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Will there be any change?

 

 

1. Do I need to fix my foundation?
2. What happened at the cross?
3. The law of the spirit which gives life
4. About change
 

 

 

1. Do I need to fix my foundation?

 

This text discusses change that takes place in a Christian, consecrated life, and deliverance from sin. It is one of the most important topics in the New Testament, to which Paul and the other disciples often referred. We are going to look at a few related verses below. They show how consecration is the will of God:

 

- (Hebr 12:14) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

 

- (2 Cor 7:1) Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

 

- (1 Thess 4:3,7) For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication:

7 For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness.

 

- (1 Tim 4:7.8) But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness.

8 For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

 

- (1 Peter 1:14,15) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

15 But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation;

 

- (Rom 12:1,2) I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

Before we dive into the transformation of a Christian, it is good to know whether one has received salvation. One must experience rebirth, salvation, and receive forgiveness of sins, because there is no point in talking about consecration and spiritual growth before understanding the basics. We need to have a proper foundation (salvation) first, before we can build on it.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of people in congregations that seem like Christians and believers but are not. They might emit Christianity, possess its frames and formalities, and a relationship with the congregation – many of them grew up in Christian surroundings and are children from Christian homes. Similarly, they might engage with spiritual activities, even pray, but they still do not understand what real salvation is. They do not understand rebirth, and have not changed in their heart, and as a result their exterior life remains the same.

If the idea that a person engaging with Christian activities might not have inherited the kingdom of God is odd to you, you should pay attention to the words of Jesus. According to Him, there are many at the final judgement who confess Him as their Lord but still don not have salvation. Jesus does not know them and will not let them enter the kingdom of God. This will happen, despite the fact these people did not reject His Lordship and maybe even made miracles in His name. Paul also urged us to test whether we have true faith or not:

 

- (Matt 7:21-23) Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

 

- (2 Cor 13:5) Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?

 

A rather similar account tells about the ten virgins. It depicts the same idea that was raised in the previous narration by Jesus. Out of the ten virgins, five were foolish, even though they had also waited for the coming of Jesus and confessed Him as their Lord. Jesus did not know them:

 

- (Matt 25:1-12) Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Truly I say to you, I know you not.

 

To get a better picture of the topic at hand, we are going to look at a vision from the late preacher, Frank Mangs, he received at the age of 91. It illustrates how a person might consider themselves a Christian and saved, but at the same time be without salvation and outside the gates of heaven. The reason behind the state of these people must be that they have never repented their sins and never wanted to change from within. They have not let God impact their life, or maybe they became estranged from Him at some point. Mangs tells about his vision:

 

FRANK MANGS: I would have liked to see these people walk all the way home, but this was not allowed. I was forced to look at the beginning of the road and the narrow gate. I saw a large number of people standing there, right in front of the gate. What was strange was that many of them seemed happy. They were happy because they thought they were on the road even though they had never turned to true conversion by travelling through the narrow gate.

   (...) We have guaranteed people their eternity because they have been baptised once. We have guaranteed that seeking souls have born of the Spirit even though they were only born by the influence of man. We have told them that they are children of God simply because they are “nice”. We have become pious quacks, and we have assured spiritual seekers that they have born of God even though they have just recently awakened. Sometimes, we have disrupted the spiritual process of birth this way.

   As a result of this, there are plenty of people who think that they are headed for Heaven even though they are not. Jesus said that this would be the case in the evening of this era.

   At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

   No oil! No Spirit! No functional spiritual life. Name and recognition. And they thought this would be enough.

   I saw even more: I saw people who had entered through the gate, experienced the miracle of rebirth and started to walk the road but who had changed the road into something else than was meant. They had stopped and made the road a resting place instead of a travel route. They had not stopped because of old age. Their growth and development had simply stopped. They had stopped and started to live in their memories. Some of them had simply stopped and fallen asleep. They had all forgotten Paul’s command: “Even though we have already made progress on our journey, let us keep walking along the same road!”  (...) Paul was ruled by sacred poverty but these people are ruled by Laodicean satisfaction: “We have enough.”

   I saw something else, too. I saw people who had drawn away from the supernatural light shining on the road. They were in the dark on either side of the road. In the dark, where the vision of sin and bliss was unseen. All was dark and grey and surreal. And this grey surrealism made possible something that was not possible in the middle of the road: playing with sin, speech and actions.

   And I saw that the darkness on either side of the road had become the object of their attention. What had happened to them was the same that happened to Israel when the people started to listen to the calling of Egypt's food. The listening grew into lust. A hunger that trapped their thoughts and feelings. It overcame their dreams and visions. And so they were walking on the side of the road even though they seemed to be on it.

   Then, something horrible happened. Silently, like shadows, they slipped away from the road: there was no ditch or fence around it. They slipped away from the road onto which they had entered with tears and prayers. Away from the light, into the darkness. Away from life, into death. Away from living hope and into hopelessness. Into hopelessness they did not feel. Because they were dead. They had lost their ability to understand and react. They had lost their ability to experience a crisis of spirit.

   When I had seen all this, I silently fell to my knees and wept. I hoped that I were even half a century younger than I was. I hoped that I had an opportunity to invest all I have – better than I had – in the Holy Spirit of God using me even more than it already had. (1)

 

We are going to bring up a few of the most essential points that attest to the sincerity of conversion. If you do not see any of these signs in your life, you ought to be concerned and maybe have another look at the foundation of salvation. Do not settle for your current state, instead let God change you and touch your life. Turn to Jesus Christ and confess how you have been separated from Him, but that now you want Him to be your Lord and Savior. Through Him you can be saved. (John 14:6: Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.)

 

A need to do the will of God is the clearest signs of genuine conversion. One might not be able to always abide by it, and they might struggle with it, but if they do not have any interest in it, they have not yet received salvation:

 

- (Rom 7:22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

 

A longing for a more holy life is basically the same as the former. One wants to be purer in their life and overcome the shortcomings in their life.

These people are different from people who have a false assurance and are satisfied with themselves and their current state. They might live in their conversion of the past, but do not live for God anymore. They have faith in Christ as their Savior from sins, but do not think they need deliverance from their current sins.

 

- (Matt 5:3) Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

- (Matt 5:6) Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 

Constant change and bearing the fruitage of the spirit is one sign. It does not mean that change would be easily detectable within a few days, but after a longer time period there should be a clear difference. If after 5-10 years we are exactly the same as we were at the time of conversion, we cannot be saved:

 

- (2 Cor 4:16) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

 

Being more vigilant about wrongful attitudes and letting go of them in one’s own life is part of the process, during which the Holy Spirit reveals one’s wrongful attitudes and mindset, and also helps them to let go of such impurities. During this process one might feel themselves particularly mischievous and sinful to the core, much like Paul did:

 

- (Isaiah 6:5) Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the middle of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

 

- (Hebr 4:12,13) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

 

- (Rom 7:24,25) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

Anguish about other people’s salvation is one of the major signs. Once a person has been saved, they will feel anguish about the fate of other people’s souls. If we do not worry about the fate of others, perhaps we are not saved:

 

- (Rom 9:1-3) I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

 

- (Rom 10:1) Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

 

A need to pray, especially for the salvation of other people, is caused by the former. Once a person figures that other people are doomed, they will immediately start to pray for those other people and for the work of God to take place. Praying and a want to pray more is one of the signs of genuine conversion:

 

- (Rom 10:1) Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

 

A need to study the Bible and hold it as the word of God is part of genuine conversion. We might receive a kind of inner understanding about it, even though we might have thought completely differently in the past. We can also experience sorrow over the Bible’s diminishing prestige, and the fact that God’s will is not realized in our society:

 

- (1 Thess 2:9,13) For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe.

 

Why do people think they have been saved, even when they are not? It might perhaps be due to proclamations being overly concentrated on the love of God these days – “God loves you as you are” – without any focus on His righteousness and holiness. People are being told how He loves them (which is true, of course, since Jesus came to the world), but people are not told how He hates sin and how sin separates people from God. People are not told about His perfectness and holiness, and that people will have to account for their actions if they stay unrepentant. People are led to believe that they are saved and subject to God’s love without ever having been under the light of God’s truth and never having seen their true state. In Bible terms, the law has never shut their mouth, and made them guilty and sinful before God, which is why everything is left incomplete and shallow. That is, it is only after we realize our true state and don’t find comfort in our actions, change, or in anything within ourselves anymore that we realize we need to look outside to Christ who has done everything for us and can alone save us. This must always be the order, and if not, it is the reason why some people have not fully realized their state. Paul wrote about this:

 

- (Rom 3:19,20) Now we know that what things soever the law said, it said to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

 

Or perhaps we have emphasized too much that when people confess Jesus as their Lord and say the prayer of the sinner, it will be enough. One might go ahead with these procedures, since they are expected of them, but once again the problem might be the fact that God hasn’t been able to show the person their true state, and that everything is still on the surface level. The birth is rushed before one is even ready for it. Jesus might have partially entered their life, but He is not allowed to be the Lord of their whole life.

Charles H. Spurgeon elaborates further. He shows that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will prove to the world that they were wrong about sin and righteousness. It means that a person is able to see their sinfulness before God (always clearer) and that they do not measure up to God. They will see how wretched they are in themselves, which is why they need Christ. If one has not first seen their true lost state, I doubt they can be saved. God works in a way that He always shows people first what is wrong with them, and then gives the gospel to bring comfort. Those, who Jesus does not know at the final judgement (Matt 7:21-23), have not experienced this.

