by David Leach
How can God convince a Christian who mistakenly thinks they know a lot about Him, that they don’t; we are talking about one who has an adult body and brain but who is still a spiritual infant, and at risk? Answer: with great difficulty. Why?
1. Because they mistakenly assume that their mental familiarity with many parts of the Bible represents an advanced spiritual knowledge of God and of His word. They have not yet grasped a fundamental truth that God is a Spirit and He reveals Himself exclusively to our spirits.
He is not directly knowable by our intellects, either initially, in order to be born again, or subsequently, in order for us to grow up and mature in our knowledge of Him:
1 Cor 1:21 For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know Him by (TEV) means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called "foolish" message we preach, God decided to save those who believe (that message).
1 Cor 2:13-14 We do not speak in words taught by human wisdom, but in words (TEV) taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual truths to those who have the Spirit.
NKJV But the natural man (the unconverted or the Christian without the Holy Spirit) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are discerned and only known by his spirit.
Prov 20:27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD (the only place where we can receive illumination from God) Searching all the inner depths of his heart. (here, as in other places, God clarifies that when He refers to our heart, He means our spirit; the Christian who looks to his intellect has no idea even where his spirit is).
In the natural realm we look to our intellects to process and analyze information we receive through our five physical senses. But in the spiritual realm we are told not to rely on our intellects and that everything has to be given to us by God, in our spirits. Our initial knowledge that Jesus died for our sins so that God could forgive us of those sins, didn’t come by the reasoning of our intellect but by God’s revelation to our spirits (hearts)).
If we fail to let God show us this fundamental truth, it is likely we will not grow spiritually much beyond this first knowledge of God. But with our continuing mental familiarity with scripture it is likely we will falsely assume, just like the Pharisees, that we are advancing.
Prov 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not look to or depend on your own understanding;
John 3:27 A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.
2. Because they rely on their intellects to try and glean their knowledge of God, they have adopted a self-reliant and counterfeit form of Christianity that doesn’t depend on God. This self-reliance is what God calls pride, for it is much broader than, but includes, the boastfulness that we normally associate with pride.
This prideful independence, that insists it is smart enough to figure out the truths of the Bible, is the exact opposite of the humble nature of Christ. Humility is complete dependence on God and if we have that nature and are living in it, we will know we are totally dependant on God to reveal each of the truths in the Bible, on which our salvation depend, by His spirit to our re-born spirits.
John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said, the Son can do nothing of Himself...
John 15:5 (Jesus to us) ...Without Me you can do nothing.
Matt 11:29 Take My yoke (My Spirit) upon you and learn of Me (receive My nature by My words in your heart), for I am meek and humble in heart (I depend on the Father)...
1 Peter 5:5 ...Be clothed with (Christ’s) humility, for "God resists the proud (the independent), But gives grace to the humble (the dependant)."
3. Because, as proud independent mental analyzers of scripture, they can only have a vague idea of what God’s grace really is. They may falsely assume it is some kind of divine favor that might come their way, but they can’t be sure, and that it has nothing to do with how they live, or what they believe in their hearts.
Jesus Christ is God’s grace, and He is imparted to our hearts and changes us through God’s living words of grace, as we believe them. If we don’t know this we can only see the Bible as written law not grace. We have as much grace, of Christ, as our hearts have believed of God’s living words. God’s desire is to make all grace abound toward us, but only faith can receive more of His grace, and only those who are dependant on Him, the humble, will have that faith:
Eph 2:8 For by grace you are being saved through faith...(grace must be believed)
1 Pe 1:23 Having been born again by (believing)...the word of God...
2 Pe 3:18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...
1 Pe 2:2 ...Desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
Acts 20:32 ...I commend you to God and to the word of His grace...
Rom 4:16 Therefore it is of (our) faith that it might be by (God’s words of) grace...
4. Because they look to and live by the natural intelligence of their human nature, which is simply part of their flesh, then they do not currently have the Holy Spirit. They may falsely assume they received the Holy Spirit when they were born again but that is untrue.
They may have received the Holy Spirit, by faith, at some time in the past but have since grieved, quenched and therefore lost the Holy Spirit because of un-forsaken sins. Without God’s Spirit in their spirits to teach them the truths of God’s words they can only guess at what God means with their intellects, or borrow someone else’s guesses:
Rom 8:9 But you do not live as your human nature (with it’s intellect) tells you to; (TEV) You live as the Spirit tells you to — if, in fact, God's Spirit lives in you.
1 Thes 5:19 Do not put out (quench) the Holy Spirit's fire; NIV
Rom 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with (speaks to) our spirit...(not our head)
John 14:26 ...The Holy Spirit...He will teach you all things (or we stay ignorant of them)
Acts 8:12-16 ...They believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ... Peter and John...prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon
none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
5. Because their intellects reign, which can’t know the things of God’s Spirit (1 Cor 2:14), they do not know the significance of ongoing sin in their lives and how it stands in the way of their salvation. They will likely have their own narrow view of what sin is that has no resemblance to what God calls sin.
Evil is the opposite of good and since only God is good, evil is everything that is not of God. Sin is the opposite of righteousness and hence anything that is not righteous is sin. Since our righteousness is by faith, anything that is not of faith, meaning a conviction of its approval by God, is sin (Rom 14:23 AMP).
The intellect cannot see how sin can be overcome since it has tried and failed, therefore it will buy in to the false teaching that continued sin is inevitable. However in many places in His word God promises to free us from the power of sin in order to keep us righteous. It is imperative that we believe one of these promises because only the righteous are saved. Christ’s whole mission is to free us from our sins, so we can inherit His righteous Kingdom:
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that...you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin (disobedience to God) leading to death (to God), or of obedience (to God) resulting in righteousness(and living in God)?
1 Jo 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin...
1 Pe 4:18 If it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the (NASU)godless man (the unconverted) and the sinner (the unrighteous Christian)?
Matt 1:21 You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.
Rom 6:18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
6. Because, although they received a new nature from God when they were born again, their old sinful human nature, primarily their brain, continues to control their will or soul. God says this natural mind of ours is His enemy because it is not subject to His rule. But it is highly subject to the influence of God’s other two enemies, Satan and the world.
As a result of this they cannot now grow spiritually, and even after 10 or 20 years since being born again they remain a helpless spiritual infant while passing themselves off as mature spiritually. They choose to overlook that they are currently dead to God and need to be re-lifed (revived). If they do not repent they are headed for eternal death. Unfortunately if they have succumbed to the lie of eternal security, they won’t see their need to repent.
Rom 8:7 A person becomes an enemy of God when he is controlled by his human nature; for he does not obey God's rule, and in fact he cannot obey it. TEV
1 Cor 3:1 ...I could not speak to you as spiritual people but as carnal people (ruled by your human nature, and who remain), as babes in the faith of Christ.
Rom 8:13 if you (Christians) live according to your human nature you are going to die...
7. What will cause such a proud “Christian” to turn back to God? Often only a crisis. Which their heads might blame God for; not understanding that Satan rules the world (1 Jo 5:19) and it is he who steals, kills and destroys (John 10:10). But if they’ll listen to their conscience the voice of their spirit, turn, be willing to learn how to live in their spirit, and let God love and grow them with living words; He will save them from their sins, and from Satan’s evil hand.