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Suffering # 4

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DEFINITION AND DESCRIPTION OF IMPERSONAL LOVE

     To understand the love that God Commands every believer to have for all people, a distinction must be made between the subject and object of love. The subject is the one who loves; the object is the one who is loved. When love emphasizes the object, Personal love is in view. When love emphasizes the subject, Impersonal love is in view. Impersonal love is unconditional, emphasizing the Virtue and Spiritual status of the subject being in fellowship, rather than rapport with or worthiness of the object. The object of Impersonal love can be known or unknown, friend or enemy, attractive or repulsive, honorable or dishonora­ble, good or evil, believer or unbeliever! Impersonal love, therefore, is defined as the Virtue of the subject resulting from residence, function and momentum in the Spiritual life! (Gal 5:22-23) Imperson­al love develops in stages, specifically the three stages of Spiritual adulthood: Spiritual self-esteem, Spiritual autonomy and Spiritual maturity. Impersonal love is a sign of Spiritual adulthood, since all three stages possess Impersonal love in some degree. The Christian’s Impersonal love is not fully developed in Gate 5 of the Spiritual life but becomes stabilized in Gate 6 and maxi­mized in Gate 8. Personal love for God, which is the source of Spiritual self-esteem, is also the source of Impersonal love for all mankind. In other words, Gate 5 of the Spiritual life precedes Gate 6. 

     If someone should allege, “I love God,” and yet he hates his fel­low believer, he is a liar. For he who does not love his fellow believer, whom he has seen, is not able to be loving God, whom he has not seen. Furthermore, we have this Command from Him, that he who loves God [Personal love for God, Gate 5 of the Spiritual life] should also love his fellow believer [Impersonal love, Gate 6.] (1Jn 4:20-21)

     The Spiritual life is necessary to the function of Impersonal love! The Command to “love your neighbor as yourself” implies that the Spiritual life is the essential foundation for Impersonal love. (Matt 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Gal 5:14) Then, as the believer advances Spiritually he builds the Spiritual muscle to comply with every Divine Command regarding Impersonal love for all mankind. Increased capacity for Impersonal love is acquired through providential preventive suffering, which carries the believer into Spiritual autono­my. Impersonal love is then tested through the people test as part of momen­tum testing on the way to Spiritual maturity. Impersonal love is not indifference or a lack of compassion. It is the Virtue and the core of all successful personal relationships in friendship or romance. Impersonal love is a Virtue from God, attained in the fulfillment of the pro­tocol plan, whereas human personal love is an expression of man’s ego. Impersonal love emphasizes the Virtue, integrity and Spiritual growth of the subject; human personal love emphasizes the attractiveness and de­sirability of the object. Impersonal love encompasses the entire human race; human personal love is reserved for a few. Impersonal love is sustained by Truth; human  personal love is sustained by rapport and mutual admiration. Impersonal love is imperative, Commanded by God of all believers toward all mankind; human personal love is optional and exclusive. Impersonal love requires being in fellowship with God; personal love requires no qualifications — anyone can fall in love. Impersonal love is a problem-solving device; human personal love is a problem-manufacturing device. While personal love for members of the human race can be a distraction to the believer’s relationship with God, Impersonal love for all mankind is a manifestation of Personal love for God as the highest motivation in life. Im­personal love brings Virtue to all problems of love and hate, friendship and enmity, attraction and animosity. Impersonal love perpetuates its own honor, Virtue and integrity without retaliation, reaction, prejudice, discrimination or revenge. Impersonal love cannot be destroyed by hatred, persecution, unjust treatment, vindictiveness, or any other category of antagonism. (1Co 13:1-8) Impersonal love is the effective basis for dealing with all mankind! It is the quality of not allowing one’s personal feelings or emotions to motivate dis­courtesy and thoughtlessness. Impersonal love is the mental attitude that does not react in a personality conflict but treats others on the basis of one’s own Spiritual honor and integrity, with objectivity. Although Impersonal love begins to emerge in earlier stages of Christian growth, it is erratic prior to reaching Spiritual autonomy. In fact, the distin­guishing quality of Spiritual autonomy is Impersonal love for all mankind. An overview of the characteristics of Spiritual autonomy will describe the inner strength which animates Impersonal love.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SPIRITUAL AUTONOMY

     As the Christian advances in the Spiritual life, he utilizes available Divine omnipotence on a consistent basis in more areas of his life. When com­pared with the qualities previously listed under Spiritual self-esteem, the more powerful characteristics of Spiritual autonomy reflect this greater utilization of Divine omnipotence.

1. CONTINUATION OF CONTENTMENT. The believer possesses in­creased capacity for happiness and tranquility of soul. He can appreciate the grace of God at work in every circumstance of his life. The believer’s hap­piness increases in strength and becomes more constant in each stage of Spiritual adulthood. 

2. PERPETUATED MENTAL STABILITY. Mental attitude improves with each stage of Spiritual advance. 

     He who gets wisdom [Truth] loves his own soul; [Spiritual self-esteem from metabolized Truth] he who cherishes under­standing prospers. [Advances beyond Spiritual self-esteem to Spiritual autonomy] (Prov 19:8) 

     Keep on having this Thinking in you which also resided in Christ Jesus. (Php 2:5) 

     The believer with Spiritual autonomy is no longer as vulnerable to pressure as he was upon first entering Spiritual adulthood. He now has greater ability to concentrate so that he can apply Truth more consistently, in adversity as well as in prosperity. 

3. IMPERSONAL LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND. The consolidation of Impersonal love is the most dramatic difference between Spiritual self-esteem and Spiritual autonomy. Christian integrity enables the believer to treat all people on the basis of his own Virtue rather than borrow their strength or de­pend on their merits or attractiveness.

4. COGNITIVE SELF-CONFIDENCE. In Spiritual self-esteem the knowl­edge factor was called Epistemological rehabilitation, the process of renewing the mind by the hundreds of Spiritual Thoughts the believer metabolized in Spiritual childhood. In Spiritual autonomy the knowledge factor is cognitive self-confidence, which involves a more complete understanding of Truth from having utilized Divine problem-solving devices under providen­tial preventive suffering. The Spiritually autonomous believer knows that Truth works! He has greater confidence in God the Holy Spirit's ability to help him recall and accurately apply Truth (John 14:26) without distorting either the Truth or the ap­plication.

