For months now the recurring theme has had to do with bringing our perspective intoalignment with God’s. There are many snares along the way that would impede our spiritual growth. We may see well enough with the natural eye, while our spiritual vision is very limited. We should never make assumptions… about ourselves or about others. There is a constant struggle within our heart for the rulership of our being. The three main areas I am being made conscious of are these:
Self-Perception – how I think I am
God-Perception – how I think God is
World-Perception – how I think others, and the world in general are.
All three areas are fertile breeding grounds for error and deception. When we come to realize that all of our perceptions have no eternal power or value in and of themselves, unless and until they come into complete alignment with God’s Perspective, we can only continue to tenaciously cling to our own thoughts and ways, falling short and missing the mark. The ‘mark’ is the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus!
We all have our own perspective, on everything. As an analogy, imagine a long, high fence with knotholes in it. And each person has their own knothole to peek through. Each one can see some things; but their view is very limited. Yet because it is all that they can see, to them it is everything there is. Well, when they gather together and begin to talk about what they see, they have different and conflicting descriptions, depending on just where along the fence they were peering through. This is similar to what we do as Christians. God has shown us some things, and others He has shown other things, and when we come together, because they are not always the identical viewpoint, then we fight amongst ourselves. We see ourselves as being full-grown, ready for meat, not recognizing that while we are still fighting over doctrines and whether or not you are in or out of the Church, are vision is still limited, and we are not as ready for meat as we think we are. Paul said it best in Hebrews 5:12 … “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”
Whom The Son Sets Free… Is Free Indeed!
We all start out as ‘babes in Christ.’ It is up to each one of us, whether or not we will take up and carry our own cross; whether or not we will press toward the mark to become full stature sons of God; or remain spiritual infants throughout this lifetime. Granted, there is little encouragement to strive for spiritual maturity, while there is great encouragement to conform to the accepted religious norm.
Sonship is not something reserved for an elect few; while being denied to the masses. On the contrary, sonship is God’s desire for all of His children. While it is freely offered to ‘all,’ there is a cost involved, and therein lies the crux of the matter. The price for attaining full stature sonship, is your life. Your ‘self’ life. Your surrendered will. The complete and total submission of your will to His will. Jesus Christ is the firstborn son, among many brethren. His brethren will follow Him, and be made like unto Him, by the transforming work of His Holy Spirit within their inner man… “till… as Paul said… not I live, but Christ liveth in me.” Jesus is our example, the only one we are to imitate, if you will.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12:2.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15.
We can receive these statements as being Truth, and earnestly desire for them to be made a reality in our lives, yet never get beyond the seeing and the wanting. We may try to convince ourselves that because we see it, and want it, and are not in opposition to it, that this change must be something that either happens in the afterlife, or that it is something that we can only achieve by above average faith. Both trains of thought have much practical appeal, and many staunch supporters, but neither one get us any closer to being changed. We take verses like the one found in1 Corinthians 15:52,“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”… and comfort ourselves that it is not even something God expects us to reach for. We discover that to the carnal way of thinking, the easiest way to deal with this entire subject of becoming a new creature is to keep it as a blessed future event we can joyfully anticipate, but have no hope of attaining while still in these mortal bodies.
If we choose to go beyond mens’ expectations, and press in to ‘Know Him that called us,’ we will encounter all of the obstacles that Christ faced while he walked among men as a mortal.
We see throughout the Gospels that from a very young age Jesus’ chief concern was focused on doing the will of the Father. We never read of Him sowing wild oats for a season in His youth, or worrying about the political situation in His country, or how He would supply any of His daily needs. Why? Because He KNEW the Father,intimately. If Jesus had only ‘known about‘ the Father, it would not have been enough to sustain Him through His daily trials and ultimate crucifixion. Our religious ideas shortchange us into imagining that the chief purpose of salvation is to save us from hell. When in reality, the purpose of the ‘new birth’ is so that we can grow up spiritually, and have fellowship with God. That was the reason God created man in the first place.
The ‘Renewing of our mind’ goes far beyond all the things that we can ‘think’ or ‘do’ for God in our own strength. It involves our being awakened to our complete and utter lack and dependence on God, for all things! He is the Potter, we are the clay! Only He can transform our very nature and character, bringing us into conformity to His perfect will in all things. Only He can take our hard (self-centered, stony) hearts and make them like unto His heart (see Ezekiel 11:19 & 36:26).
So what is it that He came to set us free from? It is from ourselves, our selfish, carnal nature. He came that we might be delivered from our carnal perceptions, and be made spiritually alive, and brought into perfect union with Himself.
