PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: THIRTEEN
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
“Pressing Past Pentecost: Thirteen” is taken from The Feasts of the Lord, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries
A Misleading Assumption
Table of Contents
God’s Provisions for the Sins of Christians
A Misunderstanding of Divine Grace
I John 1:9
A Misleading Assumption
A misleading assumption sometimes made by us is that the Presence of God in our midst means we are holy. The Christian churches are of God, we reason, are of Divine origin; and if we are aware sometimes of the Presence of God it must be true we are accepted of Him. It seems the tribes of Israel often thought in this manner.
A good way to test the accuracy of this concept is to ask the people of the world their opinion of the holiness of the Christian church people, as far as can be determined by their actions and words. Another way to test the idea is to look about us or—better yet—to examine our own deeds, words, motives, and imaginations.
“And so will he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” If God refused to have anything to do with His people until they were holy there would be little of the Presence of God in most of our churches.
God does not come to us and bless us because we are holy but to make us holy. The Holy Spirit is not given to us because we are holy but in order to make us holy.
The manifestation of the Spirit is not given to a believer because he is righteous but to create righteousness in him and in those to whom he ministers. A person does not receive an apostleship or a gift of teaching the Word or the working of miracles because he is unusually holy but in order to create holiness in him and in those who receive of the grace given to him.
It is not unusual for Christians to confuse ministry, especially highly visible ministry, with holiness and spirituality. Then if the highly regarded, sometimes idolized minister should sin in some manner, neither he nor his followers can admit the sin and treat it in a scriptural manner. The preacher and his followers had supposed that God had revealed Himself through his ministry because he was especially holy and righteous or particularly loved of God.
The sinning minister may be destroyed and some of his followers with him because of his and their inability or unwillingness to deal with sin according to the grace of God given us under the new covenant.
God has given us, through Christ, the means to turn away from our sins and be delivered from them. The new covenant is not the Divine apology for the sins of God’s people. It is the dynamite from Heaven so we can destroy the works of the devil.
We Christians must understand God has set His holy tabernacle, so to speak, among us in the midst of our uncleanness. Then we shall be able to view our sins honestly and to confess and turn away from them from a victorious position of strength, faith, and stability, rather than to hide them, pretend we are not practicing them, or become unduly alarmed or fall away in dismay, shame, or despair when our sin is revealed.
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people. (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)
Can we face the possibility that the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, has members who sin? It may help us to remember that a large fraction of the Scriptures is directed toward the problem of the sins of Israel, of the elect, of God’s people.
Much of Isaiah, of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, and so forth is addressed to the “sinners in Zion.” The Lamentations of Jeremiah resulted from the judgments of God on His called-out people, His Church.
A substantial percent of the New Testament writings is concerned with sin in the lives of the Christians: for example, Romans 13:9-14; I Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-5; 5:1-13; 6:1-20; II Corinthians 12:20,21. Galatians 5:12-26; 6:8; Ephesians 4:22-5:7; Philippians 3:18,19; Colossians 3:5-10; I Thessalonians 4:4-8; I Timothy 6:3-11; II Timothy 3:1-9; Titus 2:1-15; Hebrews 3:12-19.
James 3:1-5:20; I Peter 1:13-15; 2:1; 4:1-4; 4:15-19; II Peter 1:4-10; 2:1-22; 3:11; all I John; III John 9-11; Jude 1:7-19; Revelation 2:14; 2:20-22; 3:15-17; 21:8; 22:15. The above list is not complete.
In the light of the apostolic emphasis on putting sin out of our lives, how can we account for some of the present-day teachings of “grace”?
Perhaps one of the roots of our misconception concerning the relationship of the Christian believer to sin is that we have assumed that the greater part of the scriptural admonitions regarding sin are addressed to people outside the churches. By so misdirecting the intent of Paul and the other writers we have made the apostolic instructions ineffectual as to their purpose of promoting spiritual growth in the believers, of developing godly behavior and change into the image of Christ. The Apostles of the Lamb wrote to the saints.
Two examples are as follow:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)
If you will think about the context of the above two verses you will notice that they are directed toward Christians. Why are we preaching them to the unconverted?
