Less Mess, More Success
by Shirley Williams
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Nine years ago as I was preparing to go to my home state of N.C. to preach at a women’s gathering, Holy Spirit spoke something to me that was life changing.
He said, “When you stand before those women, I want you to tell them that you’re a mess.”
I wanted to act like I didn’t hear the Lord’s instructions, but I had Heard Him much too loudly and much too clearly to do that. Instead, I tried to bargain with Him in hopes that He would change His mind. I temporarily forgot that Father God says from His Word, “I change not” (Mal.3:6).
“But Lord, that’s the place of my shame and you’re sending me back there to tell them that I’m a mess? “ No response. Holy Spirit was silent. So, I continued, “But Lord, You know I’m a mess, and I know I’m a mess, but do they have to know that I’m a mess too?” This time, Holy Spirit answered me very plainly; “Dead men don’t feel shame.” That truth hit my spirit like an electrical shock and I had to immediately repent. I had responded to the Lord in pride, self-preservation and fear---things that are not of the Spirit. It meant that too much flesh was still alive but on this particular day, more of it painfully died, thank God.
Did I tell those women what Holy Spirit had told me to say? You bet I did. Not only did He give me instructions to carry out but He also included a prophetic promise for me and for every person, man or woman, who would take hold of it by faith.
He said, “Tell them that I’m turning your mess into a success.” Praise God! What a promise that is embodied in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection for all who will believe and receive the promise of ‘finished’ work. Jesus promises to finish what He has started in each of us at the moment of salvation (Heb.12:2).
The message for those women I went to minister to was that even though God saw their mess, He was doing something about it in this season of their life. He was, even then, turning their mess into a success. He is actively doing the same for you today. As for me, day by day, God is till turning my particular mess into a success.
From II Peter 1:4, “we’re told that we are partakers of the divine (holy) nature of God.” When we look at II Cor.5:17, it says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (has divine nature of God): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
From Romans chapter 8, we’re instructed by God to walk after the Spirit (let divine nature of God in spirit rule) and not after the flesh (not allowing carnal nature to rise up again and rule).
Romans 8:5-8 says, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6-For to be carnally minded is death (under curse); but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (blessing).
7-Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subjected (submissive) to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8-So then, they that are in the flesh (obeys their carnal natures) cannot please God.”
Verse 8 is part of the end result of walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit, and why is it not pleasing to God? Because a person who is walking after the flesh is not walking by faith but rather by fear.
Heb.11:6 says, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
A person walking after the Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit by their faith to please God, and also to be a blessing to others. When faith is motivated by love in obedience to the Word, it brings blessings and the favor of God into our lives. When you allow yourself to be led by the carnal nature, you will be self-centered; a blessing to no one and you will produce the fruit of the flesh. Thing’s will seem to go more wrong than favorably for you. Your whole aim in life will be to please yourself instead of pleasing God, your heavenly Father.
Galatians 5:16-25 gives us a list of the fruit of the flesh which is:
Also listed is the fruit of the Spirit, which is:
Against such there is no law. The good news is, we no longer have to carry shame. Jesus bore our shame. He bore ALL our sins on the cross and gave us right-standing with God, the Father. His shed blood bought our salvation, therefore, as Ephesians 2:8 says, “We’re saved by grace through faith, it is the gift of God” (paraphrase).
Holy Spirit had said to me, “Dead men don’t feel shame.”
Heb.12:1-2 says, that while on the cross, Jesus looked beyond His circumstances---He looked ahead to the joy set before Him and He discounted the shame. That means, that as children of the King, through faith and obedience, we too can ‘discount’ the shame, put it down under our feet and rule it as nothing to fear. Praise God that Jesus took ALL shame and dealt with it in our place and set us free from its bondage. Glory to His name!
Am I saying that we will never experience shame again in our lives? Or that we won’t experience anger, jealousy, strife, etc.? No. What I am saying is that we have a tempter whose name is satan. He takes great delight in tempting us to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life so that we will withdraw from God and others in shame and fear. In this state, you will certainly not be actively pursuing your purpose and destiny. Which is exactly what satan was after all along---to stop you. Why? Because he’s afraid of where you are going in God, and even on your way there, you are a serious threat to his evil kingdom. Hallelujah! Let us arise and move out by faith in Jesus holy name!
The good news is we have a High Priest who has been tempted in ALL things as we are; yet He didn’t give in to sin. Because Jesus overcame temptation, we can now come to God’s throne of grace with confidence and receive grace and mercy in our time of need (temptation)
[Heb.4:15-16]. Rather than produce the fruit of the flesh by giving into satan‘s temptations to sin, we can say a firm ‘no’ and by faith, produce the fruit of the Spirit.
The question is often asked, ‘If Jesus took my shame then why do I still experience it?’
