I’ve lived and been a Christian long enough to notice a disturbing pattern. And while I see it in my own life, I can see that it’s a pattern that is widespread, and not confined to my own…idiosyncrasies. I’ve noticed that every time I have a significant experience with God, overcoming some area that I’ve struggled with, a breakthrough, some would call it, I get extremely lazy in my prayer and bible study. This, after I’ve devoted prayer and time to seeking God for some period of time, and I practically run back to a self-centered lifestyle, and lose what God has done in and for me.
It’s a curious occurrence. Jesus said that when a spirit leaves a man, it wanders about, then returns, finding the house clean, and bring seven other spirits with it to reoccupy the house. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it seems to me this is a very strong warning against just such activity, and maybe an explanation of why it is so difficult to keep ourselves deeply committed shortly after God has done a work in our life.
My question, really, is why? I should be (and generally am) ecstatic about having an experience with THE God. It’s an honor above all others. So why do I want to just “rest” from prayer, and indulge my flesh afterwards? Should my flesh not be much more subjected to the Spirit after such an experience than before? Thankfully, recently, as God helped me see his will in a very trying situation, I noticed myself the very next day being drawn into this temptation, and was able to observe my reactions to the seduction of lethargy, and to seek God to contain its effects in my life. I believe I also realized how, and why this is an issue for us who are earnestly seeking God in our…most of the time, at least.
Jesus said, in the parable of the sower, (Mark 4, I suggest you read the whole thing, as I will only quote two verses) that some seed falls on thorny ground, some on stony, and some on the road. I think that this probably falls under the “thorny” category.
“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Mark 4:19
It would seem that, if we receive our word, whether it be the initial revelation of saving knowledge of Jesus, or perhaps any word, deliverance, or instruction we receive from God for our lives, if we allow thorns to stay in the same ground, it will choke out God’s work, and make it unfruitful. This certainly differentiates from the seed on stony ground, or on the road, which died, leaving the person in the original desolate sinful state they began in. This is a condition of receiving what you want or need from God, and then keeping the other cares of the world, fleshly appetites, worries, the scheming for money, etc, which take up so much room in our lives that it makes that work of God unfruitful. Seeing this makes me truly understand the words of Paul: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24) But the death in this body, that renders the miraculous delivering power of God unfruitful, is present because of my obstinacy in wholly surrendering my life to God. The fact is, I enjoy many things in life that offer zero spiritual benefits. There are shows on TV that I enjoy so much, that I overlook sometimes overtly anti-christian, even occultic themes to watch them. On top of that, who can totally ignore the deceitfulness of riches? Money makes this world go round, so the world says, and without it, we can’t survive. It’s very difficult to not seek it as the deer seeks after water. However, it’s with that fervency that we’re instructed to seek God. The desires of decadence, entertainment, and fleshly pleasure are contrary to God.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that many times when God blesses us, it is temporally as well as spiritually . . . but if that is what we are seeking after, even that blessing will end up unfruitful. Let us then all take the warning to seek after God’s holiness, to seek to purify our lives of all that is worldly and unGodly, and therefore not allow our experiences, blessings, and gifts from God to be made unfruitful and useless.