The Mind of Christ -- The Spirit of Strength
Over the last several months, we have been exploring the Mind of Christ. When we "renew our mind" as Romans 12:1-2 tells us, we not only free God's Love to once again flow through our lives, but we also are able to use God's incredible gift, the Mind of Christ.
The Mind of Christ is the seven-fold Spirit of God working through us: giving us His Wisdom, Under-standing, Counsel, Might, intimate Knowledge of God and the ability to walk in the Fear of God (Isaiah 11:1-2).
In our Personal UPDATE issues thus far, we have briefly explored the Spirit of the Lord, His Wisdom, Understanding, and Counsel. This month we would like to study God's Spirit of Strength.
The Spirit of Strength (Gibbor - Kratos)
The Spirit of Strength goes hand in hand with God's supernatural Counsel. Philippians 2:13 validates this: "...for it is God which worketh in you, both to will (counseling us as to what His Will is) and to do (now giving us His Power and the ability to perform that Will in our lives)...."
What good is it to know what God's Will is for our lives, if we don't have the strength or the power to carry it out? Isaiah 37:3 talks about this very thing.
It speaks about children that are ready "to be born," but they can't "come forth," because there is not enough strength to bear them. The Spirit of Strength is God's supernatural might and ability to take what He has counseled us, and "bring it forth" (perform it) in our lives.
Why is it so important that God does both the counseling and the performing? It's critical that He does both because He, then, is the one who will get the glory.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his [own] 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 loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."
God doesn't need any of our "own" natural abilities or strengths, great as they may be, in order to help Him out. He wants us to lay ourselves completely aside, our strengths and abilities included, and trust Him to do His Will through us.
He says, "apart from Me, ye can do nothing." In other words, everything we do in our own power (apart from Him), no matter how great, efficient or professional, "is nothing."
All self-confidence must be confessed, put aside and replaced with God-confidence. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
God's Strength in the Greek means "power to rein in," mastery over self, self-control, or better yet, Spirit-control. The Greek word kratria literally means "rein." And this is exactly what God's Spirit of Strength does. It literally "reins in" (brings into captivity) our self-life, so that God's Life can then come forth. Luke 21:19 even says, "In your patience possess (rein in) your souls." When we are going through hurtful times and we make faith choices not to go by what we feel, what we think and what we want, but to go God's Way, God gives us His supernatural Strength to be able to set aside our own wild feelings, uncontrolled thoughts, and self-centered desires so that we can act out of His Life and not our own.
Often, however, those "in between" times (before our feelings are aligned with our choices) are very difficult. They're difficult because we still "feel" one way and yet, by faith, we're choosing to act in another.
An Example: "I Feel Betrayed"
Chuck and I had come to a mutual understanding on a very controversial Biblical issue and I had told several people how "we" felt on this subject.
One Monday night, Chuck was going to be addressing this particular issue at his Bible Study. So, I told the interested people (mostly men) to come and hear Chuck expound on "our" position.
Much to my shock and amazement, my precious Chuck proceeded to present the exact opposite viewpoint from what we had earlier discussed privately and also from what I had told these gentlemen. I was totally humiliated.
These men had come to Chuck's Bible Study expecting to hear "our" viewpoint, and now they were hearing just the opposite viewpoint from my own Chuck.
I felt betrayed, embarrassed and close to tears. Had it not been my own husband's Bible Study, I would have run out of that auditorium crying.
Luckily we had come in two separate cars, so I had 15 minutes or so before I would see Chuck at home. I desperately needed to make some faith choices and get my negative thoughts and feelings "reined in." My car became my prayer closet.
It's so critical to "deal with" our hurts and emotions immediately, before they cause us to choose our own ways.
It's also important to allow our real feelings out and not to bury them. If we can recognize how we really feel, put names to it, and then give these things to God, the enemy won't have a "place" in us.
Simply, this is what I did in the car driving home (it's the Inner Court Ritual):
First, I recognized my negative thoughts and feelings. I named all the feelings I was experiencing. "I feel betrayed, humiliated, and embarrassed." "How could he do this to me?" "I am angry and resentful," etc. I let God probe my inner thoughts. What was at the root of these emotions? What was really going on inside of me? God showed me that the real cause of my anger was "pride."
Chuck hadn't said what I wanted him to say and he made me look bad in front of those men! That's pride. (If we ask, God's Holy Spirit will "remove away all the chaff" and pinpoint the truth exactly.)
Then, I confessed that all the feelings I was experiencing were obviously not of faith, and therefore, I needed to "turn around" from following them (I repented). Then, I unconditionally choose to forgive Chuck (still not knowing why he said what he did).
Next, I gave all the things that I was experiencing (and all the things that God had shown me about myself) over to God and I asked Him to purge them from me "as far as the east is from the west."
