True Success for the Born Again Believer
Framing our own worlds? Numerous or most “success” teachings, whether the speaker/author claims Christianity or not, will often quote and make use of Scripture in their speeches and books. These “experts” will use selected portions of the Bible like Prov. 23:7: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”; 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish”; 18:20-21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Though Bible verses are utilized, it is not with the Christian world view nor intent that the Bible, God’s Word, is the final authority for divine knowledge and that its clear message is relationship with its Author.
Here is a mere sampling of some of the self-development, personal “success” books available today.
- The Power Within You
- YOUR Best Life NOW
- The Purpose Driven Life (not Spirit Led)
- Think and Grow Rich
- Self Love
- Psycho Cybernetics
- How To Win Friends and Influence People
Are these book titles not indicative of the focus of these writings? These are philosophies which fill the minds of millions including many who call themselves Christians. This type of godless philosophy is expected among those who don’t know the LORD but should be clearly rejected among believers whose trust is in Christ alone. Perhaps the Bible is referenced by some “success” coaches in the attempt to justify certain actions and draw in their audiences. Whatever the reason they may quote the Bible, it doesn’t mean they honor the LORD it reveals, and the central message communicated through their use of God’s Word is not intended to honor Him. In fact, it is avoided.
Using God’s words and refusing to give Him the honor for it is thievery. These teachers are stealing from and making use of the words of the God they refuse to serve in spirit and in truth. Many of the verses from the Bible used (out of context) are those which concern the thinking and the power of the tongue. Yet, have you noticed that these messages purposely exclude any slight glimpse of submission to the Author of the Words of Life they are quoting? A “success” message that excludes the LORD and empowers men instead of God, is Luciferic (Is. 14:12-14). This is the ultra-popular message that trains people to trust in their own inner ability or self-worth. People are being taught that they can speak into existence their own desired end and think to grow rich or become “successful.” They are being taught that they are “little gods.” The “little gods” teaching fosters the notion that one is in control of his own universe and can therefore think himself or speak himself into the success he so desires. This is rebellion and many of God’s people have bought into it. Many desire “godhood” that is, to be in control of their own lives, destinies, etc.
BABEL: SUCCESS WITHOUT GOD?
Isn’t the message of “unity without God” the sin we see committed at the tower of Babel, where men sought in unity to frame their own world, apart from the LORD? (See Gen. 11.) This same age-old rebellion still exists within sinful hearts that refuse to truly submit wholeheartedly to their Creator. So many who claim Jesus as Savior still retain beliefs, CD’s, books, and materials from people who are clearly teachers of godless rebellion. These teachings clearly exclude the Almighty from the success formula, just as Nimrod did at Babel. Many of those who teach such are the modern-day Nimrods and are anchored within the Christian community, dispersing these poisonous teachings in pulpits and through various mediums of communication.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly” (Ps. 1:1). Look closely at this statement from the LORD. He didn’t say that the counsel of the ungodly wasn’t at times true, but that we are not to walk in the counsel of any person who is not clearly speaking as from His eternal truth—the Bible (1 Pet. 4:10-11). One may speak truth and even claim to be Christian and yet not possess the fruit of a true believer as defined in holy Scripture (Mt. 7:15-23; 1 Jn. 4:1-4; etc.). “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD” (Jer. 17:5). If we desire to be blessed, we must rid our minds and libraries of all ungodly counsel, even that which claims to be Christian (comes in the name of the LORD yet doesn’t pass the Biblical acid test). Why do those who claim to be Christians, seek the world’s teachers and teachings, when they have the very Word of the all wise, eternally existent God? Isn’t this ludicrous and completely inconsistent with Biblical Christianity? Jesus asks: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). What success could there be outside of the Alpha and Omega? What great success there is in the LORD’s “so great salvation”! (See Heb. 2:3.)
DIVINE PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS
True success is knowing, loving and obeying the One who made us. This is the heartbeat of all who are seeking first His kingdom and righteousness (Mt. 6:33), and not ourselves; to think according to His Word, and to speak His words, not our own that are crafted according to how we want our lives to turn out. He told us to follow exactly what He told us and that such would result in real success, both now and forever (2 Tim. 3:16; Josh. 1:8; etc.).
