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The Seven Fundamentals of Spiritual Growth
(The Fifth Requirement)
By Robert Wurtz II
We have reached the final faze of preparation in our study of spiritual growth that will accomplish the Â“Having done allÂ” portion of Ephesians Chapter 6. Up to this point we have looked at the first four things that allow us to grow and mature Spiritually. They are EATING, DRINKING, WALKING, and RUNNING (Spiritually). As a final point of preparation we will look at what the Bible calls EXERCISING. This is not the physical exercise that profits us little (I Timothy 4:8), but is a spiritual exercise that will strengthen us spiritually and allow us to progress in our spiritual diet. With out this exercising, there will never be any eating of the meat of GodÂ’s Word; there can only be milk. But for those who are willing to properly use that milk to begin exercising their senses to discern good from evil, they will grow and mature in the more deep things of God.
Being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. 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)
Exercising Your Senses
When the Bible uses the word Â“exerciseÂ” it carries a different meaning that what the word is normally used for. The sense of the word is that we are to take authority or take control of our senses. We are to literally exercise authority over our senses by using them to discern good from evil-rather than using them as a means of ungodly pleasure. God has given human beings senses that reveal the nature of things that they encounter, both physically and spiritually. It is a God given line of defense that should be used to distinguish what God accepts from what He rejects, and from what is harmful from what is good. If you do not exercise control of your sensesÂ… your senses will exercise control over you! This is most dangerous in that we are taught from Scripture that our senses are never satisfied. As it is writtenÂ… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing (Ecclestiases 1:8). That is why we must rebuke things that are vying for our attention. The word rebuke is simply to say STOP IT! THATÂ’S ENOUGH! So often people rebuke the DevilÂ… when they really need to be rebuking themselves. We need to take our God given control of our own senses.
Taking control of our senses is difficult when you are spiritually weak- so it is important to gain strength by exercising them as much as possible-while we feast on GodÂ’s word to gain strength. The pattern works in a cycle like this Eat/Exercise/Eat/ExerciseÂ… and so on-until we gain enough strength to take more control. The message of Hebrews 5 is that God wants to teach us many things about Himself and Christ, but He canÂ’t because the people of God refuse to take control of their senses so that they can begin to understand the more deep things of God. This is a vicious cycle, because if a person never begins to utilize the word that is able to save our souls, they will be locked in a Repent-Backslide-Repent-Backslide Â‘stateÂ’ until the day they die. We are commanded in the following verses of Hebrews 5 and Hebrews 6 not to lay this foundation over and over. We are to lay it once, begin hearing and doing the milk of the word, walking in the word, running with every weight laid aside, and EXERCISING CONTROL of our senses. Those senses are Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch. Additionally we will add the 2 other senses found in Scripture- the Conscience and the Tongue.
The light of the Body is the EyeÂ….
Your first and greatest sense is your Eye sight. All of a manÂ’s senses would he trade for his eyes. However, Job, being the oldest book in the bible and the first human being ever mentioned by God as a God fearing man, made this statement; I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity? Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity. If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out. If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour's door; Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase (Job 31:1-12). Jesus added to JobÂ’s remarks when He said; The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:22-24).
Between these two passages lie man kinds two greatest vices: LUST and MONEY. Your eyes will never be satisfied on either count. If you do not exercise authority over your eyes your entire heart will be filled with darknessÂ…, and as Jesus said it Â“a great darkness.Â” The primary passage into your heart is through the portal of your eyes. It is by exercising this and the other senses that you will Â“GUARD YOUR HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE FOR OUT OF IT ARE THE ISSUES OF LIFE.Â”
The Ears are Never Full
The second great sense that you must take authority over is the ear. If a person can distinguish the foulness of a resounding brass or tinkling cymbal there is no reason that we cannot identify a destructive message in our ears. These foul messages affect us spiritually by weakening us. If you let filth into your ears, filth will fill your heart. Think of your heart as a tape recorder. Your tongue will then become the Â“sound systemÂ” that replays every thing that you filled your heart withÂ…for out of the ABUNDANCE of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Few people know that the Greek word for Sorcery is Pharmakeia, the same root word for our English word pharmacy. The word simply means a spell binding substance. A Â‘drugÂ’ that alters the mind is in the category of sorcery. Keep in mind that God gave us a nose to distinguish the difference between foul and harmful odors, and pleasant -harmless odors. If it has an foul smell it is likely poisonousÂ…, either to your body or to your Spirit. So if it smells like Marijuana it probably is, and God commands His people to forsake Sorcery. By the time your brain goes dead from drugs, your Spirit man will have long since metaphorically turned to ashes. Keep yourself clean from all these things that feed in through your sense of smell.
Poison of the Soul
If you have to Â“acquireÂ” a taste for it, itÂ’s not the will of God. Your taste buds are designed to alert you when a bitter and poisonous substance enters your mouth so that you donÂ’t swallow it. You could never drink gasoline, because you could not stand the taste of it. So it is with anything you put in your mouth; God gave you the ability to discern if it is bitter or sweet. If you override your sense of taste- rather than being filled with the Spirit, your spirit man will soon perish! God gave us our sense of taste to warn us what we have in our mouth- if it is sin the taste buds will know it.
Our Sense of Touch
Sensuality is a serious sin in our time. Some are sensual and have not the Spirit. Of all the things to exercise control of this is perhaps the easiest. God has given us the opportunity to exercise the sense of touch by alerting us when we are being treated in an ungodly fashion. That may seem funny at first, but it was no laughing matter for the man who once laid his head in the lap of a woman named Delilah and later went out into eternity physically blind and young in years. A simple Â“keep your hands to yourselfÂ” would have saved that manÂ’s life and ministry.
Exercising the first five senses will allow you to better control the next two senses, the conscience and the tongue. There is nothing quite like a guilty conscience; and there are certainly few things worse than a tongue that is wildly out of control. The things that enter the heart through the senses are the things that will be revealed in the conscience (to us) and through the tongue (to others). Our conscience tells us where we are with God. It is that unaffiliated member that speaks on GodÂ’s behalf. Is your conscience pure and undefiled? Then the tongue reveals your heart through your words. When you open your mouth and start speaking- everyone gets a printout of your heart condition. What is your talk like? Do your talk a lot of foolishness and idleness? Do you openly speak of sin?
Our previous lesson was to lay aside the weights in our lives, this lesson was to take advantage of fewer things besetting us by exercising our senses. We must keep sin out of our heart and out of our physical body. Getting rid of the primary sources (weights) and then exercising your senses will make it easier to resist temptations as they come less frequently.