Volume 15 Issue 8
The Way We
The Way We Were
Lets start off by looking at where we were—our
condition before we met the lord.
Ephesians 2:12 NASB
that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth
of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without
God in the world.
This is our condition:
We were separate from Christ;
We were excluded from the people of God;
We were strangers to God's covenant promises;
We without God and had no hope.
Before knowing Christ, we
had no ability to change our condition. While we could possibly change our
circumstances in this world, we were unable to partake of any aspect of God's
promise or provision. And we had no hope of ever being able to change any of
The scriptures also tell
us why we stay in this condition.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NASB
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so
that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is
the image of God.
Who is the god of this world? Satan. What has he
done? Blinded our minds. Blinded them to what? God and all of the things of God.
The mind is not blind to education or science or anything else of this world but
it is blind to the things of God. Therefore, without Christ we have a heathen
mind—a mind that thinks like the world because it is blind to the things of God.
The way a heathen mind thinks is like a heathen.
How does the heathen think? “I am number one”. To a heathen nothing is more
important than himself. Right? What is the second most important thing to a
heathen? Satisfying his desires—if I want it, I want it. All he is concerned
about is me, mine, what I want and what I have to do to get it, and how do I get
more of it.
Before knowing the Lord, we had a heathen mind,
lost and far from God. Then we were born again and we began to function with a
carnal mind. What is a carnal mind? Some of our traditions give differing
definitions of “carnal” but the scriptures define it for us.
1 Corinthians 3:3 NKJV
for you are still carnal. For where
envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like
Behaving like men, that
is, the natural, earthly man, is the mark of carnality. After knowing Jesus, we
are not to behave like mere men anymore. We are now children of God and should
behave as such. So, another way of saying this is that a carnal person is a
born again person who is still thinking and behaving according to the ways of
the world instead of the ways of God.
We even see this in Peter,
one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus.
Matthew 16:21-23 NASB
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem,
and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be
killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid
Lord! This shall never happen to You."
But He turned and said to Peter,
"Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting
your mind on God's interests, but man's."
Jesus was telling them
what was to happen to Him as the Lamb of God. This was perfectly within the
purposes of the Father. However, Peter didn't like what was being said by Jesus
and rebuked Him. Jesus immediately rebuked Peter and his mindset. Peter was
thinking and behaving as a carnal person with his mind on man's interests rather
than any thought of God's interests. This was a Satanic thinking process and
created a stumbling block for Jesus.
We have a lesson in this
for us. Whenever the carnal mindset and thinking processes are being expressed
as it relates to the purposes of God, it creates stumbling blocks, hindrances,
to those who are seeking to do the will of God. Why is this? Because the
thinking processes, the mindset, of the world is contrary to the things of God
because it is blind to them.
Our problem is that we
don't understand how serious this is. Our modern church provides little or no
teaching that helps us put off the worldly mindset and begin to move on into the
thinking processes of the mind of Christ. As a result, our modern church thinks
and behaves like the world thinks and behaves. It is a tragedy.
What Jesus did
Our God is a God of processes. He didn't re-create
the earth in Genesis in one day or in one moment. He did it in seven days—a
process. He does the same thing with us—a process. A process takes time.
God meets us where we are. As the Scriptures say,
God loved us not that we loved Him. He demonstrated this love by sending His Son
who died for us while we were still sinners, undeserving.
1 John 4:10 NASB
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son
the propitiation for our sins.
Romans 5:8 NASB
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.
He didn't wait until we got good enough. Jesus
died for us while we were the worst heathen imaginable. He died for us because
he loves us. He meets us right where we are; but he doesn't intend to leave us
where we are, but he intends to take us to the fullness of something else that
he has for us.
Romans 8:29-30 NASB
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined
conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also
justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
He did predestine us to be conformed to the image
of his son. When he forgives us, it begins a process where the end result is
that we look like Jesus. He starts where you are but he is going to take you to
a new place. That is predestined—you have no choice. That is, if you are going
to walk with Him, you are going to become like His Son or you will cease to walk
Four Stages of Spiritual Growth
Let me give you four stages of spiritual growth.
That sounds simplistic but it is not. It is based
on the pattern of the children of Israel that were in Egypt and God's promise of
the Promised Land. First get out of Egypt. God has a process for doing
that—apply the blood to the door post in obedience and then follow Moses out of
there. Then to the red sea for baptism and then the wilderness.
Once the children of Israel got into the
wilderness, they were to learn some things. It took them 40 years to learn those
things. The length of time in the wilderness was determined by them. It was only
a two week journey between Egypt and Canaan but it took them 40 years. It took
40 years because they had 40 years of garbage that had to be worked out of their
heart before they were ready to enter the Promised Land.
Our time in the wilderness is determined by us and
our willingness to yield to change by the Spirit of God. We can take two weeks,
two months, two years, 40 years, or the rest of our life. It's determined by how
flexible we are to yield to the Holy Spirit for change.
Once the Children of Israel got out of Egypt and
passed through the Red Sea, they were now “predestined” for the Promised Land.
Although they desired on numerous occasions to turn back, that was really not an
option. God was protecting them from the elements of the wilderness and the
inhabitants. He made provision for food and water. If anyone turned back, they
were no longer eligible to receive the protection and the provision—the
wilderness would destroy them.
The first stage, getting out, is relatively easy.
God has done all of the work. We simply need to be obedient.
