So we see from scriptures that he is new, his location is new, his life is new, his blood is new and the pattern and path set for his life is new and very different from where he is coming from and what he’s been saved from. He is of God and no more of the world, his hometown is now above, his parentage is now God, his path is set and truly it is the only path he can walk successfully.
The first time I heard these combination of words, was from a man of God I respect, he spoke of how believer’s operated on a different level from the world around them, how we could overcome where all else failed, how we could live in health where all else failed in health, how our life is upward and forward only (a phrase I continually use when making confessions of faith over my life), drawing from the truth of Gal 4:3, that as mature sons we are not in bondage to the elements of this world. Every one of these is true and God wills it be the normal everyday experience of His children.
Today however, I write on this same theme from a different but equally true perspective, I have come to realize that being a Christian is the most ‘dangerous’ possibility for a human being (this is obvious from the fact that whatever can give you the highest pleasure, can also give you the greatest pain, that which might be your greatest glory might also be your greatest shame, Jesus brought the father everlasting glory, had he failed or turned from faith, he would have brought and everlasting shame. So the greatest safety this side of heaven is faith in Christ, so also the greatest danger. However that is not the direction of this write, just a side thought). The ‘risk’ of being a Christian is far greater than any man induced danger, and the greatest ‘danger’ to a believer is neither man nor devil, but God Himself. That’s what makes it so dangerous, Hebrews 10:31 points out that; it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. God is the single most dangerous being in all of existence and that is a documented fact. Now the dangers of God is not a danger born of anger or pain or wickedness, no, it’s a danger born of love and truly if you would look at it most critically it is actually an act of love and an extension of grace.
Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
He that is born again has upon his spirit the seal of God (Eph 1:13), he is marked as God’s own and indeed he is. He is moved out of darkness into God’s marvellous light (1 pet 2:19), he is a new creature old things are passed away (2 cor 5:17). So we see from scriptures that he is new, his location is new, his life is new, his blood is new and the pattern and path set for his life is new and very different from where he is coming from and what he’s been saved from. He is of God and no more of the world, his hometown is now above, his parentage is now God, his path is set and truly it is the only path he can walk successfully. Part of growing in faith is learning this path, its rules (principles) and its destination.
For the one who is born again, ONLY God’s way will work for him, he cannot succeed any other way, it’s not possible, God won’t let him. The children of Israel (a type of the church) could only live in a particular manner, other nations may get something by whatever means, but the Israelites could only accomplish the same thing through God’s means. When they insisted on doing it a different way, God broke out amongst them, sometimes it was a plague, sometimes they were given over to the hands of their enemies, sometimes an Angel from the Lord struck them. You see, God will by Himself resist his own child who does not walk in conformity to His will; this is what I mean by God being dangerous. God will rather see his child crippled in the journey on the right path than see him running on a path different from His will. Hence it is said that the believer’s path is set and truly it is the only path he can walk successfully (we must bear in mind the definition of success for a Christian: it’s not money, fame or power).
You see, the ultimate purpose of Christianity is that the life of Christ and the Image of Christ be fully birthed and formed in the believer (2 cor 3:18), that the nature of Christ be fully manifested; spirit, soul and body(Gal 4:19). Anything that opposes or tries to stop this, God will resist, whether a person from without or a habit, lifestyle or thought pattern from within, He takes it as a responsibility to oppose it. If a group of business men, one of whom is a believer, begin to do fraudulent business, the others may from the corrupt practise make money, but the one who is truly a Christian won’t succeed, he may close the deal and make the money, but ultimately; God will resist it, his business will not stand and he may even go broke. All the students practising exam malpractice may succeed but God will make sure the one who is his child gets caught or still fail the exam or if he passes, still makes no progress from that course. If ladies of the world try to attract men by being flirtatious, by being loose and dressing immodestly and a believer with the hope of getting a husband does the same, the others may get their man and may even marry by so but for the believer; God will frustrate her and make sure she fails (many a world definition of success is nothing but disguised failure). You see as believer’s, godliness is the only way we will ever be anything reasonable and do anything significant on earth. Because God is more interested in the perfect image of Christ being formed in us than us being rich or popular.
Now, I normally say if a Christian is going in a wrong direction, God will resist him, that is because of God’s love and purpose, He ensures he doesn’t get that job, He ensures he even stays broke, He ensures he doesn’t succeed (I know this sounds crazy), but for the believer who succeeds by evil practises then you need to understand that you are seeing someone who is under the judgement of God, a judgement that will sooner or later be revealed (mind you the judgement of God for His children is not hell).
