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28 February, 2013

Christian Progress - Part 7

John A James, 1853

2. Distress is sometimes felt in consequence of mistaking a clearer view and deeper sense of depravity, for an actual increase of sin. This is by no means an uncommon case. The young Christian seems sometimes to himself to be growing worse, when in fact it is only that he sees more clearly what in fact he really is. In the early stages of true religion we have usually but a slender acquaintance with the evil of our sin or the depravity of our heart. The mind is so much taken up with pardon and eternal life, and even, indeed, with the transition from death to life, that it is but imperfectly acquainted with those depths of deceit and wickedness which lie hidden in itself. And the young convert is almost surprised to hear older and more experienced Christians talk of the corruptions of their nature. It is almost one of the first things one would suppose they would feel, yet it is one of the last they effectually learn, that true religion is a constant conflict in man's heart—between sin and holiness.

At first they seem to feel as if the serpent were killed—but they soon find that he was only asleep—for by the warmth of some fiery temptation, he is revived and hisses at them again, so as to require renewed blows for his destruction. Nothing astonishes an inexperienced believer more than the discoveries he is continually making of the evils of his heart. Corruptions which he never dreamt to be in him, are brought out by some new circumstances into which he is brought. It is like turning up the soil, which brings out worms and insects that did not appear upon the surface. Or to vary the illustration, his increasing knowledge of God's holy nature, of the perfect law, and the example of Christ, is like opening the shutters, and letting light into a dark room, the filth of which the inhabitant did not see until the sunbeams disclosed it to him.

3. Sometimes the young convert is discouraged, because he does not increase as fast as he expected; and supposes because he does not accomplish all, and as speedily as he looked for, that he does not advance at all. The expectations of young Christians are sometimes as irrational as the child's who sowed his seed in the morning, and went out in the evening to see if it was above ground. The recent convert sometimes imagines that sanctification is easy to work. He imagines that advance is a thing to be accomplished by a succession of strides, if not, indeed, by one bound after another. But the remains of old Adam within him soon prove too strong to allow this unimpeded course of Christian progression. 

He knew he had difficulties to surmount—but he calculated on getting over them with ease—that he had enemies to conflict with—but then he hoped to go on by rapid victories from conquering to conquer. He is disappointed—and now imagines he makes no way at all. But why should he so hastily decide against himself? All growth is slow, and that is slowest of all which is to last the longest. The mushroom springs up in a night—so did Jonah's gourd—and in a night it perished! The oak requires centuries for its coming to perfection.

4. Some mistake by supposing they do not advance at all because they do not get on so fast as some others. We would by no means encourage neglect, indifference, or contentment with small measures of grace. On the contrary, we urge the greatest diligence. We say go on unto perfection. They who are contented with what grace they suppose they have, give fearful evidence that they have none at all. To be self-satisfied is to be self-deceived. Still, as in nature so in grace, all do not grow with equal rapidity, or advance to equal strength and stature. I

t is so with flowers in a garden; trees in a plantation; children in a family; boys at school; ships at sea; or travelers upon the land. There is progress in all—but in different degrees. Yet of which of all these can it be said, they make no advance because they do not advance as fast as the foremost. The use we should make of the superior attainments of the more eminent of God's servants is neither to envy them, nor to discourage our hearts—but to find in them a stimulus and an encouragement to seek larger measures of faith and holiness for ourselves.

27 February, 2013

Christian Progress - Part 6

John A James, 1853

1. Some are fearful that they are not making progress because their feelings are not so vividly excited in religious matters as they formerly were. They are not easily and powerfully wrought upon either in the way of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, as they once were. They have not those lively and ecstatic states of mind which they formerly experienced when they began the divine life.
Here we must just glance at the constitution of our nature. True religion exerts its influence over all the faculties of the soul—it calls into exercise the understanding, engages the determination of the will, moves the affections, and quickens the conscience. The same differences of natural constitution will be observable in some degree in the new or spiritual nature as existed in the old or physical one. A person of great sensibility in ordinary things, will, after conversion, be so in spiritual ones; while they of little emotion in the former will exhibit the same phase of mind in the latter. The sensibility or emotional state of the mind depends very much therefore on our physical organization. Now it is a very wrong criterion of the reality and degree of our true religion to judge of it only by the exercise of the affections. Some people of excitable natures are easily moved to joy and sorrow, hope and fear. The power of poetry or eloquence, of sights of distress or raptures—over their feelings is irresistible; while at the same time their judgments are not proportionately employed, their wills not in the same measure engaged, and their conscience but little moved. 
Take, for instance, the sentimental readers of novels, how by fits they are melted to tears, or excited to ecstasies. Yet how idle and unemployed are all the other faculties of the soul. There is no virtue in all this. It is mere sentimental emotion. Now look at the philanthropist. He may not be a man of tears, or of strong and vivid emotions of any kind—but he is a man of principle. His understanding comprehends the circumstances of some case of deep distress, and he judges it is right to pity and relieve it. His heart, though not wrought up to extreme anguish, so as to fill his eyes with tears, and his mouth with loud lamentations, feels for the miserable object; his will resolutely determines at once to help the sufferer; and his conscience, which would condemn him if he did not, approves the determination. You will particularly notice what constituted the virtue of the good man; not wholly the emotional excitement, for there was very little—but the dictates of the judgment, the determination of the will, and the action which was performed under these conjoint powers.
So it is in true religion, which consists partly of the exercise of all the faculties—but chiefly of the judgment, will, and conscience. The heart is of course, engaged, for we must love God and hate sin—we must delight in Christ and fear the wrath to come; but the amount of vivid emotion is of little consequence, compared with an enlightened judgment, showing us clearly what is right and wrong; a determined will to avoid the evil and perform the good; and a tender conscience shrinking from the least sin. Emotion is, to a certain extent, instinctive, involuntary, and irrepressible. Not so with judgment, will, and conscience. It is not, therefore, the amount of feeling—but of willing and doing, and approving or condemning, that determines the state of true religion.
There is such a thing I know—and, alas, it is a very common one—as losing "first love," and it is marked by our Lord with his disapprobation in his address to the church at Ephesus; but many distress themselves on this account who have no need to do so. Their ardor perhaps, at first was in some measure the excitement of animal feeling, which will soon die away of course, though their real practical love may not be diminished—but may be growing stronger. When a son returns home after a long absence, especially if he be a reclaimed prodigal, and meets his parents, brothers, and sisters, there is a glow of feeling, a joyousness of emotion, which cannot be expected to continue always, and which he may never be able to recall again, though he may be ever growing in real attachment to his friends and his home.
From all this it will be seen that the emotional part of true godliness may be, and is by many, overestimated. The question is not merely what we can feel—but what we can do, for Christ; not how many tears we can shed—but how many sins we can mortify; not what raptures we can experience—but what self-denial we can practice; not what happy frames we can enjoy—but what holy duties we can perform; not simply how much we can luxuriate at sermon or at sacrament—but how much we can exhibit of the mind of Jesus in our communion with our fellow-men; not only how far above earth we can rise to the bliss of heaven—but how much of the love and purity of heaven we can bring down to earth—in short, not how much of rapt feeling we can indulge—but how much of godly principle we can bring to bear on our whole conduct.
It is evident, therefore, there may be progress where there is a fear that there has been declension. The vividness of feeling may have subsided—but if the firmness of principle has been strengthened, it is only like the decadence of the blossom when the fruit has set. The joy might not be so great—but it may be more intelligent, more solid, and more sober. Just as the exuberant delight of the child, when it passes off, leaves the pleasure of the youth less noisy—but more rational. The frames and feelings may be less rapturous—but they may at the same time be less idolized, less depended upon, less put in the place of Christ. The growing Christian is less pleased with self—but sees more of the glory of the Savior—his own righteousness appears more imperfect and defiled, and is therefore less loved—but the righteousness of the Savior comes out before him more beautiful, glorious, and necessary.

