Dispelling the Toxic
This is an era plagued with the toxic. Discerning truth has too often strayed into battlegrounds of rants and hostile opinions. Extremes of ideologies and passionately-driven viewpoints no longer separate generations, but mark boundaries within even the ranks of believers. The dividing asunder between good and evil is no longer based on simple moral codes. Respect and honor have fallen short. Both the prophetic and what should be sound doctrine are viewed skeptically because of superficial responses to deep truths.
Toxic atmospheres and relationships add unwanted challenges to those seeking a high standard for their lives. The toxic has another dimension: the subtle snare of reverberating its influence into the way one thinks and operates.
When the quest is for godliness and the will of God, then the impact of the toxic in today’s world seems to be compounded. Eluding the toxic for believers cannot be done passively and still have the expectation of anything better than a haphazardly, fruitful life. These are the days spoken of by Jesus when things would become such that the destinies of the very elect would be put in question.
The Age of Offenses
Instantaneous communication and information pollution have resulted in us living in an age of offenses. Culturally in the West, we have become radically polarized. Yet, as Solomon once observed, there is nothing new under the sun. While technology, 24 hour media news commentary, ads comprising over a fourth of the time spent in entertainment, social media and the Internet provide enhanced opportunity for exposure to the toxic, what is rearing its ugly head again at every front is simply the age-old cosmic battle between good and evil.
Isaiah described something very similar: “Justice is turned back and righteousness stands afar off, for truth is fallen in the street and equity cannot enter. So truth fails and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” There was much more Isaiah had to say, but in his prelude to describing the toxic state of things in the spiritual atmosphere around him, he next described the Lord’s heart as “wondering why there was no intercessor.”
Jesus labeled His generation as being evil and adulterous, spiritually adulterous or double-minded. He depicted the swirl of chaos and controversy as being triggered by offenses: “Woe to the world because of offenses, for offenses must come. But woe to those by whom they come.”
Jesus went on to describe the end of the age as being an age of offenses: “Many will be offended and betray one another. False prophets will arise and deceive many. Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
Early in His earthly ministry, Jesus got to the crux of the matter with the words: “This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” These were words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, a rabbi. Nicodemus was an exception among his ranks, because his heart and thinking were open.
Nevertheless, those bearing the greatest brunt of Jesus’ judgments were the religious elite. Most were offended by Jesus. Trained as representatives of truth, they were anything but that. Their priorities were focused on themselves rather than those their positions should have been serving. Jesus referred to them as blind fools.
The lure is self. The quest of overcoming self traverses ones’ lifetime. The snares simply get more refined and subtle. Jesus said that he who loves his life will lose it, but he who eschews his own life will gain it. What He was pointing to was the need to get beyond ourselves. If we don’t, then we’ve been trapped much like the blind fools that Jesus disgustingly noted.
Fools are referred to throughout Scripture. A major portion of Proverbs is devoted to describing the way of fools. Yet, those so categorized weren’t dull or stupid. For the most part, most of those the Bible has labeled as fools were beyond the ordinary in both their smarts and success.
In subtle ways, they are ones who stumbled in the heart issues outlined by Psalm 86: “Teach me your ways O Lord and I will walk in Your truth, unite my heart to fear Your name.” The smarts and success of the fool have driven them into crossing the fine line of the focus pivoting on themselves.
It is the immunity from the seduction, eluding the toxic, that differentiates the heroes of faith from the Shebna’s and Pharisees and other fools the Bible highlights who misused their positions and influence.
The antidote to the toxic underscores the need to get beyond ourselves. It shouts to the issue of the fear of God and an undivided heart. This incorporates the poise of the soul, detoxifying the mind, abiding in truth, avoiding superficial responses, discerning appointed boundaries and a Kingdom mind-set.
Poise of the Soul. Getting beyond self begins with the poise of the soul. That posture is one of humility toward God and others. It is recognizing that God’s strength finds fertile soil in our weaknesses. Not to be confused with being lackadaisical, this means we give God our best while maintaining a sensitivity to course corrections that He may direct. As one of our old pastors once noted: “I can’t, but He can.” It is a realistic appraisal of our condition for the mandates we are to serve — in alignment with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Upon being made king, Solomon prayed: “O Lord, You have made Your servant king instead of David. But I am but a child [most estimate Solomon began his reign in his late teens]. I do not know how to go out or come in. So give Your servant a discerning heart to govern and to distinguish between right and wrong.” Solomon was in over his head and he knew it. Yet, he also knew how the Lord manifested Himself through his father, even in his weaknesses and stumbling.
