Work Out Your Own Soul Salvation

Friday, May 20, 2011

Work Out Your Own Soul Salvation

In Ephesians 4:26-27 we are admonished, "Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sin go down upon your wrath. Neither give place to the devil."  In James 1:19-20 we are told to be "...slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."  Since I had a problem with anger for a  large part of my life, I often encourage others who lack temperance to be quick to let anger go because few realize how much power anger can have over their actions. Frequently, despite the good intention behind the suggestion, many who see their anger as a necessary part of their personality, respond, "God knows my heart." While I whole heartedly agree with that statement, I question whether they fully realize what they are saying.  If God has said in His word that we will give place to the devil by holding onto anger, then He is well aware that when we hold onto offense and anger, we open our minds to evil spirits to bombard our mind with thoughts of the offense all through that day and night and probably for several days after the offense has occurred. Just as God warned Able, "...sin lieth at the door." The Lord is warning us that unless we let go of the offense and anger, cohorts of Satan will gain a strong hold on our emotions and cause an escalation of our anger, which will very likely result in an explosive reaction.  It is as we roll thoughts of the offense over and over in our mind, that we give ground to the enemy to torment us with more and more angry thoughts until we become full of wrath. At  that point, the emotional state of the angry person  is anything but tempered, and his will is certainly not on pursuing peace and forgiveness because he feels fully justified in "going off". This is what God knows about the  heart of an angry person.  Such a troubled soul is full of the fruit of the flesh (wrath, strife and every evil work) and cannot produce a righteous harvest of Fruit of the Spirit (Love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, meekness, temperance, and faithfulness).  
When we were born again, we became new creatures in Christ Jesus.  Our spirit was made new. We no longer have a sin nature.  We have the nature of God with all of His attributes and we have been enabled to produce the Fruit of the Spirit. It's in us.  It's the soul that has not been made new. The spirit is new but the soul of the believer  is the same as it was before he was saved.  The Lord will show us where we are missing the mark, but the soul of the believer can only be changed if he willingly allows the Lord to change him into the image of Christ.  God honors man's will and He will never do anything in us that is against our will. The degree to which we consecrate our selves to live for Christ, and allow Him to live through us, is the degree that we see spiritual growth and can overcome strongholds of anger, offense or other enslaving sin.
Scripture tells us that it is the "law of the Lord that converts the soul." and "the engrafted word will save your soul."  This means that change is a process that begins in the inside - in our heart, and as we fill our heart with the word of God and it becomes engrafted in our heart, the life of God which is in that word will govern our thoughts, words and actions and we will be free to make the decision that we will take peace.  This is the process by which God works in us to do His will and good pleasure. There is Spirit, power and life in the word.  It is through the power of the Spirit, that the word of God becomes "alive" in our heart and makes the word of God that we believe, become as real to us as anything that we are aware of through our senses.  When this happens, changes in our soul and in the way we respond to an offense will begin to manifest.
The angry person must first acknowledge his uncontrolled anger and wrath as sin, confess it, ask forgiveness according to 1 John 1:9, and receive God's forgiveness.  When he does this, he will come back into a right relationship with the Lord.  With the help of Holy Spirit, his teacher, he should then diligently read, study, and meditate on the word and get his heart full to overflowing with it as to what he is in Christ, who he is in Christ, who lives in Him, what he has, and what he can do (through the Greater One Who lives in him).  As he sits in the presence of God in meditation, praise, thanksgiving, worship and fellowship, the abundance of the love and life of God will fill and overflow his heart and cause his thoughts, will and gradually, his actions, to come in line with the word of God and he will  begin to see the peace and love of God replace offense and anger.

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