26 February, 2013

Christian Progress - Part 5

John A. James, 1853

Now there is a proneness in some to neglect this, and endeavor to support their spiritual strength by something else. It is not the study of the Biblical history, or chronology, or historical facts, or beautiful poetry, or pathetic narratives, or sublime compositions of the Bible—that will best sustain our strength—and yet some are thus attempting it. They see many beauties in the Bible to which they were formerly blind. 

They are enamored with the sublimities, for instance, of the book of Job or Isaiah. They admire the wondrous wisdom of the book of Proverbs. They luxuriate amid the pathos of the history of Joseph, or the morality of the Sermon upon the Mount. Their attachment to those parts of revelation is rather growing than declining, and in proper measure all this is highly commendable. Such books as Gilfillan's "Bards of the Bible," and Kitto's "Daily Readings," should be read, and cannot be read without admiration, and exquisite delight, and valuable information. 

And many do read them with these feelings, and hence they imagine they are progressing in true religion, although they have little relish, perhaps, for the doctrines of the Gospel—the mediation of Christ—the salvation into which the prophets inquired diligently, and into which the angels desired to look. They do not feed on the flesh and blood of the great Sacrifice.

8. There may be a mistake made, by the mortification of some ONE SIN while others are left unsubdued. It is so far an advance if one enemy of our soul, from right motives and by right means, be destroyed. And in the work of spiritual improvement it is wise and well, instead of losing our time and wasting our energies in mere general and unsystematic mortification, to select occasionally some one sin to begin with in the way of more direct and concentrated attack—and no doubt the crucifixion of that corruption—the cutting off of that right hand, or the plucking out of that right eye, is a gain in sanctification—a step in advance and a means of gaining other victories.

But what I am anxious to guard you against is, the supposition that because some one evil to which you may be more strongly tempted is abandoned; or some practice which may militate against your health, or interest, or comfort, is given up—that you are progressing in godliness. Sin may be discontinued for various reasons. A drunkard may give up his inebriety, not because it is sinful—but hurtful. 

Another may discontinue some fraudulent practice, not because it is forbidden by God—but is disgraceful in the estimation of man. A young professor may give up some ensnaring worldly amusements, not because be is afraid of their influence upon his spiritual welfare—but because they make too great inroads upon his purse. It is not therefore the abstract abandonment of a sin—but the motive which leads to it, which is a proof of the work of grace. "How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" This sentiment must lie as the motive at the base of all mortification of sin. And then moreover, the destruction of any one sin must be viewed and carried on as a part of the purpose and the act for the destruction of all sin.

B. I now proceed to enumerate and to correct some mistakes of a contrary nature to those just considered. I mean such as are committed by those who are making progress, and yet are somewhat anxious and distressed under supposition that they are not; and even fearing that they are declining.
The cases are perhaps not numerous of people deeply concerned about salvation, really earnest in true religion, and yet harassed with the apprehension that they are at a standstill, or even going back. 

There is a sincere desire to advance in holiness, and to increase in spirituality; and they are even diligent in the use of means to accomplish that end. In reference to them, I do not hesitate to say that their very state of mind is itself an evidence of progression. This solicitude is itself advancement. The very desire of improvement, the will to go on, the longing after greater attainment, is progress. It is itself an impulse—a forgetting the things that are behind, and a reaching forward unto those things that are before. 

There cannot be a more convincing proof of halting or retrograding, than complacency in ourselves. While on the other hand, a growing disposition to find fault with ourselves, and humble ourselves, and really improve ourselves, is one of the brightest indications of our going forward, provided there is all diligence in the use of the means of self-improvement.

25 February, 2013

Christian Progress - Part 4

Written by John A. James, in 1853

6. Much the same remark will apply to a growing attachment to some particular PREACHER, which is not always of itself a proof of progress in true religion. We are allowed our preference even in this matter—for though it is the message rather than the messenger—the truth rather than the preacher—that is to be the ground of our attachment, yet it cannot in the nature of things be otherwise than that we should prefer one minister to another. He may have been the instrument of our conversion, or the means of our establishment in the faith. Or, independently of these matters, he may more clearly explain, and more powerfully enforce God's truth. Or even without this, his natural abilities with equal orthodoxy and piety may be more to our taste; and on all these grounds preference, within certain limits, is allowed.

But nothing in a young convert requires greater care and effort to keep down excess, than 'ministerial attachment', lest it should degenerate into exclusiveness and spiritual idolatry. This is a danger into which multitudes run. They make this 'pulpit favorite' not only the standard of all excellence—but its monopolist. They think basely of everyone else. They can hear, at or any rate relish, no other. When he preaches elsewhere they follow him—or if they cannot do this, they make up their mind not to profit by his substitute. This actually grows upon them until he is everything, and all other ministers nothing. 

