Today we are going to begin by talking a bit about performance verses faith. I think it is safe to say that all of us struggle in the area of Christian discipline in our daily lives. We, like Paul, know what we are supposed to be doing but find it very hard to stay consistent in doing what is required of us to maintain and build intimacy with God. I don’t know about you but when I read books or hear messages or see what Jesus commanded about how we are to conduct our daily lives with things like, “lay down your life and pick up your cross”, I find that very challenging. Why? Because I have failed in my daily discipline in these areas for so many years that I have very little confidence in my ability to follow through in them. OH, I have made many commitments over the years about what I would do but I have failed almost every single time. Does this sound even a little familiar?
I have said and will say many more times, things that will require commitment and discipline from us in order for us to change, develop intimacy with the Spirit of Jesus and to become His Bride. It is very important to understand that we can never develop true godly discipline through our own good works or self-efforts. So how do we obey God then? This is in no way an attempt to teach an in depth study on discipline but I will try to hit on a few key points that will hopefully help us to understand at least the basics. This is so important because I want us free from all self-effort and performance in trying to become Christ-like. First we must understand that we can never add anything to the finished work of the cross or to the blood of Jesus. “IT IS FINISHED”! The only way to be made into the image of Christ is by the work of grace through Holy Spirit. If the source of your strength, discipline, power, or anything else, comes from yourself, it is doomed to fail. It is time for the church to quit trying to produce after its own kind, from the works of the flesh. It is utterly impossible for us to produce anything of eternal value through the arm of the flesh.
How did we get saved? Did we do anything to earn such a great salvation? Did we have to fast or pray or study the bible or discipline ourselves in order to become saved? So then, why do we think we can discipline ourselves into becoming holy, or Christ-like, or to have intimacy with God? So what am saying here, that we just do nothing and becoming holy is automatic then? No! I am saying what the Word says. “It is by free grace that you are saved, delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation, through your faith, And this salvation is not of yourselves, of your own doing, it came not through your own striving but it is the gift of God”. Eph. 2:8. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. 10:38 say the just shall live by faith. Faith in what, or in whom? When the people asked Jesus, ” what are we to do, that we may “habitually” be working the works of God? [ What are we to do to carry out what God requires?] Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you “believe” in the One Whom He has sent [ that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]. John 6:28-29. Amplified bible.
So, the key is faith. I often tell people that the key to being transformed into His image, really is, first, choosing to believe His Word. They often ask me, is it really that simple? Yes it is! I am not talking about intellectual faith, I am talking about the faith that Romans 12:3 says that has been given to us by God. If you did not have faith, how could you even have been saved? That same faith you have been given by God in order to believe for your salvation is all the faith you need to believe “in Jesus Christ”, the One. Romans 10:9-10. Can you believe with me that God is greater than your weakness? When we sincerely ask God to “Draw Us!”, (by faith), you can rest assured that He will do it. We are in a holy covenant relationship with God who says, ” If you will live in Me, abide vitally united to Me, and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7. Asking without wavering will always produce fruit. James 1:6. God is not a man that He should lie. Numbers 23:19. Simple child like faith is a humbling towards God and when we trust in Him in our hearts, relying in Him alone, we will receive what we ask for. When we believe in His Word, which is Jesus Christ the living Word, Logos transforms into Rhema and becomes alive in our hearts and transforms us from glory to glory. We cannot fail because He cannot fail. Love never fails. “Only believe”!
Who is he that is victorious over (that conquers) the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (who adheres to , trusts in, and relies on that fact)? What ever we need, whatever we lack, whatever weakness we have, when we sincerely ask Daddy to help us, (which is a humbling before Him), we can KNOW that He will do it. Never try to receive anything from God in any other way but by the pattern of true faith. The hunger we need from God in order to learn to truly “wait upon Him” can only come from God Himself. We need to learn to actively wait upon Him but unless the source of that hunger is created by God, it is not valid nor will it produce anything of heavenly value. Unless our waiting on Him is from the heart, created by the hunger God has given us, it will only be fleshly and will ultimately fail. God cannot honor that what was produced by the arm of the flesh. But Oh, when His hunger burns in us, waiting upon Him becomes a joy and is not burdensome at all. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light”.
As we actively look to the Lord and prayerfully ask Him to “draw us”, His hunger within us will intensify, causing us to cry out for is satisfaction. The Lord will respond and come to “sup” with us. As we welcome His presence and begin to “feed Him” with our worship, and with the expression of our commitment to “run after Him”, He in turn, will “feed us”, fully satisfying our hunger with Himself. Rev. 3:20. This increased “sensitivity” to His presence and our responsiveness to His desire for our fellowship, will induce our Heavenly Bridegroom to knock upon the door of our heart more often. ” I went to sleep, but my heart stayed awake. I dreamed that I heard the voice of my beloved as he knocked at the door of my mothers cottage. Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my spotless one, he said, for I am wet with heavy night dew; my hair is covered with it. Song of Solomon 5:2. Now His favor rests upon us as He desires us with a single eye, as though we were the only person in the universe. The Lord had been out all night searching for someone who longed to be with Him.
Our focus should never be on ourselves, or to build the church on individual truths, but we should always keep our focus on Him, the Truth, the Way, and the Life. Our mandate is to see Him formed in us. Being helpless is the beginning. Isa. 66:1-2. Jesus is our pattern, not the church. To be the dwelling place of God is our ultimate calling. True Christianity is much more than just acknowledging certain truths or even living by them. True Christianity is becoming “A New Creation”. He did not come just to change us, He came to live IN us. Jesus rarely talked about the church. He talked about the Kingdom of Heaven and the promise of the Father is “God in us”. As He is, so are we. 1 John 4:17. A true church is built upon the revelation of who Jesus Christ is. Why am I bringing this up in a teaching about developing intimacy with God? Because when we learn to develop true intimacy with God, we will learn to develop true corporate intimacy with one another. We will then allow Jesus to ” build His church”, instead of us trying to build it by mans doctrines. He will build His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Trying to walk in all the blessings and benefits that Jesus so freely gave us through His resurrection, and trying to make ourselves what He desires us to be, our trying to build a church, ” without first learning to die to our self-life “, is completely and utterly futile. Its not about who we are in Him, it’s about who He is, “in us”. Let us become who He said we were, by faith in Him.