The Power of Choice in Our Spiritual
Wade E Taylor
"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will
come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
and follow me" Matt 16:24.
In this passage of Scripture, our Lord is offering to "if
any man" an opportunity to make a choice. It is not essential
to our salvation for us to do this, but if we respond to this
conditional call, we will be lead into a place of intimate
identification with the life and ministry of our Lord. Many
do not realize, or take seriously the value of this offer.
Our salvation is a free gift. We cannot earn or merit it
in any way. "For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: Not of
works lest any man should boast" Eph 2:8-9. However,
once we have received this gift of eternal life, we begin
to face choices that will affect our spiritual growth.
There are spiritual laws that determine the rate of our
spiritual growth. In Isaiah 1:19, the Scripture reads, "IF
ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land."
The "IF" tells us that there are "conditions"
that must be met, before we will be enabled to partake of
the spiritual nourishment that is promised here.
To be "willing and obedient" is to be united with
the Lord in both thought and action. This means a willing
submission of our will to be merged with His will. Then as
we relinquish our will, His grace is imparted to us, to implement
the outworking of His purpose through us.
This "good of the land" that we are to partake
of as a result of our "willing obedience" can be
understood as our receiving from the Lord a special spiritual
understanding and strength, which will help us in following
Him. Along with this, we will grow and expand spiritually.
The Lord is much more interested in our coming into a "quality"
relationship with Him, than we are. Yet He is a perfect gentlemen,
and will not force either Himself, or His desire for us; upon
us. Thus, He begins each of these promises with a conditional
"if". We must make the choice.
The Lord has placed within us, not only a capacity for obedience,
but also the capacity to rebel. We can stand and shake our
fist against Him, if we choose to do so. Thus as we obey Him,
we are not doing so as a puppet. Rather, we obey out of a
willing desire and love for Him. We have this power of choice.
We may say at one time or another, "I do not FEEL like
worshiping the Lord, I do not even want to." But during
these times, as we bend our will and give to Him our sacrifice
of praise, our worship is especially received and appreciated
by the Lord. Many times it is after an act of obedience such
as this, that the Lord will pour out His grace, and an overflow
of blessing will emerge.
This can be applied to any facet of our lives, where obedience
is required by the Lord. Yet, if we look only toward the reward,
we miss something. We must press on, knowing what the Word
says. For it is in the sufferings of the refiner's fire that
the pure gold, His Divine nature, is brought forth in our
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross...". If we truly desire to follow
Him, then we must actively resist our own flesh, deny our
own desires, and take up our own cross, in obedience to this
calling to follow Him.
"For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the
spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary (cross +),
the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that
you would" Gal 5:17.
What is this cross, and how can we take it up? There is
a warfare, or struggle between our natural desires and His
spiritual desire for us. Thus, there are two contrary wills
at war with each other: "I will" and "Thy will."
When the "Thy will" (His purpose for us) is contrary
to and crosses out the "I will" (our own wants),
our cross is formed.
As I die to my own will, and then submit to and come into
alignment with His will for me, I am taking up my cross and
thereby becoming one with Him. I then become an upright, fruit-bearing
branch on the tree of life as an expression, or witness of
His life and purpose.
We must overcome our feelings of indifference, spiritual
laziness, self will and rebellion, and then apply these to
the cross that we may prosper in the outworking of His will
for us in our daily lives, and thereby grow into spiritual
maturity and fruitfulness.
The Apostle Paul cried from the depths of his being, "That
I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ".
Notice that he said, "That I might apprehend." He
understood that there was a choice to be made.
There is a responsibility on our part to apply the cross
to our fears and reactions, that we might better follow Him.
"The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent
take it by force" Matt 11:12. There is a spiritual battle
that must be won in entering the Kingdom realm. Those who
truly love the Lord, and who desire to be rightly related
to Him in His Kingdom will press through.
The most important "time" for us in all of eternity,
is right now. We are making choices and decisions today, that
will effect our eternal reward. We are not waiting for eternal
life, we have that now as part of our redemption. But, WHAT
(not where) we will be in eternity, will be the result of
the accumulated choices and decisions that we are making now.
This "new creation life" that we have within us,
is as a little "seed" that is being formulated and
developing into completeness. Then, when it is eventually
released into the "soil" of eternity, it will unfold
into the full manifestation of its makeup.
Any seed that is planted, grows to express its particular
nature. We do not add anything to it, but expose it to the
right elements, and then it grows to the fullness of what
it is. The extent to which we develop spiritually, or mature
here on earth will become our "measured state" (either
30, 60 or 100 fold), for all eternity.
Our present life primarily involves the formulation of this
seed (our spiritual growth), through the outworking of our
willing obedience to Him in taking up our cross daily. Then,
when we find ourselves in the "atmosphere of eternity",
the life that had been developed within this seed will be
released to come into its full expression in His eternal presence.
The promise of the Lord is "to him that overcometh."
As we overcome through our willing obedience to the Lord,
He will bring this "good land" into our lives and
provide the atmosphere to fertilize and water the soil of
our obedience. This will bring forth a harvest of the qualities
of the divine nature that the Lord desires to produce within
this "seed" that we are becoming.
"The willing and the obedient shall eat the good of
the land". Allow this process to find its full outworking
in your life. Then, as you stand before Him in eternity, He
will look upon you, and give to you a new name according to
what He sees.
And you will be pleased.