Thought for the Week - 5th NovemberPastor Gareth Watkins
Romans 8: 36-37
As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Sunday, 5th November was an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Following on from last week, I would like to again reflect on the experiences of Richard Wurmbrand, a man of God in Romania who was tortured for over a decade by the Communist regime. We are not called to be him. However, we are meant to be dying to self in the way that God has called us to do. Those men, women and children who face persecution, have learnt to endure their sufferings and in it, remain close to Christ. And it’s that which is important – that their relationship to Christ is central to all that goes on. Whether their home is taken from them or take their circumstances away from them, they don’t go along with their natural desires but with their desires under Christ. They follow God right through the circumstances. They endure. Their eternity lays before them.
Paul wrote the verses above. In his life, he was beaten up and left for dead. He was beaten, robbed, chained in prison, left by his friends and abandoned by his fellow disciples. But he learnt how to yield to the things of God. We too, in our suffering and in our circumstances, need to learn to yield to the things of God. We need to find Christ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
In Ephesians 4: 20-24 we read:
We read here that we have learnt truth from Christ. We need the truth! We are told to take off our old sinful natures and our former way of life. Why? Because our former life was created according to the standards and desires of our own sinful heart. Those things are often contrary to the will of God – where we go, how much time we spend there, how much money we spend on these things etc.
All those things need to go under God, because our old self lives by its selfish lusts, formed from a corrupted and deceived heart. It’s that corrupted and deceived heart that we have to take to God, as we cannot change it ourselves. Mankind cannot help its sinful and corrupt nature. The only source of help is Christ Himself. It’s only Christ that can change our corrupt nature. We have to take it to Christ. He takes it and nails it to the cross. That is what Christ did for us! That sinful nature that only thinks of you, what you want, what you need, what you think, what you feel, gets nailed to the cross of Christ. If you let Him have it.
That is the only thing that can deal with the nature of a man. If we belong to Christ, this is what we have to accept. We need to be thinking what we are doing to that grain of wheat that is meant to fall to the ground and die.
In Matthew 7: 16-20 we read Jesus teach:
Christ Himself sees what sort of fruit we bear.
Our old corrupted nature gets changed. God doesn’t maintain our old, corrupted nature. We are not meant to maintain our old natures! He gives us a new life, with new fruits. That nature is heavenward bound, where Christ is. That is why Christ died; so that we might have a new nature. Our old man, born in sin and deception, is crucified.
Crucifixion belongs to criminals. When we see Christ on the cross, He is there being punished as a criminal. He is there being punished for our sins. This punishment comes to Him – on that cross meant for Barrabas. Our old self is there, strapped to that cross, being crucified with Christ. God didn’t allow us to physically go there – He substituted Christ for our sinful natures, and Christ went there on our behalf. That is the miracle of God’s intention! That He wants to change our nature around into the likeness of Christ, which can go on into eternity and spend eternity there with Him. That is the miracle that comes to each one of us!
In Ephesians 2: 6 we read:
I believe in spiritual places, when we find Christ, that we are raised from the dead even at that moment. Ephesians 2:1 teaches of us being dead in our trespasses and sins. When we accept Christ, God raises us from the dead and seats us in heavenly realms with Christ. We can enter heavenly places that we couldn’t even comprehend before we were Christians. The natural life ends in a certain way, and the spiritual life goes on into a far greater expanse than we would have known in a natural life. God has changed all these things around by His mercy, so that we can see and touch a sense of heaven, even in this life. He baptises us in the Holy Spirit, He pours the Holy Spirit upon us, and He opens us up to a realm where we can intercede, we can enter into heavenly realms, we can touch something of eternity, and we can feel and touch the presence of God.
He has raised us from the dead in this life to be seated with Him in heavenly places! Life is changed around from a life that’s born to death, destruction and corruption, into a life that is in this world raised from the dead!
In Romans 6:4 we read:
We were dead spiritually, but now are now alive spiritually. The old man is under the waters of baptism, and the new man is risen from the waters of baptism into a new life in Christ. That is a miracle! That is something that each and every Christian should be able to testify of – that they’ve met God, they’ve been baptised in water, they’ve left their old life in the water, and their new life is alive in Christ. Every Christian should be able to witness to that.
Satan doesn’t leave us alone. The battle goes on in our minds. Satan blows these embers into flames. We need to cut those flames off.
We have a choice. Either we believe, deny ourselves and yield to the power of the Holy Spirit time and time again, or we don’t. If we don’t, we give into our natural self, our corrupt self, our lustful self, and we end up back in the old nature that is no longer dead to that cross.
When that old nature creeps up, give it to Christ to deal with. Ask Him to break the power of it over you, and take it from you.
Would you allow the old nature back in? Or would you follow on, yielding to Christ, who wants you to die to self?
You can learn more about Richard Wurmbrand’s story here: Link