 5. GRACE ORIENTATION TO LIFE. While Spiritual self-esteem also in­cludes grace orientation, Spiritual autonomy involves a deeper appreciation for the grace policy which God administers to all believers. (Rom 5:17) Grace totally ex­cludes human effort, human strength, human merit and human ability. (Rom 8:8) Human advantages do not contribute to the execution of the protocol plan of God. (Php 3:4-6) The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life demanding a supernatural means of execution. The Spiritually autonomous believer understands his total dependence on Divine omnipotence. (Rom 8:10-14) Orientation to God’s grace frees him from the last traces of legalism. (Matt 15:8) With Spiritual autonomy he does not abuse the freedom that grace gives him! Instead, he uses that freedom to comply with God’s will, purpose, and plan for his life! (Matt 20:26-28; John 12:24-26; Luk 17:10) 

6. DOCTRINAL ORIENTATION TO REALITY. The utilization of the Spiritual life, keeps the believer on the path of God's Reality, and avoids any arrogant drive toward human unreality. Because arrogance and subjectivity have been reduced to a minimum by providential preventive suffering, the Spiritually autonomous believer is able to habitually utilize the Spiritual life. He enjoys the full effectiveness of all Divine problem-solving devices. Spiritual autonomy is the summit of sani­ty and mental stability!     

7. GREATER DECISIONS FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH. Right Thinking (Truth) and right motivation (Personal love for God) lead to right decisions. In each successive stage of Spiritual adulthood, the believer makes a higher percentage of good decisions. More good decisions mean more right actions, fulfilling the Principle that a right thing must be done in a right way in order to be right! In contrast, a right thing done in a wrong way is wrong, and a wrong thing done in a right way is also wrong. A wrong thing done in a wrong way obviously is wrong. Specifically, all Spiritual momentum and advance is a right thing done in a right way. This is the essence of Divine protocol. The basis for good decisions is the perception and metabolism of Truth; the good decision itself is the application of Truth! We Think with God's Thoughts, and use His will, His desire, His nature, (2Pe 1:4) not our own, this is how we serve Him, no other way! (Job 36:11; Mal 3:18; (2Co 5:15)

8. PERSONAL CONTROL OF ONE’S LIFE. The Spiritually autonomous Christian understands and accepts his own limitations. He also recognizes that the grace provision of invisible assets has removed all limitations to his ad­vance to Spiritual maturity, which is the ultimate objective. The advancing believer understands that he cannot manipulate others and at the same time maintain control over his own life. No one can tamper with the decisions of others and be objective in his own decisions. The Spiritually autonomous Christian, therefore, refrains from interfering in the lives of other people. (Prov 9:6-12) Spiritual autonomy restrains jealousy, possessiveness, defensiveness, and the inordinate desire to dominate others. Spiritual autonomy remains righteous without becoming self-righteous, and Virtuous without entering into crusader arrogance. 

9. A PERSONAL SENSE OF DESTINY. In Spiritual autonomy the Christian becomes increasingly aware of his own destiny within the protocol plan of God. God is his destiny! God has designed a powerful plan for blessing him to the maximum, a plan that enables his life to glorify Jesus Christ both now and forever! Once a believer is free from possessiveness and from seeking to control others, he can concentrate on exercising his God-given pre­rogatives within the framework of his own royal priesthood. He has learned to respect the privacy of others. (Rom 14:4) He has become tolerant of the weaknesses and flaws of those whom he would ordinarily resent. (Matt 9:10) His Impersonal love means that he can interact with others from the high ground of Christian integrity while con­centrating on the fulfillment of God’s purpose for his own life. (1Co 9:19-22) 

10. COMMAND OF SELF. As the powerful extension of Spiritual self­-esteem, Spiritual autonomy stabilizes the believer’s self-control, self-restraint, poise, and self-regulation. His soul is so inculcated with Truth that, under the filling of God the Holy Spirit, God's Thinking is sovereign over his life! (2Co 10:5) He is not controlled by emotion, the sin nature, (Mark 7:21-22; Rom 13:13-14) or by the human and satanic thinking in others! (1Ti 6:20) As a result of being in command of himself, the believer has a quality of communication with others, that avoids inordinate ambition and competition. (Col 3:12-13; (1Th 5:14)

11. QUALIFICATION FOR MOMENTUM TESTING. Because God never places more pressure on a believer than he can bear, (1Co 10:13) Spiritual autonomy is a prerequisite for momentum testing. By achieving Spiritual autonomy, the believer is ready to proceed into the next phase of his advance to Spiritual maturity. 

12. ATTAINMENT OF A NEW PHASE OF THE UNIQUE LIFE. The modus vivendi (Way of life) of the believer with Spiritual autonomy is described by the phrase “Christ [Is] at home in your hearts,” that is, in the Thinking portion of the mentality of the soul. (Eph 3:16-17) 

SPIRITUAL AUTONOMY AND THE COMPLETION OF VIRTUE-LOVE 

     Spiritual autonomy is not an isolated Virtue. It is an integral part of a great­er, compound Virtue, called Virtue-love, all parts of which have now been in­troduced so that the overall Concept may be presented. Spiritual autonomy marks the attainment of Gate 6 of the Spiritual life and the consolidation of Virtue-love. As the combination of Gates 5 and 6, Virtue-love creates marvelous capacity for life. Furthermore, energized by God the Holy Spirit, through the believer’s residence in the Spiritual life, Virtue-love also becomes the most versatile problem-solving device in the protocol plan of God. The system is the solution!

     But now faith, [The faith-rest drill] hope, [Confidence in prom­ised blessings] and love, [Virtue-love] these three, and the great­est of these is love! (1Co 13:13)

     Faith-rest and hope are useful methods of problem solving that become op­erational in Spiritual childhood. These two systems of applying Truth to experience continue to be effective in Spiritual adulthood. Virtue-love, however, is greater than faith-rest or hope. Because Virtue-love solves problems in the believer’s relationships with God and with others. (The believer needs to Think it: I love you Impersonally, (Under testing) until it is fully completed) In Gate 5, Personal love for God is Virtue-love directed toward God. This is the highest motivation in life! Personal love for God automatically gives the believer Spiritual self-esteem. Providential preventive suffering then strengthens Spiritual self-esteem, developing Spiritual autonomy in Gate 6. This becomes the inner strength that manifests itself in Impersonal love for all mankind, or Virtue-love directed toward others. The significance of Virtue-love can hardly be overemphasized. (Matt 22:35-40) Sustained by the power of the filling of God the Holy Spirit, fueled by a depth of Doctrinal resourc­es never available before the canon of Scripture was completed, (1Co 13:8-10) designed to follow the precedent of the glorified Christ, Virtue-love is an integral part of the operational Spiritual life. (John 15:9-10) More than a problem-solving device toward God and man, Virtue-love is also the believer’s capacity for life, love, and happiness. Virtue-love equips him to enjoy life while facing all categories of momentum testing. Without this tremendous system of Virtue, no member of the royal family could ad­vance the final distance into Spiritual maturity, and the maximum glorification of Jesus Christ. We will summarize and note how Impersonal love completes the construction of Virtue-love.

