Is there any net worth in serving?

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Becoming like Jesus means becoming servant-hearted. Some may seek to do miracles, but Jesus did not say His first work was that. Some desire recognition, or to exercise the power Jesus functioned in, but He did not say His purpose was to display His power.

Jesus said His primary purpose was that He came to serve—to serve and seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to serve as an example of humility and self-sacrifice (John 13:14,15); even now, He continues to serve as our intercessor, praying to the Father on our behalf (Rom. 8:34).

The primary call to the church is to secure and multiply Jesus’ model of servant-hood by creating an atmosphere and ministry emphasis that produces servants (Eph.4:12). The ability and opportunity to serve are gifts from God; and true growth, when it is pure, will produce the fruit of service.

Disintegration of Character

The syndrome of chronic moral debility

We live in a morally debilitated and degenerate world resulting in the disintegration of character. Decadence is on the increase. The line between morality and immorality has been blurred so much that most people can no longer distinguish one from the other. Society has engendered such a sharp inversion of values that it has absurdly considered this to be a culturally and modern advance.

The worst part is that this is entering into the church and contaminating it. People who accept chronic moral debility allow themselves to be conformed to the immoral circumstances that routinely confront them. They end up conforming to the ungodly values of the present age.

In many churches growth has been accompanied by worldliness due to disintegration of the character of Christ in their respective leaderships. To the detriment of the ethics of character, the ethics of personality, which ignore and violate the basic principles that rule the spiritual world, leave many believers at the mercy of satanic bonds. The problem is that ignorance does not exempt us from the consequences and punishment of breaking the law.

A lifestyle wrapped up in moral ignorance gives place to social chaos when we become indulgent with sin calling it “weakness”. It begins with tolerance of sin, continues with collusion, then comes insensibility and finally a damaged conscience, which compromises the foundation of life. Sin becomes a comfortably natural routine.

In this generation where society subject’s true laws and values to relativity, the collusion with moral weakness has placed the message and integrity of the church in checkmate. The avalanche of emotional problems that are debilitating modern society is nothing more than a symptomatic collateral effect of the moral disintegration of a passive “prosperity”.

Some people think that certain debilities are part of their personality. Many people, some of which are Christian workers, leaders and pastors, have embraced their moral weakness as an evangelical vice, and are trying to convince God that they were born morally weak, but that’s the way they are and there’s nothing they can do about it.

However, the truth is that this spiritual debility produces ungodliness and evil. This lack of moral strength gives place to the devil, profaning the work of God and bringing on scandals and destruction.

Defining defeat due to the disintegration of character

What is defeat? From the perspective of approval, we can quickly define defeat as “a cyclic life of reproof”. A vicious cycle is any evil dynamic or situation to which we feel obligated to return.

When someone faces a situation of testing and fails, he or she will be obligated to return to the same type of situation. Each time that we go through a test and we fail to pass it, we have to go through it again.

This obligatory return to the point of defeat defines the law of the test, from which no one escapes. Through repeated confrontations with this law, either a character of obedience or an alternative moral failure eventually emerges.

However, the draining dynamic of having to return routinely to the same situation, to which we subject ourselves repeatedly, begins to build a picture of defeat. In other words, whenever we take a test we fail! Therefore, we take the test again and we fail again! We repeat the test and suddenly we fail again! Each time the test defeats us more easily and we become convinced that we are a failure. It is just as Jesus declared:Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (John 8:34)

We feel defeated and without hope. This has become a periodic cycle in the lives of many people, leading them to spiritual disintegration, apathy and apostasy.

In this way, the specific points of testing become oppressive internal giants, building up fortresses that we are convinced are impenetrable. We must learn from David to leap over these walls and overcome these enemies.

The Bible tells us how Goliath, the most famous Philistine hero, challenged any man of the armies of Israel to face him in personal combat. Each day he came at the same time and repeated his humiliating and psychologically crushing challenge to all:

And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening. (1 Samuel 17:16)

This represents a cold and calculated strategy, in which the enemy plants a mentality of defeat. Each warrior of Israel had to tolerate two challenges per day. They were defeated each morning and each afternoon every day! Goliath imposed a cyclic process of personal and collective reproof simultaneously.

Because of the terrible challenges of the giant, day after day, each warrior had to accept failure through their cowardice. That became a humiliating routine, destroying the self-esteem of each man of Saul’s army. This represents more than a defeat, it was a massacre!

