unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the
outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of
extortion and excess. 26Thou
blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is
within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. (Mat 23:25-26)
This Side Up; No matter what it is, we humans will get it wrong. And,
of course, the last thing we do is the thing we should
do first - such as: Read the Instructions.
Each age of Man thinks they
have it right, and that all other ages were ignorant and too stupid to
have figured things out the way "Modern Man" can. Take for instance how
everyone knew the world was flat; And how only an ignoramus didn't know
that the Sun and the Moon were gods flying through the air, and that
these gods (a multitude of them) needed human sacrifice of some
innocent soul to quench its anger and give up the rain, or whatever
other source that particular god had power over.
Then there have been
many periods of time in which a certain ruler of a nation declared
himself as god - and the world bowed their head to him - or lost it. We
look back at such a thing and consider it ludicrous, although that same
thing is still happening in many countries today.
Ancient man looked up at
the sky and tried to make sense of the Universe that revolved around
the earth - and everybody knew that the earth was at the center of
creation. And everybody knew that everything was created. Yes, this
tiny speck that is nothing but a blink of a moment called Man knew
there must be something more to life than himself, and he tried to
understand and appease whatever that "something else" might be.
Mankind tried to rise
above himself and see the world for what it was - and failed miserably.
There were a few
brilliant people who, as we look back, came very close, if not right
on. But since their findings did not fit the doctrines of the "church"
of the day, they were quickly quieted - usually with a sword.
Modern Man is too smart
for such foolishness, and mocks the wisdom (and even the History) of
the past. Modern Man knows that the world is not only round, but just a
tiny, tiny speck in the whole scheme of things.
And he knows that the earth
is not the center of all things as Ancients believed. Of course
not - it's a tiny, tiny speck on the tiny, tiny earth called Man that
only lives a tiny, tiny moment that is the center of everything.
And Modern Man knows that
those balls of lights up in the sky are not gods; of course not -
they're huge balls of burning gases that just materialized out of
nothing and cast out smaller balls, one of which we just happened to
evolve from a bug upon. Why, anyone with a brain can figure that out.
Why, the very idea that anyone in this day and age of enlightenment can
believe that there is such a thing as a God. Why, it's preposterous.
I consider myself very
blessed and privileged to be one of the Ignorant Fools who believes in
God. I have a feeling that it won't be long until those who believe as
I do will be put to the test, and to the sword (as they already are in
many other countries) for their beliefs.
But Mythology is not the
subject of this study. Mythology has only been presented as one example
of how we humans do everything backwards and can get it wrong if given
any kind of a choice at all.
Think of Adam and Eve - two
humans with but one decision; the Tree of Life, or the Tree of Death.
Wouldn't you think one of them might have thought
the Tree of Life more appealing? The fruit of the Tree of Death was
apparently appealing; what did the fruit of the Tree of Life look like?
Surely Eternal Life must have appealed to them. But of course, they
were young, and the young rarely think of such far off things as life
or death. Come to think of it, there was no Death
for them as long as they left the Bad Tree alone (which, of course,
they couldn't, no more than we can today - still hungering for illicit
knowledge which we distort and confound).
I have the feeling that the
Fruit of the Tree of life did not appeal at all to our first Ancestors.
I have a suspicion that it was very similar to Fruit of Salvation that
Jesus encountered, and said that all who wish to spend Eternal Life
with Him in the Garden of Eden must also partake - and that is to
completely rid our self of ego and pride, be others oriented, and to
stay just as far away from all that the Tree of Death offers as we
We don't like to hear
that we "Can't" do something we desire to do. We discover this with the
first whining noises we make after birth. It runs contrary to all we
are, and it is a hard uphill climb that few ever choose to tackle. And
in a day and age like this one where Heaven is either none-existent at
worst, or obtained with a simple prayer at best; why should anyone
bother with the climb?
Jesus and the Apostles
gave us a hundred "Don'ts" for every "Do," but our ability to
tunnel-vision allows us to completely ignore the negatives, and focus
only on the positive - that is, the "Fruit" which appeals to us.
