The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
• John 10:10
The purpose behind Jesus’ redemptive work was to open the door to the abundant life God desires for each of us to enjoy. Most Christians are bound by religious traditions that keep them from experiencing the benefits provided in salvation.
Religious tradition turns our attention towards ourselves. It does this by leading people into a belief structure that our acceptance by God is dependent on our works. Many Christians believe they are unworthy of God’s blessings because of their mistakes or failings. They think they have to earn the right for God to bless them because of the erroneous teachings they have heard in church.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4)
I believe people are prone to resort to a “works” mentality mainly because they do not understand their rights granted by Christ’s death on the cross and associated redemptive works.
Paul’s references to the cross are all associated with what Jesus has done for us. His writings do not once reference anything expected from us in return to “earn” the benefits of our salvation. Most Christians are ignorant of this and, as a result, have allowed themselves to be led back into the bondage of the Law by religious traditions.
Most Christian teaching today focuses on what we must do to get God to move in our lives. For example, we fast with an unstated goal of pressuring Him to move in our lives. We do not do this purposely, and many will deny they are trying to “force” God to “move” for them, but it is what we are doing.
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)
You do not need to “earn” God’s stamp of approval. He accepted you in Christ Jesus before you were born. Because of the cross, you will always find Him waiting for you with arms open wide to receive you just as you are.
One of the most common areas people are trying to “earn” something from God is in the area of revival. Everyone desires to see the Spirit of God pour out and change our community and nation. We pray for revival and try to enlist others to join us, almost as if we will have better chances to convince God with more people joining in. I can tell you from experience that it does not matter if you have one person or one hundred praying in unbelief; the results will not be a response from God!
We cannot “make” God do anything. He has placed the same Spirit within our spirits who raised Jesus from the dead. Essentially, every Christian has the same power residing in their spirit then that raised Jesus from the grave! The Church is praying for an outpouring of the person dwelling in our spirits. Instead, we should be praying for the Holy Spirit’s revelation and the ministry He desires to accomplish through us.
I want you to understand my heart. It is not that I’m against revival but instead of how we approach it. I’ve been guilty of falling into a “works” mentality that led me to believe it would be possible to force God to move through my prayers. Over time though, the Spirit of God has taught me, and I’ve realized the need to allow Him to flow out of me to the world versus expecting Him to pour out without my involvement, allowing me to continue hiding in my “prayer closet.”
Christians have been pleading with God to send revival, but few have seen an answer to their prayers. They have disqualified themselves of the very thing they desire by thinking their prayers could “earn” an outpouring of the Spirit without realizing what they’ve done.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)
You do not have to beg or plead with God for Him to move in your life. Jesus promises to be present with us when we are together. Still, many Christians are unwilling to acknowledge this truth if there is no associated “physical” feeling affecting at least one of our five senses.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:5 – 6)
You will hear Christians talk about “carnality” most often in the context of sin. Paul tells us that any person more focused on the input of their five physical senses than on God is “carnal,” which is the state most Christians live in.
God longs to move in our lives much more than we long for Him to. He wants us to live in the freedom of His Spirit and experience the fullness of life provided in the redemptive work of Christ. We hinder His ability to manifest His power in our lives with our unbelief and traditions.
The disconnect is on our side. We make Christ of “no effect” by how we think and act. Anyone who believes that their “good” works justified them is guilty. I believe the only way for us to change is through a revelation of the cross and Jesus’ redemptive work accomplished through it.