Now this very attachment is by some supposed to be a proof of progress; especially in the case of those who formerly cared nothing about this minister, or any other. They now feel pleasure in hearing him—but then it is confined to him, and this preference, instead of leading them to love him for the sake of the truth he preaches, leads them rather to love the truth for the sake of the preacher.

If with their preference for him, they united a delight in hearing all who preach the same truths; and his preaching had formed in them a taste for evangelical doctrines, instead of for one man who preached them, this would be a blessed result, and one that would prove advance in true religion. Perhaps there are few evidences more conclusive of progress than such a state of mind as is described in the following reflections, "At my first setting out in the ways of religion, I felt a preference for my minister so strong, that I could hear with pleasure no other. 

I was disappointed and discontented if I saw anyone else in the pulpit, and thought the sermon scarcely worth listening to. I now see it was more an attachment to the preacher himself than to his message. True, I was pleased with his doctrine—but still more with his manner of setting it forth. As my knowledge of divine truth increased, and I became more and more in love with this, I found my delight more and more drawn off from the preacher to his doctrine.

Until now, with my preference for him above all others still remaining, I am so much taken up with the truth as it is in Jesus, and feel so much more the importance of the matter than the manner, that I can hear anyone with pleasure who, with tolerable ability, explains and enforces the glorious gospel of the blessed God. It is the man who opens most clearly to my judgment the truth of God's word, and enforces it most powerfully upon my heart and conscience, and carries on my growth in knowledge, peace, and holiness—that is the preacher I love most." There is no mistake here.

7. Somewhat analogous to this, some mistake a growing delight in some particular DOCTRINE, or some particular parts, aspects, and subjects of the Bible, for progress in the divine life. "All Scripture," to quote this passage again, "is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." But all Scripture is not equally adapted to foster the strength and promote the health of the soul. Now it is clear to anyone who will attentively study the New Testament, that the truth by which we are to be sanctified—the doctrine which is according to godliness—the "perfection," which is distinguished from first principles—is the mediatorial character and work of Christ.

 This seems to be plain from our Lord's words, "I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day. For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. John 6:53-55. This is a most momentous passage, and deserves the very serious attention of all, and especially of young converts.

It is of vast consequence, in bodily nutrition, to know what is the most nourishing food, and what will sustain the strength and increase the stature of the body. Can it be less so in the nutrition of the soul? Here then, by Him who came to give life—by the great Physician of the soul—we are told upon what food the growing Christian must live. In these words our Lord did not, could not, mean to be understood literally. By his flesh and blood, he meant his body offered up in sacrifice, and his blood shed as an atonement for sin; and by eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he intended nourishing the divine life by the knowledge, the faith, the contemplation, of his atoning death as it is set forth in the Scriptures. 

The study of everything that stands connected with the atoning death of Christ, whether it be in the types of the ceremonial law, the predictions of the prophets, the narratives of the Gospels, the doctrines of the epistles, or the sublime visions of the Apocalypse—this is the food of the soul—the manna from heaven—the bread of life. This is "food indeed," and "drink indeed." Whoever with hungry appetite feeds upon this will grow—and whoever neglects this will become lean and weak.

24 February, 2013

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance - Part 2

Something Oswald said in his February 22 devotion that brought it all back so vividly, prompted me to wonder if God taught him in the same way too. “But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God. He brings fulfillment, “because you have kept My command to persevere . . .” (Revelation 3:10).Continue to persevere spiritually.”

To me, it was strange to see how Oswald just ended with Revelation 3:10 at the end. In going through my trials to learn spiritual perseverance and endurance, the Holy Spirit kept reminding me of revelation 3:10. It was like the goal of this season of my hardships was to teach me how to get there. It was strange to see that my life was falling apart, I was experiencing loss that I could never recover from, the waiting, the uncertainty, and the pain of it all that were ravaging my soul, yet none of it was as big as the outcome that was revelation 3:10. Every time it was too hard for me to continue, my mind started fidgeting, the Holy Spirit would bring to mind this verse. Instantly and every single time my reaction to the remembrance was like a fussing baby getting his pacifier.   

As I watched myself now and how I am equipped to endure the challenges of my daily Christians life, I knew all I went through was worth it to get there. If you ask me if I would go through it over again, my answer to you would be no and no.  But was it worth it knowing what I know now? Then yes it was worth every moment.  

God does not make such a drastic statement in Revelation 3:10 without equipping us for the journey. As I was going through my spiritual preparation to learn perseverance and endurance, I also knew this was one more verse in the Bible that we Christians misunderstand terribly. While the true possessors of the faith need not to worry about this verse, but anyone else in the Church who simply professed to be Christians are included in that lump.  As professed Christians, we cannot make out that He would impose such conditions on us. 

So, when our explanations and our own false beliefs cannot quite explain why certain verses are in the Bible, we tend to ignore them, minimize them and eventually we put them all in the back of our mind and act as if they do not matter. But, it is precisely because we feel the need to act in this manner towards God’s Word we should worry about who we are in Him. God will not forget. In this same Bible that some of us insist that our explanation suffice, He did say in Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”. This strong verse is as valid for the unbelievers as it is for the believers.

When you feel there are verses in the Bible that do not work well with your idea of Salvation, do not question the verses or God.  You should not ignore those verses either. If you were not blinded by ignorance, pride and disobedience, you would understand these verses are there to differentiate the real things from the impostors. God will use His own Word to show you why you did not make the cut like He did to rebuke Satan in the wilderness. So, a rule of thumb should be to question your understanding and release yourself in the hands of God with an open heart and mind to help you put the pieces together. If you insist on redefining the word to suit your explanations, you might find out it was a foolish attitude when it is too late.

The reason that He can make such statement like Revelation 3:10 is because He knows He who began a good work in us will see it to completion. What He asks of us, He always equips us through grace. Learning to endure is the mark of the true child of God. As you learn to endure you also learn to live the faithful and the abiding life.

Stop repeating history over and over again. Adam & Eve got too comfortable, took God for granted and disobeyed, what was the result? Did they expect it? No - The Israelites did the same thing too when they were in the wilderness, did they see God promises? No. Cultivate the habit of not readjusting God but yourself. Do not be too rigid in your false beliefs. Satan has trained some of us so well, that we see him where he has nothing to do with our situation but only our stubborn and prideful self. Yet, places where we should see him, we don’t. When we cultivate this kind of attitude where we readjust God’s word instead of ourselves, Satan does not even bother to assign more demons to you because there is no threat of losing you. He knows your pride and harden heart will get you there on your own.