Unfortunately for us,
but fortunately for God and the Garden (Heaven), Mankind will be judged
by the "Don'ts" of God's Word, not only the admonitions we chose to
Adam and Eve were
foolish at best, and lost everything. The pre-flood people were wicked
at best, and lost everything as well. The "Best of the Best" during the
time of Jesus and the Apostles hid the Truth they were entrusted with
so that it was unrecognizable to the point that they killed the One who
Then, before the Apostles
could even get a foothold in establishing the Church, they had to
battle against those who had no idea about what was being taught,
coming in and trying to dictate what the "Truth" was.
Then the Catholic church of
the Middle and Dark ages took over and completely distorted and
confused what wasn't completely hidden of the Word that remained.
But we're beyond that
now. We have the "Truth," pure and simple. Aren't we lucky.
Again, here is a case of
Modern Man thinking he is too smart for his own good. If it were so
that we now had "Truth," why are there a million variations of that
"Truth," often diametrically opposed to one another?
"Look at this verse!" one
will say. "No!" Another responds, "You look at this
verse!" and if you can't find a verse to support your belief - rewrite
In my opinion, those
people that the devil can't capture for hell, the World will direct his
way. And those the World can't direct, the church will confuse and at
best stand at the Narrow Gate blocking its entrance.
And the Church, the
World and the Devil are not what this study is about either. No, this
study is about the Holy Spirit, believe it or not. And it is about the
preparing of yourself (me too) for Heaven.
How do we prepare
ourself to meet the Lord? According to most of the churches of today,
we don't have to do anything, as long as we have recited the Sinner's
Prayer. Well, I won't go into my feelings on that, I've done plenty of
But let's say that you don't
feel comfortable sitting in that hard pew where you are told you are
secure, and want to get up and serve the Lord as the Bible commands you
to do (PS. Don't show this to your pastor, he's likely to start
accusing you of becoming one of those cult members who feel they have
to Work their way to heaven).
So the first thing you do is
start making a mental list of all the things you do that you consider
as Sin, and you attack each of these, pruning them from your life like
the Bible tells you to do.
It isn't easy, is it? You
find that when you quit smoking, you're jumping on the kids and your
spouse for no reason. When you give up TV, you fill in the time eating
and putting on weight. And the good deeds you do, often cause rejection
at worse, and unappreciativeness at best.
"This isn't working," you
say. And your right! What you are now doing is just what your pastor
accused you of - you are trying to Work your way
to Heaven. You are trying to "Do what is right in your own eyes,"
thinking you are doing God's will. [Judges 21:25]
What you are doing is trying
to whitewash a tomb of dead bones. At best, all you will end up with is
a pretty grave.
You can't work your way
So then, what must you
do? You know there's more to being a Christian
then sitting in church, or even being a pastor of a church. But what is
that difference? Doesn't the Bible say that we are to prune off those
things in our life that are not fit for Heaven?
What the Bible says is
that GOD will prune off those things He won't accept in Heaven. What
God requires of you is three things, with one thing added. And He gave
you signs to indicate if you are fulfilling your part of the "bargain,"
which are called Fruits of the Spirit." [John 15:1-15] [Gal 5:22-26]
First, you have to
REPENT. The first step of that repentance was the Sinner's Prayer where
you offered up your sins (And your life as well, though very few people
actually go that far, or any father than that initial prayer). And
though you might hear that you are no longer to even mention sin in
your life, and that you are now forever saved - Jesus apparently never
heard that wise doctrine because He said:
whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this
cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of
the Lord. 28But
let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that
bread, and drink of that cup. 29For
he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation
to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30For
this cause many are weak and sickly among you,
and many sleep. 31For
if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed
be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be
done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11Give
us this day our daily bread. 12And
forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13And
lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the
kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14For
if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mat 6:)
This is a sample prayer
that we are to do often - which includes remembering our debts, which
means Sins in God's eyes.
He also said to forgive
others if we wish to be forgiven. Check this passage of Scripture out:
heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him;
and if he repent, forgive him. 4And if he
trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day
turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luke 17:)
What God expects us to
do is that which He does Himself. We are to forgive if they repent,
which means to change their mind and turn away from that which they
were doing. And Repentance also means that we agree that what we did
was wrong - a very important aspect of repentance.
