Saturday, December 15, 2007

Acceptance Is Not By Condition

First of all, we must consider the area in which we are not accepted by God, nor ever can be. It is only natural for us to feel that our spiritual walk and service make us acceptable to our Father. We imagine that it is our responsibility (with His help) to live and serve so faithfully and fruitfully that He will approve of us, and therefore continually and abundantly bless us. We are making the natural mistake of depending on condition, instead of position, for our acceptance.

Important as it is, service is often a condition-centered detriment in the lives of many zealous believers. When service is given predominance over fellowship with and growth in the Lord Jesus, doing, instead of being, takes over in the life. Fellowship and growth must ever take precedence over service and activity, otherwise spiritual declension sets in.

In this reversal of God's order for us, the heart seeks satisfaction and a sens of acceptance through production (law), instead of reception (grace). Bible study and prayer, as well as one's outlook, become almost exclusively service-centered. Instead of life bringing forth service, service becomes the life. Thus, as long as the service goes well, the servant is happy and feels accepted. But once the service wanes, or fails to produce results, all else falls with it. We are to be sons, not servants. "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son..." (Gal. 4:7).

In time, we begin to realize that there is something very wrong with this entire concept. We become aware that our walk and service are less and less acceptable, even to ourselves. In seeking to do rather than to be, attempting to give out more than we take in, our condition becomes barren and carnal. We have been depending on self to do what only Christ our life can do; the farther we move on this tangent, the more active and malignant the self-life appears to be.

What the condition-centered believer does not realize is that God Himself is causing this shattering revelation of self. He takes us into situations and relationships that finally cause us to face up tot the fact of our failure as Christians—our nothingness, our total unacceptability in ourselves. Not until we understand that in our flesh there "dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18), can we rest in our position of complete acceptance in the Lord Jesus, just as we are. To abide in Christ, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the believer's positional privilege and responsibility. Love functions according to its nature, not according to the quality of its object.

The believer who is not abiding by faith in the acceptable One, but who is relying on his personal condition for acceptance, is hopelessly handicapped in the matter of fellowship, growth, and service. He is entangled in the self-effort of working to improve his condition, and is inevitably cast down in utter defeat. How can a defeated, depressed, self-centered Christian enjoy fellowship with the Father, or be at peace with Him? Yet, devastating as this Romans 7 trek is, it is our Father's preparation of us in order that we may shift our reliance and faith from our condition in ourselves, to our position in Christ. "...not I, but Christ..." (Gal. 2:20).

From The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford; Zondervan Publishing House, 1983; pages 91-92.

3 comments:

lajiemarie said...

Important as it is, service is often a condition-centered detriment in the lives of many zealous believers. When service is given predominance over fellowship with and growth in the Lord Jesus, doing, instead of being, takes over in the life. Fellowship and growth must ever take precedence over service and activity, otherwise spiritual declension sets in.

AMEN!
Thank you for sharing, and thank you also for the comment on my blog! May you continue to grow in the Lord!!!!

BrittLeigh said...

"Instead of life bringing forth service, service becomes the life."
What an incredible piece of literature. Thank you so much for sharing this... it totally goes along with a train of thought that has been on my mind lately. How it must grieve God to see us so focused on doing we forget His great sacrifice and love for us... or we simply miss it by a grand margin.

Once again, great thoughts. I really appreciated this.

Andrea said...

Wow...that hits the nail on the head.

"God takes us into situations and relationships that finally cause us to face up to the fact of our failure as Christians—our nothingness, our total unacceptability in ourselves. Not until we understand that in our flesh there "dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18), can we rest in our position of complete acceptance in the Lord Jesus..."

That part especially spoke to me. So often we act as if this "shattering" is an awful, earth-shaking trauma, when it is really a demonstration of God's love for us in drawing us back to a dependance and focus on Him.

Thanks for passing along the blessing! I will be thinking on this for awhile!