Where Is True Spirituality Found?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Cor 12:9, ESV2011)

When we read about David in the Old Testament, we see a “mighty man of valor.” As a boy, David killed a lion and a bear, then went out to battle and killed a giant with his sling and a stone! God appointed him to be king over Israel in the place of Saul, where he continued to do exploits against the enemies of God in that land. Finally, we see him becoming quite sure of himself in his exalted place there in Jerusalem, the city of David. It is as if God exalted him ever higher until David’s pride finally brought him down. He became a man of leisure. Instead of going out to battle with his troops against the Ammonites, he stayed home and lusted after his general’s wife, Bathsheba. You know the rest of the story how he started living a lie. Bathsheba became pregnant so he called for Uriah, her husband, to come back home to be with her so that it will look like he made her pregnant while there. Uriah refused to go into his house and slept on the door step. So David in his wrath sent him back to the war front and gave orders for the other warriors to pull back from him in the heat of battle so that the enemy could kill him. Once again we see that Lord Acton of England identified the problem dead on, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

God loved David and He made sure that David would not get away with his folly. He deflated his ego through a confrontation with Nathan the prophet and convicted him out of the words of his own mouth.

And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.’” (2Sam 12:1-9, ESV2011- emphasis added)

 

The prophet went on to say that the sword would never depart from the house of David and we know this to be true, but David finally repented and the words of Psalm 51 are his confession and contrition.

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. ​Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. ​Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. ​Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. ​Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. ​Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. ​For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Ps 51:1-17, ESV2011- emphasis added)

 

In the very beginning of my walk, God prophetically gave me Psalm 51 as if it were a prophesy of how He would be dealing with me during my life. God knows how to save us from our soulish power that so easily corrupts us, He takes us down so that He might raise us up IN Christ and keeps us weak in our own eyes if necessary that He won’t lose us. Oh the pride that was in David when he pronounced judgment on that evil man in His kingdom who Nathan told him about. And oh the pain that must have shot through David’s heart when Nathan said, “You are the man!” God does not need strong, self-assured men in His kingdom. He does not need men who try to cover their sin with religious activities and sacrifices, but what do we see as we look at the leaders in Christendom today? No wonder so many of them are brought down before the eyes of the whole world! What He wants are those saints who know that they are only dust. He wants us to walk in brokenness and a contrite heart before Him, not in an elevated self-confidence about our own spirituality as we live a lie before men.

David wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. ​Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The longer I live in my Christian experience, the more I see that these words apply to me. What a discovery it is when we can see that when we sin it is against God and Him only. We must be brought to the place where we see that He is justified in all His words and judgments and that our only salvation is walking in the life of Jesus Christ by His great grace.

 

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Rom 5:10, ESV2011)

T. A. Sparks in his excellent book, “God’s Reactions Against Man’s Defections,” wrote,

Well, spiritual and natural abilities are in altogether different worlds! And when God reacts to recover, or acts to provide against a threat, a peril, a danger that has the characteristics we have noted, He brings His instrument down to nothingness – He empties it out and makes it more conscious of its weakness and of its dependence than of anything else. In this greatest of all works of God – the maintaining of His testimony in absolute purity and truth – there is no place whatever, amongst those who are involved, for assumption: for assuming that they are something, or assuming that they can do something, or assuming that they are called to this or that. There is no place, either, for presumption – that is, running ahead of God, running ahead of the Spirit. There is no place for self-importance, for self-sufficiency, for self-assertiveness – no place for any of these things. If you and I are going to be used for spiritual purposes, God will take us in hand to drain us of the last drop of anything like that, until we know that of all men we are the most unfit and unsuited to the thing to which God has called us; that from all natural standpoints we have no right to be in that position at all. That is God’s way of making spiritual men and women.

[Paul wrote to Timothy saying], “Be strong” – but it does not stop there. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). That is not self-strength, that is not natural strength of any kind. “The grace that is in Christ Jesus” – be strong in that. So we see what is the strength in the case of Timothy, as the symbol of God’s reactionary method and means in a day of declension [which the church is in today]. The strength is to be spiritual strength.

