Jesus talked about the net cast into the sea and open to every kind of fish.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” – Matthew 13:47-48
He likens the net to the Kingdom of heaven which is open to every body on earth, irrespective of their nationality, tribe, tongue, sex or race. A Kingdom to which many are called but few are chosen.
The rejected fishes were good and edible but not to specification.
He likens the chosen fish to the believer who meets a certain standard.
This believer has a rich store of knowledge, is able to seat down and by maturity and use of his senses, separates the old teachings from the new.
These are teachers.
A teacher is a matured person in the Kingdom, not a neophite.
Paul said matured believers ought to be teachers through word and character.
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for He is a babe.”- Hebrew 5:12-13
“…… a babe”, not matured!
It takes maturity which comes by experiencing or tasting the Word of God to discern between good and evil.
Our heart is like a net that grabs all forms of teachings; good and bad, edifying teachings and destructive teachings.
Our heart is like that tree of knowledge capable of good and evil which God asked man to stay away from.
The heart indeed is not so smart!
Experience, maturity, calls for us to sit down and sort out the old teachings that served in their time from the new and better teachings which came by divine revelation: a message of the hour, of now, of Faith.
For example, Jesus said He chose us to bear fruit and if our fruit remain we shall ask anything of the Father in His Name and He may give it to us. We have been told concerning this that fruit bearing refers to the souls we win! No!
This is a distraction from the real fruit! And it is a major contribution to the moral decay in church! No single one of us has the power to keep a soul! God will not hold us responsible for souls that did not remain! Every soul must answer, and be responsible for itself. True, we should encourage one another to keeping faith in God, yet salvation is a personal race! God holds us responsible when we fail to warn them of the consequences of indulging in sin, and of ultimate judgement!
Paul could not retain all the souls he won to Christianity. Even Demas, an evangelist under Paul, could not be retained! Non of us can retain a soul.
What then is the fruit we are expected to bear?
This can be developed only through exercising the senses with the Word of God.
In Matthew 3, Jesus likens man to a tree. Isaiah agrees. ( Isaiah 61:3)
“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” – Matthew 3:8-10
You are a tree!
The kind of tree you are determines the fruit you bear! We are known by our fruit, not our seed!
In Christ, God empowers us to bear fruit. But we have to initiate the process. God will not force us against our will. This is implied in Romans chapter one; if we fail to meet our initial part: “retain Him”, He would leave us to ourselves and not help us.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. – Romans 1:28
He rather “prunes” us to bring forth much fruit when our zeal, determination and trust are in Him.
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” – John 15:2
We need to have the hunger ( Matthew 5:6), not a wish, but the burning desire that would drive us to exercising our senses with the Word of God and put our body under subjection to the Word.
Jesus chose you to make a difference, to make an impact in your home, your job, your business, your neighbourhood. Do the right thing whether your employer is there or not.
Be “filled with the fruits of righteousness” – Philippians 1:11
“…..abounding in fruit in every good work” – Colossians 1:10
Make an impact through your character!
In Christ, when we begin to work on our character, exercising our senses with the Word of God, He steps in to help us. There has to be a genuine interest. Not a wish, but a sincere desire. The desire that can stand the purging fire, the strain and rigours of exercise.
There is no good in man. Without God’s help we cannot bear good fruit.
Spiritual exercise is not only good for our spiritual health, it helps keep us raptureable; in shape.
If we stop exercising we go out of shape.
Moses was trained by God in the wilderness for forty years. A mighty man in word, an orator ( Acts 7:22). He became a stammerer because of training. Deposits of Egypt: pride, self, arrogance, and all, were burnt out of him. He bore the fruit of being the meekest man on earth.
But he lost it when he stopped exercising. When you start don’t stop!
The process of purging is a very painful process. Even trees cry out when cut!
Jesus learnt obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:7-8). He was hundred percent God and hundred percent man, meaning He felt pain like you and I. What He went through in training helped form His character. Though God’s son, He had to go through it Himself.
