Monday, September 16, 2019

The Slow Fade From Faith

“It's a slow fade. When you give yourself away; it’s a slow fade. When black and white have turned to gray; Thoughts invade, choice is made, a price will be paid.  When you give yourself away.  People never crumble in a day.  It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade” (Casting Crowns, Slow Fade, 2007).  What prophetic words for the Church today.  Allow me to explain.

I have observed and experienced through professional and personal interactions a profound and strangling spiritual weed that has crept its way into the lives of many Christians. That weed is the weed of life lived for self.  Most often this weed creeps slowly through a believer’s life picking up justifications, human reasoning, worldly opinions, and even so-called educated information in order to feed strength to its vine so that it can strangle out the life of faith and the surrender of one's life to God in Christ.  Oh, what a perfect climate we live in for this weed to spread!  A climate of enabling one another to stay in sin, rarely if ever speaking the truth in love to each other, saying 'yes' instead of ‘no’, coddling everyone's feelings rather than loving and challenging them into higher morality and deeper faith, excusing each other’s unwillingness and disobedience as 'process' and 'grace', worshiping each other’s acceptance instead of considering it all loss for the sake of knowing Christ and obeying Him.

We fear upsetting or challenging our church leaders so we sit in the pews wearing our masks while our gifts and call of God that are irrevocable grow stale and then forgotten along with a once burning desire to spread the truth and love of Jesus.  The pastors run the church, right?!  A spiritual leader must have a theology degree, right?!  We trade our God-given passions for ministry for disappointments and resign to a life of spiritual deadness and the grind of money-making, child-rearing, and busyness.  We no longer have time to read our Bibles cutting ourselves off from formational truth!  We allow immaturity to set into our prayer life or we just stop praying altogether.  Attending Church becomes another duty, why even go?  We slowly stop expecting God to show up in our lives.  We begin doubting: Maybe it's ok to not pray and read my Bible every day... Maybe I'm fine... I can do this!... Does God really heal?  Does He really deliver?  Does God even care?  Is He even involved? Then after our hearts develop a hardened crust towards conscience and the Holy Spirit we begin demanding that God stretch out His hand and we begin to pry His fingers open to get all His goodies from inside it. 

Alas, we resign to the belief that He either loves others more, we need to 'do' more and be more, or He is not good.   As our power in Christ through faith and obedience is stripped from us we try and try to make a career, a hobby, a relationship, or an interest fit the hole, the ever-growing empty hole within us but it just never quite plugs it.  Even worse, we secretly wonder why we feel this way but fear to speak to anyone because we might look less spiritual or as a doubting Christian.  When in fact THAT is the question we needed to ask all along!  Why do I feel empty, unsatisfied, even oppressed?  Why am I plagued with doubt and often secretly harboring crippling unbelief?  Why am I held in bondage to fear in so many areas/an area of my life, especially ministry?  Why is my behavior so selfish?  Why is my heart so demanding and self-protective?

Even better, why am I unwilling to admit to the symptoms of worldliness/carnality in me and my life?  I will admit to physical symptoms and maybe even psychologically explained symptoms!  If I never ask questions about my spiritual condition then my spiritual condition lingers on in the shadows of sin, hidden from conscience, constantly growing, amassing new justifications, excuses, lies, and denials about its deepening vacuum of emptiness, resentment, unbelief, and carnality. Cloaked in smiles, social niceties, ambition, churchiness, psychological jargon, and busyness the darkening soul remains hidden even from undiscerning Church folk.  In this condition, I have successfully isolated myself from all the persons who can assist me to break free from sin: myself, God, and my Church family.  Even worse is when some, many, most, all of my Church family is in the same spiritual condition.  Everyone is in a sinking ship together toasting to the greatest time of our lives!  “Prosperity and blessings”, we all testify!  We are completely unaware that the waters are already up to our knees and deepening.  Jesus stated to the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3: 14-19, “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation.15I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! 16So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of My mouth! 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have grown wealthy and need nothing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, white garments so that you may be clothed and your shameful nakedness not exposed, and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent.”
Enter stage right New Age Religion.

Psalm 34:8 states, "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good..." (NKJV).  People who confess faith in Jesus but do not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, do not receive discipleship, do not submit themselves to accountability for their walk (behavior, words, attitudes, beliefs, practices), will not commit to obey the word of God consistently, will not commit to daily prayer, will not practice fasting when called, reject belief and practice of spiritual warfare, become ashamed of the gospel and silence their testimony for fear of man's disapproval and backlash, will not tolerate God’s discipline, reject service to others and forgiveness of all others--these Christians will not taste of the Holy Spirit and of the presence of God in a deep and profound way.  They will not experience the spiritual rewards of obedience and perseverance.  Their faith will become shallow and lifeless.  Above all, it will have no power to change their life, to resist sin, to impact others, or to fulfill any sense of purpose.  This Christian will begin to believe in a small sense, as they first slip from the road of holiness, that their faith cannot help them in some struggle they are in. This Christian then turns to the world for an antidote, for answers, for peace, for happiness, for identity.  When we turn to the world we are really turning away from God and to ourselves and the powerlessness of our flesh and the sin nature of the self.  THIS is THE slippery slope into New Age Religion (NAR) or making self my god.

