We would not borrow a neighbor's car and then drive it to ruin. Well, our bodies are borrowed by us now. They belong to our Husband, Christ, who bought them on the cross out of Satan's slave market.
It is through these bodies that we express the Gift who is within us. Of course we can choose how the gift of His strength is to be used. But for the committed disciple, the motive should be that of serving God by honoring the Lord Jesus in all things, just as Paul proclaimed: "Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death" (Phil. 1:20, NASB; see also Col. 3:23-24).
Submitting to Examination
What is true of the human body in its utter dependence on God for righteous strength applies also to worship, intuition, fellowship and conscience in our spirits. In addition, God supplies all the spiritual heart faculties of character, decisive thoughts and intentions (aims), virtues, values and motivations that are to govern the soul.
God alone examines our spiritual faculties. First Thessalonians 2:4 tells us that it is "God who examines our hearts." But few of us plead with the Lord to carry out such an examination, as the psalmist did: "Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart" (Ps. 26:2).
We act more like Adam and Eve, who "hid themselves from the presence of the Lord" (Gen. 3:8). But if we sincerely want the Lord to set us apart as holy vessels for His use alone, we must be willing to be examined and then to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He moves to clean the insides of our cups, causing us to be "filled up to all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:19).
Though God examines our inner person, we are to examine our acts. Galatians 6:4 tells us that each of us must "examine his own work." After all, that which is inside of us eventually expresses itself on the outside through our bodies (Luke 6:45).
And it is easy for everyone—including nonbelievers—to see whether we are living a life that is a witness to Christ. How many times do the lost say, "If that is a Christian, I want no part of it"? They know that our outer actions reveal our hearts.
We have to stop lying to ourselves! The truth is that the devil does not need to deceive us; we are doing a good job of deceiving ourselves.
The word disciple suggests discipline. As disciples of Christ, we need to submit our actions to the correction of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the power to resist sin and choose Christ. Truly, a moment of fleshly thrill is not worth the dishonor to God or the loss to us in eternity.
Determined to Win
In taking the steps that are necessary to prepare for oneness with Christ—allowing the Lord to examine our inner person, making an honest evaluation of the work and acts of our outer person and then yielding to the Holy Spirit—we must remember to keep our eyes on the finish line in the race we are running. Paul describes this race in Hebrews 12:1-2: "Let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith."
If we do not know that Jesus is the finish line as well as the starting point, we might not aim for Him. If we make the goal anything less than Him, then although we run, we have lost the race. And Scripture tells us to "run in such a way that you may win"; that is, "not without aim" (1 Cor. 9:24-26).
Most of us have seen an Olympic competition and heard the testimonies of the contestants. Their single-minded focus is awe-inspiring.
From the tender ages of 4 or 5 years old, these ambitious athletes set their sights on a single goal: winning an Olympic goal medal. In order to train for their events, they rise early, do homework in the car, practice before and after school, forego parties and other normal social activities for young people, eat special diets and put themselves to bed early for additional rest.
The personal and financial sacrifice on the part of these contestants, their families and sometimes even their hometowns is monumental—and they are seeking an earthly prize. Paul comments on this type of commitment: "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable" (1 Cor. 9:25).
The point is, we are running an eternal race. Should we not show ourselves equally as determined as the participants in the Olympic games, seeing that we seek an eternal prize--all that Christ Jesus has won for us through His death and resurrection?
Betrothed to a Holy God
How do we know if we have matured in Christ to the point that He will lead us into the greater intimacy of being one in spirit with Him? We will know.
For a limited time, we are extending our celebration of the 40th anniversary of Charisma. As a special offer, you can get 40 issues of Charisma magazine for only $40!
NEW from CHARISMA: Do you want to encounter the Holy Spirit and hear God speak to you? Increase your faith, discover freedom, and draw near to God! Click Here