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An Easy-Fitting Garment Or A Strong Barrier?
"Popular Christianity is an easy-fitting garment; it is like an old shoe that you slip on and off without any difficulty. But a religion that does not put up a strong barrier between you and many of your inclinations is not worth anything. The mark of a message from God is that it restrains and coerces, forbids and commands." - Maclaren(taken from the Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations)
How would you describe the Christianity that you have today?
Is it likened unto an "easy-fitting garment" which conforms to your "flesh" and knows no tight places along the way?
Or is it more like a "strong barrier" that "restrains" your wilful desires and keeps you in check?
What kind of Gospel messages are you generally drawn to?
Those that -
..."pump up" your ego - telling you how "anointed" you are
...teach you how to prosper and "get rich quick"
...excuse your sinning
...are devoid of Holy Ghost meddling
Or those that -
...restrain your fleshly desires
...forbid any excuses for sin
...command a higher standard of holiness for your life
...coerce you into being "real" with God, yourself, and others?
Unfortunately, many today are adhering to a "Gospel message" that pampers and caters to their fleshly whims and fancies. It's a message that promises an "easy" life which offers no restraints. It totally leaves out the Cross or any form of crucifixion to self or the world. Consequently, it results in an "anything goes" belief system!
One thing that we can be certain about is this - the Bible advocates a "Christianity" of "restraint." An appropriate way to describe the Grace of God in our lives is to picture it as a Strong Barrier which stands between us and our fleshly desires, affections, propensities, and inclinations. It stands like a Mighty Giant - opposing all that is motivated and influenced by the world and the devil for the satisfaction of the flesh.
Are those who are "loose" and "free" in their ways and mannerisms commendable or those who are under great restraint?
Read what King Solomon had to say about this matter -
Proverbs 16:32 says - "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."
Proverbs 25:28 says - "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
In both of these Scriptures, Solomon argued that it is the man who "ruleth his spirit" - is under great restraint in all that he thinks, says, feels, and does - who is "better."
"Better than" who?
"Better than" all those who refuse to place themselves under any form of self-government.
A "loose, undisciplined" Christian is one who professes to be "liberated," yet is a slave to his own unruly passions. He is one who can manage a business but cannot manage his own emotions and attitudes. He boasts in his mastery over evil spirits, yet he cannot gain mastery over his own self.
Christianity, through the Grace of God, advocates a religion of conquest, dominion, and order. As pertaining to the Kingdom of Darkness? Yes, but even more so - as pertaining to the very life of the Christian himself!!!
The overall goal for every believer in the Lord Jesus is to obtain and maintain - through the Grace of God - "rulership" over his own spirit at all times and in every place. In order to do so, he must subject himself to one restraint after another - one barrier following another.
How do we "rule" over our spirits as Solomon attested?
Here are ten Scriptural principles to follow in order to reach that designated goal -
1. Vanquish Evil By Doing Good To Others
Romans 12:21 says - "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
2. Don't Allow Any Form Of Sin Or Wicked Propensity To Rule In Your Heart
Psalm 119:133 says - "Order my steps in Thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me."
3. Through The Help Of The Holy Spirit, Subdue And Keep Under All Fleshly Lusts, Affections, Inclinations, And Passions
Romans 8:13 says - "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
Galatians 5:24 says - "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
4. Don't Have An Inordinate Care For The Things Of Your Body
Romans 13:14 says - "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof."
5. Yield and Submit To The Holy Spirit
Galatians 5:16 says - "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."
6. Abandon All Habits From the Old Life
Ephesians 4:22 says - "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts."
7. Take Pains To Keep Yourself From Sensual Desires
2 Timothy 2:22 says - "Flee also youthful lusts...'
8. Put Away All Things Contrary To God And His Worship
Titus 2:12 says - "...denying ungodliness and worldly lusts...'
9. Don't Model Your Life According To Your Former Conduct And Principles
1 Peter 1:14 says - "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance."
10. No Longer Conform To Man's Will But To God's
1 Peter 4:2 says - "That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
We see from these Scriptures that in order for us to "rule our spirits" as Solomon mentioned, we must -
...vanquish, not allow, subdue, keep under, abandon, take pains, put away, and no longer conform to evil and its propensities and desires in our flesh
...and come under the dominion and rule of the Holy Spirit and His influence and guidance.
Is Christianity an "easy-fitting garment"? Not according to the Scriptures.
On the contrary, it is a "strong barrier" which includes messages which "restrain," "coerce," "forbid," and "command."
What kind of Christianity do you have?
Is it the Popular and Well-accepted Plan which leaves out all difficulties or is it the One designed by God that brings you to "rule your spirit"?
Your life tells the story.
May God Bless His Word.