It is apparent through observation that often times the members of the body of Christ spiritualize important truths which should be simply accepted as fact. After being accepted as facts these truths should be applied to our lives accordingly. Of course each of these steps depends completely upon the Holy Spirit as He exhibits His power working in us. The implied thought here is by spiritualizing important truths we assign them a vague meaning, a sort of “God talk” which has no relativity in everyday application. This type of spiritualizing can have the effect of non-application to what we consider real life or everyday living. In doing this we rob ourselves of the availability of God’s power working mightily through us. If this happens we are left with nothing more than the effort and strength of the flesh to bring about those things that we think to be righteous living.
How to be productive
It is by the Holy Spirit that Paul petitions God on behalf of the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:16-19) that He would grant them (and us), according to the riches of His glory, that we be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. But the petition does not stop there, but continues on that we being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and the length, and the depth, and the height; and that we might know the love of Christ which exceeds all knowledge.
The request that we might be filled with all the fullness of God finishes his prayer. With all that is asked in this prayer it does not touch on the spirit of wisdom and revelation which is needed in order to grow from the initial knowledge of Christ which Paul asked for in the other prayer in Ephesians 1:17. This petition concerning wisdom and revelation is a different component of Christ’s spiritual existence (see Isaiah 1: 1-3 and Revelation 4:5).
These things which are available to us all pertain to the new creature that we become when we are born again of God. These spiritual components that we are to seek after have nothing to do with repairing the old man who is to be reckoned dead. According to Romans 8:10, the body is dead from the instant we believe the gospel and our souls are thereby saved. Looking at this Scripture, we see the power of God quickening our mortal body by His Spirit that takes up residence immediately without any of us ever missing a heartbeat as explained in Romans 8:11.
It is from this position in Christ that we can be filled with understanding the depth and wonder of God as He permits. We are raised as new creatures, alive to God, and He is made real to us through eyes of faith. We have verified His existence through contact as stated in Acts 17:27 where the Greek word translated “feel” means to verify through or by contact. The exactness of Scripture continues to amaze me.
What then does this new race of man look like, what are his actions, how does he speak and most of all what is the primary goal of all that he exhibits with the energies that he has in life? It is safe to say that would be an easy question to answer if we could readily identify every believer by how they appear through attending actions and speech as they go about their daily lives. Though Scripture is clear that a good tree brings forth good fruit, and the evil tree brings forth corrupt fruit, we as believers, with limited thinking and limited understanding, do not make good judges of fruit quality. The fruit of the flesh can and often does mimic the fruit of the Spirit of God. The puzzling aspect for us is that we cannot see the motive behind the action. There are times when we might think we see what the motive is, but motive is not really visible. We are unable to see spirit, as we are unable to see motive.
As any avid student of the Scripture knows, we as believers make a choice moment by moment, we decide to walk after the flesh or to walk in the Spirit of God. The inconsistent walk by the believer is confusing to the observer, and it can be a source of bewilderment to the person who is being inconsistent as well. At any given time, any one of us can walk in a way that appears ungodly to anyone observing our outward actions. This complicates the identification of who is in the faith and who is not; God knows. While we cannot tell about others, the exhortation to examine ourselves remains.
The Non-Productive Believer
There is an individual in the Scripture whom I call the 2 Peter 1:9 man. He is cited as a type, an example of what can happen to a believer. His walk is one clearly without consistency to revealed truths that require obedience. It is important to note that from God’s side or viewpoint this man is saved, yet examination of the text reveals this man no longer realizes he was purged or cleansed from his old sin. Now to see what precipitated the condition of this man in verse 9, we look to see what he did, or did not do concerning the exhortations in the prior verses. We look back to verses 3-8 for a clear list of the things that are available to us in order that we might live a godly life. The crux of this problem for this man is clear in verse 5. Here it is revealed that this individual was not diligent to add to his salvation the things which will provide a rich, abundant, and productive life in Christ. The condition that this man finds himself in points directly back to Ephesians 1:17 concerning Paul’s prayer for saints. This man has chosen not to partake of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation after receiving the basic knowledge of salvation.
Observe this 2 Peter 1:9 man who is barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. How devastating this barrenness and unfruitfulness is, wherein it is said of this man that he is blind, and cannot see afar off, and he has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Only salvation in Christ Jesus cleanses or purges sin.
Sadly, this man is no longer sure of his calling or his election. Though the aforementioned man has forgotten that he was purged from his sin, his forgetting does not shorten the hand of the Lord. It does not change the established fact that he is of the new race of man. His standing in Christ as a redeemed man has not changed so far as God is concerned. Though from this person’s state of mind and unimaginable condition, he no longer knows that he is saved. An individual who has moved into this realm of thinking no longer knows in the context of I John 5:13 that he has eternal life.
The collateral damage of this condition results in the loss of confidence in Christ, that if we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us, and we know that if He hears us, we also know that we have the petitions that we have desired of Him. Though this 2 Peter 1:9 man has eternal life, he has, through his disobedience, imprisoned himself in unbelief as one lost in a lost world. Though this man is still in Christ’s eternal hand, safe from the punishment of an eternal hell, he knows no enjoyment of the abundant life, but finds himself rather tormented by the same temptations, guilt, and doubt of his future as before he was saved. This is the resulting condition of trusting the flesh as a sufficient guide in this life and it is the reason Paul said to the Galatian believers, “are you so foolish that you now think your spiritual life can be perfected by the flesh?”
In Part 3 of this series, we’ll consider how easy it is to become a casualty as described in the 2 Peter 1:9 man.