by Rayola Kelley
We have been on a journey to discover what it will mean to survive the end days. This is the last article in this series. We can look at the great challenges before us and conclude that we are facing some exciting times, but are we ready for the possible challenges that could shake our worlds? As believers, we need to keep in mind that to spiritually survive involves preparing the inner man to stand in trials and testings, with the intent of walking out the Christian life in an appropriate way. Therefore, the real culprit that we must face will not always come from the outside, but from within our own personal camps.
When we consider what it means to survive, we think in terms of managing to survive the odds of something that would normally be considered impossible to endure. If we come out on the other side of such a situation, we figure we have survived it, and now belong to that unique club of survivors that serve as shining beacons of hope. However, in the kingdom of God, the concept of survival is a bit different. It is not a matter of coming out on top of an impossible matter; rather, the real issue is who will come out on top in our lives.
I have often shared with others that the world is a big classroom, and life the main teacher. In America, before the invasion of Communistic indoctrination in our schools, academia was designed to prepare students for a different life outside of their controlled or confined worlds of family, friends, and education.
Likewise, when it comes to spiritual survival, the world serves as a classroom that is meant to prepare and challenge us in light of a new existence. Eventually, we will even graduate from this classroom to embrace a completely different way of living. As we consider the idea of the world, we will discover that much of what it stands for is vanity, and its goal is to tantalize the fleshly appetites to pursue its deadly fruit and temporary glory. However, it brings a viable contrast to us when it comes to what constitutes life.
When it comes to the harsh reality of life being our teacher, it clearly stipulates that all is a cruel joke unless there is something beyond the activities of the present world. This was brought home by the tragic shootings that have recently taken place in Oregon and Connecticut. The tragedy will be blamed on guns, but the real culprit rests with society that has taken God and morality out of the equation. What you end up with is a society that will run amuck in a world of fanaticism which will prove lawless, indifferent, militant, and insane.
It is for this reason that so much of the world’s activities seem senseless. It becomes clearer each new day that life proves to be an astute teacher. Its shrewdness can cause people to become utter skeptics if they do not understand its ultimate goal. However, it will teach open, receptive students that their very existence does not make sense unless there is a God who has a purpose, plan, and design for their lives. In order for each of us to secure real purpose for our being, we must come to terms with God. In order to benefit from His plan, we must come to a place of agreement with Him. And, to discover our place in His kingdom, we must come to a place of total separation from what was in order to discover what can be.
According to the Bible, transformation of the inner man is a necessity while reformation of the outer man is a means to whitewash tombs that contain the dead bones of the old ways and of man’s religious best. The reason is the old must die so that the new can live. The “old” will defile the new, and the “new” will render the old ineffective. The Bible clearly brings this principle out in the parable in Matthew 9:16-17 and the example found in Haggai 2:11-14.
Clearly, when it comes to the matters of holiness, saints cannot make what is considered to be “common”, “profane”, and what is “unclean” acceptable to God. That which is considered profane by God will be judged and consumed by His holy fire. The reason for this is because holiness is a state. If you expose and touch the unclean, it will make you unclean in your state. Since God is holy, His Church must be holy as well. The members of His Body must come out and separate from that which is unholy, in order to separate themselves to that which is holy. This is the only way to ensure the integrity of their inward state.
It is for this reason that the Lord has exhorted that we come out and touch not the unclean thing (2 Corinthians 6:17). Peter commanded that since our God is holy, we must be holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15-16). Finally, we have Hebrews, which reminds us that God chastises those whom He loves so that they might be partakers of his holiness. It goes on to say, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
The truth is, as Christians, we are preparing ourselves for the world to come by walking towards our demise in this present age. The more we die to the influences of the flesh and the world, and the more we expose ourselves to the things of God, the more we will reside in a holy state that will express itself with an upright attitude and godly conduct.
The fact that we are to become crucified to the old way proves that Christians are not meant to hold onto the old; rather, they are instructed to lay it aside so that it will not beset them in the race set before them (Hebrews 12:1). However, to some Christians, they cannot fathom why the Lord would call them to separate from that which appears to be pleasant to their way of thinking, beneficial to their being, and glorious to their emotional welfare. In a way, they give the impression that God is a bit unfair, asking too much from them. After all, their actions are not hurting anyone and they only indulge or give way occasionally to the unholy.
However, a good rule of thumb to test something as to whether it would be considered “unclean” to the Lord is simple enough. First, are we willing to expose the real truth about the type of emphasis we put on any questionable attitude or conduct by being ready to give it up and leave it behind to follow Jesus into a greater life? After all, if it is not that important to us and it puts a questionable light on our Christian testimony, we should be willing to let it go for the sake of Christ. If we are not willing to let it go, most likely it is an idolatrous thing that harbors a rebellious attitude. Granted, we can hide such a condition behind religious garb, but such a state will cause our activities to be deemed unclean by the Lord, for it is coming from an unclean, unregenerate vessel that needs to be cleansed through and through.
An unclean state is also a perverted state. If you allow yourself to compromise at one point, this thread of concession will run through the whole of your Christian life. After all, there should be conviction and shame towards the matter because it is not of God. If there is no repentance, the conscience must be eventually subdued through personal justification and delusion. This state will also force the person to adjust the Word because it clearly states, if you love the Lord, you will obey Him and that He is clearly calling each of us to a state of holiness.