 

Indeed, during these days we are going to hear stories of people, who are healed before getting hurt and who get certainty of their righteousness, although they have never cried over their condemned state. We, however, question the value of those healings and feelings of righteousness. Because this order of events does not correlate with the truth. God never puts people together, before he has first dismantled them. Nor does He resuscitate them with gospel, before He has first hit them with the law. When you meet people, in who you don’t see any signs of vindicating sins, you can be absolutely sure that the Holy Spirit has not affected them, because “when he comes, he vindicates sins and righteousness and judgement.”

…You cannot see him as having given his soul to Jesus, before he has stopped relying on his-self and his own merits and has come to Jesus. You must carefully inspect that he owns Jesus as his complete salvation through belief and not just partly.(2)

 

Understanding rigtheorusness and grace. To progress in one’s spiritual life, it is vital to understand what happened to them in the moment they conversed to Jesus Christ and welcomed Him into their life. Unfortunately, not many understand the position they have received through Christ. They doubt their own salvation and whether God truly accepts them and loves them. It is difficult for them to believe that they are righteous, innocent, and pardoned before God through Christ, and it is this misconception that prevents them from progressing in their spiritual life. A.B. Simpson wrote ca. 100 years ago:

 

A few years ago, Doctor Jones from Albany wrote a book called Grace from grace, which was read by nearly all sober Christians throughout England. He was a Presbyterian priest and had gotten a little closer to God than his brothers. During his later years he provided lessons about living a Christian life. Shortly before leaving, he wrote the formerly mentioned book, in which he brought up some of his experiences with spiritual support. He had noticed that in almost all cases where a person had difficulty reaching a deeper spiritual level in their life, the reason was their uncertainty about their righteousness. They were not fully righteous from their faith, but also partly from their faith, partly from their work and partly from their feelings. But as quickly as feelings vary and good choices fade, their assurance was lost. Thus, they were unable to progress; they did not know Christ as someone who at every moment is their Savior, despite their own deceitful varying feelings. (3)

 

Why do people doubt their salvation and their position through Christ? The major reason is that they look to themselves - whether they have changed enough - rather than looking to what Jesus Christ did for them. They have tried to gain assurance through themselves but not through Christ, which is a completely wrong basis. They will only find assurance, once they stop relying on themselves in terms of salvation, and instead place their faith from themselves to Christ, just as you would throw an anchor from a ship, instead of inside the ship onto the deck:

 

- (Gal 3:1) O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

 

- (Hebr 12:2) Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

- (John 1:29) The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

 

- (Acts 16:30,31) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.

 

The foundation of salvation is in the blood of Christ. When He lived a sinless life and then shed His blood, it all happened so that we could have our sins forgiven. The blood of Christ is enough for God, as during the Old Covenant the Israelis were saved through the blood of a lamb. When they anointed it onto their doorposts, God said:

 

- (Ex 12:13) And the blood shall be to you for a token on the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

 

Therefore, have faith that the perfect life of Christ and His shed blood will be enough for forgiveness of sins. It will be enough for God and for you. Do not look to yourself, instead look to Christ and what He has done for you. We can approach God and be pardoned through Christ and His atoning blood, but not through our own goodness or merits:

 

- (Matt 26:28) For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

 

- (Rom 3:25) Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

 

- (Eph 1:7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

 

- (Eph 2:13) But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.

 

- (Col 1:19,20) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

 

- (Hebr 10:19) Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

 

- (1 Peter 1:18,19) For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

 

- (1 John 1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.

 

- (Rev 1:5) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

 

 

 

2. What happened at the cross?

 

Volition is not enough. When a person turns to God and begins to follow Jesus, they often aim to get rid of all binding sins. That is why they might make promises, decide to live by the will of God, and try to push forward in their will power in attempt to abide by the advice of the Bible and its code of conduct. They might try to do their best to live a holy life.

The problem with these kinds of decisions and promises is that one easily gives up on them. These decisions and promises themselves do not give strength to do God’s will. One might do their best but will shortly realize that their volition will only last for a little while – like a rock thrown in the air flying for a while and eventually landing due to gravitational pull.

Paul also experienced this problem. He realized that even though he wanted to do the will of God, he could not. This is comparative to the situation many Christians find themselves in today.

 

- (Rom 7:14-25) For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

Paul also gives an explanation as to why people are unable to live by the will of God. Firstly, he mentioned that there is no good in the carnal flesh, and later he continues that the flesh is not under subjection to the law of God, and it never will be. It is impossible for anyone to do the will of God on their own:

 

- (Rom 7:18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

 

- (Rom 8:6,7) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

 

The following quotation depicts the battle many go through in their lives. Some people want to live a holy life but will soon realize it is impossible. Good decisions alone are not enough to change people:

 

Everything is miserable. I feel like I am unable to become the kind of person that I should be. I try to live by the will of God. But it is not easy. It might seem like I am doing well, but the reality is quite different.

I have analyzed my motives, and the result is crushing. I have a lot of sin inside me… if only people saw me from the inside! If only they smelled how bad I stink! I pray and cry for God, but it is not helping. Sin is an oddly sticky lump that I cannot get rid of. I might end up in complete despair and shout: Can I ever be pure? Can I ever be holy? Is this meant to be?

I feel like praying is not helping. I have cried for God and asked for help, but He does not answer me. I am hopelessly stuck to my misery. Here I am talking to others how wonderful it is to be a Christian and the strength the Holy Spirit provides, and yet the word: hopeless! looms over my life.

In the beginning I thought that it would help when I surrender myself completely to God, dedicate myself to Him, and sacrifice everything I have to Him at the altar. I have tried this. I have said to God: “I give everything to You. You get to be my only Lord and King. I do not want to know anything else in my life except You.

This has not helped me in the slightest, however. Sin is a constant part of me, and I am not free of it. I feel as if I am in a swamp and I keep sinking in deeper the more I try to climb up. The swamp practically swallows me. (4)

 

What happened at the cross? When a person turns to God, their problems often include actual sins. They seek forgiveness for their past sins, and also in their new life tries to avoid practicing the same sinful acts that they used to.

At some point, a person is bound to make a new discovery: his or her problem is not only actual sins but sin that lives within. He or she will realize that their inner sinful nature is the fundamental reason for their actualized sins. The problem is their essence, which does not want to do the will of God, nor give up sin. This comes apparent in the following verses:

 

- (Jer 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

 

- (Mark 7:21-23) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

 

- (John 2:24,25) But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men,

25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

 

What is God’s solution to the sin inside of us? It is easy for many to understand the fact that Jesus beared the sins of every person in the world, and that by having faith and believing in this fact, anyone has the opportunity to be forgiven for their sins. People rarely doubt this, as there is generally good teaching surrounding this, and it is often repeated in proclamations.

The Bible also talks about solutions to the sin inside of people. That is, at the same time as Jesus carried the sins and sicknesses of the world to the cross, He also took with Him this sinful mankind. Our old self, sinful nature, was on the cross at the same time with Him. It is difficult for some people to understand this, but as Jesus already carried all our sins – even before we had done them – He also did so with our sinful nature. It is a faithful fact. One must embrace it through faith.

We are going to look at some related Bible verses. From them we can see how we were united with Christ in His death, but also in His resurrection, and ascension. When Christ went through these things, we were also in Him, because God has placed us in Christ (1 Cor 1:30: But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and ). Noteworthy is past tense in all these verses. They refer to what happened already 2000 years ago:

 

- (Rom 6:1-8) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3 Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

 

- (Rom 6:10-13) For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God.

11 Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13 Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

 

- (2 Cor 5:14,15) For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not from now on live to themselves, but to him which died for them, and rose again.

 

- (Gal 2:19,20) For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God.

20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

- (Gal 5:24) And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

 

- (Gal 6:14) But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

 

- (Col 2:12,13) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

 

- (Col 2:20) Why if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances,

 

- (Col 3:1-4) If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.

2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.

 

- (2 Tim 2:11) It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

 

- (Rom 8:29,30) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

 

- (Eph 1:20 / 2:6) Which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

6 And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus

 

Watchman Nee tells how he realized the fact we have been united with the Christ in His death and resurrection. He had tried for years to embrace this truth, but saw his old self thrive. Eventually, it became clear to him what happened on the cross nearly 2000 years ago:

 

After my conversion, I had been taught for years that in order to be free from sin, I had to make myself dead to sin and live for God (Rom 6:11). I believed this from the year 1920 to the year 1927, but my problem was that the more I believed this, the more it felt like I lived for sin. I simply could not believe I was dead, and I could not make my old self die. I suffered constant defeat at the hands of sin, and I realized that some fundamental belief was not right. Thus, I asked God to show me what the phrase “I am crucified with Christ” means.

…I remember one morning – how could I ever forget it! I was sat upstairs reading the Romans and I arrived at the following words: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin” (Rom 6:6) When we know it! How could I know it! I then prayed: ” Lord, open my eyes!” and suddenly I understood. I had previously read 1. Cor. 1:30: “you in Christ Jesus.” I searched this sentence and had another look at it. “But of him are you in Christ Jesus” It was astonishing! If Christ died – which is a fact – and if God has placed me in Him, then I must have died too. My death to sin was a thing of the past and not of the future. I had realized a godly fact. I jumped excitedly from my chair and ran downstairs to a man working in the kitchen: “Brother”, I said taking him by the arm, “do you know that I am dead?” I admit, he seemed confused. He exclaimed: “What do you mean?” and I continued: “Don’t you know that the Christ is dead? Don’t you know that I died with Him? Don’t you know that my death is no less true than His?” Oh, how real it all was to me! I wanted to scream about my discovery in the streets of Shanghai. After that day I have never doubted the finality of the following words: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (5)

 

From Adam to Christ. As noted, our greatest problem is the sin that lives inside of us, the original sin that was created in the Fall of Man. When Adam fell, he was not alone, as the whole mankind was hidden inside him, because Adam is the ancestral father of the whole mankind. We are sinful because we have been born to Adam’s family and inherited his sinful nature:

 

- (Rom 5:12) Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned:

 

- (Acts 17:26) And has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

 

The notion how descendants can be hidden in their ancestors, becomes apparent in the following Bible examples. The first one tells how Levi, although not born yet, was in Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek. Levi was in his ancestor, because without his ancestor he would never have been born.

