We will close out this series with a renewed consideration of God’s purpose for it; namely, our sanctification. As we know, sanctification is the process whereby we are set apart and cleansed from the world – separated unto the Lord and for His use (2Timothy 2:21). Few realize how vehemently our carnal minds fight against our sanctification. To be used by God to His greatest advantage, our carnal minds must be overcome.

The church began with Peter’s charge to repent and be saved from this perverse generation (Acts 2:38-41). At the end of this age, we will be called out a final time by God Himself (Revelation 18:4). In between, we struggle mightily with our allegiances.

God has given us disciplines as an invitation and the means to come out of the world – into a deeper relationship with Him. Jesus uses the disciplines to make us (Mark 1:17) and to build His church (Ephesians 4:11-16). The Holy Spirit uses them to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

Repentance is first a change of mind. From parents to preachers, we have focused on changing behavior to the detriment of this first and vital step. Coming out of this evil generation – out of Babylon, the great harlot – begins with a rejection of secular, humanistic and carnal thinking about everything… including church.

Our carnal thinking about church has become so ingrained, we hardly know it exists. We are so surrounded by it, we cannot see how it has infected us. It is like an enemy that has entrenched itself behind our strongest line of defense. Going out to Jesus Christ, outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-14), may be the only way we can rightfully assess what has become our prison.

Lest anyone misunderstand, we are not suggesting an exodus from existing church fellowships. This encouragement is about the way we think and about the way we relate to God. A. W. Tozer prophetically wrote of our condition over sixty years ago:

To me, it has always been difficult to understand those evangelical Christians who insist upon living in the crisis as if no crisis existed. They say they serve the Lord, but they divide their days so as to leave plenty of time to play and loaf and enjoy the pleasures of the world as well. They are at ease while the world burns… I wonder whether such Christians actually believe in the fall of man! Renewed Day by Day, A. W. Tozer

This series began with the argument for, and proof of, our carnal mind’s status as enemy number one. Satan may be more powerful (and easier to blame); and the world may be more aggressive in its attempts to conform us. But, it is the carnal mind that has become – not just the enemy in our camp – but a trusted friend and advisor. As such, it has become a dangerous distractor and deceiver.

Our hope is that you will respond to God’s invitation for greater intimacy through the disciplines He has so graciously provided. With this hope in mind, we offer a line of questioning for your conversations with Him and those in your spheres of influence.

A Closing Audit

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is first and foremost a personal responsibility… and a gracious opportunity. Why would we neglect so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:1-3)? For most of us, our neglect is the result of misplaced priority. We’ve given too much of it to too many other things. Somehow, we need to break free.

The questions that follow should help in that regard. Talk about them with your Father in heaven. He loves speaking with His children.

Those of you in positions of leadership face the additional task of helping others recognize the enemy and respond to it with adequate force. The questions will help you testify to God work in your life (you cannot lead others where you have not gone yourself); while empowering and encouraging them to uncover the distractions and deceptions that exists in their minds.

You may want to begin by asking, “When was the last time you thought about your carnal mind? Did you know it is hiding from you? Have you overcome your carnal mind? Would you like to assess the control it has over your thinking?”

If they respond positively, you can offer them this audit (along with your testimonies):

  1. What about the world do you enjoy most? Spend the most money on? Spend the most time on? Do you spend more time or money on them than on God’s Kingdom and purposes?
  2. What does it mean to you that someone else is the owner of you, your family, and your possessions – that you are only a steward? How would you justify the money and time invested in things that do not advance His kingdom?
  3. When you ask for God’s blessings, does your request line up with His idea of blessing (e.g., Matthew 5:3-12)? Are you asking for anything that is contrary to His will? How do you know?
  4. Are you storing up more in heaven than on earth? How will you defend your storing up here?
  5. Would you rather wrestle with the difficult and threatening Biblical passages or ignore them?
  6. How do you select the religious organization you affiliate with? What criteria is most important?
  7. When making other big life decisions, what are the first or primary questions in your decision tree? Are they about your success and happiness, or the advance of God’s kingdom?
  8. When you read your Bible or attend a meeting to hear the God’s truth, what are your hopes and expectations? To be interested? Entertained? Pacified? Validated? Challenged? Made free?
  9. Are you resisting conformity to the world, or are you becoming dependent on it for the things God has promised? Have you blended the two for convenience sake?
  10. How would you feel about having an independent auditor assess the fruit of your life? Do you have anything to hide?

Granted, these are difficult questions. We rarely hear anything so challenging – even from our pastors and preachers. But somebody – dear God, somebody – has to step forward in courage and boldness. Are you one whom the Master has given position and influence for such a time as this – to hasten the day of His return (2Peter 3:11-12)?

Some might prefer deception. Many will thank you for the freedom you have helped them find. Most importantly, the Master will be pleased. His “well done” is waiting for your response to His calling.

God bless you with courage and boldness for those in your spheres of influence and responsibility.

Humbly yours and forever His,