And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. (1 Samuel 17:24)

Each of Goliath’s public challenges imposed a deep sense of impotence that immobilized each soldier of Israel. Not only were they already accustomed to the situation of defeat, but also, they were totally intimidated, desperate and terrified. This lasted 40 days without interruption, until God sent David. We have here a true picture of spiritual defeat.

This episode reveals what happens in many people’s lives. When they are in the church, with all of the members, they appear to be ready for anything. They pray, worship, preach and zealously testify. However, personally, alone before their internal giants of anger, impatience with their spouse, pornography, debts … they can’t control themselves, they feel discredited and defeated.

Defining trauma due to the disintegration of character

In the dynamic of this cyclic life of reproof resides the true point where our weaknesses are concentrated. It is impossible to speak of defeat without speaking of trauma. Areas of defeat are also areas of trauma. Each new reproof represents a newly inflicted wound. From this perspective, we can define trauma as “the result of wounds and reproof concentrated at the same point”.

An example of this would-be children roller-skating without kneepads. Years ago, protective equipment was not readily available or at least sought after by children of that generation. The joy and thrill of racing down a hill on roller skates, during a time, supersedes the fear of falling head over heels and smashing up knees and elbows. Only after several falls and multiple wounds on top of wounds does the fear of falling overcome these children’s fun.

This is a good way to describe a trauma: it is when you sustain a wound on top of a wound! The mere thought of someone touching the place that was hurt, causes pain! The terrible fear of being hurt again installs itself, as in automatic defense mechanism.

Psychologically, this point begins to suffer a constant weakening, becoming ever more acceptable to collapse where the structure itself can be broken, like a bone that can be broken, producing permanent damage, or a healing process that takes much longer.

Some people after four or five attempts to enter a college or university, who repetitively fail to pass the entrance exam, permanently give up their professional dreams. Similar types of things happen all around us wherever our abilities are tested. All of this describes most people’s moral and emotional life. The truth is that we can rightly claim that almost everyone has struggled or is struggling with areas of trauma and defeat.

Disintegration of character and the process of deepening a wound

Reiterating, each cycle of reproof imposes a new blow on the wound. The level of pain begins to intensify and deepen each time we are subjected to the same type of test. Wounds are sustained on top of wounds. This picture of defeat works according to a type of “spiral effect” deepening the pain and the roots of the state of reproof.

Morally speaking, we can define the deepness of the trauma as feelings of “shame”. The intensity of the shame and spiritual embarrassment can be determined by the distance between the first and the last reproof.

There is a type of shame that is healthy and promotes decency, however there is another type of shame that is an enslaving feeling that comes as a result of this chronic process of moral debilitation, abuses suffered, losses marked with the feeling of injustice, inferiority and bitterness. As much as we try to flee, that same thing always pursues us and repeats.

Invariably, wherever this type of spiritual shame exists, much fear, guilt and pain also exist. The moral shame that torments our memory establishes the depth that this cycle of chronic reproof has dug into our soul.

Paul insists that it is necessary for us to be before God not only as a worker, but “as a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” It is fundamentally important to deal with this shame of the soul. We must present this same position and disposition of conscience with that which Jesus faced and confronted all of Satan’s ability to accuse:

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. (John 14:30)

Much thanks to Mr. Rick Spinos.

Character Formation

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)We all desire to have a character approved by God. We all want to please God and for that reason, we merely wait to discover the rules before beginning to practice them.

The Christian life is not a mere fulfillment of rules and precepts, because we are no longer under the law. We can sum up the Christian life with the phrase “Christ in you”, or in other words, the Christian life consists of the complete dependence on the Holy Spirit that lives within us. He changes our will and He enables us to do His will. He is all in everything. Jesus is our goodness, our meekness, our justice; he is really everything that we need. Everything that we need is already within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. It would be very easy for us to begin to exert ourselves to fulfill a set of qualities; however, this is not our purpose. Our desire is that you have the revelation of the full supply of God for your life, because to the extent that you understand this, your character qualities will develop naturally. The full supply of God for us is Christ Jesus, who lives within us. He is our life. He is our all in all.

It does no good to speak of character and conduct if we do not yet appropriate the full supply that God has for us: the deliverance from the old man from the power of sin, our justification and our regeneration in Christ, our complete dependence on the Spirit and the walk in the Spirit. We need to appropriate these great spiritual realities but not only that, we need to learn to perceive the direction of God in our spirit, to learn to separate the soul from the spirit, and learn the practice of daily renouncing the ego in the principle of the cross. We must understand all of these experiences in the spirit.