Similarly, we can imagine the whole mankind having been in Adam, because he is the ancestral father of the whole mankind. Had Adam not existed, there would not be any mankind descendant from him:

 

- (Hebr 7:9,10) And as I may so say, Levi also, who receives tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.

10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

 

- (Gen 4:20) And Adah bore Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.

 

- (Gen 25:23) And the LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

 

Despite having been born to the family of Adam, and inherited sinful nature, the Bible tells us how we can deliver ourselves from the force sin and Adam. It, of course, happens through Christ, who was and is the other representative of all mankind. When the whole mankind was hidden in Adam, we were also concealed in Christ, our other representative. We were planted in Him through the crucifixion and resurrection (Rom 6:5: For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection). Adam and Christ’s positions as the representatives of mankind comes apparent, e.g., in the following parts of the Bible:

 

- (1 Cor 15:45-47) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

46 However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.

 

- (1 Cor 15:21,22) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

 

- (Rom 5:14,15) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded to many.

 

- (Rom 5:17-19) For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came on all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came on all men to justification of life.

19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

 

The problem in many Christians’ life is that they see themselves on the wrong side of the cross. They have not realized or internalized that we are not tied to our inheritance from Adam, as we can depend on the atonement of Christ and His resurrection. The cross separates us from the inheritance we got through Adam. The following, e.g., were taken to the cross:

 

The law with its requirements

 

- (Col 2 :13,14) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

 

- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree:

 

- (Rom 7:4,6) Why, my brothers, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God.

6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

 

All our sins and burdens

 

- (Isaiah 53:6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

- (Isaiah 53:11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

 

- (Isaiah 53:12) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

 

- (1 Peter 2:24) Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.

 

All illnesses

 

- (Isaiah 53:4) Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

 

- (Matt 8:16,17) When the even was come, they brought to him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses.

 

Old self with his or her sinful nature and wounds. The cross separates us from the past.

 

- (Rom 6:6-8) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

 

- (Col 3:9,10) Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

 

Satan was also defeated on the cross

 

- (Col 2:15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

 

- (1 John 3:8) He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

 

We are going to look at a list that informs what we are through Adam, and what we are through Christ. The above column tells what we are in Adam, and the lower column tells what we are in the Christ. A shift from one column to the other happened through the death and resurrection of Christ. We can experience the strength of these things today if we turn to Jesus Christ. These things will take place perfectly in eternity:

 

• In Adam under the law

• In Christ under grace

- (Rom 6:14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.

 

• In Adam, an old creation

• In Christ, a new creation

- (2 Cor 5:17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

• In Adam condemned

• In Christ free of condemnation

- (Rom 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

• In Adam sinful

• In Christ righteous

- (Rom 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

 

• In Adam without an eternal inheritance

• In Christ, a coheir

- (Rom 8:17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

 

• In Adam ridden with darkness

• In Christ placed in the kingdom of God

- (Col 1:13) Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

                                                            

• Sick in Adam

• Healthy through the wounds of Christ

- (1 Peter 2:24) Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.

 

• Unsaved in Adam

• Saved in Christ

- (1 Peter 1:18,19) For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

 

• In Adam, the spirit of fear

• In Christ received the spirit of power, love and of a sound mind

- (2 Tim 1:7) For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

• In Adam, a slave to sin

• In Christ freed from sin

- (Rom 6:6,7,22) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life.

 

• In Adam spiritually dead

• In Christ received an eternal life

- (1 John 5:13) These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 

Placed in the Christ. Many understand that the power to overcome sin and to live a spiritual life comes through Christ. Those people realize that one cannot get rid of sin is in their own power, but that through Christ it is possible. This realization often comes sometime after having been saved.

How can we be a part of Christ who gives us the power to overcome sin? How is a connection with Him formed?

We discussed the answer in the previous chapters. That is, we do not need to connect ourselves to the Christ as it happened already 2000 years ago. We were connected to Him in His death and in His resurrection because it is stated in the Bible. The Romans teaches about this:

 

- (Rom 6:5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

 

The first Corinthians also addresses this. It shows that God has already placed us in the Christ. It is not our own doing but a fact:

 

- (1 Cor 1:30) But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

 

Jesus Himself also talked how we are branches in Him. We do not need to pray to be a part of Him, as we have already been placed in His life. Praying to be a part of Him would be the same as a person in Helsinki wanting to go to Helsinki. It does not make any sense, because he or she already is there.

Therefore, we must embrace our part in Christ through faith, not through feelings. We have been connected to Christ and His life 2000 years ago. That is why we are just as righteous and pure before God as He is. We are even part of His body, even if we would not feel like it. We are going to look at some related verses that talk about our connection with Christ:

 

- (Rom 6:5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

 

- (John 15:1-5) I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer.

2 Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

3 Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.

5 I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.

 

- (Eph 1:22,23) And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

23 Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.

 

- (Eph 5:30-32) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

 

- (Col 1:18,24) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

 

- (Rom 11:16-18) For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if you boast, you bore not the root, but the root you.

 

- (1 Cor 12:27) Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

 

- (2 Cor 1:21) Now he which establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God;

 

- (1 Cor 6:15) Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

 

- (Col 2:6,7) As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him:

7 Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

 

- (Col 2:9,10) For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

10 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

 

- (Col 2:19,20) And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God.

20 Why if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances,

 

- (2 Peter 1:4) Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 

Doctrine about us being in Christ is one of the most important topics in the Bible. It is present in the Bible in different forms ca. 160 times. We do not need to be tied to our inheritance from Adam, instead we can have faith in our new position through Christ:

 

- (John 14:20) At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

 

- (1 Cor 1:30) But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

 

- (2 Cor 5:17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

- (1 John 5:20) And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

 

- (Eph 2:13) But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.

 

- (1 Cor 1:2) To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:

 

- (Rom 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

Some examples from biographies of well-known spiritual influencers illustrate this point. These examples show how these people progressed in their spiritual life, once they understood their position in Christ:

 

One day Bunyan understood justification by grace, which is a central part of Luther’s explanations of the Galatians. It was as if he had seen Jesus Christ on the right side of God. “There… was my righteousness; … God could not say that he demanded my righteousness, because it (my righteousness) was in front of Him. At the same time I understood that the goodness in my heart did not make my righteousness any better, and the badness in me did not make it any worse; my righteousness is, you see, Jesus Christ Himself, who is ’the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever’ (Hebr 13:8).”

…Bunyan also realized the “sweet words” of Eph. 5:30: “For we are members of his body.” He tells: “The Lord also led me to understand the secret of what it means to be connected to the Son of God… He strengthened my belief in Him being my righteousness; That is if Him and I are one, His righteousness is mine, His merits are mine, and His victory is mine. Now I can see myself in heaven and here on earth at the same time; in heaven through my Christ, my Head, my righteousness, and my life, even when because of my body and my persona I am here on earth.” (6)

 

Catherine Booth: A few weeks ago, I was talking about consecration in Bethesda, and we had a wonderful time. William has preached about it twice, and people have gone through astonishing revival… I have a lot to thank about my dear spouse. Lately, the Lord has blessed him greatly… He strives to be sanctified in everything. You would be surprised of the change that happened in him. It would take me the whole night to tell you about it…

Once we got up from our knees, I lied down on the couch exhausted from the excitement and effort of the day. William said: “Don’t you put everything on the altar?” I said: “Of course I do!” Then he said: “Isn’t the altar holy?” I answered with what the Holy Spirit gave me: “The Altar is holy, and anything that touches it, will become holy.” Then William said: “Doesn’t that make you holy as well?” I answered my heart full of passion and faith: ”Oh, how I do believe that I am.” Immediately I was given these words to strengthen my faith: “Now you are pure for the word I have given you.” And I grabbed on to this truth with shivering hands without letting the devil taunt me, as I held on to my sprouting trust, and it grew stronger. And from that moment on I have had the courage to keep myself dead from sin, but living for God through Jesus Christ, my Lord. I did not experience this great joy, but perfect peace, easy rest, which Jesus has promised to His loved ones. (7)

 

After returning to Yangzhou to check on his patient, missionary Taylor brought with him good news.

“Meeting him”, told missionary Judd, “he was so full of joy that he could hardly speak. After coming in, he paced around the room with his arms behind his back, repeating:

‘God has made me a new person. God has made me a new person.’

Change in the leader of the mission and a conversation till midnight with a younger colleague made a deep impression on him. He, too, had seen the truth in theory, but had not felt their living power.

“I don’t need to turn myself into a branch, Hudson Taylor stated – and missionary Judd could never forget those words – “The Lord Jesus says that I am a branch, I am a part of Him, and I can act in faith accordingly. As a part of His body, I can embrace anything I need from His fullness. I have long seen this in the Bible, but now I believe it as the living truth.”

As simple as this new viewpoint was, it started a revolutionary change in Taylor. (8)

 

A process

 

- (2 Cor 3:18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.

