The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Four Steps to Spiritual Independence

Posted on: July 05, 2016

4 Steps to Independence.001


Having just celebrated the 4th of July in the U.S., it is natural for us to reflect on the issue of freedom. Our Founding Fathers knew what it would take to become free and they committed themselves to it, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

What would lead men to join together to undertake a mission so dangerous that Benjamin Franklin said, “we must all hang together or most assuredly, we will all hang separately?”

It was a hunger for freedom! Freedom is an innate longing of the human soul, and is an inborn characteristic of us all. It is a mark of how God has created us.

Because we live in a fallen world, not all of us are able to live in the level of circumstantial freedom that we might wish. But all of us can be spiritually free, in Christ.

There are four steps to our spiritual independence:

  1. Accept Christ as your personal savior.

Of course, the first step in gaining personal, inner freedom in Christ, is to believe in, and receive Christ as personal savior. (John 1:12) Until then, we are a slave to sin and a prisoner of its consequences, which are eternal separation from God (John 3:16), spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4) and bondage to sin (John 8:34).

  1. Learn the truth.

Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) To the degree that we do not know the truth, we are vulnerable to ignorance and deception. So, becoming a serious student of Scripture is a vital step in spiritual independence.

  1. Embrace the truth

The reality is, we all know truth that we do not fully embrace. The Apostle Paul wrote, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Yet, when we encounter threatening financial circumstances, we often respond in deep anxiety. Why? Either because we do not believe that God really will supply our needs, or because we fear that He may not supply them on the level to which we’ve become accustomed.

That is just one example of truth that we know that we might not fully embrace. Again, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) Yet, rather than to take encouragement from the fact that our eternal reward will be disproportionately generous, we tend to resent or question God for not making life on earth easier for us.

Each of us has our own spiritual weak spots. We may be prone to worry, anger, lust, materialism, pride, fear, etc. There are passages of Scripture that speak to these sins, but we often filter out the truth of those passages, and give in to our weakness any way.

So, it is not enough to know the truth, we must also embrace it. We may have to grab ourselves by the nape of the neck and choose to accept biblical truth in spite of the fact that we find it difficult.

Years ago, as a freshly scrubbed young seminarian in my first ministry, I was working for a barely subsistence wage. I knew that if I tithed my meager salary, the organization to which I tithed would use the money for ministry. I was in the ministry, so I decided I would save the Lord and others the trouble of redistributing my funds… I would cut out the middleman and just keep the money! We weren’t really making it financially even keeping the tithe, so how would we survive if we started tithing?!?

The Holy Spirit got me in a headlock and convinced me that efficiency of funds transfer was not the issue. The issue was, would I trust the Lord to meet my needs by giving to Him out of my need? We started tithing and have done so ever since. And the Lord has met our needs ever since.

Sometimes, we need to embrace the truth that we do know, but are not obeying.

  1. Reinforce the truth

Repetition is the key to mental ownership on a conscious level. And, it is the key to emotional ownership on a subconscious level, out of which comes our true attitudes, values and behavior.

We may know the truth and we may even have embraced the truth, but unless we have rehearsed the truth sufficiently that we own it on both a conscious level and subconscious level, the truth may not change us to set us free from our bondages.

If a young man who is a newer Christian hears in church on Sunday morning that “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” and decides that he must be more careful about his thought life, that decision may be challenging for him to be faithful to until he memorizes Scripture, meditates on it, and takes other measures to reinforce the higher moral standard.

An established Christian who struggles with any given issue may need to memorize Scripture, meditate on it, do a Bible study, or even get counseling to help reinforce a given truth sufficiently that the truth begins to take hold of his/her attitude, values or behavior.

Just as our nation’s Founding Fathers were willing to pay any price for their political independence, so we must be willing to pay any price for our spiritual independence. Just as our nation has been richly blessed by God for our adherence to biblical political principles, so God will richly bless us for our adherence to biblical spiritual principles.

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