Following Jesus directly as our only guide and trying to follow Him through the guidance of human beings, which is commonly known as doing church, is not only not the same, it is indeed the exact opposite. From hence it is clear that someone who receives a command instantly through the Holy Spirit – whenever God sees fit – and someone who needs to wait on God telling them something until men tell them about it at an appointed time, this cannot be the same kind of Christianity, right? 🙄
I dare to say that these two kinds of Christians are on the one hand fleshly, carnal Christians who have not yet been born again (even though they sometimes believe they have as they do not know the difference) and on the other hand spiritual Christians who have been born again. The apostle John wrote about this distinction in his gospel this way. [Jesus said to Nicodemus,]
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:6-8 ESV)
The apostle Paul explained this difference further here. We read,
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Rom 8:5-9 ESV)
T. Austin Sparks offered some deeper insights on what I just wrote as an introduction, so to say. Here is an excerpt from a longer article you could delve into if you followed the link below. TAS said,
“We have pointed out that with the sign of the feeding of the five thousand Jesus entered upon a new phase of His ministry, that is, upon the phase of conflict. There arose a great deal of conflict out of that work, and from that time He was in an atmosphere of controversy.
“When we come to this incident we see how the conflict is intensifying and the division is widening, and the end of this incident is complete division. The emphatic statement concerning this man is: “And they cast him out”, and that made the division complete.
“The two sides were becoming increasingly distinct and definite. On the one side there was religion, and over against that was spiritual sight. On the one side there was tradition, and on the other side there was revelation. On the one side there was the historic system, and on the other side was spirituality. On the one side there were disciples of “Moses” – you notice what they said in verse 28: “Thou art his disciples; but we are disciples of Moses” – and on the other side there were the disciples of Christ. And these two sides were getting further and further apart – the distinction between these things was becoming more manifest. On the one side religion, tradition, historic system, “Moses”: on the other spiritual sight, revelation, a spiritual state and disciples of Christ.”
“Now we must come back to where we started. Have you recognized one thing that is so important? We have spoken of the great division, of how things were dividing into two classes, and that division was because a man had received spiritual illumination. That is the factor which always causes the trouble. Dear friends, we can divide professing Christians into two classes. The one class may believe all the Scriptures as being inspired by God; they may believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God; they may believe in the deity of Christ and all the fundamentals of the Christian religion; and they may still be people without spiritual revelation – they may still be unspiritual people. Is that true? Yes, the division there was just as distinct as between believers and unbelievers. And if the Lord really does open someone’s eyes and give them spiritual revelation, they are in for trouble – and their trouble will come from the religious world.
“Well, here were these orthodox Jews. They believed in the Bible and in all that the Bible taught so far as the words were concerned. But when one man in their midst received spiritual sight they cast him out. Spiritual revelation always provokes hostility – tradition never does. Orthodox religion never does cause trouble, but if you are a man or a woman living in the power of resurrection life, with your eyes wide open, you will meet trouble, and, as I have said, that trouble will come from the religious people.
“What are you going to do about it? Well, we have already pointed out that many of the Lord’s disciples said: “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” and “Many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:60,66)… ‘This way of spiritual illumination is too hard. We are not prepared to pay the price for it. We are not going that way.’
And so the Lord sifts out on this one thing, and the true disciples are those who have really had their eyes opened. The Lord make us true disciples!” (1)
My intention with writing this article is not about causing division between Christians. Quite the contrary! In fact, this post should simply serve as a distinction for those who are interested in getting to know the whole truth. What worth is it to know God merely theoretically in doctrine and man-made religion if God Himself has offered us a way exceedingly beyond what man might ever be able to imagine? 🙄 The apostle Paul, again, would hint to this secret he knew about as he said,
“But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9 ESV)
My heart goes out to those who want to know God better but have not yet received what they have prayed about, maybe again and again. As hard as it is at times, I think we need to just keep knocking at His door, asking God to fill us with His Spirit whenever our heart longs for more. May it be so with us! If then we have received something that is way more than we might have expected, we must be cautious to not boast about it. Sometimes it is better to keep this secret between God and us alone. The following caveat has been issued by God Himself.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jer 9:23-24 ESV)
Boasting about knowing the Lord, ❤ not about anything less than Him. That’s it! 🙂