THE BURDEN OF PROOF
BY: DAVE and SHEILA GARNER
FEBRUARY 14, 2008
Even now after so many years of being a born again child of God, my desire to know, understand and experience Jesus Christ on an even greater and more personal level continues to stir in my heart. It seems the more I know of Him, the more there is I hunger to know, for it is very clear as I do my studies and seek for deeper understanding there is much more of His righteousness that I have yet to experience. As I read I am constantly reminded I have only been dipping near the surface and have yet to lower my spiritual water pail far enough into His unlimited reservoir of life to receive all the spiritual resources and benefits the scriptures tells me He opened to us. Oh that I could just be swallowed up by the vastness of His being and glory. The biggest portion of the vast, mostly undiscovered, inexperienced, untapped power and glory of His Spirit of Truth which I read about in the scriptures, at least for me, remains at a distance and yet to be explored and experienced. As my mind is awakened to each new nugget of truth, they serve to remind me of just how big and awesome God really is and how little I know of Him and how small I really am. How easy and neglectful it would be for me to accept the status quo and settle for the limited portion of His saving power of grace which I have already received. How ungrateful it would be for me to confine my experience to just the limited portions I have thus far enjoyed, when He by His infinite grace He provided so much more to bestow upon us. I know what I have thus far experienced is small, miniscule, in comparison to what I know is actually available to be revealed in us, for us, and through us.
Each day I try to embrace and reaffirm the presence of the Holy Spirit within me, by recognizing its authority over my thoughts, words and actions. I want to flow every waking moment in the life stream of His Spirit. I want the assurance of His presence to outwardly resonate, everything bearing witness that He is within me. I want to shout to the world by the fruit I display, that my heavenly Father alone is God over my life. As I step deeper into the stream of life my understanding of His Holy Spirit becomes clearer, and my awareness of what He is in me becomes intensely more intimate and rejuvenating. The scriptures teach us the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Truth brings comfort to us because it sets us free from the prison bars of darkness that confusion and ignorance produce. Scriptures also tells us rebellious men will reject His influence and sovereignty over them and claim to be masters over their own universe. There also will be those who would pay Him homage through lip service, but who are inwardly ravening wolves ready to devour any helpless victim. This is still very true today.
Even more than this I am seeing and hearing more and more people calling themselves Christians, who feel no personal accountability, nor have any desire to honor their Father outside of the church building, but feel justified honoring the Lord just in church services or even worse, just within themselves. They see no need to openly express or witness of His love and abiding presence to the world through the way they live – the outward visible works of their day-to-day life. When we accept the Holy Spirit into our life, it is the power, the energy, the source, the way, the divine driving force, and the authority bestowed upon each of us to flow out and minister His life to others. This treasure was not given to me to hide away within myself selfishly, esteeming myself special because I have something others do not. He gave me the Holy Spirit so I could enter into the fullness of His life to its greatest level, receiving along with it all of its benefits and rewards. The outward works of righteousness are a testimonial to the world that I am different and I do serve an awesome God. But the Holy Spirit cannot do any of these things in me personally, unless I open the door of my heart and give Him the liberty to express His love through me to the blind, hurting, imprisoned, confused, sick, and lonely.
We live close to a large bayou with inlets which fork off here and there, and bridges crossing at different locations for car and pedestrian traffic. My wife and I love to walk, and as we begin our walks we can see the bayou and it’s a beautiful view with all the sail boats, piers, and nice houses situated close to the water’s edge. But as we get closer and look down underneath the bridges and along the shoreline, the once beautiful view becomes tainted with beer and pop cans, bottles, paper, rotten wood, and assorted trash that has either been thrown out by people passing by or washed up from the waves. Try as we might, we cannot help but see the marring effect the trash has on the view. The trash robs the bayou of its natural beauty and leaves a clear message that there are people who are trashy and don’t care, and as well as those who are not taking responsibility to clean up their own trash. This trash is like the works of the flesh within the heart of a man who has not yielded himself to the discipline of the Holy Spirit. The flesh reveals its spiritual ugliness just like this trash reveals itself on the water’s edge.