Never mind how long you have been roaming in the Church. Never mind your status there. Do not get caught up in your own hypes. Do not get too comfortable with your Christianity. Take the habit of examining yourself. Ask yourself what has Christianity brought into your life beside traditions, rituals, feeling good about myself, and repetitions? Then find out what it means to be the reverse of a steadfast Christian. Ask yourself what has changes in you inwardly?  Even if you do not experience God and even if it takes time to get there, but after twenty, thirty years and more, you should be aware that inside of you, you are made of a different fibre by now.

Just in case you wonder why it is important to God to make perseverance and endurance such an important part of the Christian life and why He wants nothing to do with idleness and laziness you should check out this. One search in the thesaurus for the word perseverance brought the definition “constancy” and the synonym of the word constancy is:
abidingness, adherence, allegiance, ardor, attachment, certainty, decision, dependability, determination, devotedness, devotion, doggedness, eagerness, earnestness, endurance,faith, fealty, fidelity, firmness, honesty, honor, integrity, love, loyalty, permanence, perseverance, principle, regularity, resolution, stability, staunchness, steadfastness, steadiness, surety, tenacity, trustiness, trustworthiness, truthfulness, unchangeableness, unfailingness, uniformity, zeal

The opposite of someone who persevere is: 
apathy, idleness, indolence, laziness, lethargy

John Maxwell said:  A difficult time can be more readily endured if we retain the conviction that our existence holds a purpose – a cause to pursue, a person to love, a goal to achieve.”

Are you going through a hard time right now? Know that when you are in a position where you are experiencing hardships, whether you brought it on yourself through unwise Choices, or it is brought on by God is not really the point. Go through it with Him in mind and purposely live for Him. Do not try to surround yourself with people and things just to keep your mind busy. Make Him the center of your life. Give Him your undivided attention. Persevere through it all with Him in mind then you will find all that Maxwell mentioned in the quote above, by grace has become yours. Through His grace you will find those words that make up the synonym of the word “constancy” have become part of the fibre of who you are within. 

23 February, 2013

The Discipline of Spiritual Perseverance - Part 1


When I was waiting for God in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart how important that I learn to wait patiently and learn to persevere and endure through the pain. I knew through it I had to take it all in, trust Him for the outcome and trust His timing however long He decided. This was a very hard lesson, one that He kept unfolding day by day. At times, I have to admit it was a hard pill to swallow. I was waiting for answers that never came, yet I needed these answers to even survive. I was miserable because I knew if He does not answer or act right away, the consequences would be disastrous for my life. 

In times, I had to learn to not only persevere which meant to carry on through the hardship I was going through. He made it clear to me that depression and self-pity was not part of the agenda and if I was to give in to them, then that would defeat the purpose.

While trying my best to persevere through the hardships I found every single day was an adjustment to what had become my life. Several months after, I finally realized even though my life was crumbling all around me and there was nothing left, it was strange to see how God was not in a hurry helping me to pick up the pieces.

I needed to make a decision to come to terms with all of it. This sober realization was more devastating than when I started the road. No time frame can be put on Him, no assumptions as to how He will get to me, and no expectations should be cultivated on my part either. What was more devastating to my soul, I found I had to make a choice to believe in Him while I was adjusting to the new crumbling life. I knew in my soul, I had to learn to believe His promises are true and He will not fail me, but the timing belongs to Him. It is very easy to wait for God’s timing when you do not have a crucial matter that requires his attention NOW! TODAY!

When the worst that I feared happened, what was left was to work it out in my soul. Strangely, I also realize while there was nothing else left to lose, I realized not taking a stand and the right one; I stood to lose the most important thing of all. At that time, it meant choosing Him. Make no mistake it is hard to choose to walk with Him when things seemed from the outside that He does not care what is happening to you.

I had to fight to put my humanity aside, I had to move beyond the pain of all my loss and what my life became, to say to Him, “so be it, let’s do it your way Lord”. To my surprise the saying in Hebrews 11:1 came alive in my heart. I had no idea that the impartation of this verse was so hard, so painful and had to be acquired personally. It meant to come to terms with the fact that you have to have assurance in something you cannot see and you might never see it in your lifetime, yet you KNOW because God cannot lie, it will happen in His own time. I remember saying to myself wow! Christianity is deep. Who would have thought those simple words would have become my personal tragedy?

I remember thinking how the whole thing did not make sense for my life if I did not get to enjoy His promises while I am alive. As I was thinking these things as if the Holy Spirit could not hear me, He replied to me “ I understand what you are thinking and it makes sense to you, but what I need from you child is for you to come to a place where you are alright with it and it has to be well with your soul.” Just because He said so, it became important to me. I struggled and prayed hard for a few days to really make my heart accept the outcome as He sees it, not according to my expectations and my understanding.

This was my big lesson from God in terms of spiritual perseverance and endurance and I found, if you can go pass that stage, than the rest of your Christian life is easier to persevere and endure the other daily challenges that come your way. 

22 February, 2013

I Thought Christ Work On The Cross Provided a Way To Stop Sinning!

I always get annoyed with Christians when I see them writing about Paul’s plague with sin in Romans 7:15-25 as if that’s all the Bible had to say about sin. It seems a lot of Christians, even if they have nothing to say about the Bible, will find something to say about these verses. If this continues, these passages of the Bible will be the most written about next to John 3:16. What I find annoying is that most of them seem to read those verses and stop there. As if everything else God had to say about sin did not matter anymore. Usually after they finish quoting those verses, the whole post or sermon goes on and on about how they do not have a chance with sin since someone like Paul was struggling with it.

My pet peeve is, why on earth would you read about Paul struggle in chapter 7 and stop there? Why it is some bloggers and preachers do not put verses like Romans 6:12-13 side by side with what they read and get the wheels rolling. Be sober minded in your thinking for God’s sake. What about Chapter 8 right next to it which incidentally most of this chapter is about sin’s remedy? What gives?

Could it be you are seeing what you want to see? Have you ever played out in your mind how you are going to convince God that it was not your fault? This idea of feeling helpless about sin right after you read Romans 7:15-25 is nothing more than an attempt to excuse and disguise your enjoyment of sin. When you have this kind of mind, there is no question that your father is the devil and you are doing His bidding. If indeed Christ is in you, and if indeed you are His child, why would you not read further? What in the world makes you think that God would somehow agree with your devilish thinking? Can you see the resemblance between you and Satan’s audacity tempting Christ in the wilderness?   