The Scriptures are directed toward God’s people. The exhortations to righteousness are addressed to God’s people. The Prophets spoke to Israel about sinful behavior among the tribes, and the Apostles wrote to the Christian churches about sinful behavior among the saints.
If there were not one Scripture reference to sin in the Christian disciple we would know, nevertheless, that sin indeed is a problem because of what we find in our own heart, because of the vigilance we must maintain with respect to our own motives and deeds.
Every experienced Christian knows of the spiritual deadness of the churches, the complacency and indifference toward the things of Christ, love for the world, the slothfulness, the obstinacy, the pride and haughtiness, the backbiting and gossiping, the hardness of heart and lack of forgiveness, the desire to seek the approval of the world more than the approval of God.
One piece of evidence that testifies in thunderous tones to the inner spiritual condition of God’s people, a fact that nullifies the edicts of the churches and eclipses the world’s view of Christ on the cross, is the existence of division and competition among the multitude of denominations, sects, and private empires of Christianity.
Denominational pride and loyalty give the final proof of self-love, self-interest, self-ambition (I Corinthians 1:12). Denominational emphasis and loyalty is childish, self-centered, self-willed behavior.
God’s Provisions for the Sins of Christians
We have written the truth as we see it in the Scriptures and in practical Christian living. We sincerely believe the sin is as dreadful and prevalent as we have set forth. We believe just as sincerely that there is a remedy portrayed by the Day of Atonement that is more than equal to the task of purifying the Church perfectly.
The Day of Atonement is the time of reconciliation to God, of our marriage to the Lamb, of the removal of our “spots and wrinkles.”
During Israel’s observance of the Day of Atonement the reconciliation was accomplished by the sprinkling of animal blood and by the public confession of the sins of God’s people by the High Priest. In the case of the Christians, the atonement was accomplished by the offering of Christ on the cross and by the daily application of His blood to our lives.
Also involved in the Christian practice of the new covenant counterpart of the Day of Atonement, and essential to it, is the confessing of their sins by Christ’s disciples; sometimes confessed to God in private, and sometimes to another Christian for counsel or prayer or because the other person is implicated.
Ordinarily it is not a good idea for us to confess our sins openly in the church assembly. There are pitfalls in this practice. The church elders should decide when such an extreme step is necessary.
Many Christians never have been taught to confess their sins specifically and to repent of them. They do not name their sins before God and obtain the Divine grace that is available and necessary for the overcoming of their sins. They keep the sin, bitterness, unforgiveness, and rebellion buried in their heart. However, the sins continue to publicize their presence in their private thoughts, in their words, and in their deeds.
From the saved, born-again person proceed adulterous thoughts, spiteful words, and acts of lust and hatred.
Sins—every one of them—must be confessed as soon as they are pointed out to us by the Holy Spirit. A believer must tell the Lord, and sometimes other people, exactly what it is he or she has done, said, or thought.
We may be in too much of a hurry to start naming our sinful deeds, words, motives, and imaginations one at a time to the Lord. However, God is not in that much of a hurry. He will take the time to listen now or He will take the time to listen during the Day of Judgment. As it is written: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
Only a Christian living in victory, and one with experience, can engage in this kind of judging of his actions and motives without falling into gloom and introspection. Confessing one’s sins with authority and power is the action of a conqueror, not of a halfhearted Christian who continually is falling away from his state of obedience to the Master.
Perhaps this is why the judgment on sin in the life of the believer is delayed symbolically (as in the type of the feasts of the Lord) and actually until the Christian has experienced both initial salvation and Pentecost (baptism with the Holy Spirit).
Some Christian teachers have maintained that it is necessary only to confess that we are “dead to sin,” according to the sixth chapter of Romans and then to more or less ignore the problem of sin in our lives. To do otherwise, they counsel, will result in the resurrection of our sinful nature.
Maintaining that we are dead to sin is part of the answer given in the Scripture. It solves the problem for some believers, at least for a season. It can be helpful to the saint who is vainly struggling against the adversary, against the spirit of the world, and against his own fleshly lusts and self-will.
It assuredly is true that the virtue and will of a person struggling “in the flesh” cannot overcome the power of sin. If, on the other hand, the disciple is under the impression sin cannot affect him because he has accepted Christ, how then can the Spirit of God point out to him the acts of sin he is committing? Why would it ever be necessary for him to repent?
