God’s purpose is to teach us in practical terms how to walk in this life in freedom from the influence of the world, our flesh and the devil. That doesn’t mean that He removes us from their influence, or that He removes them from this earthly realm. It does mean that as we learn to walk in confident victory day-by-day we become impervious to their influence, like brushing the dirt off of our shoes. This is one of God’s major goals, and He spends 24 hours of every day doing nothing but thinking about us and arranging our lives and circumstances to draw us into perfect union within our being and complete unity with Him.
Another of God’s jobs now is to consume our flesh. It is particularly important to remember that this is His job, not ours, and that He is always working on this. Our flesh is the only thing that truly stands in the way of our resting and relaxing in our new identity, and it is the only thing that interferes with God’s life working in and through us. So it is His priority to consume the flesh, though because of His love for us, and because He knows how fragile we are, He doesn’t strip us of all our flesh at once… we just couldn’t stand it. So He’s got His own time-table, and we can rest assured that He’s working on what’s most important to Him, though it may not be what we want Him to be working on. It’s also reassuring to know that by the time He makes us aware of an aspect of the flesh He’s working to consume, the vast majority has already been dealt with, so we’re involved only in the bonfire of victory.
Remember here that God, though He hates the flesh, doesn’t hold it’s presence against us. He knew from the very beginning that we would create the flesh that we’re contending with today. From the very beginning He has been arranging circumstances to expose our flesh, so that we can receive healing and enjoy having our needs met.
We are on God’s side in this; who we truly are — spirit beings — is in full agreement with what God is doing; but flesh doesn’t want to die, and our soul has never been this way before. Here we cannot be reminded enough to be patient with ourselves and with God — God Is Love, and He Is a Consuming Fire! He will finish what He’s started! Jesus will put His finger on what stands between us and knowing God, which is eternal life. Though we often don’t understand what He’s doing, we come to understand that although there is a way that seems right to us, its end result brings separation from the things of God. We cannot expect God to share His dominion and authority with our flesh.
God wants to reveal Himself to us in part so that He can direct us. Very often we want to be led by Him, following after Him, but as we grow to depend on Him, more and more He wants to point out the way, then move with us as we proceed. This may seem contradictory to walking in dependence, but what actually happens is that our confidence in our resting and abiding deepens. Likewise, our actions and behavior line up to such an extent that we find ourselves moving in Him and “obeying” Him without thinking or deciding to. As our soul and body line up with (come under the control of) our spirit, there is a unity that truly knows the way to go, and goes, without the need for signs, confirmations, or proof-after-the-fact. The knowing of confidence becomes all. This is an experience that is better “felt” than “telt,” but we must hold out for knowing Him by spirit, rather than settling for the natural and supernatural manifestations of the Lord we will experience as our supernatural and natural senses are tuned.
One of the ways God gives Himself to us and through us is by revealing Himself to us and through us. Each of us needs to have our senses tuned to His wavelength, so we can recognize Him and learn to know Him on His terms. Though God often manifests Himself to our natural senses, and enjoys doing so, He is always manifesting Himself spiritually — in the spiritual realm, His Spirit to our spirit — and desires to make Himself known, to manifest Himself, more and more clearly on the supernatural level. But this requires ears that hear and eyes that see on our part, so that we don’t insist that He only reveal Himself to our natural senses. None of us can possibly have any idea how He wants to make Himself known — what He has in store for us! But as we become trustworthy, and pursue Him with expectation and persistence, we will come to a place where whatever He is doing or saying, He can share it with us.
God’s purpose now is to give Himself to us and through us. Since this is His nature, and it will not change, receiving what He wants to give is something we’d better get good at. From our perspective, this giving is evidenced by His meeting our needs for unconditional love, acceptance and individual value. There is no limit to His meeting of these needs, and He shows no partiality in the way that He meets them. In other words, He doesn’t meet our need for unconditional love more than He meets our need for unconditional acceptance or individual significance. Love without acceptance is meaningless, as is acceptance without the recognition of a person’s individuality.
In previous articles we’ve found that God’s idea of success for us is simply actively depending on Him to live His life in and through us, on His terms, and that our purpose now, what we are doing here now, is to know God on His terms and in His timing. But what about God’s purpose? What is He getting out of this relationship?
For many of us when we consider this question we are drawn into large-scale events, like what is the Lord doing in terms of end-time events or the preaching of the gospel to all nations. But we want to look at what His purpose is in relationship to us as individuals; we will not be able to get a grasp of what He is doing on a large scale until we can relate to Him on a personal scale.
God does what God is, and what God is is His nature. We’ve already looked at some of His characteristics (He is Holy, Eternal, Creative, etc.), but He not only has these characteristics, but is by His nature sharing them with His creation as well. God’s nature is to give what He is, which is why He created us to be receivers.
So from our perspective there are some definite hindrances that keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. In all the above instances, we generally get bogged down trying to battle these hindrances ourselves. And it is here that we usually spend most of our time. But God will not let us overcome these in our own strength. Remember, though, that God loves us and has everything under control, and is working out every circumstance in our lives to bring us into the fulfillment of these purposes. As we learn to cooperate with Him, giving Him the time and attention necessary, we begin to believe the truth — what He says about us — and begin to truly walk and live in the freely dependent relationship He desires for us.
