Continued from FAQ PAGE…
At least the inquirer of this FAQ has enough spiritual discernment and humility to acknowledge that the issue is with him/her, and not with God.
When things don’t “go our way” it is much easier to look for something wrong with the program than it is to concede that the problem lies in the hands of the one who failed.
The wording of this FAQ indicates that the inquirer is making the common mistake of comparing him/herself to what he/she perceives to the be spiritual experience of others.
“Religious” people can project the illusion of being spiritual, but in truth, they can be just as spiritually dead as they were on the day of their natural birth. As the Lord explained to the very religious Pharisee, Nicodemus, one must be born again (John 3: 5, 7).
Being born again forever resolves the salvation issue, but being saved is only the beginning of the post (after) salvation spiritual life here on Earth. While there is nothing more to be done to either obtain or retain salvation, there is much more to be done if one is to execute the true post salvation spiritual life.
Religious persons and groups can project the illusion of entertaining an intimate walk with the Lord, but in truth, many do not even have a clue as to what the TRUE post salvation spiritual life is really all about.
There is no such thing as entertaining the TRUE post salvation spiritual life and then not encountering adversity and challenge.
“And indeed, ALL who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (execute the true post salvation spiritual life) will be persecuted (2 Tim 3: 12 NASB parenthesis mine).”
Sooner or later, true discipleship will draw enemy fire.
Accordingly, the advancing disciple will encounter persecution in his/her own home (Matt. 10: 36), the “Church” (Gal.1:7), and out in the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6).
Thus the clear admonition of Luke 14: 26.
On a scale of 0 to 10, where would you rate the level of persecution you encounter on a regular basis? I began the scale at “0”, as the truth is that many who claim to be Christians do not experience persecution because they are not involved in the true life of a post salvation disciple, but are quite comfortable in their own little “religious” corner of the Christian Community.
Discipleship involves the building, maintaining, and application of a Biblically edified soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27) for oneself first, and eventually for the evangelization and edification of others. It is usually at the point of application that the persecution begins.
Like a runner in a torch relay race, one cannot be used of God to pass along to others what he/she has not first taken possession of for one self. This includes clergy, parents, relatives, and friends.
Opinions are like an anus. Everybody has one, but what comes out of it is not necessarily of interest or use to anyone else. To fellow believers, accurate doctrine has a pleasant aroma, but to the unbeliever or unedified believer, the same doctrine has an offensive odor (2 Cor.2: 15. 16).
The devil will make use of a deceived soul to unwittingly pass along the “religious” alternatives of doctrine and practices, while believing he/she is doing the work of God.
The very nature of true discipleship sets the stage for conflict (Matt. 10: 34). The level of adversity will only increase the further into enemy-held territory that the advancing disciple shines the light of the TRUE Gospel and/or post salvation doctrine.
If one chooses NOT to shine the light, he/has chosen NOT to take part in the TRUE post salvation spiritual life.
“Enemy (1 Pet. 5: 8) held territory” is any realm within which the devil has established his evil influence. The longer evil exists, the deeper its roots grow, and the harder it will be to remove.
The Christian Community is NO EXCEPTION (Gal. 3: 1).
In fact, enemy held territory can be as close as any part of one’s own soul structure (Matt. 7: 24) where the influence of evil (information contrary to the Word of God) has been allowed to take up residence and has an impact on one’s thoughts and accompanying behavior(s).
Many so-called Christians do not even develop enough spiritual maturity to effectively deal with the every-day issues of life that are common to all of us here on planet Earth, let alone the challenges of spiritual warfare (Eph. 6).
This, sad to say, is made evident by there being no difference in the attitudes, opinions, and behaviors exhibited by those who claim to be Christians from those who do not, especially when the pressures and challenges are the greatest.
For the Christian who tries to execute true discipleship with human desire and ability will soon learn the futility in such an endeavor.
God allows such failure to drive this point home.
“Tests” from God are not for Him to see how well we are getting along, as He already knows that. Tests are for US to see how well we are getting along on the road to spiritual maturity.
If a born again believer has not experienced the following scenario already, he/she will if he/she chooses to entertain the life of discipleship. The spiritual battles begin with one self.
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh (fallen nature); for the wishing (to do what God desires me to do) is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish (to do), I do not do, but I practice the very evil (thought and behaviors) that I not wish (to do). But if (when) I am doing the very thing I do not wish (to do), I (the new creation in Christ) am no longer the one doing it, but (the influential power of) sin which dwells in me (my soul structure). I find then the principle that evil is present within me (my soul structure), the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur (agree) with the law of God (what the Bible has to say) in the inner Man (the new creation – 2 cor. 5: 17- in Christ), but I see a different law (power of control) in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind (edified soul structure), making me its prisoner (under the control) of the law (power of control) of sin in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of death?