 

- (2 Cor 4:16) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

 

- (Rev 22:10,11) And he said to me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

 

Once a person realizes their position in Christ, and how they have been united to the tree of Christ, this realization can elevate their spiritual life. They can experience a new level, like the formerly mentioned spiritual influencers. They can be delivered from things that have bound them before.

However, it should be kept in mind that change is a life-long-process. We might realize our position in Christ in one instant, but that is only the beginning of something new, not the endpoint. We might still fall and be imperfect, like Peter who was afraid of the circumcised and fell for hypocrisy. This happened, although he had been a believer for decades and had received strong fullness of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost: 

 

- (Gal 2:11-13) But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; so that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

 

From a few quotations taken from the lives of spiritual influencers, we will get a good idea of how consecration is a constant process. The first person to teach us is Watchman Nee. Previously, he told us how he became to understand his role through Christ (how he was joint in the Christ’s death and resurrection). In the following quote he tells, however, how coming to this realization is only the first step towards a triumphant life. It gives a person certainty that there are other victories to come. Yet, one is still far from being perfect:

 

After having been bound by sin for a long time, a child of God will easily consider deliverance the most remarkable event. But here lies the greatest danger for the future of such person. They come to a conclusion that all destructive influences in them have been rooted out. They do not realize that although the old self is dead to sin, and the sinful flesh has been crushed, “sin” has not died. It has only become an ousted despot, who tries to get back on its throne at every moment possible. A believer might still feel deliverance from sin, but they have not become perfect. They must tirelessly address “their own self”.

It is unfortunate if Christians consider themselves completely consecrated once they have experienced deliverance after seeking consecration. They do not know the truth that deliverance from sin is only the first step. It is only the first victory given by God, and it is to give people certainty that there are many more victories to come. Having victory over sin is like a door; after taking one step, you are inside. Overcoming one’s own self is like a path; you walk along it your whole life. Once we have crushed sin, we are called to overcome our own selves – even the best, most enthusiastic, and faithful self – every day. (9)

 

We find another example from the life of the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth. Previously, we had a look at how he had experienced God’s blessing and change as described by his wife. However, a few years later he went through a momentary dry season in his life, where he did not feel like he was moving forward. This shows that although God gives blessings and changes people, He can allow people to go through dryer periods, so that we would live through faith and not through powerful experiences:

 

I wish I were in a more satisfying place in my spiritual state. I feel myself almost as if I were dead, powerless. Because of that, my public preaching and prayer seems to only have little effect on people. But wishful thinking alone will not change anything. Oh, if only God came and gave me new light and strength. Will you pray for me? I have never felt myself so emotionless and powerless in my prayer. And I don’t know what to do… (10)

 

A third good example is Charles G. Finney. It is remarkable that when he was saved, he instantly received strong baptism of the Holy Spirit. Because of that he immediately began to preach after his salvation, and apparently, tens of thousands of people were saved as a result of his preaching. Most of them were saved a few years after Finney’s conversion.

Despite everything, Finney was going through the same process as other Christians. In his book Memoirs of Revivals of Religion, he tells how he experienced reform after having been a believer for 20 years, and after thousands of people had already been saved. He saw the different stages of his Christian experiences and was able to attain a higher level in his spiritual life. Before that we are going to look at his conversion experience and how he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit right away:

 

I experienced a strong conversion in the morning of October 10th. In the same evening and following to the next morning, I received a powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit, which went through, or felt like it did, my soul and my body. I noticed immediately that I was set with such power from above that by saying only a few words here and there, for some individuals those words were enough to cause an instant conversion. My words seemed to cling on like hooked arrows into a human’s soul. They cut through like swords. They crushed the heart like a hammer. There are countless of people who can attest to this. Sometimes the word I said, although I could not remember it myself, could imprint a belief, often resulting in near instant conversion. (11)

 

Once the fussiness in my mind during this period settled and my heart calmed, I saw the different levels of my Christian experience clearer, and I realized the internal link of the matter, as they were all work of God from start to finish. But from that moment on, I haven’t had those tough battles and painful periods of long prayer that I used to have so often. Based on my experience, it is completely different to “bend God” with my prayer. I can go in front of God more lacking because my trust is fuller. He lets me rest now in Him and I can let everything fall into His perfect will with a much more open mind than ever before my experiences this winter.

From that moment on I have felt such spiritual open bravery, wholesomeness, and joy in God and in His word, such strength in faith, Christian freedom, and overflowing love, which I had only temporarily felt before. I don’t mean that it used to be rare for me, since I had experienced quite a lot and in a renewing way, but never as deeply. It felt like my chains broke and from that moment on I have been free like a child with a loving parent. I feel like I meet God in my own essence, in the sense that I can rest in Him and be calm, lay my heart in His hands and find my sanctuary in His perfect will, without worries and despair.

I mentioned how these experiences were commonplace in my life from that on; however, I cannot say they have lasted the whole time without interruption, as I lived through a great depression and a period of strange humiliation during my illness in 1806. But My Lord lifted me up from it and rebuilt my peace and rest on an even stronger foundation. (12)

 

 

 

3. The law of the spirit which gives life

 

Many people are under the impression that since justification is God’s work through faith in Christ, that consecration is something that must be dependent on us. In this understanding, consecration is regarded an act, which we do out of gratitude for being saved. People think that their own will is enough to change them.

Consecration is the same as justification, however: in both we are dead to the law and its requirements. Basically, it means that God does not require anything from us anymore, as He has done, and does, everything through Christ. For as long as we think we can save ourselves, Christ cannot become our justification. And for as long as we believe that we can change ourselves from the inside, Christ cannot become our consecration. That is why consecration and inner change are not about trying to become a better person, but instead letting Christ live inside us and change our attitude. That can only happen once we understand that we are dead to the law and to its requirements, and that we cannot change ourselves. Consecration must be received as a gift, like righteousness.

 

- (Rom 7:4,6) Why, my brothers, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God.

6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

 

- (Rom 6:14,15) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

 

- (Gal 2:19,20) For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

Law nailed to the cross

 

- (Col 2:13,14) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

 

- (Eph 2:13-15) But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace;

 

The following practical example shows what exemption from the law means. When we cannot change ourselves, we can look to another who can do it for us. What is impossible for man, is possible for Him:

 

An engineer living in a large Western city left his home country for the Middle East. He was away from home for a few years. During that time his wife was unfaithful and left with a man who was one of our engineer’s best friends. When he returned home, he realized that he had lost his wife, his two children and his best friend. I was speaking at a gathering after which this brokenhearted man confided with me. “My heart has been full of hatred night and day for two solid years”, he said. “I am a believer and I know I should forgive my wife and my friend, but I simply cannot do it, no matter how hard I try. Every day I decide to love them, and every day I fail. What can I do?” “Don’t do anything”, I answered. “What do you mean?” he asked surprised. “Must I still hate them?” I explained to him: “The solution to this problem is that when the Lord Jesus died on the cross, He took your sins, and He also took you as His own. When He was crucified, your old self was crucified with Him. Thus, your ‘own self’ unable to forgive and love those who have wronged you, has been taken away in His death. God has cleared everything on the cross, and you have nothing more to explain. Tell Him: ‘Lord, I cannot love, and will stop trying, but I trust in Your perfect love. I cannot forgive, but I have faith that You will forgive instead of me and make that happen in me.”’

The man was sat baffled and said: “All that is so new; I feel like I must do something for this.” He then continued: “But what can I do?” “God will wait for as long as you stop trying”, I answered. “Once you have stopped trying, then God will begin. Have you ever tried to save a drowning person? The hardest part about the rescue is when the rescued is too afraid to be in the hands of the rescuer. In situations like that, there are only two options. They must be struck unconscious and then dragged on to the shore, or they must be left struggling and shouting until they worn out, and only then go rescue them. If you try to save a drowning person with even just a little strength left, they will grab on to their rescuer in panic and drag them under water, at which point both of them are in danger. God will wait until you have used all your energy: only then He can deliver you. When you stop trying, He is ready to do everything for you. God waits until you end up in desperation.”

My engineer friend jumped up: “Brother”, he said, now I understand. Thanks to God, I now have nothing to worry! I needn’t do anything! He has already done everything!” The man left with a beaming face and with joy. (13)

 

All qualities in Christ. When a person turns to God and Jesus Christ, they will soon realize that their flesh is corrupt. They will learn to recognize more easily their own faults and flaws, especially sins of the mind that were left unnoticed in the past. They will begin to notice pride, temper, and other wrongful attitudes in their speech that they used to be completely oblivious to.

In this situation we usually begin to act in a certain way. We begin to pray God for deliverance: “Lord, free me from my temper, irritation, pride, ugly thoughts, fears… Take these things that bother me away!”

The Bible teaching is, however, that Christ has already been given to us to be our consecration and life. He has all the qualities that we seek. He has humbleness, love, purity, and everything that we need. God does not give these good qualities as separate tokens, as He has given us Christ, who can meet all our needs. The more we realize these flaws in ourselves and learn to know ourselves, the more room we have for Him.

 

- (1 Cor 1:30) But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

 

- (Phil 1:21) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 

- (Col 3:3,4) For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.

 

- (Eph 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

 

The following passages talk about the life of Christ in us. It is not about us trying to emulate His example, but about Him living inside of us and having a real impact on people. We have already been placed as branches in Him, and we can trust that He will bring about good qualities in us. The task of the branch is only to receive. When it receives from the trunk of life, it will automatically produce the fruits characteristic for the tree:

 

- (2 Cor 13:5) Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?

 

- (John 15:4,5) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.