Note carefully what the Almighty tells us about “good success” and being “prosperous”: “This book of the law (God’s written Word) shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8). “THEN”— after you begin to speak, meditate upon and observe to do all His counsel, yes, HIS COUNSEL, your way will be made by Him to be prosperous and successful.
The word “success” appears only one time in the Bible and is directly connected to God’s written Word (Josh. 1:8). Real success occurs when the believer does not allow God’s Word to depart from his mouth, meditates upon it, and puts it into practice in his daily life. Our Father told us that in honoring Him, we were to fast (abstain from) our own words and speak His words: “…and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Is. 58:13). This author positively believes in speaking and thinking the right words and thinking the right thoughts—which are all in God’s Word (Josh. 1:8; Php. 4:8; 1 Pet. 1:13). God owns true success, not mere men. He is the One who promotes to real success (Ps. 75:5-6).
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psalm 1:1-3
God blesses the man who does not walk in the supposed “success” counsel of those who exclude the LORD Jesus Christ from their lives and teachings— “the ungodly.” Such is antichrist (against or in place of Christ). The “blessed” man is the one whose “delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Ps. 1). God’s written Word is His will and plan for your life. Learn, memorize and meditate upon it and you will experience real success both now and forever.
COUNTERFEIT SUCCESS / WHAT SUCCESS IS NOT
Using God’s Word while rejecting Him is error. Is this not the “pride of life”? (See 1 Jn. 2:15-17.) Didn’t Satan utilize God’s Word in the desert when tempting Jesus? (See Lk. 4.) And we know he has no relationship with Christ. Did our LORD not warn us that there will be “many” (who were leaders in their earthly life) who say to Him on Judgment Day that they did many works in His name and yet they didn’t get to know Him in their earthly life? What will be their eternal end?
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:21-23
Supposed “success” without Christ, the Creator and Redeemer, is no success at all, but rather rebellion. It says, “I don’t need God, I can make my own way and secure my own success and future!” “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:8-10).
Using Scripture for their own benefit, the “success experts” teachings normally go along these lines: “As a person thinks so is he and as he speaks his life will be— negative or positive. So self-concocted verbalized affirmations are to be devised to cast the vision and goals essential to success.” What is eliminated in these “success” teachings is the LORD Himself and true trust in Him. Those who truly know Christ are not ashamed of Him: “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom. 10:11). Trusting in the LORD would include not leaning to our own understanding by speaking our own words in an attempt to frame our own world/path/success, but rather by speaking His words and obeying His immutable vision recorded in holy Scripture (Josh. 1:8; Prov. 3:5-6; Hab. 2:2; Ps 33:11).
The vision He would have us to covet, internalize, possess and enact would be that recorded in His Word. His Word is His vision. Do you have His vision in your heart? “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” (Hab. 2:2). God’s “vision” for our lives is written and “plain” and clearly the path for the disciple of Christ to “run” on, as he “readeth it.” Praise His holy name forevermore! We have His “vision” in writing. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law (God’s Word), happy is he” (Prov. 29:18). The LORD has bestowed upon us the beautiful treasures of His Word which paints His vision upon the tables of our hearts in living color!
Oh, How Great He is! “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11). God’s written counsel is His will. Our own words, crafted out of our own desires—apart from God—originate out of our will, not His. Thousands of books line bookstore shelves filled with godless philosophies and visions that call people to worship at the altar of self. How limiting! How narrow! How futile! How empty! King David, rich with God’s love and earthly wealth, made God’s Word His ultimate riches: “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Ps. 119:72). Job counted God’s Word more valuable than the food necessary to his body: “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
If we truly follow the One who made and saved us, we will cultivate an ever-deepening love for the riches of His counsel and employ verbal affirmations from His Word. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth” (Jos. 1:8). As we are made teachable, we realize that His thoughts are higher and superior to ours (Is. 55:8-11). Confessing His words for the right reason is powerful (Prov. 18:20-21). He instructed us to do such (Col. 3:16; Josh. 1:8). His thoughts and ways are higher than ours and it is His words that never return void (Is. 55:8-9).
