In hindsight it’s easy to point out the flaws of the Pharisees. The religious rulers and scribes in Christ’s day were steeped in the Old Testament scriptures. Paul points out in Acts 13:27 that every Sabbath day the words of the prophets were read aloud in their synagogues and yet they failed to understand the obvious. They read and heard that the Messiah was coming and how He would come. It was even told to them how He would be rejected and persecuted and put to death. They themselves, hearers of these clear and prophetic utterances of scripture, were the very ones by whom all they were hearing would be fulfilled; but they couldn’t see what was right before them—it didn’t register. How dull, how blind, how utterly ignorant does all scripture reading and hearing, all sound doctrinal instruction, leave us if we are none of His or if we in any way insist on grieving, ignoring or flat-out rejecting the Holy Spirit of God.
Could the same be said of us today as could be said of the blind leaders of blind men who routinely and religiously sat in their synagogues some 2000 years ago? When we hear the New Testament read aloud in our churches almost every Sunday morning, is it possible we are as dull as the Pharisees, scribes and religious leaders were back then? Is it possible that we read of how at the end of time the love of many will grow cold and think it does not apply to us? Are the texts about how people will be carnal and worldly in the last days meant for a different people and a different time? Do the verses about how people will be lovers of money and lovers of self not ring true now? When we read that the time will come when people will have a form of godliness but deny its power, do we not see how it applies to us? Or does the description of a people always learning but never coming to the truth not perfectly describe much of the church today?
Far be it from me to lay something at your feet that isn’t yours and expect you to pick it up and bear it. If the shoe doesn’t fit then please cast it aside, but if it does…. How is it that we can read over and over the virtues and traits of Christians, all the clear illustrations of how we are to live, spend our money and use our time, and still not find so much as an ounce of difference between our lives and any decent, moral non-believer? Doctrines of men are heaped up high that would serve to explain away our lack of holiness, our love of the world, our pursuit of money, our lust of the flesh and our complete and utter indifference to the welfare of our neighbor. But if we would weigh ourselves in the balance over and against all that the New Testament promises as the normal Christian life we would be found wanting. Of course, to remedy this, countless teachings reverberate through the hallways of modern-day Christianity which tell us that it is unrealistic to expect to live such a life as the early Christians did. How readily we accept such heresy!
Would you suppose that God would so clearly lay out a way of life in His holy Word that was entirely impossible for us to experience? Can we with clear conscience read the plain instruction of the New Testament and not feel even a twinge of conviction regarding how far we fall short? Pity us if we don’t, but if we do there is good news. God has promised that we can in fact receive all that we have been promised and we can in fact live that kind of life. There is no addendum to His word. What it says is what it means. If you are a Christian, you can have victory and power. You can live a pure and holy life. You can be free from your love of the world. You can think on that which is eternal rather than that which is temporal. You can conquer sin and death and overcome every temptation. You can be filled to overflowing with love and peace heretofore unimaginable.
How can this be? Where is the power to live such a life? It is inside of you—or at least it can be if you are a Christian! Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit but we must be willing to accept Him and invite Him to fill us. He will not force His way in. It is possible to grieve and quench the Spirit of God. Instead, ask for Him and then continually seek to fellowship with Him. The bible says He will live inside you. He will lead you. He will guide you. He will teach you. He will speak to you. He will give you power over sin. He will comfort you. He will give you discernment. He will fully possess you if you allow it. He is the Way by which we can live the godly life we see so plainly described throughout the New Testament. All this is promised to us verse after precious verse in the Word of God. Are we seeing what we read and listening to what we hear? Does it register?