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
You see, when a believer after hearing God’s instruction still goes ahead and walks in a manner different from that which he has heard, God will then reach him through a more forceful means, even as much as to resist him vehemently. You see, the purpose of God is to form godliness in us, he has no preference to resist strongly his child, it is the result of the resistance He desires, and if a believer will bear such a fruit without the resistance, so be it.
It’s a matter of atmosphere; the fish can only function in the atmosphere of water, the birds in the atmosphere of air, so also a Christian can only function in the atmosphere of God, nothing less.
The truth of this discourse seems to me to be a truth most manifest and most obvious for the more matured of believers. There is the general discipline of every child, but truly for many of the carnal things baby Christians do, the Lord often does not treat as an issue, as you would not treat the excesses of a baby as an issue but would recognise it as a result of his childishness. But for the believer who no longer takes milk, God handles each issue with utmost sobriety (Heb 12:7 ‘...God dealeth with you as sons…’).
We walk by a different set of rules indeed, if you will become the billionaire business man God wants you to be, you will be so by God’s way or you will never be so, and if you so demand to be so without conforming to the instructions of Christ in righteousness, then you will need to renounce Christ (stop being a Christian) and then you can use whatever route you think will get you there, but you will not get there as His child.
No Christian succeeds outside the will of God, this is one reason you see a lot of Christians in mediocre places of life, God Himself has resisted them and they have refused to repent of that way and so they will stay there. If you see a Christian become great by evil practises then know; he is not a Christian or he is under the judgement of God or the timing is yet to show (more on this later).
Let me also mention the special cases, where for a person specially chosen by God, he CAN NOT but walk in God’s pre-ordained plan, it seems for this special cases to be a MUST, they cannot get away from it, death is their only other route, Jonah is an example from scriptures. God resists their every move till they go in His direction. God gives every man the freedom to choose, the choices of these ones however seem quite limited.
It’s just like a fuel powered car trying to move with water in its tank, it just won’t work. A child of light cannot walk in darkness to accomplish the purposes of light. You see, many a believer are being resisted by God and they don’t even know, they think it’s some evil force, they think they need to work harder or do more, no, more energy in the wrong direction will only take you away from the right way faster and get you to the wrong place quicker, an un-renewed mind is the single greatest problem of a Christian, it is a major characteristic of babyishness and carnality. If you hold to a custom or mind-set that goes against the pattern of God for life or life’s walk, God will because of His love ensure that you do not prosper in any area that particular mind-set is applied. You see for the believer, failure is so rare that if you should ever fail in anything, you should stop and ask ‘what happened!?’, the size or force of the challenge is never consequential, a Christian can only fail if God delivers him to failure (Failure defined: not when a man falls, but when he can no longer rise after a fall). It is this unusual occurrence that should bolster questions of how we walk, that an erring believer may turn his face back to God and receive illumination for the manner of walk he should walk.
You will succeed, but only by God’s way and truly you do not want to succeed any way else.
2tim 2:19; let they that nameth the name of the lord depart from iniquity
Let me summarize this article as such; as believer’s we have a different goal from the world, and we have a different route to this goal from the world, and we walk by different rules to reach this goal from the world. In this race, it is not permitted or even possible to reach God’s goal for our lives using the worlds route or practising their rules, nor is it permitted or possible to reach the world’s goal using God’s route or rules. The end is as important as the means by which we get there. God resists every non-conformity in our hearts to His path, the believer may not fail as the world defines failure, but he cannot succeed as God defines success. The halting friction in succeeding, the unending struggle, the insurmountable resistance, many a times is meant by God as a pointer that you’re on chasing the wrong goal, following the wrong route or practising the wrong rules. The believer works from rest (Heb 4:10), they may be war all around but the peace within tells us we are on the right path. This does not mean every resistance is God, no. Many a times it will be elements against our faith and opposed to the expansion of the kingdom, matters that will require continued persistence and faith to overcome, maturity in spirit and exposure to the Word will cause you to know the difference. God will always resist these things in a believer’s life, how He does it, we can’t say; He may cause the venture it is applied in, to never get off the ground, He may cause it to fall from the sky, He may wait for it to land on the other side, different strokes for different folks (as a friend would say), but He won’t let it succeed, even if it means bringing it to manifest failure a decade later, His seed within you is too precious to let influences from this fleeting world corrupt.