That works both ways. It is a word of encouragement to those who are conscious of no strength, who only feel their weakness; as though to say: ‘Look here, that is not the criterion, how weak you feel, at all: the criterion is “the grace that is in Christ Jesus”.’ And it works the other way. If any of us should feel that we can do it, and press into the situation or into the position, and take it on, assuming or presuming, then we are in for a bad time under the hand of God – that is, if we are going to be of any use to the Lord. Any such attitude is going to be emptied out. (1)

Dear Father, empty us out of all that is of our natural man and fill us with your Son no matter how great the cost. Amen.

(1) https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/000856.html

 

18 comments on “Where Is True Spirituality Found?

  1. Tobie says:

    Thank you Michael. So true, so magnificent. Truly, as John 6 reminds us, it is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen to your prayer, Michael. Good article!

    I think as we come to know God in Christ, we all sense a call of sorts, a call to spread the gospel in any way. But oh, how often this is only the flesh that wants to speak up for God and to work for Him regardless of His leading! :-/ Maybe, we need to go through this ‘baby phase’ in order to learn how it does NOT work. Wilderness times after mountaintop experiences with God are pretty helpful to be emptied out from all this carnal rubbish God does not need at all.

    What I just realized while reading your article was that although David really abused his God-given office and committed punishable acts which were, indeed, punished by God, he truly repented afterwards by focusing on God alone, no matter what. David accepted God’s judgment over his family, esp. at first the death of his son with Bathsheba. Maybe, God thus gave us a pattern for repentance, particularly for Christians who have been given power and who are famous. It is so much harder to repent when someone must do this publicly, I believe. Yet if it happens and we see these people taking another path afterwards, we can be pretty sure that God’s Spirit led them to do so.

    I just read about a case that took place in my former hometown (Hof/Bavaria). I personally knew a woman who had been sexually abused by a Lutheran pastor as a very young girl. Reading about a woman who was abused by, presumably, the same pastor would speak up inside the church finally with her husband’s help. This way they found out that she was not the only one who had been abused by this married father of a family. As she confronted the perpetrator, he apologized to her privately. Later as he was put on a trial by four women, it did not work well for the victims. This man also had a few ‘mighty friends’, as it seemed, an old-boy-network of sorts. The latter tried to gag this one woman and to persuade her to forgive so that the former pastor would not lose his pension. The trial itself was dropped even before the hearing of witnesses, esp. of the victims.

    Indeed, old nature plus power produces permanently corruption, whether it is in pastoral care, in politics, or in private enterprises. Very sad. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      What a sad story about abusive power in your own home town, Susanne. David was a man after God’s heart. I believe that this is why after his sin with Bathsheba and the murder he was privy to, that even though he repented, God made sure that the sword never left his house. God put suffering in his life to keep him humble and dependent upon Him for everything. Notice that David never turned against God no matter what.This is the difference between the life of a true man (or woman) of God and those who seem to go through life sowing the seeds of their pride and destruction in His name with impunity with all men speaking well about them in their public lives, never having to step down from power. There are the children of God who suffer much and then there are the children of the devil. But it all comes out in the end for the better of those who love Him…

      “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. ​Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. ​He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Ps 37:1-6, ESV2011)

      Thanks for your insightful comment and for sharing your life in Christ with us who see the spiritual value in what you write. You are His treasure that is being tried in the fire that will shine throughout all eternity. ⭐

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Btw, I love this picture you took, Michael. It illustrates the message perfectly! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Yes, I thought so too. 🙂 It was growing in a crack of my garage driveway. It was amazing that it never got run over. Yes, it is a real illustration of the hand of God in our lives and a message from Him, “Bloom where you are planted.” ⭐

      Liked by 2 people

  4. A Timbered Quiet says:

    Hi Michael! This is my first visit. 😊

    These concluding words from your prayer reveal the heart of the man who prayed them … “no matter how great the cost.”

    May our Lord’s Spirit give each of us who say, ‘Amen,’ the strength of yieldedness when He takes us at our word.

    There is no other life but this one, brother!