VIRTUE-LOVE DEFINED 

     Gates 5 and 6 of the Spiritual life represent a single Virtue, divided according to its objects and presented to indicate the sequence in which this overall Virtue is acquired. Personal love for God comes first. As Personal love for God increases, the believer’s attitude toward self improves: Spiritual self-esteem becomes Spiritual autonomy. Finally, as this inner strength becomes established in his soul, he is able to deal more consistently with others from Impersonal love. As previously noted, Impersonal love is defined by contrast to Personal love. Both of these categories of love can be illustrated in the sentence “I love you.” In human personal love, the emphasis is on the “you,” on the attractiveness, character, intelligence, and personality of the object of love. Personal love de­pends on rapport with the object. Obviously, personal love is exclusive. Only a few people receive any particular believer’s personal love, which requires a degree of intimacy, knowledge, trust and reciprocation. For compatibility to exist, the “I” and the “you” must perceive one another as fulfilling each other’s norms and standards. Impersonal love, on the other hand, is entirely a function of the “I,” the subject of the sentence, the one who loves. Because he is in fellowship, he possesses Virtue. The term Impersonal love acknowledges that no compatibility, familiarity, reciprocation or intimacy of any kind is required between the sub­ject and object. Impersonal love is the Spiritually autonomous believer’s un­conditional attitude toward everyone he meets. It is the expression of his use of God's gift, of the new Spiritual nature, (Eze 36:26; (2Pe 1:4) which is manifested by tolerance, patience, compassion, courtesy and generosity. Impersonal love excludes prejudice, hypocrisy, insensitivity and rudeness! The believer’s Impersonal love is inherently Virtuous because it can exist only when he has Virtue. By contrast, Personal love for another human being has no Virtue in itself. Any irresponsible fool can fall in love. Falling in love requires no intelligence, talent, ability or integrity. Personal love depends on the object rather than the subject of love; the one who loves may be deceived in his judgment of the ob­ject or may fantasize qualities in the object which do not exist. Personal love is often a problem- manufacturing device with no inherent problem-solving capability. There are two sources of Virtue in Personal love. For believers and unbelievers, adherence to the Laws of Divine establishment can support Personal esprit de corps love. For believers, attainment of Spiritual autonomy creates the Impersonal love that sustains Personal esprit de corps love. The only category of Personal love that is in­herently Virtuous and does not need to be sustained by Impersonal love is the believer’s Personal love for God. By the very perfection of His essence, God is eternally worthy of the Christian’s love! The very idea of tolerance toward perfect God is ludicrous and blasphemous. Therefore, the believer’s Personal love for God, which is inherently Virtu­ous, and his Impersonal love for all mankind, which is also Virtuous in itself, constitutes the composite strength of character which is called Virtue-love. (John 13:34-35; (1Jn 3:16; John 15:12-14)

GENERAL CATEGORIES OF LOVE 

     The value of Virtue-love becomes dramatically clear when we understand that there are three general categories of human love. 

1. PSEUDO LOVE

2. VIRTUE-DEPENDENT LOVE (Personal esprit de corps love for man) 

3. VIRTUE-LOVE (Personal love for God; Impersonal love for man)

     Pseudo love is arrogance hidden behind a facade of emotion or hypocrisy of words. Pseudo love uses others for self-gratification, for personal advance­ment, or as props to hold up one’s weaknesses. Much that is passed off as genuine love is not love at all. As a notorious cause of human suffering; pseudo-love is removed by Spiritual growth in the Spiritual life, which results in Virtue-love and capacity for Virtue-dependent love. Virtue-dependent esprit de corps love includes romance and friendship. In romance es­pecially, but also in friendship, a person tends to idolize the object of love. But no one is perfect. An image of perfection imposed on anyone is certain to cause disappointment and frustration. Reality inevitably emerges. Even if the object of love is treated as a person and is not expected to meet unattainable standards, still his or her independence, vacillations, weaknesses and flaws of the old sin nature, will periodically strain the relationship. But this is only half the problem. Actually, the difficulties in personal love arise from far greater complications than those caused by the instability of one who is loved. The person who loves is also changeable and imperfect. His or her own quirks, instabili­ties, and sin nature collide with the imperfections and fluctuations in the object of love. The intimacy and honesty of personal love, by its very nature, multiply the odds against a successful relationship. In human personal love, each party’s problems are compounded by the other person’s problems. If a person cannot handle his own problems, he will never be able to deal with the problems of someone with whom he is intimate! Apart from Spiritual autono­my, personal love is an uncontrollable, unsustainable problem maker. Personal love between imperfect human beings is perpetually in a state of flux. Alterations in emotions, moods, physical health, intellectual preoccupa­tions, perceptions, misperceptions, reactions to external influences and demands — all these conspire to disrupt the relationship. Petty irritations con­tinually intrude. In the eyes of the one who loves, the object of love may change from being attractive to unattractive to attractive again, from respon­sive to reactive, from charming to annoying. Beneath the emotional turbu­lence inherent in personal human love, however, Spiritual Impersonal love remains as constant as the Spiritually autonomous Christian’s own Spiritual life. The complex difficulties inherent in romance and friendship can be over­come. Wonderful relationships can be sustained, but the prerequisite is Virtue. (Gal 5:22-23) Romance and friendship are Virtue-dependent. Each individual must bring his or her own Virtue from their Spiritual growth. For the believer, God has provided the system by which to acquire and maintain this individual Virtue. The system is the Spiritual life, the be­liever’s royal palace, the protocol plan of God. The Virtue is found in Gates 5 and 6, called Virtue-love. By the time a believer reaches Spiritual autonomy, he has the full exercise of Virtue-love as the key problem-solving device of the entire Spiritual life. Virtue-love — toward God and others — is the strength of character that enables him to continue his Spiritual advance. With Virtue-love he can pass through the valley of momentum testing, which is the next category of suffer­ing for blessing, and advance to the high ground of Spiritual maturity.

