Recently I shared with a Christian woman that Christ requires us to give Him 100% of ourselves; to die to ourselves and live only for Him. She replied,
“I don’t think I can do that. You make it too hard.”
Q. What did she really mean? What was she really saying?
Most Christians believe that God wouldn’t deny them access to heaven because they haven’t done anything seriously bad. They themselves have set this standard and they themselves would expect God to behave towards them according to this standard.
The woman’s statement above is really saying that … ‘if I’m good God will not reject me; I’m doing everything in my power to conform to the teachings of Jesus; it’s not right and fair that you make the standard so difficult to reach’. What’s she’s really saying is … ‘I don’t agree that I won’t be saved my way. Who says your way is right?’ Her statement is not Holy Spirit because it contains ‘blame’, and it also says that she’s not really committed to Christ in the first place. She’s saying … ‘I didn’t sign up for this; you should have told me the full story so I could have made a rational decision based on all the facts before you roped me in.’
The bottom line is … ‘I’ll do it my way. You won’t tell me what to do.’
In the Bible, Jesus sometimes spelt out the price of the commitment, like with the rich young ruler, but most of the time He invited people to follow Him without them understanding the cost of their discipleship. The truth is, if you are genuinely in love with Christ and trust His judgment over yours, then you will just silently follow Him whatever the ups and downs and whatever the storms that come your way.
Who’s your real god? What’s your real god?
The woman was happy to love Christ up to a point, but the real truth was she loved her son more … her son was her god and she did everything for him, she even remarried for him … to give him a father, security and stability. Her new husband was a Christian so she was willing to become one for the benefit of her little god. That’s not commitment, that’s convenience. It looks like ‘commitment’ but sooner or later God will expose the fakeness of it.
Marriage is a vow
When you fall in love you make a choice to get engaged, but when you marry you make a vow before God and to your spouse that you will stand with them for life for better or worse for richer or poorer, in whatever health issues arise. No one really understands the commitment required to fulfil that vow, but if you are genuinely committed, you work your way through every hurdle that comes your way and stay true to your word. That’s what genuine marriage is!
In the same way, when you fall in love with Christ you make an initial decision to follow Him, and then when you get baptised you make a vow of marriage relationship; a full commitment which really means, as the song says … no turning back, no turning back. When you enter the relationship with Christ you have no realistic idea what the commitment means, but somewhere along your journey you will face the seriousness of the vow you have made and at that point you will either confirm your salvation or confirm your pretence. When life gets difficult with its twists and turns the committed Christian will turn to Christ and trust His plan, but the fake Christian will blame and make excuses as to why it’s wrong that they should have to go the hard way.
Modern society is a throw-away society
Modern society doesn’t use cloth nappies or even handkerchiefs; it’s all throw-away stuff. Modern society isn’t really serious about their commitments. It says it’s into the environment but that’s only if there’s no interference to its throw-away lifestyle; and that’s just how modern society faces marriage; if it doesn’t work, throw it away and start again, and because of this attitude the practice is usually ‘try before you buy.’
Deep down, that’s how the modern Christian operates towards Christ … they say they’re into God’s love but that doesn’t stand the test of time when God suggests they give up their throw-away wants. There’s no real commitment, just pretence for convenience and show.
The miracle of the 5 loaves
In John 6, Jesus said a prayer and turned 5 loaves and 2 fishes into enough food to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. Next thing you know, Jesus is walking on the water in the midst of a great wind. When the disciples realised it was Him they invited him into the ship and immediately the ship was translated to Capernaum. That’s 3 incredible miracles. The people came looking for Jesus but couldn’t find Him, so they hopped in boats and searched for Him and eventually found Him on the other side of the lake at Capernaum. They couldn’t figure out how he had got there. Jesus told them that the only reason they were following Him was to get the deals He offered.
‘What can we do to do the works of God?’
Then in v.28 the people ask Jesus this question … ‘What can we do to do the works of God?’ Now most Christians and theologians would think that they are simply asking Jesus how to get saved and how to serve Him, but, the real fact is, the rest of the chapter confirms that they’re not interested in salvation except maybe on their own terms.
Q. What were they really asking Jesus?
In the context of the whole scenario, I think they were really asking Jesus how to do His tricks; they were asking Him how to get the benefits of His magic; how to get the same skills to impress others with the same incredible abilities. They wanted to know how to get the deal, not how to suffer for the prize.