Thanks be to God (it has already been done) through Jesus Christ our Lord (by providing the means for such deliverance)! So then, on one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other hand, with my flesh
(I surrender my will to) the (power of) law of sin Romans 7: 18-25 NASB (parenthesis mine).”
You might think that these words were spoken by a “rookie” believer just starting out in the post salvation spiritual life, when in fact, it was written by Paul towards the end of his thirty year walk with Lord, and towards the end of his earthly ministry. In this letter to the early believers in Rome, Paul describes the on-going and ever-increasing battle between the forces of good and evil in his mind, and in the mind of all who entertain post salvation discipleship.
Internal and external suffering is a part of true discipleship.
Some born again believers might coast along just fine, but every advancing disciple is either going to suffer from divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) for NOT getting with the program (Matt. 28: 19, 20/Jonah Chapters 1, 2), or he is going to suffer all the adversity that the “gates of Hell” are allowed to muster if chooses to glorify God by advancing in the post salvation spiritual life.
Since suffering is inevitable, it is better to suffer for good than for evil (1 Pet. 3: 17).
Not experiencing any spiritual pressure to move forward is NOT a good sign. Such a scenario indicates that one has rejected or abandoned the call to the TRUE post salvation spiritual life.
No resistance from the devil indicates that he is happy with you being right where you are, either posing no threat to his agenda, or worse, unwittingly promoting it!
As far as salvation in concerned, God is totally and completely satisfied with the status quo of the salvation (Isa. 54: 10) of a born again believer. This is because salvation never was, is not now, or ever will be on the basis of what WE do for God, but on the basis of our faith in what God did for us on the cross (John 3: 18).
One can NEVER be any more or any less saved that he/she became at the moment of salvation when one chose to believe in a presentation of the TRUE Gospel.
However. God the Holy Spirit, our mentor, is NEVER satisfied with our production in our post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. This is because this is an on-going process that does not end until we leave this planet.
In discipleship, there is no neutrality.
Other than standing one’s ground when under direct attack from the devil and/or his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil (James 4: 7), one is either advancing or retreating at any given time.
Every day one is exposed to both good and evil information and activities. This information is filtered and processed in the conscious and subconscious mind of the soul.
The devil’s world bombards the soul with all kinds of evil information as one goes about his daily activities. The advancing disciple devotes at least a little time each day to mend the holes in the filters of our soul structure that have allowed evil to infiltrate our soul structure. This mending takes place when we close the gaps with the learning of or the reinforcing of accurate Bible doctrine in the soul structure.
There are 168 hours in a week, of which the average person spends 112 awake, consciously or subconsciously filtering the information that he takes in from the environment around him.
When the soul structure is not built or regularly maintained, the holes in filter get larger and larger, decreasing one’s ability to identify the evil nature of the information that the devil wants to become a part of our soul structure.
Even if one spent a half an hour a day in personal Bible Study, and an hour or so in an edifying Church service once a week, that would still leave the devil with more than 100 hrs. or 89+% of our conscious time each week to offer and to promote his agenda.
In the apostate stage of the Church Age in which we are presently living, unedified Christians are exposed to some forms of evil while IN “Church”, or “Church” related activities (1 Tim. 4: 1).
One can only reduce the potential of demonically induced influence and attack of the soul structure via the 24-7 life of discipleship.
The devil is well aware of when we are most vulnerable to deception. The devil can do the greatest harm when we least expect his presence and activity.
This is why discipleship calls for the application of the doctrine we accumulate in our soul structure to the moment to moment activity of each day, no matter where we are or what we are otherwise doing.
The “Church’s” pulpits are not to be excluded from being on the list of means through which evil can be taught or promoted (Gal. 3: ½ Cor. 11: 14, 15).
Well intended but deceived, spiritually blind human guides leading deceived human congregations in the name of “religion” is not anything new (Matt. 15: 14).
Every soul structure has a filter. As the soul structure matures, the size of the holes in one’s filter get smaller and smaller doing a better and better job of not allowing evil information to enter. The edified soul structure has a one-way exit valve that God the Holy Spirit uses to purge out evil information that gets by our filters. This purging process is a part of the post salvation Work of God the Holy Spirit as one meditates on the Word of God on a daily basis.