What kind of distorted God you have concocted in that twisted mind of yours? How do you reconcile the idea of Christ death delivering you FROM sin and this new found license to excuse your behaviour? What makes you think what you have is called Salvation?  If you insist on calling what you have salvation, then my next question would be salvation from what? If you have been Christian upward 10 years and still find solace in Romans 7:15-25 then there is doubt that you ever had a real encounter with the true Salvation of God. If you did have an encounter with Him, then His death on the cross for you has no significance and you have chosen to reject it. Because His Word says: He who began a good work in me will see it to completion, unless He is a liar.

Even me, I went through a period where I did not understand God’s Word. I knew I stumbled on something about me in terms of sin reigning in me after I read Romans 7:15-25. But, I also knew that God did not like sin. In my mind, while I found some breathing room about who I am in the flesh, I still could not take it as a license to excuse my behaviour. In my little pea brain, I knew there was something I was missing and in due time I will understand. Later on, I was floored with everything I found out about me and what I insisted on calling Christianity. Lip service was my game. I found out I was missing out on the other 99.999999 percent of the Bible. I was not really interested in true Christianity according to God because the man-made one did the trick for me. I found out I was not walking in the Spirit. I could not count myself as someone who was IN Christ. I   found out I did not know what it meant not to surrender myself to unrighteousness. I had a one track mind and Romans 12:1-2 escaped me. I found out Christ death had provided a way for me not to keep sinning. In short, I found Christ and I took in the message of the Gospel.  

So, the next time you feel it is important to share Romans 7:15-25 with the flock of Christ in a sermon or in your blog, please do not stop there. Share with them how much Paul moved beyond his struggle with the law to victory over sin IN Him as His Lord! 

Romans 6:12-13

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness

21 February, 2013

Christian Progress - Part 3

Written by John A. James, in 1853

4. In some people there is a growing knowledge of their CORRUPTIONS, and perhaps, an increase of lamentation over them, unattended by any disposition or effort to mortify them—and yet this growing light into the depravity of their nature, and this real vexation, for so it may be called, rather than godly sorrow, leads to no proportionate mortification of sin. There can be little doubt that many do know more and more of the plague of their own hearts, and are made continually more sorrowful by it, who content themselves with venting their unavailing regrets, and make no progress in removing the evils they deplore, and yet conclude that this growing self-knowledge is an evidence of growing piety. 

So it would be if it were followed up by 'amendment of life'. "Godly sorrow works repentance," that is reformation. And that sorrow is not godly sorrow, however pungent it may be, and however miserable it may make the man—which does not produce reformation. Many a holy Christian is made more and more holy with less of misery on account of sin, just because his grief, whether greater or less, leads to amendment; than he who, whatever may be his mortification of feeling, does not carry it on to a mortification of sin.
What would we say of a housewife who made herself continually miserable about the disorder and uncleanness of her house—but who took no pains to rectify the confusion and to cleanse the filth? 

It is to be greatly feared that very many professors of religion satisfy themselves with being made unhappy by the knowledge and experience of their sins. They are loud in their lamentations, ample in their confessions, and seemingly profound in their humiliations. But there the matter ends. They who heard their self-abasing acknowledgments yesterday—see them no better today. They are like some chronic invalids, whose diseases arise, in great measure, from their own self-indulgence , who are ever complaining of their ailments, and ever lamenting, as well as continuing, their harmful habits—but who will never exercise that self-denial which is the only way to restoration, and who yet imagine it is a sign of growing attention to their health, because there is an increasing disposition to lament their sickness and to confess their imprudence.

5. A very common error is to mistake a growth of SECTARIANISM, for an increase of grace. Perhaps there is no delusion more common than this. Ecclesiastical polity and sacramental observances, as matters of divine revelation, are both of some importance; yet it is perfectly clear, from the testimony of Scripture, that they are of less consequence in the divine life, than faith, hope, and love. "The kingdom of God is not food and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." Rom. 14:17. "In Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love." Gal. 5:6. 

If these passages mean anything, they teach us the entire subordination of what is ceremonial—to what is spiritual. To see a person more interested in, and more zealous for, some ritual observance, than the cultivation of charity—attaching more importance, both as matter of experience and controversy, to baptism and the external form of the church, than to the doctrines of justification, regeneration, and sanctification—marks a state of mind very different from that which is inculcated by the precepts, and manifested in the conduct, of the sacred writers. 

The great object of the apostles was to cherish in their converts the spirit of faith and the practice of holiness. Yet we very often see a different line of conduct, both in the teachers and professors of religion in the present day, by many of whom an extraordinary zeal is manifested for either established or unestablished churches, as the case might be; and for a more elaborate or a more simple ceremonial, while little concern is felt or expressed to inculcate "the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Gal. 5:22.

We not infrequently see young professors, when their first concern about religion is over, taking up with the ardor of eager novices these secondary matters, and becoming zealots for supporting, defending and propagating them. This is sometimes especially apparent in those who have lately transferred themselves from one section of the universal church to another. Proselytes, as if to prove the sincerity of their conviction, and reconcile themselves to their new party, usually, in supporting their novel opinions, excel in zeal those by whom these notions have been long held. 

A change of this kind has, in some cases, effected a complete transformation of character, and they who were before all torpor, are now all activity and energy; not, indeed, for the great fundamental truths on which all Christians agree—but for those minor matters on which they differ. Churchmen, that as such were dull and lethargic, have, on becoming dissenters, been all life and energy, not so much for faith, love, and holiness—but for nonconformity. While on the other hand dissenters, who, while such, were supine and inert, on entering the established church, have become the zealous advocates and propagators of perhaps even high-church principles.

Let not people of this description mistake such sectarianism for advancement in the divine life. This holy vitality has reference rather to the principles on which all are agreed, than to those minor matters on which they differ. A mighty furor for religious forms, or a most impassioned zeal for religious establishments, may comport with very little vital godliness; yes, the former may go far to enfeeble the latter. Instead therefore of such a state of mind indicating progress, it manifests a retrogression. 

The man has become more of a dissenter or churchman—but perhaps less of a spiritual, humble, and simple-minded Christian. It is the human element in their religion, not the divine, that has strengthened; the shell that has thickened, not the kernel that has enlarged. There has been motion—but it is a lateral one from the straight line, not a progress in the right direction. It is a going backwards—from primary to secondary matters. A disfiguring growth has swelled upon the tree—but the tree itself has been hindered and not helped in its advance.