This brings us to the attitude these individuals have towards Jesus. The ones I have encountered who possess this state of compromise often display a sentimental attitude towards the Lord. When they talk about Him, they can become quite emotional, yet, they harbor those things that are not pleasing to Him and which causes a separation in their relationship with Him. Their sentiment gives them the impression that as long as the emotion is there, the devotion is as well. However, this is a point of grave deception. Sentiment is not the fruit of true love, for love expresses itself in obedience. It is not a form of faith, for such emotion is fickle and becomes complacent, apathetic, or lazy, thereby falling short of doing what is honorable in the end. To fall short of doing what is right is the sin of omission (James 4:17).
Individuals who are trying to bring the old together with the new at best tack Jesus on to their activities. They often stand out because they live defeated lives. Most of their spiritual life represents that which is nominal at best. Nothing really happens, but in Christianity one is either going forward or backward, but no one can remain in neutral. Eventually these individuals’ lives will begin to spiral out of control as they are flung downward into the abyss of utter despair.
Sadly, these people could avoid the abyss, but they first must come clean and agree with God about their state. He wants to reason with them about those things that are robbing them of inner peace, killing their resolve to stand in righteousness, and destroying their testimony(Isaiah 1:18). They have to allow themselves to be separated from the past baggage of their lives that they have held onto. This baggage can be old ways, habits, events, or attitudes. Some of these matters may have seemed harmless in the beginning, but eventually they became a hindrance. Perhaps, the Lord tried to put His finger on it, but the person would have none of it, causing him or her to come to a dead stop in his or her spiritual life and shift into reverse.
As Christians, we must keep in mind that when it comes to the test of our faith, its fiery trials are meant to burn up those aspects of our lives that keep us mired down in the mud of the pigpens of the world and chained to our former lives. It is true that Christianity can bring some outer reformation to our lives, therefore causing us to be presented in a changed way. However, Christianity is not meant to reform our old lives, but instead transform us into a new creation that would be unrecognizable to those who knew us in our former lives. In fact, such a life would bring a separation and contrast between the old and the new.
In these days, we need to separate from the old so that we can stand in assurance in the new. The truth is, we need to make sure the baggage of the past is not weighing us down. We cannot afford to simply get by and hope for the best, while settling for wishful thinking that our offerings to God will withstand the fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-16). And, if for some reason our works are rendered into ashes, we hope we can still get into heaven, even if we shamefully face the fact that we will have nothing to present to our precious Lord but the ashes of futility.
We must have the inner character to stand in these days. Our lives must clearly be established in the ways of righteousness so that we can stand in authority when tested to compromise. We must be prepared to stand for truth, withstand with unfeigned faith, and continue to stand in the assurance of a future hope when everything around us declares we are foolish to do so.
The next question is how can we be established in such a life? It begins with true repentance (Luke 13:3, 5; 2 Peter 3:9). We must call, “sin, sin.” We must acknowledge what is unclean in our lives is, “unclean.” We must confess that it is unacceptable to our Lord; therefore, it must become unacceptable to us, and we must resolve to refuse to tolerate it any longer. From this point we can draw near to God and He will draw near to us. If we lay all such baggage at His feet in brokenness, He will take it from us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
The next step is to begin to walk after the Spirit (Romans 8:1). A state that is a mixture of half-hearted religion and carnality produces complacency and condemnation. It is for this reason we must stir ourselves out of spiritual indifference and begin to follow after that which is righteous, godly, faithful, loving, long-suffering, and meek (2 Timothy 2:22). This is how we depart from iniquity and expose ourselves to a holy environment. The more we allow the disciplines of the Spirit-filled life to have its way, the more we will know what it means to possess our souls in patience.
Once we start walking after the Spirit, He will be able to lead us to our place in the Lord, away from the condemnation of the Law (Romans 8:11-17). Positionally, we are seated in high places with Jesus, but we must be led to greater spiritual heights by the Spirit in order to become identified with the life of Christ. As we come into places of spiritual growth, we will understand our status as children of God and understand what it means to have sweet communion with the Lord. It is as we grow in our relationship with the Lord that we will be prepared to stand on His promises, while standing in the cleft of His immovable truths.
It is upon being led by the Spirit that we can begin to walk or live in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18). We will no longer fulfill the lust of the flesh, for the old has been and continues to be put off in the power of the Spirit and the new embraced with joyous abandonment. We will be increasingly conformed to the likeness of Christ as we daily put on His attitude and ways. It is in this life that there will be assurance, there will be expectation, and there will be victory!
Today, as believers we need to know how to walk through the darkness of this present age. It must be in the power of the Spirit. However, the Spirit will not land where the unholy resides. We must cease to think about, touch, or value the unclean things of the world and the flesh. We must cease to touch it with any kind of agreement and turn away from the attraction of it in repentance, as we look to God to show us a way to flee the temptation of it. We must come into step with the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to walk in righteousness, liberty, and victory.
As believers, we must recognize that such a walk is a preparation to simply step into glory without skipping a step, while avoiding stumbling into defeat, tripping over despair, or falling into the abyss of hopelessness before we reach the finish line. It is for this reason I want to challenge believers that, instead of making a New Year resolution about doing better, losing weight, or accomplishing something new, we should humble ourselves and give God permission to make us ready to survive the challenge the New Year may bring us. We need to let Him cleanse our present temple of any profane thing, establish us firmly on the eternal foundation, and line us up to the immovable cornerstone of heaven.
It is my prayer that each of us may be accounted worthy to escape all the things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man in light of the complete assurance of the good work He was allowed to do in us.