by Mike Ratliff
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Some have said that God’s demand that He be glorified above all things (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:4; John 8:29; Romans 8:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:9) while commanding that His people remain humble, puts Him in a bad light. The scriptures tell us that God created humankind for His glory. Doesn’t this make God selfish, vain, and overly proud? That viewpoint comes from a distorted view of God and Man. That viewpoint is at the core of Humanism.
Each of our sinful natures is still very much alive. If we do not live self-denying lifestyles, the sin that lives within us will consume us. It will push for self-gratification above all things. It sees genuine humility as a losing proposition. Since our Souls are especially vulnerable to the appeal of self above all, we must learn to live Spirit-led lives. The Spirit-led walk puts our Souls on the cross and Jesus on the throne of our hearts.
The call to do all for the glory of God is not God selfishly demanding His due for His sake alone. Instead, God knows that His people maximize their fulfillment, joy, and peace when they are most satisfied in Him.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:7-11)
Abiding in Jesus Christ carries with it a remarkable guarantee for the believer. Those who abide in the savior are fruitful in the Kingdom. The abiding believer will also bring glory to God by doing so. God’s joy brings believers fulfillment and it is their strength to abide and be obedient to the Lord. Who is excluded from abiding in Jesus Christ? No one can abide in Christ while being dominated by self-focus. Abiding requires our hearts to become directed to the Lord for fulfillment rather than what our fleshly sin nature wants. We maximize our fulfillment when we seek God’s glory in everything we do. Our fulfillment diminishes when we seek our own glory in anything.
One of my favorite books is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. There is a place in this book called the Valley of Humiliation. This place allegorically represents the time in each believer’s walk with God when he or she departs from all self-focus while fellowshipping and communing with God in a warm, deep, personal way. Bunyan represented the Pilgrim’s time in the Valley of Humiliation as the time of deep spiritual growth and satisfaction in the Lord. On the outside looking in, however, the world would see a Christian who is a walking paradox. He or she would be suffering in a way that would consume a non-believer, but the suffering saint is joyful and full of inner strength that makes little sense to them. The believer enters the Valley of Humiliation burdened by disease, unemployment, death of close family members, or just about any personal crisis that no one wants to experience. However, God will use this time to grow and mature His “Beloved of the Lord.” The time spent in this valley is God’s time to grow the believer into an unimaginable level of spirituality.
As the believer emerges from the Valley of Humiliation, he or she finds they have had to let go of parts of their former life. Either God cut these things away or the believer left them behind in obedience to Him. This results in the believer maturing because he or she has learned to walk closer with the Lord in Repentance with Joy. They have learned to walk in the Spirit. They are Spirit-led. They have learned to live for God’s glory rather than for self-gratification. Whatever the believer left behind in the Valley of Humiliation was an impediment to their maturing unto Christlikeness. God, in His wisdom, took away what the believer previously saw as necessary in order to sharpen his or her spiritual focus along with increasing their dependence upon His grace.
Many never make it out of the Valley of Humiliation. In those cases, God takes them home to be with Him. However, those who do emerge will never be the same as they were before they went in. They now see their lives as a reflection of God’s character. Of course, this is only possible for the Spirit-led. Why? The Spirit-led’s Spirit is predominate over their Soul. Their Soul is denied. It has taken on its natural function of expressing and reflecting God. God’s grace exudes from them in all of their relationships. Their Christlike character is never hypocritical. Without hypocrisy, there is no hypocritical judging of others. Of course, this is only true while the believer is Spirit-led. We all move back and forth between Spirit-led and Soul-led modes of walking. When we are Soul-led, our flesh dominates us. When we are Spirit-led, the Holy Spirit leads us into righteousness. (Galatians 5:13-26) We must seek to maximize the time we are Spirit-led and to minimize those horrible Soul-led moments.
Not only are all believers saved by grace through faith, their spiritual growth from that moment on is also by grace through faith. God is sovereign. He is actively involved in the lives of His people. He saves those whom He has chosen. He matures them unto Christlikeness by His grace. He prunes them in the crucible of the sanctification processes that builds faith in them. As believers grow in grace, maturing unto Christlikeness, with each act of submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ while suffering in this manner, their faith is deepened and strengthened. The believers who do this are living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1) They have learned to become separate from the world, as they have become transformed by the renewing of their minds. (Romans 12:2) This drives hypocrisy out of them. The habit of judging others hypocritically fades away. Any renewal of that form of walking brings instant condemnation from their clear and pure conscience. Since heeding their conscience is central to walking this way, their lives become more and more Christlike with each act of obedience.
The believers who abide in Christ are also walking the Walk by Faith. They are running the race set before them. They are genuine disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are taking on His character. Along with the spiritual growth, these processes also draw the believer into a deep desire to know God intimately. How does a believer do this? The Bible is our source of knowledge about God and Man. The believers who draw close to God experience God drawing close to them. (James 4:8) He will put into them the hunger to study and learn the truth about Him and His ways that He desires to teach them. For example, after God drew me into this walk, He put an overwhelming hunger in me to learn doctrine. However, I know others who have also drawn near to God, as I have, yet they are drawn into service in areas that I am not. For me, it is important to become doctrinally pure, but for others that is not a much of a priority. In any case, God has a purpose in it all.
The believers who become Spirit-led will also seek God’s glory in all things. When they do this, they will exhibit Christlikeness in most cases. While they are Spirit-led, they will never judge hypocritically.
Dear Heavenly Father, hallowed by thy name, thy Kingdom Come, they will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Oh Lord, teach us to become Spirit-led. Take us, lovingly, into the Valley of Humiliation. Yes, Lord it hurts, but we know that our submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all things is what will grow is unto Christlikeness. Oh Lord, cleanse our consciences. Enable us to walk in the Spirit as you guide us into the truth. Teach us to do all for you glory. In Jesus Name—Amen!
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.