TWO KINDS OF RICHES
“Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath” (Zeph. 1:18). Many who occupy leadership positions in the church world are teaching the age-old doctrine of covetousness and even using God’s Word to justify it. This should not be a surprise in light of the Holy Spirit’s prophecy through Peter:
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily (secretly) shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious (destructive) ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned (fictitious) words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
For years I was sucked up into this greed gospel movement. While the perpetrators of these teachings claim to be “Word” people, they do not approach the Bible from a full-counsel perspective. In fact, it is utterly amazing and dishonest how they completely avoid certain Bible texts which would damper their message of greed and ability to “make merchandise” of their audiences. For example, they purposely dodge this following New Testament text:
“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:5-12
By not embracing the full-counsel of the LORD’s Word, these men are leading the undiscerning down a path that leads to deception, despair and ultimately destruction (Eph. 5:5).
Only the selfish, cross-less, wicked hearted person judges, grades, measures others by what they do or do not have (Luke 12:15; James 2:1-5).
“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 10:23-25
Why do the vast majority of “success” messages leave out the very words of Christ? What do these “experts” want to hide from their audiences? What don’t they want you to know?
“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist (knew) ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Lk. 2:49). His “Father’s business” was obviously not laying up earthly treasures, otherwise we would see Him doing such in the Scriptures. To the contrary, Christ possessed little in the way of earthly goods or real estate, even though He made and owned it all. “And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Lk. 9:58). In keeping with the King of the kingdom, let us focus on being utilized to build His kingdom (not our own) in this late hour.
All our needs and even desires will be met as we seek His kingdom first (Php. 4:19; Mk 11:22-26). The LORD cares about and desires to fill and grant our desires. As we are fully given to Him, our desires will be His desires. “The desire of the righteous shall be granted” (Prov. 10:24). “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mk. 11:24); “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant” (Ps. 35:27); “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11). To those who gave of their substance to the work of the ministry, the Holy Spirit promised: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Php. 4:19). When we take care of God’s business, will He not take care of us? “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).
Those seeking Real Success should occupy themselves with the business of the King and His kingdom and not the obtaining of temporal wealth that will not be transferred into the next life. “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity” (Eccl. 5:10). So many fool themselves into believing that they need to have earthly monies in order to be fruitful in the LORD’s work. Nonsense. Jesus Himself didn’t have much money, did He? Yet, no one before nor since has impacted the peoples of the earth as our LORD. At one point during His earthly ministry, Jesus and His twelve didn’t have the money needed to pay taxes, so he sent Peter to catch a fish which would have a gold coin in its mouth to pay the taxes (Mt. 17:27).
REAL SUCCESS IS WALKING IN HUMILITY AND LOVE
“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (1 Cor. 10:24). Real Success begins with humility. Realizing that we are created beings fashioned by the infinite hands and mind of our loving Creator is a starting place for our standing in light of Him. Personally discovering a glimpse of His magnitude will help any prideful heart to adjust itself in the proper role as the creation under the Creator. The Almighty would ask: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” (Job 38:4). This very eternal Creator and living Word told us to “love one another.” The two commandments that envelope all others were given us by our LORD: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mt. 22:37-39). Real Success is walking in love with God and pouring out His love to His precious people. This requires entering into the place of humility.
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 2:3-5
Thirteen times God’s Word tells us to “love one another.” “Beloved, let us love one ANOTHER: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:7-8).
Money is not the ultimate provision of God. In fact, many times our LORD warned against the “deceitfulness of riches,” covetousness and idolatry (Mk. 4:19; Luke 12:13-21; Eph. 5:5, 1 Tim. 6:3-12, etc.). The greatest provision is the cross and blood of Christ and the love He has placed in our hearts “whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). “The greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor. 13:13).