Our preconceived religious beliefs are some of our greatest hindrances. Generally speaking we “catch” our doctrines, our beliefs from what we hear and what we read, not necessarily from what the Lord Himself has revealed to us. So part of the process of bringing us into relationship with Him is that He brings to the surface the sources and foundations of what we believe, often by putting us into situations where those beliefs are tested. Since none of us has all the truth, at least some of what each of us believes is probably questionable. We need to be willing to change our mind, to submit what we believe to scrutiny, realizing that what is Truth will stand up under inspection. It is not faith in what we believe that is important, but faith in the living Person of Jesus Himself.
Religion also hampers our fulfillment of our purpose now through those we have placed in authority over us. We often subtly believe that making our leaders happy also makes God happy. Well, first, God is not depending on us or anyone else to make Him happy. Second, our relationship with God is between Him and us and no one else. This gives God and us the only authority over that relationship, and everything that springs from it. If you want to get along with God, stay out of His chair — and don’t let anyone else sit in it either! Don’t let others establish standards for pleasing God, or give in to others’ expectations of service or conditions of salvation. God is a jealous God, so don’t give others the authority over your spiritual life and walk that God has reserved for Himself.
Religion is diametrically opposed to the freedom that Jesus purchased for us 2000 years ago. The object of appropriate doctrinal teaching is not knowing, but coming freely and unencumbered — “as is.” The truth we learn is to bring us to Him, and until we commit ourselves to the implication of that truth, we haven’t learned, even if we pass every so-called test. The true test is whether we come. This is why we often find ourselves dealing with the same issues in our lives over and over again, because we hear and know but we don’t respond, and come.
Religion will try to be like Jesus, “What Would Jesus Do,” when in reality only Jesus can do, through us, what Jesus does. Trying to be like Jesus is acting, and acting is still acting, not being, no matter how good it looks. As we learn to depend on God we are free to “be” who we are, confident that the “doing” will line up over time with that reality.
Man, in his intellectual arrogance, loves to make complex what God has made simple. And knowing God is simple; it isn’t easy, but it’s simple. Knowing God is what we are made for; or more accurately, what we are re-made for. It is only when we continue to try to know Him on our terms, continue to do things our way, that we come to the conclusion that the “heavens are as brass,” that God isn’t there or isn’t listening to me, that I’m not hearing from Him, or that I’m kept from hearing from Him, cuz’ I really don’t want to hear what He has to say to me… after all, He’s a Holy God, and I’m just a sinner saved by grace.
But God’s purpose for us now is to be in a knowing, experiential relationship with Him, and He will not let anything stand in His way. Yet if we don’t know how to know Him, we are easily distracted and deceived into settling for less than His best. First, settle it that, Yes, you do want to know Him . . . but we need our senses tuned to recognize Him, and the flesh or self doesn’t want to die! So there will be some changes that we will be actively involved in — initiated, worked into and completed by God — in order for us to truly know Him the way He wants to be known.
Intimacy with God is a pure gift — it cannot be earned or maintained by obedience or anything else, for that matter. It was given to us at the Resurrection 2000 years ago. Now we know Him from two perspectives; 1) we take the initiative in knowing God by waiting for Him; and 2) we become increasingly aware and responsive toward God as He approaches us. He is always talking to us, revealing Himself to us. We just need to have our senses tuned to Him and then not settle for what others have experienced or say is “knowing” Him.
The World System Hinders Our Purpose Now
Some of the elements of the World System include time, death, decay, peer pressure, success, busy-ness, circumstances, status, physical needs, social structure/class structure and over-commitment. There is a power in the world system that comes from the primary curse. There is also a wisdom of this world; the children of this world are wiser than the children of the Kingdom. They know that all they have is what they can get. But this is not true for us saints. We are challenged to “be not conformed” to the demands of this world, to be different, separate from those who have no hope, who are without internal or eternal resources.
We are learning to resist the peer pressure, the pull to maintain the status quo that is so prevalent in this present age. How easy it is to settle for less — we compare ourselves with those who are close to us or those in leadership positions, and by doing so subtly affirm their lives or teachings as our standards. But God values us now “as is,” and expects us to value ourselves on the same basis. It doesn’t depend on what we have accomplished in the past or what we may accomplish in the future, but on what He says is true.
As citizens of the kingdom, we walk in this world, though we do not use its resources to get our needs met, but bring to this world the riches of His Kingdom — life, victory and freedom. We minister to the world because we have received from outside of it, and can therefore act and give independent of its influences. The spirit of this world with all its information, sensory bombardment and what is falsely called knowledge pollutes our minds and batters our emotions to distract us from this focus. We spend most of our lives trying to make life easier for ourselves, but Jesus said in this world we WILL have tribulation.
C.S. Lewis wrote; “Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be.” If you’ve taken a wrong turn, going forward does not get you any closer to your goal. If you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-face. In that case, the one who turns back soonest is the most progressive. Either way you’re in the desert, be it with others or by yourself. In which direction are you going to go?