“Partial obedience is not obedience at all; to single out easy things that do not oppose our lusts, which are not against our reputation, therein some will do more than they need; but our obedience must be universal to all God’s commandments, and that because He commands it. Empty relationships are nothing; if we profess ourselves God’s servants and do not honor Him by our obedience, we take but an empty title”
– Richard Sibbes
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God”
True servants withhold nothing of God’s counsel for fear of losing the approval of men. They speak the truth because they love the truth. Within their hearts beats the singular desire to live unto the Lord alone. They seek His approval alone.
“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God…”
2 Corinthians 6:4
To live unto Christ is to be free from the fear of man. Truth is the person and majesty of Christ Himself. This dynamic of His Life can only be known as we abide in Him. This ONE who purged the filth of man’s pollution from the Temple, also revealed the tenderness of mercy to the woman at the well; His Life cannot be held by the mere doctrines of men. The necessity of abiding in Him is what frees us to express Him in the moment, in the situation we are facing. It is the only means by which His Truth can be expressed! To speak of kindness when the Spirit of God seeks to confront a situation, is error. To speak judgment when God’s Spirit is soft and gentle is to miss Him grievously. A carnal concept of God has always been the bane of religion! To try and live by the precepts of Christ will inevitably end in failure and sin for we are to be in this world as HE IS in the moment.
Only His life can rightly express His heart. We are called unto a Life of abiding in Him to the intent that
“…as HE IS, so are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
The truth of our walk in Him must culminate in a life of abiding in Him. Present truth can only be known by those who live in the presence of God. As His Life becomes ours, we know the truth; His truth for the moment. Peter in dealing with Ananias and Sapphira did not violate the Love of God; He revealed it. Those who walk in a concept of the love of God will be offended by this expression of truth. Naaman the Syrian had a concept of how the Lord would heal him. Had it not been for the wisdom of one of his servants he would have missed God and remained a leper the rest of his life.
His prophets spoke the Word of the Lord to the situation they found themselves in. The Word spoken was present truth, The Word for His people in the Day in which they lived. It was not a random Word, pulled from history’s pages, but truth for moment.
“…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks…”
Yet in another day the word given was:
“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears”
His Spirit will never violate the Word but it will breathe the life and wonder of God INTO His Word. Such enablement, grace and wisdom can only be known to those who abide in the ONE who is the sum of all Grace and Truth. Jesus did not come to expose the world to a new teaching or a new religious concept; He came to fill us with Himself. He did not come to give us A new life but to give us HIS Life that we might know the power of His indwelling word.
The “marks” (brands) of the true servant of God are those who withhold not His truth and counsel regardless of the “consensus” of men. Only as we are freed from self are we truly able to be His servant.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ”
The true servant of God is one who is poured out in service to Christ. He seeks no following and does not desire the finances of this world. His only desire is to be true to the ONE who enlisted him into His service. Only then is he free enough to declare the whole counsel of God to his generation.
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” ……………………………………. Romans 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” .. James 1:1 “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ…. 2 Peter 1:1 “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ” ………………………………….. Jude 1:1
“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God…”
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” John 15:4
The Marks of a True Servant is a series of writings revealing the tried and true character of Paul as he met with the Church at Ephesus for the last time. His life was the testimony of a man who had spent his life as a true bond-servant of Christ. May God complete His work in each one of us. Blessings to All who have made it their life purpose to serve and honour Him.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy”
We are told in the Parable of the Sower that “the seed is the word of God”. Those who sow such precious seed must do so in the same Spirit in which that Word was given. Many may speak the scriptures, but few sow the “Word of God”. When the word is sown by the Spirit of God it teems with His life and power. There is an impartation into the lives of those who hear with ears of faith; the fire of Life burns, the heart of man is quickened, and Jesus is glorified.
“And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes”
In order for the ministers of God to speak with authority, their lives must be subject to the authority of the Word. Authority comes from submission. Otherwise, if men share His Word but their life is not subject to His Word, that authority of Jesus will be lacking. Even the Roman Centurion knew and understood this.
“For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it”
The true authority in the Spirit comes to those who are under His authority. His Word has precedence in their lives. It takes very little discernment to know those who serve God and those who do not. There is a fire and the fragrance of Christ’s lordship in the hearts of those who are subject to His will. This touching of His life in one another is called fellowship. The fellowship of the Spirit is not the result of adherence to a teaching, but of Light; His Light resident within His own.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another”
1 John 1:7
The fellowship of the Spirit is not a function of teaching but of Light, His Light resident in His own.
Submission to the Word
is revealed in our obedience to it
“…for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed”
1 Samuel 2:30
“Do I make the honour of God the great object of my life and the rule of my conduct? If so, He will honour me. I may for awhile receive no honour from man, but God will Himself put honour upon me in the most effectual manner. In the end it will be found the surest way to honour to be willing to be put to shame for conscience sake.
