Evangelism Unlimited

UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WORKINGS BRINGS CONFIDENCE

UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WORKINGS BRINGS CONFIDENCE

6 10 99
UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WORKINGS BRINGS CONFIDENCE 10 6 99

When understood wrongly, many verses can undermine our confidence that God will hear our prayers. Take this one, for example:

·       “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” (Matthew 6:5; ESV)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that if we pray in order to get man’s praise, we will get just that and not God’s praise and provisions. However, this teaching can provoke self-despair and uncertainty about our Lord responding to our prayers.

Why? Because we care deeply about what people think about us! We care about whether they like, admire, respect us, or think that we are spiritual? Have we then already received our reward in the form of the esteem of others?

Not at all! There is a big difference between having exclusively fleshly motives and having a dual nature – one sinful (fleshly) and one spiritual, as we now have:

·       But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)

We are in the uncomfortable state of having two antagonistically opposed natures. For us, life is a continual battle between the two. Consequently, in our spirit, we want to please God, but in the flesh, we crave the approval of men. Paul illuminated this painful struggle in which we find ourselves, even after we come to our Savior:

·       So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25)

Even in Jesus the struggle between the flesh and our redeemed mind continues. This raises an important question: “Who is the real me before God – the flesh or the redeemed spirit?” In God’s mind, we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:4-9). Even those of the contentious Corinthian Church are characterized in this manner:

·       Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Even though, in many regards, they were sinning, in God’s sight, they “were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified.” This new identity took precedence over the way that they had been and even over the fact that they were still sinning.

We struggle against sin daily. Why? Because our Lord has merely created a beachhead in our lives! Meanwhile, we are still awaiting our final redemption and even adoption:

·       And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us that we still struggle mightily against the temptations of the flesh. And this will continue until our Lord returns for us (1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:12-14). Meanwhile, are we disqualified from receiving anything from the Lord, when we temporarily surrender to the fleshly desires?

Once, seeing an elderly woman fall down in the middle of a busy intersection, I spontaneously ran to her rescue. However, as soon I began to help her to safety on the other side of the street, I began to look around to see how many saw my “heroism.”

The fleshly desires will always be present. They do not sleep once we come to Christ. Sometimes, we will even succumb to them. However, our Savior knows about our weaknesses and has made provision for us:

·       If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

We therefore can trust that when we confess our sins, we are not only forgiven but cleansed of all of our past sins and their defiling effects. Meanwhile, the Spirit is bringing forth many fruits through this painful struggle. In order to trust in God, we have to first learn to despair of ourselves and our own righteousness. Even Paul had to learn this lesson by despairing of life:

·       For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

We cannot learn to trust God until we learn that we cannot trust in ourselves. We can only learn such a lesson as we struggle against our sinful temptations. Paul also learned that he could not hope in his own worthiness, which he came to see as filthy rags:

·       But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:7-9)

As we grow in Christ, the Spirit shows us our utter unworthiness but also Christ’s worthiness. Therefore, do not despair when you see the ugly sin within. This is part of His design. We need to see that He is our only hope, and we will only see this when we learn that we cannot hope in ourselves. And when we see this, we will adore Him all the more!

by : Pst. Daniel Mann!







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