Quote for Today
“There will be no peace in any soul
until it is willing to obey the voice of God”
Dwight L. Moody
“There will be no peace in any soul
until it is willing to obey the voice of God”
Dwight L. Moody
“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.
To be continued…
Personal Footnote to Part Two
The Fruit of Faith and Grace
I remember the first time I tried to read Andrew Murray’s book, “The School of Obedience”, many years ago. I read a few pages and threw the book against the wall. I just knew I could never walk in such obedience. Knowing my heart and self-will I felt utterly hopeless to attain to such a life. My problem was I did not understand that the obedience of which the scriptures speak is the fruit of faith empowered by grace. As the truth of this began to dawn upon me, I started to expect my life to grow in this wonder. Life became more of an adventure and I found God’s grace to be more than a sentiment but a real power to enable me to walk in new places. Grace became a constant need as my own resources were insufficient; my stubbornness often required wrestling and prayer to overcome. Fear of failure was a tool in the enemy’s hand that I needed to overcome in order to step into things into which God was leading me. Obedience is not a small thing in our lives, and it is essential for our growth. It is how we grow in our trust in Him and in our ability to be free from the fear of man. One act of obedience is better than fifty sermons. Learning of Him in these moments causes our faith to become real.
A key lesson to be learned in our growth in obedience is that the river never parts until we step into it. God has designed faith to rest upon Him so that we are not governed by what we see. I have had several experiences where the power of God is not made known to me until I have stepped into the thing before me. There is always that moment of hesitation (especially at first) before the step is made. God is faithful and the discovery of His faithfulness can only truly be realized by our obedience. Obedience is not some legalistic thing. It is our small part, insignificant in comparison to the release of God’s power as a result. Obedience brings us to the place of understanding His ways in our personal life and causes us to grow in our confidence in Him.
To be continued…
“And he said unto them,
Out of the eater came forth meat,
and out of the strong came forth sweetness.
And they could not in three days expound the riddle.”
The riddle of every believer can only be solved within the equation of their own experience. Samson’s riddle was one of personal experience and victory. There is no other living person who can solve the riddle of “Christ in you the hope of Glory”. Paul spoke at length of this mystery in Ephesians and Colossians.
“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”
The matchless wonder of the mystery can only be solved individually through the medium of obedience and victory. Samson’s riddle was his own; he did not share with anyone (initially) the victory over the young lion he met in the way. It was his victory and God’s strength that prevailed in the vineyards of Timnath. “Timnath” in the Hebrew means inheritance or allotted portion. What was true of Samson is true of everyone who truly knows the Lord. In our pursuit of Christ Himself (our Timnath) we will encounter the enemies of our soul that confront us, condemn us, and seek to destroy us. It is here we find provision in God to contend with our enemy until the victory is ours and our place in God is discovered.
Many Christians have no sense of spiritual identity, no comprehension of the call to walk and discover the unfolding mystery of Christ within them; a Christ who is known to them in the fierceness of the battle, a Christ who is known in the personal victories over sin, temptation and failure. To be an overcomer in Christ one must experience the victory of Christ within the riddle of their own life. The mists of confusion lift and doubts fade in the light and victory of Christ through our obedience to Him.
He is ever calling us to explore, walk and live within the sureties of His wonder in our lives. Like a flower ever unfolding, like the rising sun of each new day, He is beckoning us to explore and discover His riches within the sanctum of our own hearts. No one can solve this mystery but the individual to whom He is given. It requires walking, trusting, and a living faith to step into the Timnath of His Call in each of us.
May we, as Samson, know that out of that which sought to destroy us God prepares strong meat. Out of the strength of our enemies comes the sweetness of victory and the secret of the Lord. It is our glorious riddle to solve within the fabric of our own being.
“Blessed be the Lord my strength,
which teacheth my hands to war,
and my fingers to fight”
“Standing fast in the Lord” constitutes a stance and a commitment. A stance, in that one must maintain Biblical inerrancy (against all the intrusions, like the ones discussed in the previous chapters). It is also a commitment, in that one must maintain an “in the Lord” relationship. (It is one thing to cling to doctrinal purity and quite another to hear and do the will of God.)”
– C.R. Oliver
“When it is a question of God’s almighty Spirit,
never say, “I can’t.”
– Oswald Chambers