20 February, 2013

Christian Progress - Part 2

Written by John A. James, in 1853

Ah, this is just calculating spiritual progress by time, rather than by distance. Be it known to you, that a professed Christian may be long, very long, in standing; yes, and after all, it is but standing without going. A dead stick, however long it may be in the ground, will not grow. Sign-posts stand for ages, and measure distances for travelers—but never advance an inch. Do not conclude, then, that because your conversion is supposed to have taken place long since, that, therefore, your sanctification must be far advanced. It is a pitiable sound, and argues an imbecile mind, as well as a diminutive body, to hear a poor dwarfed cripple say, "I must be growing for I am ten years old." Everybody else sees that the poor child's stature never increases an inch!

Let the Christian not think of the years he has professed—but the actual attainments he has made. The length of his profession ought to be attended by an advance in all that constitutes vital godliness, proportionate to the advantages he has enjoyed, and the time he has had them; but alas, alas, how rarely is this the case? In the orchard or vineyard, young trees may be growing when they bear no fruit, and a stranger may be ready to say they make no progress—but the skilled gardener says, "Give them time and they will grow fruit." And when they do bear fruit, it is in proportion to their age. In the garden of the Lord young plants ought to bear some fruit immediately, and the fruits of righteousness should be also in proportion to their age. But is it so? How many whose eye shall read these pages will blush, if they have any holy shame, to compare the date of their planting in the courts of the Lord, and the fruit they produce!

3. There may be an increase of theoretic KNOWLEDGE, and of ability to talk with fluency upon the subjects of religion, and to defend the truth against gainsayers—without any corresponding advance in spiritual feeling and holy conduct. There is a great deal of very interesting matter in the Bible, apart from its spiritual and vital power as God's instrument of sanctification. Its history, its poetry, its sublimity, its chronology, its eloquence, its prophecies, its pathos—all may become subjects of study, and even of delightful study—without faith in its doctrines, or obedience to its precepts. Thousands and thousands of volumes have been written on religion by men whose hearts were never under its power. Some of the noblest productions of theology have issued from the pens of those to whom, it is to be feared, it was all mere theory. Like brilliant lamps, they lighted others on their way to heaven—but never moved themselves! Or to raise still higher the metaphor, they were like lighthouses, which directed ships on their course—but were stationary themselves!

In more private life, and less important attainments, how many have made themselves acquainted with the theory of divine truth, as taught in books, sermons, articles, creeds and catechisms, so as to be able to explain the orthodox system of doctrine, and to argue for it—whose hearts have never been sanctified by the truth! And even where it may be hoped the great change has been wrought, and a start made for salvation and eternal life, there may be a growth in 'knowledge' without a proportionate growth in 'grace'. Many young people are now happily engaged in Sunday-school teaching, the distribution of religious tracts, and various other operations of religious zeal—which give them of necessity a growing acquaintance with the system of religious truth. They can talk with more fluency and correctness on divine things. History, doctrine, and precept, are all more familiar to them, and at the same time their thoughts are more drawn to the subject of 'religion generally' as the matter of their teaching. Hence, there may seem to be to themselves, a perceptible progress. And so there is—in theory. 

But if at the same time there is no advance in holiness, Christian charity, conscientiousness, self-denial, and humility—these signs of advance may be, and are—all deceptive. Their knowledge has been collected, not as the materials of personal sanctity—but of activity. Such acquisitions may be only the "knowledge which puffs up," but not "the love that edifies."

There are people whose acquaintance with Scripture is surprising, and yet who, though they could quote most aptly from nearly all parts of the Bible, give too convincing proof that their knowledge is of the letter only, and not of the spirit. I knew a person who was so intimately acquainted with the Scriptures, that if you gave him any chapter or verse in most of the books of either the Old or New Testaments, he would immediately repeat the words—and yet he was altogether an unconverted man! And I was acquainted with another who was so fond of the study of prophecy that he became more conversant with the predictions of the books of Daniel and of the Apocalypse than anyone I ever knew—yet he was at the same time, entirely a man of the world.

Yet there are many who regard this increasing acquaintance with the text of the Bible, as an evidence of growth in grace. While, therefore, we would urge every young convert to make a longer and larger acquaintance with the Word of God, assuring them that there can be no growth in grace without some advance in knowledge, and that the more knowledge of it they have the more they are prepared to be useful, happy, and holy—provided they couple with it other things. Yet that at the same time there may be large increase of Biblical knowledge, without any growth in grace. Ask yourselves then the solemn question, and ask it solemnly too—whether in proportion as you store your minds with biblical texts and biblical ideas, you all the while are seeking to have your heart filled with biblical feelings, and your life with biblical actions? Is your advancing light attended with increasing warmth?

As you grow in acquaintance with the character of God—do you reverence him more? As your ideas brighten on the person of Christ—do you love him more? As you become more acquainted with the perfection and spirituality of God's Word—do you delight in it more and more after the inward man? As you see more clearly the evil of sin—do you hate it with a more intense hatred? As your Biblical knowledge widens—do you become more profoundly humble, more tenderly conscientious, more gentle, more spiritual? Unless this be the case you are in a fatal mistake by supposing you are making progress in the divine life, merely because you are advancing in biblical knowledge.

19 February, 2013

Christian Progress - Part 1

Written by John A. James, in 1853

I was not looking but I found this piece from John A. James which was written in 1853. I like it because I have learned that a lot of us professed Christians love saying those words “ I am a work in progress” yet we not only have no idea what it means to say those words from a godly point of view, but we have not even found  the right path yet. Now, how can you be a work in progress when you are not going anywhere? We have to remember that even the Israelites while God told Jeremiah in 7:16 "So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you” you see, they thought they were doing great in their eyes. So they refused to amend their ways.

The Israelites's problems have become ours today. We refuse to worship according to God’s standards. He wants all of our hearts, He does not care for our rituals while we pursuit worldly idols. Sadly, we feel awesome about ourselves once we put a tag to everything that we do. We have all those saying: “I give all the glory to God” “I am doing it for Christ” as long as we tag His name in our stinky pursuits we feel He should be happy, and we sound cool and religious. We are under the impression we can fool Him. That is because we have brought the bar way too low. We see Him as one of us.

