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Do You Maintain Your Own Integrity?

Job’s life is an example of the diligent and devout, but one whose religion omits the most vital element. There are many Christians who go it alone, thinking they have union with God. They are sorely deluded, and will not be saved! Here’s why.

This stark warning hovers over the heads of a large number of people who claim to follow Jesus:

Strive to enter through the narrow gate; for MANY, I say to you, will seek to enter in and will not be able (Lk 13:24).

Do you know why they will not be able to enter God’s kingdom? 

It seems inconceivable that people who WANT to enter God’s heavenly realm should be denied. Why wouldn’t God want them to be with Him for eternity, when Jesus clearly came to save sinners, to rescue the lost, and to give eternal life to all who would accept Him? His vast love is so all-encompassing that He doesn’t want anyone to be lost, if it is possible to save them. So why won’t they be saved?

It’s for the same reason that God can’t save Satan or all the fallen angels (demons). They have something that God cannot live with – PRIDE! They are full of themselves. That leads them in self-will, in rebellion against God, and to do what they want, thinking that there’s nothing wrong with them. They think highly of themselves, and see no reason to change. They cannot repent.

In contrast, the righteous who can be saved, are those who have a low opinion of themselves – low self-esteem. They are humble. They don’t want to be looked up to. They are not proud. They don’t want to be elevated or considered anything special, because they consider themselves unworthy, and undeserving of God’s grace, love and forgiveness. Because of this innate modesty of their spirit, they are contrite.

These are the ones God loves and wants to be with. He can dwell with them and IN them because that is His nature, too. Although He has all power, wisdom and might – so much so, that we would be awestruck if we fully comprehended the extent of it! – his unassuming nature would astound you.

Jesus reflected this image in His life. He came to earth, not to be served, but to give His life as a ransom for many – for all who are able to accept this same inner character trait of self-abasement.

Of course, God is not abased. He is high and lifted up in the heavenly realms. Rightly so. But, His Spirit in human flesh takes on a completely different ‘style’ to what we would naturally expect. You and I would expect God to want to be lifted up, worshipped for His own sake, like Satan craved for himself.

Not so with God. He doesn’t want that for Himself. Self-seeking is alien to His character and behaviour. No, He wants our worship for you and for me. It’s not an incoming worship He seeks, but one that is outgoing – from you, from your heart, towards Him, because you recognise His outgoing heart.

That recognition in us of His love, of His purity, of His sublime holiness, sinlessness and goodness, engenders within us an irresistible worship of Him.

But the person whose ‘worship’ of God revolves around themselves, and what they do, is, like Job was, blind to their spiritual impoverishment. They lack the most essential element that enables them to have union with God’s Spirit – contrition.

Isaiah wrote down these inspired words which He received from God’s Spirit:

Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build me? [You see, we cannot build any house for God to dwell in; God has to create it for us.] And where is the place of My rest?

‘For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: on him who is poor [humble] and of a contrite [bruised] spirit, and who trembles at My word.’ (Is 66:2,3.)

The alternative renderings in square brackets are those which Robert Young gave in his translation.

Is your spirit bruised, or it is resilient, stout, self-assured, content with yourself?

To Enter God’s Realm!

This self-assured spiritual state is the reason why many will not be able to enter God’s kingdom. So, Jesus said you must STRIVE to enter in with God.

That doesn’t mean what many think. Certainly we have to put out great effort to overcome wrong habits, weaknesses, sins, demonic temptations, evil desires, excesses. We cannot complacently assume, that because we name the name of Christ, that we are living in Him, and Him in us, and that we shall be automatically saved.

The proof of His indwelling is in the fruits of love that our lives exhibit (1 Jn 3:14-19; 4:7-13).

Paul did not assume that he had a one-way ticket to heaven. He declared, shockingly for some:

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Cor 9:27).

Our striving to enter God’s eternal glories must entail this self denial of wrong desires – whatever is against God’s moral law in the Bible. But the striving to which Jesus was referring in Luke 13:24 is not that.

The word strive in the Greek is agonizomai, from which we get our word agonize. The striving Jesus is telling us is necessary is NOT human effort, but an emotional state that allows us to be kept in contact with God. David expressed it in Psalm 51. He was cut up about what he had done. He was crushed by the realisation of how he had hurt God.

David’s spirit was bruised. That bruising created in him something I cannot put precisely in words. His spirit became contrite. The innate pride or ego died.

