The Interceders Encourager No. 43
Separation from the World
"Every person who has ever been used in revival has had to break free from the world around them, so they could be yoked to God and married to His purposes." (John Mulinde)
"There are many things that stand in the way of genuine nation sweeping revivals, such as culture, tradition, mindsets and indulgent lifestyles. There are strongholds deeply and manifestly entrenched in the lifestyle of people in every region of the world. These are so deeply rooted that it appears almost impossible to bring whole communities to the point where they can experience God’s glorious power. Nations, including even the Christian believers, are held in captivity to their social systems. These bondages have become so much a part of us that that we scarcely notice how they cause our lives to differ from what is in the word of God." (John Mulinde)
To counteract this, we need to focus on God above everything else. We need to surrender everything we have, everything we are, everything we have done, and seek only God in Christ, so that we really know Him and the power of His resurrection, and share in his sufferings, (Phil. 3:10).
We need to make sure: we read His word everyday, so that we are fed;
we study His word every day so that it will dominate our thinking;
we pray his word every day, so that our faith is increased;
we obey His word every day, so that our steps are directed;
we speak out His word every day, so that we destroy the works of the devil.
We need to confront the devil, and tell him we are not going to put up with him any more. We need to take authority over him in the name of Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are told that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil, so we need to claim that reality in our lives and beyond.
That authority comes from closeness to the Lord, from being crucified with Christ. As Al Martin stated, "The Cross is not there to give a minor shift in your thinking and values. The Cross is meant to radically disrupt the very centre and citadel of our lives from self to Christ. The Cross is intended to be the means ‘by which the world is crucified to me and I to the world.’(Gal.6:14) The message and the reality of the Cross has to fundamentally change us from serving self to serving Christ. Serving self can be centred on pride, vanity, covetousness, lust, laziness, unforgiveness, even morality and religion. It all has to go to the Cross and be shattered."
Most revival converts had this sense of being radically altered, of having been to the Cross and having their past lives ‘shattered." That is what we all need, and we can have it, even though none of us are revival converts.
God told John Mulinde to separate himself apart for Him, to allow God to work deeply in His life, so that he would be released from the hooks that the world had in him. He was told that God would cause his life to be separated from everything that hindered him, so he could be lifted up above the world’s influences. All God was seeking was a vessel set apart for Him, totally separated from worldly influences, and fully yielded to His will. "This is my call to you and to all my people," said the Lord.
This call came to John in September 2001, at the time of the terrorist attacks in America. He realized that the rescue workers who went into the buildings to rescue people had trained and hardened themselves to sacrifice everything for others. They had set themselves apart for such an event, and when the day came, they were ready.
So the Lord told him that to be set apart for God means a call to a new lifestyle and new ways of thinking, so that he would stand and work when others would run or hide. God’s work requires such people, such overcomers.
Furthermore, just as the pilots of the planes who committed such atrocities had learned to despise and deny the values that ordinary people hold dear, for their cause was all that mattered to them, so that they were given over to death, and thought it a privilege to die for their faith, he would have to think and behave in the same way. We know that they were directed by the god of this world, yet they, along with all suicide bombers, display a courage and bravery that few of us could aspire to. The Early Church, however, had that courage and bravery, but the Church today, especially the Western Church, does not have it. This is because the Church is entangled in the ways and values of the world, so it cannot save people out of this world. Our priorities and discipline will have to change, for us to be set apart for God.
John was told that the call of God to separation was not just for him but for all believers, so that God could make us the people He could use to overturn cities and nations in these last days. "He wants us to be like Samuel, who was set apart for God, so He can transform us into vessels for change. We need to get rid of all idols, even the smallest thing that comes between us and wholehearted obedience to God. If we are going to make an impact for God, we have to decide to be set apart for Him.
When God sets you apart, and works deeply in you, you come out totally different from others. Your heart is different, your rules are different, and your view of the world is different. You don’t fear what others fear. The things that attract them do not attract you. The things and the people they look up to, are of no importance to you, and often seem abominable." Whatever the world thinks of as important and worth striving for and attaining, is to mean nothing to us. Indeed they are to be rejected as hindrances to our walk with Christ. (Phil.3:7-8) As the apostle says, whatever people are proud of, money, goods, family, nationality, race, reputation, has to be sacrificed for the sake of gaining Christ and being found in Him. Our minds must be fully set on heavenly things.
When you have been set apart, you will have different and higher standards of respect and reverence towards God that others do not share; higher standards of respect towards others, of attention to detail, of honesty, of keeping your word, of personal discipline, that will seem old fashioned in this informal, free and easy, anything goes church environment with which we are surrounded. You will feel like a fish out of water.
As G.D Watson wrote, "If God has called you to be really like Jesus, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other people do things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians and leaders who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do
it, and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely that God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury."
If money or possessions come to you, you will know that you have to give them away, as soon as possible, lest they become a visible source of security, and take away your reliance on God; as C.T.Studd knew, for, on his 25th birthday, he inherited a large fortune from his father, but promptly gave it all away to Christian causes.
"The Lord may let others be honoured and given preference, but keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious He may let others get credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus returns.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time, which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make up your mind that God has the right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in jealous love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle."
Yet we are never to think that we are in a privileged position into which others cannot go. Anything that the Lord has revealed to you, He wants to reveal to all. Every way that He has led you, He yearns to lead others. But you have to bear the disappointment and frustration that the Lord feels because others do not respond as they should, and you have to learn to do it without complaining.
