Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

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Root in One’s Self

Having root in ones self

Having root in one's self

Published on: Oct 24, 2009

Jesus said in the story of the sower and the seed:

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. (Mark 4:16-17 KJV)

In a recent discussion on theology as the problem of the Church, I came to a realization of what is the real problem in the American Church. The discussion I was in blamed theology as the barrier to a personal relationship with God in the heart. I disagreed and made the case that we need both a mental theological understanding of God as well as a heart sensitive relationship with God. The people in the discussion are the “gratefully disillusioned” who have left organized religion, and blame the professional clergy for telling them that they were to live by biblical principles. They are now “liberated” and living in a “Spirit-led” relationship with Father. Even though I have placed quotes around “Spirit-led” I do believe that many of them are truly experiencing a fresh relationship with God. The reason for the quotes, however, is that I know from personal experience that what we think is God can sometimes be our own imagination, or even demonic, if we do not test the spirits against the Scriptures.

The fresh experience of living by the leading of the Spirit in their hearts is something I have trouble identifying with. I did not grow up in organized religion as those arguing against theology had. When Christ came into my heart on August 18th, 1985, He was all I cared to follow. I had no interest in religion, but because He came into my life, I began my study of religion, too.

While meditating upon their great hostility towards theology I had my realization. They had no root in themselves. And now they are beginning to develop it. That means they have depended too much on other people’s opinions and never learned to trust their own hearts.

After leaving high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So in those first few years of my early twenties, I searched my heart to see what I wanted to do with myself. It was a liberating time because I knew I could do anything I wanted with my life since I was an adult living on my own. So following my heart led me to the circus where I had become a circus acrobat. Following my heart led me to the best Moscow circus acrobat in America at that time for training. Because I was following my heart God saved me by that acrobat who had become an incredible evangelist for Christ. Years later I came to realize that the dreams of my heart that I followed as a pagan were put there by God in the first place.

American Christianity is salt losing its savor, and is being trampled upon by the secular world. This is the reason that we are not influencing others. Too many believers do not know how to have root in themselves. There is a huge amount of head knowledge in the Church, but not enough know how to make that part of their heart. The heart is transformed by doing the Word, but doing the Word by head action only has a legalistic result, thus making the believer judgmental and critical. Being a doer of the Word transforms the heart when it is done by the prompting of the heart, not duty.

Because Christians do not listen to their hearts, the power of doing the Word is lost. With the new birth, Christ dwells in the heart. Listening to Christ means listening to your heart. I am not saying that your heart and Christ are one and the same. This is why head knowledge of Scriptures are necessary. One must test the spirits. But if you do not know what your heart says, either by Christ or yourself, you certainly will not be able to be led by the Spirit.

Having root in one’s self, means having confidence in knowing yourself and what you believe. Faith borrowed from others is no faith at all. Faith that belongs to you is faith that has become a part of you through experience. People who have root in themselves are not swayed by popular opinions. When one knows from experience the Lord’s mind and will first hand, that is the anchor to our souls that the book of Hebrews addresses.

Do those who leave the institutional church have the right to blame the church for not teaching them how to have root in themselves? No. They do not. We are all without excuse. We are all given a conscience and the knowledge of God is written in all our hearts, according to Paul in the first few chapters of Romans. On Judgment Day we will all be judged according to that standard, not our head knowledge alone.

Should the leaders of congregations make every effort to help believers to know their hearts and the voice of God in their hearts? Absolutely! If one is going to take on the responsibility of helping others, then your help better be genuine help! We are told that teachers have a double accountability towards God. So why don’t they? Because too many leaders do not have root in themselves, but are following others that they believe know the Truth. It is easier to give a biblical “fish” principle than to teach people how “to fish” for the Spirit for themselves.

So, dear readers, listen to your heart because that is where Christ is speaking to you from, but also test the spirits with your head, for God never contradicts His Word. Why? Because the written Word is the living Word in another form.

Comments to Original Post

Kat
Submitted on 11/09/2009

Many outside the box of organized religion are as susceptible to seducing spirits as those within (I Tim. 4:1-3) We need our senses exercised to discern between good and evil. You are right to test the spirits. I realized just today how many, many ways we operate in subservience to seducing spirits. (Even though we think we don’t.)

Example: I was on a long walk and it dawned on me that the reason I can never stay on a healthy program is that a crisis always happens. I am left thinking that my body and health are not as important as this crisis and that the crisis is “payment” for being careful of myself. I.e., if I care for my body and my environment, I will pay for being so unspiritual. This is a seducing spirit. The Lord did not say that only our spiritual life counts. We are to have a body, soul and spirit for all eternity.

Seducing spirits are all about believing lies, whether these lies are formalized doctrines or just “things” peculiar to ourselves. Most of the time we don’t even realize the self-deception that has led us into acting one way even though we think we believe another. This is not always simple hypocrisy. We can’t see our own intrapersonal disconnect until the Lord opens our eyes.

May we all be delivered of seducing spirits–they are everywhere. Derek Prince once said that the Devil has a plan A and plan B for your life. Plan A is to keep you from coming to Christ. If he fails at that, then plan B is to keep you from being effective in Christ.

