When you first become a Christian a person usually goes through a honeymoon period where everything is effortless. You might feel Gods love and everything is joyful. Yay.
Then after a while a few things change. This post is an explanation of some of those changes. I hope this helps new Christians, or those who pastor new Christians.
Religion sets in.
When you are first saved you just trust God, right? It all seems so simple! So clear. You know your sins are forgiven and you feel relief. You feel reconciled to God.
But then people “teach” you. And you realise its not so simple. Apparently you have to repent of your past sins… apparently Jesus did not cleanse you… apparently you are not reconciled to God… until you get busy repenting of sins in your past and even in your family and geneology. Suddenly (and predictably) you don’t feel free, you don’t feel reconciled any more.
That’s how religion gets hold and ruins your faith. You see… Abram believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Simple. And you believed God and He counted that to you as righteousness. They told you that you are forgiven and you believed it… you received it… and you got it.
But then someone taught you law…. the “rules”… and you realised its not so simple. You lost it. You no longer felt it.
Well… I’m saying… it really IS simple. Just believe what God says to you. If you can’t hear Him, then believe what He says through His words in scripture.
The veil of law covers your eyes.
This is another time that religion sets in. You start out trusting and then in your delight for God and your desire to please Him, you study the law. Uh oh. Bad move, because the NT says that when people read the law a veil comes over our eyes. Stay away from the law. Its religion and it will draw you into works and doing things to try and make yourself acceptable to God.
Why try to be acceptable, when Jesus Christ died to make you acceptable? Its done. Chillax.
Learning the lessons.
Lets say you come to Him when you are 18. You have had 18 years of wrong teaching. You know a LOT about the enemy’s kingdom (movies, news broadcasts, school curriculums and TV shows do the teaching) but you know nothing about God’s Kingdom… yet.
Now the Holy Spirit begins to teach you about God’s Kingdom and His ways. His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts are higher than ours… meaning… they are completely different and totally unfamiliar and unnatural to us. And of course they would be… He is GOD and you are not.
Your first 18 years were spent learning the ways of the enemy… just think. for over 6000 years he has been teaching this world his ways. Our movies, newspapers and tv are saturated with violence, status symbols, power, sex and lawlessness.
You learned that resources are scarce and that you have to fight for them. You learned that life is hard… you work, pay taxes, hopefully find love, have kids, get addictions or divorce or sicknesses, debt… and then you die.
And (supposedly) along the way the best thing to do is get a good (or great) education, have high income, find good friends, be assertive, fight for your right to party, take a second mortgage to pay for an expensive wedding and honeymoon, get control, have fun by spending money, food, drink, party, clothing, shopping therapy, travel a lot, flat screen tv, DVD/blu-ray collection… and then you die.
And (apparently) the person who dies with the most stuff wins.
But in God’s Kingdom its not like that… He speaks things into being. He says LET THERE BE LIGHT… and poof! there is light! Where is the suffering and hard work in that?
There is a lot to learn in this Kingdom of Heaven. His ways are not our ways 🙂
Distress as He teaches you to rely on Him.
When you come to Him you think a lot of things are important… things which are actually NOT important in His Kingdom. You think that there are all kinds of things you need to have and do to survive in life. For example, insurance, lots of money, status, the approval of various people around you, education and degrees, the right car and the right clothing and so on.
But if God has plans for your life… and He does… He will remove many or all of those things until you learn – by experience – that when you have Him and His words then you have all you need for triumphant success in your life. Yes… He does want you to have success.
So the process is a bit like this… under your feet you have a lot of things you are standing on. Then He takes one away, but you try to hold onto it, because your 18 years of training in life tells you that you really REALLY need that thing. But it goes… and you adjust and realise you are OK without it.
Prophetic people (and Apostles) in particular go through this process to an extreme extent. They have to come to a place where they know that “Jesus Christ is all and He is in all”.
When you are standing on Him and His words alone, then the other things are NOT added back so that you can stand on them again. Instead, they come back, but you keep on standing on Him and His words.
Now you are standing in strength and power… and you know it. You won’t want to move.
Learning to focus on the heart behind scripture instead of the words.
Again, this is a shift away from religion to relationship. When you read scripture it is good to check out thre Greek and Hebrew meanings. But the key thing is to discern God’s character and His nature. THEN scripture will make more sense. THEN you will be able to discern spirits… when you know His nature, because you can tell what is NOT Him.
The words of scripture explain Gods nature. You need the words, but use them to understand Him. When you understand Him, then His Kingdom and His ways make sense. Until then it’s religion and it’s confusing and it’s hard work.
Let scripture interpret scripture.
Theology which is based on one or two verses is risky. But if you can find theology which is promised in the OT (future)… which Jesus says He is fulfilling (present)… and is confirmed in the NT as fulfilled (past)… then you are on very solid ground.
Putting off the old and putting on the new.
Unlearning what you have always thought was necessary for survival and success (in the enemy’s kingdom) and instead learning the ways of God’s Kingdom is a massive growth curve.
Pride (being stylish, being puffed up and looking good) is of no use in God’s Kingdom. Hate and long term anger or resentment brings darkness and causes you to lose your way.
You don’t need people’s approval, you need God’s approval.
Fellowship is very important.
The enemy teaches us to protect what is ours because there is a perceived shortage of resources. Therefore before you come to Jesus Christ you learn to be independant and secretive. For example, by the time we are teenagers we have learned to control the flow of information to and from our parents.
But God is a three in one God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). His own nature is to be in community. So He wants us to learn to be like Him… to live in community.
Jesus was in community almost all of the time. When Paul was persecuting people who believe, Jesus said to Paul “why are you persecuting Me?”. He sees His followers (His bride) as a part of Himself.
God in Heaven is surrounded by beings of all kinds of descriptions.
Jesus said that we will easily recognise His followers… by… THEIR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.
Learn that the fastest way to the top… is to go down lower.
Crazy huh? You see… for example… if you kneel down in front of others and wash their feet, then He will raise you up!
He can raise you up faster than any law degree, or seminary, or any fraternity, or the approval of anyone (either in or outside church). His decision to raise people up has nothing to do with their height, good looks, slick presentation or charm etc. it has to do with their commitment to love others.
That’s why in God’s Kingdom the fastest way to the top… is to go down lower and serve others… give your life for others. Then He will raise you up.
I hope these insights help you to get a good start in your walk. Or, to come back to a good place. Or, to mentor and pastor others through the difficult years as we unlearn the ways of the enemy and learn the unexpected ways of God’s Kingdom.