Questions People ask:
What about all those ‘successful’ Christians walking in ungodly ways?
First of all, the Christians who asks this question, may define success by some outward trait (such as plenty money, societal recognition etc.), which cannot be used to define success, they may be fruits of success for some and proof of failure for others.
We hinted certain points on these in the main body of this text; they are however some understanding we must have:
- God is the judge of who is a success and who’s not. Rom 14:4 ‘Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth’
- The definition of success. You see for different Christians success is spelt differently, for a Martin Luther King Jnr success might be spelt bringing equal rights among men, while for a Billy Graham success might be spelt winning a million souls for Christ through crusades and evangelistic outreaches, while for you success may be spelt raising up a godly home. Truly, neither the social reformer, evangelist or family man will receive a reward greater than the other because of his calling, but rather each man will be rewarded according to his faithfulness to his calling, a faithfulness of which our 1st point has stated can only be judged by his master. (Side Note: Abraham was a family man).
- The matter of timing: Failure for a Christian student who walks in academic dishonesty may be manifest 40 years later, when he is a grandfather, if that is the time his heart is ready to realize the ungodliness of his years past. The point is, we can’t put a stop clock on an issue to determine how long, what we may classify as finished, God may classify as just the beginning and vice versa.
You see from these issues that this write up is not a scanning machine by which we scan other believers, but an x-ray by which we examine our own lives, for it is the only lives we can examine.
Now people who identify as Christians who seem to flourish, without God resisting them, generally fall under one these categories:
- The religious unbeliever
- The Christian under God’s judgement
- The Christian for whom the time is not yet come.
i. The Religious unbeliever
I, more and more believe that the people who have heard the gospel, are quite fewer than what we have assumed, you see a religious environment is not necessarily a spiritual environment, a Christian preaching is not necessarily preaching the Christ, a sermon filled with ‘God’, ‘Jesus’ and ‘save’ is not necessarily the gospel. Many truly are professed to Christendom, many are fans of Christianity and supporters of Jesus Christ but they are just not Christians. It’s possible for a person to be religious and yet not be a believer, he may be popular, well recognised and even knighted by the church, but he still is not saved. It is this category of people who do not walk under a different set of rules like Christians who may walk crookedly and still succeed, because the manner to which God relates to him is as every other unbeliever.
ii. The Christians under God’s judgement
It may sound strange that God would allow an erring child succeed just to judge him, but what you must understand is that the judgement for a believer and an unbeliever are two very, very different judgements. For the unbeliever the judgement always spells harsh consequences, hurt and eventually hell. But for the Christian under judgement, it means he has reached a point that nothing else will be able to bring this Christian back to line or save him from eternal loss, but a certain decisive ruling from God. 1 Cor 5:5, gives an example of such. Let me help you understand how God might let a Christian succeed so he might judge him or how the judgement of God may manifest as a ‘success’ in a Christians life: It has to do with the nature of God and the principles God has laid, God is all powerful and can do anything, but He has by Himself limited Himself to work by the principles He has laid. By principle, before God judges a wicked man on earth, he must have reached a certain level wherein God is now justified to judge him. Gen 18:20,21 gives us a glimpse of this; the Lord went to see if the sin of the city had indeed reached the level for which it was to be destroyed. In relation to our study, God may let a Christian who deals crookedly in business succeed in deceiving someone and making unjust gain from that business, having done that God can now justifiably judge him, God’s judgement for the believer is to save him from hell, because sin continued will eventually lead a believer more and more away from faith.
iii. The timing matter
I pointed out earlier that the purpose of this write is not to classify others but to examine our own lives, you will never know how God works in a person’s life as you know how God works in your life. God’s timing for dealing with each believer on the believer’s issue differs and so one can not state where another is in God’s timing.
So what happens when a believer refuses to conform
He may be popular, but he cannot be a success,
He may be powerful, but he cannot be a success,
He may be influential, but he cannot be a success,
His accomplishments will be by the sweat of his hands, not by the grace of God,
His victories will be by the scheme of his mind, not by the power of God,
He wont experience fulfilment in life, for fulfilment comes from walking in God’s path for your life,
For some, God will take home sooner than purpose demanded,
On that final day he will be like the one who is saved as by fire but his work burnt (1 cor 3:14,15), he shall have no reward.