For an uncounted number of Christians, God is waiting for a response like David’s in Psalm 51, where he acknowledged from the heart his unworthiness. It’s not easy for a self-reliant person to do. A proud person doesn’t see what is wrong within himself. What he cannot see, he cannot acknowledge, let alone alter. He feels good about himself.

This was Job’s problem, and why he maintained his own integrity until God brought him down.

Changing Your Inner Self

A change must take place in your spirit for God to come in. How can you can effect it? I’ll try to explain.

You know well Isaiah 64:8. We are to be the malleable clay pot, not the self-made mud pot.

I knew a man whom God tried to reach. He was oblivious to his sins. Although a believer for many years, God couldn’t get through to him and bring him to true repentance and contrition. I will call him ‘D’.

God gave me dreams about D’s sinful state, and I passed on those to him, but he resented ‘my’ input. D didn’t change, because he didn’t care to see what was wrong with himself while he had all he needed in the physical. So God had to change the circumstances in his life like He changed them in Job’s life. D wouldn’t change while he fellowshipped with us. It gave him a false sense of security, because he got what he wanted.

D ignored the input and carried on as if nothing was ever said. Occasionally, he would write a shallow, ‘apologetic’ letter in reply. But there was no true remorse, no brokenness. He just didn’t care. He didn’t care about what God thought of his sins, and he didn’t care to change. He thought that by ‘going through the motions’ in his ritualistic lifestyle, that God was pleased with him. Because he was content to be that way, he thought God would be content with him, too. He was content with that delusion. But it was taking him towards hell, though he didn’t know it.

So God had to take him away from his comfort zone. He has some trials set up for D so that he can come to see himself in reality.

It is similar for many, especially capable people. They develop a particular lifestyle that could be called ‘ritualistic’ when you analyse it. We are all creatures of habit, and if the life you lead is one in which your worship of God is dictated by your shallow need for Him, like Job’s and D’s, you ‘go through the motions’ in your ‘obedience’ towards God. This is human effort alone. It can all be done without the Spirit – prayer, Bible study, reading, fasting, keeping the Sabbath and holy days, tithing, your service to the community and your work, etc.. You only see God and interact with God in those very humanly controlled aspects.

YOU control those aspects. So, you are the master of your life. Your god is really an extension of yourself.

All this is what Paul called “dead works” (Heb 6:1). They are works done by our effort, without the indwelling or empowerment of the Spirit.

Contentment with this lifestyle leads to complacency. There is no deep need for God, so there is no “deep calling to deep” (Ps 42:7).

Self-reliance, self-achievement, self-regulation, self-contentment are integral to it. This is effectively self-righteousness. Self is at the centre, yet the believer thinks that God is the centre, because he is deceived that he is worshipping God, when he is only worshipping God in his own image.

This is what Isaiah described in 64:6 as “filthy rags”!

Job was deluded similarly. He was so upright! He maintained his own integrity by all his strenuous efforts to do what he saw as being right. What he did WAS right, but the problem was that he didn’t see his need for God because he was such a capable and well-motivated person.

It was easier for the Prodigal of Luke 15, or the prostitute who saw her sinfulness, to see their need for forgiveness and atonement than for Job. He knew it intellectually, but not in reality in his spirit.

For him to acknowledge his need for God, God had to let him suffer, let him be humiliated, and destroy all he had worked for and achieved by his own efforts, until he realised that God was worth everything compared with his own accomplishments, which were worth nothing by comparison!

Job’s humiliation crushed him. Emotionally he was broken, and at that point God could come in. Then he saw God.

It wasn’t an intellectual ‘seeing’ only. It was something that took place in his spirit, deep down, right ‘within his soul’, as they say. His spirit was changed by it; truly humbled. The change changed him. From that time on he would always retain this change within his spirit for the rest of his life.

It wasn’t a fickle thing, like human works based on self-achievement. It was lasting, profound, spirit- changing.

Becoming As Little Children

You know Matthew 18:1-3, where Jesus reminds us that we MUST become like little children if we are to enter God’s family. It’s not only a matter of intellectual acquiescence to God’s Word. It’s not only a matter of being willing to be corrected, or being willing to learn. It’s a matter of whether we let ourselves be broken by what takes place in our lives. I mean broken emotionally, so that we no longer rely upon ourselves, but rely upon our heavenly Father.

Little children know their need for God. The self-reliant don’t.

