Living in the Stronghold of Deception (Part 4 of 8)
By David Wickey
November 1, 2017
Part four of an eight-part series called Living in the Stronghold of Deception.
Hearing the Voice of the Lord in Suffering
We do not like the word “suffering.” There are some who do not believe that a Christian should suffer in any form. They say: if we suffer, we do not have enough faith — that it is not God’s fault, it’s our fault. This is not true teaching. Let’s see what the Bible says about this.
Let’s start with Romans 8:16-18:
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
When we suffer with Jesus, our sin nature, or our carnal ways, are being put to death, that we may be raised with Him, that His glory will be revealed in us. This is death and resurrection. This can only come by the cross of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished for us. This is true faith. It is in this that we receive the mind of Christ. Yes, we must submit to this process. It is our choice. It is always free will. It must be a personal choice.
Through suffering we hear from God, if we are Christians. The more we allow our flesh or sin nature to be ripped from us, the more we will hear from God by the Holy Spirit and come into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Our sin nature wants this liberty without the flesh being put to death. This is the very reason for suffering with Christ. This is the work of the cross. Without this process there can be no resurrection and no holy liberty. This is why the sons of Aaron died when they offered strange fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 3:4). We can ask ourselves, “Are we offering strange fire today?” Yes, we are, if we are not allowing this holy work of sanctification to be done in us, through the cross by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is God’s order. God is holy. This is true suffering, or holy suffering. The Bible says few will find this life or this liberty.
Somebody might say we don’t have to suffer because Jesus suffered for us. This is true, but is not the whole counsel of God. If we don’t suffer with Him, we will stay in our sin nature or carnality. We will never come into Christ and learn of Him. We will never come into sonship or become a disciple of Jesus Christ. We will stay blind, and we will never hear from God.
Some churches teach that if we keep certain rules, we are suffering. They are trying to create their own cross so that, someday, they can be righteous enough to go to heaven. The Pharisees liked rules, too. The problem is not the rules. Rules can be good and helpful. The problem is when I trust in those rules to make me righteous before God. The Pharisees thought God was pleased with them simply because they kept their own rules and were religious on the outside. This is offering up strange fire before the Lord. This is our sin nature trying to come into the liberty of the children of God. God wants us to be clean on the inside—to be born again and have a new heart and a new nature that only He can give. As Jesus taught, we can have a clean outside and a filthy inside, but if God changes us on the inside, our outside will please Him, too.
Trusting in religion will keep me from growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I must trust in Him and submit to Him. He came to set me free from the law. Jesus is the head of the church. What is wrong with just preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified? The power of the Holy Spirit brings the life of Christ into the people that will cause them to go into true death, be raised with Christ, be called the children of God. Yes, I will have law and good works, but it will be because of Christ within me. This is the law of the Spirit, which leads me.
Keeping religious rules makes my sin nature feel good. It is called eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. People might look at me and think that I am holy because I appear religious, go to church, give money to the needy and try to do good things. This alone, though, is self-righteousness. This brings no life of Christ in me.
First Timothy 4:1: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. These spirits always produce self-righteousness. This is a terrible, terrible sin. This is the sin of all sins. Without suffering with Christ, which is the work of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit, I will stay in this sin. It is called pride.
By trusting in my own rules, I are not fully trusting in Jesus. Jesus came to die for me because I could not keep the law. How, then do I think I’ll go to heaven by keeping manmade rules? What can happen so easily is, I begin to question if I really need the Holy Spirit’s guidance. This makes me feel good, just as Eve felt when she ate of the wrong fruit and gave some to her husband.
How many churches in the world are in this very condition today? We are controlled by our flesh and not by the Holy Spirit. We are not in the faith. God have mercy on us. We are not hearing from God, because there is no cross in our life. Did not the Israelites start making their own gods because they did not know what became of Moses, who had the word of God? I do the same thing when I reject the cross. Jesus is not part of the way to heaven; He is the way to heaven. He is the only way. Without the operation of the cross, I don’t hear from God. Instead I go into self-righteousness and produce many false gods. This is called idolatry.
John 16:13-14: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Who are the you? Back then, they were His disciples. Today, it is us, the church, the children of God.
The Holy Spirit still guides, teaches, and speaks to the church today. But if I trust in my own guidelines, how will I hear when the Holy Spirit speaks? If I am not be able to hear the Teacher, who is the Holy Spirit; true faith cannot come, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
First Peter 4:1-2: Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
My flesh or sin nature does not choose the will of God, but my heart is crying out to God. God hears the cry of my heart. Ah, but the flesh, the law of sin and death, is in the way. I will never come into the will of God or the ways of God on my own. The flesh must be dealt with by the operation of the cross of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I arm myself with the mind of the Holy Spirit. God’s workmanship begins, and my flesh, that does not choose God, is put to death. This is called suffering or ceasing from sin. God knows how to do this. Praise Him!
Galatians 5:16-18: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
It is my choice: to be led by the Holy Spirit or to be led by religion and works. Christ has suffered for me in the flesh and has given to me this great salvation. I also must arm myself to suffer in the flesh and walk in the victory and in the power of what Christ has provided for me.
There are those who are suffering, but never come into the victory, refusing to be trained according to God’s ordained order. This order is the working of the cross by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they never receive the mind of Christ or understand what the will of God is. Many times we receive wrong teaching at this stage of our Christian walk. May God give us understanding and wisdom. The laborers are few. Matthew 7:7: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
— D. Wickey
To read other parts of this eight-part series, please click on the links below:
Part 1: Fighting the Good Fight
Part 2: God’s Wisdom
Part 3: Circumcision of the Heart
Part 4: Hearing the Voice of the Lord in Suffering
Part 5: True Judgment
Part 6: Pride and Humility
Part 7: The Unlimited Power of God
Part 8: True Healing of the Churchcomments powered by Disqus« Back to Articles