There is a measuring tool whereby I am able to determine the depth and power of His indwelling presence. By just being honest with myself and searching my heart asking, “How much of His righteousness, the authority and power of Jesus the Anointed, the life giving Holy Spirit of Truth, do I allow to govern over my life?” The qualifications of being a child of God have already been predetermined long ago; “You will know them by their fruit.” I possess the right to be called a child of God only if I am producing the fruit in my day-to-day life which testifies to the world that He is my Lord and Savior. For He who is led by the Holy Spirit of God is a son of God. Do I allow Him to govern only a limited portion of my life, while I retain control over most of it, or do I give Him the dominion and authority over all of my life? Accordingly, the measure I yield is the measure He reigns as king over my heart. Only me, myself, and I are able to honestly determine the answer, if He is really my sovereign Lord or I am.
How much of me do I trust to the leadership of His Holy Spirit and how much of His word do I really give credence to (have confidence in) and have faith in? What is His Word? Can He speak to me today? I know He can, for as I go into the deeper waters of the awesome flowing stream of the Holy Spirit Word, the voice of my Heavenly Father becomes ever clearer and defined. For instance written in the scriptures He said, all things are possible to me if I believe. (Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23) Am I able to take these scriptures off the pages of the Bible and make them a reality in my life? I have discovered for myself, if I do not submit myself daily to the Holy Spirit’s guiding authority and power and open my ears to hear the truth, whether it is the words of God written two thousand years ago, or His voice speaking to me today, I still struggle to accept either as being an active, energizing word from Him personally speaking to me.
Am I able to ask anything in His name and He will do it? Was this just Him talking in general terms or did He really mean for us to believe this statement? Do I really believe that if I make seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness my priority in life, all of my physical (natural) needs will be provided for me? Do I actually believe that what Jesus promised His disciples is just as true for us today as it was for them? The measure of faith I allow to flow through me will determine how much He will reveal Himself by performing those things which He said He would. The more of my mind, spirit and body I let Him have dominion over, the more He will openly display Himself in how I live day-by-day.
Righteousness or living truth has distinctive characteristics and identification markers that are outwardly displayed and shout to the world, “Jesus lives here!” If these markers are not displayed, He is not living here because it is not His house, it is yours. He won’t force Himself on a person and rule over or dwell in a house (temple) which does not belong to Him. He won’t bully His way into anyone’s house, He will stand at the door and knock until you ask Him to come in.
His abiding presence, the Holy Spirit, His righteousness, Jesus the Anointed within my heart is openly displayed to the entire world by the fruit which is outwardly produced. The fruit of righteousness is made visible to the natural man so he can see it and recognize his lack of righteousness within himself. The fruit which the Holy Spirit produces within a person cannot be confused with the briars and the thistles which are produced by being a part of the worldly elements. The scriptures declare that the “Spirit of Truth” grows and displays specific identifiable visible fruit. If this fruit cannot be seen than obviously it is not one of His trees. The depth of His presence dwelling within a person’s heart has distinguishing characteristics which are clearly defined and visible, and they are different from the identification markers which declare He is not present. These markers are like the positive and negative ends of a magnet, one end cannot ever be confused with the other. They are two opposing forces on entirely opposite ends of the spectrum, each reacting in a different way producing opposing results; one attracts and one repels. One displays all of the elements which identify life, light and productivity, while the other displays all of the elements which identify death, darkness and immobility; one draws us to it, and the other pushes us away. Paul described some of the works of the flesh and some of the fruit of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians chapter five.
Righteousness (right, light and positive) can never be mistaken for unrighteousness (wrong, darkness and negative) because they produce totally opposite effects with totally different results in a person’s life. For instance, love and a sweet spirit cannot be mistaken for hatred and bitterness. Love and a sweet spirit are a result of living in the light while hatred and bitterness are the results of living in the darkness of unrighteousness. Love produces harmony and a feeling of well-being or belonging, while hatred causes pain, unrest, division and confrontation. Can the energy that joy produces be mistaken for depression or listlessness? Peace, forgiveness and mercy are products of living in the light of His righteousness. They just simply cannot be mistaken for fear, malice and unforgiveness which are the results of living in unrighteousness, which produce suffering, pain, war and turmoil. Meekness and humility are clear identification markers pointing to the presence of the righteousness of God, and cannot be mistaken for arrogance and pride, which are “self exalting, look at me” identification markers. Arrogance and pride point to self adoration and self involvement by individuals exalting themselves into self appointed, exaggerated, exalted positions of their own mind, which are readily discerned through the power of the Holy Spirit. A quiet, confident, assured, authoritative, meek spirit can be easily distinguished from a domineering, controlling, demanding, I am the only one who knows the truth do it my way or else spirit. Can lust, dishonesty or greed be mistaken for holiness, honesty or contentment? Can fear and doubt be mistaken for faith, confidence and trust in the Holy Spirit? Can a foul, rude, or aggressive overbearing spirit ever be mistaken for a gentle, caring, concerned, kindhearted and non-aggressive spirit? Can lying, moral corruption or spiritual depravity ever be mistaken for integrity, honor and spiritual uprightness? Can war ever be mistaken for peace? Not at all!! Neither can they remain hidden, for if we are His children we will manifest His presence, but if we are children of this world we will manifest the spirit which is in our heart.