I’ve met many modern Christians who follow Jesus for exactly the same reasons. They come to Jesus for the benefits, and love Him as long as God keeps giving them, or at least hang on in the expectation of Him doing so at some point. These people have delusions of grandeur. Some honestly believe they have been chosen as one of the end-time prophets. Others were prophesied over and thus believe they are the future Zerubbabel. Some believe they have the gift and will be a future prime minister, others think they are going to be Olympians (obviously for God), and some even think they have been anointed as God’s angel of vengeance to tell people where they are wrong and to bring curses against them if they won’t conform. Many believe that the more they give the more God is obligated by His Word to bless them. It’s all usury, not love, but fake can’t see the wrong in it.
They all think God has personally selected them and elevated them to some higher status of sociological value; but what every one of them can’t see is that every one of them is full of envy at other people’s status, full of fear of losing their status, think they are more intelligent than their spouse, have a pattern of lying to protect their status, routinely blame others for their problems and upsetting their status, and have no trouble telling others that what they are doing is wrong, not right. The funny irony is that they can see it about others but they can’t see it about themselves; knowledge puffs up and blinds.
Knowledge puffs up … the god of Intellect
Ever since Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, mankind has sought for and used knowledge as a tool to elevate himself above his neighbour. Our modern society promotes education as a means of personal elevation. People are constantly competing against and climbing over one another to get a higher position than their neighbour; to feel better than their neighbour. Everyone that I’ve counselled over many years has all used the increase of knowledge to promote themselves above their neighbour. Even if their excuse was to serve their neighbour, somewhere their motive was contaminated. It always will be unless you’ve died to yourself for the will of God.
Intimidation is not a characteristic of the Holy Spirit
Some Christians gain as much spiritual knowledge as they can to use it as a tool for the secret hidden purpose of elevating themselves above their neighbour and they use intimidation to preserve their self-made status. No one would dare challenge their knowledge, it would be an affront to their intelligence, and they have enough knowledge to shoot people’s argument down and put people in their place below them. This is not the knowledge of God, and putting people in fear just to preserve your status is anti-Christ.
My intelligence is superior to yours
The woman in my initial example thought she was more intelligent than her husband. It’s not wrong to be more intellectual than your spouse but it’s evil to elevate your ego with that fact, and once you elevate yourself above your husband you are directly disobeying the law and will of God in Genesis 3. If you live in the belief of this selfishness there is no way your intelligence is going to be based on the knowledge of God; it’s going to be based on the knowledge of your selfish pride. All your intelligence will now flow from this unlevel and unstable foundation, and without you realising it all your rational thinking will set a course that will diverge further and further from God’s truth.
The truth is, that if you use intelligence to elevate your ego, you’re really declaring that you feel inferior
Jesus deliberately chose ignorant and ill-favoured men as His disciples. He prefers the prostitute and adulterer, the lame, maimed and blind, to the intellectual. He isn’t ant-intellectual, He chose Luke, the physician, too; He’s anti-elevation. He’s anti using your knowledge to elevate yourself.
So many people I have talked with and counselled have all used intellect to hold an elevated position over someone else. They hate the tag ‘stupid’ so they live to avoid it and to prove they’re not. Some believe they have to do it themselves to prove they are not stupid; others have to help because they think you’re not intelligent enough; and no one likes being told what to do because it’s an insult to their intelligence … “I can work it out for myself; I’m intelligent, thankyou.”
Others are offended at their lack of intelligence so they develop skills in other areas to promote their individual intelligence against those who are doing exactly the same thing of developing skills to promote their own intelligence and to counteract the intelligence of others. All that’s really happening is everyone is just living for the preservation of their own self-value and competing with each other to prove who has the most value.
To do the will of the Father
In John 6, Jesus states that He didn’t come down from heaven to make Himself look good nor to get a better deal, nor to set Himself up as the king, but rather He came for one reason and one reason only, to do the will of the Father (v.38). If you’re genuinely committed to your vow with Christ, then that’s exactly how it works for you too.
Jesus goes on to explain that He is the Bread of Life and the Blood of Life. He invites them to eat and drink Him. At this point everything changes. You see, if you’re not really in love with Christ, your spirit won’t appreciate the truth of His words; it won’t make sense to your logic, and you’ll confirm that you are not really committed.
His followers said … ‘this is a hard statement, who can hear it?’ (v.60). Jesus could feel the guilt they were putting on Him. Guilt is not a characteristic of the Holy Spirit. Guilt always means that a demonic spirit is trying to manipulate your emotions to get you to doubt, to make you feel the blame, to make you feel fearful, and to divert you from faith so it can control you.
Jesus had tested the value of their commitment and proved that they were there for their own gain; they were not really wanting to run the course, they just wanted the love, the benefits, the rewards, the feelings.
What’s your real purpose in following Christ? May God work His plan of ignorance to save the foolish and confound the intelligent.
Pastor Bill Graystone