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I think many of you might know the temptation to give in to people who do not know God, people by whom you want to be appreciated, though, even despite their sometimes profane remarks. We may not always be able to really like what they say, but we do not want to offend other people, either, or do we? Granted, there is a species of human beings who love to offend others continually; it is like a sport to them. But I do not speak of such personalities. Instead, I refer to those believers who try to live a Christian life and know about the difficulties to obey God when our old nature rather wants to cave in to ‘other spirits’, esp. when such human beings habitually impose their (strong self-) will on others. Our constant struggle to decide between flesh and spirit, as you know, was perfectly described by Paul here.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:16-23 ESV)

Recently I wrote in a comment about the difference between being saved by Christ as we have called on his name for salvation and, on the other hand, inheriting the kingdom of God as Christ’s siblings, as sons of God, so to speak. The difference is found in Romans chapter 8, verse 14, which tells us, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”  Without listening to or at least trying to listen to God’s leading in our life, we are in big danger of being led astray by these aforementioned other spirits.

Dear reader, it is so easy for us to compromise, to try to never offend people and to stay friends with worldly people or with worldly ‘Christians’. Thus we will get influenced unobtrusively and eventually even controlled by other spirits that are inimical to God. I make such saddening observations at times when I check out other Christian blogs. Some bloggers once opened up (unknowingly) toward other people with whom they felt compassion. Maybe, those other people had been excluded by other Christians and suffered from those negative experiences. Well, of course, it is not a wrong thing to have compassion as it would be strange if we as Christians who share God’s love would remain cold-hearted. But we need to discern between a human kind of love and God’s love which is much different from all that our soul could ever offer to man. Our human heart can comfort other people, this is true, but lead them the wrong way nonetheless. Just think about Peter who wanted to keep Jesus from dying on the cross. It seems so logical at times to listen to what Satan and our flesh have to say. I guess everyone who loves Jesus would have said a similar thing to our Lord back then as death does not make much sense to our old nature, does it? Yet, it is exactly this old nature that must be given into Jesus’ death on the cross! Indeed, if our old man survives, we will never experience Christ’s resurrection power, either. The carnal man has no inclination to ever lead a holy life by following Jesus carrying his cross daily. But the new man, he can, as he gets the power from the Holy Spirit. Now I want to offer you T. Austin Sparks’ insightful elaboration on how to live a holy life that affects this world and other people as well.

The Lord calls for distinctiveness of life and testimony, real distinctiveness of life and testimony. Is our life, dear friends, is your life and my life in this world in our connections and associations and so on, quite distinct, no mistaking to what realm we belong, to Whom we belong? No mistaking it? Or are we mixed in, compromising, keeping on good terms with this world and its people under the devil’s hand? If so, we stand to lose terribly. We do. What sort of a testimony have you got where you work in your business and its associations? What sort of a testimony have we got in the church? Are we really registering and making our mark in the church, do we count in the church or are we passengers? Is there something quite distinctive about our lives that says that man, that woman, that young man, that young woman is utter for God, there’s no doubt about it, you see it all the time, they are utter for God; they are not playing at things, there’s no compromise with them. Now this sounds hard, but it’s necessary.

Do you see what’s involved? Dear friends, the secret of power is holiness! It is. The secret of power is holiness. If our lives are powerless it may be due to this lack somewhere, somehow, of this utterness for God, this separation unto God, of some kind of compromise somehow, somewhere, with the prince of this world who’s robbing us of our spiritual power and vitality on his own ground. The secret of power is holiness; whatever you forget, remember that!

The secret of a testimony that counts is a holy life. It is not our teaching, our truth, our practice, religious ordinances and so on, our forms; it is nothing of that. In the first place our real testimony is the testimony of a holy life. It counts far more than all our words, it really does. And remember, this being true, this is the secret of divine support. The Lord will commit Himself to His own ground: holiness. The Lord will stand by those who stand for Him in His nature. The Lord will look after such. And whatever we may have in this life, in this world, we may have a lot but mark you, if we haven’t got the Lord with us at last, it’s no gain. It’s no gain, it’s a terrible loss. Israel had the ordinances and the oracles and the tradition and all that; a mighty lot that they had, but at last they lost the kingdom. They lost the kingdom; it was no gain was it?

Well now, what are we concerned about? What are you concerned about, what am I concerned about? I can focus it all down to this one thing: I’m concerned about the Lord being with us and the Lord committing Himself to us and I’m concerned about a testimony in power, a life that counts for God, leaving a mark for God, being remembered for what was of God. This is the only justification of our having come this way at all. And as I see it, all that depends upon this utter separation unto God, gathered into this word: holiness. “Ye are a holy nation”. May we answer to the description and to us will be the preciousness. (1)

(1) https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/001423.html

“In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statment included.”

All images by Susanne Schuberth 2017-2018