"Settle it forever, then that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Now, when you are so possessed with the living God, that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life," then you will have found the vestibule of heaven and the joy of intimate communion with your Lord.
However, there is a heavy price to pay. "The genuine Christian is a lonely soul in the midst of a world which offers him no fellowship," wrote A.W. Tozer. The Early Christians who were Gentiles felt a sense of alienation because they were not Jews and also were unlike other Gentiles. This is why Peter addresses them as aliens and
exiles, who had to abstain from the passions of the flesh, making them unpopular and liable to rejection and persecution.
In the same way, a true set apart believer can be "the loneliest person in the world, for the sense of not belonging to this world is part of our Christian heritage. But it is this knowing that his citizenship is in heaven and not on earth, and that he is looking for a Saviour from heaven, that keeps a Christian separated."
Even David realized something of this. "I have become a stranger to my brothers," he wrote, "an alien to my mother’s sons." (Ps. 69:8) Why had this happened? It was because, "Zeal for Your House has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult You have fallen on me." (Ps.69:9) He acknowledged that, "It is for Your sake that I have borne reproach and shame has covered my face." (Ps.69:7)
Like David, we must learn to bear insults and reproach, and praise the Lord at the same time, trusting that the Lord will hear our prayer, save the Church and rebuild it. (Ps.69:30, 33, 35-36)
According to John Mulinde, "there are those who have counted the cost, and concluded that God is worth more to them than all the attractions of this present age. They would rather seek the abiding riches and fulfilment that is found only in Him who was, and still is, rejected and misrepresented by His own Church in our day.
The Lord will not force Himself on His people, and neither will He come to us while we are stuck in our ways. He calls us to lay down our lives for His life.
If you truly set yourself apart for the Lord, He will work deeply in your life to prepare you for the times ahead. He will do in you what you cannot do for yourself, and bring you, along with others, to the fulfilment of your destiny in the world."
In what appears to be a vision, John saw, "scattered all over the world, men and women, young and old, often isolated, who are sick and tired of the way that things are, and their hearts are revolting against the tide of the day. They have turned their backs on the world, and have rejected the compromise and the half truths that pervade the Church. They are seeking the Lord with all their hearts.
Around them, others are falling away and betraying their faith. Only those sustained by the Lord will endure through the trials.
He saw small bands of men and women joining themselves to the individuals who were set apart for God. In these groups, they are fed and disciplined by studying the word, not academically, but through helping each other to connect with God so deeply that God Himself teaches each individual directly. Each one encourages the others as iron sharpens iron.
They are committed to God and to each other in a covenantal love. No one is considered greater as they serve each other, yet they recognize the gifts and callings that God has given to each one. They make room for each one to fulfil the role that God has gifted them for, preferring others above themselves.
These groups will reach out to others, to help them to break free from the chains of their bondage to sin, the evil one and worldliness. They will immediately be persecuted by the world and the main churches, but they will accept this joyfully, being willing to lay down their lives for the Lord.
Their ministry is powerful as they go out, and miracles are seen as people’s lives are transformed by the Holy Spirit, and the power of the enemy is driven back. In the world, everything that people have believed in starts to crumble, as the forces of evil grow darker and more aggressive. Only those sold out for Christ will be able to stand up against the persecution, and win through."
This ‘vision’ and description of the groups is a wonderful confirmation and extension of the vision to have Lighthouse Groups set up all over the land, and is a spur to all Interceders to set up such groups wherever you live, if you don’t already belong to one. This vision is underlining how important it is for us all to do so.
As we speak about the importance of being set apart for God, and not doing many things that other Christians think are quite acceptable, the danger is that they will think we are being spoilsports and being too negative. This is why the whole emphasis should be on setting ourselves apart to be what God wants us to be, setting ourselves free from distractions and lesser pursuits, even from what is good, to seek the best. We have to show that this is the better way, the higher way, the more spiritual way, the more God pleasing way, the more challenging way, the way that demands more faith, leading to more success, even if nobody else believes us or joins us.
Leonard Ravenhill said, "If the whole church goes off into apostasy,(as large parts of it have), that will in no way excuse us for not following Christ wholeheartedly."
We need to show that we are seeking God’s best. As the psalmist says, "Blessed are the men whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs…They go from strength to strength. Every one of them appears before God in Zion…A day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and a shield. He bestows favour and honour. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly." (Ps. 84:5-7. 10-11)
If we truly fear Him and seek Him and walk uprightly with Him, in the light, as He is in the light, we will find all our fulfilment in Him. The things and the ways of the world, the entertainment, the sport, the music, the fashion, the pride, the false values, the latest ‘must have’ objects, the noisy, disrespectful way of doing things, so prevalent in the world and in most churches; all will lose their attraction in comparison with knowing Him, the pearl of great price. Our cup will run over, as it did, especially for the converts of the awakenings in 1904-6 and 1949-1953, so that the desire for everything else disappears. Is this true for you? Has that desire for other things been taken away in your life?
"Let earth no more my heart divide, with Christ may I be crucified,
To Thee with my whole soul aspire;
Dead to the world with all its toys, its idle pomp and fading joys,
Be Thou alone my one desire." (Charles Wesley)
"Each moment draw from earth away my heart, that lowly waits Thy call;
Speak to my inmost soul, and say, I am thy Love, thy God, thy All.
To feel Thy power, to hear Thy voice, to taste Thy love, be all my choice. (Charles Wesley)