The Lord is mindful of the called. Because He had justified them by faith, He wishes to make sure that their justification remains blameless to the end. He regularly feeds them with His word and fills them with His Spirit. A believer falls short of His guidance due to the deeds of his flesh or the hardness of his spirit. Every deed of the flesh is forgiven by the Lord through repentance. As many as are these deeds the Lord forgives them through our repenting. With forgiveness He strengthens us that we may display His power. While we display His power we also resist the deeds of the flesh. We are guided by Him. But, the hardness of the spirit appears when one has taken lightly the intent of the Lord. He has lost the strength to be with Him. He is ready to be alienated from Him. Hence, we see many believers with conceptual spirituality. Though they were called and justified, their practical walk with God has turned conceptual. Their deeds of the flesh are overtaking the fruit of the Spirit in them. Upon these the Lord sends forth His discipline with the intent to fill them up again.
The word of God has deliberately revealed the ways by which the Lord intends to discipline His children. They are reproof, rebuke and exhort. He disciplines them, since He called them in love. For the most part the Lord God disciplines through His word. He teaches them of their hardness, of their long lasting weaknesses and gives them the way to overcome them. With every reproof and rebuke He appeals to them that they are vindicated. And, when this peaks, He disciplines them through other means. He delivers their flesh to Satan or to the works of men. And, when this too has peaked they end up like Esau. In order that believers do not partake with a man like Esau or neglect His discipline from the word, the Lord God says, “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble” (Heb. 12:12). There are certainly those that have begun their religion in conceptual belief. Of those there is nothing significant to say. But, the word is for those whom God intends to keep blameless to the end.
Do not avert from God’s discipline. For all are disciplined by God at one time or another. Every believer must make sure that they are prepared to listen to Him. This permits God to discipline them when necessary. The power of God returns into them. This power is the need of the hour for the churches. His word will enable them to withstand the deeds of the adversary. For when they walk on an uneven surface and have feeble knees, there is nothing that will prevent them from calamity. The consequence produced will be unbearable. Many are falling and are not rising up. As long as they do not receive the power that comes from God through the gospel, they cannot be healed. They will succumb to the adversary. Truly, they must come to the word that said ‘by His wounds you were healed.’ “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).
O, what a phenomenal promise to those that are willing to abide by His discipline! It almost seems unreal and is certainly beyond reach to the one with a conceptual belief. But, faith in God’s word is what helps the willing to see, because of the power it infuses in them. They do not have to prove the things they see, but the power that works in them for the sake of God provides proof. It works in them to produce godly works. They differ from those with conceptual belief in that they received God’s appeal. It is through receiving God’s appeal alone that we break the hardness of our spirit. He who was once justified by God and is now in need of His discipline certainly has the avenue before him to grasp His intent. It is better to be disciplined by the Lord than to not have known it. The hidden manna, a white stone and the new name are the representation of what God will make us to be. We will never be in want. We will be vindicated and honored by God. This is what true believers always strive for.
“But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me’” (Luke 10:40). This is the principal reason for the many called and once justified to be unable to continually walk with God. What do we think the Lord desires the most from us? There are many things in this world that we can do and they might all be profitable to us in many ways. Yet, when they are serving as distractions to come to the Lord, our spirituality will be eventually made conceptual. The experience or experiences we had with the Lord will fade away so that we would not be able to relive them. Then, for our sake the Lord will have to employ His discipline toward us. Do not be terrified. With every discipline there is a reward. Without preparing a reward the Lord will not employ His discipline for us.
When Martha was distracted, her only short coming was in being unable to fully understand the intent of the Lord. It was a deed of flesh that distracted her from the Lord. The Lord removed it by declaring that Mary chose the good part. I am sure Martha was wounded at heart, especially when she too loved the Lord. But, it was enough to remove the hardness of her spirit. The Lord loved her that He chose to discipline her. Many times the discipline of the Lord is simple helping us to understand the truth about Him. Martha was working vehemently to satisfy the Lord’s needs. There was nothing wrong in it. But, His intent for her was much greater than hers. The heavenly matters were of much more significance to the Lord than the earthly ones. Mary loved what was important to the Lord.
Everything that God has given you in this life is His. Yet, when you work around them alone, it worries Him. The constant deeds of the flesh that results in the hardness of your spirit will come between you and Him, and it worries Him. Therefore, he disciplines you. As Christians when we know the Lord’s intent toward us, we can possess a great desire for Him; and rather being often disciplined by Him be blessed by Him. How can one quantify such desire? “Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, And Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep” (Hos. 12:12). Had Jacob not known the Lord through faith, he would not have had the strength to work for a wife. He kept sheep having hope in the promise of God. For the blessing that God gave to Jacob became his strength to possess a wife. God guided him in His word. There was not seen in him either the hardness of the spirit or the deeds of the flesh with which Laban could accuse. Just as Jacob being in the promise of God worked with all his strength for a wife, we too ought to work for God by being in the word and filled with His Spirit. Unless Christians possess such great passion for the Lord, they cannot practically walk with Him.
Jesus too had a great desire for His Father. He walked with Him. “And He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple” (Mark 11:16). There is in fact a wonderful similarity between Jacob and Jesus. Both were working in, by and for the promise of God. And, God too was with both of them. The reason being they first had in them implanted the intent of God. By what has been implanted in them they walked with Him. They fulfilled the will of God. If, as Christians, we should not be distracted by the things of this world, the deeds of the adversary or the unprincipled men, we must possess from God the word that gives power. This is the power that Jesus had and He did not permit any merchandise through the temple. We ought to know by now that we are the temple of God in whom His Spirit rests. Do not let any merchandise go through you lest you be distracted and incur a stricter discipline of the Lord. As long as you are guided by the Lord and our justification remains blameless, He will not have the need to discipline you. The less the Lord disciplines us in our lives, the greater we grow in the Spirit; and many will be our blessings.
Surely, we will not always live perfect in the Lord. But, our faithful calling on the Lord in repentance will avail us His forgiveness. If you are aware of this law of Christ, you will avoid the hardness of your spirit. Then, no merchandise can distract you from Him. He will lead you just as He led the called. “But get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do” (Acts 9:6). You have been brought into His guidance! It is amazing to know what the Lord can do to you and with you through His word. His word is so perfect that He is able to guide you even as He did the chosen. This is practical walk with God. There is nothing conceptual in it. In this pattern alone faith will work with works and is perfected. Or, how does one think Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness? It is by the works that worked with faith which are according to the word of God. Such works bear the power of God helping us to resist the deeds of the flesh. They constantly define and reveal to us the righteousness of God. And though there are many works that seem profitable to us, we will only perform those that are desirable to God “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).