Shame can come into our lives in more than one way. One of the ways is outwardly, through someone else. People close to us can attempt to shame us through our emotions into doing something they want. Manipulative verbal abuse is usually the vehicle through which the shame and guilt comes. You may hear, or have heard before:
“Be ashamed of yourself.” Or,
“You should be shamed!” Or,
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
The attack of satan is upon you as a person. That is, your identity. Thus, if you’re still embracing the lie that you have to live with shame, you might say in response to others,
“I am shameful.”
That does not describe who you are. It is a lie of satan about you, as a person, and it’s against the truth of God. When someone from your family or your close friends try to shame you in whatever way they choose and you accept it as truth, its like throwing hot scalding water on a beautiful rose and watching it wilt and wither (withdraw, shrink back) right before your eyes. This is oppression. You may end up feeling guilt and shame over something you’re not guilty of. Or you may experience these feelings for denying a person something they want you to do that you know is against God. Either way it comes, the manipulation is there to cause you to experience shame from an outward source.
Luke 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with Power, who went about doing good and healing ALL who were OPPRESSED of the devil, for God was with
Next, we need to look at the inward source and answer the question, ‘Can I bring shame upon myself?’ Most assuredly, yes, we can. How? We only have to look at Adam and Eve in the garden to see how. What was it that would cause them to trade the truth of God that blessed them, for a lie of satan that would bring them death and destruction? Someone may answer that it was due to deception. This is true because God’s word says it is (1 Tim.2:14). Satan tempted the first couple through the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The first Adam failed to put down these temptations in the garden. Jesus, the last Adam was tempted by the same things in the wilderness after being baptized in the river Jordan. But unlike the first Adam, Jesus did warfare and whipped the devil with the word of God, “It is written...” Jesus wore him out with the Word. He won victory over the devil’s temptation to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. And because Jesus achieved victory over the devil, His victory is now our victory. All we have to do is to enforce it by faith and declare likewise, “It is written...” Amen!
In Gen.2:16-17, God told Adam (paraphrase), “You’re free to eat of every tree in the garden except one---the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of this tree, you will surely die (spiritually).”
God had given Adam a direct command, now he was responsible to be obedient in keeping it. But along came satan to the woman who gave her a twisted version of God’s word in order to deceive her.
When you read back over the account of the fall, you see that Adam was first disobedient when he stood by listening to satan, knowing that what satan said was contrary to what God had originally told him. Instead of stopping the enemy, Adam chose not to. Disobedience was already working in his mind but creation didn’t fall just because he listened. God didn’t say, ‘you’ll surely die if you listen.’ He said, “If you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will die.”
Creation fell when the disobedience in Adam’s mind (thoughts) manifested in the act of eating the forbidding fruit, thereby, deliberately disobeying a direct command of God. He acted independently of God and the moment he ate, the Spirit of God left Him. Thus he said, “I was afraid, I was naked, I hid myself.” Afterwards, throughout the ages, the Holy Spirit dwelt within no human spirit, rather, He would come upon a person so that mighty works could be performed.
The forefathers of the faith had the promise of God in their hearts, that is, the promise of the Spirit to come. Just as He was there in the garden with Adam, so He was with and in Jesus as He walked the earth for three and a half years. Jesus came to earth by the Spirit of God, and Holy Spirit never left Him. Today, Jesus indwells the Christian by His Spirit.
Not until after Jesus went to the cross and after He was resurrected did the Spirit indwell the human spirit of man again. In the 19th chapter of John, right before Jesus ascended to the Father, He breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” When God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, the Bible says, “God breathed into His nostrils and man became a
living soul.” The Holy Spirit indwelt Adam, just as He did the last Adam, Jesus, the Son of God, and just as He indwells blood washed, born again Christian’s today. Praise the Lord!
So, what was the temptation that Adam and Eve faced (Gen.3:6), and even Jesus faced? It was:
Lust of the flesh--- “And the woman saw that the tree was good for food.”
Lust of the eyes--- “And that it was pleasant to the eyes.”
Pride of life-------- “And a tree to be desired to make one wise.”
As we already know, she ate of the forbidden fruit and gave some of it to her husband with her, and he chose to eat also. At this point, he still could have said, ‘no’ to satan’s diabolical temptation designed to destroy Adam’s mandate from God. Since we were yet in Adam, it was to destroy the Churches mandate as well (Gen.1:26-28).
Satan wanted to be God. He wanted dominion. He had tried to overthrow God off His throne but that had backfired and got him kicked out of heaven. It also got him judged and sentenced to the “lake of fire” when Jesus comes back to earth for the second time. After trying and failing to overthrow God, satan looked to man; after all, he was like God on the earth, created in His image and made after His likeness. God had given him dominion over all the earth---something satan lusted after to have. Therefore, being the thief that he is (Jn.10:10), he put his diabolical plan into action through the vehicle of deception and set out to steal dominion from man. He wanted man’s legal authority to rule planet earth under the supreme authority if God.