The second stage, getting through, is very hard on
us. God has to get Egypt out of our mindset and thinking processes, which is the
purpose of the wilderness. We have to learn to rely on God for protection and
provision and trust Him as our God and Father who loves us.
The third stage, getting in, is an expression of
our dependency and cooperation with Him. We learn to become a worker with the
Lord. The wilderness prepared us to participate in the plans and purposes of God
and now we put it into practice.
The fourth stage, dwelling, is a testimony to the
King and His Kingdom. Once we are in the land we must dwell, which requires a
different mindset than we used to have. The Promised Land operates by a
different set of rules than either Egypt or the wilderness.
The process of change takes us through the four
stages of growth. As we move from one to the other, change is mandatory. Each
stage provides the procedures for the changes that are necessary for the next
stage. If we neglect the process, we will not be ready to enter the Land. Once
we are through the wilderness, we either “stand and enter” or we become
“bleached bones” in the wilderness.
The Purpose of the Wilderness
The majority of change is to occur in the
wilderness. As we move into the wilderness, God begins to work in us on many
levels. It is in the wilderness that we experience the renewing of our minds.
Our thinking processes are changed.
Deuteronomy 8:2 NASB
"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the
wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know
what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Deuteronomy 8:16 NASB
"In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He
might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.
Don't you think God knew what was in their hearts?
He is God, of course he knew. Who had to know what was in their heart? They did.
Jeremiah tells us the heart is desperately wicked who can know it. We don't know
our own heart. God has to show it to us. He knows it and he uses the wilderness
experiences to show us our heart. In verse 16 he tells us the outcome of it—to
do us good at the end.
The purpose of what God is doing is to do us good
at the end. That means that all of the humbling and proving and testing of our
hearts is to do us good. We need to remember that because when we get in the
middle of the humbling , proving, testing, its hard to remember why we are
there. We have to remember that God intends to do us good. That is why Romans
8:28 is so important.
He puts us into circumstances to humble us, prove
us, show us our hearts so that he can do us good. So we have to get out Egypt
and then get through the wilderness. Once through the wilderness we have to get
in to the promised land. They had a physical land—the promised land. We have a
spiritual land of promises. The scriptures say that the promises of God are yeah
and amen. Yet, how many of us would say that we live daily in every promise of
God? Why? Because there are promises that we have never experienced. Why? All of
the promises of God are conditional, even salvation is conditional on believing
and repenting. Every other promise of God is conditional. We legally have every
promise of God. We experientially do not. So, getting into the land is getting
into the promises experientially.
Joshua 1:2-3 NASB
"Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all
this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.
"Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just
as I spoke to Moses.
Their legal position—they owned the land
because God had given it to them. Every place you walk—experiential position—they
had to walk on it to possess it. There were giants there that thought they owned
it. Walking on it wasn't easy—they had to kill a few giants in order to do it.
We have the same problem with the promises of God. When God promises us healing
there is a devil there with sickness. Legally, healing is the children's
bread—it belongs to us; it was in the covenant when Jesus hung on the cross—part
of the atonement. However, we all have been sick at one time or another. So
experientially we don't live every day in the promise that God has given us. We
have to learn how to walk on the promises.
Once you are in the land and killed the giants you
have to learn how to dwell in the land. It has different rules than the
wilderness and the wilderness has different rules than Egypt. Even God's method
of provision changed. His provisional level in Egypt was meager—survival level.
In the wilderness, the provision level was just what was needed—just enough. The
manna was good for one day, except for the Sabbath. Only enough for the needs of
the moment. When they got in the land, the day that they ate the first meal of
the produce of the land was the day the manna stopped coming. After that , it
was the law of sowing and reaping. As we grow in God in these different areas,
his methods of dealing with us changes, his provision for us changes, and the
rules which we are operating under in God change.
These 4 stages are also reflected in our minds.
The heathen mind is tied up in Egypt. The carnal mind is in the wilderness. The
spiritual mind deals with getting in the land. The corporate mind, the mind of
Christ, is about dwelling in the land. As we grow we will go through these types
of changes in our minds.
This is the process. A process is not done in one
step and it is over. It has multiple steps and takes some measure of time.
The church has broken this process into pieces and
preached the pieces separately rather than as one complete process. We have lost
sight of the correct objectives and substituted other lesser objectives. We have
confused the message to the point that we don't give a clear objective any
The objective is the Lord Jesus. There is a new
King in town. That is what upset the Caesars so much. If we really preached that
there is a new king in town, it would upset our own judicial and legislative
system. The King of the Kingdom of God says different things than what our
What occurs in this process? God starts right
where we are. It doesn't matter how far in the slime of this heathen world we
were, God meets us there. Then, He starts pulling us out of that—He delivers us
from the power of darkness and translates us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
He starts to work on us. He wants to move us from where we were to the objective
that he has for us, which is to be conformed to the image of His Son. . How
could John say in I John 3:2 that we would be like Him when He returns? Because
we have been predestined to be like Him. Unless we have short circuited the
process we are going to get there.
If I had a heathen mind before being born again, I
still have a heathen mind after being born again. Only now we call it a carnal
mind because it has the life of God in the spirit. However, we still have the
heathen thinking process. The process of sanctification is the process of
renewing our minds.
We have to learn
to think Gods thoughts Isa. 55:8-9
to feel God's emotions Matt 15:8 how to have
to desire God's plan heathen and carnal mind
can't understand spiritual things
speak His Word requires a person commitment to
the things of God
do God's work John 5:19 heathen mind doesn't
see the Father doing anything.
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