Finally, out loud, I quoted a few of my memorized Scriptures so that truth could be put back in my inner man. By the time I got home, I experienced the most marvelous miracle. My negative thoughts and emotions that had been so out of control the previous 15 minutes, were now completely reined in and set aside.
So, when I encountered Chuck a few minutes later, I was able to genuinely act out of God's Love and Wisdom. When I told Chuck what had happened and how I felt, he said, "Oh Honey, I didn't understand that was the position you expected me to take; I wouldn't have hurt you for the world!"
As it turns out, Chuck never heard me the night before when we discussed this issue, and so he was just giving a position he felt comfortable with.
When he explained this, my heart was immediately set at rest and I understood exactly what had happened. Chuck often does come home so totally preoccupied with business worries that if I'm at all insensitive to God's timing, the things that I share with him will go in one ear and out the other. And this, evidently, was exactly what happened the night before.
After Chuck explained the situation, we were able to sit down and come to a mutual agreement over the controversial Biblical issue, and we called those men back and explained exactly what had gone on.
Had it not been for God's Spirit of Strength, however, I don't believe we ever would have gotten as far as the truth. That misunderstanding would have turned into a "battleground" of emotions and hurts that probably would have lasted for weeks!
This is an example of how the Lord can completely diffuse even the most volatile emotions through yieldedness and openness. If we can simply renew our minds and deal with our emotions, then we'll be acting out of God's Love and His Wisdom; the other person will sense our unconditional acceptance; respond from his heart (not his defenses); the truth will be revealed; and, the situation will have a chance to be righted.
However, if we don't deal with our negative thoughts and emotions and we don't renew our minds, but simply "go with the tide of emotion" and confront the other person, he will immediately sense our judgmental attitude; respond from his defenses (not his heart); the truth will be hidden; and, the situation will probably get worse.
Remember, if we're not willing to take every thought captive and we're not willing to "deal" with our negative thoughts and emotions as they occur, then we can't expect God's Spirit of Strength to "rein in" our self-life. We already will have quenched His Spirit in our hearts.
Zechariah 4:6 exhorts us: "...Not by might (our own), nor by power (our own), but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts."
Without God, in and of ourselves, we have no supernatural power, no inherent strength at all. God's divine strength exists in us only when we are open and yielded vessels, freely allowing God's Life from our hearts to flow through us, thus giving us the supernatural abilities we need in order to accomplish His Will.
Therefore, "yieldedness" (relinquishing our own strength and abilities) is a must before we can have "divine power."
Why? Because Scripture tells us that God's Power is perfected, completed or allowed to flow through us, only when we are completely surrendered.
"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 Corinthians 12:9)
"Weakness," in the above Scripture, does not mean feebleness or inability, but rather a person who is totally relinquished to God.
Paul uses this word weakness in 2 Corinthians 13:4 when he explains, "...Jesus was crucified through weakness."
Certainly, Jesus was not a weak person, but a totally yielded and surrendered Son, whom God could use in whatever way He desired.
Yieldedness is not an attitude of "I give up" or "I don't care anymore." This is simply a self-centered defense mechanism and a way of protecting ourself from further hurts. This is not the attitude that I am talking about here.
The Christian yielded-ness that God is referring to in 2 Corinthians is a kind of "neutral gear" that I used to speak about in my early classes on The Way of Agape.
It's surrendering and yielding ourselves, as cleansed and prepared vessels-ready, willing and waiting to do whatever God asks. It's a willing obedience, where we simply say, "Lord, I'm ready (and cleansed), use me in any way You want."
God's Spirit of Counsel and Strength is God's authority and God's Power to "put off" the habits of the flesh and to "put on" Christ. It's faith, not only to choose God's Will (by His Counsel), but also faith that God will perform His Will in our lives (by His Strength).
To me, this willingness to choose to obey and trust God (no matter how we feel or what we think), is the key to our whole Christian walk and certainly, the "victory that overcomes the world."
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4) Faith, I have found, comes simply in the form of a constant choice.
This constant choosing is the preparation (the equipping, the cleansing) that each of us must do daily.
It's our own responsibility to "put off" the old man and to "put on" the new. We already possess Christ's Life in our hearts, we simply must make sure that it's His Life that's showing forth in our souls. This is what will equip, establish and gird us for the battle ahead.
It's interesting because in the Old Testament, the word for "might" (strength) is gibbor, which means "to overcome." "Overcomers" are those who willingly choose God's Will, and then by faith, choose to trust God's Might-His ability-to work out that Will in their lives, no matter what they see or feel. "Overcoming" means freedom from self, freedom from our circumstances, freedom from others' responses and freedom from the enemy. Having a renewed mind-putting off our own negative thoughts and putting on the Mind of Christ-is the only way these things can become a reality in our lives.
"They overcame him (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11)
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