Friday, July 5, 2013

The Inner Man - Living Inside Out

Today I divert away from strictly political and policy comments to share thoughts and experiences regarding the state of our nation and what I see as spiritual and philosophical overlaps.

As she was cleaning out closets today; my lovely bride found a printed copy of a short and informal essay I wrote back in the summer of 1992. I have scanned into a text document to share. It is both interesting and comforting that the thoughts and observations I wrote then; have not altered in 21 years. My concerns and observations then are basically the same that they are today.

At the bottom of the essay I have included a brief video from Wall Builders that highlights the key points of my essay.


Summer of 1992

Several weeks ago, I witnessed the condition of men’s hearts displayed in the violence of the L.A. riots. This is especially interesting to me because I was already attempting to prepare an essay on what the bible says about the condition of men’s hearts. My first intention was to simply offer bible scripture without any personal reflection attached, but I now feel the Lord laying it on my heart to include my perspective in this essay as well.

There are large numbers of believers today who believe we are entering the last days that the bible refers to within so many of the scriptures. Many Christians believe that the evil we see today in the form of corruption, murders, the promotion of premarital sex, lust - the violence and licentiousness around us etc., are truly signs that we are entering the last days. There are so many other signs, that we could spend hours talking about, but just a few of them can be found in the book of Second Timothy chapter 3. The important thing that I wish to discuss is that this is all coming about because so many people have turned their hearts away from God.

First let's discuss what the bible has to say about the hearts of men.

In the Old Testament book of Numbers 15:39 the Lord said to Moses:

"And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined."

Here God is speaking to Moses and telling him that his heart, a human heart, is inclined to sin. Now if the heart of Moses, a godly man, was inclined to sin, then how much more are our hearts inclined to the same sin. So it seems safe to say that the hearts of men are naturally inclined to sin.

Deuteronomy 8:2

"And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not."

In this particular scripture Moses has already led the Israelites out of Egypt into the desert. It is important to recognize that their life in the desert was not an easy one to live at all. As Christians we should understand that life will not always be easy for us. The rewards for walking with God are great, but we pay a tremendous price as we live by faith. We must count the cost and understand that God will put all Christians through many trials to reveal the true condition of their hearts and to test their faith.

Deuteronomy 11:13-17

"And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its seasons, that you may gather your grain, your wine and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord's anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly form the good land which the Lord is giving you."

Here we read that if we turn away from God, forgetting to love and serve Him with all our hearts and souls, that we shall not have prosperity. It is important to understand that these were for Gods people in this particular Old Testament scripture. Today anyone can be one of Gods people by accepting Christ.

If we accept Christ and then turn away from God by not living our lives by His word, then the prosperity of our lives will be removed by God. The verse in this particular scripture is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.

Matthew 5:8
"Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God."

Matthew 12:34-35
"Brood of vipers, How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.."

Now I've listed these two scriptures together because both are quotes of Jesus himself. The first of the two scriptures is a verse form the Sermon on the Mount, and the second verse is from a speech Jesus made to the Pharisees. It plainly tells us that an evil heart brings forth evil things, but if we are to see God, then we must have a pure heart rather than an evil heart.

Matthew 15:8-9
"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."

In this particular scripture Jesus was speaking to the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem about the tradition or ritual of washing their hands before eating. The Pharisees considered it a sin to not wash before eating. Jesus is drawing attention to the fact that men get caught up in ritualism, religion as we know it, and forget about worshiping from the heart. In the same way today we have people who come to church on Sunday, sing the songs of praise, say all the right words, but don't worship the Lord with their hearts. They are just going through the motions, paying God lip service, but still have evil in their hearts and live an ungodly life style outside of church.

Matthew 15:18-20
"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies.. These are the things which defile a man."

Here again Jesus is speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, and clearly defines what makes a man unholy. The most important point of these scriptures is to never allow yourself to become caught up in the rituals of religion. We must continually re-examine the condition of our heart. It's ok to have your actions be a clear display of faith. For instance some faithful Christians practice taking communion and many other routine activities within their church organizations, and these are all good things if there are truly reflective of the condition of your heart. It is the condition of the heart that matters most to God.

Why then is it so important to have a pure heart if your outward actions are good. After all no one can look into your heart and know what you really think and feel right? Wrong, because there is someone who can perceive the true condition of your heart; God. And since God and Jesus are one, as the bible tells us, then surely Jesus can perceive the condition of men’s hearts as well.

Luke 9:46-47
Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be the greatest. And Jesus perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by him....

Mark 2:6-8
And some of the scribes were sitting and reasoning in their hearts. "Why does this Man Jesus speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" But immediately, when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?"

It is important to recognize that what God thinks about you is more important than what people think about you; and there is nothing that you can hide from God. What is most important to God is who you are on the inside. Don’t get me wrong; it is ok to be concerned with what others think about you, but absolutely always put God first. We can only do that by keeping the thoughts of our hearts pure and holy.

