Have you ever noticed that sometimes we can be our own worst enemy? When things don’t go right and dreams aren’t fulfilled as quickly as we would like, rather than taking responsibility and becoming tenacious in reaching our destiny in Christ, we tend to blame shift: “Well, the pastor didn’t give me a platform; the leader just didn’t see my gifts and I was shunned; someone gossiped about me and ruined my chances for success.” The reality is that no one can stop us from God’s will…except us.
Recently, I debated whether or not to watch the video of the 21 Christians who were brutally beheaded in Libya. I decided to watch it, as I believe the Holy Spirit is asking us to rise up, face the facts, and declare the truth. These men were martyred for their witness to Jesus Christ. The reality of the situation can either push us into self-pity or help us to get and keep our priorities straight, continuing to advance the Kingdom of God. Self-pity is certainly a poor choice. We often murmur about having a bad day, when our worst days are often a walk in the park compared to the persecuted church.
Since watching the video, I’ve been asking myself, “Why aren’t we seeing more great exploits on the earth today?” The Word tells us in Daniel 11:32 that the “people who know their God shall bestrong, and carry out great exploits” (KJV). The New American Standard Bible says it like this: “The people who know their God will display strength and take action.” Great exploits are promised to those who know God.
We are called to be people who desire God, people who display His strength and action so that He will be glorified. It is true that we are seeing some great exploits as drug lords are being taken down and darkness is being exposed—but there’s more. There’s so much more to do in God’s name for His glory.
Inner Man and Outer Man
In my quest for truth, the Lord reminded me that for many people the inward man and the outward man often pull people in two different directions. If we’re not totally yielding to our inner man, it’s going to be difficult to do great exploits for our God. We need to be 100-percent submitted to the Spirit of God within us.
Galatians 5:16 says we are to “walk by the Spirit, and [we] will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” If we’re truly walking in the Spirit, we should be able to discern what’s going on all around us. We should be able to discern the spiritual condition of an individual and of the body of Christ. We should be able to speak the Word of God and have revelation flow from heaven.
I often wonder what the percentage of believers is who truly walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit. I’m deeply saddened when I finish a message about walking in the Spirit and someone in the congregation comes up to me and says they’ve never heard that preached before. They ask what “walking in the Spirit” really means.
The outward man, the flesh, does not seek to do great exploits for the King of kings and Lord of lords. Rather, the outward man is selfish and wants what it wants when it wants it. But Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” So if our flesh is not crucified on a daily basis, we might have so many distractions from the outward man that it’s difficult for the Christ who lives in us to do great exploits.
In 2001 I graduated from Bible college in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I walked across the platform, received my diploma, and shook the professor’s hand. As I was walking back to my seat, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart: “A seed must fall to the ground and die before it bears much fruit.” To tell you the truth, I was a little miffed. I thought, “Well, happy graduation to me!”
But as I pondered this word from God, I realized this was a graduation gift from my heavenly Father just for me. He was protecting me and letting me know that I might not run to the nations the very next morning and “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons” (Matthew 10:8). Rather, He was reminding me that the dying of a seed is a process, and (I might add here) it happens underground, where no one can see it. The bottom line is this: death takes place before resurrection power can be manifested.
The Bible presents the picture that we are three-part beings: body, soul, and spirit. Romans 7:22 speaks of our inner man when Paul says, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man,” and again in Ephesians 3:16 when he prays that we would be “strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inner man.” Then Paul reminds us of the decaying of our outward man in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
When we invite Christ into our hearts, the moment we’re born again, the Spirit of God comes to live and dwell in us. Would you agree that the Spirit of God should include His great exploits as well? Our life is now His life, and the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead now lives within each of us. His Spirit has entered the inner man.
A Grain of Wheat
Jesus said, “I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Imagine yourself, for a moment, as a grain of wheat. The outside of the seed is a hard outer shell (physical body). The layer inside of the body is the soul, which is made up of your mind, emotions, and will. And your innermost being is the Spirit of God who resides within your spirit.
Pretend now that you’re putting on a coat, which represents your soul. So the Spirit of God that flows from your innermost being (John 7:38) is filtered through your soul as He tries to manifest Himself through you. If someone’s soul is deeply wounded, there’s a problem with the flow of the Spirit of God from their life. Now pretend you’re putting on a second coat. This coat is extremely heavy wool, scratchy, and very unpleasant. This second coat represents your physical body and is also a filter that the Spirit flows through to accomplish great exploits. This layer could be a constant distraction if not taken care of. Could the Spirit of God just explode through the filters and do great exploits for His glory? Sure, after all this is God we’re talking about here. But remember He has given us free will.
As humans, we sometimes like to use the flesh as an excuse for our behaviors, saying things like, “Well, I’m just human.” But why don’t we renew our minds, crucify our flesh, and start saying things like, “Well, I’m saved so I walk in the Spirit”? The truth is that those who do great exploits are those whose inward man can be released with the least amount of hindrance at any given moment in time.
The Seed Must Die
Life is like a grain of wheat, but there is a shell, a very hard shell, on the outside of the seed that has to be split open before it can release life. As long as that shell is not split open, it is impossible for the wheat to grow. The death of the seed is the cracking open of the shell. This breaking open of a grain of wheat takes place when the environment is just right—the right temperature, the right humidity, and the right amount of rain and sunshine. As soon as shell is split open, however, the wheat begins to grow and bear fruit.
This phenomenon can also be seen in the spiritual realm. A person may be doing okay, living their life the way their flesh wants to, making either good or horrible choices. And then come the storms of life. The wind and heavy rain beats on the hard shell, the outward man, until finally the hard shell breaks open. What an amazing moment when we can declare, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The question here is not whether there are great exploits in each believer perhaps the question is, has our outer man been broken so that great exploits can come forth from the inner man?
How do we allow this inner life to come forth? It can only come by yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives. Often, the Lord allows circumstances in our lives to break us, break our hard outer shell, and allow eternal life to freely flow out of us. This is not a doctrine to be comprehended in our heads alone; it is an experience that is to bring forth new life. The Lord loves us too much to leave our spirits imprisoned within our souls and bodies. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).
If the discipline of our heavenly Father is needed in our lives at times, it is for our own good and His glory. The Father’s discipline allows the breaking of our outward man so that our inward man may be released. The preparation is miraculous in itself. Don’t quit or give up, beloved. God is working within you to allow His Spirit to work through you, so you can display strength and take action for the Lord’s glory. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Copyright © Paulette Reed Ministries.