There is a conflict between the Holy Spirit and the flesh. And it is never insignificant. The outcome of that battle determines everything.
Christianity, even among modern Pentecostals, at least to some degree, is facing a stormy anti-Christian, anti-Bible bias that is being pressed upon culture, politics and education. Think of it as a strategy of hard-core secularization, wherein all opinion and thought must correspond with secular philosophies and political correctness, or it will be harshly maligned as unsophisticated, unscholarly, backward and unlettered.
Churches over the past few decades have marched to the beat of the deconstructionists, who hope to refashion the Church without regard to things holy, divine and supernatural. A philosophy of positive thinking and other flesh-inspired paths of spirituality have been sold to millions who are seeking salvation, but without mention of sanctification, freedom from the consequences of a sinful life and without repentance. Such is the spirit of the age.
The Spirit of God is life; the flesh brings death. The flesh substitutes the real for the counterfeit. The disciples were directed to the Upper Room and assured of “power from on high.” Acts 2:28 was the central dictum; it changed everything. Without obedience to that command as the core element of the New Testament experience, one is left with something other than a Pentecostal Church.
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (II Thess. 3:6).
At a meeting yesterday, in relation to the writing of this article, our group sat in Vice President Mike Pence’s office. We were surrounded by priceless memos and documents pertaining to the history and establishment of the United States of America. Any discussions in such rooms are made sacred by the awareness of the actual signatures of men and women who died for the freedom and hopes contained in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. It’s a spiritual experience to be in such a room where life and death convictions were established. The founders’ courage and commitments to liberty made everything possible. To lay aside or to disavow the Constitution is to lose everything. And further more, our affection for those very words are crucial to our nation’s future. If we fail to love the Constitution, we will lose it.
Pentecostals, Spirit-filled believers, shall we say, hold a deep affection for the words of the Bible. The Bible is the foundation of our unity and our spiritual life. At the core of our future lies the matter of our affection or disaffection for the commands of Jesus, and one in particular: “Tarry until ye be endured with power from on High.”
A love for the Word of God is critical. We feel this deeply in our hearts because truth brings something to the heart, and the spirit and to the emotions, and not merely to the intellect. We draw upon the greatness of God to empower us. God makes us stronger than we are. “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).
One thing all of us are hearing today is muddied definitions and meanings. Words can enlighten or confuse. And here’s where we can lose everything or gain everything. If our “hearts are fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Psa. 112:7), then we can and will resist those who create doubt against our experiences, our convictions. Paul’s warning to Timothy should help us … “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (I Tim. 4:1).
The Constitution of the United States drew men to clarity and understanding. They knew what it meant to sign the declarations, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” They loved the idea and hope of liberty, and they were prepared to die for it.
If today’s Christians love the truth, they will not distort the Word of God or manipulate its meanings. God’s spirit does not confuse. If you know, you know. And if you truly love the Word of God, push back against all seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.