“Reuben thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel…” (Gen. 49:3-4a KJV).
Looking at the way this same scripture is rendered in other Bible translations may bring home to our hearts, very well, the weight of the matter of being unstable.
“…Reuben, you are my oldest son… my first child… first sign of my strength … first in honour… first in power. But you are as unsteady as water… (NIRV)
“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the beginning (the first fruits) of my manly strength (and vigor); (your birthright gave you) the pre-eminence in dignity and the pre-eminence in power. But unstable (and) boiling over like water, you shall not excel…” (AMP).
“Reuben, you’re my firstborn, my strength, first proof of my manhood, at the top in honour and at the top in power. But like a bucket of water spilled, you’ll be at the top no more…” (MSG).
Can you see the consequence of carnality?!
“You will not excel, you will be like a bucket of water spilled, and you will not be at the top anymore!!”
This calls for soberness. It calls for a cry for mercy. Carnality is a deadly poison that should not be taken with levity at all. Let us look at the description of any carnal Christian, the end result and the cry it should attract:
“For that which I do I allow not: For what I would, that I do not, but what I hate, that I do… for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do… I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rm. 7:15-24 KJV).
“And I have no clear knowledge of what I am doing, for that which I have a mind to do, I do not, but what I have hatred for that I do. For I am conscious that in me… there is nothing good; I have the mind but not the power to do what is right: for the good which I have a mind to do, I do not: but the evil which I have no mind to do, that I do… In my heart I take pleasure in the law of God, But I see another law in my body, working against the law of my mind, and making me the servant of the law of sin… How unhappy am I! Who will make me free from the body of this death?”(BBE)
“…Yes, I’m full of myself… after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s command, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I am at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Rm. 7:14-25 MSG).
Is it any clearer to you now? You want to be stable, living right always but you just cannot! There is something bringing you into captivity to the law of sin. You have the mind but not the power to do what is right. You decide one way, but then you act another. The power of sin keeps sabotaging your best intentions. Your decisions do not result in actions. Something has obviously gone wrong deep within you and has even got the better of you. These things happen to you so regularly that they are predictable. They always trip you up. Parts of your body members covertly rebel and just when you least expect, they take charge. You have tried everything and nothing has helped. You are now at the end of your rope. You are now asking, “Is there no one who can help me?” Yes, Jesus can and will help. But there are inherent problems you have to cry for help about. Let us look at them.
After delivery (New birth), the setting or settings of the old man have to be identified and put off deliberately. This setting in normal child birth is called PLACENTA which in Biblical terms is called DROSS, LEAVEN or GRAVECLOTH (CEREMENT).
Dross: Is a waste matter or refuse. Proverbs 25:4 says: “Take away the dross from silver and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer”
Psalms 119:119 says: “Thou puttest away the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies” (KJV)
“…There is no true metal in dross,…you put it away therefore I love your testimonies.” Amp.
Leaven: Is an agency that works in a thing to produce a gradual change or modification. To permeate with an altering or transforming influence.
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump…” (1 Cor. 5:6-8 KJV)
“Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing…yeast too is a “small thing,” but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this ‘yeast’ (MSG)
Grave clothes: cerements; “…And Lazarus came forth, bound hand and foot with gravecloths…loose him and let him go.” (John 11:44 KJV).
Placenta: It is an intimate apposition or fusion of fetal organs to maternal tissues for exchange of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus and in the reverse transfer of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other waste products back to the mother (Evil for good). It ‘lives’ and ‘breathes’. Retention after child birth is a medical emergency. It must be removed with caution. Overly, zealous effort at removal leads to rupture, severe bleeding and death.
Clog: Anything that sticks together and impedes motion or action; it is an encumbrance; it is a hindrance.
So, any of these by whatever name it is called: dross, leaven, graveclothes, placenta or clog is an encumbrance standing in the way of spiritual growth. They have to be dealt with either by removal, mortification, paring or purging. Are you ready to undergo the process of removal? The process may be painful but needful. And this takes place as you enroll in discipleship.
This your rising and falling, the causes of which we have highlighted, is a cause for concern even to you. What should you do or be doing so that you will not only gain permanent stability, but will also begin to make spiritual progress in your growth?
First, you have to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. “…work out (cultivate, carryout to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence (and) awe and trembling (self- distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)[Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire] both to will and to work for His good pleasure (and) satisfaction (and) delight” (Phil. 2:12-13 AMP)
Secondly, you must put an ‘afterward’ between that which is natural and that which is spiritual. ‘Afterward’ means a clear cut boundary (Read 1 Cor. 15:46)
In the third place, be under a tutor or governor to tutor you and govern you in the way of righteousness. He/she will be your guardian, administrator and manager (see Gal. 4:1-2).
Lastly, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Plant your feet firmly within the freedom Christ has won for you. Make a firm stand without slipping into any yoke of sin. Stand strong and be consistent in holiness.
“In this freedom Christ has made us free and completely liberated us; stand fast then and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit to what you have once put off” (Gal. 5:1 AMP).
You will have no excuse because:
“Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us… We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you-your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don’t lose a minute in building on what you have been given, complementing your basic faith with good character,… alert discipline, passionate patience…warm friendliness and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your life, no grass will grow under your feet… Without these qualities, you can’t see what is right before you… So, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off: do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing… and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Lord…”(2 Peter 1:3-11 MSG) So, my friend, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best in purity and peace. Be on your guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet. May God make you holy and whole, may He put you together and preserve you wholly spirit, soul and body, keeping you fit for the coming of our Lord. He is the One who called you and He is completely dependable. Depend on Him. He loves you. Amen.