THE RICHES OF HUMILITY AND SELF-DENIAL
Here is where real success begins: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk. 9:23). Jesus Christ taught self-denial. In stark contrast, most “success” teachings today teach self-love, self-actualization and self-esteem. Any teaching that is self-centered is Luciferic, regardless of who is teaching it. The pride of life or self is what got lucifer kicked out of Heaven and forever separated from the One who made him an angel to lead worship (Ezek. 28). It was Lucifer who attempted to exalt himself to the level of the Most High just before becoming the devil (Satan) and being violently thrust out of Heaven by the Almighty (Lk. 10:18). From Isaiah 14:12-15, we know that any teaching that leads people to trust in self is of satanic origin.
The LORD has instructed those who will follow Him to deny the self-life and spend their energies lifting others up. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Php. 2:3-5). Following Christ requires self-denial, not the exalting of self, which is what counterfeit “success” philosophies lead people to do. God promises to lift up and promote those who live in humility before Him. “The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down” (Ps. 145:14); “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life” (Prov. 22:4). The LORD’s route to real success is different from the world’s and all who will follow Him must separate themselves to Him in such— “Be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17).
Perhaps it is a parallel evil to be possessed with a disposition which glories in poverty as if it has anything to do with righteousness or humility (in God’s economy). Wouldn’t this be called false humility? Such a poverty mindset would contradict some of the LORD’s greatest patriarchs who were embellished with earthly wealth. Yet, the true riches are shown to lie within the infinitely rich Person of Christ and His character etched upon one’s heart and exemplified in their life. “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Php. 2:7). Our LORD came to earth as a humble servant, not a spoiled prince who possessed endless earthly riches. He came to accomplish His Father’s will and then sent us to do the same.
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. ...Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” – John 4:34; 6:27
Is this what your life is about? Are you after the Father’s heart and seeking to do His will in all things? To be Christ-like is to have humility whether rich or poor at present in this life, and to be active about being filled to fulfill His will in this short life (Ps 90:12). Developing and Maintaining a humble and teachable heart and disposition is essential to walking in this success. This He leaves up to us: “Humble yourselves” (Jas. 4:6-10).
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” – Matthew 18:1-5
While the world’s people run greedily after the fleeting riches of this life, the true disciple abides in the riches of Christ’s redemption and holds eternity in view at all times. “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Prov. 23:4-5). The riches of the kingdom child is Christ. He is the exceeding great reward of the one who has a heart after the LORD. The true disciple allows nothing to deter him from such a love nor remove his feet from the narrow path on which he treads. His main prayer and cry is not for more money but for more of the riches of Christ. He glories in the riches of the cross of Christ and not in earthly wisdom that is “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).
“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24
To look to earthly riches or any other author than our Creator and Redeemer, is to commit spiritual adultery. Every time Israel (our example 1 Cor. 10:11) did this, they were miserably defeated by their enemies. God lifts His holy hand of protection and blessing from any person who goes after strange gods. Gold and earthly wisdom that does not originate from the Wisdom of the Ages, is deadly. “Woe to them that go down to Egypt (the world) for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!” (Is. 31:1). This should stand as a holy, piercing, and fear-inducing rebuke to the very notion or thought of going to any other person or system of wisdom than the LORD.
Real Success lies in the hand of the LORD alone and He doles it out to those who seek Him with a whole heart. Their hearts are truly engaged in Him (Jer. 30:21). “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long” (Ps. 35:27-28); “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). So many Christians today are simply down and out because they have refused to hunger and thirst for the LORD (Mt. 5:6). Everything else seems to be more important to them than knowing the LORD deeper and learning and living His Word. They somehow believe that they can work things out for themselves and yet, year after year passes them by because they have not embarked upon knowing God’s Word and pressing in to know Him more intimately, which is the foundation for real success.
When we are not in high gear pursuing the LORD, the sins of the flesh inevitably take over in our lives. This is exactly what kept Israel out of their promised land, and this is exactly what will keep us out of the promised land of milk and honey where the LORD has ordained for us to live. According to 1 Corinthians 10:1-14, five sins keep people from their promised land: lust (v. 6); idolatry (v. 7); fornication (v. 8); tempting Christ (v. 9); and murmuring (v. 10). Are you willing to seek the LORD and be delivered from those sinful ways and embrace Him? “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:6-7).
