What is Taking up the Cross #3, Poison


Hi all,
Once in a while I get in the mood for a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, and this was one of those days. We had some Irish ‘Steel Cut’ oatmeal on the shelf, and though the expiration date on the box had already passed, I didn’t see any worms crawling around in it, so I fixed a big bowl, lol.
After pouring some milk on top and mixing it around it didn’t take me long to devour the whole bowl along with 4 slices of hot buttered toast. I thought it tasted rather funny, it had a tart, sharp taste to it, sour, but I figured that was because the Irish version of oatmeal must be like that.
Knowing Barb and knowing she would want to sample whatever I was having (see the first in this series), when I made my oatmeal I had fixed enough for her to have a bowl once she was up and around. She poured it into a bowl, poured a little milk on top and mixed it in, sat down, put a big spoonful in her mouth…and then spit it out right away: “Yuck! That oatmeal has gone bad. Oh, that’s just horrible. It’s rancid. Throw it out; I hope you didn’t eat any! It could make you sick, you need to eat something else!”
I replied; “Too late, I already had a big bowl. I thought it tasted funny but poison can’t hurt me since I didn’t know it was spoiled – so lesson learned, no harm done. I guess that funny taste wasn’t because it was a different brand.” She ended up eating a cold bowl of cereal instead. I went on about my day just fine.
Old thoughts that need to be taken to the cross and poison
I’ve shared when Peter told the Lord that He should not go to the cross, Jesus told him he was thinking man’s thoughts, not God’s thoughts, and he needed to crucify those thoughts and take up God’s thoughts.
Last week I shared how the first thoughts one should crucify based on revelation are those of self-hatred, as the command to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves cannot be done if we don’t first love ourselves.
I shared how some believers never really received that revelation before jumping ahead to ‘deeper’ truths. If they rush ahead seeking and receiving revelation on other subjects in the faith before truly knowing the Father’s revelation of love for them, due to the flawed foundation they can get off balance in their faith.
Like putting together a big spiritual breakfast, they may assemble spiritual toast, spiritual milk, spiritual oatmeal, yet never realize 1 of those elements is poison mixed in with the others. On the outside they look spiritually healthy, but in reality they are including poison.
Once I have those revelations, what is next?
Peter stated in II Peter 1, starting in verse 5:
“…applying your diligence in exercising your faith to develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly affection (love), and in your brotherly affection, develop Christian love (agape’) that is to learn to unselfishly seek the best for others and to do things for their benefit.”
Notice that ‘moral excellence’ is the first character trait to be developed after those basic revelations of Jesus is Christ and that we are unconditionally loved.
A person who knows Jesus is Lord and we will each stand before Him one day to give account of our lives, and knows He loves them unconditionally, will no longer want to steal, lie, cheat to get their way. Moral excellence is therefore the first character trait to add to one’s faith after those revelations.
Where old thoughts die and new thoughts take life
Let us say a newly born again teenager WITH those amazing revelations energizing their thoughts meets up with his old friends who want to go shop lifting (stealing from stores) after school. Right away this young man is faced with being accountable to Jesus, and that because he loves himself and knows he and his friends are so loved, enters into a battle in the mind about going out on a minor crime spree with his old friends.
There no longer remains any motivation for stealing even though he could use a new pair of shoes. The drive to steal isn’t there so he must develop the backbone to tell his friends ‘no’, and be wiling to be made fun of, to be called names, to be ostracized from the group. He is adding moral excellence to his faith by crucifying old thoughts to allow new thoughts to become his own.
What about the teenage girl who was abused as a child
She came to the Lord as a last attempt at happiness and discovered God is real and He loves her, but she struggles with loving herself. She can’t forgive herself and therefore has a hard time believing He loves her.
But in times of study of the Word, and more so, in times of worship and prayer getting to know the Word Himself rather than merely ink on a page Word which flows by extension from Him, she gradually stops fighting those new thoughts that she is loved unconditionally, and lets them fill her mind with assurance.
And so when on a date with a boy who wants to have sex with her, in times past she would give in because down inside she was hoping he would truly love her for who she was, unconditionally, hoping the next boy would be ‘the one’ to fill the void inside her heart.
But now she has that revelation that Jesus is Christ and that she is unconditionally loved. She is no longer seeking to have a void in her heart filled with love, she has it already. Gone is the desire to have sex to win over the boy who may be ‘the one’ to fill that void – and she tells this boy ‘no’, and she means it. She is adding moral excellence to her faith by crucifying her old thoughts in order to think God’s thoughts.
The business owner
This person owns a small plumbing business and for years when the opportunity has presented itself, he has asked the customer for cash payment, which he pocketed without reporting it as income, thereby side-stepping the filing of paperwork and tax payments.
But now he is born again, and knows he is loved unconditionally. He starts to look at customers differently, with the knowledge that Christ is in him and when he fixes that toilet or sink it is Christ in him fixing that person’s plumbing, and he is His hands extended to do good for people.
One day he is about to ask for cash payment if they have it, and he stops. It is as if Jesus is watching from within him, and in truth, He is. Suddenly the revelation of his corruption hits him hard, and he tells the customer if they want to use their card or write a check that is fine too. He is adding moral excellence by crucifying old thoughts on how he runs his business, and based on revelation thinks new thoughts and ways.
Here is where the poison enters…
If each person above decides to go against the revelation they have received, and against what they know to do and what they know God is dealing with them about, to add to their faith moral excellence, their conscience becomes seared over like a piece of meat being grilled. That searing seals in the juices, the life, and doesn’t let it manifest outward to their lives, bringing God’s Life to their life.
Not only is their conscience seared a bit, but by allowing a little stealing, a little promiscuity, a little tax evasion, they are allowing themselves to consume a little poison along with that which is good and healthy for their spiritual life. They look like they are great Christians to all who see them, but on the inside they are allowing a poisonous tree to grow alongside their faith.
This is where they start to get off balance because by ignoring the Spirit of Truth inside them, each time they do this they sear their conscience just a little bit more, losing a bit of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit telling them x behavior is wrong, and that leads to insensitivity when x teacher or x teaching is off balance…and they start to get off the path.
At some point they either rise up and do the right thing, killing man’s thoughts on their internal cross which is what Jesus told Peter to do with his thoughts of Jesus not going to the cross. Or they keep a little of man’s thoughts alongside great teachings they receive along the way. Often like me accidentally ingesting poison oatmeal, God’s grace is there preventing no eternal harm IF they see their error, and correct it. If not, they will reap what they’ve sown and suffer accordingly, though grace is always there if they turn to Him…
And…I’ve run out of room today, we’ll pick it up here next week.
Until then, blessings,
    John Fenn

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