 The Israelites could not understand what Jeremiah was babbling about even after years of pleading. They mistaken God’s longsuffering for approval.

Today, in my own family, I have people who are so far removed from Him, yet they do not have a clue since they do not have great sins, and they are attending Church and read their Bible. I pray for them with urgency because I know the only way out is through a miracle from God.

With that in mind, I leave you in the company of John A James who was a fervent servant of God!

MISTAKES Concerning Christian Progress

Suppose a man were on a journey which was of considerable importance to all his temporal interests, on which it was every way desirable he should be going forward with all convenient speed. Imagine also that through some ignorance of the country, or through his lack of acquaintance with his rate of speed, he should conclude that he was advancing towards his destined point, while at the same time, though in constant activity, he was making no progress—but only wandering about in bye-lanes and crossroads, and still remaining near the spot from whence he started. In such a case, he might lose the end and purpose of his journey.

Now, there is something like this in the course of some people in regard to religion. They are in motion—but not in progress! The mistakes on this subject are very numerous, and require great pains in those who have to teach, to point them out; and also attention on the part of all who have any solicitude about their spiritual welfare, in order to be acquainted with them. The temptations of the father of lies, aided by the deceitfulness of the human heart, originate many very injurious errors concerning our spiritual condition, and lull us into a state of complacency, where we ought to be deeply solicitous and somewhat alarmed.
A. I will first enumerate and correct some mistakes of those who think they are making progress in godliness, but in reality are standing still, or declining.

1. It is not an infrequent case for people to conclude they are advancing, because they are not, in their own view of their case, actually receding. They do not see any outward and visible signs of backsliding. They have fallen into no grievous sin, and have brought no blot upon their character, nor discredit upon their profession. They are not conscious of any known departure from the way of rectitude, and have not fallen from their steadfastness. Their usual round of duties is performed, and they have not subjected themselves, by any part of their conduct—to rebuke or censure. All this may be so, and yet there may be no progress. Is it enough to stand still on our path? Would it satisfy the man on the journey just alluded to, if he could merely say, "I am not going backwards?" Would this prove he was advancing? It may be said, and we have already said it, that in one sense not to advance is to recede. But were it not so, surely to stand still is not to go forward. Have you more knowledge, more holiness, more love, more spirituality, than you had? Is your growth at all perceptible, though it be in ever so small a degree?

Do not compare yourselves with some who are rapidly going back, and imagine that in relation to them you are going forward, while you are standing still. Have you ever, when traveling in a steam carriage, while your own railway train was stopping at the station, and another was passing slowly in a contrary direction, imagined that it was you that were in progress? So is it in this case. You may be quite at rest, while, compared with others going back, you seem to be in motion forwards.

2. Some estimate progress by the TIME they have been in motion. Suppose a person unacquainted with the rate of speed of a ship at sea, and not understanding the influence of contrary winds, and the process of getting slowly on by tacking, were to calculate thus, "We have been so many hours or days at sea, and we must therefore be so far on our voyage." Suppose the man on the above journey to have fallen asleep, or loitered away his time—and then, taking out his watch, were to calculate that because he has left home so many hours, he must be getting on very well. Is there nothing like this in some professing Christians? It is so many months or years since they took up their religious profession. They have been all this while regular attendants at public worship, and communicants at the Lord's Supper. They have heard already innumerable sermons, and read many good books. They have outlived the novelties of a religious life, and the ways of God are now familiar to them. How can it be doubted, they say, that they who have been so long on the road, are advancing?

18 February, 2013

When Am I to Obtain the Salvation of My Soul?

James Smith
What a mercy it is for a sinner to be spared until now—when God might have justly cut him down, and consigned him to eternal torments. But why has God spared me? Surely he has some kind and gracious design in it. Is it not to prove that he has no pleasure in the death of a sinner? Does it not show that he is gracious, merciful, and longsuffering? Surely he is not willing that any should perish—or he would have cut me down, and sent me to hell for my sins! But here I am, with a new portion of time put into my hands; and now let me seriously consider one question: "When am I to obtain the salvation of my soul?" What question can be more solemn or reasonable than this?

Salvation is a blessing—a great blessing, the greatest blessing God can give—or man receives. It is the opposite of man's desert—for every man, as a sinner, deserves damnation! Damnation! What is that? It is banishment from God. It is separation from all holy and happy beings. It is to be deprived of hope, and to be delivered over unto black eternal despair. It is to be tormented by one's own conscience, by Satan and his demons, and by the dreadful frown of God forever. Damnation is the essence of misery, the perfection of woe, the most dreadful kind of suffering! It will have its seat in the soul—but will fill every part of the body with anguish, agony, and torment!

Salvation is the enjoyment of the presence, smile and favor of God. It is union to, and fellowship with, all the holy, happy, and noble beings in creation. It is the end of faith, the object of hope, and the eternal satisfaction of love. It is the essence of pleasure, the perfection of happiness, and the fullness of satisfaction. Salvation raises us from the gates of hell—to the throne of heaven; delivers us from the dreadful, and puts us in possession of the desirable: elevates us to the highest pitch of holiness, happiness, and honor.

And can I be saved? Yes, there is no doubt of it.
Who will save me? The Lord Jesus Christ.
How will be save me? Freely, or gratuitously.
How can I obtain salvation? By seeking it at his throne, by submitting to his method, by receiving his glorious work. Jesus says to you, "Seek—and you shall find," "Seek me—and you shall live."
You are a sinner, do you admit that? Do you heartily believe it, and believe it because God tells you so in his holy word? Do you feel it? Do you desire to be delivered from the power, love, guilt and consequences of sin? Are you willing to be saved in God's way? If so—you can be saved, you may be saved.

Go to Jesus! He is on the throne of grace; go just as you are; go, and using your own words, ask him in mercy to save your soul—to save you freely, fully, immediately—to save you for his own glory. Tell him that you are willing to be saved in his own way; that you are prepared to submit to his righteousness. Exercise confidence in his word. Put your trust . . .
in his blood, which cleanses from all sin; 
in his righteousness, which justifies from all things; 
in his intercession, which always prevails with God; 
and you are saved.

You are saved the moment you believe. That is, the moment you withdraw your dependence from your own works, renounce yourself entirely—and venture simply, alone, and altogether on the word, work, and precious blood of the Lord Jesus. This is the way in which God saves sinners. In this way any sinner may be saved. In this way you may be saved, and saved this moment. Jesus Christ provides all—and you receive it. He presents all in his gospel—and you accept it. He does the work—you get the benefit, and he receives the praise!

