By Jomo K. Johnson, USA
Every true believer is a prodigal saint. You do not have to experience being backslidden and broken by sin. You may never have gone really wayward in your Christian walk. You may not even struggle with issues of self-righteousness and legalism. But the truth is that every saint (believer) at times departs from God for his own positions, pleasures and payments. I desire to enable the believer to examine himself in the light of God’s revelation while being cautious of the deceitfulness of his own heart.
Four steps are vital in keeping us safe from wasting our God-given gifts and opportunities. By not wasting our gifts and opportunities, we will better be able to glorify God as we seek to know Him and make Him known.
1. Guard Your Heart
Regardless of how long we have been saved we need to constantly examine our hearts in the light of God’s truth. The Word of God and the people of God serve as the best reflections of our true selves. Although we have been given a new heart upon our salvation, any heart that is not cared for will gradually become weak and irregular. Being completely honest with God and others serves as a continual examination of spiritual blockage that may be building up.
2. Establish Your Faith on Sound Doctrine
Every believer should continue to nourish his faith with sound doctrine from the Word of God and faithful Bible teachers. We must beware against only feeding our spirits with devotional or inspirational material while neglecting the doctrinal.
This step is important because as fallen humans we are far more empirical than rational. We often base our worldview and understanding of life on our experiences rather than on solid truth. Rather, our faith and our thinking patterns should be shaped by the Word of God and the doctrines it teaches. For example, if I know I’m eternally secure in Christ, this knowledge helps me determine my response when I’m tempted to sin. If I understand that Christ is sovereign (has unlimited power to rule), this affects my response when I lose a loved one. Good and solid doctrine is a fence that keeps faulty thinking and false theology at bay.
The issue of sound doctrine is even more important to those who have had dramatic conversions (turning from power of Satan to God). It is very easy to look back to our conversion as the summit (high point) of our spiritual journey. When we do this we often think that all our spiritual experiences should measure up to the high emotional moment of salvation. But when the seasons in our lives are monotonous, tedious or dull, we are in danger of looking for emotional satisfaction and payment elsewhere than in Christ.
3. Abhor (hate or detest) Self-Righteousness
This sin of self-righteousness shows itself often when we’re walking uprightly. By definition it is when we show too much pride in our own rightness or goodness. It is corrosive (destructive) because it affects our view of God and our view of others. Self-righteousness and its sustained practice guarantees a spiritual fall. Confess it immediately and constantly. Slay it every time it manifests (shows) its head. As opposed to self-righteousness, Paul tells us that in humility we are to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2: 3).
4. Think About Jesus
It may sound simple but the practice of thinking about Jesus has profound implications for our spiritual walk. Simply thinking, meditating, and pondering on Jesus and what He has done will help to gain a greater appreciation of Him. When you read and study the Gospels and Epistles, think about Jesus. When you feel weary and tempted, think about Jesus. Reminding yourself of Jesus’ goodness, love and ability, you will trust Him more fully to work profound changes in your mind. When Jesus fills your mind, He will subdue (keep under control) your heart.
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