Second Timothy 2:22
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

In this particular new testament scripture written by Paul, we find that youthful lusts, or impure thoughts, are a condition of the heart. If we are to truly be a member of a body of believers then we must call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

First Peter 1:22-23
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of a corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

This particular scripture is very special and can be broken into two clearly defined messages. In the first sentence Peter tells us that obeying the truth of the Spirit purifies our souls. It is amazing to think about how many people in the world today are trying to find happiness in their lives, and are not aware of how simple it is to find. The Spirit of God will convict you to love others, and obey God - and all you have to do to feel purity in your life is obey what the Spirit is telling you. Secondly, Peter is telling us that the word of God actually lives and gives us an incorruptible seed which is planted in our heart when we are born again of the Holy Spirit, therefore we should love each other fervently, which simply means ‘without ceasing’. So if you are born again then rejoice in the fact that your soul is purified through love and the Spirit, and if you’re not born again then turn to God through Jesus and experience the joy for yourself!

At this point you might be wondering why we must perform good works if God is so concerned with the condition of our hearts. Gods word tells us that good works are a waste of time if you don't have a pure heart. He is also very clear about the fact that a pure heart, or faith, without good works isn't enough either. So to be living a truly godly life we must accompany our faith with good works as well. Let’s see which scriptures support this belief.

James 2:14 & 17
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Here without argument we see that if we have faith but do not have works than we may as well not have any faith at all. When I made my step of faith to accept Christ, I knew that my actions and behaviors would have to reflect and support my faith.

James 2:10
But someone will say, "you have faith, and I have works-" Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Here I emphasize the word 'by' because our works must be an outward expression of our faith, and these same works are the best possible way to testify to the world of your faith. But we must remember that these works are to bring glory to God and not to ourselves.

I do not do good works to earn God’s love and mercy – I do good works because of God’s love and mercy; because I am so very thankful for Him and I place my total trust in Him.

Ephesians 2:0-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift from God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The scripture clearly tells us that we are saved through the grace of God alone and that it is a gift from Him. We are not saved through works. Neither are we to brag about our works that we perform because the work is God’s work which was prepared before we even had any idea that it would occur. Our specific attitude or understanding in the performance of these works is that we are Gods tool, crafted by Him and His workmanship, and the work is actually performed by God.

Second Timothy 1:8-9
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

There are many Christians today which I call closet Christians, that is to say they don't openly talk about their faith or relationship with Jesus. The bible tells us to not be ashamed of our personal testimony and that one of the many ways that we can also suffer for the gospel is by taking the time to share about our faith with others. We can always expect to be ridiculed for doing such, but Paul stresses that our calling from God is a holy calling, and that our role in that calling is according to His purposes which he planned beforehand. It is a great blessing to be a participant in Gods purposes and Christians should never find any shame in it.

I speak from experience when I say it’s tough to not be a chameleon Christian. We desire so much to be accepted by the people around us, so we try desperately to fit in, by blending into our surroundings. The problem with that is that we are often trying to fit in and be accepted by people who have their eyes on the world, and the things of this world rather than on God. It takes a lot of courage and strength to face the world openly as a Christian, so it is important that Christians attempt it only by the Spirit of the Lord. Here again we see that the scripture clearly expresses that the works we perform are not actually our works, but rather they are Gods works.

Titus 1:15-16
To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Now when Paul says "to the pure all things are pure", he is not trying to say that a pure man or woman is without any sin. Rather what he is saying is that a pure man or woman will keep the things of his or her life pure by resisting the devil, fleeing from and renouncing sin past present and future. That means their thoughts, their actions; all aspects of their life.

Paul also explains that there are people who will say that they believe in God, yet their daily actions are not pure. This will happen because they are not truly walking with God; the hearts are not in the right place, therefore they are not qualified to do any good work for the Lord.

It's sad that people do not want to accept God under His terms which are so expressly written in the Bible. People want to believe in God, but only according to their own purposes or according to their own ‘definition’ of who God is. To truly walk with God we must do it His way, and that can only happen through submission; and knowing His word. It's the most difficult thing I ever did, and as I continue my walk with God it doesn't get any easier. But the inner peace I have, the love I feel for God and my fellow man, and most importantly my salvation is worth the sacrifice.

Titus 3:4-5
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

In the first sentence the words God and Savior are spoken of as one, "of God our Savior". It is important to understand that God and Jesus are one and part of each other (John 14:10-11). Paul is clearly telling us that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that we have been saved only through the grace and mercy of God, and not by our own works. So good works will not save you. The only thing that will save you is the mercy of God, which is a gift from Him when and if we accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

So if we must have faith first, before being qualified to be a part of Gods good works; then what determines our faith? The answer to this is simple for the Christian, but to the non-believer it is difficult to swallow. This truly special answer that God gives us about what determines our faith can be found and supported in various scriptures within the third chapter of the book of John.

John 3:3
And Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:5-6
Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God’s word in the Bible clearly tells us that if we are truly to have faith in Him then we must accept Jesus as our Savior, and to have that acceptance be shown physically by going to the alter, or by any other strictly outward action isn't enough. Your acceptance of Jesus, and your faith in God must be from the heart, because if it isn't - God will know. Remember that God knows all your thoughts, your emotions; He knows the condition of your heart. So God will judge men by the conditions of their hearts first.