Also, why would such a large part of the apostolic writings be devoted to the putting away of sinful behavior on the part of the believers? If the Christian is supposed to forget about his sinful nature, why did Paul, Peter, Jude, and John write as they did concerning sin in the life of the believer?
Anyone who studies the revivals of the past can notice that the outpourings of God’s Holy Spirit have been accompanied by repentance and the confession of their sins on the part of God’s people. The Presence of the Spirit of God encourages us to confess our sins because such confessing is a necessary part of Christian discipleship.
The Scripture teaches us (Romans 8:1) that we must walk each day in Christ by faith, being without condemnation in the sight of God. The joy of the Lord is our strength, and we are to avoid gloom and self-condemnation as much as possible.
However, we must always be ready to hear the rebuke of the Holy Spirit and to bring the offending act, word, or thought immediately to the Lord for forgiveness. If we are walking in the Spirit of God the act of confessing our sins will not depress us but will enable us to live the life of victory in Christ.
Why is it that we do not include the practice of confessing our sins as part of our discipleship? We may have supposed that the exhortations of Scripture against sin are directed toward the people of the world rather than toward the people of God. Or perhaps we are ignorant of what the Scriptures actually teach.
Both the Old and New Testament writings are explicit as to what constitutes sin in the sight of God. Many of the biblical pronouncements against sin can be categorized under lust, murder, or idolatry.
Mankind has not changed since the days of Noah and Lot. Lust, demon worship, and violence filled the earth in those days. Lust, demon worship, and violence fill the earth in our day.
The nations of today resemble Sodom and Gomorrah. They are hurtling toward destruction with express-train speed. God always will exercise His wrath on sexual lust in all its perverted forms, on demon worship, and on violence. This equally is true in the churches and in the world.
Perhaps we Christians interpret God’s long-suffering and forbearance as an acceptance of our sins, a Divine resignation concerning the behavior of mankind. If so, we have no conception of the smoking wrath of God that forever is directed toward sinful practices. We are not aware of the maelstrom of destruction that surrounds us.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:17,18)
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;… (II Corinthians 5:11)
A Misunderstanding of Divine Grace
One of the more important reasons for not confessing our sins may arise from a misunderstanding of the manner in which Divine grace operates.
The term grace, it appears, frequently is understood to mean only the forgiveness of sins that occurs at the time of the believer’s initial acceptance of the atonement made by the blood of Christ. The application of Divine grace to the older Christian’s life often is limited to the idea that God forgives our stumblings and shortcomings. Such seems to be the customary understanding of the grace of God in Christ.
The writer holds firmly to the understanding that salvation is the gift of God that comes to us when we accept by faith the blood atonement made by Christ. However, the doctrine that maintains that an initial acceptance of the atonement made by Christ is the believer’s only encounter with the problem of sin in his life, or that there is no provision in Divine grace for the overcoming of the sin in us, cannot be supported by the New Testament writings.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come into the world to forgive the sins of the world. The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to take away the sins of the world. He came to remove sin from the world, beginning with His saints. The misunderstanding of Christian theology is that the Lord Jesus came to forgive us and bring us to Heaven to live forever. This is not what the Scriptures teach, either the Old Testament or the New Testament.
Christ did not come to make peace with sinners. He came to bring sinners to repentance and to break the chains of sin that bind them. God is not interested in bringing sinners into Paradise. God is interested in saving people from their sins so they can enter Paradise lawfully.
The Lord is gentle and forgiving toward every person who repents and asks His forgiveness. Christ’s Words to the seven churches of Asia reveal with clarity that He is exceedingly strict with the members of His Body. He is training us to enforce the laws of the Kingdom of God on the earth, and He permits no filthiness, rebellion, foolishness, or carelessness to exist among the members of the royal priesthood.
The love of God has been overemphasized today to such an extent that a false witness of God is being borne. God’s wrath against sin must be brought to the front. Numerous Christians, if they continue in their present state of indolence and sin, are heading toward a furnace of chastisement. The ministers who are cajoling them, speaking “positive and refreshing” things to them without warning them of the danger they are facing, are false prophets indeed.
