Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

February is an interesting month. Not only is it the shortest month of the year, but every four years, we have to remember “Leap Year.” Two Presidents’ birthdays are remembered, and sometimes the weather along the Washington coast is milder in February than in warmer months. I know because I lived there once. Make that “once upon a time.”

I remember, too, how it delighted my heart to see the budding “pussy willows.” Gathering pussy willows to make a table arrangement, especially for Valentine’s Day, was fun. After all, pussy willows brought with them the promise of spring flowers soon to follow.

With Valentine’s Day comes the big commercial push to send cards, and buy candy and flowers. Well, who doesn’t enjoy candy (especially chocolate) and flowers? Of course, the theme is hearts and love. I suppose it can be a bit of fun if one keeps it in the right perspective.

In fact, as believers, we need to keep everything in the right perspective. But, how can we know if we have the right perspective? After all, we all have our own ideas, standards and opinions upon which we often base our goals, decisions and reactions to people and situations. The problem is our ideas, standards and opinions may be influential in shaping our perspective, but, regardless of how “good” or “intelligent” they may appear to be, they lack the heavenly perspective. Allow me to quote from one of Rayola’s devotional books on this subject for Christians: “As believers we are not of this world. Positionally, we are actually sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. What does this mean to be in heavenly places? Keep in mind we are positionally in Christ. He is the essence of our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Our life is actually hid in Him. There is no indication that any aspect of our old self or life is even present.

“This shows us our hope. Our hope is not of this world. Our life is not from this world. Our perspective is not based on this world. Such an understanding shows us that our expectancy will direct our focus heavenward. Our pursuit for this heavenly existence will find its source in Jesus Christ. And, our perspective will possess a heavenly perspective.

“Such a perspective brings us to the importance of possessing the life of Jesus. We must possess Him to understand our position in Him. By coming to terms with our position in Christ, we will also find our place in Christ. As Christ becomes our all and all, we become more and more aware that it is indeed His life, His work and His bidding. There are no residues of self, the influences of the world, and the overwhelming dictates of the flesh. It will be about Christ, for Jesus, and because of Him.” [“Being A Child” by Rayola Kelley]

Possessing a heavenly perspective gives us a completely different approach to the issues of life. What our worldly hearts once yearned for is no longer effective. Self-serving interests, such as marrying the perfect mate, having the perfect children, living in the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, securing the perfect job with the perfect salary, enjoying the perfect vacation in the perfect place, and perhaps attending the perfect church, and, of course, enjoying perfect health, are all fantasies of this world that quickly fade away when the river of reality sweeps us into its powerful current. Why? Doesn’t God love us and want us to be happy? What’s wrong with wanting a perfect life in this imperfect world? The answer is just that—we live in an imperfect world because of one thing—sin.

God didn’t create an imperfect world. He didn’t plan it that way. Consider Genesis 1:31: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Sin, sickness, suffering, and sorrow were not God’s plan for this earth. Yet, all creation suffers because of sin, and longs for the day of redemption. Romans 8:21-23 tells us: “Because the creature[original formation, creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Brackets added)

Perhaps you’re sensing certain agitations wiggling their way into your heart about now. Perhaps there are sensations of anger, a sense of unfairness, or frustration. Maybe despair, like a rising tide, is lapping at the door of your heart. How could a good God allow such terrible things? Why should one man’s sin be passed down upon the entire human race, and affect all of creation as well? It just doesn’t seem fair!

            Through the years, people have done their best to come up with answers to these questions. Philosophers, poets, psychologists, and preachers have all offered their best conclusions to struggling mankind. Some, deeply offended by the seemingly unfairness of it all, choose to become atheists, denying the very existence of God. Untold numbers plunge headlong into psychology, searching in vain for answers. Others, many of whom are godless humanists, choose to throw themselves into humanitarian work to help relieve the suffering of others. Other people see themselves as protectors of the environment, and spend their lives trying to save different aspects of creation. Of course, they don’t really believe in creation. Darwin is their guru and fact-less evolution serves as their “doctrine.” Then there are the multitudes who seek, not after the Jesus of the Bible, but after spiritual experiences, thus opening the door to dangerous deceptions and doctrines of demons.

Some place all of their faith in science and believe that scientists are going to solve all of mankind’s woes. Others look to their spirit guides, or “entities,” those invisible “spirit guides” which appear as wise and kind benefactors, but are in reality, demons. Still others occupy themselves with a type of “self-brainwashing” as they partake of different streams of polluted and perverted “spirituality.” If they perceive that something is of a “spiritual” nature, they may decide to fit it into their own developing spiritual reality. These people are blind, operating under a false light, a light so terrible that the “light” within them is great darkness and deception. While every born-again Christian is a spiritual person in the truest sense of the word, not every “spiritual person” is a Christian! Don’t be fooled because someone appears to be “spiritual.” “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1.

