Giving Our Heart To Things Above
How likely we Christians are to let slide the reality of unseen things and the unspeakable blessings of intimate fellowship with our God which were once our portion! How can it be that we sons of God ignore the multitude of promises, appeals and invitations in God’s blessed Word that assure us that always – even during times of adversity and affliction and tribulation – we may have not simply joyfulness but exceeding joyfulness! "I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation" (2 Cor. 7:4).
Why do so many saints persist in "feeding on the husks," the worthless shell of a fruit or seed, that the depraved world about us has to offer, the same husks we fed upon before salvation? Why do God’s children pursue the same things that Satan’s children pursue – worldly comfort, a better house, a classier car, a more prestigious job, possessions, money, pleasure, fun, entertainment and such like? Why are we so quick to seek the things of this world and yet so slow and unable to enjoy the glorious reality of eternal things unseen? The average Christian is no less interested in the pursuit of pleasure and ease and enjoyment than his next door neighbor who is rapidly moving on his way to hell.
A. W. Tozer in one of his sermons made the following observation: "We have been told…that we could have more fun serving Jesus than we could doing anything else…That is Christianity for the sake of fun…. My brother, the cross of Christ isn’t fun, and it never was fun." Fun has dethroned the Son in the 21st century church. Fun – the pleasures of the world – has been substituted for the joy of the Lord.
On Sunday, when you meet your friends before or after the service, it is unlikely you will hear anyone sharing something that was real or precious to him or her from the Word of God in the past week. It is unlikely you will hear the name of Jesus spoken…unbelievably! Saints gathered together for "Christian fellowship"! How this grieves the heart of our wonderful God!
The Remedy of God’s Word
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth" (Col. 3:1-2).
What a glorious command that is to the true Christian! If our citizenship is in heaven, we love to think on things above. We love to set our affection on the One who "sitteth on the right hand of God." The Psalmist said: "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee" (Psa. 73:25). It isn’t a chore for you to sit quietly and contemplate and concentrate on that blessed One "whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet. 1:8). It is a joy for the normal Christian to set his affection on things above.
You shouldn’t be comfortable here in this world. You are simply a traveler passing through a strange and evil and wicked country. "Pilgrims," says Tozer, "have not yet found that place they can call home" (Jesus, Author of Our Faith, page 59).
But what about the "Christian" to whom the command to set his affection on things above has little or no appeal, to whom the things of the earth have much greater appeal than "things above"... one who in the depths of his heart must admit that heavenly things really do not or never have had any appeal to him whatever. It is then conceivable that that one is not "risen with Christ"…is not born again…is not a believer.
Only believers are equipped to obey God’s Word. Only believers are given a desire after heavenly things. Only believers are given the new life in Christ. (Read Colossians 3:1-17.) In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul said, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [or a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Only the heart of the believer has been softened and made pliable so that he can understand and obey and enjoy God’s Word. "…and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: that they may walk in My statutes, and keep Mine ordinances, and do them" (Ezek. 11:19-20).
Only the eyes of the saint have been opened so that he can see wondrous things out of God’s Law. "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law" (Psa. 119:18). Only the soul of the believer breaks for the longing that it has unto God’s judgments at all times: "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times" (Psa. 119:20).
It is possible that the individual who never finds enjoyment in the Word of God while at the same time he seeks and enjoys worldly pleasures (whether he finds those pleasures in the world only or in the church of this hour), should examine his credentials for salvation to see if he be in the faith or if possibly he be a Christian in name only. If this is your condition, without delay come to Christ this day!
Satan is real. Satan’s work in the earth is to blind the minds of sinners. "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:3-4). But in addition, Satan’s work in this world is clearly that of drawing saints away from the realities of unseen things, away from the precious, intimate life of fellowship with their God, away from setting their affection on things above.
In addressing Christians, the apostle Peter warned: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (1 Pet. 5:8-9). Satan involves himself in the lives of sinners and, with God’s permission, in the lives of saints as well – saved and lost alike. Satan’s purpose in the earth is to lead men into sin and unrighteousness, to cause mankind to do evil, to sin against the Lord.
A Deceptive Danger
There is in all of this, however, a deceptive danger. The danger is that the Christian can easily fall into "the-devil-made-me-do-it" trap in which he is tempted to excuse himself in varying degree from all responsibility for his choices and his actions, and place that responsibility upon the devil. Saints, Christians make decisions! We are not robots. There is such a thing as choosing right or wrong, choosing to obey God’s Word or disobeying it. Joshua, in addressing his own people Israel, told them to make a choice as to what false gods they wanted to serve. But as for himself, he said, he was choosing to serve the Lord: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; …but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15).
Yes, God’s people make decisions – good, right and holy decisions. But also, they make wrong, evil, compromising and sinful decisions. The point is, saints will often make these decisions without the aid of demons. "Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations" (Ezek. 36:31). "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God" (Jer. 2:19).
Christians make or have the power to make righteous decisions. As we wait upon the Holy Spirit and His Word we are guided in the pursuit of holiness, holy living, righteous, sanctified living. "Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel…" (Psa. 73:24). "For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death" (Psa. 48:14). "Turn Thou us unto Thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned" (Lam. 5:21).
The all-important and main ingredient here is that all of God’s counsel, all of His guidance, all of His many promises, His appeals, His invitations and His commands are given to us of Him with the assumption that we obey them. When we obey we are blessed. The sequence is all-important.
When the great leader of the Israelites, Moses, was called at the burning bush, God told him: "…put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Ex. 3:5). Moses was to obey God. God did not take off Moses’ shoes for him. God knew that Moses had the ability to remove his own shoes. It was Moses’ responsibility to take the initiative to obey the Lord and to take off his shoes. Then followed the blessing of the Lord’s commissioning Moses to lead His people.
The Bible says when Abraham was called to go into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance he obeyed and "he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). Abraham chose to obey God’s command. He made a choice. The Word of his God told him to do something and he chose to do it. He chose to obey the Word of the Lord and he ultimately "sojourned in the land of promise" (Heb. 11:9).
If you are a believer who has known the reality of unseen things in past times when they were more real to you than the earthly, but if it is not so now, choose in this very moment to turn again to your God! Confess to Him that you have been choosing the world and the things in it over the things of heaven. You have deliberately turned your face away from Him. Pray with Jeremiah in Lamentations: "Turn Thou us unto Thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old" (Lam. 5:21). The Father wants to see a heart that is sincere toward Himself. Beg Him to restore to you the glorious, intimate relationship you once had with Him. Deliberately choose to "set your affection on things above." – J.N.J.