The first people, Adam and Eve, were driven from Paradise. Jesus has not come to forgive Adam and Eve and bring them back into Paradise. He has come to destroy sin, rebellion, and unbelief from their personalities by filling them with His own virtue and Life. As soon as Adam and Eve have been conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus they will be permitted to eat of the tree of life. Paradise will be regained. This is the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is the way to eternal life.
The Christian discipleship, as the Epistles teach us, is occupied with our being brought to spiritual maturity, and to unity with God and our fellow members of the Body of Christ. The disciple must be alert continually to the leading and working of the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God as He guides us in the conquest of the spirit of the world, of the nature and works of Satan, of the lusts of our flesh, and of the rebellion, pride, and stubbornness of our self-will, self-love, and self-centeredness.
We are in a war although we may not realize it. The Christian Church is God’s holy instrument for judging rebellious spirits, not a social club or fraternal order.
Satan, in many instances, has the Christian churches bound hand and foot with love for the world to the extent we no longer actually believe many of the facts, demands, and promises of the Old and New Testaments. Yet we may be picturing ourselves as the Church triumphant against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail.
Perhaps it is closer to the truth to state the Christian churches have been as the blind Samson making sport for the Philistines. We may have been making boasts while lying in the lap of Delilah.
Where is the power of God? Paul declares: “I… will know, not the speech of those who are inflated with pride, but the power” (I Corinthians 4:19).
It is time now for us to confess our sins. “If we (Christian disciples) confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).
As we “walk in the light” (walk in the will and Presence of God as revealed to us continually by the Holy Spirit and proved by the offering of ourselves as a living sacrifice), the Spirit of God points out to us specific sins of action, of word, of motive, of imagination.
Sometimes it is difficult for us to perceive the will of God. During such seasons of bewilderment we are to remain steadfast and to keep our behavior in line with the teachings of Scripture as much as possible.
We are to follow the cloud of blessing by day and the fire of the judgments of God’s Word throughout the nights of testing.
The distinction must be maintained between accusations of Satan and the pinpointing of sin by the Holy Spirit. Satan constantly is planting guilt and suspicion in our mind and accusing us of things Christ already has forgiven, or sins we have not actually committed and have no intention of committing.
The disciple through experience learns to recognize Satan and to resist his accusations. Such accusations are not sin and do not need to be confessed. Sometimes we must pray for faith and strength in order to overcome the depression, gloom, and fear that such accusations produce.
The sins of imagination, motive, word, and deed pointed out to us by the Holy Spirit, and that therefore must be confessed and forsaken, are those behaviors we accept and practice that we dwell on, that we do not firmly disown and thrust aside. These actions and imaginations are sins and must be named as such before the Lord.
It is important that we confess our own sins and not those of others. The Scripture teaches us to confess our own sins one to another, especially if we are ill and need healing from the Lord.
Confess your faults [sins; offenses] one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
It is not unheard of for people to get together and confess their sins in such a manner as to judge other people. They are using the occasion to accuse the other of sin.
For example, “I want to confess that I have hated you for a number of years because of the way you behave.”
This may appear to the unlearned to be what James 5:16 is referring to, but it is not. James tells us to confess our own sins, not those of someone else.
One should say, “I am troubled with a spirit of hatred and would like to confess it as sin.”
If your brother offends you, go to him in private and tell him of the offense. If he will not hear you, take the matter to the elders of the church. If he will not hear them, seek the counsel of the elders in order to know how to proceed. But do not attack him in public under the guise of confessing your sins.
If someone asks your forgiveness, being genuinely repentant, forgive him. If you do not, God will not forgive you. If you are unable to forgive, ask God’s help. It is extremely important that we do not allow bitterness, hatred, and a spirit of revenge to dwell in us. Such bring about spiritual death.
God has forgiven us much. He expects us to forgive those who sin greatly against us.
Our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations must be brought under the absolute domination of Christ. Bringing our personality and behavior under the lordship of Christ requires experience, prayer, faith, a knowledge of God’s Word, and a strong determination to gain victory through Divine grace.
