|An Emotional or Intellectual Response: Stony Places|
Only the Holy Spirit can take out the stony places. With an emotional or intellectual response, there is no hope of discerning the Body of Christ. The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit. There is no hope for the natural man to see the Kingdom of the Heavens, the Kingdom of God. The emotional and intellectual response cannot deal with the stony places--these fail to successfully deal with the stoney heart.
There is a downward spiral: You listen to your flesh which is a slave of Satan and then you sin. Sin plants evil seed in your heart and your heart is made harder and more resistent to God. Your spiritual senses are dulled. It is harder for you to receive the things of God. The seeds of sin grow up as weeds to choke out any blessing God would give you. You find it hard to be in the presence of God. You find the Bible hard to read. You have trouble finding time to pray or to have family devotions. You are drawn to the many influences of the world and these trample any blessing that God would give you. You are drawn to entertainments. You may even be drawn toward things that you know are wrong. You start to make excuses and to defend yourself before the throne of God. You contend with God. You begin to die spiritually, at the level of heart, mind, and soul, and finally your body.
All the while, there is an upward spiral available to you. Every time Satan speaks to you through your flesh, the Holy Spirit also speaks. You can listen to the Spirit of God and ignore the spirit of error. If you believe God, you can't really take credit for that, since it is God who has prepared your heart. This is not about showing how good you are. It is about going from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit. When you hear God, faith comes. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word [literally: hearing by God's utterance]. And faith gives us access to God's grace. Grace is the free gift of God. The Holy Spirit is the free gift from God. Forgiveness is the free gift from God. Righteousness is the free gift from God. Your part is to yield--to not fight against God. That is all we, as humans, are capable of, and even that is motivated by God's power to help us to submit and cooperate with the Spirit. The sin against the Holy Spirit, the one that cannot be forgiven, is the sin of not cooperating with the Holy Spirit. It is the sin of contending with the Spirit. When we contend with the Holy Spirit, God no longer leads us. He will not force Himself on us, so He cannot lead us out of our sin. But when you yield, then God does His righteousness through you. He gives you of His thoughts, His words, and His acts. We never have anything good that we have not been given.
When God does His righteousness in us, this plants the seed of the Kingdom into our heart gardens. The soil of our hearts is softened and made more receptive to God's seed. As the seed matures, it brings it's own fruit, the fruit of the Spirit. The fleshly veil begins to fade and the fleshly nature dies a little. You begin to see reality more clearly. When you see reality, sin and impurity is obviously stupid and purity and righteousness is obviously smart. Without this vision, you may obey out of shear obedience without understanding why because your were blind, but now you see because of God's amazing grace. What you are is changed. In some measure, you are a new person with a new mind. This is what holiness is. It is an inner stability and steadfastness and faithfulness.
Your mind is renewed and this causes you to be transfigured to some degree. You come more to completeness. This is accomplished by that which every joint supplies--it requires the Body of Christ. Some people have listened to their flesh and think that they can walk into the fullness of these promises without the Body of Christ. They think they can be independent.
Others have been deceived into thinking that a perverted Body of Christ would be able to help. There are many perversions. There are governments that are not in Scripture, such as democracies, boards, monarchies, oligarchies, one-man ministries, hired and paid preachers, singular pastors in the local church, chief pastors or chief elders, hierarchies, popes, presidents, and more. None of these appear in Scripture. The order of Scripture is plain. The Holy Scriptures teach that both the universal and the local Church in Scripture have a government consisting of elders and deacons. The elders and deacons of the universal church are also called apostles. An alternate name for an elder is "bishop," meaning overseer. There is no independent, singular, preeminent, or chief elder in the order of either the local or universal Church in Scripture. Apostles are to receive a living since they travel and cannot really hold a job, while local elders receive a double measure of honor while they work for their living in the same pattern as a father in the home. The elders are indicated by the Holy Spirit and set to oversee and rule the local Church but as servants--not to lord it over anyone. In both the local and universal Church, each elder is in submission and under the government of every other elder--elders don't function as semi-independent consortiums.
When the Church fell away from the orders of God, many disorders, distortions, perversions came in. Now, we see worship services that are a show, an entertainment, or dead form and ritual instead of 1 Corinthians 14 services. The head covering is seldom seen, but there it is in 1 Corinthians 11. Every ungodly means of fund-raising is used instead of tithes and offerings as the Bible prescribes. For the Gifts of the Spirit, people takes tests or do self evaluations or just declare themselves to have them. The Bible tells us that these are imparted by prophecy and laying on of hands of the presbytery. And then, there are all the people who were never sent by God, yet they are running around and prophesying gifts and ministries over people. We see formula-type sales masquerading as Christian witness to "get people saved." When we listen to our flesh, these are the types of results that can be expected. And the natural mind is very resistant to correction in these matters. Any day of the week, you can probably turn on Christian radio or read a Christian book that attacks the orders of God and substitutes and defends human generated orders and the precepts of men.
This is a progressive cycle, and the entire usually takes place very quickly. Every moment, we are tempted by being drawn away by our own desires, and, at the same time, we are being led by the Holy Spirit. We make no provision for the flesh. Sometimes, we are deceived, and we follow our own flesh when we thing we are following God. If we keep walking, God will even lead us out of these situations.
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