Many bemoan what they perceive as a lack of the Lord’s intervention and deliverance in persistent and difficult situations they face: “Where is the Lord’s deliverance? If He is all He is supposed to be, and we have the Spirit that we supposedly do, why is there so little spiritual breakthrough in my life?” The problem can sometimes be that we want God to make things wonderful for us while changing none of our beliefs, thinking, values, priorities, and behaviors. We don’t “earn” our salvation, nor any of its benefits. Salvation is free, but not cheap. Deliverance is not earned, but it can be costly.
Having a spiritual breakthrough sometimes comes with a price tag. If we persist in “un-kingdom” things, we will get the fruit of “un-kingdom” things: defeat and bondage. Kingdom life is not the icing on the cake of the Western “good-life,” lived in alienation to His person, purposes, and ways. The Spirit is not a genie whose lamp we rub with our obedience to biblical principles, to get Him to do what we think should be done for us. God is not interested in fluffing the nest of our self-interests, regardless of how much we pray, how many promises we “claim,” and how many “prophetic decrees” of freedom we make. The key to unlock many of our difficulties could be laying at our feet. It just won’t fit in the lock of our carnal nature.
Spiritual Breakthrough: Provision Suitable for the Creation
Cows can eat grass. Humans can’t. It’s in a cow’s nature to process grass as provision. It’s not in a human’s nature. What is provision for one creation, is not provision for another. The fallen human nature cannot process God’s provision for deliverance, even if that deliverance is laid at its feet. God could provide a field of green provision for us, but if we are expecting to be able to process it through the spiritual digestive system of our fallen nature, we will never experience lasting liberty. That nature is not capable of receiving the “deliverance.”
Spiritual Breakthrough: Crucifying the “Good Stuff”
God’s manifestation of lasting spiritual breakthrough may not be linked just to un-kingdom things in our lives. It might require giving up things we believe, like, value, or have grown accustomed to: “good” stuff, not “bad” stuff. God’s deliverance is often neither mystical nor locked up in some mystery of His sovereign timing. It is tied to our difficulty or reluctance to process His provision for deliverance: responsibility for personal change.
Adjusting or abandoning what might be dearly held beliefs, understandings, values, and habits– “the crucifying” of those things, is often the prerequisite for lasting freedom in His sons and daughters. We must understand, that a discipled or crucified life does not consist of “getting rid of the bad stuff” and “acquiring the good stuff.” The discipled life is when the cross is applied to the good stuff.
Spiritual Breakthrough: IN you, not FOR you
There will always be a place for uncontingent spiritual breakthrough in God’s economy: raw power encounters that free and deliver. However, if you have been a believer for a considerable length of time, and you are struggling with persistent areas of defeat or bondage, it is highly likely that your expectation of how you will experience your ‘deliverance” needs adjusting. You may be expecting a no-cost, power encounter, and God is trying to do something transformative IN you, not TO you or FOR you. Your nature needs to adapt/change to process His green provision that may be laying at your feet.
When Israel was a child, they experienced deliverance and provision with little or no requirement on their part (Passover). When it came time to inherit the land, miracles and deliverance changed to war and work. They still experienced the supernatural, but it sure looked and felt different than what they experienced at Passover! The failure to circumcise the second generation is a great typological picture: “If you are going to go forward form this point, something you have neglected, something of your flesh . . . has to go.” It is “unsuitable” for the future in God.
Spiritual Breakthrough: Not Behavior Management!
I am not endorsing reforming the carnal nature by behavior management! God forbid! I am talking spiritual breakthrough by the transforming power of the resurrected God-Man in glory! The new nature is receptive to some things, and not others. It has behaviors that are consistent with it and behaviors that are not. Scripture says that God is faithful to make a way of escape for us. For some, spiritual breakthrough is going over a mountain, for some spiritual breakthrough is removal of the mountain, for others it is going around the mountain, and yet for others it is going through the mountain. If my expectation is for “over the mountain” and God’s prescription is for one of the others, His deliverance could be right in front of me and I will never see it.
Those from a “Charismatic” background, or who have in the past experienced supernatural, manifestational, spiritual breakthrough need to take note: If not very careful you can very subtly take a position of either thinking you know how God always accomplishes spiritual breakthrough, or worse yet, dictate (we call it prayer) to Him how you think He should do it for you and others.
Manna every morning, parted seas, and stepping over the corpses on the beach of an oppressing empire, without a fight is “God,” and it’s exciting. Hacking your way through opposing armies, tilling soil, and planting crops in the heat of a Mideastern day is “God” . . . and not so exciting.
We can’t bring our terms of deliverance to God’s table. We come to His table and accept His terms. Yes, there is power, and that power, in one way or another, is always wrapped in a delivery system of His cross.
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