With the testimony of the Holy Spirit, even the most spiritually ignorant can easily recognize the dominant and motivating forces which control a person’s life. Even the people of the world can distinguish the difference between a person who is happy, joyful, energetic, and full of purpose, and a person who is selfish, self promoting, and bullish. For instance, no one could honestly confuse the Spirit projected by Mother Teresa of devotion and love, with the selfish, self important spirit of Imelda Marcos or the mean spirited hotel and real estate billionaire, Leona Helmsley. If we were to make an honest evaluation, even though we may not agree with Billy Graham’s doctrine, we would never confuse the presence of Holy Spirit which has worked mightily through him over the years with that of the self righteous and fanatical spirit of Jim Jones or other prominent cult leaders. We may not have agreed with Jimmy Carter’s politics, but we would never confuse his characteristics with that of the dominating, evil spirited Saddam Hussein. We may have differing opinions about each one of these people and what they contributed to society, but it is clear in each case, the motivating forces behind their actions were different and could not be mistaken for one another because of the spirit they projected and the works they performed.
Think about the people you know and evaluate why you either like them or dislike them, and even why you associate with them or don’t associate with them. We measure our relationships with one another by the spirit we project and the outworks works we perform. If we are honest with ourselves, it is not possible to honestly say that we can love and treat everyone we come in contact with in the same way without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to join yourself emotionally to people who have mean, self serving and aggressive overbearing, misleading, manipulative, lustful, lying, greedy, hateful, sloppy, lewd, uncaring, jealous, or vicious spirits. On the other hand it is a joy to join yourself to people who have loving, honest, faithful, peaceful, kind, helpful, forthright, energetic and full of life spirits.
All of us know people which we come in contact with who never seems to be happy and are never content with any circumstance they find themselves in. They always complain and remain in the spirit of depression, considering themselves the victims of some event or someone else’s actions. They are ‘woe is me’ people, and they are very difficult to be around because they are so negative and pull so much energy from those around them, both spiritually and emotionally. It is very hard to build a relationship with people who are always negative. It is not easy to separate the spirits that control a person from the person themselves and when they allow negative spirits to rule over them, they tend to drain the life right out of anyone around them. I have met so many people in the church who walk around in this depressed condition claiming to be children of God, who do not realize the testimony of who they are is in the spirit or works that they outwardly display.
I cannot find anywhere in the scriptures where Jesus ignored the spiritual condition of anyone who was around Him. He never joined Himself in fellowship to the self–righteous, know-it-all spirit of the Sadducees or Pharisees, and did not at any time set down with them to enjoy their company, yet ignore their spiritual arrogance, ignorance and moral depravity without saying something against it, which in turn stirred up their indignation against Him. He did not at any time ignore the spiritual needs of any one who was lost in the darkness of confusion. He even used parables (symbols) because He knew they would be unable to understand Him if He didn’t. He never at one time just set down among those who were sick, hurt, and spiritually lost and did nothing to alleviate or take away their pain and suffering or change their condition for the better. He always reached out to the multitudes with a message of correction, encouragement, healing, restoration, new direction, life, safety and fresh hope for the future. He never went anywhere without leaving the testimony that His heavenly Father had been there. He glorified His Father everywhere He went.
