CONSECRATE YOURSELVES, FOR GOD WILL DO WONDERS
By Francis Frangipane
As the war against terror attains certain breakthroughs, we should not interpret these incremental successes as a signal to relax. In many ways, the battle has actually escalated.
Consider the threat spoken by the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, "The current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause -- that is the destruction of America. If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time -- keep in mind this prediction." Then he reiterated, "The real matter is the extinction of America, and God willing, it will fall to the ground." Such a threat might be an idle boast, but consider it against the back drop of a recent article in the Pakistani Newspaper, the Frontier Post. It reported that "Pakistani and American investigators conclude that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network may have successfully transported several nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction to the United States." According to this article, "at least two briefcase nuclear weapons may have reached the US shores."
I do not want to unnecessarily alarm anyone, but it is possible that small nuclear bombs are, even now, sitting in the trunk of a car or in a basement somewhere in the U.S. Those who orchestrated the tragedy of September 11 are demonized and capable of further destruction. If the terrorists have weapons of mass destruction, how does our government find them? Who are these people? What cities have they targeted? Truly, my friends, even while we do all we can, we must also have divine intervention.
A DRAWING NEAR TO GOD
Throughout the Bible, in times of crisis or when the Lord's help was uniquely needed, God's people consecrated themselves and sought divine help. To "consecrate" meant to "clean one's heart of sin, to prepare or rededicate oneself to God and His purpose." One who was consecrated was declared "set apart" or acknowledged as "holy unto the Lord." Perhaps the most poignant picture is presented by Joshua as he speaks to Israel on the plains of Jericho.
"Consecrate yourselves," he proclaimed, "for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you" (Josh 3:5).
These two actions -- consecration and the promise of divine help -- represent the one proven strategy offered by God in the Bible. If we expect miracles, where the world will acknowledge God's mercy, then as God's people we must humble ourselves and purify our hearts. Consecration is the prelude to power.
Yet, you ask, "Haven't we been in a state of consecration?" Clearly since September 11 the church has been drawing closer to God. Today, multitudes of Christians both in America and around the world are engaged in more prayer and fasting than ever. This is an important step. However, in recent weeks the Lord has also been vividly exposing the church's tolerance of immorality.
The Lord promises us that He will be our God and we His people, that He will dwell in us and walk among us. To access the power of Christ's promise, where we become the literal dwelling place of God, means we must "touch not the unclean things" offered to us in our land (see 2 Cor 6:16-7:1). Paul tells us, "Having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor 7:1). Perfecting holiness in light of becoming the dwelling of God is the lofty objective of consecration.
Do we need a renewed sense that we are a people holy unto the Lord? Absolutely. As Americans, we see ourselves as "good guys" in international affairs. However, to other nations, especially in the Islamic word, our flaws are glaring. Yes, we are generous, but we also export vast amounts of immorality into foreign nations as well. In the composite of America, the world sees a people whose freedoms have led to moral corruption.
Consider: Muslim women are often covered from head to toe, while Western women often expose as much flesh as they can. Our entertainment industry exploits the flesh. Even commercials that have nothing to do with sexuality, use sensuality to sell their products.
I am very concerned about the church. Almost every week I hear of another minister or congregation dealing with problems of immorality. We pray, "lead me not into temptation," then watch entertainment in which the primary theme is temptation. If Jesus were to speak to the church in America, He might well use the same words He spoke to the church in Thyatira:
"I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols" (Rev 2: 19-20).
These Thyatirans had many virtues, however they had one glaring flaw: they tolerated the spirit of Jezebel. They learned to live with compromise concerning immorality. This was a very serious situation in which the outcome was more expansive than the immediate consequences of loose morals. The goal of the Jezebel spirit is to use immorality to neutralize spiritual authority. Just as Jezebel ruled King Ahab, so when the spirit of Jezebel secures the thought life of a Christian, it rules that person, binding them in condemnation, false pursuits and religious hypocrisy.