The poise of our soul also means getting your individual identity, purpose and destiny equation aligned with the Lord. When Jesus said that we would be in the world, but not of the world, He was making a very Jewish statement. He was noting that we are to operate as a culture within a culture. That’s where our identity begins. As believers, we will never find our true purpose or calling until we get the identity-in-God cultural thing right. Without knowing our true purpose, our destiny will never come close to the wonderful plan that God intends.
Detoxifying the Mind. So then, in operating as a culture within a culture, we have a choice of what we expose ourselves to. It is the choice of how we feed our spirits. One of the longest running snares over the ages operating against God’s people has been in wanting to be like the cultures around them, wanting to be “like everyone else.” This was the soft-spot that led to King Saul’s downfall: being assimilated and bequeathing one’s destiny to the results of being a people-pleaser rather than a God-pleaser.
Spiritual detoxification involves the meditations of our hearts and the words of our mouths. The world will convince us that we are a society of victims. Working with the persecuted, I can affirm that they have chosen to view themselves and live their lives from God’s perspective rather than the society around them. Even when persecuted, they are victors and change-artists. They build community and within the chaos around them, they establish order, God’s order. In terms of the meditations of their hearts and words of their mouths their focus is God’s perspective as they operate as givers of life to those around them.
Abiding in the Spirit of Truth. There is a seductive addiction tied to the distractions of the world. Maturity comes when our daily choices give first priority to abiding in His presence and truth. We constantly need the washing of the word of truth. It is vital for us to maintain our thinking in a state of being cleansed and free. When Joshua took over leading Israel from Moses, the Lord gave him very specific instructions: “These words shall not depart from your mouth. Meditate on them day and night and be careful to do them. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.”
The word of truth is a vital remedy for today’s toxic atmospheres. The book of Hebrews notes the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. It goes beyond intellect and pierces the dividing asunder between soul and spirit. I know ones who have spent years in harrowing prison camp conditions for their faith, who have indicated that the challenge to abiding with success can be greater than when being persecuted and hungry without any freedoms. There is no such thing as spiritual coasting, either the daily choice is to proactively immerse ourselves in His presence and truth — or we will be losing ground.
Abiding requires proactive, regular spiritual maintenance.
Avoiding Superficial Responses to Deep Truths. One of the greatest vulnerabilities within the Body today are superficial responses to either doctrinal precepts or in the application of the prophetic. While this issue taps the maturity factor, it is more a matter of getting beyond self.
Superficial responses include using either doctrinal precepts or the prophetic to support manipulative behavior. It also involves jumping to conclusions that simply are not supported by either the prophetic word or doctrinally. New covenant scripture clearly indicates not only that prophesy is to be judged, but that it is not designed to direct, but rather to build up with exhortation, encouragement and comfort.
The antidote lies with disciplining the mind so that its meditations and predispositions are in line with His ways and truth. Wisdom then begins with the fear of the Lord and undivided thinking that operates within ones’ appointed boundaries.
Discerning Appointed Boundaries. The Apostle Paul spoke of the meekness and gentleness of Christ in warning us against walking in the flesh rather than by the Spirit. In doing so he referenced our appointed spheres of influence, boundaries defining our assignments. We are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but rather soberly or humbly in all that we do. Within our appointed spheres of influence, we have great authority. However, outside those boundaries, we become vulnerable in both our perception of things and in the wisdom needed to operate safely in a manner that brings results that honor the Lord.
Frequently Scripture notes that promotion comes from the Lord and that presumption is the way of the fool. Jesus responded to His followers in this progressive way. Those serious about their faith became disciples. Yet, as He began imparting to them mysteries of the Kingdom, they graduated to becoming servants, trusted followers. Then there came a time when He began sharing the strategies and deep things bearing on what lay ahead. Jesus then said to them that He no longer call them servants, but friends. Servants do not know what their master is doing, “but I have made known to you all that I have received from my Father.”