When our filters fail to detect or chooses to allow evil to pass through and enter the soul structure, a conflict will inevitably takes place in which either the correct doctrine (if it’s there) or the evil that we have allowed to enter wins the battle and take control of the thought processes, impact the behavioral response.
Do you really think that is by coincidence that the evil that one has in his soul structure is what comes to mind when any given situation is calling for a moral choice to be made?
Don’t be fool. Just as God the Holy Spirit will bring to mind the appropriate doctrine from one’s edified soul structure enabling one to choose to apply it, the devil will also bring to mind any of the evil that exists that might encourage a wrong choice to be made.
Sometimes we have little or no control over ALL the numerous means of communication that the devil will use to promote his agenda, but there are others times when we can choose not to listen.
As we spiritually mature, one will become more and more sensitive to all the evil that is to be found coming from our own fallen nature, the mouths of others, our forms of entertainment, the marketplace, and even the pulpit.
Once presented to the filters of our soul structure, we will be able to detect the evil IF we have previously chosen to develop the capacity of our soul structure to do so.
At the same time, if we have not prepared ourselves, we are sitting ducks waiting for the desire of our fallen nature to be satisfied when the pressure of spiritual combat presents itself.
Once we, knowingly or unwittingly, choose to allow evil to become a part of our soul structure, the stage has been set for a spiritual conflict to take place in which we will be very vulnerable to making the wrong choices when the pressure is placed on us.
No amount of post salvation evil in the soul structure can impact the integrity of one’s salvation, but ANY amount of evil in the soul structure can and will be used by the devil to wreak havoc in the post salvation life of a believer here on Earth.
It is for this reason that the Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray for the deliverance from evil.
The evil is not without allies. The sin nature (Romans 7) in fallen Man is not only bent towards evil, it is hostile towards God and the things of God.
As noted earlier, the sin nature does NOT go away when one is born again. In fact, it will increase its pressure in the decision making process in the soul to the degree that one desires to advance spiritually.
Some of this processing takes place during our hours of sleep. This is why it DOES matter what information we allow to become a part of our soul structure during the conscious hours of each day.
Not all elements of the following are necessarily evil, but evil is widespread in much of the religion, music, movies, sit coms, gab shows, gossip, rumors, news broadcasts, social trends, politics, and the like that most of us CHOOSE to expose our minds to every day.
God’s parameters of spiritual combat does not require the devil to label his products with warning that exposure to it can result in negative side effects in the soul structure or that frequent or prolonged exposure to it will desensitize users from the ability to distinguish right from wrong.
When the information that we are exposed to is from God, the soul structure can be edified. When it is from the devil, it is designed to attack the integrity of the soul structure with the long term objective of its destruction (1 Pet. 5: 8).
The amount of evil we entertain will certainly contribute to the need for the yoke to become hard and the load to become heavy!
He desires for us to advance forward. No matter how long we’ve been at it, there is always going to be the need for improvement.
The advancing disciple desires to grow in God’s grace and knowledge. The advancing disciple looks forward to his next feeding of the Word of God just as much as an infant cries out for his next feeding. The advancing disciple takes his day to day failures seriously.
The scenario painted in Matt. 11: 30 seems to add salt to the wounds of such failure.
“For My yoke is easy and My load is light (Matt. 11: 30 NASB).”
After all, (human reasoning would ask) if one can’t bear a yoke that is easy and a load that is light, what does that say about the one who fails? Such failure is what gives rise to the FAQ here under examination.
The truth is that the yoke IS designed to be easy and the load to be light, but this will NOT be our experience as long as we drift away from the straight and narrow path of the plow, choose to take on and retain extra weight in the wagon, and or try to address either one with human power (John 15: 5) or desire.
Learning this principle can be a very frustrating, painful, and humiliating experience. No one enjoys frustration, pain, and/or humiliation. But in order to achieve a divine objective, God will allow such things to take place.
The devil will try to cash in on the scenario, trying to impede or even prevent any further progress.
When learning of and doing the will of God becomes one’s top priority of the day, its success will be the greatest joy, and its failure will bring the greatest disappointment.
A yoke is a device that is placed on beasts of burden that allows the master to control the pace, speed, and direction of the team pulling the wagon or plowing a field.
As long as the animals do not try to lag behind or try to get out ahead of the plan of the master, the yoke provides no discomfort or pressure.
AS long as the team does not try to go to the right or to the left of the master’s desired course, there is no discomfort or pressure.
The good master knows how much of a load that a team or animal can handle.
He adjusts the load according to the team’s capability, and provides all the nourishment, hydration, care, and shelter that the team or animal needs.
