I Have A Secret!

The secret to powerful, intercessory prayer.  The secret to a powerful prophetic vision.  The secret to being a powerful prayer warrior. The secret to winning at spiritual warfare. The secret to hearing God more clearly. The secret to receiving healing from heaven. How to hear Jesus calling.  This list is just an example of books written to Christians that I found on a popular online bookseller. I couldn’t help but notice a common theme amongst these books – they create the need for a higher and more mystical kind of experience that the average Christian must be missing out on. I mean – don’t we all want a powerful experience to brag – I mean talk about?

The church at Colossae, like the church today, was in danger of being deceived by people who came in claiming secret knowledge and a more powerful experience. Paul, never willing to see Christians fall into heresy, warns them strongly about the dangers of being dragged into such supposedly higher levels of spirituality.

Paul shows the Colossians that the mystery that was hidden has been revealed to His saints – all of them. No secret inner circle here.  What is that mystery? Christ in you – the hope of glory Col 1:27. In Col 2:2-4 we are told that Paul’s struggle is: “2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The warning comes in v 4: “I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”

False teachers are persuasive. They have something to sell and they know how to create a sense of missing out in us. I’ve been there in my Christian life but thankfully, was kept from falling into the heresy by the grace and mercy of God and a couple of His faithful preachers of the Word. Never underestimate the power of a preacher who is faithful to handle the Word accurately. They may not be the most exciting, but electrifying is a sales pitch – its rarely faithful preaching. Beware when your emotions are always being stirred up and it has to be exciting or you aren’t interested.

Paul goes on to warn us not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception because in Christ we have been made complete. There is no need for more experiences, more power, and more secret knowledge. In Christ you have been made complete.

He further warns in Col 2:18 “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.”

If you are wondering about why you don’t need all these mysterious, powerful experiences in your Christian life do this. Read the book of Colossians and write down everything that is yours in Christ. Once you see all that is already true of you in Christ, you will be better equipped to spot the false teacher with something to sell you. And by the way – sell is right, they always want money from you it seems.

The truth is simple. God is not playing hide and seek with us. He wants us to grow in grace, truth and holiness. In His infinite kindness, He has provided us with the means to do so. It’s no big secret. In fact, for over 2000 years the true church has clung to these ordinary means of grace with thankfulness and joy. What are they?  The ministry of the Word by a properly appointed elder on the Lord’s Day, the public reading of Scripture, corporate prayer, corporate confession and assurance of pardon, corporate singing, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper. Plain and simple. No mystery, no secrets for a select few, no confetti cannons, no gold dust. And yet, these are so very powerful in the life of the true believer.

So when the new preacher comes to town promising that he or she has the secret to a more powerful, mystical walk with the Lord you should hear alarm bells going off. The simple truth is that we have everything in Christ. In Him you have been made complete.  There is no powerful secret to transforming your Christian life. God’s ordinary means of grace are sufficient for all believers. Do not neglect these and you will experience all the power and love that Christ has to offer.

Freedom

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Gal 5:1

Image result for braveheart freedom

In one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time, Mel Gibson’s character, William Wallace, raises a battle cry for freedom. There is a longing for freedom in the heart of humanity. Freedom to live fully, freedom to choose right over wrong, freedom to be the best version of ourselves. Strangely enough, the church at Galatia was choosing of their own free will to go back under a yoke of slavery to legalism.

Every human ever born, is born under the yoke of slavery to sin and death. In our warped state, we imagine that freedom means doing whatever we feel like at the moment with no regard for others around us. Then, as we realize that doesn’t work, we decide that making rules and trying to keep them is the path to pleasing God. Anyone who has ever gone on a diet to lose weight knows what that is all about. We follow the latest diet fad with all its rules, only to find ourselves unable to continue after a few hours or days. Trying to keep the Law in our flesh is the same thing..

The churches of Galatia had apparently heard that the best way to please God was to be circumcised and keep the Law. And so they took on the heavy burden of trying to be externally good, all the while knowing that nothing changes on the inside when all we do is chase a list of do’s and don’ts. Paul tells us that this is a different gospel – actually no gospel at all. There is no good news in law keeping.

The freedom we find in Christ is different. It is a freedom which produces true love, joy, and peace. We have the freedom to rest in His righteousness instead of trying to make our own. We have the freedom to walk by the Spirit, who is producing the peaceful fruit of His life in our lives. In Christ we actually have the freedom to live fully, a freedom that is impossible for those who live apart from Christ.

Oh be sure – it is a battle of the flesh vs the Spirit. It is a battle that we will fight for the rest of our lives and sometimes it will be like one of those bloody clashes in Braveheart, leaving us battered and weary . But what we practice, we grow good at. If we practice the deeds of the flesh they will grow and we will harvest their bitter fruit. If we practice walking by the Spirit we will feast on the sweet fruit of a life lived to the glory of God. It really is a simple walk in the Spirit – not easy but simple. Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh- Gal 5:16.