5 I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.

 

- (John 14:18,20,23,28) I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

20 At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stay with him.

28 You have heard how I said to you, I go away, and come again to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go to the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

 

- (John 17:23,26) I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.

26 And I have declared to them your name, and will declare it: that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

 

- (Eph 3:16,17) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

 

- (Gal 2:19,20) For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

- (Gal 4:19) My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

 

- (Col 1:27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

 

- (1 John 5:12) He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.

 

- (1 John 4:4,13,15) You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

15 Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God.

 

- (Rom 8:10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 

- (2 Cor 4:7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

 

Watchman Nee tells how he realized that Christ is the answer to all God’s demands. Once given a chance, He will slowly impact our lives in a way that He gradually brings up those qualities that we lack. This is a lifelong process.

 

When I was a young Christian, many thought my life was like the Christ. A few years later, I realized to my surprise that I tended to lose my temper fairly often. When I managed to control my feelings, avoiding a complete outburst, I was boiling on the inside… I fumbled in this darkness for whole two years and I tried obtain those good qualities that a Christian’s life was supposed to have in my opinion (a bit like before my conversion I tried to collect wealth in this world). My efforts led nowhere. My problem was that I had collected stuff, spiritual stuff, and God had now started to separate me from it, so that His Son’s life could come inside me.

And then one day in 1933, a light shone on me from the sky. I was once again reading 1. Cor 1:30, when suddenly I saw that God has given Christ to me in all His fullness. What a difference! How empty was the ‘stuff’. If we have them separate from our relationship with Him, they are dead, because God’s aim is not for our likeness to the Christ to show, but that it would come out. After seeing this, a new life began for me. Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of anything godly, thus He was my answer to all God’s demands, not only in the future, but in that moment also. After that, my daily life as a Christian could be described with one word: “receiving”. (14)

 

The son shall make us free

 

- (Matt 11:28-30) Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

When we read the Bible, we can see how the Son, Jesus, delivers. Only He can remove those wrong attitudes, desires and habits that hold us in bondage. He represents us in defeating sin, and we can always turn to Him. It is a little similar to David having won over Goliath. In that moment, one man represented the whole nation. The Israelis put their faith in David who fought for them. They did not have to do anything but wait and see what happens. They got to enjoy the fruits of victory.

That is why it is important to understand that God’s task is to change our inner attitudes that hold us down. We must, in a sense, step aside and say: “This is your task, I do not want to intervene. I trust that You will do what for me is impossible.”

 

- (John 8: 36) If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

- (Hebr 7:22,25) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

25 Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

 

- (1 John 3:5) And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

 

- (Matt 1:21) And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

 

- (Phil 1:11) Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

 

- (1 Cor 15:57) But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

- (1 Tim 4:10) For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.

 

- (Rom 8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

 

- (Eph 5:25,26) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

 

- (Phil 2:13) For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

 

-(Lev 20:7,8) Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be you holy: for I am the LORD your God.

8 And you shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.

 

- (Ezek 36:26,27) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.

 

Well-known spiritual influencers have referred to this also, i.e., how it is the task of God and Jesus to deliver people from sin. People must put their faith in God and Christ, not in their own decisions, in order to experience deliverance.

 

John Wesley: Many years ago, I saw that without “sanctification no one can see the Lord”. I started to strive towards it, and I urged everyone who I was in contact with to do the same. Ten years later, God gave me a clearer understanding of the way this blessing can be achieved, through faith in the Son of God. And immediately after this I preached to everyone: Through faith we are saved from sin, through faith we are sanctified. I proclaimed this privately and publicly, and God reinforced it through thousands of testimonies. I have continuously said this for thirty years and God has continuously reinforced this gracious work. (15)

 

R.A. Torrey: God offers us Jesus as the Savior from sin. Jesus did not only die, but he also rose from the dead. He is to this day a living Savior; He has all the power in the heavens and on earth. He has the power to protect even the weakest sinner from falling… This is the secret to everyday victory in battle against sin. If we try in our own strength to beat sin, we will fall. If we simply look to our resurrected Christ so that He will protect us every day, He will do so. Crucified Christ will deliver us from the burden of sin, our sins have been washed away, we are free of the law; but the resurrected Christ will give us victory over sin every day. Many receive Jesus as the taker of sins and find peace – but will not go further, thus making their lives continuous defeat. Others receive Him also as the resurrected Savior, our redeemer, liberator from sin, and protector against it. Thus, doing it right. In that way we can defeat sin every single day. (16)

 

Hannah Whitall Smith: Then we believed that Jesus was our Savior from the burden of sin, and what we believed happened to us. Now we must believe that He is our Savior from sin, and it will happen.

…Then He became our Savior from the punishment of sin, now we must receive Him as our Savior from the slavery of sin.

He was then our Redeemer, now He wants to become our lives. (17)

 

Oswald J. Smith: When a person in defeat comes to me for help, my advice is the following words: ”But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57). You might notice that it does not say “through our efforts and attempts”. Victory is given through Christ. It is a gift that cannot be earned. God gifts it to His children through Jesus Christ.

…May I ask you a question? A long time ago you received Jesus as your Savior. But has there been a time in your life when you received Him in your life as your Victor? I think that these two decisions are equally as important. You must receive Him as your Savior, but you must also receive Him as your Victor. Have you done so? Thousands upon thousands of people have gone to their spiritual supporters and knelt together before Jesus, the Savior, and received Him as their Victor, also. After which they have gone on to live as victorious Christians. Jesus Christ is victorious over sin, and He will make us victorious also. (18)

 

Walking by spirit. The basic principle in consecration is that God consecrates us. Only He can change our inner life and wrong attitudes that we cannot lose ourselves. Everyone’s own part is to give themselves to God, but the strength to change comes from Him. He is like an artist who wants to change us to be more like Him. However, if we think we can change our inner selves with our won strength, we meddle with the artist’s work. We must let Him do His work in peace and trust that His results will be good.

 

- (Phil 1:6) Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

 

When the Bible talks about walking by spirit, it is the same thing. It is usually not something that happens in a blink of an eye – however, it is possible for God to thoroughly change a person in an instant – but a lifelong process. During this process, a person will come to realize even more of their own flaws and faults, but at the same time God will deliver them from those shortcomings. One often notices that situations that used to make them lose their temper, make them irritated, or prideful, do not cause the same reaction anymore. They might still fall for the same sins, but if the Holy Spirit influences them, they will keep progressing. The law of the spirit of life, which is stronger than sin, makes it possible.

 

- (Rom 8:2-13) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.

12 Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13 For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.

 

- (Gal 5:16-18) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.

18 But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.

 

- (Gal 5:22-25) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

 

- (2 Thess 2:13) But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

 

- (1 Peter 1:2) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, be multiplied.

 

- (Ezek 36:26,27) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.

 

- (Rom 15:30) Now I beseech you, brothers, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;

 

When falling happens. Some people are under the impression that they will not encounter defeat anymore during this lifetime. They might end up thinking this way, especially when God pours out His grace to them and they go through strong emotions. In this state of richness, it is difficult for them to believe that they might fall.

The fact is, however, that we do not achieve perfect sinless state in this lifetime. It was not achieved by the Apostles, and no one after them. It might be true that many live highly consecrated lives after having faith for decades, but they will not achieve complete sinlessness either. There will always be aspects that could be improved. John the Apostle wrote:

 

- (1 John 1:8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

 

What if one still struggles with sin, even when they have embraced the Bible’s truth about deliverance from sin? What should be done? The following point should be kept in mind.

 

Temptations are still present. When talking about deliverance from sin, it is important to note that it is not the same as deliverance from temptation. That is, temptations can still trouble someone, despite having been a believer for decades. Power of temptations is the strongest, especially, when one is tired, lonely, or depressed. That is when people give up more easily.

The life of Jesus is testimony that temptation and sin are different. He was also tempted to do sin and to make wrong choices, but He did not fall. We might fall, but He always did the right thing:

 

- (Hebr 4:15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

 

Avoiding temptation. Some temptations are caused because one has not properly dissociated themselves from their causes. If the source of temptation is, e.g., a TV or a computer (the Internet), and you have a way to affect their presence in your home, why still keep those devices? It is better to avoid the sources of temptation than to be tempted all the time. Fornication and other wrongful mindsets often come through the media.

 

- (1 Cor 6:18-20) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.

19 What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?

20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

 

- (Rev 2:21) And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

 

Where do temptations come from? When experiencing temptation, it is good to understand that many of them come from the outside, from Satan. According to the Bible, Satan is a tempter, accuser, and a deceiver. It might first tempt people into sin and then accuse them of the same sin. It might tell a person: “You are not saved, God does not care about you, you have not been delivered from sin…”Temptation, accusations and lies are its strongest weapons against people. To be free of these lies, one can resist them and replace them with the truth.

 

- (Matt 4:3) And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

 

- (1 Thess 3:5) For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.

 

- (John 8:44) You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

 

- (Rev 12:10) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

 

- (Luke 8:11,12) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

 

This practical example shows how important it is to realize that many thoughts and accusations come from the devil. When they are recognized, resisted, and replaced with the truth, deliverance is possible:

 

We might be tempted a thousand times during one day, without having committed any sin. But if we start to consider the state of being tempted as a sin, our battle is practically lost in that case; we will hardly have any thoughts we can hold as our ground against temptations.

I know a lady who wound up in great darkness, because she had not understood this. She had been happy for some time in her faith, and she had had hardly any temptations. That is why she thought she would never have to face them again. But suddenly the tempter attacked her, and she got utterly frightened.

