It is interesting to realize how adept we all are at hearing the Word of the Lord, and deftly applying it to the other guy. As long as we are living by our flesh we cannot help but hold a higher opinion of ourselves than we ought. When the Word of God is presented to us we fail to apply it to our own inner man, we cannot see our own shortcomings; while anyone can see that the one we live with obviously has real problems. This is human nature. (vs.20) Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. Our eyes behold the hand of God in the wonders of the world we live in, yet we are spiritually blind. We hear the words of Christ with our physical ears, but we have no spiritual discernment. We do not take to heart our own condition. We fulfill what Jesus said in Rev. 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. This is the condition of the Church. There are endless ways of reinforcing and affirming that this is not so, and mankind utilizes every one them, but the truth remains the same. The truth is evidenced in the fruit that we bear. The fruits of the Spirit are sadly lacking in the lives of most professing believers today. Spiritual discernment is far from most leaders, let alone the individual Christian. Many believe that spiritual discernment is a gift reserved only for a chosen few, and fail to comprehend that it is a required tool that every believer must possess. Discernment is acquired by pressing into a personal relationship with God, by living by the Spirit instead of from our carnal understanding. We have all been given far more spiritual capacity than we avail ourselves of. It is hard to seek for... more when you believe that you already have it all.
Isaiah 42:22, 23 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth: for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. Who among you will give ear to this? Who will hearken and hear for the time to come? It is difficult for many people to even entertain the concept that what we have inherited as Church and Worship and Doctrine could possibly be missing the mark. "Why, we have such beautiful buildings, how could they possibly be little more than prison houses?" "How dare anyone say that our traditions and programs are feeding our flesh while denying the Spirit?" It doesn't take much provocation to bring forth the ugly head of self-righteous indignation. Well, I'm afraid that there will be a lot of self-righteous indignation when God begins the work that He is about to bring upon this world. Self is the main problem we all must confront and overcome, by the Spirit.
Our concepts and ideas are not in accordance with God's Word. When we think of Church, we picture the denomination, the building, the group we are connected with. When we think of doctrine we think of the teachings we have received from the Church we attend. This is wrong. The Church is the body of Christ. Every born again believer make up the Church, from every nation and race. When the Word speaks of the Church, it is not referring to the Methodists or the Pentecostals or the Lutherans or any other denomination. Denominations are a vehicle devised by man, not by God. When Christ establishes His Kingdom on this earth there will be no denominations. When we think of Doctrine, we invariably think of the interpretations handed down to us from our denominational leaders. There is only one Doctrine that we should know, there is only one doctrine that makes any difference and that is the Doctrine of Christ. The teachings of men contain mixture; some truth and some error. Because of these things Christians are not of the same mind, but are divided one from another. This is an abomination in God's eyes, and grieves the Holy Spirit. We have indeed been snared and taken for a spoil. Complacency is rampant. Who is sounding an alarm? Who is taking a stand against the accepted practices that are operating today? Does no one care that the Body of Christ is in such a pitiful state?
It is no wonder that throughout the scriptures we are compared to sheep. We are most comfortable with a flock mentality. There is a false sense of security in belonging to a group. "We can't all be wrong" is a common justification. In case you haven't noticed, majority does not rule in the Kingdom of God. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, the majority would prefer to have God speak to a spokesman and have him pass it on rather than hear from the Lord for themselves. Even though they witnessed the miracles that brought them out of Egypt, and all that God did in the wilderness, their hearts never changed. They never desired a personal relationship with God. They continually grumbled and complained, walking in unbelief even while eating manna from heaven. God's judgment was that not one of them entered the promised land; they all died in the wilderness. Only their children were allowed to enter the land of promise with Joshua and Caleb.
We are faced with the same tests today. This world is a wilderness. Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 'Religious' and 'Righteous' are two entirely different things. The Muslims of the world are fanatically religious, but their belief and devotion is given to a false God. There is but One God, the I AM, and only by seeking God, by keeping His Commandments, by walking in the fear of the Lord, can we be counted among His children. We can possess the same mind as Christ Jesus, if we will walk in obedience. This will not come about by following any man. We must hear God for ourselves. We will be transformed by receiving the revelation of Jesus Christ, just as effectively as Saul was transformed into Paul. "Who will hear in the time to come?"
Ezekial 20:19 "I the Lord am your God; walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances." Keeping all of God's commandments is not just a suggestion, it is an absolute requirement.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We must be able to hear the Word if our faith would grow. We are so filled with preconceived interpretations of the Word received from men, that when God actually reveals the truth it sounds foreign to us. Much of what is embraced as truth is really in direct opposition to the truth. Rather than set people free, these doctrines put them in greater bondage. Rather than producing life change in the hearers, they are all pressed into the same mold. You can tell what denomination some people belong to simply by observing their dress and speech. The outstanding quality that Christians should be recognized for is their love, their meekness, their service, as well as the anointing and power of the Spirit of God that they walk in.
There is freedom in Christ Jesus; not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, but to walk in the spiritual freedom of a life governed by the Spirit of God. James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. When our minds are consumed with the rhetoric and interpretations of men, we cannot hear the Lord. When we fiercely cling to preconceived ideas, we are resisting the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit is able to lead us into all truth, and isn't the TRUTH what we want?
Our charge is to follow Christ. Ps. 46:10 Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. May our eyes be fixed solely on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. As we steadfastly look to Him, our eyes will see and our ears will hear. God does not intend for His servants to be spiritually deaf and blind. Individually, we need to grow in spiritual discernment. This is only possible as we keep our eye centered on Jesus, as we submit to the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit within our own heart and mind. Mark 13:22 For false Christ's and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
Deception in the wilderness that is this world has never been greater. We must commit to God with our whole heart. The seduction of that which is false will hold great appeal to our flesh, which is why living by the Spirit is critical to our survival. Personally knowing God is imperative, if we would not be among the 'snared and taken.' We do not want to be counted among those that hear the Lord tell them that they only think they are rich and increased with goods, when in reality they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. May we diligently seek for God's perfect will, that we have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church in these last days. May we lay down our will, and seek only for God's will in our hearts and lives. May we see the restoration of this world back to God with our eyes, and hear Him say 'well done my good and faithful servant' with our ears.