MOMENTUM TESTING 

NO ASCETICISM IN SUFFERING FOR BLESSING  

     ALTHOUGH THIS STUDY FOCUSES ON ADVERSITY in the life of the be­liever in Jesus Christ, suffering is not the basic characteristic of Christianity. Instead, Spiritual autonomy gives the believer capacity to enjoy life in spite of any adversity that comes his way. His happiness does not depend on envi­ronment, possessions, or people! He can appreciate the pleasant details of life and cope with the disasters because he is not enslaved to circumstances. (1Ti 6:6-8) The problem-solving devices of the protocol plan of God enable the believer to equate prosperity and adversity, living and dying. (Php 1:20-21) Metabolized Truth in the believer’s soul causes him to personally love God! That ever-increasing love produces contentment and happiness, which he brings with him into every situation! Indeed, sharing the happiness of God in Spiritual adulthood is the most effective problem solving device in the pro­tocol plan of God! The believer advances by applying Truth under pressure, but it is the Truth he applies, not the suffering he endures, that causes his growth. Christianity is not a system of suffering. Truth explains suffering, and applied Truth; alleviates suffering in the soul. (Psa 119:61; Psa 119:92) There is no asceticism in the protocol plan of God, (Col 2:20-23) or Epicureanism. (Eccles 2:1-10) Suffering for its own sake is not a legitimate Christian objective. Tragically, many Christians never learn the Truth of suffering. To their way of thinking, adversity creates an aura of Spirituality. Presumptuously claiming to follow Christ in His sufferings, they attach importance to their own pain as if it brought them closer to God. They distort their lives to fit a crippling false Truth: They assume God honors self-sacrifice and Commands them to suffer. This malignant idea breeds arrogance, destroys capacity for life, and blasphemes the character of God. Legalism, asceticism, and a martyr complex impose unnecessary suffering on believers, but such self-induced misery has no place in Divine protocol. The saving work of Christ eliminates all human works for Salvation; (Eph 2:8-9) rebound by grace excludes all penance; (1Jn 1:9) the marvelous Truths of royal privilege and opportunity expose the arrogance of self-flagellation and self-mutilation. (Gal 5:12) God retains sovereign control over suffering in the protocol plan, which He will administer only to the right believer at the right time and to the right degree. God, not self, administers suffering for blessing. In other words, the be­liever must not look for trouble, it will come to him. (Acts 5:17-20) On the contrary, he is to utilize Divine provi­sions for problem solving; the filling of God the Holy Spirit and Truth! Even Divine discipline exists for the purpose of blessing. A Christian may suffer for his beliefs, because Truth arouses animosity in those with hardened negative volition, (Matt 10:34-36) but the believer should not provoke animosity just to prove his loyalty to the Truth. The antago­nism a believer endures is neither an indication of Spiritual growth nor a proof of his effectiveness as a witness for Christ. Every Church Age believer is an ambassador of Jesus Christ in the devil’s world. (2Co 5:20) He is in the world but not of the world, and he is Commanded “not to love the world, nor the things in the world.” (1Jn 2:15-16) However, neither is he to cause un­necessary suffering by making himself unwelcome. The Christian’s commission as royal ambassador does not call upon him to be obnoxious and to cause resentment in order to claim that he “suffers for Jesus.” The Spiritually autonomous believer is motivated by Personal love for God, not by a desire to prove himself to God or man. Furthermore, the Truth in his soul is far too great a treasure to be flaunted before the enemies of the Truth. (Matt 7:6) He finds opportunities to present the Gospel to unbelievers and Truth to believers, in order to pass on Divine Thinking and good news. His purpose is neither to gain God’s approbation, nor to expose himself to the world’s hatred, it will happen because of growth. (John 15:18-21) Second Corinthians 6 teaches that we are to give “no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited.” (2Co 6:3) The func­tion of the Spiritual life, (2Co 6:6-7) and the attainment of Spiritual autonomy give the believer excellence, quality and class as a royal ambas­sador of the Lord Jesus Christ. With Spiritual autonomy the royal ambassador can rise above, in “endurance, afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness and hunger” if and when such testing’s occur. (2Co 6:4-5) Whether in prosperous or adverse circum­stances, (2Co 6:8) his love, loyalty and happiness are related to the Lord whom he represents. (Php 3:10)

SUFFERING IN FOUR CATEGORIES OF MOMENTUM TESTING 

     Spiritual autonomy not only gives the believer capacity for life as Christ’s representative on earth but also prepares him for the final approach to Spiritual maturity. In order to accelerate the believer’s momentum to the final ob­jective of maturity, God periodically inserts momentum testing among the ad­vancing believer’s blessings. Four categories of momentum testing characterize Christian suffering in the advance from Spiritual autonomy to Spiritual maturity: 

1. PEOPLE TESTING 

2. THOUGHT TESTING 

3. SYSTEM TESTING 

4. DISASTER TESTING 

     The believer with Spiritual autonomy does not fear this formidable catalog of suffering. He has previously passed a warm-up exam for each of these tests. Now that his Spiritual self-esteem has become Spiritual autonomy, providen­tial preventive suffering has prepared him for the four categories of momen­tum testing he is about to encounter.

     At this stage in his Spiritual life, the believer should not be caught off guard by suffering. The pain will not be less than before. In fact, the suffering may be more intense, but he has the problem-solving devices necessary to take suffering in stride.

PEOPLE TESTING 

Selfish ambition, approval, preoccupation with others and self, as a Test of Momentum. 

     People testing challenges the believer from two antithetical directions: Bitter jealousy, antagonism and preoccupation with others, or Selfish ambition, approval, and preoccupation with self. (Jas 3:14-15) And sometimes both at the same time, in either case, the danger lies in relinquishing Spiritual autonomy and turning over control of one’s life to Satan! (Eph 6:11-12; (2Ti 2:24-26) A person the believer loves or admires may inordinately influence his life and happiness. Anyone he hates definitely usurps control. Personal love in the human race is Virtue-dependent. Lacking inherent Virtue, it relies on the integrity of Impersonal love as a problem-solving de­vice. This very dependence on Virtue-love makes every personal love relation­ship a test of the believer’s faithfulness to the Divine Command of staying in fellowship. (Gal 5:16) Will he overem­phasize the object of love to the point of compromising his personal sense of destiny in the protocol plan of God? Or will he integrate his human relation­ships into a consistent, balanced Christian life? Personal love emphasizes the object of love, but if a believer elevates the human object of his love above God, he fails the people test. In his desire to please the woman he loves, a man may turn over control of his life to her. He makes himself a slave, living by her whim rather than by the strength of his own soul. Ironically, as a slave he renounces all possibility of pleasing her. He ceases to be the man to whom she originally was attracted. The same may be true of a woman. Although a wife lives under her husband’s authority, she should not renounce her responsibility to God, out of her desire to please him. (Luk 14:26) Personal love does not require either party to surrender his or her autono­my to the other. God has a unique plan for each believer. Each is a royal priest before God and remains an individual. In a personal esprit de corps love relationship both the subject and the object must maintain integrity and contribute Virtue-love if the relationship is to have any success.