It is certain that all of the essence, responsibility and authority of the righteousness of God, was placed entirely upon Jesus and what He did at the cross, since man was not and never will be capable of attaining to, nor revealing the righteousness of God through his own efforts by his own works. There is no doubt that Jesus is the king of righteousness and He alone is the only doorway into His righteousness. What we must not forget is the fact that He has called us to walk in His righteousness by accepting His Holy Spirit into our hearts. But it is up to each individual to make the decision whether to allow the Holy Spirit (righteousness), the Spirit of Truth, into our heart, allowing Him minute by minute to take dominion over our life. We enter into His righteousness by accepting the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence into our heart. When we display openly the manifestation of its presence in our day-to-day life, it is the evidence which validates we are children of light and makes us different from the children of darkness. The visible presence of the Holy Spirit working through us separates us and declares us to be different from the children of this world. If we don’t manifest His character, we do not exalt or lift up His name and we have nothing to substantiate our claim that we are different and we truly are His children.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to govern our life, we lift (display) Jesus Christ up to the world, declaring Him the ruling sovereign over our being. When we lift Him up we testify that we believe in the saving power of His grace and proclaim His majesty, declaring openly that we believe in the authority of His name or character. When we show Him to be Lord by our outward works, we honor Him by bringing recognition to His governing presence over our life. When we reveal, through our works, the fruit of His indwelling righteousness, we are exalting Him and declaring ourselves as His servants through righteousness. For instance, if we see someone naked and destitute, we do not ignore them, but the righteousness of our Lord causes us to reach out to them and cover them with a heart of compassion and tenderness, showing to the world the mercy of our reigning king. If we are aware of someone being hungry or hurting, and we reach out to them with outward works of compassion by bringing them comfort through healing, feeding, and sharing our time, we are displaying the fruit of the Spirit and testifying of our heavenly Father’s grace. Whatever the need or condition may be, because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we endeavor to honor our heavenly Father by revealing His mercy and grace to our fellow man. He came to heal the sick, mend the broken hearted, open the eyes of the blind, minister to the needy, open the prison doors, minister healing to the spiritually, physically, and mentally hurting and to bring the light of the gospel wherever darkness may be, and we through the power of His Holy Spirit are called to do no less.
Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, what would you use it for? It is no longer any good except to be thrown out and trodden under the feet of men. (Mark 9-49-50, Luke 14:31-35) You are the light of the world, a city set upon a hill that cannot be hidden. You would not light a candle and place it under a bushel, instead you would place it upon a candlestick so it gives light to all who are in the house. Allow your light to shine before men so they see your good works and glorify your Father which is in the heavens.” (Luke 11:33)
We cannot validate our claim to be born again by His Spirit if the world does not see and recognize any representation of His Spirit working in our lives and we are no different than they are. If they do not see His character manifesting itself, can we rightly or truly say that we are one of His children? Before our claim to being members of His family has any substance, must we not be active participants in expressing His righteousness, proving His reigning abiding authority over us by the visible works being produced? The work which He accomplished at the cross must be manifest – present tense – in who we are and what we do before we can become an effective witness. The proof that He really is alive and no longer in the tomb is in the manifestation of the fruits of righteousness revealed through us, and this burden of proof of His works of righteousness and His indwelling presence rest entirely upon our shoulders, not His. If His righteousness is present and being manifest in our life, than obviously His attributes are present and the testimony of our being His son is validated. Often without the necessity of words, the outward works of righteousness testify to the world concerning who we are and who we belong too. It should also be obvious, if the attributes of His Holy Spirit are not present, then there is no evidence that proves we are His children.
If the works of the flesh are visibly working and dominating over our lives, then it must be concluded that His Spirit is not, but instead the spirit which opposes, the anti-Christ, must be the governing authority. The word “anti’ simply means to be against; it is that which opposes the indwelling presence of His righteousness and governs the children of this world. The word “Christ” is in reality the English equivalent to the Greek word “Christos” (khris-tos’); which means “the anointing” and added to the word “anti” you have “anti-anointing” or any thing that opposes, prevents or resist the Holy Spirit’s anointed presence within a persons heart. You will know His children by what is produced within their heart from the presence of His indwelling righteousness openly displayed for all to see. You will know the children of disobedience by their open display of rebelliousness and opposition toward the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, for there will be no allegiance, recognition or manifestation or obedience to it in their daily lives. The end result of how we live our daily life as Christians, what we preach, teach, believe, and live, is supposed to be the manifestation of the image created in the likeness of Jesus Christ. There is an old saying that I will sum up this article with, which is, “The proof is in the pudding.” If the image before you acts, feels, looks and taste like Jesus, than it must be Jesus Christ, but if it doesn’t, then it is not.
THE BURDEN of PROOF [Dave and Sheila Garner] 2-14-08 1