Christianity 201

June 24, 2018

The Fullness of Christ is a Clean Heart

God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful,
gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways.

-Galatians 5:22-23 CEV

Purge me with hyssop,
    and I will be clean.
Wash me,
    and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me know  joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your countenance from my sins
    and erase the record of my iniquities.

10 God, create a pure heart in me,
    and renew a right attitude within me.

– Psalm 51 ISV

Graham and Amaryllis are a retired couple living in Trimsaran, West Wales, UK who have worked in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This is the first time we’ve featured Graham’s writing here at C201. Click the title below to read this at source.

Create in me a clean heart

We surely recognize these words from David’s repentance after ‘Bathshebagate’ in Psalm 51, a truly special psalm. We probably also recognize these words from our own experience, even though we have not sinned like David did; but these words always come from the deep longings of the soul who seeks after God, who desires earnestly to enjoy all the promises of God.

As we seek after God, we soon recognize His absolute holiness and as we draw nearer to Him, that has the effect of highlighting our sinfulness and we see the need to have a clean heart so that our quest to know God and His promises can be fulfilled, the blessedness of the worshipper, that attaining to the – fullness of God and Christ – that I have recently blogged about from Ephesians.

On the 6th blog, I realized that this ‘fullness’ was the restoration of the beauty of the human nature, back to what God originally created in Adam; this equates to it, in its fullest sense – a clean heart!

It just sounds great, doesn’t it? – a clean heart – it suggests to our minds something very beautiful, something extremely effective, a clean physical heart means the blood goes around the body perfectly. I suggest that all this equates to a consistent demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22,23. That presents a beautiful picture, but there is one thing to add to that ‘fruit’ that we see in the disciples in Acts, so I have suggested before that this is the 10th fruit of the Spirit because it is always the consequence of the ‘filling of the Spirit’; it is power! Power to be the people God wants us to be, often in difficult circumstances.

We see that Paul prays for two things for the Ephesian church – love and power – so we see that effectiveness of a clean heart, achieving what it was designed for.

From John 15, the True Vine discourse that those who – abide in Him – will bear fruit and that is obviously the idea of self-propagation, and so in Acts, we see tens of thousands of people being saved as the gospel is seen in all its love and power. Therefore, this clean heart surely is the 10-fold fruit of the Spirit, the fullness of Christ, Eph 1:23 & 4:13 – love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, patience, self-control and power! – these are the sons of God, full of the Spirit, walking by faith and living in love!

Doesn’t that just sound great? Oh yes! But how does it happen, how do we get there? Well, David asks God to create that clean heart in him, so yes, we can’t do it! God must do it, surely this is the gift of faith! As we thought before, this is the product of real, deep communion with God; this is knowing [ginosko] God, that intimacy that is so transformative that it produces the abundant life that Jesus came to bring, Jn 10:10 – living in love – presents the most beautiful of pictures!

It is David who shows how this works, it was his often-repeated desire to be a worshipper in the Tabernacle courts. Psalm after psalm presents this passionate desire to know God so that he can be the man God wanted him to be – the man after God own heart! – what an accolade!

Satan doesn’t want that to happen so he will try every trick in his book to stop that desire from coming about, he knows that his kingdom will take a beating if it does! Yes, with a clean heart we’re in the centre of the will of God and immortal until our work is done!
Another aspect of this pursuit of God is our willingness to listen to God, to listen for God! We get so set in our ways, so entrenched in our church culture that we fail to see anything is wrong, even when there is a perpetual lack of the fruit of the Spirit and ‘church’, that is mere religion is characterized by barrenness. We must prayerfully and carefully read the Word, ask for the Spirit to teach us His way, ask God to speak to us through it. We need to listen for God, for the Spirit to speak in the everyday things of life for communion with God is a 24/7 activity.

A W Tozer wrote the ‘Pursuit of God and had much to say on this, here’s his ‘Pathways into Revival’ –

1. Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself.
2. Set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life
3. Put yourself in the way of the blessing – obey the Word.
4. Do a thorough job of repenting.
5. Make restitution wherever possible.

Sanctification and consecration are not taught much in our churches but if they are going to make a difference to our sick society, it is the starting point, we must be right with God. We cannot go lightly into this pursuit of God for He looks for serious people to do His will. But wow, the blessedness of attaining to the prize, that high calling, the sons of God! There is one more factor that we’ve not thought about although it is inherent within the fruit of the Spirit, it’s – humility – it is impossible to consistently display the Fruit of the Spirit without humility, it can’t be done; but of course, it fully characterized Jesus.

So too, is the beauty of the human nature seen in humility, that’s where it originally came from and if we’re to display it, it must develop from our communion with the Man who is the Image of God, Jesus, what a Saviour!

March 31, 2012

Getting Out of the Sin Management Business

I’m currently about halfway through the book Filled Up, Poured Out: How God’s Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose by Mark O. Wilson (Wesleyan Publishing House) which released this month.  This book is literally jam-packed with helpful thoughts on experiencing personal revival and refreshing. I thought this excerpt might be helpful to someone reading today…

We must empty out before we can fill up.  We will not enjoy Christ’s fullness until we first experience the emptiness…

…Willful sin is the first place to start emptying. We must declare war on any action, thought, attitude, word or habit that displeases the Lord.

Without conscious effort, we easily slide into the sin management business, harboring and justifying pet sins, rather than confessing and repenting of them. The result is a sinning religion — a state of spiritual disobedience — that looks a whole lot more like the world, the flesh and the devil than like Jesus. The consuming concern of sin management is: “How much sinning can I get away with? That’s the wrong question.

A wealthy lade interviewed three men for a chauffeur position. “How close can you get to the edge of a cliff without falling off? she asked. The first guy said, “Twelve inches.” The second guy said, “Six inches.” The third guy said, “I’ll stay as far from the cliff as I can.” He got the job.

When staying close to the cliff appeals more to us than staying close to Christ, we are trying to manage sin. Spiritual victory is never found along the fuzzy edges of compromise. God calls us to steer clear of the cliff altogether.

Holding on to cherished sins is like keeping pet rattlesnakes in your closet. Sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten. Careless, compromising Christianity is a false substitute for the real thing. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not.” (Rom 6:1-2 NKJV)

Empty the obvious! Refuse to make excuses for sinning. You might say, “That’s just the way I am.” But is it Christ’s best for you? Weren’t you created to live above that? Some say, “Follow your heart.” The trick part is that hearts are deceitful (Jer 17:9 NKJV The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately wicked;who can know it?)

I once confronted a confused young man who left his wife for another woman. I said he was sinning and needed to get right with God. “No, no!” he protested. “That’s not true. I prayed about it and God told me it’s alright.”

The poor dude must have been praying to another deity, perhaps the false idol of self-indulgence. He was following his heart, but he certainly wasn’t hearing from heaven on that one.

Satan, the deceiver, lures us into false assuming it must be true if it feels right. We delude ourselves into thinking that wrong is not so bad in this particular instance. Deep down we still know right from wrong. Justifying bad behavior never justifies us before almighty God. Scripture clearly calls us to renounce our sins rather than excuse them.

~Mark O. Wilson; Filled Up, Poured Out pp. 42-44