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Thoughts on Growing New Believers (Part 4)

September 08 2015 By
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What do we mean by the terms “self-dependent” and “carnal?”

In the Bible we see a contrast between “spiritual believers” and “self-dependent (carnal) believers.” This, we believe, is the contrast brought out in Proverbs 3:5-6, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding (insight – AMP); think about (acknowledge - AMP) Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.’

We also need to distinguish between “disposition” and “acts of behavior”. What we “do” is an expression of what we “are.” One of the best examples is the contrast between King David and King Saul (see also Lesson 3-3). King David was described by God as a “spiritual man” (referring to the disposition of his heart). Acts 13:22 – ‘After removing him [king Saul], He raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man loyal to Me, who will carry out all My will.’

But nobody would suggest that David's behavior was pleasing to God when he committed adultery and murder. On the other hand, King Saul’s heart disposition was characterized by a pattern of “self-dependence.” As a result, when faced with decisions related to behavior, King Saul consistently “leaned on his own human understanding”, rather than walking by faith in God’s leading. It is important to note that Spiritual believers do not always trust God in every situation (see Paul in 2 Cor. 1:8-9 and 12:7), and “self-dependent” (“carnal”) believers often call upon the Lord in times of distress and crisis.

Another example is the clear contrast between Joshua and Caleb and the other ten Israelite tribal leaders (see also Lesson 3-4). All were sent by God to survey the Promised Land. All twelve men saw the same things, but only two men, Joshua and Caleb, had a “faithful” heart disposition that led them to trust God’s promise. The other ten had a disposition of trusting in their own human reasoning, which led them to forfeit God’s intended blessings. In Joshua 14:7-8, Caleb relates, ‘I was 40 years old when Moses the Lord’s servant sent me from Kadesh-Barnea to scout the land, and I brought back an honest report (according to my convictions - NIV). My brothers who went with me caused the people’s hearts to melt with fear, but I remained loyal to the Lord my God (wholeheartedly – NIV).’

In Numbers 14:24, God says of Caleb, ‘... since My servant Caleb has a different spirit and has followed Me completely, I will bring him into the land where he has gone,...’

In the DTI materials, we use the term “spiritual” to describe believers who have chosen to acknowledge God as the One who can best oversee and manage their lives, and who view themselves as “servants of God their Master” (Lordship). We use the terms “self-dependent” and “carnal” to describe believers who have either willingly, or ignorantly, not chosen to acknowledge and accept the authority and Lordship of Christ over their life. Unfortunately, we believe the Biblical concept of “self-dependence” would characterize about 70-80% of believers found in the American evangelical Christian community.

His Lordship

Again, we need to be careful to apply the terms “spiritual” and “self-dependent” (carnal) to “heart attitude” (disposition) rather than to “external behavior”. If we convey to others that the terms “spiritual” or “self-dependent” refer mainly to external behavior, then we will be unconsciously promoting the misconception of focusing on external behavior, rather than the Biblical concept of focusing on the “internal transformation,” from which external behavior is derived.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Matthew 12:34 ... For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.


Last modified on Tuesday, 08 September 2015 15:36

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