Are you willing to eradicate all idols out of your life, giving honor to His holy Word and its ability to cleanse your heart and life from all that displeases Him? (See Eph. 5:26.) “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hos. 10:12); “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” (Jer. 4:14). Friend, please remember always that there will never be real success until there is real repentance first. The LORD refreshes and blesses those who live a repentant life (Acts 3:19,26).
LORD, INCREASE OUR FAITH
“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith” (Lk. 17:5). Here the twelve were asking the God of the universe to “increase” their “faith.” You will note that there is no hint in this passage that the twelve original disciples of Christ sought to believe in themselves more fully. This author visited a church fellowship recently and was listening to some good preaching … until the preacher said that we should “believe in ourselves.” The Son of God instructed us to “Have faith in God (not self)” (Mk. 11:22). Is not self-trust the message of the new age movement and all the cults—to look within because all you need is inside you? Wasn’t this the first lie Satan told to the man and woman in the garden … and is still using? Didn’t he convince them that they didn’t need God because they were sufficient in and of themselves? (See Gen. 3:1-5; 1 Cor. 10:13.) Isn’t this the message of all of alienated mankind (the world) who are not trusting in the total sufficiency of Jesus Christ? The complete absence of even one instruction in holy Scripture to trust self should tell us something. Isn’t self-reliance the very thing that separates the saved and the unsaved? Wouldn’t self-trust be the antithesis of trusting in God? Why would we need to “trust in the LORD with ALL thine heart” (Prov. 3:5-6) if we were sufficient in ourselves? Why would we need God if we have all we need inside us … without Him?
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” – Galatians 2:20-21
Have you noticed that this self-trust message has infiltrated every segment of society and nearly all motivational communications? This is to be expected among those who are without God (Eph. 2:12). Most unfortunately it has greatly consumed the church world through the psychologizing of the faith, and most people in the church world do not realize this. Most modern-day church goers believe that they need a mixture of faith in God and self-trust and self-reliance. Yes, we have our part in many things—but not justification. This is the free gift of God provided through Christ’s one sacrifice (Jn. 19:30; Heb. 10:12). In our daily lives, the LORD calls us to use what He gave us with all diligence while simultaneously trusting Him in and for all things (Php. 2:12-13; Prov. 10:4; 1 Cor. 15:10, etc.). “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Prov. 14:26). Our “place of refuge” is in “the fear of the LORD” and it is there we have “strong confidence.”
Some have even taught that “God believes in you.” How could this possibly be in the light of what He establishes in His Word about mankind (doctrine of man)? No doubt that the LORD knows who His good stewards are, but to say that “God believes in us” is unfounded and can be misleading. The LORD is all-knowing, and the following is what He tells us concerning fallen mankind.
THE DOCTRINE OF MAN: A FOUNDATIONAL BIBLE DOCTRINE
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9); “Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah (meditate upon this deeply)” (Ps. 39:5); “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20); “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). When we truly understand the doctrine of sinful man, we realize the utter futility of placing confidence in him.
“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” – John 2:23-25
Notice here that Christ “knew what was in man” therefore He “did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men.” Every human being has faith in something or someone. Would you agree that faith is only as valid as the object or person in which it is placed? Why place trust in any other than the eternal and all-knowing, omnipotent, God and Creator of all things? “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Cor. 5:16); “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Php. 3:3).
The “manifold grace and wisdom of God” are totally sufficient to make His children excel in this life and be pleasing to Him in all things and at all times (Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:10). His surpassing greatness consumes and elevates all those who are pursuing ever-deepening relationship with Him, possess genuine humility and truly trust in Him for all things (Jas. 4:6-10; Ps 75:5-6). His grace is sufficient for them. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10); “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Let’s ask God to “increase our faith” in Him and diminish all self-trust which has never led to anything except failure, misery and sinfulness (Lk. 17:5). Jesus Christ told us to “Have faith in God,” not man/self (Mk. 11:22). Paul, the apostle of the LORD said “We…have no confidence in the flesh” (Php. 3:3). Self-trust and self-reliance are the antithesis of trust in God. Why would we need Him, if we are sufficient in and of ourselves because we can somehow draw power from within (as many teach)?
