We are being tested my friends, all of us. We are being tested, and it is not an easy test. It is one of those hard tests like you hated in school. God has His own school system, and in the school of Christ, progress is going to come through battle and conflict. It is unavoidable and inescapable if you want to be mature.
What is maturity? It is the measure of Christ filling me. It is not me becoming something. It is Christ becoming all in all. I want to say that again. Maturity in the faith is not me becoming something. It is Christ becoming all in all to me. It is the fullness of Christ that brings maturity; not how good I am. My righteousness is as filthy rags but when Christ dominates, when Christ possesses, when Christ overcomes, and when Christ arises and increases, there comes maturity. Maturity is based around my ability to allow God to take me on a journey fraught with danger and pass through the valley of the shadow of death. That is where you learn to fear no evil. Why? Because “I am with you!” Your comfort is not how many people you can gather around you who can pray you out of the valley or come over in a helicopter and let down a ladder. That is not the answer. He will either shoot that helicopter down or lead you right into another valley, because He’s after something.
We are being tested as a people and the nature of the test involves how far we are willing to go. How much of the mind of Christ do we have? I will have that mind according to the measure of Christ that is in me. When Paul says, “We have the mind of Christ,” in 1 Corinthian 2:16, he is stating things as they should be, not as they are in reality. His entire book to the Corinthians deals with the fact that they are in an immature, carnal state without the mind of Christ.
Another way we are tested is in whether or not we are trying to attain something in the flesh that was begun in the Spirit (Galatians). Having begun in the Spirit will we continue in the Spirit? Will we continue to be sold-out, given over, completely dedicated, and completely consecrated to Him as a people? Will we realize the priestly call to intercession that is upon us as a people? Will we remember that there will be many tests between God’s beginnings and the full-measured maturity He is after in us? Will we maintain vigilance and diligence? Will we maintain a heart of humility? Will we refuse to allow any form of elitism to have access to our hearts? Will we cater to the good ideas of man instead of waiting on God to speak? Will we introduce destructive elements that will cause us to be derailed from the plan of God by our own desire to see something happen, even though it may not be in accordance with the will or timing of God? These are the tests that come to us corporately as a people. There are so many tests and you have only to look at history to see them. They are common; what I am saying is common to the people of God.
If we can recognize the test, it will aid us greatly. The test is real and the test is necessary. This will not be the last time we go through such testing. The testing of our faith is precious to God; the trying of our faith is precious to Him. It is meant to refine and make the gold even purer. It is meant not to make us stumble; it is meant for us to learn from, as Paul understands in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;
He says he learned to not trust in himself. How do you learn not to trust in yourself? I am a strong person, strong willed. That strength works against me, not for me. That strength is anathema to God. It is death working in me, not life. I must voluntarily embrace my true weakness. I must embrace the cross and its death blow to my strength: physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, whatever strength in me that is not Christ. I must embrace its death blow so that Christ is my strength, and I am strong only in the Lord and in the strength of His might. That is a willing choice on my part to accept that blow of the Lord.
Years ago, I had failed the Lord in a certain area, and I told Him, “I am so sorry. I am just weak.” But he said to me, “You have never been weak. Would that you were weak! If you were weak I would be strong, but you are so strong, I am the weak one.” I needed that rebuke. A lot of the conversations I have with the Lord are based around rebukes! That is not only because I need it—I do need it—it is also because I have given Him permission to talk to me that way. I would rather know it straight and upfront than it be clouded and kept from me by His kindness. And He is kind with me when He says it. In this case, I knew the reality of what He said; I know I am strong, and I know that human strength is a great detriment to God. We understand that, but we still have to walk it out, and we can only be proven in it through the testing and the trying.
God will put me to the test to see if that thing will rise back up again. Let me say this to us all: we are being tested in that way. Will we allow those things to rise back up in us that God put away? What will we allow? I hope this is helpful. We have to know the test in order to resist it. All that God has put away from us, let it stay put away! All that God has dealt with in my soul and flesh, let it stay in the grave where it needs to be. All that God has broken by breaking me, by humbling me, by making me tender-hearted, let it stay broken. All that God has torn out of us from the religion of Christianity, let it stay torn out. Let’s allow God to do what is new to us, foreign to us, but ultimately fulfilling His divine intention and will.
He is not going to hand us a map; He is going to be the way. There is no relationship in handing us a map and God is way too relational to just give you a schematic. Anybody can give you that, but He wants to be closer than that. He loves us more than that. In this test, realize two things: That which He has delivered us from was just a beginning. Maintain that beginning but progress ever onto the narrow road of Christ, the narrow way that He is.
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