by Paul Benson
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Proverbs 4:26
Although personal introspection is a wise endeavor at any season, the first of the year is a time we customarily take stock of ourselves and make commitment to change for the better.
And for the Christian this takes on a more vital significance. It is a time many choose to make an appraisal of their spiritual state and their relationship with our heavenly Father.
But, considering all the biblical warnings of deception and delusions, is there any way to keep from fooling ourselves and get a fix on our true spiritual condition? I believe there is!
A Word Of Caution!
Here is some advice on New Year resolutions you may have never heard before; and it may even surprise you to hear it here: Proceed With Caution! In self-appraisal we always run the risk of falling victim to our own efforts. If we are not careful we can actually worsen our personal condition! That might sound a little bizarre to some of you, but I assure you it is true.
The peril lies in straying to either of two extremes in our attempts at judging ourselves as individuals. If I had to label those two extremes I guess I would probably tag them as ‘condemnation’ and ‘pacification’. Neither of which is found to be very helpful at self improvement; and can actually accomplish just the opposite. Let’s look at the two a little closer.
On one hand we face the danger of abandoning that drive for personal improvement due to a pacification of one sort or another. The road to a better you never gets traveled because the car never leaves the garage!
One of the greatest concerns I have for the well-being of the Body of Christ is the pacifying nature of most of what is being preached and taught today. If you are out of sync with the will of God, and you have someone convincing you that you are secure in God’s grace no matter what you do or how far you stray, it could very well cost you your soul!
The hyper-grace preachers and their ‘Eternal Security’ doctrine did not get that message from Headquarters; it came from the camp of the enemy! I will not get long-winded here refuting those teachings, but they are from the pit of Hell; and they speak contrary to the warnings we find in the Bible that they who persist in defiling behavior will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I hope a false understanding of the grace of God does not have you lingering in sin, thinking you are sanctified in the sight of God, if you are in reality fallen from his grace and need to seek restoration. And YES, it is possible to fall from grace!
On the other hand the danger is to languish in a fruitless condemnation. As believers it is crucial we understand the difference between conviction (a work of the Holy Spirit) and condemnation (a satanic bondage). Whether imposed upon us by ourselves, or by others, condemnation is a spiritual prison where strength is sapped and vision is lost.
And in many churches all you are going to hear is a message of condemnation. You will hear: ‘You are just a saved filthy sinner; and that is all you can ever be!’ But beating yourself up over your failings (or constantly voicing what a rotten sinner you are) will never set you free, nor is it in any fashion pleasing to God. He has a much greater demand for your future than you hanging your head in defeat and wallowing in sin and condemnation your whole life.
The purpose of grace is not to whitewash you, but to transform you. The true path to eternal life is a walk of Victory Over Sin by the power of God’s grace! Have you found that victory?
Don’t let either of these ungodly extremes, pacification or condemnation, rob you of your resolve to make forward progress in your faith.
It could be deadly!
Only on Judgment Day will it be revealed the multitude of souls lost because that inner witness prompting them to alter their course was silenced by false teachings that pacified them in their sin; or who were left in bondage to sin by a mistaken understanding of the purpose and power of the true grace of God.
We must chart our course away from those two extremes and find safe harbor in God’s true expectations of us; and the means he has given to empower us to conform to his will. The Spirit of Jesus in you has the power to make you like Jesus!
Never doubt that the grace of God has the power to sanctify you and make you holy!
Judging Ourselves With Righteous Judgment
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. -Jesus the Christ
Jesus gave us a standard by which we could discern the true nature of those we rub elbows with in our Christian experience. The actions of those around us tell us the status of their spiritual condition. He even said their very words would clue us in to the condition of their heart. (…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Matt. 12:34)
According to the Bible the words and actions of a person are the true measure of their character; but do we really embrace that truism and give it application in our own lives?
I often wonder if we do.
One of the most frequently spoken misunderstandings cited as Scripture, but in actuality does not even reside in the Bible, is that: ‘God judges the intent of a person’s heart and not necessarily their actions’. Who has not heard some rendering of ‘God knows their heart’ given to excuse the poor behavior of a wayward Saint, or of a deceased loved one? But that is not the way the Bible puts it!
…and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:23
Who will render to every man according to his deeds: Romans 2:6
…and they were judged every man according to their works. Revelation 20:13
It’s pretty clear (at least to me anyway) that the standard God uses to judge an individual is their deeds. There is no where the Bible speaks of God judging or rewarding according to a person’s good intentions. Sorry, it’s just not in there!
Yes, the Bible certainly speaks of God knowing the heart, and of him discerning the thoughts and intent of the heart, but the standard by which he judges is always a persons works.
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Proverbs 24:12
… I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:23
And if the Scriptures speak so clearly as how to properly discern a person’s spiritual or heart condition, and also of this standard by which the Lord shall judge all of mankind, shouldn’t we see the wisdom of using this measure upon our own selves?
In this season of introspection let’s not deceive ourselves with man’s doctrines of pacification; or hinder our progress by wallowing in condemnation over our failures!
Let’s honestly take a good look at the fruit we are bearing before the Lord and before man. Let’s examine our works (and our words) and then seek the Lord for the power of his grace to overcome our limitations and shortcomings.
There is victory in Jesus!
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Psalms 24:3-5
Let’s Get It Right!
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