Eli had not honoured the Lord by ruling his household well, and his sons had not honoured the Lord by behaviour worthy of their sacred office, and therefore the Lord did not honour them, but took the high-priesthood out of their family, and made young Samuel to be ruler in the land instead of any of their line. If I would have my family ennobled, I must honour the Lord in all things. God may allow the wicked to win worldly honours; but the dignity which He Himself gives, even glory, honour, and immortality, He reserves for those who by holy obedience take care to honour Him.
What can I do this day to honour the Lord? I will promote His glory by my spoken testimony, and by my practical obedience…”
– Charles Spurgeon
“By obedience a man is guarded against pride. Prayer is given for the sake of obedience. The grace of the Holy Spirit is also given for obedience. This is why obedience is higher than prayer and fasting.”
Silouan the Athonite
“What he needs is not increased spiritual teaching but an obedient heart which is willing to yield his life to the Holy Spirit and go the way of the cross according to the Spirit’s command. Increased spiritual teaching will only strengthen his carnality and serve to deceive him into conceiving himself as spiritual”
– Watchman Nee
“A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.”
– Charles Spurgeon
“But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one.”
1 Corinthians 2:15
Discernment has nothing to do with intellectual prowess. True discernment is the aggregate result of an individual’s walk and life in Christ. Many today have confidence in their spiritual condition due to the overflow of teachings readily available to all. Any teaching that does not bring a corresponding measure of the “fear of the Lord” is bereft of truth. The foundation of a discerning life is built upon the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 2:3-13)
Discernment requires a walk and an abiding in Him; the things of God will always culminate in the character of Christ. The very essence of truth is Christ who is the Truth. Whenever an expression is in conflict with His nature or character, it will be exposed.
Discernment is a consequence of our abiding in Him.
Discernment is a faculty developed over time (see note below). It is the natural function of a life which has grown in its relationship with Christ Himself. This sounds trite, but it is a knowing which is the fruit of relationship; not an accumulation of knowledge about Him on an intellectual level. A carnal familiarity with God produces pride, self-assurance and an inflated view of self, whereas a true knowledge of God fills the heart with the wonder of Christ Himself. It is from this place of vital, intimate relationship that all things are compared with Him who is true.
“Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in Words taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things”
1 Corinthians 2:14
Words, apart from the power and unction of the Holy Spirit, will leave people incapable of true discernment. Knowledge is a deceptive thing because it gives the perception that having a familiarity with the things of God alone is a safeguard. Words taught by the Holy Spirit produce a life of obedience which alone brings us into relationship with the living Christ. Obedience is the way into a life of friendship and relationship with God.
“You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you”
A disobedient life will never have the true faculty of discernment because it is does not have an experiential identification with Christ. Friendship with God is revealed in an obedient life. Obedience is the fruit of a life that loves God more than itself. True discernment cannot be disassociated from obedience and the fear of the Lord.
Note: Discernment of a diligent believer is developed over time by its constant use from which a growing sensitivity to Him and His ways is fostered:
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Obedience is love in action.
Obedience is the path to power. When obedience is growing within a heart there will be a corresponding increase of the dynamic life of Christ within; it reveals our submission to Him. His Lordship within the life of an individual is expressed through the medium of obedience. In the religious world a “spiritual” life and appearing “pious” can mask the true condition of a heart. Prayer, “false humility” (Colossians 2:23), and a thorough knowledge of the scriptures may all be but superficial expressions of a proud and unsubmissive heart.
“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations… “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh…”
The Kingdom of God is known by the power He has over the unruly desires of our hearts. It is not a life of “appearances”; it is a life of freedom from the First Adam by our submission to the Living Christ. His Kingdom reigning within liberates us from the horror of outward appearance (hypocrisy) and brings us into the simplicity of His nature. Romans, Chapter 7 is an accurate description of a life of “trying” to be spiritual without the power and unction of Christ within.
“And I have no clear knowledge of what I am doing, for that which I have a mind to do, I do not, but what I have hate for, that I do. But, if I do that which I have no mind to do, I am in agreement with the law that the law is good. So it is no longer I who do it, but the sin living in me.”
The Kingdom of God is known by a life of freedom to His Will, His Thoughts and His Nature. This Kingdom cannot be held within the flimsy grasp of teachings and concepts. Though these things may be scripturally accurate and may hold a “form” of the life that God is after, it still requires the life and power of Christ to walk and live them. He is the Word. He is the Word made flesh Who came and dwelt among us. Yet, even with Him in their midst the disciples exhibited very little change over the course of three and a half years. Why? A Christ with us (Emanuel) will not save us from within!
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
The Emanuel had to go away for the power of our salvation is not in a Christ without but the living Christ within! The Lamb of God came to earth as Emanuel in order to pay the price for our salvation, but it is in His going away and coming back to His Own as the Christ within that He is now becoming our salvation. It is as He lives and reigns within our hearts that we can live in the “liberty wherein Christ has made us free”. Paul declares the wonder of this marvelous truth:
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach…”
It is the Christ within who is our hope and surety of Glory. An outward conformity, achieved through the power of self, is religion at its worst; it is the womb of hypocrisy and scandal. The Kingdom of God is not in Word, it is in power; power to live and move within the spectrum of His life. Obedience is simply the fruit of Him living in us.