savior” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p77)?

ASSURANCES

CLEAR CONSCIENCE?

…FATHER, do I have “a sense of sins forgiven…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 29th)? This is the only way to experience peace and rest.  Help me, LORD, to embrace my heart in honesty.

“Are you aware that there is an evil principle within you?  Not simply that you do certain things you should not do and feel annoyed with yourself because of it.  No; rather, I mean that you are aware that you have an evil nature, that there is a principle of sin and wrong in your heart, that there is a fountain emitting unworthy, ugly, and foul things, and in a sense you hate yourself.  Our Lord said that the man who loves himself is in a very dangerous condition” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 18th).

“If a sinner, upon being convicted our his sin and hearing the gospel of God’s grace, is willing to accept the gospel and by faith take it, he will see how the precious blood of the Lord Jesus answers all the accusations of his conscience….The blood of the Lord has atoned for all the sins of a believer; hence there is no more condemnation in the conscience….Our salvation is confirmed by the fact that the precious blood has quieted this voice of condemnation” Watchman Nee (ref#101, p108).

ASSURANCES

EVIDENCES OF GODLINESS – PART ONE

“…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…” (2 Pet 1:3 NASB).

FATHER, this power of Yours becomes experiential in me the moment You change my stony heart (Ezek 36:26). Below are thoughts that come to me with a new heart. I desire to check myself to see if I have experienced these thoughts.

“…a feeling and a sense that God is for us and that God loves us….I have lost the sense that God is against me, and I begin to have a feeling and sense that God is for me, that God is kind to me, that He is concerned about me, and that He truly loves me” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 28th).

“When the spiritual life is in ascendancy the believer is most glad; when the flesh gains the upper hand he cannot but grieve. Experience of this kind confirms that such ones have been regenerated” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p81)

“Are you aware of a ferment in your own nature, something pushing you on, urging you forward, making you desire holiness, making you desire to be able to pray in a more worthy manner, longing to know Christ better? Are you aware of something disturbing you; has something been put into you that will not let you remain in that existence of death? We are not Christians unless we know something of that disturbance and turmoil and working within—eternal life abiding in us, going on, moving us and leading us on to other and greater things” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p94).

CONFESSION

ASSURANCES OF SALVATION

“If a sinner, upon being convicted of his sin and hearing the gospel of God’s grace, is willing to accept the gospel and by faith take it, he will see how the precious blood of the Lord Jesus answers all the accusations of his conscience. Doubtless there is sin, but the blood of the Lord Jesus has been shed. What ground is left for accusation since sin’s penalty has been fully paid? The blood of the Lord has atoned for all the sins of a believer; hence   there is no more condemnation in the conscience….Our salvation is confirmed by the fact that the precious blood has quieted this voice of condemnation” Watchman Nee (ref#101, p108).

“When the spiritual life is in ascendancy the believer is most glad; when the flesh gains the upper hand he cannot but grieve. Experience of this kind confirms that such ones have been regenerated” Watchman Nee (ref#33, p81).

FATHER, clue me by this entry that it is my responsibility to seek evidences that prove Your disposition is working in me. Dance with me so I have no trouble displaying Your disposition through my actions.

CONFESSION

REFORMING MY FLESH OR KEEPING IT DEAD

…FATHER, I know that my natural disposition must be crucified with CHRIST (that is, my flesh must die). The word, “flesh” means my human nature which is “under the control of animal appetites” and is sensuous (ref#150, NT:4559). “Flesh” is defined as my earthly nature apart from divine influence (ref#150, NT:4561).

Flesh is the part of me I must inactivate—kill by neglect. But I am anchored so in it I naturally choose to reform it instead of kill it.

It is intuitive to me to want flesh tamed. Therefore I strive to educate my flesh—teach it to be righteous. I happily give myself over to rules and methods (ref#33, p92). Intensive church activity is a way of attempting to reform flesh. It is frightening to realize that my own flesh can produce acts that appear Christian (Matt 7:22-23) yet they are without the help or consent of You, FATHER (ref#63, p706).

While teaching my flesh to be righteous I concentrate on one sin or a file-folder of sins. I fall into using my flawed self to try to become more like CHRIST. By doing this, I am in the business of trying to conquer and refine my old-nature flesh. I try to get flesh and SPIRIT to cooperate!

But, I cannot, and You, FATHER, will not reform my flesh—even the priceless blood of JESUS can’t cleanse the flesh. The HOLY SPIRIT does nothing to improve flesh; in fact, He will not even dwell in the midst of sinful flesh. The SPIRIT will abide in me for only one reason and that is for warring against my flesh (ref#33, p94).

O LORD, continually bring me to understand the difference between operating by my flesh and working with the SPIRIT—the difference between reforming my flesh and killing it by neglect. It is only by faith and dependence on the SPIRIT that I can put to death the deeds of my flesh (Rom 8:13).

SUPPLICATION

NON CHRISTIAN Pursuers

[We all have friends and family that sit in our churches but only act like they are Christians. It is up to us to pray for their salvation. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]

THE BOASTINGS OF THE FALLEN NATURE

…FATHER, ____ has heard of You by attending church; (he/she) has read (his/her) Bible, maybe even committed verses to memory, nonetheless Your Word does not produce fruit in (him/her) (Mark 4:19). Even Your truth residing in (his/her) mind is unable to affect (him/her).

It seems ____ is in the business, FATHER, of becoming holy and more holy in (his/her) own strength. Seems (he/she) is working with such intenseness that (he/she) passes over the good news about CHRIST. I think that (his/her) work is so gratifying that (he/she) imagines (he/she) is doing well and getting better and better. But…

 “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (Prov 30:12 ESV). “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong’” (Prov 30:20 ESV).

“The majority of people have their morality well within their own grasp, they do not sense the need of the Gospel” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Dec 17th). FATHER, it seems ____ is pursuing You because (he/she) admires righteousness therefore (he/she) is trying hard to act righteously (ref#33, p110). (He/She) may not know that (his/her) natural flesh can perform good as well as produce sin (ref#33, p110). (He/She) may be confusing (his/her) natural fleshly work with Your HOLY SPIRIT’s work. And, the case is that (he/she) is then unable to be a Christian because it is impossible to receive anything unless it is given to (him/her) from heaven (James 1:17).

It is quite natural to fall into the pattern of searching the Scriptures for commands to keep (John 5:39). By keeping only the commands of (his/her) choosing (he/she) does not need a Savior; (he/she) is saving (himself/herself). FATHER, lead ____ to the understanding that whatever “does not issue from waiting upon God, from depending upon the HOLY SPIRIT, is unquestionably of the flesh”  Watchman Nee (ref #33, p 114).

It seems that ____ is set in (his/her) own ways of righteousness, but I know, FATHER, that You can and will work in due season to call Your sons and daughters according to Your purpose (ref#13, Vol 1, p31 [Mark 2:14]). Please, FATHER, I want You to call ____.