Consider also: Jesus says the reward for overcoming Jezebel is "authority over the nations" (Rev 2:26). Jezebel fights to neutralize authority because Jesus desires to give us authority that literally touches nations. Yet, we will never have authority over the nations if we don't possess authority over our own souls. Authority over others comes only when God has authority over us. Indeed, what we call "spiritual authority" is simply the manifestation of God's power flowing through consecrated human vessels.
CLEANSING OUR HEARTS OF TOLERANCE
With our enemies already in the gates of our cities, we urgently need the Lord's help. Therefore, let us examine areas of sexual tolerance. Both men and women need to be aware that striving to look "sexy" is sin and compromise. It is wrong for Christians to wear clothes that are revealing and tempting to the opposite sex. Women should not wear hip hugger pants, short dresses or tight or low cut blouses. Likewise, men should dress and act modestly, repenting for coarse or suggestive humor and remarks.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where you have been flirtatious and with whom. Perhaps you have no intent on fulfilling a flirtation, but if you are playing a mating game in which the goal is to cause another to succumb to your sensuality, you are using a control tactic learned in the school of Jezebel.
We need to set and keep standards concerning movies, television and the Internet. Indeed, what entertains us, enters and remains. We have been enjoying conditions we should be distressed about.
Let's also be realistic. We did not stop being human when we became Christians. We still eat and drink; we continue to need sleep. All the biological functions of life continued, only as Christians Jesus Christ is our master, not sin. However, because we never discuss sexuality in church, new Christians think no one else has sexual thoughts except them. We have created an environment where it's difficult for people to be honest about their need. Thus, it grows in the secrecy and darkness of their souls. Suddenly, a friend sinks from view. What happened? They were ashamed to get help when lust first gripped their heart. Everyone in the body of Christ has areas in their hearts that are vulnerable to this spirit's influence. The cure is to be honest with at least one other person.
Call your church staff if you're in trouble. Men should call men and women should call women. Begin to expose it. The Bible says that when secret things are exposed to the light they become light.
TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN
To be tempted is not sin; succumbing to temptation is sin. Even if you are released from the control of this spirit, remember, you were not delivered from being human. You will still be tempted. This enemy will try to make you believe that, because you can still be tempted, you remain under its control.
We will always have unfulfilled desires. Most of the battle we experience in life comes when satan manipulates these areas of emotional unfulfillment. Thus, we need to get over the idea that every desire we have must be fulfilled. There are times when your spouse will not fulfill you or being single will be unsatisfying. That is not a reason to give into temptation. No one "deserves" to be fulfilled. It is not written somewhere that, as a human, we have a right to satisfy every lust.
Satan's attempt to manipulate our unfulfilled areas will most often come at our weakest hour. The very word "tempted," as Luke wrote about Jesus' temptation, meant "proven in adversity" (see Lk 4). God does not author temptation, but allows it to prove our character. After we overcome, He releases power. Consider: After fasting 40 days, the Son of God had a legitimate desire to eat. Satan came to exploit Christ's unfulfilled desire when His flesh was weakest.
Consider also, Jesus was alone. Who would know? Jesus' eating hurt no one. Yet, Jesus would not succumb. Why? He wanted to possess a life that perfectly pleased God. Luke tells us that after Jesus overcame temptation, He left the wilderness "in the power of the Spirit" (Lk 4). Power came after Jesus overcame temptation. Virtue is not the absence of temptation. Virtue is deciding that, in the midst of temptation, there is something more important than sin.
Beloved, it is time to consecrate ourselves to God. We will not win our war without the help of God Almighty. Yet, if we consecrate ourselves, His word promises, "Tomorrow, the Lord will do wonders."
Lord, forgive us for our tolerance of Jezebel. Master, this day we consecrate ourselves from the immoral influences of our society. We desperately need Your help. Forgive us as a nation and as Your church. Let not the plans of the terrorists succeed anywhere on earth. In Jesus' name.