When you see yourself blindsided regularly and defeated on all fronts, strongly suspect a seducing spirit and ask the Lord to show you the lie you’ve swallowed.

Alexander
Submitted on 11/10/2009

Kat,
As far as I know, the only power that demons have is lies. This point of view regarding seducing spirits was not in my mind when I wrote the post on having root in oneself, but you are right in the extent of their influence. Having root in oneself, in my opinion, refers to knowing your heart and gut instincts. Lies work in the realm of reason, which is the mind and soul. The heart and gut instincts are in the spirit. When a person learns to be sensitive to his or her heart, then that person is in a better position to know the leading of the Holy Spirit since He works from our hearts.

I wrote the post as a response to an internet dialog I had participated. Forums are the field of the intellect which provides Satan a huge playground for mischief. Many that participate in such forums have no root in themselves, thus are open to all sorts of nonsense which are doctrines of demons. Those with root in themselves will have a better gauge to recognize the nonsense than those without. The sad part is that few in leadership are helping believers discover for themselves their own hearts.

Melville
Submitted on 11/10/2009

I’d like to take a slightly different tack on this matter of knowing one’s heart and then the matter of deceiving spirits.

I wonder if another way to phrase this would be in terms of what we call just being real, which is about being honest with God and with ourselves in a total way, encompassing everything in our lives. This is not easy to attain, though, because in various ways people tend to dwell on the surface. I think of the line in T.S. Eliot’s poem, Burnt Norton, “human kind cannot bear very much reality”. We’ve also heard from scripture more or less in a doctrinal setting that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” but it’s rather seldom even for individuals to come face to face with this in themselves. It’s rather frightening, for one thing, and there’s a tendency even among evangelicals to believe that born again people all have new hearts and that the intentions are good. This is especially true when people are involved in some form of Christian work or service. How often have we heard, when there’s some mistake or foible that, well, God knows our hearts, as if to say that at least our hearts are OK even if there’s been a failure.

Now I want to contrast this with what David wrote in Psalm 51, where he needed god to cleanse and make him right inside and this is by way of saying that making our hearts right is a process of refining that God does in a person. There’s so much focus on getting involved with ministries, which is especially driven by how the Great Commission is put forward, that Christianity became mainly focused on outward things more than the inward foundation and true roots and sources of things. I’ve wondered about the neglect of teaching about the fundamental difference between the old and new man that’s such a central thread in the New Testament and I’m tentatively thinking this is because people think that being involved with ministry or Christian activity IS the new man. I don’t know how otherwise to account for the general failure to see that it’s perfectly possible to conduct forms of Christianity on man’s own energies and man’s ways without dependence on the Spirit of Christ, where believers have merely switched their sphere of interest and involvement from worldly things to what they consider God’s things with no corresponding inner transformation.

In terms of real issues of the heart we read in James about people who have selfish ambition, from whence comes what he characterizes as not being the wisdom that comes from above, but rather is earthly, natural (‘soulical’, if you will, of the soul or psyche, i.e. not spiritual), and demonic. It’s entirely possible for men to rise in ministry and prominence because they like being at the center of things, being onstage, and having a following. This stands in contrast to when God raises up a person, for he first makes sure that those natural strengths and inclinations are undone. Witness: Moses.

As James puts it (3:14-16), there’s a root in the heart of strife and ambition that lies behind that false “wisdom”. I’ve thought for a long time now that, while demons are liars and their seductions are based on lies accepted, there is some motive of the heart that is appealed to when one takes them in. These are the secret motives that one may be scarcely aware of, when there’s an appeal to self being special and exalted in some way. It can come even in the form of apparent abasement but inside it’s all to be special and superior. I believe it’s really only in God’s light that we can see our hearts and become fully real. This also is a function of His word, as in Hebrews 4:12, which opens up the thoughts and intentions of the heart. In any case, I think having an honest heart and being set free, through the work of the Cross upon self-aggrandizement, is a general proof against deceptions taking deep root and going very far.

I realize this is sort of on a different tack but, getting back to being real and following what God had put in our hearts to do, part of the problem is that the role models set up in Christianity are so typically those of missionaries and preachers, so that people are led to get into ministries before they have had or learned real and direct dealings with God.

I agree that we can’t blame the system for not teaching us enough about being real and honest with God because we are all responsible moral agents. I couldn’t blame my teachers for not explaining it to me, when I learned that I was supposed to have sought God’s face personally instead of going my own way. I did have a calling I believed, as an artist, and because there was no one to mark the path I set out on my own, following my heart, if you will. A dozen years later I had to reevaluate all that, having come to an impasse, and in a very real way I essentially had to start over, which was costly, I must say. On the other hand, I’m not sure how well we can ever spare ourselves learning the hard way.

Alexander
Submitted on 11/10/2009

Mel,
You have brought up an excellent point. Having root in oneself requires a personal honesty and authenticity. Even though my heart had not been transformed , I was honest enough to admit the truth in my life. So when the gospel was presented to me, I had no need to be convinced that I was a sinner because I knew I was.

This matter of personal honesty is essential to having root in oneself, so I thank you for bringing it up.

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