Our spiritual enemies cannot reverse the change that takes place in those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. They cannot remove the indwelling Holy Spirit, nor can they destroy the “new man, created in righteousness and true holiness” we become through the new birth (Ephesians 4:24).
The world, the devil and the flesh can, however, tempt us to ignorance, distraction, forgetfulness, deception and discouragement regarding God’s internal work of grace that results in a “delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). We can “neglect so great salvation ” (Hebrews 2:3). We can fail to avail ourselves of the living, dynamic presence of our Savior. We can disbelieve the truth of His working in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). We can disobey our Lord’s command to “judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteousness judgment” (John 7:24). Moreover, we can live as spiritual paupers despite possessing “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).
Can there be a greater tragedy than a born again believer failing to live according to the truest delight of his heart, as wrought by the indwelling Spirit of Christ? Hardly, and so we must get our dander up, as it were, that our foes seek to hide, distract or deceive us from us the truth of who the Lord Jesus is, and who we are as spiritually united to Him. Indeed, from the initial moment of our salvation, the devil and his minions have sought to keep us from the truth that leads us and enables us to walk in consistent obedience and godliness. Again, they cannot take the fact of our redemption in Christ, but they can, if allowed, pilfer our experience and outworking of “so great salvation.”
They have too often been successful, haven’t they? Every honest believer will confess as much. However, we will confess even more that our Savior has been even far more faithful to continue His working to change us into His image. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Indeed, if our enemies seem relentless, remember that God is far more determined to finish in us that which He started. He forgives, cleanses and restores when we fall, and He seeks to remind us that fleshly unbelief and disobedience bring only misery because our Christ-inhabited spirits long for a life that honors Him and fulfills the will of God.
This we must believe in times of faithfulness, when trust and obedience are known as delight. This we must also believe (perhaps even more) in times of walking after the lusts of the flesh. Evidence, appearance and emotion may scream or whisper to us that we are miserable wretches who will never consistently walk with God. Left to ourselves, this would be true. However, the very definition of Biblical Christianity is that God does not leave us to ourselves ! “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Rather than leave us to ourselves, God changed our very selves when we believed, and He now works to enable us to walk accordingly. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). Yes, this we must believe on brightly lit summits and in dark valleys because it is true in both venues.
Tomorrow: We conclude our consideration of God’s invitation to present our bodies a living sacrifice, based upon an already accomplished and ongoing work in our spirits.
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.”
(II Corinthians 2:14)