Salvation without the struggling and striving
This principle we see exemplified in King Saul. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon him he tasted of the heavenly gift and knew the power of becoming a son of God. But when he let it slip, he let go of a big thing with eternal consequences. It was such a loss that he never got over it. When he had accepted the Holy Spirit in full, his spirit was opened to the supernatural; and when he absented God from his heart, he was left wide open to Satan, who immediately filled the void left by God. Long before he sought counsel from the witch of Endor, Samuel summed up Saul’s mindset as “witchcraft” (1Sam. 15:23). Guilty of idolatrous spiritualism, King Saul was already beginning to be possessed by the devil.
Saul had not striven to be filled with all the fullness of God. He hadn’t sought out the Lord. He hadn’t suffered and stretched every muscle to touch but the hem of His garment. He thought he was a pretty good person; so he had no great need for Christ. His life had never been characterized by piety, as was witnessed to by the people’s surprise at his conversion, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish?” (1Sam. 10:11); he had never sought to know Christ. He knew about Him, and, to Saul, that was good enough. Thus, the filling of the joy of heaven destroyed him.
The same conditions led to Judas’ damnation. He joined the inner core of disciples without having been led, like the religious leaders, to repentance through the appeals of John the Baptist (Lk. 7:30). Self had never bowed before the Spirit of God; it had never been abased in Judas. Judas bypassed the preparation for meeting the Holy One; and now he went directly to the Source of power and life, which became his undoing. Christ is the mediator to receiving God, and wrestling with Christ is the requirement for the baptism of the Spirit of God. He saw the beauty of Christ’s character up close. Daily he witnessed the Son of God, the love and power streaming from Him. At first Judas was drawn to Christ’s character. But the love of wealth and ambition, never having been buried by the Spirit and repentance, overtook the initial love for holiness.
It isn’t in God’s plan to provide the blessedness of salvation without first putting in the soul the fear of God through a period of probation and wrestling, as a measure for the conscience to be able to balance the new freedom and power that comes with the Spirit. Without the hard labor and chastisement, it would be like putting a 10 year old child behind the wheel of an Indianapolis 500 race car. It means setting the person up for failure, and for those who have put their hope in God, He will never do that. From conception, He knows those who are His and who are not.
We must strive and work for the rest God wants to give us. To be rewarded without working for it is destructive in the spiritual and well as the physical realm. (Heb. 4:11;2Thess. 3:10).
This is why David had to struggle so many years before getting the throne. It’s why Israel had to endure slavery for generations before knowing the power of the God of heaven. The holy Law of God given to their charge and the display of divine strength and attention to a fallen planet focused at the Egyptian empire for the behalf of Israel would only happen once, and the recipients needed to be worthy of it—by being humbled though years of hard enslavement and humiliation. Otherwise, they somehow would have concluded that all heaven bowed down to them because their righteous living merited it. Pride would have vaulted itself higher than even God, and He would have had to destroy Abraham’s children whom He came to save for the work of saving the whole world.
Lucifer was an example to the heavenly hosts of what happens when the bliss of heaven is given without the preceding struggle and suffering that must establish the heart in insufficiency before receiving the freedoms in the bliss. Lucifer was exalted just like King Saul. God developed in him a greater intellect, beauty, talent, size, glory, than in all the hosts. But there had never been a controversy for him to suffer through before receiving his high station and the concomitant attention and recognition from his angelic subordinates which went with his duties. The abilities God gave him were too much for his untempered, untried spirit. The glory went to his head; the gift overcame his resolve to faithfully discharge his office. He appeared to be the most capable, when in reality he was the least. The same principle applies, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into … condemnation.” (1Tim. 3:6).
The Son of God, on the other hand, had suffered. None but He knew or could comprehend the burden of imperfection the Father saw in the holy angels. “He putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight.” “He put no trust in His servants; and His angels He charged with folly.” (Job. 15:15;4:18). The Son, one with God, suffered in sympathy with His Father. “I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” (Prov. 8:30). None other was brought up with God and could succor Him in the lack of infinitely pure perfection. None other satisfied the infinite One as did His beloved Son in whom He was very well pleased. In His Father’s holy presence and compared to His infinite holiness, the Son never failed or became discouraged until He had set infinite perfection in His ways, and an infinitely deep attachment and communion with His Father. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered. And 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.” (Heb. 5:8,9). Thus he could wield the scepter as high priest, but Lucifer could not.
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” (Lk. 13:24). If we don’t strive to enter the narrow way, but think it the perfect crime to sneak in by a shortcut, to “climb up some other way,” (Jn. 10:1) we are only shooting ourselves in the foot—eternally. Let us accept the pains and effort that it takes and the patience required to get all the way through to Jesus. “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Heb. 12:6-8).
“In due seaon we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:9) “Ye greatly rejoice, though now for a seaon, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptation: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tired with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1Pet. 1:6,7). “For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14).