[As a footnote; who
is it that might have to come to you over and
over to ask for forgiveness, yet will continually offend you? Some
examples might be an alcoholic, or someone with another habit that they
just can't seem to quit no matter how earnestly they try; Much like our
effort to prune sins from our own life as pictured above.]
Notice that repentance is
expected each time - not just once then forget it. We were created in
God' image, and therefore we know what God is like. If we doubt that,
then we have Jesus as an example of what God is like. And except for
some extraordinary abilities and attitudes, He was like we are.
I would expect that if a
person came to me asking for forgiveness, though it be over and over
again, that they confess their wrong, and at least indicate that they
repent and are trying to change.
Speaking of confession:
we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not
in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that
we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
we confess our sins."
I know there are popular
preachers out there who say that God is insulted if we continually
confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, since Jesus died for the
forgiveness of all sins. I have said before what I think of the
doctrines of men, but even if those who say such things are right, I
would expect that someone wanting my forgiveness, ask for it. And if
God said somewhere that He did not want us to confess our sins (which I
can't find), I would at least thank Him over and over for that
forgiveness that He had given.
Notice also the verse says
if we say we have not sinned, then we make God a liar. If your child,
which we all are in God's eyes, were to take something from you and
didn't even bother to tell you about it - wouldn't you call that a lie
Here is another verse of
Scripture which shows that those above are not just flukes, and which
leads into step two of our search:
19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:
be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold,
stand at the door, and knock: if any
man hear my voice, and open the
door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To
him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I
also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He
that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
"Hear My Voice." What
does that mean? Does it mean that Jesus Himself is calling us? Did
you ever hear His voice" the Apostles did, even Paul after Jesus was
dead and resurrected in Heaven did. But how about you and me?
the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And
the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was
upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of
the waters. (Gen 1:)
In the beginning the
Holy Spirit was on earth, even before Jesus. And here He is doing His
job before there was any life on this earth.
the job of the Holy Spirit? He is refered to often in the Bible, and
Jesus especially stressed His importance.
I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men
unto me. (John 12:)
Jesus said this, but how
did He plan to accomplish it?
I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I
go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I
will send him unto you. 8And when he is come,
he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, (John 16:)
So it appears that it is
the Holy Ghost's job to do the drawing to Jesus. Perhaps that is what
He was waiting to do all those thousands of years.
What else might the Holy
answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a
man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4Nicodemus
saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the
second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5Jesus
answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of
water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the
flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel
not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8The
wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but
canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one
that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:)
Well, how about that?
Without the Holy Spirit, we are not Born Again Christians! I wonder why
we don't hear more about that?
the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye
may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full
of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one
another. 15Nevertheless, brethren, I have
written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind,
because of the grace that is given to me of God, 16That
I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering
the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be
acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. (Rom 15:)
Here we have our Peace
and our Joy - and not only that, but it appears our Sanctification
(that means to be made Holy, which we must have in order to approach
God) comes from the Holy Spirit as well.
have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13Howbeit
when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all
truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear,
that shall he speak: and he will show you
things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he
shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto
you. 15All things that the Father hath are
mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it
unto you. (John 16:)
So even our
understanding of the Word and what God wants to tell us comes through
the Holy Spirit. Have you been having trouble understanding what the
Bible is saying, or have you ever wondered if you were hearing from God?
the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should
pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us
with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27And
he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the
mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints
according to the will of God. 28And
we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his
ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in
the Holy Ghost, 21Keep yourselves in the love
of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal
life. (Jude 20:)
And apparently He does
the praying for us. How has your prayer life been? I know that I could really
tell the difference when the Holy Spirit began doing the praying. It
was obvious that He had a connection with the Father that I did not
have, and in fact I was standing in His way while I was quenching Him
all those wasted years.
I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the
flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the
one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But
if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now
the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness,
revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have
also told you in time past, that they which do
such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,
the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not
after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For
they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they
that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For
to be carnally minded is death; but to be
spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because
the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is
not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So
then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But
ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of
God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is
none of his. (Rom 8:)
statements, wouldn't you say? I wonder why we don't hear more about the
Holy Spirit? I'll bet I've already asked that question haven't I? And
I'll bet I ask it a time or two again.