As soon as she started to pray, all kinds of bad thoughts began to cross her mind. She had lived pure and virtuous life, and these thoughts seemed so vile to her that she thought she was the worst sinner for having such thoughts. She started to believe that she had never obtained peace in God, which gradually led to her not believing in her rebirth. She wound up in the most horrible affliction.

I tried explaining to her that all these terrible thoughts were simply temptations, and that she was not the one causing them. I encouraged her to think of them as temptations and to pray for the Lord to deal with them. I showed her the advantage the devil gained from getting her to believe that these thoughts were created in her own heart, with the consequence of making her depressed and down. I reassured her that she would quickly gain victory over them if she only stopped caring about them. She only had to turn her back on them and look to the Christ.

Now, she understood what the matter was, and the next time those libelous thoughts came to her, she said to the tempter: - No! Now I know how it is. You are the one bringing these horrible thoughts, and I hate them; I do not want any part with them. Jesus Christ is my helper. Go away in His name, in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene.

When the tempter was exposed like this, it fled. And the woman became happy and delivered. Saying the name of the Christ scared away the tempter.

One more thing.

Dark spirits tempting us know whether a believer understands that evil thoughts come from them, and that is when they will fight harder to make one believe that those thoughts are his or her own.

If the devil came and introduced itself like this: I am Satan, your sworn enemy, and now I am here trying to make you sin. I doubt you would be so hesitant to give in. He must remain hidden for his bates to destroy us. (19)

 

If falling happens, it is important to not let it bring you down. We easily listen to the accusations of Satan and think that we can never be free. We blame ourselves and think the situation is hopeless.

If you find yourself in this situation, you must get up immediately! Confess your falling but keep going forward with God! Thank Him for forgiving you, and that He is still doing His good work inside you! Do not let thoughts of defeat and depression build up in your head! The truth is that sin has been defeated 2000 years ago through Jesus on the cross, and that God continues to work on you. Hold on to this truth and it will slowly become your experience in your everyday life!

 

Mentality. When a person turns to God, they learn to better recognize their own mind of the flesh and wrongful attitudes. They might have not realized sins of the tongue before, e.g., but now see how difficult it is to control what they say. When James wrote “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8), it is true in his life.

Our mentality poses a similar issue. Evil always starts with thoughts and by harboring those thoughts. Those might include latching on to people’s faults, prideful thoughts, or, e.g., sexual thoughts. We do not immediately reject those ideas from our head, and they will have more room in our mind. We do not follow Paul’s teaching about chaining our thoughts to be obedient to the Christ:

 

- (2 Cor 10:3-5) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

 

This example from real life shows how everything can start from the smallest grain of thought. The choices we make today will influence what will become of us later. The course human nature takes to evolve into eternity is the same. It is:

- A thought – an act – a habit – nature – and eternal fate. A thought is like the beginning of a path, and eternal fate is where the path ends. For instance, Hitler and other evil dictators did not start out as sinister, they started with an idea, until in the end they became the evil dictators we know them today as.

 

I once knew a preacher who let the devil lure him into watching a television show that contained a little bit of sex. Soon, watching that show was not enough for him. He went on to buy certain weekly magazines. When that did not satisfy his increasing lust, he installed a video apparatus in his home and bought porn films. When that was still not enough, he decided to try in real life what he had seen.

At this point he had lost his congregation, his wife and his family. It all started with a small thought that he did not purify himself from.

That is how all sins begin, from small thoughts that we see no need to purify from. In order to grow in sanctification, we must constantly keep an eye on ourselves to stay free from the world’s sin. (20)

 

When thoughts are usually the main issue for people, there is only one solution; the touch of God. We must keep turning to Him and tell Him the following, e.g.,: “I am not able to remove these wrong thought from my head, but You can do it. Thank You for affecting my mind by making me stop harboring these thoughts. For You anything is possible, and I put my trust in You that You will overcome this problem.”

 

- (Ex 14:14) The LORD shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

 

- (Ps 141:3) Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

 

a word of caution. It is important to understand how God works, when baptism of the Holy Spirit, providence and consecration are in question. That is, God never wants people to be passive in their mind and actions, or us to shut ourselves in, or that our understanding of Him makes us empty. These kinds of things are typical for psychics, when they fall into trance and evil spirits work through them, but that is completely opposite to how God works. He never wants to destroy our personality or to override it, or to make us into robots, He wants us to think, decide, feel and speak for ourselves. He does want us to act according to His will, of course, and He can give us strength to do so, but false inactivity and passivism come from the devil and evil spirits. These deceitful forces can mislead a person so much that one might think they are, e.g., experiencing extraordinary providence, are extraordinarily close to God, and on a higher spiritual level than other people (people in this state rarely listen to others, as they think they are in “direct” providence). Another common manifestation of misguidance is a person wounding up in despair and doom in their relationship with God because of the voices they hear.

Jessie Penn-Lewis tells about the improper thoughts that people can have in their Christian life. It is good to realize these misled perceptions, in order to be able to resist the devil’s misguidance.

 

Many dangers lie in some believer’s phrases and ways of saying things. Many of them are completely unbiblical and misleading.

Varying preconceptions about how God should work also offer an opportunity for evil spirits to strengthen their grip. Such preconceptions include, e.g., an idea that when a believer has been supernaturally forced to act, it is a special sign that God is leading them, or that if God brings all things into our “memory”, we do not need to use our memory at all.

Below, we will list some of the misconceptions and wrong conclusions that lead a believer into a passive state of mind:

   (1) "Christ lives in me", so I no longer live myself.

   (2) "Christ lives in me", meaning that I have lost my personality because Christ in person lives in me (a wrong conclusion from Gal 2:20).

   (3) "God acts in me", so I do not need to do anything, only surrender and obey (Phil 2:13).

   (4) "God wants for me", meaning that I cannot use my own will at all.

   (5) "God alone is the judge", meaning that I cannot use my own judgment.

   (6) "I have the mind of Christ", meaning that I cannot have any opinions of my own (1 Cor 2:16).

   (7) "God speaks to me", and so I cannot "think" or "make conclusions", only "obey" what He says.

   (8) "I am waiting for God" and "I cannot go anywhere before He moves me”.

   (9) "God reveals His will in a revelation to me", and so I do not need to decide or use my intelligence and conscience.

   (10) "I have been crucified with Christ", therefore "I am dead," and I have to "practice" death, which I imagine to be the passiveness of my feelings and thoughts.

In order to make a reality of all these varying perceptions of the truth, a believer suppresses any understanding, discern, deduction and will to act, in order to let “a divine life flow” through their body. What they do not realize is that God needs a person’s complete freedom of skill, and active and orderly cooperation with the human mind to make all spiritual truths function in action. (21)

 

 

 

 

4. About change

 

When people turn to God, they often have quite a few imperfections and impurities, and many of them might have something to do with narcissism. They might value their intelligence, think their opinions are the best, believe that they are perceptive about spiritual matters, or they might compare their eloquent speaking, gifts and efforts to others, thinking that they are somehow more talented.

Impurity also affects spiritual work. The less God has dealt with our pride, improper attitudes, and our stronger sides, the more they will negatively affect God’s work. People might see the power of God, but are left with a mixed impression, because our stronger sides have not yet been handled by God. Watchman Nee teaches:

 

Oh, how rare it is these days to come across a pure spirit. When our spirit is sometimes shown, the soul is often there as well; they have been fused together. That is why the first demand in God’s work is not so much the power of the spirit, but the purity of it. Those who deny this, will see the work they’ve done with power crumbling down from the lack of purity. Although they truly might have the power of God, they destroy what they have built, because their spirit is crossed. What should we make out of this?

…If you truly want to be delivered, God must work on your strong points in a fundamental way, not only on the surface level. Only after having your stronger side be broken by God, can your spirit come through without the impurities that have drained your neighbors.

Impurity is the greatest problem in the lives of God’s servers. Ever so often we touch both life and death in our brothers. We find God, but also our life, humble spirit, but also independence, the Holy Spirit, but also the flesh – all in the same person. When they rise up to talk, they influence others with their crossed impure spirit… The name of the Lord is not suffering because you don’t have life, it is suffering because of the impurity within you. And the congregation will also suffer. (22)

 

When God makes us more useful, He mainly uses two different methods: discipline of the Holy Spirit, and revelation of the Holy Spirit (the book The release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee dives into this topic more deeply and has an excellent way of addressing it. It is a must read.). We are going to look at both methods used by God.

 

1. Discipline of the Holy Spirit, i.e., what God allows to happen in our life, in order to vanquish our exterior pride, self-sufficiency, and toughness. In this lesson God allows people to experience failures and hardships, so that they would not rely on themselves but on God. He takes away their faulty self-love, confidence and pride, and at the same time, the life of Christ can shine through them. The more they are disciplined, the less they will have those impure characteristics that hinder spiritual work.

 

- (Hebr 12:5-11) And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him:

6 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives.

7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?

8 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.

9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?

10 For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.

 

- (2 Cor 4:8-11) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

11 For we which live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

 

2. Revelation of the Spirit is another way God frees us from wrong attitudes. Many things are hidden from us – like an iceberg under the surface – but when the Holy Spirit exposes our inner state, we will realize our impurity and flaws. We see ourselves like God has always seen us, but we have never realized before.

