Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.
For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
[2 Corinthians 2:8-11 NKJV]
This is what I read this morning from Oswald Chambers’ “Devotions For A Deeper Life” :
Let me share a very puzzling situation. You have all had experiences, I’m sure, in which people listened to clear Bible teaching, but failed to enter the kingdom of God. Yet, before that same congregation, a speaker gets up and shares a rambling testimony and—to your astonishment—people are born again.
I have attended the City Mission in New York City several times, for example, and I have never once heard correct biblical teaching there. But recently, I heard a man who had been wonderfully saved get up and tell what he was and what he had been. Then four or five others did this too. The Spirit of God got hold of the people in the congregation. Before I knew it, people went to the altar.
These rough men knelt down and prayed with them, and the seekers “struck something,” as they say there. Something struck them!
I have been ‘much exercised’ as we sometimes say, in what Our Lord is doing in this hour — in this time of testing and trial. It occurred to me that it is always a time of testing; life is a continual struggle. It has it’s joys and sadnesses, triumphs and tragedies for sure, but that is not in the centre of us. What is our core and character? Some preachers have talked of having “a Jesus-shaped hole” in that centre, something which can still be there, even if we purport to be believers. There can be a block in letting Jesus fill us with His heavenly presence, and the block can be needing to ‘empty ourselves of ourselves’ first.
How is that accomplished? Paul suggests the way, and that is to reaffirm your love to Jesus. All flows from that one basic premise. But that love needs to be tested — tried in the fire of adversity and struggle, to eliminate the block. That love and passion for Jesus must be backed by obedience to Him in the spirit of forgiveness.
What this comes down to in the end — and where Oswald Chambers found a very puzzling situation — is a deep abiding relationship with Jesus. It is not about teaching, or learning how to follow a set of rules; it is being obedient in all things.
The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for being this dominated because I have yielded.
If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame for it because at a point, away back, I yielded myself to myself. Likewise, if I obey God, I do so because I have yielded myself to Him.