There is a reason for the boundaries and the admonition to respect and confine ones’ actions and authority to those boundaries. While faith is triggered in the imagination, vain imaginations become the fertile ground for deception, the jumping to conclusions and missing critical timing issues. Each stage will yield a greater authority. With that authority will come a greater cost. As John the Baptist said in referring to his place next to Jesus: “He must increase and I must decrease.”
The seedbed for all this is in the thinking.
A Kingdom Mind-Set. At the crux of operating in the Kingdom is a very different way of thinking. It is a different way of thinking from the world. From the Kingdom mind-set will come the strategies and the power that defeat darkness. The Kingdom mind-set can only operate beyond the place of self. The Kingdom mind-set involves mysteries that are tied to truths that yield the supernatural, in that spirit controls matter. It is the foundation that brings order out of chaos. The Kingdom mind-set is tied to the source of Life.
In the Kingdom one advances by yielding. Honor comes through humility. Wisdom is found in simplicity. Making your assets multiply will bring promotion. Growth comes by giving to others. We extend love to our enemies. Our purpose in life comes through yielding it to serve others. We receive when giving. Perfect love eliminates fear. In our weakness we are made strong. Ownership increases by sharing. We bless those who curse us. We lead by serving.
The Kingdom mind-set is not only the antidote, but the power to dispel the toxic. It penetrates culture, because it shapes culture. It triggers the creative and enables increase because these are key attributes of God’s nature.
Beyond the Toxic
The place beyond the toxic begins at the place beyond self. Simultaneously it concerns the response to the distractions, the deceit, the blindness and the double-mindedness, the issues at the heart of the toxic.
There is a toxic issue within the Body today that is not unlike the time when the wrath of Elihu was aroused against Job. It was an extremely brutal transition for Job, a community leader. It was a transition for him to rise to assume the mantle required of him for the times. Job’s stubborn response was to justify himself rather than God. The subtle thing needed was repentance and the recognition that God’s ways are higher — to release the revelation for Job’s promotion. God always has something more beyond the comfort zones we tend to want to hang onto.
Yet, the wrath that came against Job’s friends was even greater, because they had no answer, yet had condemned Job. Job’s short-sighted, self-righteous friends had added fuel to the problem of what God was doing in Job. They had entered and contributed to the realm of the toxic. It was their misguided predispositions, that scripture describes as “having no answer” or basis, that gave authority to the accuser. As Jesus observed: “Woe to those by whom the offenses come.”
While Job’s deliverance was the result of the revelation he received from God, the deliverance of Job’s friends was completely dependent on Job’s prayers and his gracious, benevolent response to his friend’s critical, self-absorbed judgment of him.
At the root of getting past the toxic, we need to go back to Isaiah, as he describes a time not unlike the time for Job when the Lord shows up to “those who turn from transgression” among God’s people, resulting in actuating the fear of God among those on the sidelines, including Job’s friends.
Just as the turning of things for Job involved his friends, this passage in Isaiah describes God’s response to the wanton spiritual condition within the ranks of God people. Before we can dispel the toxic around us, we have to come to grips with the toxic within.
Within the Body are those like Job who may be stumbling, but are reaching for the antidote of the poise of the soul, to detoxify the mind, abide in truth, avoid superficial responses, discern appointed boundaries and embrace a genuine Kingdom mind-set. On the other hand are those who need to get beyond their religious, self-absorbed thinking with a fear of the Lord and an undivided heart. This punctuates Jesus’ describing of this self-righteous, religious condition: “This is the condemnation that men love darkness better than light.” So it is with those charmed and misled by the toxic.
There is a remarkable turnaround spoken of in Revelations in which the accuser of the brethren is cast down, giving release to salvation, power, the Kingdom and the authority of Messiah. Jesus summed up the story He told about the widow who, refusing to give up, kept coming back, who would accept nothing less than a righteous verdict with her case before the unrighteous judge, with the question: “When I return, will I find faith on the earth?”
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the higher dimensions of business leadership since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program, Mr. Ruddick imparts hope and equips economic community builders to be blessed to be a blessing where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts are enabled by the generosity of a remnant of faithful friends and contributors whose vision aligns with God’s heart to mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to PO Box 370291, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at http://strategicintercession.org/support/
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2018 Copyright Morris Ruddick — firstname.lastname@example.org
Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor. Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check: http://www.strategicintercession.org