     The key to passing the people test is that people emphasis must not take precedence over God emphasis. (Luk 9:59-62) In other words, among the many legitimate activities and involvements in the believer’s life, Truth must receive first priority. (Rev 2:4) Human relationships are important in any normal life, but the Christian’s relationship with God in the Spiritual life enables human Personal esprit de corps love to succeed. Therefore, the believer must learn to say no, even to legitimate activities when they challenge the top priority of Truth, and obedience to the Truth! A believer may make his own choices in the selection of his friends and loved ones, but thereafter they will make many decisions for him unless he maintains his Spiritual autonomy.

     Be not deceived; evil friends corrupt good morals. (1Co 15:33)      

     He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the friends of fools will suffer evil. (Prov 13:20) 

     Personal love may not sound like an unpleasant momentum test. Everyone wants to be in love. Human personal love, however, is a problem-manufacturing device with no inherent problem-solving capability. When a person reveals his soul to someone he loves, the intimacy between one im­perfect person and another creates vulnerability to suffering. (John 2:24-25) Some of the greatest anguish in life comes from human personal love. Personal human love can avoid becoming misery and slavery, ONLY when accompanied by the Virtue of Im­personal love. Spiritual autonomy, therefore, is the inner strength that makes Personal esprit de corps love a marvelous blessing.  

Bitter jealousy, antagonism, and preoccupation with others, as a Test of Momentum. 

     Like  personal human love, antagonism can also cause the believer to surrender the control of his life to Satan. (1Jn 3:10) He may be driving down the freeway when another motorist cuts in front of him. The immediate reaction may be anger at that discourteous so-and-so, but anger is ridiculous in this situation. Suddenly the believer is upset and irritated; his whole attitude is distorted by this petty incident. He has turned over the custody of his happiness to a total stranger. If he refuses to recover from the mental attitude sin of anger through rebound, (1Jn 1:9) he may escalate his initial reaction into a foolish and potentially violent feud with the other driver. Any time a believer reacts to people with jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, or implacability, he immediately grants them control over his life. In an irra­tional attempt to regain control, he may vent his antagonism in gossip, malign­ing, false accusation, or even physical violence. (Eph 4:30-32) But by attacking the person to whom he has surrendered his happiness, the believer attacks his own happiness. Each antagonistic reaction carries him deeper into self-induced misery. When other people control a believer’s life, whether or not they want con­trol or even realize they have such influence, he blames them for his discon­tentment. But blaming others for self-induced misery, cuts off the possibility of the solution, and under the law of volitional responsibility, this intensifies the suffering. With Spiritual growth, the believer becomes aware of this pattern of unhappiness. (Prov 9:6) The specific solution to people testing is Impersonal love, in which the believer’s own inner strength is the basis for toleration of others. (Rom 12:18; Tit 3:2-3) Impersonal love is crystallized as an active component of Virtue-love only after the believer has attained Spiritual autonomy. Ultimately, the solution to all momentum testing is the believer’s happi­ness. (Neh 8:10; Psa 30:5) Happiness as a problem-solving device is the monopoly of God and His plan. The believer cannot depend on people for happiness; he must depend on God. (Prov 16:7; John 15:14) The believer must Think with God's Thoughts, and not his emotions, to avoid undue influence from those he loves, and to keep from falling into hatred toward those who irritate him! Spiritual momentum in the protocol plan of God will bring the believer to Spiritual autonomy where his contentment is stabilized, and where he can utilize Impersonal love as a solution to his problems with people. (1Jn 3:16)

THIS IS WHAT SPRIRITUAL MATURITY LOOKS LIKE!

     Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; [Not preoccupied with others] it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, [Not preoccupied with self] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, [Being out of fellowship] but rejoices with the Truth. (John 4:24) (1Co 13:4-6)

THOUGHT TESTING 

The Importance of Divine Thinking 

     Thought determines the believer’s life. In all stages of Christian growth the be­liever will face the pressure of Thought conflicts in his soul. Human thinking, will conflict with God's Thinking. False concepts will challenge Truth. Arrogance will intrude upon humility. Lies of all kinds will compete with the will and plan of God. Fear will paralyze rea­son. These are essentially private conflicts which the believer must resolve in his own soul. Quandaries, confusions, and unanswered questions motivate the positive believer to apply the resources of Truth he has learned. Con­centration on Truth accelerates his Spiritual growth! Thought testing also exists when circumstances are overtly prosperous and tranquil. A person is not always what he appears to be on the surface; the real person is the thought content of his soul. We either use our thoughts we received from Satan as the ruler of the world, through the sin nature, education, friends, family, movies and news, Etc. (Isa 65:2) Or from the daily transformation of our thinking into the very Thoughts Christ used to complete God's will for His life! (Rom 12:2; Heb 10:16)

SATAN'S THINKING OR GOD'S OUR CHOICE!

     ...I am sending you, To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness [Satan's thinking] to light [God's Thinking] and from the dominion of Satan [Satan's control] to God, [Christ's Kingdom and rule in the believer] that they may receive forgiveness of sins [Salvation] and an inheritance [Reward] among those who have been sanctified [Seated with Christ] by faith in Me. (Acts 26:17-18)

     Make my joy complete by being of the same Mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. [To reach Spiritual maturity] Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, (Jas 3:14-15) but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (Php 2:2-5)

     For as he [A person] thinks within himself, so is he! He says to you, “Eat and drink!” but his heart [The place of thought] is not with you. (Prov 23:7) 

     Because a believer is what he thinks, a thought can make or break him, depending on the nature of the thought. If his thought is consistent with Truth, he advances in the Spiritual life. (John 15:8) If his thought is contrary to Truth, he is distracted from his true destiny in life. (1Ti 1:19-20)

     But they will say, It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart. (Jer 18:12)

     His mental attitude toward life is the function of his Thinking, the composite of all he knows and believes. Prayer illustrates the importance of Thought in fulfilling the believer’s private responsibilities before the Lord. Each member of the royal family is a priest with the tremendous privilege of representing himself before God. With privilege comes responsibility! God has established the protocol which the believer must follow in using prayer. The believer’s prayers must be con­sistent with God’s essence, objectives, and plan. Hence, accurate and careful Divine Thinking is the basis for effective prayer. When his prayers reflect God’s Own Thoughts and Desires, the believer can be confident of receiving yes answers! (John 15:7)

     Jesus explained that wrong and carnal thinking guarantees failure in prayer. 