By the verses above it
would appear that trying to rid our self of habits and sins and
attitudes on our own would be impossible. We need God's help. And the
way He supplies that help is through the Holy Spirit - which supposedly
we received when we said the Sinner's Prayer.
And perhaps many do, I
certainly cannot speak for others. But that was not the case with me, I
can assure you. And if you find that you are having trouble dealing
with sin, and are lacking peace amidst tribulation in your life, I
would suggest you look into your Spiritual relationship with the Holy
So if we didn't
receive the Holy Spirit at "Conversion," (which everyone
in "the know" will tell us that we did), how do
we receive Him?
ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts
unto your children: how much more shall your
heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask
him? (Luke 11:13)
Is it that
simple? I know Paul speaks about false teachers swaying believers away
from the simplicity of the Gospel, but to make it so simple that even
such a simple thing of asking is omitted? I wish
I had heard about this a long time ago. Of course, I should have seen
it in the Bible for myself, but like most people, I tended to read the
Bible hearing what I had been taught to see, not
what was really there.
A good example of this is
the Sadducees. Though the first 5 books of the Old Testament, which all
the Sadducees believed in, contained numerous references to the Holy
Spirit, Angels and such, they did not believe in them. So is it any
wonder they didn't believe in Jesus? And these were the high
mucky-mucks of the church of their day, even the High Priests!
Unfortunately that is what I
tend to do, and that is what our Religious Leaders of today do as well;
Which is why I wonder if many of them in fact have the Holy Spirit. I
am sure of this - if they did, and they had the experience that I had -
all they would want to talk about is the Lord and
the Holy Spirit (Trying to convince others to see Them as well).
Following are some
further signs that one has the Holy Spirit. But actually, if everyone's
experience is anything like my own, they will know without a doubt that
they have Him, and won't have to look for signs.
know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the
brethren. He that loveth not his
brother abideth in death. 15Whosoever
hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath
eternal life abiding in him. 16Hereby perceive
we the love of God, because he laid down his life
for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for
the brethren. 17But whoso hath this world's
good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of
compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18My
little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in
deed and in truth. 19And hereby we know that we
are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all
things. 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then
have we confidence toward God. 22And
whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep
his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23And this is
his commandment, That we
should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one
another, as he gave us commandment. 24And he
that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.
And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath
given us. (1John 3:)
Note that John said
(which is also repeated and portrayed throughout the Bible) the Holy
Spirit dwells in us. He is the seed cast upon
the ground. (We are but dust, clay for the Potter to mold.) We are the
Tabernacles that the SHEKINAH Glory ("Dwelling of God") of the Old
Testament is to reside in. ("Many mansions" or "dwelling places.") But
like the Tabernacle, and the Temple, it has to be made to very exacting
specifications, and be finished to perfection, before the Holy Spirit
can take up residence. Until then, the Glory resides on
us, as did the Tongues of Fire at Pentecost. He can fill us, as He did
many in the Old Testament. But He cannot take up residence until He has
made us Holy - something we have discovered we cannot do on our own.
[Mat 13:2-23] [Isa 64:8] [2Chron 5:13-14] [Lev 16:2] [Ex 25:8-9;
40:34-38] [1Cor 6:20] [John 14:1-4] [Rom 11:16]
[Acts 2:1-4,16-21] [1Pet
1:15-16] [Col 1:19-23]
A third thing we must do
is SUBMIT. Of course, that is what we supposedly did way back
(yesterday for some) when we said "I surrender," and decided to accept
the Peace Offering that God has provided for us through Jesus, whereby
we became friends and children to God, rather than the rebellious
adversary we had been before.
But turning our life over to
anyone, especially God, is difficult for Man, and when the pressure is
off, many "converts" yank back the reins of their lives - a dangerous
thing to do.
Many, if not most Ministers
and Theologians will tell us we are saved even if we choose to withdraw
our lives from the Lord. Not being a theologian, I can't really say
(although I do say anyway), if this is so or not.
