God has designed man to love God first, but sin entered and man now loves himself first, James 4:5. In order to reverse this God-resistant selfishness, God had already formulated a plan to save man from himself. The pattern was initiated by the sacrificial death of His own self in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. The true and only pathway to heaven and eternal life is not the church technique of inviting Jesus into your heart; it’s the unconditional surrender of the love of yourself to the will of God.
In order for man to achieve the reversal of his inherent selfish pattern, God instituted spiritual laws as a guide for man to follow. The laws don’t save you; they are a light to the Truth. By following the laws one has the opportunity to find God through death to one’s self. The laws are summarised in God’s Word as “God FIRST, and Others SECOND”, Matthew 22:37-40. In order to fulfil these laws one needs God Himself; thus we do invite Him to rule our spirit; but in order to sustain this decision of submission, man has to suffer misuse from his fellow man as led by Jesus’ example. Jesus was the first-born from the dead before He was eligible to reign in heaven; and the pathway to heaven for man, His creation, is the same as the leader; death first, and that death is learnt through the pain of misuse. We call this process, sanctification.
“If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we suffer for Him, we shall also reign with Him.” 2 Timothy 2:11,12
The advantage of being misused is eternal life. The advantage of misuse is spiritual headship over demonic forces. The advantage of misuse is salvation from our sins, if we allow the misuse to fracture our pride (the desire for self-value through favour and position in the sight of other human beings). The advantage of misuse is a re-focus from my selfishness to a focus on the King of the spirit world. Misuse is God’s training ground for giving up your selfishness and loving Him, and therefore living for whatever He wants you to do; I no longer count, only He counts, James 1:2-4. This is the experience of Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Job, Paul, Peter and Jesus Himself.
“Come unto Me all you that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” Psalm 55:22
Misuse can also be used by God to test whether our commitment to Christ is genuine. Misuse is the irritant in God’s oyster that deepens our relationship with the living God into a pearl. A life where everything tends to go right for you is not God’s way. Where do you turn when things go wrong; to your self, to others, to frustration and anger, or to God? You can use God as a crutch to fix up your hassles and carry you over your problems, or you can turn to God because you’ve committed yourself to His walk.
Many are called, but few are chosen. That’s because my pride won’t let me be misused; ‘you will not put me down’, ‘you will not tell me what to do’, ‘you will not tell me I’m wrong’, ‘you will not tell me what to think’, are all comments that flow from a resistant non-surrendered heart. I can live with Christ, I can serve Christ, I can follow Christ, but I’m not saved for eternity until Christ is me, John 15:4, Galatians 2:20.
Misuse is God’s measuring stick for evaluating who is really His, and who is pretending to be His.
Others FIRST, or God FIRST
Most Christians live in fear. They don’t go to the Scriptures to find God’s opinion. Rather, they base their decisions around the majority opinion of others FIRST or their religion FIRST, and shy away from anything controversial especially if God’s opinion isolates them from the majority view; and because they’re kind to others they say they love God. Most Christians are agreeable with the Word, but contradictory in their actions when it may upset others. This is not the love of God, it’s the love of self, camouflaged by looking like you love your neighbour by not causing any conflict with your neighbour. For example, 1 Corinthians 5 clearly and adamantly states believers should separate from fornicating believers, but the modern view of the church is tolerance and understanding, commonly called ‘love & acceptance’. Thus, false love has diminished the standards of the church to the level of the world’s, and the demarcation line is well and truly smudged.
Another example is the church’s attitude to God’s decree of Sabbath. The church was told to stay separate from the world on God’s holy day, Nehemiah 10:29-31, Matthew 5:17-19; 23:3. The one and only thing written by God’s own hand was the Ten Commandments, but the church has devalued them by worldly compromise. The modern church condones and promotes work, sport, fun and shopping as acceptable on God’s holy day. Similarly, the modern church accepts the worldly pattern of divorce and re-marriage. It’s rare to find someone who is willing to be different from the world; it’s far easier to go with the flow and get the tattoos. Today, it’s easy to be a member of the church and a member of the world at the same time. In modern society, there’s no difference between an average good citizen and the average church goer. The modern church is just an extension of the world.
The truth is, because everyone’s into seeking self-value in the eyes of others we avoid being misused like the plague, and thus either go to great lengths to keep others happy, or else intimidate others to control them from misusing us, and we simply add Christianity to our resume of self-value experiences to enhance the camouflage.
The debt of misuse
If someone misuses you, they owe you an apology; they owe you something and thus they are in your debt. Effectively, this means they are your servant because “the borrower is servant to the lender.” Thus you have spiritual power and authority over them, providing you do not surrender to your pride of wanting justice for yourself. This gives you power in the spirit world where it counts. If you live for the physical world you’ll always be a puppet to the spiritual world’s forces.
Forgiveness = cancelling the debt [“forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are indebted to us”], and not necessarily reconciling with the offender. Contrary to popular church teaching, a righteous Christian has the option to retain the debt or cancel it. Beside forgiveness, the Scriptures also teach the other side of the truth “whosoever sins you remit they are remitted, and whosoever sins you retain they are retained”, John 20:23, Luke 17:3. Forgiveness isn’t an automatic requirement as the church teaches; it’s an option depending on the freedom of choice to a righteous Christian who wins that right through the pain of misuse.
Besides praying for those who persecute you, Jesus also taught ‘wipe the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ God said ‘if you don’t forgive, I won’t forgive you,’ Matthew 6:15. Thus God Himself practices unforgiveness, and does not forgive unrepentant sinners. Jesus didn’t forgive the Pharisees; He cursed them. Elisha didn’t forgive the children that mocked him; he called bears against them. Paul did not forgive Demas, and Peter didn’t forgive Ananias and Sapphira. There’s a time not to forgive and only a soft heart fashioned by misuse to the will of God, will understand the rights and wrongs of this dichotomy and appreciate the privilege of this spiritual rank.
The secret to eternal life is a soft heart. Misuse is the anvil that God commonly uses to crush our selfish pride (our hard heart) and soften it to His righteous will. David’s secret was to trust his Lord and not hold any grievance against his father-in-law. This requires a commitment of character to not allow your pride the right to rise up and defend its rights, but leave the injustice to the righteous judge, for His will and purpose to supersede your own, and this quality is moulded in the furnace of misuse.
May God grant you the desire to be wholly His, and thus the inner willingness to be His disciple of misuse.
Pastor Paul Stevens