So let’s go to the gym of the Spirit and exercise; “work out” our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Work out and keep working out your salvation!
A man was told at a counselling session to live in the spirit.
He accepted but asked, “how do I do that?”
“Just live in the spirit!” His counsellor repeated.
“Tell me how!” The argument continued.
That is a big question that even some Pastors are not able to answer. Christians have been told to live in the spirit but have not been told how to enter into the realm of the spirit. It is like asking people to enter a house to the point of getting angry at their delay when the key to the door of entry is not given to them. Many, as Children of God, want to live in the spirit but do not know how to do so.
It takes exercise to enter that realm.
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for He is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – Hebrews 5:11-14
There is so much to say about God, about Jesus and about the Kingdom of the spirit.
But how do I begin to tell you about them when you do not yet understand some elementary or basic things about God and His Word, the writer seemed to say.
Jesus said He had many things to say to us which only the Holy Spirit can make us understand, on condition that we listen to and obey Him.
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for He is a babe.” – Hebrew 5:13
Obeying Him means not bringing our human knowledge, thought or tradition into it. Tradition nullifies the potency of the Word of God in our individual lives, and is the major reason many have not grown in the way of the Spirit.
“But strong meat!”
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age…………….” – Hebrew 5:14a
Like the physical body, the spiritual body needs food.
“Meat”, “Food” here is not referring to the natural food but to secrets of the Kingdom; deeper Truths about God, the benefits of spirit-life, which belongs to, and reserved only for those who are matured; who have come of age.
The more matured you are in the Kingdom, the more the benefits you get. The benefits of the Kingdom do not come by how long you have been there but by how matured you are. Paul, a much younger believer could stand and rebuke Peter openly, a “pillar” in the Church, just because of spiritual maturity which is a matter of understanding!
Just as in a family where the first born gets more privileges than the younger who may not be so matured.
“………….even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – Hebrew 5:14b
“Who by reason of use…..”. They have tasted, experienced, gone through the fire, and consequently have matured, having the ability to discern between good and evil. To them secrets, privileges are given.
To those not matured, those outside, it is given in parables, while secrets of the Kingdom are given to the “inner”, a select few; selected to have such information because of their maturity; because they have exercised their senses and can discern the mind of the Father.
The basic difference between maturity and immaturity is the mental faculty; their sense, not height or form. Maturity comes by training, by exercising the senses.
In the things of the spirit, living a matured Christian life comes by exercising the senses. Paul implies here that there is no other way.
The spirit life in Christ Jesus opens more and more to those who exercise their senses.
Spirit-life can be likened to a coin with two sides. It is exposed to two worlds: the spiritual and the physical. It gravitates to the direction it is trained. This is what leads to addiction. No one is born an addict. Training or exercising one’s senses in a certain direction tells it to gravitate to that direction.
When we train our senses toward God, we will retain Him in our knowledge.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” – Romans 1:28
To exercise is to deliberately employ or engage the mental or physical organs of the body in activity, in training; it means to discipline the body or mental abilities toward an aim.
Like every good thing, exercise has benefits.
(1) It Builds Shape: Exercising your senses conforms you to the image of God.
“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans 8:29</em>
If you desire to be like Jesus (The Word), you must train at it. Study all about Him, act as He would, talk as He would, go to places He would, think as He would (or as you think He would).
He is our standard, our role model. God wants us to be like Him! It is God’s expectation for us “…..to be conformed to the image of His Son”.
(2) Exercise Makes One Strong: A weak and wimpy person who takes to exercising becomes strong.
I remember reading many years ago, the story of Arnold Schwartzenegger. He was so skinny that he was easily bullied by even those younger in age. He was afraid of his colleagues at school and nursed dropping out.
However, things turned around when he took up exercising. Not only did he build his physique as in (1) above, he became strong and was no more bullied!
“………. but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” – Daniel 11:32b
Spiritual strength comes by the knowledge of God! Zechariah agrees in 12:8, that God will empower His Children so much so that the feeble among them shall be as David in his youth!
