Still I Will Follow
No turning back…
May 25th, 2019
Self-examination is critical to the disciple of Jesus Christ. We rarely think of it but it really is.
If you think about it, the typical growing believer cycles through periods of immersion in the Word, revelation, conviction, repentance and growth. We could define this cycle in greater or less detail, but the growth cycle is the same.
When we are exposed to the Word of God, either by personal study, or by listening to the teaching of others, if we are open to the Holy Spirit, he will reveal to us the truth of His Word. Scriptures that we have read and heard hundreds of times, suddenly have the veil removed, so we clearly see what God is wanting us to understand.
This is not a specific sequence of waypoints on a road we all travel down on the way to personal growth in our faith. In most cases we all receive these revelations will be taught to us by the Holy Spirit when He sees the time is right and we are prepared to accept responsibility for what is being imparted to us.
When we accept this truth, ultimately, we will realize sin in our lives we never knew was there. The degree of infraction and the intentionality of the grievance, will vary, but once the revelation is made conviction is the subsequent next step in the process.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:17 (ESV)
If we are responding correctly to the conviction, we will repent. Some things are easier to repent from, while others require much more focus and prayer to muster the ability to overcome the flesh, which is always going to be in opposition to our obedience.
As we successfully complete the cycle, we grow closer to the Lord, our tenderness to the leading of the Holy Spirit is more pronounced, and our eagerness to have greater exposure to the Word of God and the subsequent teaching of the Holy Spirit is enhanced.
All growing disciples repeat this cycle over and over as they grow in Christ Jesus.
This is a constant examination of our faith and while we remain willing to repent to the revelations we are failing at; the growth cycle continues. What happens however in some cases is that we have the revelation and then reject the conviction, which results in no repentance.
We shouldn’t feel bothered to place ourselves under this scrutiny. We should not only permit this examination but we should be eager for it.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.
2 Corinthians 13:5-9 (ESV)
We of course fail to meet the test when we reject the conviction of the Holy Spirit and refuse to repent. The morsel that stands out here is, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” It is the truth as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.
There is an expense
There is a cost to discipleship. This cost isn’t necessarily something we place focus on. The benefits are extreme now and throughout eternity. The greater our engagement in the growth cycle and obedience to the direction of the Holy Spirit, the less the costs of discipleship figure in. But if we are to fully benefit from our relationship with the Creator, there is a expense involved.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26-27 (ESV)
Jesus himself tells us we must love him more than we love anyone or anything else.
The word ‘hate’ in this passage is from the Greek word miseō is to ‘love less’ in a most definitive manner. This passage is saying that disciples must not just love Jesus more than their family to truly be his disciple, but that there has to be such a difference in that measure of love that the discrepancy between our love of Jesus and everything else is without question.
This passage is often misunderstood due to the way it is translated into English. We still can love our mom and dad, just our real alliance is with our Heavenly Father and His Son!
If we get that part right, the rest of the costs are not something we even recognize. Just as when we love someone with all our hearts, we are willing to go through anything, do anything, endure everything; if our love of Jesus is so much greater than any other love, those things we sacrifice to honor the true love of a disciple encompasses all.
There is suffering
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)
We are to expect suffering just as Christ Jesus suffered. If the world hates Jesus, and we are his representatives in this world, we are bound to find that others will be in opposition to not just what we say but are offended by the very fact that we are breathing.
Christians in America have had it pretty easy over many years. Yes, we have seen those who are offended by our faith. We have seen where taking a stand for Christ has meant someone would suffer persecution and discrimination.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Gospel runs afoul of the world’s sensibilities. As a result, our faith is insulting to the world around us. Real persecution and suffering are coming for the church and the disciple of Jesus.
The only defense against this future onslaught is to draw closer to our Lord and the Holy Spirit living in us. That cycle we first talked about should be part of our daily lives. If we aren’t growing, we are dying inside. If there isn’t revelation from His Word, we are not focusing sufficiently in it or we have silenced the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Repent! Grow! Immerse! And do it again.
“Still I Will Follow”, no turning back, no turning back!
In the Grace of Jesus!