All must choose. If one claims to be a Christian and yet trusts in self, he is deceived. All godless philosophies foster such rebellion. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Mt. 4:10). God requires faith from those who will please Him, and He will exclusively and abundantly reward those who look to Him and not themselves or some other idol. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
What extraordinary privilege to be granted grace to have faith in the loving and eternal, unchanging LORD who is, and was, and is to come! God truly is love! (1 Jn. 4:8,16).
SUCCESS THAT ONLY THE LORD CAN GIVE
In the pain and agony of successfully completing the mission His Father sent Him to accomplish, our LORD said: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42). True success is walking in the will of God, no matter what else is occurring. The ultra-popular “success” message only uses selected portions of God’s Word while excluding Him from the equation—His own message. True submission to the Person of the LORD Jesus Christ never enters the distorted picture which has been cunningly crafted to keep Him on the outside.
In this rebellion, do we not see the same thing that Satan told the man and woman in the garden, “Ye shall be as gods”? (See Gen. 3:5.) The tempter’s message is “You will be as gods so you will not need your Maker anymore.” So many are being sucked into this lie because of their neglect to lay their lives in God’s hands. Many want to be in control of their own lives, as did Lucifer just before he became Satan and was ejected from the presence of the LORD (Is. 14:12-14; Lk 10:18). Hearts that are not submitted to the LORD (Jas. 4:6-10) are still in control for themselves. They have not yet given that control to their Maker and so, will go about trying to design their own lives instead of trusting in the one Life-Giver to lead and guide them.
Many do all this using His words and claiming to know Him. Often, people will even use God’s Word to justify their own rebellion against His lordship. “Having a form of godliness (outwardly), but denying the power (authority, rule) thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). Note that the Holy Spirit tells us here to “turn away” from those who claim Christianity and yet do not allow the lordship of Christ. To detach ourselves from a relationship with our Creator while using His Word for our own personal purposes, is simply not right. The true child of God is not to buy into this deceitful message that fosters further rebellion in the hearts of men. “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple … But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Lk. 14:27; 19:27).
The life of the true disciple of Christ is all about laying down his own right to rule and allowing the LORD Himself to live His life in and through that vessel (Gal. 2:21; Jn. 3:30, 12:24-26; Rom. 8:11; Col. 3:3). God calls those who will be His to give up the right to themselves. This is what true faith is: “Trust in the LORD (not self) with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him (not self), and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6); “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5); “The LORD (not me!) will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands” (Ps. 138:2); “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Php. 2:13).
Thank the LORD for the blessing of being successful in all things in this life, including monetarily, but most of all, being successful in eternity by being “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Pet. 1:5). We must remain in the way of the LORD, in the narrow way which leads to life … and that few find (Matt. 7:13-14; 2 Pet. 2:20-21).
The true success of the believer is God’s life indwelling his and conforming him to the perfect will and image of Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:29). When Christ soon returns, He said that His reward will be with Him. In other words, He is our reward.
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Revelation 22:12-16
The LORD gave Abraham, the father of faith, a vision of how He was Abraham’s “exceeding great reward.” “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1). The vision our LORD Jesus Christ would impart to us is that He alone is our “exceeding great reward,” and that He is coming soon. The child of God should examine and beware of every teaching or influence that would seek to draw him away from this truth.
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly [sinful appetites], and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” – Philippians 3:17-21
In the end, what will be the fate of those who die in control of their own lives, having refused to deny themselves, lay down their own will and truly submit their hearts to the only Savior? “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver” (Ps. 50:22).
PRAYER: LORD, please forgive me for having myself as a false god before You and seeking my own way instead of Your perfect way. Please forgive me for not loving You in truth and therefore obeying Your Word/will. LORD, please grant me success Your way, not my own way. LORD, right this moment, I lay my life in Triune holy hands. Please grant me Your grace to live in true success as You have willed and will bring forth in me. Heavenly Father, please live Your life through me. In Jesus’ holy Name, amen.
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