Spiritual Growth Orders
by Pastor Robert V. Shipman, Sr. | February 12, 2010
Spiritual Growth Orders
Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double-minded.
Your experience with God today, has been provided to make you strong. This was the general message that the apostle James was delivering to Jewish Christians who had been scattered throughout the region. The words unappreciated by their society are an understatement of the conditions that they were expected to live under and be witnesses for Christ. They were oppressed. You may also feel that the Enemy or (your enemies) are doing whatever they can to make your miserable and inconvienient. You're in good company. James--the apostle of the Lord--was given a special message that fits both his time and ours.
First, surrender to God. Today's Christian wants to control his/her life. We often want God just to stamp His approval on the way we live and the circumstances that we want to live our lives under. But James tells us that the way to peace is to surrender to God. Second, Resist the devil. If you are in a contest and your opponent always has you running, you will never have consistent peace of mind. Nor will you ever gain a victory. But the minute you go on the offense, the minute you attack the strongholds of the devil that are intruding into your life, you will experience the power of God in a life-altering way. God did not make you an animal to be hunted by the devil. God made you a soldier who is capable of fighting. You can fight the good fight of faith and turn the devil's incursion in your life back.
Next James tells us to get close to God. The tendency of Christians is to win a battle and then basque in the fact that they overcame the devil or a temptation. Jesus said to his disciples one day "do not rejoice because you have power over the devil; but rejoice because your names are written in Heaven." God is not calling us to brag about our victories, but to get close to Him. Bragging is a distraction. It takes your mind off of the continuing battle. Getting close to God through repentance (awareness and confession of our own arrogance), praise, prayer and thanksgiving keeps us acknowledging the work of God in our victories and following that becoming closer to the heart of God. You never want to assume that God needs to be closer to you in your experiences; but that you need to be closer to God.
James tells these people who are in the middle of adversity to, purify their hearts. Stress can deceive you in to thinking that you have the right to judge the activity of the Judge of all the earth as He works in and on your life. Think clearly! Think biblically about God during your struggles. God does love you. However He has saved you in order to use you to save or deliver someone else. Make sure that you are not feeling like God is picking on you. If you feel this way, your heart needs to be purified. Jesus has a way for you to get through these inaccurate feelings; he said, "Now ye are clean through the Word I have spoken unto you." Keep your hands off of the world's filth and be pure in the way you see God. Get into the Word of God and don't judge your growth by how you feel.
It really is time for us to grow up. It's time for us to put aside "childish things." Refuse to think as an infant. Grow up into Christ who is the head and grow in the Lord. Jesus is "with you alway." Submit, resist, cleanse and purify! That is a prescription for growth. And these things are not God's suggestions; they are God's orders.