God’s entire purpose for sending Jesus Christ into this world in the form of human flesh, was so that Jesus could live a life in the flesh without any sin. So that he could preach the good news, perform miracles, draw people closer to the Lord, and finally to die on the cross a sinless man; being the final and ultimate sacrifice offered to the Lord for the sake of all mankind. Anyone can receive God’s grace and mercy simply by submitting and believing in Christ as Savior.

This is much more easily said than done. I know because I rejected the idea for years, and I rejected Christ for years. The toughest thing I ever did in my life was the accepting of Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Savior.

I saw the entire process as being too difficult for me to handle. Additionally, not for one minute was I going to let anyone besides myself tell me how to live my life. After all; I was a good person, I didn't cheat or break the law; at least not in any big ways. I gave to charities, volunteered to work with children, worked hard every day at my job, and was very successful at what I did. I thought I was living a full life; as full a life as anyone could ever live.

Still there was unrest in my life. There were so many times I felt my life lacked real direction or purpose, and my subconscious would become very disturbed from time to time. Slowly God began to work on me; using the Holy Spirit to convict me, so that I would stop and take a closer look at my life. It was like a small voice in my head saying, "Look at your life Pat, look at the people you call friends. They lead you into sin, they use drugs, and they drink too much. Would they be there if you really needed them?" I got sick of the parties, the fornication, and the state of ungodliness in my life. The sad thing is that the world today teaches us that to do what every you want -  this is a great life of prosperity, this is true freedom. But it leads to a scarred conscious and bondage. The world tells us that to be successful, and surround yourself with others who are successful; who are enjoying the so called fruits of their labor. It's all a bunch of crap! A life of ease, money, wealth, and the worlds definition of success does not lead to spiritual renewal, eternal life or some type of clear conscious or any real peace.

The night that I accepted Christ was a very moving night for me. I was on my way to Calvary Chapel in West Covina California and had been invited to visit there on several occasions by some friends at work. At first I felt an eerie feeling inside that I wasn't really worthy to be in Gods house because of all the sin in my life. I arrived at the chapel and sat down with my friends. I was not in a very happy mood at all, my mind was flying a million miles an hour, and I couldn't really think straight. This was very uncomfortable for me because I like to feel in control of myself and my circumstances, and usually display much self-confidence. My friends had also noticed my unusual state and interpreted it as depression.

I suddenly realized that all the sin in my life was catching up with me, and God was breaking me. I realized that it is not enough to be a ‘good person’ – that there was nothing I could ever do to be good enough or earn my way to heaven. Without even realizing it, I had been maneuvered by God into a position where I would be forced to make a decision. He, his Word and his Holy Spirit have a way of doing that.

The service began as it usually does with some music. We hadn't even finished singing the first worship song when I realized - tonight was the night. At that very moment I knew that when it came time for an alter call that I was going up there. All my months of mental, emotional and spiritual struggle had led to me to a moment of decision. In my mind; I knew that I had studied nature, philosophy, science and society. I had taken inventory of what I can see with the human eye and what my intellect and my conscious had shown me in recent years. I had learned that the spiritual was intrinsically connected to the natural. It was decision time.

From that very moment my anxiety began to dissipate, and sweaty palms and the scatter thoughts in my brain gave way to a sense of peace while I patiently waited for the alter call to begin. I don’t even remember what was preached that night at Calvary Chapel. All I knew was I had made my decision and when the alter call came; I was going forward to make a public declaration that I am submitting my life to Christ and that He is now my savior and my friend.

It wasn't until several weeks later, when I took time to reflect on that evening, that I realized why my feelings of unrest had suddenly left and gave way to pure peace. It was because I had accepted Gods will in my heart before even going to the alter. The condition of my heart had changed. You see at that very moment; sitting in the service before the alter call, God knew that I had truly accepted Christ in my heart, and this I know pleased Him. So, supernaturally, he removed my feelings of unrest while I patiently waited for the alter call throughout the service.

When I went up to the alter and recited the sinners prayer, there was a tear or two in my eye. But on that evening several weeks later; as I reflected back on these events I cried so much more. I knew that God had given me inner peace that evening that would last a life time, and I truly began to understand the meaning of God’s grace, and the true meaning of love.

I offer a personal testimony that my life has changed and that I never want to go back to living my life the way I did before accepting Christ. I urge anyone who reads this to not just brush it off, but rather to ponder over it and try to muster up the courage to take up the cross and submit to God. I can tell you that it takes great courage from the moment of submission and from then on. Then by faith and God’s grace you will be qualified to participate in Gods purposes and plans. Your ‘good works’ will actually be Gods good works and a true outward reflection of your heart. Your life and entire being will be turned inside out by God’s grace and mercy. Then every aspect of how you live your daily life will be an outward reflection of your inner heart of faith. You will live from the inside out and feel and experience the Lords blessing in your life every day.

Christian teachings made America great.


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