At the same time, when the animal or team decides to slow down, move forward faster than the course the Master has established, or deviates to the left of the right, the animal or team feels the increasingly greater pressure and/or discomfort of the yoke/ and or the burden of excess weight in the wagon.
The same applies to the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As long as the disciple learns and stays within the control (yoke) of the Master, he/she will find the yoke comfortable and the load light.
If he resists the yoke being placed on him/her, there is discipline. If he/she tries to lag behind or to tries to move forward as a greater pace than what the Master calls for, he/she experiences the ever-increasing pressure of the yoke being held firm in the hands of the Master. If he/she tries to deviate to the left or the right from the desired course of the Mast, he/she experiences the ever-increasing pressure of the yoke.
Until the disciple learns not to take on excess weight and/or learns to unload it, he will feel the self-induced burden that it generates.
There is a major difference between yoked animals and disciples.
While both scenarios require the submission of the team/animal or believer to the control of the Master, but the animals involved use their own strength to accomplish the work.
The advancing disciple learns to use the power of the Master (John 15: 5).
Human desire, motivation, and determination can go a long way in achieving human good, but such things are worthless when it comes to the production of divine good (John 15: 5).
To the extent that the disciple attempts to produce divine good in himself or others with his own power and desire, he finds the yoke to become burdensome, the load heavy, with no success.
OK, but exactly how does one plug into the John 15:5 power source, and what is it in us that God will use to do the job?
God produces divine good through born again Spirit-filled (controlled) believers who are in fellowship (2 Cor. 13: 14) with Him.
All believers, from the moment of salvation on are Spirit-indwelled (1 Cor. 3: 16), but are NOT always Spirit-filled (controlled).
A born again believer is Spirit controlled when he/she is in fellowship with God and is in willful submission to the tutorship and leadership of God the Holy Spirit.
One’s salvation is forever secure (Romans 8: 1), but fellowship (2 Cor. 13: 14) with God is lost as a result of post salvation sin (Hab. 1: 13). Fellowship is restored via the 1 John 1: 9 process.
As long as the born again believer is Spirit-filled, and chooses to remain submitted to the tutorship and leadership of God the Holy Spirit, he/she has access to the John 15: 5 power to have God produce divine good in and through him/her.
One cannot and will not sin when in intimate fellowship with God, being Spirit-filled (Gal. 5: 16).
At the same time, one will break fellowship and sin, doing what comes natural, when choosing to reject the tutorship and leadership of God the Holy Spirit, and choosing to succumb to the influence of fallen nature (Romans 7).
Every born again believer is submitted to the control of either his fallen sin nature, prioritizing the things that pleases self, or is submitted to the tutorship and leadership of God the Holy Spirit, placing the things that pleases Him first.
Not all “Christians”, but all disciples build and maintain an edified soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27). When spiritually mature, his soul structure contains ALL of the information that one needs to address ANY spiritual situation. When Spirit-filled and in fellowship with God, the same disciple has access to the John 15: 5 power.
It is when we use this information with the enabling John 15: 5 power that divine good and divine objectives are achieved.
The more “power tools” (CORRECT information) we have in our soul structure, the better equipped we are to accomplish the work that God desires to do through us.
It is when we choose not to store the correct information or choose NOT to apply the information that we secured via the power source that He supplies, that we set the stage for (Matt. 7: 27) crashes of the soul structure.
All the information that the Bible has to offer will do us little good if we choose NOT to apply it when we make the choices we do on a daily basis.
The greatest power tools of any trade on the market are worthless is they are not connected to a power source and turned on!
Rather or not we are in fellowship with God and rather or not Spirit filled are the result of choices that we make each and every day.
Submission and compliance with the yoke of the Lord is what makes it easy to bear, rebellion is what makes it hard.
It is the excess baggage (unresolved spiritual issues) that we pick up along the way and/or refuse to unload is what makes what makes the load heavy.
In summary, never compare your own walk with the Lord with other people, but always be willing to do what you can to help them lighten their load or make the yoke more comfortable. Don’t pick up extra baggage, and/or refuse to unload it when you do. Learn to willingly bear the yoke of the Lord, and to be sensitive to the little tugs of pressure before the full force of the reigns become necessary to get you back on track. Perhaps most important, is to learn what the plan of the Master is, and learn to accomplish the work with the enabling power of God (John 15: 5), and not to try to do is with human power or desire. You will be pleasantly surprised with the quantity and the quality of the Work that God will do through you while making the yoke easy and the load light!
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