The subjection of the believer’s deeds, words, thoughts, and whole personality to the rule of Christ is the forerunner of the Day of the Lord when every creature in the universe willingly and joyfully, or in a spirit of rebellion and terror, will bow in subjection to Christ. All resistance to the rule of the Lord Jesus is sin.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (II Corinthians 10:3-5)
I John 1:9
The Day of Atonement, the sixth of the seven feasts of the Lord, concerns God’s provision for the sins of Israel.
Three events that occurred on the Day of Atonement were as follows:
The blood of a young bull and the blood of a goat were sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat to make an atonement for the Holy Place, for Aaron and his household, for the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and for all the congregation of Israel, “because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins” (Leviticus 16:14-17).
The sins of the children of Israel were confessed by Aaron and laid on the head of a living goat (Leviticus 16:21).
The scapegoat was removed from the camp, bearing away “all their iniquities to a land not inhabited” (Leviticus 16:22).
The provision for the sins of God’s people, portrayed in the Day of Atonement ceremony, included confession, forgiveness, and removal.
There is a similar pattern in I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When the believer maintains he has no sin he is deceiving himself. There is a possibility he is misapplying the teachings of Paul (II Peter 3:16; I John 1:8).
Most of us Christians, if we will think about our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations, must acknowledge there are occasions when we do exhibit a sinful disposition. The question is: Is there provision in the Christian salvation for actually cleansing human nature? We believe there is.
The Christian counterpart of the Day of Atonement works each day in our life as we confess our sins. It is not a case of examining our motives until we turn ourselves into gloomy, despairing souls. Rather it is a matter of living joyously in the knowledge that Christ has forgiven our sins and that we are without condemnation while the process of deliverance is continuing (Romans 8:1).
We are not to refer back to sins we committed before we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. All of that guilt has been cast behind God’s back and we have been washed as white as snow in the blood of the Lamb.
It is the sins we are practicing now, as Christians, that we must confess. If we will bring our bondages to our Lord He will break them by the authority and power of the Word of God, by the Virtue of His own body and blood, and by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit of God.
The tendency today is to view deliverance from sin as psychologic healing. The idea is that we have emotional problems of one sort or another and if we will confess them and get rid of them we will have a happier and more successful life.
It is true that if we get rid of our sins we will profit, although not always in a material sense or even in this present world. But sin needs to be treated as sin, as the breaking of God’s commandments. We are not in a self-improvement course but in a program of salvation from sin.
When we seek deliverance from sin we do so in order to please God. God will bless us and be pleased with us if we lead a holy and righteous life. But if we as a Christian continue in our sins we are facing the possibility that we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
It is being stated today that we ought not to threaten people with Divine punishment because to do so brings condemnation. It is not condemnation that is brought when we preach the Word of God, but conviction. Conviction of sin is to be desired because apart from it we continue on, supposing Christ is pleased with us. Any sensible person would certainly want to know if Christ is displeased with him. Ministers of today who are not warning their followers of the terror of the Judgment Seat of Christ will answer to those same followers, in the Day of Christ, for their reluctance to tell their listeners the whole truth of God.
It never is God’s will for the disciple to continue in known sin. We are not debtors to our flesh that we are compelled to live according to its dictates (Romans 8:12).
Christ continues to loose us so we are free to worship God in the Spirit and according to truth.
The Christian experience is one of power, of love, and of a sound mind. We are not to remain in guilt and defeat. Spiritual strength and courage are founded on the sure knowledge that in Christ we are without condemnation before the Throne of God. Such assurance is necessary if we are to stand up successfully under the searching and cleansing of the Spirit of God, and under the stress of the warfare against Satan.
When the Holy Spirit points out to a Christian a sinful thought, word or deed, the disciple is to name it specifically, acknowledging it to be sin. Ordinarily confession is to be made to God alone.
However it often is helpful (and it is scriptural) to confess our sins to a fellow member of the Body of Christ.
Confession to a group of people may be made if they were injured or misled by our actions. Sometimes the Lord leads and enables us to make restitution, to repair the damage we have done.
When we confess the sin, as the Spirit directs us, the Lord is faithful and righteous to forgive the sin and to purge it from us. The forgiveness and cleansing is the new covenant fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Many sincere disciples will not sin knowingly and willfully even though they are tempted sorely. Satan’s approach to such a believer may come in the realm of deception and delusion.
