This post is partially extracted from the video link – https://youtu.be/lpiQdRd9DSc and blended with personal insights. The video is about Getting into Word to produce disciples of Christ, Part 1. This post, The Cost of Discipleship, is part 3 of 3. The other two parts defined and described what is spiritual maturity and what is spiritual apathy.
Spiritual maturity is the goal, but the poison of spiritual apathy runs deep. What is the antidote for the heart poisoned by deception, discouragement, and distraction? Without this antidote, the goal of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus is jeopardized. Unfortunately, the video does not offer solutions; these “solutions” are my thoughts.
The following antidotes to the 3 heart conditions foster spiritual maturity. It paves the way and is part of the cost of discipleship, which involves the carrying of their cross (Luke14:27), forsaking self (Mat16:24), forsaking earthly relationships for the Lord (Luke14:26), and submitting to God’s will (Mat10:24).
The Cost of Discipleship
Antidote for the Deceived Heart
The deceived heart does not subject Himself to God. It is closely related to the distracted heart. The deceived heart is poisoned by pride that rebels against God. This pride is their heart’s treasure. It is a form of self-idolatry. Mat10:24 says, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” But the deceived heart desires to be above its master.
Solving the challenge of the deceived heart requires one to reduce, manage and eliminate their pride in themselves and towards life (1Jhn2:16).
Scripture offers the following guidance to reduce pride
- To love the unlovable and the undesirable, even one’s enemies. (Luke6:32-35)
- To esteem others better than oneself (Phil2:3)
- This love and esteem are not mere words or state of mind but to look after the interest of others ahead of oneself (Phil2:4) and to serve (Jhn12:26, Mat20:26-27).
In this way, the prideful, deceived heart is subjugated by the cleansing experience of meekness and sincere love towards God and man. The flesh will resist with all its might against this cleansing.
Be mindful that this spiritual war of Eph6 with the deceived heart takes place in the minds of man as explained in Rom12:2, 2Co10:3-5, and Phil4:7. It is a war with two dimensions – internal with one’s carnal flesh and external with the evil spirit. This post focuses on the internal battle.
See the posts about Spiritual Warfare against the external spirit – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/23/spiritual-warfare/
Watch and pray to draw divine strength that fortifies the willing spirit to guard against human weakness in the flesh. By watching and praying, the soul has the resources to win the battle in the mind. Watching and praying is Lord Jesus’, the Lord Yahusha’s advice to His sleeping disciples in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion.
Antidote for the Discouraged Heart
The discouraged heart is poisoned by brokenness and grief (Mat5:3-4). Often life circumstances are the source of brokenness and grief. One’s allotted lot in life is designed by God’s purpose and will. The 4-part post-series about the Will of God helps one make sense of suffering and pain. See part 1, The Will of God – Nature of God’s Will, via this link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/09/15/gods-will-nature-part-1-of-4/
The antidote to the discouraged heart is God’s comfort, as mentioned in Mat5:4. What does it mean to be comforted by God?
God, Abba Yahuah, comfort the discouraged heart in the following ways.
- The comfort comes from the inestimable value of the resurrection hope of 1Pet1:3 that Paul said one might earn, by inference as a disciple by suffering and death, in Phil3:10-11 and to earn the eternal rewards of good works mentioned in 1Co3.
- The comfort is derived from the significance of being broken-hearted and mourning, which is the eternal value of emulating the Lord Jesus as the salt of the earth and the light of the world that pleases Father God (Mat5:3-16). This value is grounded in an intimate and empathetic relationship with God.
Earthly temporal suffering is also meaningful as payment for the significant eternal rewards. Therefore, it imbues senseless earthly suffering with eternal purpose. With eternal meaning, significance, and purpose, one can endure with patience for things outside control and preserve in areas within control.
There is a fierce struggle to let go of the familiar brokenness and grief. While they are poison, familiarity can be more comforting than submitting to an uncertain future-hope rooted in faith in the Faithfulness of God. The soul’s and body’s cries for swift earthly justice can be overwhelming for some.
In such cases, the heart is poisoned by both discouragement and deception. The deception is the pride of being a victim. Having lost so much, the heart hangs on to the dignity and identity of victimhood. The pride of victimhood, dignity, and identity poison the heart.
The antidote must draw from points raised for the deceived heart and, simultaneously, from the points raised for the discouraged heart. There is one significant factor that needs addressing. It is the issue of forgiveness.
The thorns and briars of unforgiveness growing from the fertile grounds of bitterness-hate are the strong men to the heart poisoned by deception and discouragement.
The topic of unforgiveness is a deep and broad topic that deserves its posts. Due to the need to limit the scope of this post and prayer, which I have not done, I will leave this elephant in the room as a reminder that to win the battle is not a simple wave of a wand.
Antidote for the Distracted Heart
The world’s distractions draw their power from the treasures in the heart that is not God. The Lord Jesus said in Mat6:21 –“ For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” This describes the issue of struggling to serve two or more masters.
The distracted heart is poisoned by the reign of another master that is not God.