When we over emphasize recommended qualities, we run the risk of establishing a stack of rules that are not in the Bible, such as five steps to overcome wrath, 10 steps to overcome lasciviousness etc. These things do not work and divert us from the center of the Christian life, which is Christ (Colossians 3:4).

Many people think that they can be holy if they can just overcome certain types of sins. Others think that by being humble and gentle they are victorious. Others imagine that by praying and reading the Bible more, being careful to fast and pray that they will attain a holy character. Others have the idea that simply by killing the ego they will be victorious. All of these formulas have the appearance of godliness and sincerity but they are vain and useless. We cannot live the Christian life using 1001 formulas for the most varied problems. In practice, none of this works. What God desires is that we understand that Christ is our life, the perfect supply of God for all of our needs.

With this understanding in mind, we will now study some fundamental principles that will increase our understanding that Christ is in fact our life.

  1. The formation of character through God’s dealings with us

The multiform grace of God enables us with gifts to do certain things that would otherwise be impossible (2 Peter 1:1). God, through Jesus Christ, provides us with His own nature. God has granted us certain divine promises (2 Peter 1:4) and the power of God is our guarantee that He will operate the necessary changes within us (2 Peter 1:3).

Only through an attitude of diligence will we be able to perfect our character. We must make the decision to assume the likeness of Christ, to have within us the maturity of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:10, 11).

The Christian life is a process. We attain it gradually, each step corresponds to a new level reached and a new victory attained in a specific area. We must constantly grow.

God’s responsibility is to provide His own divine nature to every Christian through the repentance of sin and faith in Christ Jesus. Man’s responsibility is to apply all of God’s supply to fulfill this reality in his life.

God has given every believer everything necessary for a holy life as a birthright along with power and authority. The Christian has everything he needs to develop a mature character according to that of Jesus Christ.

  1. Describing the process

We have all been born in iniquity and formed in sin. All of us by birth have a fallen nature that may or may not accompany us for the rest of our lives (Romans 5:12). The fallen nature of man is not in harmony with anything of God.

God has placed before the Christian the goal of perfection (Genesis 17:1; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:40; 1 Peter 1:15). Spiritual maturity is the biblical goal for all those who are in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes man’s carnality does not permit him to develop his character, as the Scriptures require. God definitively treats human nature by the power of the cross, but the ego is the principal reason why man needs the discipline of God. Each Christian needs the discipline of God to motivate him to continue in the direction of spiritual perfection (Hebrews 6:1, 3).

  1. The purpose of discipline

The Christian needs the discipline of God in his life in order to reveal hidden areas that must be transformed (1 John 1:5-7). God desires to reveal these hidden areas of sin in us, but in a way that helps us to grow. The Scriptures affirm that God reveals such secrets (Matthew 10:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 3:13).

God reveals our hidden sins so that He will not have to destroy us and our ministries. God reveals the dark areas that are present within us so that we renounce them. In order for this to happen, the Christian needs the grace of God because the human tendency is to cover up our own faults and weaknesses. Man always attempts to defend himself and to hide the motives of his heart (Genesis 3:8).

God has given His Holy Spirit to the Christian. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the spiritual needs of man, probing the heart of the Christian and pointing to sins that must be abandoned (Psalm 139:23; Proverbs 21:2).

The word “reveal” means to remove the lid and the word “conceal” means to hide, to block the vision of, or to cover up the subject. God tries to remove the covering over man, while man tries everything to retain it.

There are several men in the Scriptures that illustrate the danger of hidden sins. The Scriptures drastically contrast the beginning of their lives with the end of them. They began well but ended up tragically.

Every Christian can start out well. Nevertheless, if they have hidden sins, which they have not confessed and continue practicing without repentance, they will destroy their lives and their ministry.

In the second book of Samuel, David, lamenting the death of Saul and Jonathan, called out three times: “How the mighty have fallen” (2 Samuel 1:19). In this lamentation, David described the “mighty” in the beginning of their ministerial life as beautiful, mighty (verse 19); beloved, pleasant, swifter than eagles and stronger than lions (verse 23); they clothed the daughters of Israel in scarlet and ornaments of gold (verse 24).

Every leader needs to remember that the purpose of the discipline of God is to reveal their heart so that they themselves will not fall. The Bible is full of examples of men who began well, but finished in tragedy, for the very reason that they did not understand the purposes of the testing of God in their lives.

A series on Character by Rick Spinos.