For example, let us imagine that a voice speaks to you and tells you that you are especially chosen of the Lord and that all Christians in the city in which you live are supposed to obey you and give reverence to you. You are “The Apostle,” or “The Prophet” of your area, singled out by the Lord to have spiritual oversight of the particular geographical region.
Another of Satan’s commonly-employed snares is in the realm of sexual conduct. You are supposed to have relations with a particular man or woman because in so doing you are illustrating the love between Christ and His Bride. Or, you finally have found the “one” who is meant for you and your present mate was a mistake on your part.
These are fantastic suggestions but they are characteristic of the snares with which Satan fills the spiritual environment. Notice how the one is aimed toward the spiritually ambitious believer, not the disinterested or lethargic. The other is pitched toward the romantic believer who would never seek out a prostitute but who can be snared by “romantic” forms of lust.
The watchful, overcoming disciple will reject the voices at once, since the teachings of Jesus forbid the elevation of a member of the Body of Christ over his brothers in the Lord; and the Lord’s rules governing sexual conduct and marriage are explicit and are not to be violated.
Let us imagine further that instead of resisting the voice on the basis of Scripture you entertain the notion. It is possible, in spite of the Scripture, that God indeed has chosen to exalt you over your fellow members of the Body of Christ or to make an exception for you in the area of sexual conduct. You always have had the feeling you have a special destiny, that God loves you in a special way and intends to treat you differently from other believers.
Your common sense may hold you back for awhile from overt acts but in your heart the concept is growing that you are especially favored of the Lord and cannot be deceived. Even though Christ has warned us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one,” you cannot be deceived because you are one of God’s favorites.
You will not ask your husband or wife or a fellow disciple to help you judge the voice because this would ruin it all for you—“they” never would understand.
Now Satan has brought you quite a way into deception. Satan has no power over a Christian unless he can persuade the believer to cooperate with him, to listen to his suggestions. If Satan can persuade the disciple to disobey the Word of God he can bring him under his power. This is how Satan destroyed Adam and Eve.
The Christian believer is mistaken if he thinks that Satan will not lie persuasively to him. The overcoming disciple is mistaken if he believes that he cannot have dreams, visions, premonitions, fleeting glimpses into the supernatural, which are not of God.
The dedicated saint is mistaken if he believes that because he has surrendered to God he will not receive all kinds of pleasurable satanic sensations calculated to appeal to his individual personality. His consecration to God makes him the prey of the forces of darkness.
The disciple is making a mistake if he throws his personality open, saying in effect, “I am without a will of my own. I will move however God moves me.”
The believer who adopts this attitude will be moved by a spirit, true enough. But it will not be the Spirit of God. He now is open to every spiritual “revelation” that the cunning forces of darkness can manufacture. This deception has arisen in part from the teaching that the Lord is looking for “empty vessels.”
We wonder how many Christians there are in the world who believe God will not allow them to be exposed to the counterfeit revelations of Satan. Whatever the number is, that is the number of Christians who are living in deception.
Instead of believing himself to be immune to deception or presenting himself as a puppet for the Spirit of God to move in the manner of a puppeteer, the Christian must judge all things through the Scripture, through prayer, through ministry and help from fellow members of the Body of Christ, through the counsel of devout and experienced elders of the church, and through a consistent life of cross-carrying obedience to the Spirit of God.
The Christian always must be cautious concerning any “voices” that speak to him. He must “try the spirits” (I John 4:1). He must use his will and judgment in doing God’s will and avoid any tendencies toward passive, undisciplined yielding.
Never does God take away the believer’s will. It is with the will that man chooses continually to obey God’s Word rather than the flatteries or threats of Satan. The will is associated with the power of judgment and choice in man. Our will is guided by the Scriptures and strengthened by constant prayer and by being decisive concerning the doing of God’s will in every matter.
We will serve the Lord. We will follow the Lord Jesus. We will read the Word of God and we will be guided by it. We will resist the devil. We will turn away from temptation.
How many would-be disciples of today are losing their crown of glory because they cannot make up their mind to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus?