Besides, backsliding is not the subject of this study. But just for
consideration, I wonder what those Ministers and Theologians do with these
if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the
truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But
a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which
shall devour the adversaries. 28He that
despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of
how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who
hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of
the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath
done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For
we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth
unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall
judge his people. 31It is
a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw
back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39But
we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that
believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb 10:15)
1Whosoever believeth that Jesus
is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat
loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2By
this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and
keep his commandments. 3For
this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous. 4For
whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory
that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5Who
is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is
the Son of God? (1John 5:)
that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Rev 2:)
that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he
shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and
unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and
sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the
lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience,
and thy works; and the last to be more than the
I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know
that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto
every one of you according to your works.
that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26And
he that overcometh, and keepeth my
works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27And
he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall
they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28And
I will give him the morning star. 29He that
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev
watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to
die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3Remember
therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.
If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and
thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4Thou
hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments;
and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5He
that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will
not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his
name before my Father, and before his angels. 6He
that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
There is a story of a
king who was about to be attacked by an army of many thousands against
his 500 soldiers. An emissary was sent to him by the king of the larger
army to seek his surrender.
The king called two of his
soldiers to him. The first he told to jump off a cliff to his death,
which the soldier did without hesitation or complaint. The second
soldier the king commanded to run a sword through his own heart, which
"I have five hundred more
just like these," the king told the emissaries. "I will not surrender."
The emissaries left to
inform the king of the larger army; and there was no attack.
Obedience. Marriages are based on this principal; armies are
ineffectual without obedience, as are businesses and families.
God is our King, and our
Creator regardless of whether we submit to Him or not. We have but two
choices: We can be a Jonah who runs off in the opposite direction from
what we are told to do (which is our inherent rebellious attitude from
the get-go); Or we can be a Job who obediently accepts God's will for
us, knowing it is for our best in the long run, though it may appear
grievous or even tragic at the moment.
God is going to have his
way - even if it means killing us. And speaking of death, we may get
away with playing the coward and adding a moment or two of tormented
life to our span, but in the end, death will win out. But the Bible
tells us that if we surrender our life to God, we will gain Life
Eternal. But if we try to preserve it and run it ourself, we will lose
it eternally. [Mat 16:25]
The two soldiers in the
story above may seem to us foolish at best from our perspective. But
from their perspective (though I doubt this was their thought at the
time) by sacrificing their own life they saved the lives of 500 other
soldiers as well as their King and their families. Besides, had they
gone to war, the chances are slim that they would not have been killed
"He might send me to
Bangladesh, or Africa," we say in resistance to submitting to God. And
you know, you are right. He might send you to
Bangladesh or Africa - and if He does, He will also provide you with
the joy to go, and a will to do nothing but go.
Take a look at all the Apostles; we see cowardly, self-centered men
following Jesus on this earthly plane - then suddenly they become super
human, others-centered Fanatics ready and willing to give up their
lives to serve the Lord and His people.
And that is what He does
for us as well - through the HOLY SPIRIT, (which is the second phase of
We have discovered that
we cannot "Prune" the sin from our own life. Yet we fear letting God do
the pruning because He might cut too deep, or cut off our favorite sin
that we hate to let go of.
And He will,
to be sure. But along with that cutting, he will seal the wound with a
great relief to have it gone, and a joy for being free from it. [John
8:36] [Rom 6:18]
We dread going to the
dentist to have that infected tooth removed, but what a relief it is
once the tooth is removed and healed!
Submission is not our
nature, as any two year old will prove. But it is absolutely essential
if we expect to have any joy in this life, or to survive into the next.
Submission is that
initial thrust a runner gets from the starting line. It is the opening
of the starting gate in a horse race. It is what we supposedly did when
we came to the Lord on our knees in Repentance.
Submission was the opening
our heart to the Holy Spirit; the answering of the door when the Lord
Submission is easy when
we have no other choice and there is a sword at our neck. And it's the
Sword of the Word, and the Fires of this life intended to try us, to
purify us, to burn off the chaff and the dross (leftover trash) that
burdens us and must be removed in order to make us Holy so that we can
enter Paradise.[Rev 3:10] [1Cor 3:13] [1Pet 4:2]
But what happens when
the Sword is put back in its sheath? What happens when the Fires of
Life return to their normal bed of hot coals? Do we slowly (or quickly,
if we think we can do so without being noticed) return to our old,
predictable lifestyle? Do we try to glue back on the withered and
charred dead limbs that the Holy Spirit pruned from us while we were on
Any soldier can
understand what God expects from him because he has experienced it in
other areas of his life.