When the Holy Spirit reveals sin, it is like light exposing dust in a dark room. You would not notice the dust in a dark room, but the sunlight will reveal all of it. The stronger the light source, the better we can see the dust. This, and recognizing one’s sins, come up in many parts of the Bible:

 

- (Isaiah 6:5) Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the middle of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

 

- (Hebr 4:12,13) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

 

- (1 Cor 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

 

This realization, where a person sees their sins and impurities, happens to some extent in the beginning of one’s spiritual life, but it is something that a person will go through for the rest of their life. A person who jokingly talks about sin, has not experienced this realization yet, but once the light enters their heart, their attitude will change. Before, they used to understand it only in theory, but after the realization they will see their inner impurities and need for change.

The benefit in this process where God reveals our inner state, is that we will be gradually freer of our wrong attitudes. Where the light shines, the flesh cannot operate anymore. The more we see our inner twisted attitudes, the freer we will become of them. Another good thing about realizing our own sinful state and wrong attitude, is that after that it will be harder for us to judge our neighbors. We have our hands full with our own flaws.

 

WHERE DOES GOD’S EDUCATION LEAD? When a person is in the school of God and guided by Him, only good things will follow. The most important outcomes include:

 

Knowing oneself

 

- (Deut 8:2) And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or no.

 

People learn to know themselves in the school of God. They will learn through their difficult relationships and through the light of God how their own self controls everything: how they are mean, selfish, prideful, jealous, irritated, or if they obtain other negative qualities. They did not notice these things before, but now they see them more clearly. Tapio Nousiainen tells how this happened in his life:

 

Now we are approaching an important phase, a turning point really.

With all suffering, God has aimed to achieve one goal: that we would see ourselves as the Holy Spirit sees us. Of course we in this day and age would not be able to go through seeing our real selves. So unclean and entirely wretched it is, when one gets to peek behind the curtain. But what we can bare, the Holy Spirit will show us.

When the man got to this stage, he felt how God’s presence went deeper inside him. Slowly, he started to see himself. How conceited, ambitious, hungry for praise, power-seeking, unclean, thin-skinned, grumpy, indecent, bitter, schemer, lustful, spiritually lazy, Pharisee, slanderer, sectarian, spy, mendacious, obsessed and jealous man he truly was.

Surely, if God went any deeper it would have revealed new aspects, but it would have been too much for the man. The man threw himself in front of God and cried in agony: “Oh God, how am I like this? How could you ever save me and tolerate me all these years? I am completely hopeless. I cannot save myself.”

Isaiah’s cry from the Bible (Isa. 6:5) is really fitting to the man: Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the middle of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

God must take things this far, before one can really benefit from learning. Everything after that is ascending from the low point. (23)

 

Becoming humble

 

- (Dan 4:37) Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

 

- (Dan 5:20) But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him

 

- (Job 33:14-17) For God speaks once, yes twice, yet man perceives it not.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, in slumberings on the bed;

16 Then he opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction,

17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.

 

- (Ps 119:67) Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept your word.

 

Becoming humble is another mark being in the school of God will leave. When all roads are blocked and a person goes through repeated dry seasons, trials and failures, they will slowly begin to realize that they are not any better than anyone else. Instead, they will start to think of others as better, and will no longer put their own spirituality on a pedestal. They will realize that everything good is based on grace and that they cannot achieve anything great on their own. During success and a time of abundance they would not think like that, as they were confident and secretly prideful of their spirituality. They no longer get any satisfaction out of it.

 

- (Phil 2:3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

 

Pride, self-absorption and being too confident are also dangerous in the line of spiritual work. If God gives us blessings, and we have a wrong attitude, we can destroy everything and become lost. That is why blessings can also be a hazard if we have not yet learnt to be humble and know that we cannot achieve anything on our own. Niilo Yli-Vainio, who played a part in revivalism on his later years, has written:

 

One cannot train to be a weapon of God or prepare for it in any university or Bible school. I am a good example of that. God started to equip me like this, in Finland and all over the world, in such a situation that was impossible for a human. No sane leader of congregation would never have planned this revival, or even dream about it, that a sick, dead Niilo would be the front man of it all.

One reason is that God does not share His glory.

If you want to know who God will choose, this is one premise.

A man would take God like a horse and harness Him to his sleigh – and off they go! What a ride! How wonderful it is, how the snow flies everywhere and the crowds are watching in awe, their eyes wide open.

God pulls, man steers! A man is steering God!

It is one thing. And another related aspect is this:

God sees everything, what man, wife, the elder brothers, priests or bishops don’t see. He sees the heart of the man, and what will happen to him, whether he can handle it.

Oh, how many things he can handle better than being used by God!

Listen to me, he can handle money and success better. He handles lottery winning, and a minister chair better than being an instrument of God. This is why many men will become impossible, which is why they will crumble, and there won’t be real revival.

…I believe that for this time God wanted such a pathetic man, because He saw that no one could believe in him – he is so burnt out, burnt to a complete crisp so that no one could bet their money on him. Which is perhaps why that kind of a man can handle being used by God for the time needed. He can handle a bit of God’s power to flow through him for a few short years.

He can do it; he can do it… That he has been mistaken so many times, and shattered into so many pieces, so many times beat to the ground, to know enough that he won’t lose it straight away.

…A preacher needs to be confident that they cannot achieve anything as a human, in order to be used by God, they cannot achieve anything that God helps them to do. If you miss that aspect – if life has not pushed you deep enough to know and always remember this, there is no hope for you to last even a day as an instrument of God. (24)

 

Understands others

 

- (2 Cor 1:3,4) Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God.

 

When a person sees their own flesh, they will be delivered from being judgmental of others. Before, they might have judged and frowned upon others’ bad behavior (which often keeps people tied to their bondages and separated from God. They reject spiritual matters if we do not appreciate them), but once the light of God is allowed to enter their soul, they will see their mean spirit. The more light can go in, the more they will be able to appreciate others.

Understanding others is also another benefit of God’s education. A person can help others in those areas where they have become aware of their own faults and shortcomings. The more they have seen of their own faults and learnt how to become free of them, the more understanding they will be towards other people and they will be more skilled to help anyone suffering with the same problems. However, the areas where the light cannot enter, will also be blind spots to others. If a person has not first seen their own pride, temper, and other flaws, they cannot help others in those areas either.

Another benefit from God’s education is that a person learns to understand suffering people – at least in those areas where the person has experienced similar hardships. It is easy for them to imagine themselves in others’ shoes, because they have gone through the same things. Whereas, if someone’s whole life has been an uphill, their attitude towards those who suffer is often faulty. They might offer simple generic answers – why don’t you pray more, why don’t you read the Bible more often, you need to pull yourself together – or they might even put blame on their neighbor. That person acts like Job’s three friends, who tried to look for reasons behind his suffering. Erik Ewalds tells about those generic answers that we often find ourselves offering to our neighbors:

 

Consolation from a person who has never experienced such suffering, is strange. Firstly, they try to belittle the other’s pain. Then they will try to find some cheap solution, which they force upon the suffering person. A third option is that they won’t even listen. (25)

 

Putting an end to sinning

 

- (1 Peter 4:1,2) For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin;

2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

 

Another positive side to being guided by God is putting an end to sinning. It does not mean becoming completely sinless and perfect, but it is progress in comparison to where one began in their journey. They will be freer from things and desires that used to bind them. Those things will not taunt them as they used to. Madame Guyon, who lived during the 17th century, tells how she went through such a process:

 

In these conditions I got to experience, my God, Your word, that You condemn our righteousness. Oh, how pure and holy You are. Who can wrap their head around it? I was led to see the hidden bondages one after another that had tied me to this world, and which God cut when He had shown them to me. All wrong interests that I had towards worldly things were taken from me gradually. Thus, my inner crucifixion kept on going, and it often felt like a gruelling experience. (26)

 

Deliverance from improper confidence and patience. Many people are naturally very inconsistent with their feelings. When they are depressed, they do not get any comfort from anything, but when things go well, they are boisterous and confident. They go from one extreme to another, because their emotions have not been dealt with.

What will God do with our inconsistent emotions? Usually, He allows for repeated dry seasons to occur, and then offers a refreshment. When a person is too confident and thinks that divine favors will be even brighter, they will have to endure some drought. Similarly, if they are depressed, God can offer some relief. They must go through these seasons for as long until they learn to be more careful with their feelings. They are no longer this boisterous, confident person when receiving blessings and good things from God. And at the times when they are depressed, they will understand that they can get out of it. In Biblical terms, the person has learnt patience. Negative emotions no longer dominate their life as they used to:

 

- (Rom 5:3-5) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience;

4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.

 

- (James 1:2-4) My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;

3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

 

Trials and the hand of God. When dealing with trials, there are two common misconceptions. One is that a person with strong faith, and who journeys with God, would not experience any. Another is that God allows a constant flood of different trials in our lives. Both are wrong, because God will give both times of trial and times of blessing. Neither of them is a sign of strong or weak faith, as they are something God allows to happen to us.

What if we do have to face some trials? How should we react?

The biggest issue here is, perhaps, that we do not take them from the hand of God, nor thank Him in these situations, because we only see and look at the things around us. We blame other people and we complain about our situations, but we do not realize that God handles us through these situations. We do not see His hand behind the situations and people, and that is why we still wander around blindly.

It is important to understand that God is our Father who raises us through conditions (Hebr 12:5-11). Daily events are things which He allows to happen in our lives, so that we would learn to deal with them correctly. As long as we keep blaming others and complaining, we have not learnt much, but once we realize that God is behind those conditions, we can move forward. Madame Guyon teaches about this very important topic, which reveals our flawed nature:

 

How should you react to the Lord doing His work in your life through a cross? When something enters your life that your flesh, your own self, feels dislike towards to, surrender yourself to God immediately. Accept it. Sacrifice yourself to Him in that moment.

