Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Using the Wisdom that Comes From Above

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
--James 3:13-18 NKJV

One of the conundrums of a “New Believer” is the “New” spiritual fight they find within their minds. The Apostle Paul refers to it as the “Flesh lusting against the Spirit” in Gal. 5:17. And for many of those delivered from the darkness of the old sinful habits and into the “…the kingdom of the Son of His love,” Col. 1:13, the war is very pronounced and real. The temptations coming in remembrance of the life from which they have been delivered will subtly sneak up on them at inopportune times, seizing the moment, and begging for attention. If they fall they experience guilt and the lie that God’s forgiveness is no longer available for them; they often fall very hard as they accept this lie. If they do not recover, as God desires they do, in the aftermath what I often hear is, “I am just not good enough” and or “I cannot make commitments to God.” This is sad for the wisdom found in the glorious gospel of the grace of God teaches us that we are to get back up and persist onward in the battle for the weakness of the flesh does not necessitate a weakness in the Grace of God. On the contrary, “where sin abounded, Grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 5:20-21. That statement—that wisdom is a big chunk of the greatness that is the gospel!

In the aforementioned passage, James tells us of the two characteristics that all fleshly lusts which war against the believer are rooted in, “Bitter envy” and “Self seeking.” Just this morning I was listening to a conversation where a man who does not have a relationship with Jesus was boasting of the “fun” he had over the weekend at a drinking party. When I hear these things my soul gets an empty sick feeling. I liken it to the Spirit of God telling me of the emptiness and futility that characterizes the life of those who live to fulfill their fleshly gratifications. We will call this lost person, whom I know very well, Cal. If I were to follow Cal around I would find that he lives a life that centers on trying to find what he calls fun. Fun to Cal is drinking, pornography, and electronic gadgets. That said he, hops from one self seeking desire to another trying to find that one special thing that puts all others to shame. Meanwhile, the clock of his life keeps ticking away, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, as the precious time God has given Him in order to begin the life he could have in Christ is squandered away.

Cal is typical of billions of people who live the self-seeking life—hopping from one gratification to another. But what will happen when the clock stops ticking, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick….? When asked about this the common empty response is, “At least I have lived a life well-pleasing to me.” That is true, and if Jesus were speaking to them face-to-face He would tell them “they have their reward,” cp. Matt. 6:2, 5, 16. Personally my soul cannot rest unless I persist in preaching the gospel and trying to “pull some from the fire,” Jude 1:23. My desire is that all people know Christ, the joy of the Lord, and the power of His resurrection. So the question bubbles up, “Why do some Christians get fired up and stay fired up while others seem to lose their fire, if they ever had one?” The answer is in Jesus’ Great Commission, discipleship. We are failing miserably at discipleship in the churches. Maybe it is because we have never been discipled ourselves. Discipleship involves, teaching others the whole Gospel, spending time to listen to them, loving them, helping them out, and modeling the “Christ-Life” for them. Christians need to see that there is “Joy” in serving the Lord. And the consecrated life is not going to result in the Lord saying, “They have their reward, but rather, “Enter into the joy of the Lord,” Matt. 25:21, 23, and receive the “treasures you have laid up in heaven,” Matt. 6:20. Discipleship is being willing to say I will deny myself, take up His cross and follow, Mark 8:34. That is a sore spot in Christendom.

God Has Not Left Us Wanting
We have all the resources and the power of heaven, at our fingertips if we will only decide to use them. In praying for the believers at Ephesus Paul stated the following request in prayer:

…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
--Ephesians 1:17-23

Wisdom from above is what dictates the outcome of decisions made in the life of Spirit-filled believers. But just as a baby needs to be nurtured and fed in order to learn to walk so must all believers at one time or another. Yes, there are self-taught Christians who learned early through avid Bible reading and much prayer to listen to the Holy Spirit as their lives were transformed; but most are not.

Today’s church is going to continue to decline until we begin to build one another up in the wisdom that comes from the Word of God and walking in the Spirit. Discipleship and self-sacrifice—being serious about the call Christ places on our hearts—is one of the keys.

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