If, therefore, you ask the question, "When am I to obtain the salvation of my soul?" The answer is, Whenever you are heartily willing to do so. Whenever you are stripped of self, prepared to renounce your own righteousness, and made heartily willing to receive salvation as a free gift—it may be said to you, "This day has salvation come to your house, to your heart." Blessed day! But when shall it be? When will it be? Did you enter upon this day as a lost and ruined sinner—or as a sinner saved by grace? If you have entered upon it as a lost soul, will you continue in such a situation? What! with a Savior close at hand? With an invitation to come and be saved, sounding in your ears? Your life is waning, death is approaching, the grave is opening—and eternity, with all its dreadful solemnities, ready to burst upon you!

Your soul may be saved. You may obtain the salvation of your soul now. But if you trifle, if you wait for a more convenient time, if you will not give up the pleasures and practice of sin—you perish! You perish forever! You perish by your own hand! You die a suicide, and will go to hell eternally to reflect on your madness and folly!

How long have you lived in sin? Just mark down the number of years. Complete this sentence, "I have lived in sin ___ years; all that time I have been the enemy of God, and the enemy of my own soul; but I do now deliberately determine, from this hour, to seek the salvation of my soul, and to seek it until I obtain it, and can say, I am saved in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation."

Or if you will not, just be honest for once, and before the omniscient eye of God complete this sentence, "I have lived in sin ___ years, and I do deliberately determine to go on in sin, to neglect the salvation of my soul, and dare the eternal God, whose mercy I refuse—to do his worst!"
But, stop! before you sign your name to this—reflect, and before salvation is forever hidden from your eyes, let me beseech you to seek the Lord, and obtain the salvation of your soul. But, remember this, and it is a solemn thought, whatever your hand may do, your heart at this moment agrees to, and signs one of these sentences! Which is it? Which? Oh, which?

17 February, 2013

The Devotion of Hearing God

When it comes to hearing God, unfortunately there is no formula that anyone can use to get us to hear His voice in our hearts. Oswald Chambers said” The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing….. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions…… If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God.

Hearing His voice is completely supernatural. There is nothing man-made about it. The work has to be done by the Holy Spirit. If you read carefully what Oswald had written above, you find words like “close identification with Christ; united with Him; the devotion of hearing” these things comes solely from living a submitted life. I can see some of you rolling your eyes because you believe that the moment you become Christian whether you like it or not, you are united with Him. But, the truth is, God does not force us to remain united with Him. It is a lifestyle that we choose. It is an attitude of the heart and it is a disposition. If indeed you are living united with Him, then you would be deep in your day to day communication with Him and you are living a oneness that everyone who knows you long for. Then, this post is not for you.

Even if we do not have that close identification with Him, and living life day in day out in the spirit, you can still hear His voice in your heart once in a while. Like Oswald said in the February 13 devotion, “I can only hear God’s voice at certain times” that is true. When you hear God’s voice once in a while, you can be sure you are one of those who surrender on a “case by case basis” like Charles Stanley said in Intouch Magazine of September 2008. When we surrender on a case by case basis, we are much like king Asa in 2nd Chronicles. We see king Asa not only trusting in God, he also led his army to trust in Him as well. But we see him also not trusting God and decided to depend on himself and solicited the help of Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. He decided to trust his own judgement and depended on himself alone. As such, what he was afraid of had become his whole life and God confirmed it to him in the last part of 2 Chronicles 16:9 when He said: In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”  When we surrender on a case by case basis we do not live out nor do we have a God centered life. Those words Oswald Chambers have mentioned in his devotion, demand that we live a God centered life.

Please understand I am not trying to offend anyone.  And if you have to be upset, so be it, because it is the nature of the true Gospel. However, do not leave it alone. The very reason you are upset should be taken to God right away. Ask Him to help you decipher why you are offended by those words and what you can do about it. Be honest with Him, be open and be willing to hear from Him what is truly wrong. The nature of the Gospel demands a full surrender.  The reality of a life not centered on God, always leads to some kind of partial obedience, but a partial obedience is disobedience in God’s eyes. I myself, have very close family members that are dear to me, but they are unable to hear God all the time simply because they go through a period of time where they can surrender to God’s will and most of the time they surrender to their spouse’s will or the immediate need around them.

I know personally from experience that even when you live a complete surrendered life, if you are not totally immersed in Him, and you allow yourself to be distracted by the simplest thing, you find that the voice is faint and the communication is almost slanted. When I am there, I know that it has nothing to do with God, but my own heart. I also find that not being totally immersed in Him, you cannot have those awesome communication times where you can talk just like two friends. But, it is not an easy thing to look at ourselves and admit who we truly are and that we are failing Him.

Unconfessed Sins
Hearing God also involved living this life in a state where we do not keep unconfessed sins in our heart. When we have unconfessed sins, there is a disruption in the divine life within. When we are separated from His divine life, (oneness or abiding) it is not because His divine life is no longer in us, but it simply means we step away from Him and back to our old self.  I talked about this in my book Apprehended & Apprehending, the new nature He put in us, is where we live with Him as Christian and any time we do not live in the Spirit, well we are not living as Christians. We forfeit the new nature for the Adamic life. When you know what it means to live in His divine life, you understand why the tiniest sin, even the size of a dust stops you from re-entering the divine nature. It is too pure. We re-enter when we confess our sins with repentant heart, He washed us in the blood of the lamb once again and we are back in.

Lack of Obedience
Another requirement of hearing God is living a life of obedience. When we live life partially obeying God, we are like Pharoah. We let go when we feel we do not have a choice but as soon as we are free, we get back to being in control. What does it mean to live a life of obedience? This does not mean those who live the complete surrendered life do not disobey sometimes. But, like everything else in the Christian walk it is a disposition of the heart, it is an attitude and it is a way of life. If we know we have chosen to live a partial obedient life, (yes it is a choice we make whether knowingly or through a lack of choosing Him) then we are condemned to spend this life with some sort of partial hearing and partial oneness. We condemned ourselves to live like a caterpillar that had the transformation process started but the transformation process never finished as such the caterpillar not only never made it into a butterfly but also lives in a cocoon stage.

The bottom line is that to hear God we have to be tuned in the only radio station that broadcast His voice and too much spiritual garbage will act as static on the line.