This is part of YieldToGod’s Core Series, which sets forth the distinctives driving our perspective.
In the persons of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the triune God graciously meets us and offers His miraculous healing to our sin-sick souls. How do we receive it – or we might better say, how do we receive Him?
It is a fundamental belief at Yield To God that God gives not merely “grace”, but His own self to us to us to spiritually heal our souls, for this is the only thing that can sanctify us. God is a consuming fire of holiness. He is not squeamish about sin – indeed, He is the only force in the universe that can obliterate it by His own presence.
We cannot sanctify ourselves by trying harder, studying our Bibles better, intellectually focusing our minds on God’s truth, or even by praying for “help to be stronger” or for God to automatically zap us into not wanting to sin anymore. None of these things are God Himself, and it is only God’s presence in fully in our soul that can burn away our creeping godless independence and continuously burn it away with the fire of His holy love. This is an ongoing miracle – “The mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Christians can either receive this ongoing healing by trusting Him for it, or we can resist and reject it by self-effort. Consider three examples: two positive, and one negative.
A DEMON-POSSESSED SON:
The father was desperate. His son was possessed by something that caused him to grievously hurt himself, and no one could help him – not even the miracle-working disciples. The scribes seized upon this failure to create a large debate – probably over how much power there really was in the ministry of Jesus.
Jesus – God incarnate – arrived. The man begged Jesus to heal his son,“Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit… and your disciples could not cast it out.”
Jesus rebuked the argumentative crowd as a faithless generation and engaged the father with questions. Ultimately, the man pleaded, “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can trust, all things are possible to him who trusts.”
What a condition! Simply trusting in Jesus. The man had come to Jesus physically, but had he really bared his soul and expected a miracle? Did he really have enough faith – or would his unbelief prevent him from receiving the miracle?
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I trust; help my lack of trust!'”
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, shook the boy greatly, and came out of him. He fell down and many stood back in shock: “He is dead.” Jesus lifted him by the hand and the boy stood up.
WALKING ON THE WAVES:
Peter and the other disciples were in fear for their lives from the fierce storm surrounding their boat. Water from the waves and rain was cascading down their bodies as they strained for shore and prayed for God’s mercy. And then a ghostly figure emerged through the slanting rain, walking on the waves like some devil – filling their hearts with horror until the familiar voice, “Be of good cheer! It is I – do not be afraid!” came resounding across the water.
Peter shouted back, “Lord, if it is really you, command me to come out to you on the water!” And a single word was given: “Come!”
So Peter got out of the boat and began making his was to Jesus on the waves. Undoubtedly a thrill of adrenaline and peace shot through his soul as he walked out into the same sea that he had been afraid of, toward the ghostly figure he had moments ago been horrified of.
And then his focus shifted – the waves were very intense. This was absolutely unnatural. He was now too far from the boat. He was filled again with fear, and as his fear returned, he began to sink. “Lord, save me!” he shouted.
Suddenly Jesus had his hand – “Little-faith… why did you doubt?” Returning to the boat, the wind ceased, and the men bowed down before Him and worshiped Him, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Jesus was coming back to Nazareth. After all the things they had heard of Him, the little boy become a man was coming back to his old hometown. As always, he desired to “destroy the works of the devil,” “set the captives free’, and “loosen every bond.” He began by teaching in the synagogue.
Yet his old neighbors were unimpressed; offended. “Where did he come up with this stuff? We know him – his father and mother, and brothers and sisters. How did he get wisdom or power?”
The gospels of Mark and Matthew tell us “He could not do any miracles there…He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5, Matt. 13:58).
The father of the possessed boy had faith mixed with doubt, but he brought his doubts to Jesus and asked for help. He trusted to receive the miracle; Jesus worked the miracle.
Peter had faith to come to Jesus and was able to take one step after another, trusting Him. Even when this full confidence gave way to fear and distraction, he called out to Jesus to save him. He trusted to receive the miracle; Jesus worked the miracle.
The people who presumed themselves to know Jesus didn’t trust Him to heal them. And He was unable to heal them because of their unbelief. Jesus was ready – but they would not receive the miracle. This is a very real option for every human being, for every Christian; we may “quench the Spirit,” we may “grieve the Spirit,” we may “resist the Holy Spirit” (1 Thes. 5:19, Eph. 4:30, Acts 7:51), not merely by what we think of as “sins”, but by simply failing to rest and trust in Him. (Perhaps this is most likely to happen by those who have grown-up with Jesus and think they know what He can do and what they had best strive to do for themselves).
Our souls are sick and filled with problems, like the father’s son. Walking through this world in a truly Spirit-filled way is as much a miracle as Peter walking on the water. And the only way that we will be healed and empowered is through the miracle of God sharing Himself with us. A holy, genuinely-loving life is not based on self effort – as though we are trying hard to cast our our own demons or trying hard to walk on water – it can only happen by receiving the miracle of continuous sanctification.
Sanctification is not so much a process as a Person: “Christ Jesus is made unto us… sanctification (1 Cor 1:30). It is only by doing the “one thing needed” – resting in His presence (Luke 10:42, Mary and Martha) and trusting in Him – that the fruit of the Spirit will be produced in our hearts. “The fruits of righteousness…are by Jesus Christ,” (Phil 1:11), and the fruit of the Spirit, one may notice, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not a list of things to try to accomplish by our own self-effort or gratitude.
When we come to Jesus and ask Him, giving Him our doubts and fears, listening and obeying His mystical call to simply “Come,” entrusting our hearts entirely to Himm we will be filled with all the fruits of the Spirit and righteousness. As this supernatural and miraculous love, joy, and peace fills our hearts and as His energy fills us , these fruits will then flow into thoughts and actions.
But all this is a symptom of the “one thing needed.” They are the cascading symptoms of trusting in Jesus as He calls to us:
“Come to me, all who are thirsty… come to the waters and drink” (John 7:37, Isa. 55:1)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, come with me under my yoke, and you shall find rest for your souls ” (Matthew 11:28)
“Remain in me, and I in you… I am the vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:4-5)
Jesus has not left us. “I am with you always,” He promises. Let us come to Him, then! The cry of faith, reaching out to Jesus, must be, “Lord, I come to you, by your power I will stay with you – thank you for working the miracle of your presence in my heart.”