On this same vein, it’s dangerous to assume that just because somebody has written a runaway “best seller” that is presenting a “new, different or revolutionary” definition of God through imagined conversations with Him, or fictional stories that stir up the emotions, that it is a true and accurate presentation of the Almighty. It’s interesting to note how Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life”, is either missing altogether, or is reduced from His Incarnate state and eternal godhood to the status of a mere human who is on the same level as the rest of humanity, and who meekly falls into step with whatever presentation is made of Him for self-serving purposes. I don’t know about you, but the very thought of misrepresenting any member of the Godhead in any way causes me to tremble.

Because we all grapple with the big questions of life from time to time concerning suffering, death, sorrow, loss, and so forth, doesn’t mean that we absolutely must have all the answers to these questions in this life. We are not going to understand it all. We are not going to have all the answers to every issue or situation this side of heaven. It is dangerous to begin to formulate our own conclusions, in order to resolve these issues in our minds and hearts, which are based upon nothing more than the prideful hot air of human reasoning, imagination and emotion. It amounts to building our house upon shifting sand.

Therefore, let us go back to the beginning and that powerful little word that nobody wants to think about—sin. If we are going to gain an understanding of how we got into this sad plight, we must begin with God’s perspective. Nothing short of God’s perspective makes sense. We can gain much insight from Oswald Chambers on this subject and the definition of sin. He wrote: “Sin is the outcome of a relationship God never ordained, a relationship which maintains itself by means of a wrong disposition, viz., my claim to my right to myself. That is the essence of sin. Whenever God touches sin it is independence that is touched and that awakens resentment in the human heart. Independence must be blasted clean out, there must be no such thing left, only freedom which is very different. Freedom is the ability not to insist on my rights, but to see that God gets His. Original sin is ‘doing without God.’ That phrase covers sin in its beginning in human consciousness and its final analysis in the sight of God. ‘For from within, out of the heart of man proceed . . .’ (see Mark 78:21-23). We should get into the habit of estimating ourselves by the rugged statements of our Lord. ‘ . . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). What is a sinner? Everyone who is not one with Jesus as He is one with God.”

Why is it that God’s solution to sin and its devastating results are so simple that until we utterly come to the end of ourselves and face Jesus Christ as He is, we try every other avenue to find relief, solace, peace, and comfort for our unsettled and tortured minds and hearts? Why is it that we search for “another way,” and experiment with the ways of the world when there is truly only “one Way?” Why do we desire to taste of the many tantalizing false “truths” presented to us, thus placing our souls in eternal jeopardy? What drives the inner man into the beckoning arms of the angel of light whose seductive celestial song woos our hearts into another dimension that is devoid of reality, or of God’s presence? Why do we, like Adam, hide among the “trees” of the world’s solutions in our attempt to escape the searching eyes of the Spirit of God?

The answer to that is as close as our unbelieving and prideful hearts wherein the fierce desire to be god of our lives resides. Pride says there has to be another solution other than Jesus Christ for the misery of my life—for the misery of mankind. Sin can’t be the root of my discontent, and the ills of the world. Pride says the Gospel isn’t relevant to solve mankind’s problems. We need human ingenuity. Pride says I can do a better job than God when it comes to saving, or changing the world. Pride says Jesus Christ isn’t enough! Isn’t He?

If the Jesus Christ of the Bible (not “The Message” or any of the other perverted so-called “versions”) isn’t “enough,” then you do not know Him. As A. W. Tozer wrote: “Some of you know something of that which has been called ‘the dark night of the soul.’ Some of you have spiritual desire and deep longing for victory but it seems to you that your efforts to go on with God have only brought you more bumps and more testings and more discouragement. You are tempted to ask, ‘How long can this go on??” . . .

“Yes, there is a dark night of the soul. There are few Christians willing to go into this dark night and that is why there are so few who enter into the light. It is impossible for them ever to know the morning because they will not endure the night.”

It may minister to your heart to read the following, also by Tozer: “We are all idealists. We picture to ourselves a life on earth completely free from every hindrance, a kind of spiritual utopia where we can always control events, where we can move about as favorites of heaven, adjusting circumstances to suit ourselves. This we feel would be quite compatible with the life of faith and in keeping with the privileged place we hold as children of God.

“In thinking thus we simply misplace ourselves; we mistake earth for heaven and expect conditions here below which can never be realized till we reach the better world above. While we live we may expect troubles, and plenty of them. We are never promised a life without problems as long as we remain among fallen men.”

The question is where is your heart? Is it humbled under the mighty hand of God, willing to cry out with the Savior, “Not my will, but thine be done?” Or, is it retreating into a corner of self-pity, anger, fear, and rebellion? Perhaps your heart has been committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, but you still find yourself drawn to outside sources of comfort and assurance that have no solid foundation in the Word of God. Maybe your heart is broken, and filled with unresolved issues that keep you from going forward in your life in Christ.

Wherever your heart is right now, won’t you open it up before the Lord and ask Him to show you what He desires for your heart? Remember, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” Luke 4:18. No one, or nothing else, can do what Jesus can do. He is God’s solution to every problem, and to every heart. That, my friends, is God’s perspective—Jesus Christ!