Spiritual Therapy

by Mike Ratliff

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household? “ (Matthew 10:24-25 ESV)

I began my series of six sessions of physical therapy today. This is to address some damage to my left shoulder because of the seizures I had in August and September. The therapist evaluated me today and told me that my right shoulder has some of the same damage, but not quite as severe. I had not told anyone about that pain because it was not as bad as that in my left shoulder. His discovery made me feel a whole lot better about submitting to his treatment.

When God saves a person, it is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life. No matter how many years that person lives in this life after that, that condition will not change. However, all those whom God saves are left to deal with their flesh in a demon infested temporal place that He uses to purify and mold them unto the image of their Saviour. This process is dealt with all through the New Testament and is referred to as fiery trials or tests. The journey from that moment of spiritual rebirth to the Celestial City is a pilgrimage along a narrow way through these tests and trials. The way is not bereft of problems, false brethren, false teachers, false prophets, pressure to conform to this Vanity Fair, pressure to dilute the pure truth from God’s Word, pressure to fit in with this lost and dying world, et cetera. It can seem at times that we are about to be destroyed by the very things God is using to perfect us and ready us for our eternity with our Saviour forever. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-39 ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV)

If you have been following what has been going on here for the past few weeks then you know that it seems as if every part of the Church is under some form of attack. Through these unpleasant things I have tried to point each of you to the truth that we must not place our trust in mere men, no matter how great they are at preaching, teaching, or rightly dividing God’s Word for us. No, we must not put men on pedestals of idolatry. Eventually, cracks and inconsistencies will be found in them and their ministries because they are men not God. This is trying for us, especially if we tend to idolize them. In fact, what we must come to understand fully is that popularity with the world is not a sign that a ministry is on the right track, but, in fact, is the very opposite. The more a “Christian” leader is lauded by the world, the more we should be wary of him.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household? “ (Matthew 10:24-25 ESV)

No one will dispute this statement, for it would be unseemly for the servant to be exalted above his Master. When our Lord was on earth, what was the treatment He received? Were His claims acknowledged, His instructions followed, His perfections worshipped, by those whom He came to bless? No; “He was despised and rejected of men.” Outside the camp was His place: cross-bearing was His occupation. Did the world yield Him solace and rest? “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” This inhospitable country afforded Him no shelter: it cast Him out and crucified Him. Such-if you are a follower of Jesus, and maintain a consistent, Christ-like walk and conversation-you must expect to be the lot of that part of your spiritual life which, in its outward development, comes under the observation of men. They will treat it as they treated the Saviour-they will despise it. Dream not that worldlings will admire you, or that the more holy and the more Christ-like you are, the more peaceably people will act towards you. They prized not the polished gem, how should they value the jewel in the rough? “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?” If we were more like Christ, we should be more hated by His enemies. It were a sad dishonour to a child of God to be the world’s favourite. It is a very ill omen to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout “Well done” to the Christian man. He may begin to look to his character, and wonder whether he has not been doing wrong, when the unrighteous give him their approbation. Let us be true to our Master, and have no friendship with a blind and base world which scorns and rejects Him. Far be it from us to seek a crown of honour where our Lord found a coronet of thorn. – C.H. Spurgeon – from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for November 10.

I have been in contact with some men from John MacArthur’s church over the last bit of unpleasantness. From them I have learned that even though their church is geared to minister to Christians, they still attract many unbelievers to hear John preach. In this, we should rejoice. However, they also have a continual stream of protesters picketing their church services complaining about all sorts of things. Some of the attacks get personal and with the help of technology, it is quite easy for some to attack their ministry via mass emails and web sites. Character assassination has never been easier. Even on my small scale, I have received my share of it. This is the reality of being an obedient servant of the living God in this lost and dying world. Our Lord made it clear that there will always be false prophets and religious leaders who are enemies of the truth. I would much rather debate an atheist than an apostate. The apostate believes that he or she is a holder of the pure truth, but what they have is a demented form of it that cannot stand up to scrutiny via Sacred Scripture. This is why they always decry our dependence upon Sola Scriptura. Instead, they claim to possess direct revelation from God.

One tactic is to misquote a Christian leader by taking what is said or written out of context or isolating it from the whole council of what the man teaches and preaches. These things are simply part of the fiery trials, the tests, which God is using to perfect His people to conform them unto the image of their Saviour. This is the Spiritual Therapy that all of us so desperately need.

My brethren, look not to men for your fulfillment. No, look to the Lord alone. Understand that there are evil people who hold to aberrant forms of “Christianity,” but are simply our enemy’s seed whose crop is tares. Some of them attack those who do nothing but teach the uncompromised truth. The closer a man of God gets to aligning his ministry to what God’s Word says and nothing more, the more he will be maligned by these pseudo-Christians. Let us not be surprised when this happens, but be ready to give an account to all who question us. The Holy Spirit will give us the words to say in the time of our trial. Worry not, for all truly in Christ are just one heartbeat away from being with their Saviour for eternity, which is far better than anything this world has to offer.

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “Spiritual Therapy

  1. Amen, Mike! It truely is scary how off-beam some of the church’s members can get, and how there seems to be a spiritual attack launched against her.
    But our Savior said things would get like this, so since He has been proven true once again, we can have faith that He will bring us through the times, as He has said He will do.

  2. I know what you mean about it being easier to minister to an atheist than an apostate. What is even worse is when the apostate knows just enough scripture and can even memorize the parts that he likes to the exact word. The trouble with his/her memorization is the context or the meaning of it.

    At my work, there was fellow who had been to college to study Theology but he dropped out. He is a chain smoker and we had a discussion about his smoking. He wouldn’t hear it that smoking destroys God’s temple (our bodies), that he was sowing to his flesh, and that would reap corruption for doing so. He even knew where the verse was about how God would destroy those who destroy his temple. He just explained it off as being a sin just like me eating chocolate cookies for lunch. He even grabbed my cookie box out of my car and began to read it intensely to show me how my two cookies after lunch were as dangerous as those cigarettes.

    At that point, I realized that the cross was foolishness to this individual, he was unregenerate, and I was wasting my time. He had head knowledge of scripture but he was still a slave to the natural. I then became very blunt with him and told him that the only way for him to understand is that he needs to be broken and God will do what he sees fit in order to kill his flesh. I even told him that everytime he took a drag on that cigarette, he was sowing to his flesh.

    I hope that he repents and God shows him mercy.

  3. Hi, Josh!
    Don’t forget to love your friend, and pray for him!
    Remember Hebrews 12:2-3:
    “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    “For consider him that endured such contradictions of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
    Maybe your friend is not really saved at all, and maybe it will be you that the Lord uses to help him!

  4. I believe in my heart that God will break him and open his eyes. I shared with him my own testimony how my salvation was much like King Nebuchadnezzar’s. For many years, the Lord set his face against me and would not forgive me, even though I pleaded. In those dark times of intense derision and desolation, I can relate to Jeremiah and what it means to be ‘sated with gall and wormwood’, held in constant derision, and a laughingstock to those whom I once considered my friends. Those years were dreadful and very dry so to speak. The Lord’s purpose in this was to seperate me from the world and the pressure to go back to it to find refuge. It was God’s way of killing my flesh as well knowing his judgment. God is by no means obligated to forgive anyone. Nor can he be taken to court if he withholds forgiveness and refuses to grant repentance.

    Lamentations 3 best describes what it feels like when the Lord throws a man into the crucible in order to kill his/her flesh.

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