Little children are ‘plastic’. They have ‘plastic’ – flexible, pliable, supple – emotions. They express them. They let them flow, and through that they can yield to God in a way that most adults have learned to resist in order to maintain their own self-image or what they see as their ‘integrity’.

Why is that most adults are afraid to let the emotions loose? Does it go back to negative experiences in childhood, when they were hurt and don’t want those hurts to resurface again? Does the hurt go back to a time in later life? Perhaps it’s such a root that remains undealt with – not given to God, not laid at the foot of the cross, at Jesus’ feet – that causes people to close up, saying “I’m not going there.”

Openness, Transparency

James 5:16 tells us that we must confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another, that we may be healed. That doesn’t mean we have sordid confessionals, or something akin to the Catholic blasphemy. It just means that we should be open, candid, frank, transparent, sharing with others (in the faith) in confidence.

It is a way to humble ourselves, far better than fasting. Fasting can be done in human effort; and without the Spirit’s humbling taking place within our spirit, it only bolsters our ego, our self-achievement. It’s significant that Jesus performed all His mighty miraculous works for 3½ years, without – as far as we know – fasting, other than on the stipulated Days of Atonement. By contrast, the Pharisees dutifully fasted twice a week and were the most self-righteous and arrogant. They were an affront to God!

James 5:16 encourages us to do something that most don’t care to do, because to do so would jeopardise our ego. It threatens to demolish our pride, which the self-made man protects at all costs. People don’t open up when they try to protect their pride and integrity. We don’t see how wrong such self-will and self-reliance is.

D shut himself in a box and wouldn’t talk about the dreams God gave us about his spiritual laxity. He was content to stay there, so God let him, because that’s what he wanted. He wouldn’t open up. He wouldn’t communicate. I wrote down all that God spoke in dreams for him, and passed them onto him, so it was up to him to respond. But he wouldn’t.

I am hopeful that D will come through in the end, but what a long journey! And how painful he made it! For us and for him!

What are the things deep within that hold you back from moving ahead? God knows how to clear any and every blockage, but it takes your willingness to have it removed. Sometimes just the willingness to humble oneself by telling another what is at the root of the closure is enough to break the stronghold and allow the Spirit to come in. So if you have a blockage to the Spirit, your willingness to open up and confide in a friend, asking him or her to pray for you, may be what you need to move ahead.

The Prodigal expressed openness (Lk 15:18). He let what he had been through humble him (15:19). Emotionally he was crushed. He no longer relied upon himself, no longer sought to satisfy his ego.

In contrast, the wicked boast in themselves (Psalm 94:4). They are complacent about evil, arrogant, and full of themselves. All their other evils radiate from this inner core of self worship. So it is in the lives of proud, self-reliant Christians, but just covered up with a veneer of ‘spirituality’ created by ritualism that keeps the Spirit out.

In contrast, the ones God can save, know their spiritual vulnerability, like a little child looks to its parents.

Self-Achieved ‘Integrity’

The religious wicked can do it all by themselves. They don’t need God, because they are good – so they think. They might give some mental assent to their wickedness, but in their heart of hearts, because of their self-righteous ritualistic lifestyle, they don’t think they are all that bad. Deep down, they think they are pretty good, really.

This state of self-achieved integrity keeps them distant from God. They are never able to truly humble themselves; are never broken, or truly contrite. They manage to maintain their equilibrium and emotional stability by their own efforts. They won’t be saved – unless God can bring them to a voluntary contrition.

I know several people in this category, and it is truly sad, but there’s nothing God or anyone can do about it. They choose to be that way. They want to stay unchanged. They are resilient, proud, self-made and see no need to have God in their inner beings. They’ve got what they want. Self replaces God’s Spirit.

There are MANY religious people in this state!

The moment the spirit is broken, and we fall at Jesus’ feet, mortified by our arrogant self-reliance and prideful way of life, is the moment the Spirit rushes in to cleanse and purify and make us whole.

Have You Ever Wept With God?

I do not think that deep repentance can take place without weeping. That emotion is a natural outflow of the inner transformation that generates true change. It starts with the contrition David mentioned in Psalm 51. A broken, contrite heart is where Spirit-imbued life begins. And it’s how it can continue in a series of similar experiences throughout our spiritual journey.