     And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Matt 6:7)  

Thinking Truth or thinking Evil   

     Rational thinking is the essential human activity that distinguishes man from animals. Like the angels, man was created with a soul capable of rational thought. Therefore, the mentality of the soul is the battlefield of the angelic conflict. (Mic 4:12) When the believer thinks evil, he is evil. He resides in Satan’s cos­mic system. From evil thinking comes evil motivation; from evil motivation, evil actions. 

     For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isa 64:6)

     And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? (Matt 9:4) 

     In contrast, Thinking that is consistent with the Truth, has enormous reper­cussions for good. (Heb 10:35) Salvation itself is received by a right Divine Thought, that we simply believe; that Jesus Christ is our Savior! 

     What do you Think about the Christ, whose son is He?... (Matt 22:42) 

     Mankind’s great enemy is a thought called arrogance. (Isa 14:13-14) Arrogance can in­flate or deflate man’s opinion of himself. He thinks he is better or worse than he actually is. Both self-promotion and self-condemning distort and deny Reality. God’s grace deals with us as we are, but a believer who does not live in objective Reality, (What God declares Reality to be) will never use God’s grace provisions to advance in the Spiritual life.

     For if anyone thinks he is something [Arrogance] when he is noth­ing, he deceives himself. (Gal 6:3) 

     Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. [Useless] Selah. (Psa 39:5)

     And again, THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS [Thoughts] of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS. (1Co 3:20)

     There is a grim tragic irony in arrogance. A person who thinks more of himself than he has a right to think, is actually depriving himself of his greatest advan­tages, the benefits that come with the fulfillment of God’s plan: To reach Spiritual maturity, to rule over our sin nature now, (Rom 8:12-13) and to reign for eternity with Christ! (Rev 3:21)

     For I say through the grace of God which has been given to me, to everyone who is among you, stop thinking of self in terms of arro­gance beyond what you ought to think, but Think in terms of sanity for the purpose of being rational without illusion, as God has assigned to each one a Standard [Of Spiritual Thinking] from Truth. (Rom 12:3) 

     Arrogance is illusion, unreality, and when perpetuated, arrogance becomes insanity. (1Sa 18:10-11) The preventive is the Truth. The Divine Commands that the believer must obey, in order to consistently pass Thought testing are summed up in Romans 12:2.  

     And do not be conformed to this world, (Jud 1:19) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, [With the Mind of Christ] so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2) 

     “The renovation of thought” is accomplished over a period of time by giving Truth number one priority, by organizing one’s life around the daily perception of the Word of God. “The good, the well-pleasing, and the complete” is the protocol plan of God, executed in the palace of the Spiritual life. Only in the Spiritual life can the believer receive all the blessings God has prepared for him — in prosperity or adversity. 

     Do not worry then, saying, [And Thinking] What will we eat? or What will we drink? or What will we wear for clothing? For the Gentiles[Unbelievers] eagerly seek all these things;  for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom [His Thoughts, Truth] and His righteousness, [Spiritual Maturity, being filled by God the Holy Spirit] and all these things, [Job, food clothing, transportation, Bible, Etc.] will be added to you! [Believe God's Thought's and Think with Them] (Isa 41:10-13) So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Isa 41:10) (Matt 6:31-34) 

Humility in Contrast to False Solutions 

     The model of right Thinking is the humanity of Jesus Christ, who con­stantly lived and functioned inside the prototype of the Spiritual life. God Commands us to Think with His Thoughts on every subject!  

     Keep on having this mental attitude in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. (Php 2:5)    

     Our Lord’s mental attitude of humility was manifested by His total con­formity to the plan of the Father. Humility, which is obedience to Divine authority, and orientation to God’s grace, should be the Attitude of every mem­ber of the royal family of God. (Isa 66:2)

     What are some of the false solutions which genuine humility avoids? RATIONALIZATION is self-justification; while blaming others for one’s own failures and sufferings. ANGER attacks a problem with temper tantrums, which manifest total irresponsibility. Unjustified anger ignores the problem, diverting attention in­stead to self, and attempting to cower people and control them with threats or violence. Power lust and approbation lust are often expressed through anger, which arises from feelings of inferiority that are temporarily assuaged by re­venge or by injuring those who challenge one’s inflated opinion of self. DEFENSE MECHANISMS attempt to insulate the believer’s mind from overpowering pressures. But such sociopathic functions as drug abuse, las­civiousness, and drunkenness merely compound the original problem by di­vorcing the believer from Reality. DENIAL ignores the problem in the blind hope that it will go away. Be­lievers who plead with God for miracles often fall into this false system of problem solving. SUBLIMATION OR ESCAPEISM reacts to frustration by finding a new outlet for pent-up emotions. A bored believer may seek happiness in social life, sex, or a pursuit of money. Most sublimation is directed into activities that are, “moral and normal” But which have been given a false priority above Truth and the plan of God.

Worship and Mental Combat 

     Paul depicts thought testing as a battle in the soul. But this is a battle for which God has devised brilliant strategy and tactics. He has powerfully armed, and fully supplied the believer to win this inner warfare against Satan's thinking.

     For the equipment and weapons of our warfare are not human attributes [Human thoughts] but attributes of power by means of God [God's Thoughts] against the destruction of fortifications, [Human defense mechanisms] assaulting and demolishing speculations [Satan’s multifaceted systems of false thinking] and every ob­stacle of arrogance attacking against the knowledge of God, [The Thinking of Christ] even making a prisoner of every thought [Demonic, and human] to the obedience of Christ, [The Mind of Christ] holding in readiness [Truth in the soul] to punish all deviation [False thinking] when your obedience has been fulfilled. [When we reach Spiritual maturity] (2Co 10:4-6)

     Although Divine Viewpoint Thinking searches out and destroys false satanic and human viewpoint, the destruction of incorrect ideas and attitudes is not the ultimate victory in thought testing. Victory lies in possessing the true perspective, Thinking with Divine Thoughts. (Prov 8:35)

     Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, [God's Thoughts] where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. [Satanic, and human thoughts] For you have died [To our will, desires, and thoughts] (Luk 17:33) and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, [Now] is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. [Full reward] (Col 3:1-4)

     Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, If you abide in My Word, [Learn and Think with the Mind of Christ] then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free. [From the control of the sin nature, and Satan's false reality, as the ruler of the world] (Rev 12:9) (John 8:31-32)

In other words, the worship of God is a mental attitude!