The Empty Tomb.

The Empty Tomb

We have before us today the open sepulcher, the bewildered alarm it caused, and the faith it both elicited and excited. John’s Gospel comes to a conclusion in chapter 20 with a proclamation of Jesus’ victory over death and then is followed in chapter 21 by an epilogue.

Each Gospel writer stresses certain aspects of the discovery of the empty tomb. John began his resurrection story with a testimony of how he came to personal faith in the Resurrection by considering the evidence found in the open tomb. The empty tomb bore witness to a physical or bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Contrary to cult heresy our Lord was raised in the same body He was crucified in. He is risen.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being…”

The Personal spirit of Man.

The Personal spirit of Man.

The spirit of man is the Lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his being. Proverbs 20:27. This lamp was darkened by the fall. This fall has distorted the soul’s functions as well. Man’s whole being is corrupted—his spirit is darkened (Eph. 4:17,18; 1 Cor. 2:14); his soul is debased (Jer. 17:9; Eph.4:19); his body is diseased and death -ridden (Rom. 7:24).

Man became other than God intended him to be… instead of allowing his spirit to bring God in (at the moment of original temptation) man acted independently… Then the spirit of man, being so seriously violated, ceased to be the link between himself and God. Fellowship with God, which is always spiritual, was destroyed and the spirit sank down into subjection to man’s soul. These observations of the fall confirm the value of distinguishing spirit from soul.

I have often used the analogy of the soul as a 900-pound gorilla, driving a bus (body) and way in the back of the bus is a skinny scared 90-pound spirit hiding under a seat. That is not God’s plan after conversion.

Words and usage

A clear understanding of the meaning of words is very important for New Testament believers. I will give some basic definitions of words with explanations where appropriate.

Spirit: references the person of the Holy Spirit.

spirit: references the spirit of man.

The distinction is made clear in usage. The root word pneu has the idea of dynamic movement of air. The verb form is always used of blowing wind in the N.T. (Matt.7:25,27), unless John 3:8 is interpreted as referring to the Holy Spirit’s activity.

The noun pneuma can retain the literal idea of wind (Heb. 1:7), it usually refers to spiritual beings, entities, or qualities. F. Foulkes observed,” Many things can be said to describe the action of man’s spirit as his functioning in his essential being.”

In a conceptual sense, pneuma can refer to one’s purpose (2 Cor.12:18; Phil. 1:27) or character (Luke 1:17; Rom. 1:4). Moral qualities are spoken of in terms of spirit.  Bad qualities include a spirit of bondage (Rom.8:15), Stupor (Rom.11:8), or timidity (2 Tim.1:7); good qualities of spirit include faith (2 Cor. 4:13), meekness (1 Cor.4:21), liberty (Rom. 8:15), and quietness (1 Pet.3:4). Context determines when spirit is used in these ways.

Since the spirit of man can be influenced by good or evil spiritual beings, believers are warned to exercise discernment: “Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God…” (1 John 4:1).

In 1 Thessalonians 5:22,23 and Hebrews 4:12, they do not merely refer to different functions or roles; they are identified as distinct parts of man.

Spirit (spirit) is pneuma, “that part of man that knows” (1 Cor.2:11). “Soul” is psuche, “the seat of the affections, desires, emotions, the will, therefore self” (Matt. 26:38; John 12:27). “Body” is soma, the tabernacle, the house of the spirit and soul. The Bible makes a distinction between man’s spirit, soul, and body (Gen.2:7; Heb. 4:12). Man’s spirit gives him God consciousness. His soul him self-consciousness. His body gives him world or sense-consciousness.

Tune in tomorrow: What is the human soul as revealed in the Bible?

 

The Night before…

THE NIGHT BEFORE JESUS CAME
Twas the night before Jesus Came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were laid on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The Children were dressing to crawl into bed
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the late show while I took a nap.
When out of the east there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angles proclaiming that Jesus was here.
With the light like the sun, sending forth a bright ray,
I knew in a moment this must be The Day.

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him, in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name,
when He said “It’s not here” my head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written with love,
He gathered to take to His Father above.

With those who were ready, He rose without a sound.
While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late:
I had waited too long, and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight.
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.
In the words of this poem, the meaning is clear:
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There’s only one life and when comes the last call,
We’ll find that the Bible was true after all. Author Unknown

 

THE APOSTLE PAUL’S CORINTH BY IAN PAUL & STEPHEN TRAVIS AN ON LOCATION GUIDE

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