Thursdays With Oswald—Where Does Christian Character Come From?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Where Does Christian Character Come From?

     Christian character is not expressed by doing good, but by God-likeness. It is not sufficient to do good, to do the right thing, we must have our goodness stamped by the image and superscription of God, it is supernatural all through. The secret of a Christian’s life is that the supernatural is made natural by the grace of God. The way it is worked out in expression is not in having times of communion with God, but in the practical details of life. The proof that we have been regenerated is that when we come in contact with the things that create a buzz, we find to our astonishment that we have a power to keep wonderfully poised in the center of it all, a power we did not have before, a power that is only explained by the Cross of Jesus Christ. … 

     “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” [Matthew 5:48], not in a future state, but—“You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect if you let Me work that perfection in you.” If the Holy Spirit has transformed us within, we will not exhibit good human characteristics, but divine characteristics in our human nature. … 

     It is not a question of putting the statements of our Lord in front of us and trying to live up to them, but of receiving His Spirit and finding that we can live up to them as He brings them to our remembrance and applies them to our circumstances.

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Jesus said one of the roles of the Holy Spirit was to remind us of everything Jesus said (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit will constantly be working to bring the principles in the Bible to be applied in the real-life circumstances we are in—this is how Christian character is formed in us. 

God’s Word + the Holy Spirit’s application + our obedience = Christian character perfected in us

Are you reading God’s Word? Are you letting the Holy Spirit apply the Word to your life? Are you obeying what He’s showing you? These are the steps to exhibiting our heavenly Father’s divine characteristics in our human nature. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Getting The Order Right

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Getting The Order Right

     Beware of walking in the spiritual life according to your natural affinities. We all have natural affinities—some people we like and others we do not; some people we get on well with and others we do not. Never let those likes and dislikes be the rule of your Christian life. “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” [1 John 1:7], i.e., God gives us fellowship with people for whom we have no natural affinity. …  

     Our example is not a good man, not even a Christian man, but God Himself. We do not allow the big surprise of this to lay hold of us sufficiently. Jesus nowhere says, “Follow your Father which is in heaven—that you may be good men? that you may be lovable to all men?” No, “that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” [Matthew 5:44-45], and that implies a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ. …  

     It takes a long time to get the full force of our Lord’s statements. “I say unto you, love your enemies”—an easy thing to do when you have no enemies; an impossible thing when you have. “Bless them that curse you”—easy when no one is cursing you, but impossible when someone is. “Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.” It seems easy to do all this when we have no enemies, when no one is cursing or persecuting us; but if we have an enemy who slanders and annoys and systematically vexes us, and we read Jesus Christ’s statement “I say to you, Love your enemies”—how are we going to do it? Unless Jesus Christ can remake us within, His teaching is the biggest mockery human ears ever listened to. …

     “I say unto you, love your enemies.” Jesus does not say, “Love every one.” The Bible never speaks vaguely, it always speaks definitely. People speak about loving “mankind,” and loving “the heathen”; Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Our Lord does not say, “Bless your enemies,” He says, “Love your enemies.” He does not say, “Love them that curse you”; He says, “Bless them that curse you.” “Do good to them that hate you”—not bless them. He does not say, “Do good to them that despitefully use you”; He says, “Pray for them that despitefully use you.” Each one of these commands is stamped with sheer impossibility to the natural man. If we reverse the order Jesus has given it can be done with strain, but in His order I defy any man on earth to be able to do it unless he has been regenerated by God the Holy Ghost. When a man does love his enemies, he knows that God has done a tremendous work in him, and everyone else knows it too. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

It’s impossible to do what Jesus commands if we’re trying to do it solely in our own strength. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to remake us from within, we can do what Jesus says:

  • If someone is your enemy—love them.
  • If someone persecutes you—pray for them. 
  • If someone curses you—bless them.
  • If someone hates you—do good to them. 

When we operate this way, we know that God has made this possible in us—and everyone else knows it too!

