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The Good News and the Bad News in the Higher Christian Life
Yesterday we began to look at Truth One regarding the discouragement that comes with continual failure to live the sanctified life in the flesh. And we concluded it is impossible for us to produce anything good in our flesh since it is still intertwined with our fallen, sinful nature. Therefore, it seems we have spent most of our Christian life trying to prove Truth One is false and we can, contrary to Scripture (Rom. 7:18), produce good with our flesh under the allusion God will be impressed by our efforts and pleased with our results. And then we scratch our heads and we wonder why the Higher Christian Life seems so elusive to us today.
I think it’s obvious, don’t you?
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find – Romans 7:18.
But nevertheless, whether we are mature enough to embrace Truth One or still stuck in the idolatry of our pride, we must admit our failure to live the Higher Christian Life is painful and discouraging and often leads to an irresistible desire to throw up our hands in defeat and quit. But that is a course of action we must never take. After all, fully realizing our inability to live the Christian life in the flesh is the greatest blessing we can experience in our journey to the Higher Christian Life. Let me explain.
There is good news and bad news associated with the Higher Christian Life. The good news is God has provided a means for us to experience Him in ways most nominal believers cannot imagine. And the sky is the limit. There is no one who has ever fully arrived when it comes to the Higher Christian Life. D.L. Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man.” This is the mindset of those who seek the Higher Christian Life. And the good news is this experience is possible and available and attainable for each of us today.
But the bad news is God will go to extreme measures to help us experience Him by correcting His children, often by painful punishment, when they head in the wrong direction. Remember this verse (a quote from Proverbs 3:11-12):
For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives – Hebrews 12:6.
This sounds cruel to our ears today because the words “chasten” and “scourges” conjure up images of abuse and harsh discipline, something our woke culture no longer associates with a father’s love for his children. But the word translated “chastens” (paideúō) means “to bring up a child, to educate, train, influence, with the idea of chastizing or punishment for the purpose of educating someone to conform to divine truth.” And the word “scourges” (mastigóō) is used figuratively to mean “correct or punish” and refers to “all suffering which God ordains for His children which is always designed for their good” (Rom. 5:3, 8:28).
And note, God only does this for those He loves (agapáō). And He only disciplines or ordains suffering (scourges) for those in His family He receives to Himself, listed as “every son” in the verse. So the chastening of the Lord is not meant for evil, but for our good. And it is ordained by our loving Father who only desires us to experience Him in a greater fashion than we are today.
But there is more.
How Does This Relate to My Struggles with Holiness?
This is where it gets exciting.
In all the times you failed in your walk with Him and found the Higher Christian Life elusive and just beyond your grasp, you may have thought you were of no use to God, and your flaws or inability to remain faithful made you a disappointment to Him. You were ashamed of yourself, and you assumed God felt the same way. You may have been deceived into believing your failures and sin defined who you are and God only saw your past, what you were and still are, and not your future, what you could become. But God has a purpose in your suffering and shame. God is teaching you, through your failures and discouragement, that you cannot serve Him with what is still yet unredeemed. You cannot produce anything good with your flesh. You must learn to trust and rest and abide in Him (John 15), and allow Him to create His good through you. This is the key to the Higher Christian Life. To “Let Go and Let God” and leave the results to Him.
Remember, God only disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12:6), and His discipline can sometimes seem harsh. But He does this only to bring those He loves into a better understanding of themselves and of His pathway to the Higher Christian Life. So if you have experienced shame and suffering and continual failure in trying to live in the flesh the life only obtainable by His Spirit, look up! For God, like a loving Father, is simply trying to get your attention to bring you back on the right path to intimacy with Him.
And rest assured, He will stop at nothing to give what is best, which is Himself, to those He loves, which is you. So embrace His grace in your failures and repent of trying to live a spiritual life by your flesh, and you will receive entrance to the pathway leading to the Higher Christian Life.
Tomorrow, we will look at the second of the three key truths to deliverance from failure and discouragement in the Higher Christian Life.