October 1, 2010

To Live is Christ — not my will, but Thine be done

The scribes in Jesus’ day accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan. Interesting theory, but it does not make sense. Such an idea is something like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Even the prince of darkness is not so much in the dark that he uses his own demons to defeat his own demons. Jesus responded to the scribes with a similar argument . . . 
So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.” (Mark 3:23–26)
While Jesus used players from the kingdom of darkness to make His point, this principle speaks to individuals with divided loyalties too. I cannot get anywhere if part of my time is given to building up and the other part devoted to tearing down.

This applies to families too. A family falls apart when the people in it attack one another. A feuding family is doomed. Church congregations also fall under the same logic. If they become divided against themselves, without a resolution their in-house strife will lead to ruin. True strength comes to those who are united in their goals and purposes, and steadfast in their loyalty to each other.

The New Testament speaks about those who are disloyal. It happens when selfishness moves in and causes a split in the love and unity God gives to His people. Instead of being motivated by the Spirit of freedom and their loyalty to one another, a fighting church is caught in the bondage of division and selfishness. 

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:13–17)
The cure is love and reliance upon the Holy Spirit, but both require faith in God. James wrote about the “double-minded” person who is unstable in all his ways because of doubt, the opposite of faith. Such a person might believe some things, but he cannot stand because he is always second-guessing everything he does. He is divided against himself and not trusting God either.

I’ve had those days. My turmoil and uncertainty make clear the words of Paul, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:15) When God shakes me out of my double-mindedness, I cannot understand why or how I had been so foolish as to work against what I believe in or had been so divided in my desires.

Jesus was never divided. His heart was set to do the will of His Father and He never wavered from that determination. The world and all it offered was not a temptation for Him. He knew where He came from and where He was going. He knew why He was in this world, and was set to fulfill His purpose.

I fall far short of that. Some days I spin my wheels and at the end of the day wonder why I keep shooting myself in the foot. I want to do the will of God, but other wants distract me. I make excuses that my will doesn’t appear to be a terrible thing.  I’m just quietly doing my own thing, not biting or devouring anyone.

But I know where the flaws are — there is no fruit from doing my own thing. No lives are changed. No souls are won. Christ is not glorified. Instead, His will is that I demonstrate His love to my neighbor and walk always in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Not my will, but His will — and that requires being single-minded and obedient.

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