By doing this, you will make a great discovery: when the cross becomes a part of your life, it won’t be nearly as heavy as you were afraid it would be. Accept it from the hand of God, whatever it was. The burden will be much lighter this way. The burden will be lighter because you have accepted it in your mind.

Do not mistake these words. I have not described you how to get rid of bearing the cross. Even if you left yourself completely in the hands of God and loved your cross, it does not prevent you from feeling the pain it causes. Feeling the pain is one of the most crucial aspects of suffering. Suffering has weaved itself with the essence of the cross. Remember, your Lord took to bare the extreme suffering of the cross. (27)

 

power, gifts, fullness of the spirit, and consecration. When discussing spiritual gifts and power, it is good to understand that they are distinct from consecration. A person might still be spiritually immature but obtain strong spiritual gifts. For instance, in the Corinthian congregation all spiritual gifts were at play, but still Paul considered them to be small children in the Christ. Strength and gifts were not connected to holiness and fruit. Ideally, gifts and fruit would always be present at the same time. Together they would have a deeper and a more lasting effect on people. This was the case in the life of Jesus, e.g., who was the perfect example of balance. He had both the gifts and the fruit.

 

- (1 Cor 1:4-7) I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

5 That in every thing you are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

7 So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

 

- (1 Cor 3:1-3) And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for till now you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.

3 For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?

 

What about baptism of the Holy Spirit and becoming filled with the Spirit?

In this area everything depends on the depth of the experience. Unfortunately, in Western countries, specifically, people’s experiences tend to be very shallow and short lived. They might receive baptism of the Spirit and speak in tongues, but it does little to change their inner life, as they tend to stay almost the same as before. Veikko Lähde took a note of this pattern and wrote about it:

 

In this context, I cannot help but compare the experiences of those who participated in the outpouring of the Spirit of the apostolic age and those who participated in the baptism of the Holy Spirit in our time. Although in theory both share the same experience, we must admit that its power has not reached the same fullness in our time as it did in the beginning. I believe the cause of the powerlessness of baptism in the first place is in the powerlessness of revival. We live in a time of congregation, a congregation to which the Lord says: “you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.” (Rev 3:8) The power of baptism of the Holy Spirit is thus much dependent on the power, with which God was able to fulfil the revival. Remembering back to the experiences of baptism of the Holy Spirit during our initial revival and comparing it to modern day baptisms of the Spirit, I cannot but notice how the newer experiences are weaker. The powerlessness of both the revival and the baptism of the Spirit experienced by the individual is, in my view, due to the fact that they have not become deeply emptied and broken vessels so that they could have been filled more deeply and entirely with the Holy Spirit. When someone fills with the Holy Spirit these days, often times there is hardly anything left of that blessing except for speaking in tongues. There was no room for a deeper fulfilment of the Spirit in those who were baptized. It is no wonder that baptism of the Spirit did not lead to such consecration and joy, which used to be such a prominent part of the original experience. (28)

 

There are some opposite experiences, and the two examples here come from the lives of well-known spiritual influencers, Dwight L. Moody, and Pentecostal apostle T.B. Barratt  - we can also see from the story of Barratt how he learnt to know his improper tendencies right before baptism of the Holy Spirit. They truly had a powerful change on the inside as well. They received a new kind of love towards people, which attests to them accessing a new level of consecration, but they also received new strength in their ministerial work, and more and more people started to be saved. Love and strength in their work were both present, as those were in the lives of Jesus and the apostles:

 

Moody: The blessing came over me like a lighting strike. I remember, how I walked the streets of New York and right there on the street the power of God seemed to come over me in such a miraculous way that I had to pray for God to hold back his hand. I was filled with the feeling of God’s goodness, and I felt as if I could have taken the whole world to my heart.  (29)

 

Barratt: It took place yesterday, Sunday, October the 7th, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and now I will tell you all how it happened. My soul is burning! I feel as if I was the happiest man in the world. Everything has become new. I am full of joy, peace, and love towards God and all people! Through the days he has led me, my heart continually shouting, “Forward! Forward!” Since my difficult illness over 20 years ago, there have always been forces, good forces, which have driven me forward. The question of sanctification has been my dearest subject; I have fought for it, even though I have not experienced it. (…)

   But how wretched I felt in my own eyes before the purity and holiness of God! I saw my own ambition, selfishness, stubbornness, and carnality. Oh, my God, I saw so much, so much that would grieve the Holy Spirit! I was broken and bent to the ground over and over again. (30)

 

When Moody and Barratt had their experiences and changed, they had already been believers for decades and had conducted spiritual work. Many had already been saved through them.

God can also give a similar blessing already in the beginning of one’s spiritual journey. Previously, we talked about Charles G. Finney, who received a strong baptism of the Spirit on the same day he was saved. He did not even know to expect it, and did not know such a thing existed, yet he experienced it. God gave this experience to him. As a result, thousands of people were saved soon after his conversion.

But as we mentioned, Finney got to experience reform ca. 20 years later. As a result, he saw the different stages in the journey of a Christian and realized he had moved forward in his spiritual growth. The biggest spiritual revivals that Finney was a part of were already behind. Because of his new experience, Finney began to preach about the power of Christ to sanctify a person. He mainly preached to his congregation the winter that he went through his reform:

 

Here ended my hard struggle, which had had me in its grip for so long, and I began to preach by this new, extended experience of mine. Many congregation goers and listeners of my preaches understood me, and they saw from my preaches, what had happened and what was happening in my mind right in front of their eyes. I believe that the people felt the change in my way of preaching more easily than I did. Thus, my mind was truly flooding, and I could not preach about anything else, except for the full, present salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

…For the rest of the winter, before I had to return home, I used to teach people about the fullness in Christ. But I realized that my preaches went “over the heads” of most of my listeners. They did not understand me. There were also plenty of those who did understand and who received a great blessing for their soul, and their godly life progressed like never before, as I had every reason to believe so. (31)

 

 

 

 

References:

 

1. Frank Mangsin taivastestamentti, p. 143-145

2. Charles H. Spurgeon: Sielujenvoittaja (The Soul-Winner), p. 20,21

3. A.B. Simpson: Pyhityksen salaisuus, p. 57

4. Hans Erik Nissen: Christian, p. 35,36

5. Agnus I. Kinnear: Vastavirtaan (Against the Tide), p. 108,109

6. Uuras Saarnivaara: He elivät Jumalan voimassa, p. 275,276

7. John Larsson: Hengellinen läpimurto (Spiritual Breakthrough), p. 46,47

8. Howard Taylor: Hudson Taylor ja Kiinan sisämaalähetys eli mies joka uskoi Jumalaan, p. 115,116

9. Watchman Nee: Hengellinen ihminen, osa 1 (The Spiritual Man), p. 158 

10. John Larsson: Hengellinen läpimurto (Spiritual Breakthrough), p. 48

11. Charles G. Finney: Voima korkeudesta (Power from on High)

12. Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 309,310

13. Watchman Nee: Istu, vaella, seiso (Sit, Walk, Stand), p. 20-22

14. Agnus I. Kinnear: Vastavirtaan (Against the Tide), p. 138,139

15. Theodor Arvidson: Metodistit, p. 12

16. R.A. Torrey: Kuinka kasvaisin kristillisyydessä?, p. 8,9

17. Hannah Whitall Smith: Kristityn onnellisen elämän salaisuus (The Christian’s Secret of A Happy Life), p. 54

18. Oswald J. Smith: Tuska sieluista (The Passion for Souls), p. 79

19. Hannah Whitall Smith: Kristityn onnellisen elämän salaisuus (The Christian’s Secret of A Happy Life), p. 131,132

20. Jerry Savelle: Jumalan rakkaus vetää pyhitykseen (Drawn By His Love: The Life of Holiness), p. 125

21. Jessie Penn-Lewis: Pyhien sota (War on the saints), p. 43, 44

22. Watchman Nee: Hengen vapautus (The Release of the Spirit), p. 96,99

23. Tapio Nousiainen: Kristuksen kanssa kärsimyskoulussa, p. 99

24. Mauno Saari: Saarnaaja, p. 273-275

25. Erik Ewalds: Isän hoidossa, p. 48

26. Helmi Pekkola: Kilvoittelija ja todistaja, p. 57

27. Madame Guyon: Syvempään Jumalan tuntemiseen (Moyen court et tres-facile de faire oraison), p. 63,64

28. Veikko Lähde: Kristuksen täydellinen siunaus ja sen rajoittaminen, p. 32,33

29. Dwight L. Moody – elämäkerta

30. Martin Ski: T.B. Barratt - Helluntaiapostoli, p. 108-110

31. Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 306,308

 

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Jesus is the way, the truth and the life

 

 

  

 

Grap to eternal life!

 

More on this topic:

The Truth shall make you you free. Understanding the truth is a key factor in a relationship with God. When a person understands the truth about his position in Christ, it brings freedom into his life

Be freed from your past! Heavy experiences and memories of the past guide people’s lives and self-image. Read how you can get rid of the burdens of the past

Deliverance from bondage. When a person is saved, he is not always released from all bonds. Satan may still disturb him, and he may lack the peace promised by Jesus

Find the assurance of salvation! Assurance of salvation; why is it missing and how to get it? If someone stares at himself and his own deeds, and not at Jesus, he never gets assurance

Mental health and belief. Christian faith, when one understands God’s love and grace for oneself, has a positive effect on mental health

Sin, temptation, and sanctification. What is their relationship to each other? Everyone can fall, but the great danger is hardness and acceptance of sin