We are not teaching that a person can save himself through his willpower. We are saved by faith in Christ. We are teaching that the will of man is of importance in the plan of redemption and that it is impossible to pursue the overcoming life until the will is strengthened in prayer and is razor-sharp.
“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” If Adam and Eve had used their wills and served God in the manner He commanded, they still would be enjoying the garden of Eden. God wants sons, not puppets.
Now back to the believer who is entertaining the suggestion that he is especially favored of the Lord. As we said, your common sense will keep you from rash behavior at first. The thrilling concept of spiritual preeminence or of sexual adventure and indulgence is germinating in your heart. Sooner or later the forces of wickedness by which you have been deceived will express themselves and you will say or do something that will shock your Christian sensibilities. The shock may cause you to enter a state of confusion.
Satan may move in at this point with powerful pressures of guilt and fear. You may feel forced to continue in the delusion because of the incorrect notion that since you are yielded to God’s will it is impossible for you to be deceived.
If you submit to the fear and confusion and continue to assent to the deception that you are an especially chosen person in the realm of authority or sexual license, although this deception already has borne evil fruit in your life, you are starting down the long dark road to total deception and demonic bondage.
Rather than submitting to the fear and confusion you may wish to be delivered. Deliverance from the power of demons always is available to people through the blood atonement that Christ has made on the cross. Humble yourself before God and confess with your mouth that you have believed yourself to be especially chosen and now you doubt that the voice that told you this was of God.
Confess to the Lord Jesus every aspect of the problem, from the moment that you first began to entertain the spirit of preeminence or of favoritism in the area of sexual behavior. Ask the Lord to judge the situation. Ask Him to show you the truth, and believe He will do it.
Do not be proud of your spiritual discernment, experience or abilities. Never fear that you will lose something of God by asking the Lord Jesus to judge your deeds, words, imaginations, and motives. God will not be insulted and draw away from you even if the word and desire you thought you received actually was from Him. Remember, Satan wants you to keep away from the light, away from Christ’s judging and delivering power.
It often is true we are attacked in the area that in the future will prove to be our destiny, the destiny for which our personality is best suited. The appeal may be to the strongest part of our personality. The temptation comes as a warped, perverted form of what some day will be our inheritance. All elements of our personality, the great and the small, must first be brought down to the death of the cross before they can be elevated to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
The Lord Jesus was tested by Satan in the three areas that today are His inheritance in the Presence of the Father.
When you confess your sins, doubts, fears, or questions, God will receive you. He understands all about the battle.
Anything God has given to you can stand any reasonable examination to which you wish to subject it.
The wisdom that comes from above is gentle, always willing to be questioned and investigated. Righteousness always runs toward the light that its deeds may be shown to have been performed in God.
It is Satan who desires that ideas be buried in the darkness of your mind and heart, and who floods you with fear when you attempt to bring your imaginations and motives out into the open. Satan cannot stand the light but God dwells in the light. When you confess your deeds, words, motives, and imaginations, you are bringing them to the light of God so they can be judged.
Confess the thoughts and deeds of preeminence, lust, hatred, or whatever you are suspicious of and troubled about in your heart and life. Ask God to judge your behavior. Be specific when you name the behavior in question. Beseech God to put His fire on the questionable thoughts or actions.
If you are troubled and bound, filled with guilt and fear, confess your problem to a mature Christian of the same sex as yourself. Ask him or her for prayer and counsel. “Confess your faults (sins; offenses) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16). God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, as well as to heal us physically.
From this point onward, resist the wicked thoughts and deeds, resting in the strength of Christ as you do so, and Satan will flee from you. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Never, never, never give up! God does not change His mind. We are in a warfare.
Keep walking in righteousness, remembering that God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
If you are bound tightly and “hopelessly” in the realms of darkness, why don’t you try laughing at Satan and at the forces that bind you. Jesus possesses far more authority and power than is necessary to set you absolutely free in your spirit, in your soul, and in your body.
If you have not as yet realized that Christ possesses all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth, please be assured that such is the case. All that remains for the accomplishment of your deliverance is the exercise of your faith in Christ according to God’s Word. If you just can’t seem to bring enough faith to bear on your problem, ask Jesus to give you some of His faith.
(“Pressing Past Pentecost: Thirteen”, 4038-1)