‘Whosoever doesn’t bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple’, Luke 14:27
‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.’ Luke 9:23,24
Most people believe that the definition of ‘right’ is
to do what’s ‘good’ and to not do what’s wrong. It’s especially valid when it comes to how people treat you; right is being treated fairly; being treated the way I think is fair for me, especially if I treat you fairly. In other words, ‘fair’ is ‘right’.
But the Word of God states that the right thing to do is ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’, Matthew 7:12. It doesn’t state that they should treat you the way you would like to be treated.
When someone demands to be treated right, they are showing what spiritual force they are under the influence of. If you are under the influence of God’s Spirit you may demand your rights for God’s benefit, but you won’t demand your rights for your personal benefit.
Most people believe that the definition of good is ‘doing what’s right’. But the problem is, what’s right? Whose definition do we consent to? The world’s view of right, or the Word’s view?
The Word states that ‘not everyone that says Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my Father. Many will say, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works? Then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me you that work lawlessness,’ Matthew 7:21-23. Be as good as you like, it won’t save you (1Corinthians 13).
It’s not the deed that’s good, it’s the spirit that originates the deed
In other words, doing good doesn’t equal doing what’s right, unless the right is God’s will. That’s because only God is good (Luke 18:19) and only God can do good, so if you are to do good then it must be wholly under the influence of God’s Spirit, and not your spirit nor Satan’s.
There are always 2 spiritual forces that influence the heart of man
Before Adam sinned, he was totally under the influence of the Spirit of God. When Eve sinned and manipulated Adam to do it too, from that point on, Adam was now exposed to the influence of two opposing spiritual forces, and he had the freedom of choice to decide which force he would listen to.
Consequently, every human being is subjected to the same stress of spiritual schizophrenia
How often do you meet someone who is charming and nice, but on another occasion you can get your head bitten-off by them. For example, sometimes your dad can make you feel warm and wanted, and at other times he can be hurtful and bitter. That’s because there are two forces pulling on people’s spirit and it all depends which force they submit to.
Sin is submitting to the influence of Satan
King Saul prophesied under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he worshipped God and he blessed people in the name of God, and yet he was constantly under the influence of an evil spirit, and eventually surrendered to that spirit. The evil spirit gained its power over Saul when he submitted to the envy against David when the people said he was more valiant. He didn’t choose gratitude for David’s victory over Goliath; he chose envy and bitterness to the point of murderous intent. He loved the respect and value of people (1Samuel 15:30), more than the love of God (John 12:42,43).
Balaam blessed the Jews under the influence of God and yet he initiated the sin of fornication under the influence of Satan, and was responsible for the destructive correction of the Jews.
Even Peter was confronted by Jesus, when Peter in his rightness but under the influence of Satan contradicted Jesus’ intention to go to the cross.
Every one of us is subject to this evil force until we kneel at the cross
Modern humanistic society teaches that everyone is born good and therefore shouldn’t be contaminated by religious parents or discipline of any kind. But the truth is, everyone is born under the influence of two opposing spiritual forces, and the one that wins out almost all the time is the force of evil. The truth is, without appropriate discipline, a person will always choose evil because that’s the easy pathway, even though they may act good.
So, if death to self is the only pathway to salvation, what exactly is it?
Most people think ‘death to self’ is doing what’s right and good especially when it comes to your neighbour. They think it’s giving up something they want and letting your neighbour have it instead. That’s sort of right but it’s not the full story.
If you want to understand death to self, you should look at what the Bible says is ‘self’
The bible defines ‘self’ in James 4:5 & 12 as lusting after envy, and judging your neighbour for not doing it right. These two characteristics are always at the root of all human analysis and will always fester into blame, fear, lying and bitterness. That’s because the human heart is primarily interested in what you think of me, and envy and judgment are propagated on the food of being liked more than someone else. Until these two factors and this inner desire to be liked and valued by others are negated by the Spirit of God, everything you do will be under the influence of Satan, and you will never see it until you die to them.
Death to self is not trying to do the right thing, it’s actually not allowing envy and judgment to rise up against your neighbour
Only then can you truly love your neighbour as yourself and truly love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. In other words, you can only operate in love by keeping the Ten Commandments (John 14:15), and you can only keep them in love when you have died to envy and judgment against your neighbour.
When you live in this realm you will treat your neighbour righteously and not necessarily nice, just as Jesus did. Jesus wasn’t always nice to His mother; He wasn’t always nice to His disciples; He wasn’t always nice to those He healed, and He certainly wasn’t nice to the Pharisees; He was righteously and totally under the influence of the Spirit of God because He didn’t submit to His human characteristics of envy and judgment.
What’s so bad about envy and judging?
In the Greek, envy is really defined as a diseased condition of the soul that develops into a malignancy against another because they seem to have a better deal. If you follow this through scripturally, you’ll see that envy in God’s eyes is really murder (1John 3:15), adultery (Matthew 5:28) and stealing even though you may not have physically performed the deed. And if you pretend to be good whilst doing these things in your heart then you are bearing false witness.
And judging in God’s eyes is setting yourself up in God’s position (James 4:12).
Consequently, these two sinful characteristics contravene all the Ten Commandments of God and thus prove your motivation is really hatred not love, no matter how it looks on the outside (1John 2:4,9).
How did Jesus have the victory over these human traits?
He had the victory because He set His course to follow His Father’s will to the cross. He wasn’t manipulated by the envy of wanting to be liked better than others. The cross is the differentiating factor between a person who calls themselves a Christian and a genuine Christian. Peter wasn’t converted (Luke 22:32) until after the cross; until he had lost all his self-elevated value and surrendered wholly to the will of God.
Signs of being under the influence of the spirit of Satan
Statements or voices that say things such as “You like him more than me”, or “you like me the best” are not from Holy Spirit. Neither is fear, lying, guilt, blame and telling people how to behave towards you and others (unless you’re the righteous authority). Neither is being happy that someone has fallen from their cocky position. Neither is being happy when you’re up and sad when you’re down. Neither is having to prove that you are right or having to do it right, and neither is silence and cooperation just so you don’t get into trouble. These characteristics are inherent in the spirit of man under the influence of Satan, and this spirit is divisive.
Cop the blame until your heart softens to His will
If you want to walk under the influence of the Spirit of God, you will have to accept being thought bad of and wrong in your opinion. You will have to accept being told what to do by hypocrites and being blamed. Being told what to do by a hypocrite who’s doing the same thing themselves, and being blamed by a hypocrite is one of the most powerful tools Satan uses to manipulate your defensive emotions to stand up for itself and retaliate and thus to fall under his spell.
Everyone wants to be liked by God, but they also want to be liked by men, but that’s not where you’ll find the cross. The cross is the place of rejection and zero self-value; the place where men will generally dislike you, yet ironically it’s also the place of salvation from the influence of Satan.
“Thus says the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said we will not.” (Jeremiah 6:16).
Pastor Peter White