In a recent meeting here, a lady wept as she prayed. She also mentioned how she often weeps in private prayer as she communes with the Spirit. Mila has mentioned she also weeps when praying and considering spiritual things. I think it is perhaps more usual for women to weep than men, but I have shed tears on many occasions in prayer or praise to God, and it is spiritually therapeutic when a genuine response to what is within. It’s not remorse. It’s deeper than that. It’s communion with the Spirit.

It may begin with remorse at the foot of the cross, as we repent of our sins and waywardness. But it progresses as we enter God’s presence in true yieldedness to His Spirit, as we yearn for His purity and His holiness, and worship Him in His sanctity.

Leviticus 10:3 reminds us why it is necessary.

By those who come near Me I MUST be regarded as holy; and before all the people I MUST be glorified (Lev 10:3).

Dying To Oneself

Paul declared that he died each day (1 Cor 15:31).

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Rom 8:13).

You cannot do that without God’s Spirit. And God’s Spirit won’t come in until you relinquish reliance upon yourself. And all that pleases the flesh is connected one way or another to the roots of pride, and self. So, stop maintaining your own integrity and give God the glory instead of giving that glory to your self. Then Christ will come in.

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness (Rom 8:10).

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom 8:6).

So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:8).

Paul meant that those whose lives revolved around themselves and what they do all the time, cannot please God.

Spiritual living is not a matter of what YOU do. It’s a matter of what God is doing through you. Have you let Him in? Are you continuing to do that? 

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (Rom 8:9).

This article only scratches the surface of the wonder of God’s yearning to live within us. It is made possible when we submit to Him in spirit. That is a voluntary dying to oneself, dying to self-will and self-reliance; and a voluntary humbling of oneself, laying down everything at His feet.

If you have never been ‘broken’, Jesus is holding out His hand to you now. He asks you to take hold of it. That means much more than your mental acceptance of some of His teachings. It means accepting Him into your very being as you pour out your heart to him in contrition and brokenness.

Whoever falls on this Stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder (Matt 21:44).

You don’t want the latter, so He asks you to do the former.

An interpretation of tongues in one of our fellowship meetings was this:

Help us, God, to empty ourselves of all that offends you, so that you can come in.

That is not easy. It exacts from you a price. It costs you your life, just as it cost Jesus to buy you. 

Demonic Strongholds

It’s not widely appreciated that demons govern aspects of the lives and intellects of Christians, even after baptism by the Spirit. Your heart response and surrenderedness determines the extent of your receptiveness to the Spirit. Unyielded / unsurrendered areas allow demons to remain.

It’s analogous to air. The air we breathe is not all life-giving oxygen. There are other gases present also – nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and other smaller amounts of rarer gases.

Nitrogen, which forms about four fifths of the air you breathe, and carbon dioxide do not support life. Nor do demons.

But demons are under the ultimate control and power of God, so they are only allowed to do their evil work with permission. Part of their purpose is to high- light areas of our lives that need changing. We can unwittingly encourage them!

We make them welcome through sin, prevalent character flaws, and wrong decisions. Demons maintain their strongholds in us through our wrong character traits. If you hold onto these faults, you make those familiar spirits welcome. They are familiar with you, even if you aren’t familiar with them!

Renouncing them can begin with a verbal denunciation, but it must go way beyond that – to include a complete repudiation from the heart. That’s not so easy, because it means you giving up things that you have held dear to yourself all your life.

Derek Prince was delivered of a demon of stiffness when in his eighties. This was after he had preached the gospel extensively for 50 years! That demon could not go until he was ready to let it go.

It’s no different with your demons. Are you ready to shun them, or do you prefer their company to that of God’s Spirit for some of the time?

When A Demon Left

After writing some of the above to someone who was seeking deliverance, a curious thing happened. It was a sign of the demon’s departure.

I had locked up our shed and turned the lights off. About half an hour later, the outside light on the shed was on again. I wondered how it could have come on since I had not left it on, nor had anyone else been into the shed. I went to investigate.

As I approached the shed there was a thump and a sort of feint scuffling. I wondered what had caused the noise. It gave me a little bit of a fright because it was all dark inside. I wondered whether anyone was in the shed. I felt that someone might be.

But there was no one there, and I turned off the light, and locked the shed up again. It was then that I realised a poltergeist / demonic thing had done it. It was the demon released from the man I had written to. The evil spirit had come to try to bother me, but God still used it to give a sign. The spiritual light can now begin to come on in the man’s life – a light which will shine to the outside world, to benefit others.

How remarkable, great and awesome God is!

Malcolm B Heap

Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK