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Free Will and the Enemy Within

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Receiving personal revelations of God’s Logos and Rhema word throughout our lives is critical to say the least. To be satisfied with a general knowledge of a few Bible stories is not what God had in mind for the victorious overcomer. Studying and rightly dividing the word is hard work and was intended to be practiced as a daily requirement for spiritual nourishment and development. To renew our mind and conscience is our responsibility that all the powers and influences of hell are trying to stop. But brother, I work all day and need my evenings to relax and do what I want. We know what the flesh wants to justify but also what God demands.

This is not an easy message, but that does not mean it’s bad or untrue. This is a conversation about spiritual warfare and how our carnal nature is only as dead as we want it to be. The picture of baptism within the miraculous gift of salvation is an outward illustration of an inward re-creation and allows us to see that the “old man” or old nature has died and that we are raised up (resurrected) into a brand new life in Christ. The old way of thinking and feeling no longer controls us, right? Not exactly. The old nature might be buried in the grave, but our free will can dig him up whenever we want.

When we are born again, we are given a new spiritual identity but we do not automatically turn into an obedient robot for God that spends every second in prayer and worship. Yes, the goal for every Christian is to learn how to live in the awareness of God’s presence, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Since our success as a dedicated soldier for the Lord is directly associated with our free will to do what God says, why are we not more advanced by now? It’s no one’s fault but our own. We decide how close we will walk with God. Satan tempts us but does not make us carnal. We sin out of our own urges to rebel against our Lord. We are servants to whom we obey and too often, it’s ourselves.

One thing that God’s word is not and that’s comfortable. It’s easy to mistake physical relaxation for spiritual peace. We can be content in knowing that God’s presence is with us, but this is not the same as being happy living however we want. When a Christian is not experiencing spiritual resistance and does not discern the devil is launching an attack, they are probably asleep at the wheel. The realm of darkness knows who is on the front lines obeying God and who has taken off their armor and is asleep on the couch. When a Christian falls away into complacency and is satisfied to go no further with Christ, they are in desperate need of the fires of revival and rededication to Jesus.

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Many in the church select the passages that promise His benefits while skipping over the ones that demand obedience and sacrifice. Of course, everyone wants to live a life of pleasure while avoiding demonic warfare, but often, the context involves God working with His faithful warriors in combat, not supporting fearful spectators. There is a world of difference between relationship and religion. The young drink milk from the bottle and play in the baby pool, but after years of playing church, it’s time to grow up. We deceive ourselves if we use denial to avoid accountability. God is waiting for many who claim to follow Him to realize they are now responsible for swimming into the deeper waters of spiritual maturity and understanding what it means to surrender their will to Him.

Only God knows the genuine from the impostors. How long will He allow a Christian to intentionally remain a carnal infant? One thing we do know is that we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit when we are born again, which leads us to consider that not only can we be as close to God as we desire, but we decide how much of the character and nature of Christ is evident in our lives. What is our conclusion? There has always been an epidemic of lukewarm carnal Christians (I Corinthians 3) who seek heaven and a life of blessings but have no plans to invest personal costs. They keep their distance from God on purpose, fearing what He requires.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a minister, Christian author, and community chaplain. Read more about the Christian life at: billyhollandministries.com.

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