Are you weak spiritually? Exercise your senses to know God more!
(3) Exercise Develops Immunity Against Diseases And Contamination. A person given to exercise is one full of good health.
He burns out toxins in sweat.
Spiritually, exercising the Word of God strengthens our blood cells and helps to maintain divine health.
The Word of God is:
“………. life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” – Proverbs 4:22
The process of finding is the process of exercise. Do you desire to enjoy divine health? Find the Word of God.
(4) Exercise Sharpens Reflexes. A person that constantly exercises is alert. Such a person is seldom caught off guard.
Exercising the senses with the Word of God makes you quick, alive and active! It heightens your spiritual sensitivity and reflexes and helps you to be vigilant!
In Acts 18, Paul was spiritually sensitive enough to know that underneath the “good” sounding words of the girl was a spirit of divination.
“And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And He came out the same hour.” – Acts 16:18
Spending time with and in the Word makes you alert!
(5) Exercise Renews Your Youthfulness. As toxins are burnt off the body and strength is increased, youthfulness is maintained and renewed.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31
Waiting on God is exercising our senses with His Word and this renews our youthfulness.
(6) Exercise Sharpens Your Vision.
Exercising your senses with the Word of God opens your spiritual eyes to see thing that ordinarily you would not be able to see; things that others cannot see. Your ability to discern or perceive is heightened.
In 2 Kings 6, Elisha saw something that his servant could not see. The woman of Shunem, 2 Kings 4, “perceived” that Elisha was a prophet., meanwhile her husband could not.
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” – Ephesians 1:18
One constant prayer of Paul was that our spiritual eyes be opened as that is the way by which the greatest benefit would come to us.
Jeremiah knew in advance what God was going to do. (Jeremiah 1:12)
So did all the prophets. Today, you and I are His prophets. We should see!
(7) Exercising Makes You Confident.
Because you know who you are and what you have in Christ, the boldness of the righteous follows you wherever you go.
The knowledge that you are the apple of God’s eye and the fact that God has given His angels charge over you, establishes peace and confidence in you that is not only visible, but puts fear in many.
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” – Hebrew 12:11
Exercise may be gruesome and painful but the benefits of it are awesome!
Every training programme has its tools. There are tools to build the arms, some other tools for the chest, some for the neck. Every part of the body has its exercise and its tools. Some of these tools are in the gym with the trainer, others are supplied by the individual trainee.
So does exercising the senses! We would look at the tools later.
Before going to the gym however, there are things you need to posses or provide. To have that admired shape, your input is needed, for no man would “build” without first sitting to count the cost.
(1) You will need to have a rugged determination! The body loves ease and resists exercise! Determination is something no gym would supply you, no matter how well equipped.
You have to decide that you want to go ahead with it and be ready to bear the cost. Esther said “if I perish, I perish!”
You must have a violent determination to start exercising, to sustain it and not give up. A man that lays his hands on the plough and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom! Nothing good comes easy!
(2) You need a Trainer. Trainers are experienced and know what exercises to put you through to bring out what you desire and give you the much admired shape or image.
Your trainer knows you: your strength, your weakness, your limit and breaking point. He knows how to turn your fat, flabby and shapeless body to one that will turn heads in admiration!
Mordecai trained Esther and brought out the best in her!
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” – John 16:13
The Holy Spirit is our trainer! He knows everything about us. Our weaknesses, our strengths, where we need to work on, the duration, the needed tools, everything!
He is our Trainer! Let us cooperate with Him.
(3) You also need a “spiritual” stop-watch.
Exercises are timed! Some to the count of 12, some to 15, some to 20.
The timer is most often with the trainer. While you provide time for training, your trainer supplies the expertise to shape you. He would push you to the limits, to do things you never imagined you could do!
In exercising the senses, you do not have control of time! Your Trainer, the Holy Spirit knows and determines what to put you through, with what tools and WHEN!
Yours is to relax, be not afraid, for He would not put you through what you cannot bear. Let Him fashion you, mould you and display you. Welcome to the gym of the Spirit!