“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2: 8-10
1 Peter 4: 12-19, 1 Peter 1:7, Proverbs 3:11-12, Isaiah 54: 16-17,
Hebrews 12: 6-11, Hebrews 13:20-21, 1 Peter 5: 8-11, Proverbs 16: 1-3, Jeremiah 29:11-12
“Lord, Do whatever you have to do in order to use me.” I cried in desperation, not knowing that what God was really after was not my works, but my heart.
During the time Jesus walked on the earth He would use familiar, practical and pictorial illustrations to help his listeners understand his teachings. To describe the faithfulness of God in relationship to our needs he pointed to the analogy of the “lilies of the field”. To get across the spiritual principle of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness he would use parables such as, “The Prodigal Son”. And he would use metaphors such as a “woman about to give birth” to convey an important event. So it would not be unusual, today, for the Holy Spirit, to also use practical and pictorial illustrations to guide us into “all understanding” which Jesus promised his disciples(John 16:13) through His Holy Spirit.
What is important is all teachings line up with the Word of God. God does not contradict himself. So the measuring rod or standard in discerning what is of God and what is not are the Holy Scriptures. The Lord may use new things (Isaiah 43:19) to get across His spiritual point, but the spiritual point will not contradict scripture in context. I say all this to explain how the Lord answered my prayer and illustrated very vividly what was occurring in my life – A time when I was about to enter a “fiery trial”.
During the 70’s I was attracted to teachings that were putting a heavy emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit instead of abiding in a relationship with the Lord. The more I listened to sermons that conveyed what believers could achieve through the power of the Holy Spirit, the more I was convinced I should also have “signs following” my spiritual attempts.
I expected to see healings and deliverance whenever I prayed for someone who was in need. And so, when they didn’t always occur, I began to get confused and depressed. So, one day in the midst of this confusion and depression, I asked the Lord to reveal what was happening.
It was on a day that I was visiting my parents that he gave me the following illustration and confirmation in answer to my prayer:
While approaching the garage of my parents’ home I witnessed my father sitting in front of a small pot with a flaming torch beneath it. He immediately invited me to see what he was doing. As I drew near he began to tell me how he was making new weights for his fishing tackle. He showed me how he could take the old rusted ones and purify the metal. As I watched, I could see the shiny liquid boiling away. Then suddenly, I saw something float to the top. Above the shiny liquid was an accumulation of dross. I watched as my father scooped the debris off the top of the purified metal. After he took a spoon and removed the rust, he picked up a plate containing several molds shaped like sinkers. I then watched him pour the purified metal into the molds. “After the sinkers cool”, he explained, “I will have new sinkers that I can use again”. As he was explaining and illustrating this transformation of old sinkers into new ones, a spiritual awareness took place in my heart. I realized that the Lord was explaining to me what he was about to do. He was about to remove from my heart, the dross causing the confusion and depression. And soon afterward, I embarked on the “strangest circumstance” that was to test all that I stood for and believed
(1 Peter 4: 12-17).
When Jesus died on the Cross, He prayed this prayer: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:24).” And I thank Him with all my heart, for that prayer, because in my ignorance I had wandered from developing a more intimate relationship with Him into the deceptive snare of the devil.
When my priority shifted from knowing Christ to serving my own self-interests I also became self-righteous. I unknowingly was developing a judgmental spirit and was embracing false doctrines that fed my spiritual ego. I became preoccupied with vain imaginations and instead of being humbled in service to Christ, I became haughty in my spirit, thinking I was somehow a spiritual elite. This also caused me to harbor false humility and resentment.
I was practicing Freud’s philosophy for emotional healing with God’s Truth which are in opposition to one another. I was in error in my judgments and own attempts in building a closer relationship with God (Genesis 11:3). This is somehow like the scripture concerning the disciples when they argued about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:46).
But one day as my tower was crumbling all around me and my prideful ministry was dissolving, I cried out to God and He answered me.
The scriptures speak of God’s discipline for those who belong to Him. The scriptures also speak of a fiery trial that tests a believer’s faith and works. The scriptures say Christ disciplines those whom He loves and no one or anything can snatch that believer from His Father’s hand. My faithful Lord exposed the deception affecting our relationship and put an end to its destructive influence once and for all.
After the Lord completed His work, I was restored to fellowship and He blessed me by opening doors for His plan. I thank God for the brokenness and suffering that brought about my healing and deliverance. All my works were destroyed, and His began.
I would like to say I continued walking according to God’s plan, but I did not. There were times I have gone astray. But He has been faithful to restore me each and every time, as I called out to Him and confessed my wandering.
You know you are not abiding in Him when there is a restlessness and the enemy is able to throw the book at you as you dwell on past mistakes and sin.
But when you are abiding in God’s love, focused on His salvation, the enemy flees.
Nothing can separate you from His great love. By focusing on His unconditional love you are set free. (John 15:10, Romans 8: 38-39)
There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. If you are experiencing it, ask God to forgive you for whatever He shows you to confess. Then believe that all your sins are covered by the blood of the lamb who permanently and irrevocably took them away.
(1John 1:9, Psalm 103:12)
If you believe God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for your sins, and have personally asked Him to forgive yours, believing in your heart God raised Him from the dead, then you are saved. Nothing can be added nor taken away. Your redemption is sealed and settled.
Now walk in the manner He has called you, to follow Him, giving Him the glory for His work on the cross. It is not your works which justify you, but only the Lord’s.
Keep your mind focused on His work and not your own. All your righteousness is like filthy rags, but He has removed them by your faith in His salvation.
You are covered with His precious shed blood and righteous act.
His atonement is complete. His work on the cross is FINISHED.