Thursdays With Oswald—Dealing With Persecution

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Dealing With Persecution

     If a disciple is going to follow Jesus Christ, he must lay his account not only with purity and with practice, but also with persecution [Matthew 5:38-42]. … 

     When we are on Jesus Christ’s errands, no time is to be taken in standing up for ourselves. Personal insult will be an occasion in the saint for revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus. … Naturally, if a man does not hit back it is because he is a coward; supernaturally, it is the manifestation of the Son of God in him: both have the same appearance outwardly. … 

     Our strength has to be the strength of the Son of God, and “He was crucified through weakness.” Do the impossible, and immediately you do, you know that God alone has made it possible. … 

     The miracle of regeneration is necessary before we can live the Sermon on the Mount. The Son of God alone can live it, and if God can form in us the life of the Son of God as He introduced Him into human history, then we can see how we can live it too. …  

     The Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty”; but, “Do what is not your duty.” … You will go the second mile, not for their sakes, but for Jesus Christ’s sake. … The first thing God requires of a man is to be born from above, then when he goes the second mile for men it is the Son of God in him Who does it. …  

     We always say we do not know what Jesus Christ means when we know perfectly well He means something which is a blunt impossibility unless He can remake us and make it possible. … We can always find a hundred and one reasons for not obeying our Lord’s commands, because we will trust our reasoning rather than His reason, and our reason does not take God into calculation. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount 

If the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount sound humanly impossible, that’s because they are! 

I cannot turn the other cheek, give to everyone who asks me, or go the second mile; but Jesus in me CAN. I have to allow the Holy Spirit to transform me, to mold the character of Jesus into me. When this happens, it is no longer I who are trying to do these things, but the Spirit of Christ in me that is actually doing these things.

Thursdays With Oswald—Is Your Religion Rotten?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Is Your Religion Rotten?

      No man can redeem his own soul, or give himself a new heredity; that is the work of the sovereign grace of God. Man has nothing to do with Redemption, it is God’s “bit”; but God cannot give a man a good character, that is not God’s business, nor is it an inevitable thing. God will give us what we cannot give ourselves, a totally new heredity (see Luke 11:13). God will put the disposition of His Son, Holy Spirit, into any man who asks, then on that basis man has to work out a holy character. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you….” [Philippians 2:12]

      If your religion does not make you a better man, it is a rotten religion. The test of true religion is when it touches these four things—food, money, sex and mother earth. These things are the test of a right sane life with God, and the religion that ignores them or abuses them is not right. … A man needs to hold a right attitude to all these things by means of his personal relationship to God.

From Shade Of His Hand

God gives Christians a new heredity—a new way of looking at life through a relationship with Jesus Christ—by placing His Holy Spirit in us. That, as Chambers says, is God’s bit.

What we do with this new heredity—this new way of looking at life—is our bit.

So… how are you doing? Does your relationship with Jesus Christ help you handle food, money, sex and mother earth in God-honoring ways? Is the Holy Spirit able to correct your attitude so it aligns with the biblical viewpoint on these topics?

If you can answer “yes” to those questions, your religion is true. If not, Chambers says you have “a rotten religion.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Life-Altering Regeneration

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Life-Altering Regeneration 

     Personality merges, and you only get your real identity when you are merged with another person. A man has his individuality transfigured when he falls in love. When love or the Spirit of God strikes a man or woman, they are transformed, they no longer insist on their separate individuality. Christianity is personal, therefore it is un-individual. … Our Lord never spoke in terms of individuality…but in terms of personality, “that they all may be one.” … 

     We are much more than we are conscious of being. Our Lord said the Holy Spirit would bring back into our conscious mind the things He had said. We never forget anything although often we cannot recall it; we hear it and it goes into the unconscious mind. Things go on in our unconscious minds that we know nothing about, and at any second they may burst up into our conscious life and perturb us. The Spirit of God enters into a man below the threshold of his consciousness. When He will emerge into a man’s conscious mind no one can say; when He does, there is an earthquake, and the man has to readjust his life in every particular. The Spirit of God entering into the spirit of a man brings a totally new relationship to things. … 

