Reading #67 – The Folly of Believers

Excerpted from:

http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/dangersofsoulish.htm

Context is denying the self (soul). I think when I first read Jesus’s words on denying the self, it was difficult for me to take in. At that time, I was shocked. But the Holy Spirit has shown me so much since then. This passage just captures perfectly the need for vigilance to discern what is of the Spirit and what is not. How else can we walk by the Spirit if we don’t know how? I sense that most believers do not even know what walking after the Holy Spirit truly is. And I am one of them. How much prayer is needed then to chase after His heart rather than our own!

The Folly of Believers

Countless saints are blind to the harmfulness inherent in soulish experience. They consider it right to resist and reject those obviously sinful deeds of the flesh because these defile the spirit, but at the same time are they not justified in walking by the energy of the soul which they share in common with all men and animals? What wrong is there for we men to live by our natural power provided we do not sin? As long as the teaching of the Bible concerning soul life does not touch their hearts they will be unable to see any reason for denying that life. If for instance they should transgress God’s law and offend Him, they definitely know this is wrong; but if these same believers try their best to do good and to inspire their inborn virtue, how, they ask, can there be any objection? In performing God’s work they may neither do it zealously nor depend upon His strength, but at least, they will argue, what we do is God’s work! Perhaps many of these endeavors are not appointed by God; nevertheless, those activities are not sinful, claim these believers, but rather most excellent! What offense can that kind of work be? Since God has bestowed gifts and talents in abundance, why can we not work with them? Are we not to engage our talents? If we are not talented we can do nothing; if talented, we should employ them at every opportunity!

Their reasoning continues in another vein: we of course would be wrong to neglect God’s Word, but can it now be wrong for us to search out diligently with our mind the meaning of the Scriptures? Can there be sin in reading the Bible? There are many truths of which we presently are ignorant; how unreasonably long we would have to wait to understand them if we did not use our brains! Is not our mind created by God for us to use? Since we are doing it for God and not for sinful ends why can we not use our mind to plan and plot God’s work?

They go one step further. Our seeking for the consciousness of God’s presence, they will insist, arises from an honest and sincere heart. When we feel dry and low in our life and labor is it not true that God frequently uplifts us by making us so aware of the love of the Lord Jesus as though He had set aglow a fire in our hearts and by giving us such joy and such a sense of His presence that we can almost touch Him? Can anyone deny this as the summit of spirituality? Why, then, judge it wrong if we earnestly seek and pray for the restoration of such feeling after it has been lost and our life has become cold and common?

These musings are just what numerous saints do turn over in their hearts. They do not distinguish the spiritual from the soulical. They have not yet received that personal revelation of the Holy Spirit which shows them the evil of their natural walk. They must be willing to wait upon God for instruction, petitioning the Holy Spirit for revelation as to the sundry evils of their natural good life. This needs to be done in honesty and humility, accompanied by a readiness to forsake everything which the Holy Spirit may uncover.

At the appropriate time He will point out to them the utter corruption of their natural life.

The Holy Spirit will equip them to realize that all their work and walk are centered upon self and not upon the Lord. Their good deeds are done not only by their own efforts but primarily for their own glory as well. They have not sought God’s will in their exertions. They are not disposed to obey God nor to undertake every matter according to His guidance and through His strength. They simply do what and as they feel like doing. All their prayers and striving after God’s will are purely outward shows; they are utterly false. Though these believers use God-endowed talents, they nevertheless think only of how gifted they are, forgetting entirely the Giver of these gifts. They eagerly admire the Word of the Lord but seek knowledge only to satisfy the aspiration of their mind; they are reluctant to wait upon God for His revelation in due course. Their quest for the presence of God, for the consciousness of His mercy and nearness, is not for God’s sake but for their happiness. By so doing they are not loving the Lord; rather, they are loving the feeling which refreshes them and affords them the glory of the third heaven. Their total life and labor elevate self as the center. They wish to enjoy themselves.

God’s children are awakened to the folly of holding fast their soul life only after they have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit as to the abhorrent character of that life. Such enlightenment does not arrive all at once; it proceeds gradually; not once for all but on many occasions. When believers are illumined by the Spirit for the first time they repent beneath the Light and voluntarily deliver their self life to death. But human hearts are exceedingly deceitful. After a while, perhaps but a few days later, self-confidence, self-love and self-pleasure are reinstated. Hence, periodic illumination must continue so that believers may be willing to deny their natural life. What is truly distressing is to find few believers so possessed of the Lord’s mind that they are amenable to yielding voluntarily to Him in these matters. Multiplied defeats and no less shame are always required to render believers willing and ready to forsake their natural propensities. How imperfect is our willingness and how fickle is our condition!

Christians ought to eliminate their folly. They ought to adopt God’s view of the absolute impossibility for their natural walk to please Him. They must dare to allow the Holy Spirit to point out to them every corruption of the soul life. They must exercise faith in believing God’s estimation of their natural life and must wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to reveal in them what the Bible says of them. Only in this manner will they be led in the way of deliverance.

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