    – L.A.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Hello L.A.,
      Thanks for your encouraging comment and following this blog. When I was part of organized religion years ago the leaders often told me that to pray like this was praying “dangerous prayers.” Well, I guess if one is a Christian trying to have a comfortable life instead of taking up his cross and following our Lord, that would be true. They even told me that there was a place for “believers” as opposed to those who were Christ’s disciples. I do not see that in the gospel which Christ and the apostles preached, but I do see it in the luke warm church of Laodicea which Jesus warned He was going to spew them from His mouth.

      The older I get (soon to be 74) the less this world has a hold on my heart and the more I seek those things which are eternal that have a REAL Foundation, Jesus Christ. Others who I meet who are also on this journey are a real blessing to me when I find them.

      God bless you as you seek His face,
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

      • A Timbered Quiet says:

        My husband and I are no longer a part of organized religion either and haven’t been for years.

        “The older I get (soon to be 74) the less this world has a hold on my heart and the more I seek those things which are eternal that have a REAL Foundation, Jesus Christ.” … YES! YES! YES!

        (I’ll be 65 in a couple of weeks.)

        Unlike you, I haven’t met others (until earlier this morning here) on the same journey.

        The LORD continue to bless you and your beloved with His keeping presence.

        L.A.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        It is a blessing to meet you as well, my sister in Christ. May the Lord continue to draw you and yours ever deeper into His heart.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Michael. It is a blessing to meet you as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You write in a powerful way about the dangers of pride, Michael. This is an important lesson even for those of us who are not famous or public figures.

    I had a difficult experience in my own life that left me troubled for years afterward. I took a position I “should” have been equipped to accomplish. In fact, I was certain God wanted me in the position and would help me to achieve my goals.

    But the harder I worked, the more distant those goals became. I found myself in the midst of a swamp, struggling against impossible odds. In the end, I felt utterly broken. Though I never intended anything but good for those under my supervision, the sense of failure stayed w/ me a long time.

    I think now that the experience was a lesson in pride. I used career advancement as a way to restore the self-esteem abuse had robbed from me as a child. That turned me into a workaholic.

    God allowed me advancement to a point. But He wanted better for me. He wanted me to recognize the reality that my achievements were due to Him. And that my value was not dependent on them.

    We serve an amazing God. His love for us is astounding.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Anna ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Anna, thanks for sharing from your heart about lessons that Father has taught you about the need of humility and yielding to His leading in all things, no matter how good the cause might be. As Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing.” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Not only we who are His must be born from above, but the very works that we do must come from there as well.

      “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30, KJ2000)

      When we rest IN Him we find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It is a hard lesson to learn that God has no use for anything that originates in our flesh as He lets us wear ourselves out trying.

      “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10, KJ2000)

      Only by resting IN Him can we find the truth of the above verse and know by experience what those works are which HE foreordained for us to walk in. Yes, dear sister, we DO serve an amazing God who loves us with an eternal love which we get to share with one another. ❤

      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Dan says:

    Good post.
    Timely needed spiritual insight.

    “He brings His instrument down to nothingness. He empties it out and makes more conscious of its weakness…” TAS
    During my journey, I went through that experience. – several times..

    Blessings,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Dan. I just wrote the following to a dear brother of mine in Louisiana:

      Sometimes I get down and can only see myself as a failure when it comes to my walk in Christ and I have been in one of those funks as of late. It is almost as if “though my outward man perish, my inward man is struggling all the more.” I go through times like this and then the light breaks in upon my darkness and things are looking up once again…

      It is interesting that Paul wrote these three things in the order that he did…

      That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Phil 3:10, KJ2000)

      Without knowing the power of His resurrection in our lives first, how could we ever bear-up under the fellowship of His sufferings and the conformity He has put upon us unto His death? Isaiah prophesied of this, not only for Him, but for us saying,

      Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no stately form nor splendor; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isa 53:1-3, KJ2000)

      Oh, yes, the fellowship of His sufferings. But as I read this again I noticed the following verse which follows…

      Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… (Isa 53:4, KJ2000)


      “Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”
      Hmmmm. Lord, help me (us) to do that very thing. Amen. What a great salvation we have IN Christ!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s