     If all Jesus can do is to tell me that I must be holy, be what I never can be, present me with an ideal I cannot come anywhere near, His teaching plants despair; He is nothing more than a tantalizer and I wish He had never come. But if He is a Regenerator, One who first of all can put into me His own heredity, then I see what He is driving at in the Sermon on the Mount—that the disposition He puts in is like His own. … 

     The Spirit of Christ comes into me by regeneration, then I have to begin to form the mind of Christ, begin to look at things from a different standpoint.

From The Shadow Of An Agony

Our Heavenly Father will never force His love on us. Jesus Christ will never make us receive Him. The Holy Spirit will never change us against our will.

But our Heavenly Father will direct our lives to bring us to our wits’ end. Jesus Christ will constantly woo us with His love. And the Holy Spirit will continually bring to our conscious mind all that Jesus says to us.

The choice is mine—Will I continue to live my life my way, or will I yield to the life-altering regeneration that the the Father, Son and Spirit lovingly offer to me?

Thursdays With Oswald—Thinking Like Christians

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Thinking Like Christians 

     The New Testament insists on an instructed mind as well as a vital experience. … 

     There is always a quarrel between our common sense and the revelations made in God’s Book. We must lose our soul in order to find it. We have to be born from above and receive the Holy Spirit into our spirit, and then begin to construct another soul, or way of reasoning, and to do this we must accept not only the facts that come to us through our common sense, but the facts that come by revelation. We say seeing is believing, but it is not. We must believe a thing is possible before we should believe it even though we saw it (John 20:29). … 

     Our beliefs will mock us unless something comes into us from God, because nothing has any power to alter us save the incoming of the life of God. The Holy Spirit is the One Who makes experimentally real in us what Jesus Christ did for us. … The great need for men and women is to receive the Holy Spirit. Our creeds teach us to believe in the Holy Spirit; the New Testament says we must receive Him (Luke 11:13). Are you powerless in your life? Then, for Christ’s sake, get at Reality! Ask God for the Holy Spirit. … 

     We starve our minds as Christians by not thinking, and we cannot think as Christians until we are born from above. So many of us have a good spiritual experience, but we have never thought things out on Christian lines. It is just as true that a man may live a Christian life without thinking as that a man may think a Christian life without living it. We have to learn to combine the two, and to do this we must build up our minds on these great truths. 

From The Psychology Of Redemption

How are you doing at thinking AND living a Christian life? To do both, you must receive the Holy Spirit, and begin to rely on Him for both Christian thinking and living.

Thursdays With Oswald—Working Out God’s Will

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Working Out God’s Will

     We do not enter into the life of God by imitation, or by vows, or by ceremonies, or by Church membership; we enter into it by its entering into us at Regeneration. The Cross of Jesus Christ is the gateway into His life. … 

     The world is that system of things which organizes its life without any thought of Jesus Christ. … 

     Nothing blinds in the mind to the claims of Jesus Christ more effectually than a good, clean-living, upright life based on self-realization. For a thing to be satanic does not mean that it is abominable and immoral. The satanically managed man is moral, upright, proud, and individual; he is absolutely self-governed and has no need of God. … 

     When by the Cross of Christ we have entered into the experience of identification with our Lord, then there comes the practical working out of Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” … 

     God will bring across our path people who embody the characteristics that we have shown to Him—stubbornness, pride, conceit, opinionatedness, sensuality, a hundred little meannesses. “Now,” He says, “love them as I have loved you.” 

From The Psychology Of Redemption

So God’s will is not something we learn by going to church, or imitating someone we think to be a godly person. God’s will is living like Jesus:

  • Totally abandoned to God’s will
  • Staying linked to Jesus
  • Loving the people that God brings across our path like God loves us

How are you doing?

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