“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. “- 1 Corinthians 2
The one thing that has really got my attention recently is how few people really get (or even want to get) Christianity. Jesus will only be embraced when people come to an understanding that to be a Christian is to deny yourself.
You basically have to realize that who you are, how you feel, and what you desire (in a natural sense) is an abomination before a Holy and Living God. What that means is that any pride, conceit, self-righteousness, desire, lust, ambition, etc. will ultimately need to be not just compromised, but completely forsaken. The real fundamental transformation is a personal and spiritual one (not merely an intellectual consent – which rarely, truly occurs outside spiritual change).
Unless we know ourselves to be unrighteous sinners before God, we will never understand the need for a Savior (and to be radically transformed in His image). That doesn’t mean we totally cease who we are (and our God-given talents, gifts, etc). But ultimately, it will be applied to a much greater purpose, a higher calling.
As I speak, I struggle with these things; but I firmly believe it’s our resistance to the ‘denial of self’ that prevents a true understanding and embracing of Christianity. You don’t claim Christianity by name; rather, Christianity claims you and compels you to walk in newness of life.
Old habits may remain; but they are trumped by an enlightened spiritual will and propensity to be ultimately driven by a holy purpose, a spiritual calling, a saving and God glorifying resolution.
Mark 13 (KJV):
5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows….
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations….
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved….
20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things…
24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven….
31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.