He entered the service as a
rebellious, self-centered, egotistic child, and within days he had
become a pincushion for Medics, forced to watch his beautiful locks of
hair fall to the barber's floor, hurled over ten foot walls, stood at
attention with his footlocker on his shoulder at midnight; fed
dust-covered food not fit for a sow while digging holes he has to turn
around and fill in again. Then to top it off, he is forced to crawl
under live machine gun fire in poison oak after completing a 20 mile
In eight weeks he is changed
from a 145 pound wimp - to a 175 pound mass of solid muscle.
It was a journey he hated,
would have escaped if at all possible - yet one that he will treasure
once it is completed.
That is submission. And
that is obedience. But once that Basic Training is over, and the
rebellion is knocked out of the youth - what happens?
Unless that trained
soldier goes to war where his newfound skills and conditioning are
applied, he is likely to be returned to a normal routine (though in
uniform) not much different than if he was a civilian.
The sword has been removed
from his neck. Now what does he do with what he has gained when there
is no one to force him to be under constant submission?
Some young men push on,
keeping up their physical condition and adding to their training. They
attend specialized schools in the field of their endeavor and place
themself in positions that add to their ability to submit.
They leave the Service as
fit young men ready to tackle the world and make the best of it.
I didn't. After three
years I came out a withdrawn, resentful young man with no particular
training and with 180 pounds of blubber that had somehow replaced all
that hard-earned muscle.
My submissiveness had turned
to resistance to authority rather than respect, and any self-confidence
or esteem I had acquired had long since escaped.
Perseverance makes the
difference. It's not the fastest horse out of the gate that wins the
race, it's the one who doesn't stumble and makes it to the finish line
And we know the one who
trains the hardest, and has the most intent desire to win is often the
one who wins.
But a constant winner
becomes a so-what after a while; not only to others, but to themselves
as well. When winning becomes easy, those who seek the feeling of
accomplishment move on to other endeavors where they have to start near
the bottom and work their way up again.
But there are many others
who merely seek the recognition of having "won," and realize that they
either have to continue working hard to maintain their status, or to
resign and rest on their laurels (crowns given to Olympic winners).
What of those who
stumble out of the starting gate? What of those who stumble many times
throughout the race?
It's the stumblers who get
the attention. It's the stumblers who get the recognition. As the
great, accomplished runner passes the finish line and gets his usual
accolades, which soon dies down - it's the one who stumbled often and
received the bruises and perhaps sprains and breaks, but continues the
race even though hours behind the slowest of runners, who gets the
tearful, joyous recognition. It's the paraplegic in the wheelchair;
it's the retarded youngster who isn't even sure why he is there or
which direction to go that is heralded.
But those who fell, and
stayed down; those who quit when they saw they weren't going to win;
and of course those who talked a good race, but
never entered - these are ignored at best, and boo'd at worst.
In this Spiritual race
for Eternity it's the finishers who are going to win. It's those who
work fast, and those who work slow. It's those who answer their call
early, and those who come on the job late in the day who receive their
reward - and all receive the same reward! [Mat 20:2]
Paul speaks of only one
winning the race. If you fear that you will not be that "One," fear
not, because that "One" is the "One New Man" which is the Christ; that
is Jesus as the Head of His body, and those who enter and finish the
race which is His Body, having been pruned and cleansed and made Holy.
Upon these Jesus will place the White Linen Robes of His own
Righteousness , and give crowns to each of them. [1Cor 9:24] [Eph
2:15][Rom 12:4] [Phil 3:21] [Rev 19:7-8; 2:10; 3:11]
It's Perseverance; it's
endurance; and it's keeping your eyes on the Prize (which is Jesus and
His Righteousness - not the "What's in it for me" attitude) that
finishes what has been started. [Ps 25:15]
So put away that pocket
knife that you have been using to whittle away at your dead limbs and
dead works, and turn the job over to the One who is specially skilled
Admit the sin; Permit the
pruning; and Submit what remains to the Lord.
Keep in mind; we do
everything backwards. We start from the outside of the vessel and try
to work inward.
The Holy Spirit does the
cleansing - from the Inside-Out.