A person does not have to have direct discipleship in or declare themselves a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Hindu, or any other named new age religion such as Pantheism, reincarnation, personal transformation, ascended master, chakra, Christ conscious, or pagan to be actually believing and practicing NAR.  Americans live IN a “spiritual” mixing bowl every day!  In fact, according to Pew Research Center 61% of all Christians hold at least 1 new age belief (Gecewicz, 2018,  Pew’s polling posed four new age beliefs to respondents to evaluate their values.  There are hundreds, (and I am being conservative) of new age beliefs and practices that have infiltrated Church society, practice, values, and thinking.  Hopefully, you can see that it would be nearly impossible for any Christian to have 0 new age beliefs or practices.  This is the infiltration of lies and deceptions into the minds of believers from the satanic underbelly of the spirit realm.  It is Satan’s absolute agenda to use his false kingdom with all his lying and manipulating demons to strip Christians of their power and authority in Christ through engaging them in false religions.  It is in this way that Satan will remove the watchmen from the wall, the light from the city on the hill, the saltiness from the salt!  We will be rendered powerless!  His false kingdom will advance as it is so blatantly in America and so blatantly in Christ’s bride, the Church.  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV).

 New age religion may be understood as the religion of self.  NAR's faith practice is in the actualization, the realization, the evolution of humanity into its highest and most spiritually ascended form.  Forget that God said that Adam and Eve were "very good" (Gen 1:29)! Forget that after God finished His work He rested because there was no other work to do (Gen 2:3)!  NAR teaches that the self needs to be promoted, developed, needs to ascend spiritually by its own power, needs to realize its full potential, and needs to actualize all of its wants, desires, and ambitions.  NAR takes the final word and command away from God and hands it to each individual to decide what is right or wrong and what a human must do/not do.  NAR excuses and promotes trust and reliance on myself for all solutions.  NAR promises that in practicing these prescriptive rituals, ideologies, values, etc. a person will evolve into a higher self or a higher consciousness.  To make it plain, with NAR I will finally be happy.  In NAR, I will seek to know the deepest me.  Believe me, you and I have a very deep and unknowable recess within us containing bottomless appetites and darkness (Jeremiah 17:9). 

What does the Bible say is the will of God for believers of Jesus? Romans 6 teaches that all true believers in their own will have died to self in order to live a brand new life.  This death happened when we accepted Christ and turned away from a life's pursuit of self as God illustrated in the phrase, “my will be done”.  Dying to self or sin must happen because in this way the enslavement to our lusts dies and the new person is awakened in the Holy Spirits power to a passion to please God and obey Him through a life lived according to His word.  The believer in Christ is not to allow the lusts of self to "reign" (v.12) in their bodies so that consequently that person will give in to those lusts and again become enslaved to sin, self, and my will.  Whatever or whomever we obey is our master (v.16).  This then discounts feelings in the process of identifying what master we serve (v.17-18).  If we serve our flesh it is our master.  If we serve God He then is our master.  If we are doing God's will it results in deeper and greater personal holiness (v.19).  If we are doing the will of ourselves the Bible teaches it will result in death (v.21).  Now, this is most likely not the body dying at that moment but instead a slow spiritual death and a resurrection of all things ME!  This will again, in time, culminate in heart-hardness, emptiness, dissatisfaction, disconnection from the Holy Spirit, and a loss of faith and reliance.   

“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17, NKJV).  Can you hear me Church?  I am calling out to you!  Do you feel the conviction of Gods spirit?  Come back to your first love!  No life lived apart from Jesus will ever be enough.  Living for your own will, even if “only a little” will never be acceptable to God.  Resist the worlds shaming of your faith!  Stand up and be counted for Christ!  Hear the words of our Lord to you and me, “Jesus said to [you], “[your name] you love Me more than these [anything/anyone that is your will]?”  [I] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  He said to [me], “Feed My lambs.”  16He said to [me] again a second time, “[your name], you love Me?”  [I] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  He said to [me], “Tend My sheep.”  17He said to [me] the third time, “[your name], you love Me?” [I] was grieved because He said to [me] the third time, “Do you love Me?”  And [I] said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  Jesus said to [me], “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15-17, NKJV).

Church, it’s time to stop striving in our own power, which is tiny against this world; it’s time to decide who we serve. If God is God, serve Him, with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength.  If you are god, then serve you, heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Let’s stop mixing the two together!  Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to purify us all the way to the core so that our ears hear again, our eyes see again, our hearts are bowed down again to the true master and creator of our souls.  Do you love Him?  Do I love Him?  Jesus says, “Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent.  20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me. 21To the one who is victorious, I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:19-21, Berean). It’s time for honesty.  It’s time to look into the mirror of God and see our true reflection.  It’s time for discernment.  We must all stop telling ourselves that worldliness in any form, in any size is acceptable. There is no such thing as holy yoga.  Meditation in the form of clearing the mind to make way for truth, answers, solutions, understanding, or to know one’s self is not Biblical meditation.  Paper with knowledge recorded on it by a “Christian” and bound in a hard cover is not necessarily the truth or even from God and crystals created by God have no power to heal you or center you.

These are just a taste of new-age ideas.  In the following weeks, I will be posting blogs describing in detail some new age practices and their deceptions.  I will also be posting a blog about the “end times” Church as I believe we are living in the times in which Christ’s return draws near.  Stand firm Christian!  Our bridegroom comes and we must prepare our hearts. 

From New Age to Jesus: Steven Bancarz testimony  

Veritas Counseling Services

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