     God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit [The filling of God the Holy Spirit] and in Truth. [Knowing and Thinking, with God's Thoughts] (John 4:24)

     All aspects of worship are based upon Truth. In the Eucharist the believer concentrates on Christ, remembering the Truths that reveal His person and saving work. Music praises God in Doctrinal lyrics. Giving is a mental attitude. But by far the most important form of worship is concentrating on the teach­ing of God’s Word! As a result of victories on the battlefield of thought testing, the believer deepens his personal love for God, shares the happiness of God, and acquires inner beauty. Truth and joy always go together! (Php 2:2; (1Th 1:6; (1Jn 1:4)

SYSTEM TESTING 

Systems Defined, the Problem Stated 

     A system, as the term is used here, is an organization composed of people under the authority of other people, which functions according to a policy designed to fulfill a specific objective. Human society is a web of systems. Every individual belongs to many of these organizations, formal and informal. There are business corporations, military services, ecclesiastical organiza­tions, athletic teams, professional associations, universities, governmental de­partments, marriages, families, and many other systems. All of these are char­acterized by:

1. PERSONNEL UNDER AUTHORITY 

2. THE OBJECTIVES OF THE ORGANIZATION 

3. POLICY OF THE MANAGEMENT 

     There are good and bad systems, which may be successful or unsuccessful. The personnel — in authority and under authority — may be accomplished or incompetent. Objectives may be legitimate or doubtful, lucid or ill-defined. Policy may encourage people to excel or may oppress them. Problems inevi­tably exist in the complex of interlocking and overlapping systems that consti­tute human society. All these organizations involve people, no two of whom are alike and not one of whom is perfect. With so many old sin natures jostling against one another and expressing themselves day after day, no won­der system testing is an inescapable form of suffering that poses a major chal­lenge to the Christian’s Spiritual advance. What is a believer to do when he is treated unfairly by someone in authority over him? (1Pe 2:18) How should he respond to favoritism that promotes people who do inferior work? (1Pe 2:19) What if he has a personality conflict with his boss? (1Pe 2:23) Or how does he maintain his motivation and integrity when policies serve someone’s personal interests rather than strengthen the organization, when they conflict with normal living, or when they seem arbitrary and stupid? (1Pe 2:20) How does he cope with conflicting, vague, or impossible objectives? (1Pe 2:12) The dynamics and problems of organizations have been studied and written about by many distinguished authorities. Most problems boil down to arro­gance, expressed in incapacity, laziness, distraction by wrong priorities and ignorance. (Most people live by Satan's thinking!) The purpose of this study of Christian suffering is not to diagnose the weaknesses of particular systems and prescribe organizational remedies. Instead, the objective is to describe the believer’s mental attitude and function as a result of utilizing the Spiritual life and Divine Thinking. Spiritual au­tonomy enables him to survive and benefit from system testing.

Quit or Cope

     Two courses of action usually are open to the believer when confronted with system testing. He can quit, or he can cope with the pressure, using the Thinking of the Verses in the Bible, and available Divine omnipotence in fellowship! Certainly there are times to sepa­rate oneself from an organization. If a system’s objectives or policies are clearly evil, the believer should disassociate himself from it. This would apply to groups like the Communist Party, the Nazi Party, certain apostate churches and cults, criminal organizations, and paramilitary groups that undermine the authority of government through civil disobedience or terrorism. Separation is required in extreme cases, but quitting because of pressure is often a poor decision from a position of weakness. If the believer succumbs to the pressure, if he quits on relatively mild provocation, he has flunked the system test.

     If you falter in times of trouble, How small is your strength. (Prov 24:10)

     If the believer perseveres in a situation even when circumstances are less than perfect, and continues to do a good job, he will be vindicated and pro­moted Spiritually by the Lord! The vindication comes from residence in the power of the Spiritual life. The believer’s royal palace is strong enough to weather any storm; (Matt 7:24-25) if he will remain inside!  Spiritual autonomy gives the Christian the power to put the problem in the Lord’s hands (Psa 55:22) and continue to function without an arrogant reaction. Bitter­ness, implacability, self-pity, hatred, jealousy and revenge does not need to control the believer’s life simply because problems exist in a system to which he belongs. (Gen 50:20)

Spiritual Autonomy in System Testing 

     By remembering the component parts of Spiritual autonomy, the believer discovers the assets he needs in facing system testing. Spiritual autonomy is: 

1. IMPERSONAL LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND and 

2. Strengthened SPIRITUAL SELF-ESTEEM derived from 

3. PERSONAL LOVE FOR GOD, which is the result of 

4. TRUTH in the soul. 

     The believer will need all these qualities when confronted with system testing. In Spiritual autonomy the believer is motivated by his love for God. In any system to which he belongs, he does his job “not as pleasing men but unto God.” (Eph 6:5-8) He does not rely on the organization to furnish his moti­vation because he is self-motivated. (By Thinking with these Verses) The organization cannot destroy motiva­tion that it did not create in the first place! Only the believer can destroy his own motivation through negative volition to the protocol plan of God. (Not thinking with Truth) With Personal love for God as his motivational Virtue, the Spiritually autonomous Christian can contribute to the organization even when it may treat him unfairly. Needless to say, he does the best possible job (Rom 12:18) regardless of injustice, unfair criticism, or job discrimination. He does not complain or join in organizational conspiracies. (Php 2:14-15) Man is frequently unfair, but God is always fair. Man’s systems are flawed, but God’s protocol plan is perfect. Human beings in authority may be despic­able, but God is always worthy of respect. The Spiritually autonomous believ­er’s Personal love for God motivates Impersonal love for mankind, which en­ables him to be tolerant of the weaknesses and failures of others. When he is a victim of unfair leadership, unjust management, or an inefficient system, he deals with personality conflicts on the basis of Impersonal love. (Luk 18:27) In other words, he takes the attitude that the people who inflict system testing on him are simply contributing to his Spiritual advance. Since he loves God, God is working “all things together for good” in his behalf! (Rom 8:28) The inventory of Truth in the believer’s soul enables him to sub­mit to authority and be an asset to any organization. That same Truth strengthens him to endure system testing and through his professionalism to be a stabilizing influence for others who also may suffer from the organiza­tion’s pettiness, shortsightedness, or ineptitude.

     In the Epistle to the Colossians, Paul states the Principle, then illustrates from a variety of systems, and finally presents the correct application of Truth in system testing.

     Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, [Thinking Truth] fearing the Lord. [In fellowship] Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Col 3:17-24)

     The fact of God’s fairness applies to system testing. After the be­liever has used the appropriate Verses, he places his case before the Supreme Court of heaven. God is the perfect judge. (1Pe 4:19) There is no reason to complain and whine about unfairness. The believer is highly immature if he entertains the illusion that fallen, totally depraved human beings will always be enlightened and fair. This is the devil’s world. Injustice and discrimination are the norm under Satan’s administration. The Spiritually autonomous Christian will regard human weaknesses in the context of God’s plan. God is always fair to the believer. God has furnished powerful and effec­tive Divine Thoughts, and He intends for the believer to Think with Them, and bear the testing that He does not remove. (2Co 12:9-10) When separation from a flawed system is not justified, Spiritual autonomy gives the believer the strength to put the case before God, leave it there for the Divine solution, and cope with the situation as unto the Lord. (Job 5:8-9)

DISASTER TESTING 

The Most Obvious Test 

     People testing, thought testing, and system testing may exert an insidious pressure on the believer. He must be alert to recognize these challenges to his Spiritual advance. When he has identified the nature of the test, he then can apply the appropriate problem-solving devices and pass the test. Disaster testing, however, is anything but subtle. The problem is not to identify the threat, but to endure the shock and to maintain poise for decision-making under extreme duress. There are two categories of disaster testing: 

1. PERSONAL DISASTER, 

2. HISTORICAL OR NATIONAL DISASTER.

     A personal disaster may be physical pain caused by injury, disease, handi­cap, or genetic weakness. It may be mental anguish, caused by loss of loved ones, reputation, success, employment, money or property. The privations of hunger, thirst, or exposure to heat or cold may be classified as personal dis­asters. Arrogance spawns personal disasters: Disdain for authority breeds criminals who trample the rights, privacy, and property of their victims. Those who break the law must suffer from the administration of justice. (Matt 26:52; Rom 13:4)

     An historical disaster is a situation that brings grief to many people. A large number of people may suffer from the weather, in heat and drought or in extreme and prolonged cold. Blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods cause widespread damage as do powerful earthquakes, tidal waves, or vol­canic eruptions. Insects or plant diseases may kill crops. Epidemics can decimate a population. The cycles of a free economy or adjustments in governmental policy may cause immediate hardships for large portions of society. Injustice victimizes many people where self-aggrandizement corrupts the integrity of leadership. When a nation declines, the evils of crime, terrorism, and drug abuse inflict terrible suffering upon the entire society. Arrogance, revenge, greed, inordi­nate ambition and power lust pit group against group, nation against nation, ultimately unleashing the violence of war with all its attendant suffering.

The Disaster of Economic Depression

     How does the Spiritually autonomous believer deal with a disaster that affects his entire nation? (Job 5:19) For example, how can he pass the test of economic depression? (Job 5:20-27) Throughout the centuries during which the Bible was written, the Jewish economy was agricultural. Famine was tantamount to depression. Hence, the term “economic depression” is translated “famine” in certain passages of Scripture. The economic health of a client nation to God is a rough index of the nation’s Spiritual condition. Economic prosperity is promised for nations that follow the laws of Divine establishment concerning economic freedom.

     If you walk in My statutes and keep My Commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. (Lev 26:3-5)

     Economic recovery accompanies Spiritual recovery in the client nation. But when the economy is chronically depressed, the nation is usually in Spiritual decline. A client nation declines Spiritually when the “remnant,” the pivot of growing and mature believers in that nation, shrinks, (2Ki 19:4) while the number of believers who reject the plan of God increases. Furthermore, when the rem­nant becomes too small to counterbalance the human viewpoint influence of negative believers, God punishes the client nation with collective Divine discipline. Five cycles of discipline are administered to the client nation whose believ­ers refuse to recover their Spiritual momentum. The second cycle of discipline is economic recession; (Lev 26:18-20) the fourth cycle is economic depres­sion (Lev 26:23-26; Deut 28:15; Deut 28:23-24). The malaise (Sickness) of economic depression often is the weakness that brings on the fifth cycle, military conquest by a foreign power. (Lev 26:27-35; Deut 28:25-26)

The Advancing Believer in Disaster 

     Even while the nation suffers under Divine discipline, God never disregards the faithfulness of individual believers. (Dan 1:3-6) Under the disaster test of economic depression, the Spiritually autonomous believer uses all the problem-solving devices of Spiritual adulthood. He directs his hope toward Truth, his Per­sonal love toward God, his Impersonal love toward mankind, and his acquired Divine happiness toward himself. With these powerful Divine assets he can not only survive the storm but even enjoy it — with total confidence in God’s plan for his life. Abram failed to use any problem solving devices in economic depression, but the Lord still supplied his every need (Gen 12:10; thru Gen 13:1). By neglecting to use the Truth he knew, Abram manufactured unnecessary pressure for himself and was unable to enjoy God’s provision as he could have. The proper Thoughts to think, in economic disaster is described by Peter.

     These [Momentum tests of all kinds] have come so that your faith [The application of Truth in fellowship]— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine, and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. [At the 2nd Advent, with the Judgment Seat of Christ, where eternal rewards will be based on Spiritual growth] Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him [Using the Thinking of the Spiritual life] and are filled with an inexpressi­ble and glorious joy. (1Pe 1:7-8)

     In disaster testing, the Spiritually adult believer uses the greatest of all problem solving devices, the happiness of God, which is described here as “inexpressible and glorious joy.” God shares His happiness with the believer first in Spiritual self-esteem, then more powerfully in Spiritual autonomy, and most effectively in Spiritual maturity! The believer inculcated with the Think­ing of God is happy or content in whatever circumstances he finds himself and can therefore cope with any pressure in life! (Php 4:11) Knowledge of Truth gives the believer a sense for historical trends so that he is alert to pending economic disasters. Infla­tion as a cause of depression is described as a factor in the fourth cycle of dis­cipline. (Lev 26:26) When depression is Divine discipline, only the Spiritual recovery of the believer can deliver the client nation. As go believers, so goes the nation!

     If disaster comes, whether the sword of judgment [War] or disease or economic depression, we will stand in Your presence before the temple that bears Your name [Where Truth was taught to the Jews by means of ritual] and will cry out [Pray] to You in our distress. Then You will both hear us and deliver us. (2Ch 20:9) 

     God protects the growing believer in disaster testing. The Spiritually au­tonomous believer has the privilege of understanding these Truths and of appreciating the One who protects and delivers him. (Jer 39:11-12; (Dan 3:25-30)

     Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall disaster or anguish or persecution or economic depression or privation or danger or sword? . . . But in all these things we win the supreme victory through Him who loves us. (Rom 8:35-37)

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