by Mike Ratliff
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Our Victory in Christ
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:22-27 (NASB)
We are exhorted throughout God’s Word to persevere even in the most rugged of circumstances. We are given a promise of what awaits those who do persevere, the adoption as “sons” and redemption of our bodies, which is positional for all truly in Christ. Yet, we look forward to these and other promises with eyes of faith. This temporal part of our life as Christians can be quite a battle with the flesh to the point of crying out like the Apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am!” Weakness in this battle is directly attributable to a lack of praying as we should, while, conversely, victory in this battle is directly attributable to proper praying in the spirit, that is, in harmony with the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than according to one’s own agenda. There are many “church” things out there that are not good for us. These “church” things are the product of those scoffers who have entered the Church to divide it.
7 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. Jude 1:17-19 (NASB)
We are in this “last time.” These people with their own agenda have entered the Church following their own ungodly passions. They pervert the truth for their own profit. They are worldly people devoid of the Spirit and in order for us to persevere to the end, we must turn from them and have no part in their ministries. How are we to know to turn from these people? We must pray and walk in the knowledge given to us by God as we do this.
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21 (NASB)
The way to minimize the influence of these false prophets and teachers is to live proactively as a follower of Christ (Jude 1:3). I know so many Christians who are proactive Southern Baptists, or proactive Presbyterian, et cetera. However, this religiosity is not the same thing as being proactive follower of Christ nor will it provide them with the same level of discernment and knowledge of God. What does it mean for us to build ourselves up in our most holy faith? These who are proactively following Christ are building themselves up in their most holy faith by building on the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) and cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20) in Christ. God has given us the wonderful gift of His Word written down by the apostles and prophets so that we can build ourselves up by the Word of God.
We are also to pray in the Holy Spirit. What does this mean? To begin with, it is not a call to some ecstatic form of prayer, but simply a call to pray consistently in the will and power of the Spirit, as one would pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:16-20 (NASB)
The “all prayer and petition” focuses on the variety of prayer while the “praying at all times in the Spirit” focuses on the frequency. The part “in the Spirit” focuses on submission, as one lines up with the will of God. The “be on the alert” focuses on the manner while “all perseverance” focuses on the persistence. Paul also tells us to do this “for all the saints and him.” Paul does not ask for his health or well-being or “things,” but for faithfulness in being bold in the midst of his imprisonment that he would continue proclaiming the gospel to the unsaved, no matter what the cost.
So, when we are called to persevere, to stand firm, to not run from the battle line, it is a call to be men and women of prayer. We fight the good fight correctly as we pray in the Spirit and obey what God leads us to do. As we shed our fascination with the world and its ways then we are ready for this, not until. There is no way to mix being all tied up in the world and its ways, and perseverance to the end as praying, obedient, proactive followers of Christ. In case I haven’t reminded those reading this in awhile, this life is amazingly short. Time slips through our fingers like sand. We are like a vapor that is there for just a few seconds and is gone. Do not put off what you know God wants you to do. That later day may never come.
Soli Deo Gloria!