I would go on a limb to say that all humans suffer from the poison of the distracted heart. By the time one becomes aware of God, the call of spiritual maturity, and the dangers of spiritual apathy, the contamination of the world would have taken place to vary degrees.
This awareness and admission are critical to the journey of a pure heart towards God and man. See this link about the pure heart toward God – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/31/sincere-love-and-sincere-faith/.
If this awareness is dim and admission a struggle, the heart is also poisoned by deception. But the guardians of this deception are not the simple matter of one’s sense of pride that plagues the deceived heart. These pride guardians are empowered by their masters (evil spirits) of the heart’s treasures and co-conspirators of the carnal flesh that loves the world (lust of the eye, lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life of 1Jhn2:16).
Dethrone the False kings
Therefore, it should be apparent to dethrone these false sovereigns of the heart is no easy matter. I would claim that this war against these faux sovereigns is waged till one draws their last breath.
To wage this war, one needs awareness of which category these pretender sovereigns fall into-
- The lust of the flesh.
- The lust of the eye.
- The pride of life.
After identifying their realms (categories- there are usually many of them existing in all the 3 categories), one needs to wage a spiritual war of attrition with them (the evil spirits). For thoughts about this, see the post about Spiritual Warfare. Perseverance in watching and praying is key to winning this spiritual war.
Then one needs to examine the areas these evil spirits continue to take advantage of to perpetuate their reign. The soul and flesh are tempted to sin in these areas. The obvious solution is to avoid these areas; flee youthful lust, as advised in 2Tim2:22. This fleeing may involve quitting one’s career, moving homes, and surrendering some free will to others with their interests at heart. These areas qualify for the act of perseverance, to make that crucial life-changing decision to remove themselves from the dangers of these temptations.
But where life circumstances compel one to remain tempted, e.g., in a marriage, in a family setting, immobilized, then, on-top of perseverance, one needs to be patient, looking away from these temptations and focusing on the points raised in the discouraged heart.
Because of proximity to the temptations, the person naturally will struggle with their sins. But do not give up hope. Repentance for most is a long process, and some are short. There is no meaning to comparing; let each season present itself as another opportunity to pass the test of discipleship. Celebrate the failures in the confession-forgiveness of 1Jhn1:9 and restoration of the full assurance of faith of Heb10:22 and confession-empowerment of Jam5:16.
See the link for the benefits and power of confession to God and man to support the challenges of being close to temptations – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/09/12/benefits-of-confessing-to-god-and-confessing-to-man/.
Gradually, over time, these harmful desires will lose their stranglehold on the soul; by the willing spirit and cooperative soul, and going thru the cycles of forgiveness-restoration-confession, the new man’s divine immunity will mature, being led more consistently by the Holy Spirit of Yah.
Celebrate success in meekness and sober-mindedness. Whether in failure or success, offer both with thanksgiving and praise to the whole counsel of God; Abba Yahuah, His Son, Yahusha, and His Holy Spirit.
Enthrone the King of Kings
The cost of discipleship concerning the distractions of the heart requires the sincere believer to remove any treasure from the heart that is not God Himself, which is the personal relationship with Him.
In this way, the distractions that stem from the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of richness will not sway the heart. Practicing this solution requires one to honor God’s will with your wealth and submit to His will with a Submissive heart to melt the cares of the world and the lure of riches. It is not easy to overcome this struggle, the rich man of Mat19 failed to pay the cost of discipleship.
Honoring God with one’s wealth has been controversial, mainly due to the prosperity gospel, which I am not in favor of. In my observation and experience, the prosperity gospel magnifies the distractions of the heart.
The wealth stewardship I favor is based on a personal relationship vs. an impersonal institutional relationship, one that is based on mutual trust and respect for each other vs. an unequal relationship between patron and recipient. Wealth stewardship is a means to support the eternal goals of soul salvation vs. pursuing the earthly pursuit of social justice to alleviate suffering.
The topic is too broad for this post—a ten post-series, Christian and the Money Series, attempt to describe this topic. The first post of this 10-part series can be found at this link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/11/11/christians-and-money-reality/.
The perspective of the 3 heart conditions helps to identify the aliment, but in practice, the heart is plagued by all the 3 aliments of deception, discouragement, and distraction. It will be challenging to anybody as it presents the imagery of being besieged by surrounding enemies.
Wisdom from the leading of the Holy Spirit of Yah is indispensable to navigating the treacherous terrain poisoned by deception, discouragement, and distraction. At this point, it may seem that the battle, much less the war, is impossible to win. These thoughts are flawed. It is God that wins the battle, for it belongs to Him.
The person needs a willing spirit that sincerely seeks God in their troubles. Posts such as these are meaningless without this desire to seek God. Even it is God that supplies the specifics of the navigating. Having knowledge of the heart conditions that draw from His word and revelations that puts them into practice, it is hubris to call the proposals written here antidotes. God, Himself is the true antidote. Abba God Yahuah was the one that has paid the greatest cost of man’s right to discipleship by the crucifixion of His Son, Yahusha.