25 Sep 2013
America in times past was often described as the land of the free and the home of the brave. While we greatly prize our individual freedoms we may be hard pressed to accurately portray our nation as the land of the free. Is it true that as our exterior freedom and license broaden our authentic sense of inner freedom befalls contraction? The Bible clearly teaches that as our freedom to sin is more expansively expressed, our occurrence to thrive is significantly constricted.
I was recently impressed by the closing comments from a radio program that hosted J.I. Packer. The radio host summarized their discussion in this manner. Whereas we normally think of doubt as the opposite of faith, in actuality the opposite of faith is self reliance. In other words faith is relying upon God, and the opposite of faith is relying on our self or some other person or thing.
It seems that God has designed us to be at our very best when we intrinsically rely upon Him in much the same way that a child relies upon a good and benevolent father. By contrast in this land of the free we generally believe that the ultimate sign of success is when we need not rely upon anyone for anything.
In every situation we encounter we have essentially two options. We can rely upon God or we can rely upon someone or something other than God. God has instructed us to pray without ceasing. Yet we are being urged by the entire world around us to do all things such as to never need to rely upon God or anything or anyone else.
This push by our culture creates a significant problem. It pushes away from our natural sweet spot, trusting completely in our faithful and loving Father, to a place of alienation from God as we move away from faith in Him.
Then there is the flesh. The flesh desperately desires to be self sufficient. In fact when we fail to forbid the flesh to fulfill its own desires it is often enlarged and emboldened in the soil of the not so fallow ground of self sufficiency.
How then shall we fight the twin foes of the flesh and the anti-faith culture? God has provided primarily four powerful weapons. First He has placed within us His Holy Spirit, upon Whom we must carefully and consistently seek to depend.
Ephesians 3:16 (AMP)
16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].
Luke 11:13 (AMP)
13 If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts [gifts that are to their advantage] to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!
Galatians 5:16 (AMP)
16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).
Secondly God has provided to us His living Word, which is alive and powerful. We must daily spend time in His word deeply implanting it in our hearts if we are to be serious about consistently relying upon God and growing strong in our faith.
Romans 10:17 (AMP)
17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).
James 1:21 (NASB95)
21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
Thirdly God’s eternal design has placed our Lord Jesus Himself before the throne of God as our advocate. He is ever making intercession on our behalf.
Romans 8:34 (AMP)
34 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?
Hebrews 7:25 (AMP)
25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.
And fourthly God has removed the curtain that segregates the holy of holies providing instant access, to the throne of God in prayer. Perhaps one of the best indicators of our true dependence upon God is our propensity toward believing prayer.
1 John 5:14-15 (NASB95)
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. - James 5:16b
Regularly reflecting on these primary provisions should give us confidence toward God. As we meditate on these powerful provisions we should be encouraged and emboldened to lean hard into God, relying on Him. But it is up to us. It is our choice. We can pray for the strength of the Spirit in the inner man or we can try our best to be as good as possible. On what will you depend?
Hebrews 11:6 (AMP)
6 But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
Depend upon God. Put your trust in Him. Deepen your propensity to rely only upon Him. Pray without ceasing. Utilize the powerful provisions that God has given us in order that you might consistently trust Him obey Him and bring great glory to His name. As we consistently rely upon Him we are preparing ourselves for the revival God desires to bring by His Spirit. May God help us to so live!