We hear great emphasis today placed on the importance of nurturing a good ‘self-image;’ building ‘self-confidence;’ feeling ‘good’ about yourself. I would call this an example of a foundation. The natural man’s focus is upon self. How I feel, what I want, whether others like me or not; my prestige, my wealth, my power, my knowledge, my abilities, my talents, my, my, my, me, me, me. And then try to throw a little religion into the mix for good measure.
As believers and followers of Christ, we bear the responsibility of establishing a firm foundation which can be built upon. Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Church, that the builders rejected. We need to know that we can give Him all manner of lip-service and good works, yet never allow Him to become our foundation. As long as we keep trying to build ourselves, from our own knowledge and through our own efforts, it is still wood, hay and stubble, and will be consumed by fire at His appearing. We have to go beyond just believing, as in agreeing. We must enter into an intimate, personal relationship with HIM, where He IS the foundation within us, until we can say with Paul, “In Him I live, and move, and have my being” Acts 17:28. We don’t automatically arrive at full-blown sonship at the moment of our salvation. We have to take up our own cross and follow Christ. The cross is not just a religious symbol; a piece of jewelry that we wear around our neck signifying God’s great love for man. It is an instrument that delivers an agonizing death. And for us as believers, it is the tool needed to bring about the death of self in us, that the new life of Christ might be made manifest in us.
Us, is the problem we must deal with. From earliest childhood, we begin to develop a perspective of ourselves, our world, and those around us. And as we grow, we build on this perspective, by developing ways of coping with situations and events in the way that most protects our ‘self.’ This is a mostly unconscious, natural response to our environment. We do not consciously examine all the alternatives and decide what kind of person we will be. In childhood, we develop many habitual responses to stimuli, and we build up defenses and coping methods. As adults, we seldom consider that how we think of ourselves is a result of our infantile responses. How many times have we said or heard others say things like, “I’m not like that.” “No one understands me.” This is because there is a conflict between how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us. We may see ourself as a good, loving, thoughtful, generous person, while those around us may see us quite differently. We are seldom aware of the energy we send out; while we are acutely aware of the energies others send our way.
Self-perception is a very devious thing indeed. As we grow spiritually, the Spirit of the Lord dredges up the habits and perceptions we developed early in life, as they must be dealt with. They are survival mechanisms that are of the flesh, and not of the Spirit. And they are as varied as individuals are. For some it might be feeling neglected, or abused, or unloved. As adults, they may have learned to cope by always seeing themselves as the underdog, misunderstood, even a martyr. There is no place in the Kingdom Realm for this kind of attitude; and it has to be exposed and dealt with.
It is a painful thing when God allows you to start hearing yourself, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” Luke 6:45.
We’re all good, right, at least according to our own self-perception? It’s kind of painful to be made aware of how frequently we speak in the “I,” “Me,” and “My” tenses; espousing our own emotions, opinions, and natural reactions.
“I could never do that.” “I would never want to go there.” “They just aren’t My kind of people,” etc. Go back through the Gospels and read Jesus’ words. He often spoke of Himself in the third person, as the son of man. He was God-centered, not self-centered. And He has made the way for us to follow Him, and become God-centered as well.
How blessed will it be to be free from the unconscious urge to continually compare ourselves with others, to critique others, to make our own determinations of good and bad, to justify ourselves, forever operating from the knowledge obtained from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and calling it God.
We may be familiar with the two parables Jesus shared in Luke 18, about the Rich Young Ruler and the Pharisee and the Publican. But do we take them to heart, or treat the like nice little stories? Does it enter our consciousness that we may be guilty of the same offenses, or do we dismiss the notion as impossible? Do we automatically assume our exemption because we are not rich? Do we realize that what matters is not one’s circumstances, but one’s heart condition? Our flesh is quite capable of following commandments and keeping rules. We can be just as guilty as they were; harboring pride (especially spiritual pride), loving our self-indulgences, going through all the outward motions but completely lacking the necessary heart condition the Publican displayed.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” Hebrews 4:12.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” Psalms 51:10.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will takeaway the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26.
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” Ephesians 4:24.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” John 14:23.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” Ephesians 5:6.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” John 8:36.
1) truly, in reality, in point of fact, as opp. to what is pretended, fictitious, false, conjectural
that which is truly etc., that which is indeed.
May we submit to the sword of the Lord in our own hearts, willingly giving up our rights to choose our own way, and to follow Him wherever He will lead us.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” Philippians 2:13.
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
“For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” Hebrews 12:10.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” Ephesians 6:13.