Without so much as a protest from the lips of Adam, he chose to release this dominion from his hands and let it go into the hands of God’s arch enemy who was out to destroy God’s most prized creation---mankind. But God! Praise His name! He wasn’t caught unaware or without a plan. When Jesus went to the cross and shed His blood, He bought back dominion, the authority to rule and restored it to mankind---to the Church, in order to advance the Kingdom of God in the earth and destroy the kingdom of darkness.
The devil’s deception suggested to the first couple that they couldn’t trust God to be truthful or fair with them, in fact, He was holding out on them. The devil lied and said, they could only trust themselves and be their own god (live independently of God). Then, they would be able to do whatever they wanted to. This lie is still the ultimate lie satan has used from the garden to this present day of the Church to deceive people. How do we overcome satan’s lie’s? With the truth of God’s Word (James 4:7) and by the blood of the Lamb (Rev.12:11).
People’s attitude today of, “I don’t have to answer to anybody,” was birthed out of this deception. It originated even before the garden by a renegade fallen angel---satan. Remember the slogan, “If it feels good, do it?” This is people trying to be their own god and being foolish to believe that they don’t have anyone to answer to. The devil is a liar! (John 8:44). ALL people will give an account to God, according to how they lived their life while here on earth (Romans 14:12).
Once the first couple fell from right-standing with God, we see three things become evident in the conversation between God and Adam when God came walking in the garden. They are:
1-Fear--- “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid,
2-Shame--- because I was naked,
3-Control--- and I hid myself.”
Never forget that hidden underneath fear is pride, self-preservation (control) and the shame is always evident. You can ask a person who is struggling with a certain issue in their life if they would like counseling? They may answer that they are afraid to do that. You probe a little further and asked, what are they afraid of? Their answer, “I don’t want anybody to know I’m struggling (fear and pride). They would think that I’m awful (shame and fear of rejection). When we humble ourselves and admit that we’re struggling and yes, we’d like some help, pride is pushed out. Fear is thrown out because you see and sense the acceptance and love of the person offering to help.
Because of the fall, earth, mankind, animals, everything fell under a curse. Read it in Genesis chapter 3. Shame and all of its ugly partners is under the curse. But God! Hallelujah! When Jesus went to the cross and shed His blood, He redeemed us from the curse of the law (poverty, sickness and disease and death, Galatians 3:13). Now, THAT'S good news to shout and praise God about.
So, how did Adam bring shame upon himself? Through disobedience to God’s command, just as we’ve already seen. Instead of being responsible to guard the garden and everything in it, he became irresponsible. The first couple became unfaithful stewards of the freedom to have dominion over the works of God’s hands.
If you read through the Old Testament, you will see that the same thing happened with the people of Israel during their journey from the slave pits of Egypt and through the wilderness as they headed toward the Promised Land. They were unbelieving and disobedient to the commands of God, not once but continually for forty years, so that, the first generation died without ever stepping foot in the land of promise. Their lack of true heart repentance caused them to experience shame and destruction.
God gave them a wonderful promise in Isaiah 1:19, “If you will be willing (right heart attitude) and obedient (by faith), you shall eat the good of the land (blessings).”
This same wonderful promise is to you and me today. But did you stop to realize that you can be obedient to do a thing God has told you to do and do it without a good heart attitude? It’s like the child who constantly stood up out of the pew in church on Sundays. His mother kept commanding him to ‘sit down’ but he kept standing up. Finally, she got him to sit down and stay seated but he told her, “I may be sitting down but on the inside I’m standing up.” The little boy did what he was told to do, but he wasn’t truly willing from a humble heart that wanted to please his mother. It works the same way for you and me in what we do for God. May we truly be “willing and obedient” so that we will eat the “good of the land.” Amen.
As long as the first couple was obedient by faith to the truth of God’s commands, they lived in God’s perpetual blessings. As long as the people of Israel were obedient by faith to the truth of God’s commands, they had favor and ate the good of the land. They experienced abundant blessing instead of God’s general blessings that rain on the just and the unjust alike. What about you and me today? The same thing that applied to the first couple and the Israelite’s, applies to the Church of Jesus Christ today. “If we will be willing and obedient, we will eat the good of the land.”
There are fixed laws that God has set up in His Kingdom---principals that He will not go against. For to do so, He would be going against Himself, and He won’t do that. It is not God who must change His mind to suit us, but rather, it is us that must change our minds, so that, we might fulfill the will of His word and eat the good of the land.
One of these fixed laws is found in Romans 6:21-23 that says, “Therefore, what benefit were you then deriving from the things which you are no ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
22-But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
23-For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal like in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Then, there is God’s fixed law of sowing and reaping.
Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God it not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.
8-For the one who sows to his own flesh (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life) will from the flesh reap corruption (death); but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
And that eternal life begins when you make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, not after you die and go to heaven.
(to be continued)
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