Sunday, July 4, 2010

Evil times and livng by the Spirit

There were no text messages. No postings on Facebook. No short message from the Lord this week Nothing dramatic happened in my country this week. Yes, the murders continue. And so too the police killings, many of them believed to be extrajudicial. And there was a particularly egregious one in the Western part of the island that attracted international attention. These are ongoing and intractable problems that all of us as a nation and as members of the family of God, will have to find a way to overcome. Perhaps that why the Lord spoke to me in a very special meditation that I read this week. About living an authentic life and not a lie - and which thoughts I shared with select members of my congregation. As it is only the power which flows from a totally committed Christian life that can help to counteract the kind of evil which is abroad in this fair isle of ours. Can you imagine members of the security forces going around wearing masks to hide their faces as they carry out these alleged killings? Lord have mercy on this country!

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and and do not live by the truth. 1 John 1:6
In Word
One of the most astounding truths realized by the early believers is that it was now possible for those who once lived in darkness to have a deep-down, internal fellowship with the Holy Spirit of God. This was no longer simply a Master-servant or Father-child relationship. It was both of those things and more -- an intimate union between the infinite and the finite between the holy and the corrupt. Behaviour could not earn the presence of God. The obstacles to this internal union had been removed, and the fellowship had began.
Such fellowship can lead to false assumptions, though, especially on the part of those who accept it as doctrinal truth without knowing it by experience. If the union is given freely and unconditionally, it must remain free and unconditional; otherwise, it isn't a gift at all. And though this understanding is true, it misses a crucial point: if the union is real, it will have profound implications for all of life. It isn't possible to have intimate fellowship with a Spirit who is pure and holy and live a life that isn't.
John recognized the inconsistency among many early Christians and called it what it was: a lie. Those who claim to have fellowship with God but live as though they don't, are lying. Unintentionally lying and very sadly mistaken, perhaps, but lying all nonetheless. He makes that abundantly clear, emphasizing that Jesus is " the Righteous One". (2.1) and declaring that " whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did". (2.6). There is no room for misunderstanding there. Those whose spirits have been born of God, who have become one substance with the Holy One, will be transformed. They will become like Him. If they don't, something is seriously wrong with the fellowship they claim to have.

In Deed
Your outward life will always eventually conform to your inner condition. When there seems to be a discrepancy between your walk and your inward fellowship with God, check the vitality of your fellowship. Let your walk reflect the Spirit he has put within you.
Following this reflection, which should bring us all to our knees in deep heartfelt repentance, I was led to read St Paul's writings on " Living through the Spirit" in Romans chap 8 in which the Lord speaks clearly about the constant struggle that a child of God must engage in in order to " walk in the light instead of walking in the darkness". As the problem in my country is that many " intellectually brilliant people and many powerful persons" are walking in the dark and yet believe that they are in the light. And therefore are of no help when the forces of evil attack our people and lead them astray like sheep without a Shepherd.

" Those who live according to the sinful nature ( in the dark) have their minds set on what that sinful nature desires.. The mind of the sinful man is death but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.You however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through the his Spirit, who lives in you. Romans 8:5-11. NIV

Next up was the Ephesian passage on " Living as Children of Light"
.....You however, did not come to know Christ that way.....You were taught, with regard to your former way of life to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by it's deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry....Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. that it may benefit those who listen, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and and slander, along with every form of malice. Be compassionate to one another forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you.Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave hilself as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God...........Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity as the times are evil.Ephesians 4;20-5:16 NIV

The last verse really sums up the entire reflection - the times are evil. And therefore the people of God need to fully understand what is required of them to live by the Spirit and therefore to do battle on behalf of a nation which does not fully appreciate how evil the times are. As in the very next chapter comes the the clarion call:
" Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power. Put on the whole armor so that you can take your stand against the Devil's schemes".

People are dying in my country, because the times are evil. People are being held captive by immorality, injustice, poverty and ignorance because the times are evil. While men and women battle for power and influence and accolades. And even those who try to do good " in the flesh" cannot manage to counteract the evil effectively as the struggle is not against " flesh and blood". But as we live by the Spirit and do battle with the sinful nature and with evil, we are assured in the words of the hymnwriter that we sang in church this evening, that this is my Father's world.

This is my Father's world,let me ne'er forgetThat though the wrong may seem oft so strong,God is the ruler yet.This is my Father's World:Why should my heart be sad?The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!God reigns, let the earth be glad.

So we praise God for His many blessings this week and declare with confidence that, not only are we children of God and co-heirs with Christ, if we share in his sufferings, but that this is our Father's World and though murder and evil abound, God is still in charge through the power of His Holy Spirit who lives in a humble, repentant and faithful soul, and in the collective body of Christ that walks in the Spirit. Amen

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