Filling Up On Jesus
Nature abhors a vacuum, but when it comes to the human heart and soul, a vacuum is the devil's delight.
Jesus teaches us that,
"When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest but does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left'. When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first..."(Matthew 12:43-45a)
We see it often. In fact it is near pandemic today and extremely sad. A person places their faith in Christ for salvation, accepting Him. They make a commitment to live for the Lord and God cleanses them, forgives their sins, emptying them of all the filth and junk. He casts it all into the sea and never brings it up again. I like the commentator who writes, "God puts up a sign where He dumps our sins that reads, 'No Fishing". All of our sins are gone. We are justified in God's sight. I also like the way someone else describes justification; "It's just as if we never sinned." And that's a fact.
But then we see that person years later and to our horror, they are worse off than before they became a Christian. Or maybe nothing has changed and they are the same as they ever were. Where is the power of God? Did it fail? Of course not! That person simply stopped right there and never grew in Christ, in their faith, or in spiritual maturity. Why did they not grow? And why did they fail to continue following Jesus? There can be many reasons, but the primary cause of backsliding into sin is found in Jesus words in the above verse.
To put it simply, they never replaced all the bad stuff with any of the good stuff. In fact, getting rid of stubborn sins is a lot easier by not focusing so much on not doing that thing, whatever it may be, and focusing more on doing the right and good things. I found that when I started practicing the daily Christian disciplines; studying the Bible and praying, loving God more and more, those old bad habits just seemed to take care of themselves. What actually happened was I fell deeply in love with Jesus and I want desperately to please the one I love. The better we get to know Him the more we grow to love Him. When we feed our spirits on Jesus, and on the Word of God, our desires change, they become God's desires. We begin to hate what God hates and we begin to love what God loves.
This is the law of displacement at work. We displace, or force out all the bad, by filling up with the good. When you go to pour yourself a glass of water, think about the fact that it was never empty. It contained air. But when you poured in the water, the air was forced out. It's just good sense. The man Jesus spoke of who had been cleansed of a demon, never went any further and ended up going back to his old ways and worse. It is just as it's written in Proverbs about a dog that returns to its vomit." Yuk, I know, but it's in the Bible.
Pillars of Growth
The importance of the three big pillars of spiritual growth cannot be stressed enough. They are; Bible study, prayer and growing close to and spending time with other mature, Spirit-led Christians. Just as our bodies need food to sustain them, our spirits need the Word of God to sustain them. Jesus is the Word (Jn. 1:1), and we need the written Word as well. God is our spiritual food.
ďAnd they all did eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:4)
Jesus is the original rock star!
Jesus is our spiritual sustenance and if we do not feed on Him often, we will not grow, and we will not experience the "Abundant Life" that Christ wants to give us. We are not going to get it through a lighting bolt, or osmosis, or dancing in the rain. Communion too, is a reminder to us that we need to feed on Christ often. That is why Jesus said, "Do this as often as you eat it." In other words as often as you feed your body, feed your spirit too.
"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Matthew 6:35
When we feed on Christ, we will never be spiritually dry or hungry. He satisfies completely. When we feed on Him and on His word we become strong, we grow and we mature, and we receive the greater benefits of grace.
God takes us just as we are and then begins to work on us. Sanctification, or becoming like Jesus, becoming holy, begins. But it is not a magical occurrence. We must follow the Spirit's lead before the Spirit will empower us to supernatural victory in each area we surrender. It takes first, our complete surrender. When we give our life to Christ we are saying, He is in charge, that we will follow Him. We must crucify our own fleshly desires in order to live a new abundant life in Christ. Sometimes it's hard, I agree. But the more we practice the easier it becomes, especially so once the results start to come in. Once a person starts lifting weights to build muscle and after six weeks looks in the mirror, they see those muscles start to pop up, wow, that is encouraging. Same thing for Spirit building. Follow the proven paths and you will get results!
When we empty ourselves of all of our past sin, wrong activities and the like, we must then be filled with good things, in every area of our life. And all the good things come from God; like purpose and direction and satisfaction and the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, meekness kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. And thereís many more good things to fill up on at Godís buffet of holiness.
Satan likes it when we grow spiritually hungry and weak. If we are running on empty, a vacuum begins to form. If you remember your physics you know that a vacuum will quickly be filled with something. The devil is right on his toes, waiting for that hunger in us, so he can fill it with the wrong things, destructive things. Trust Jesus when he reveals that an empty house (soul) is in danger of losing spiritual ground, and can be taken over by the enemy. A vacuum is the devil's delight, just as idleness (a time vacuum) is the devil's workshop.