|5. Spiritual and intellectual ignorance of the truth leads to the fatal plague of spiritual deadness in the church. God’s people must begin with themselves. What happened to the times when people were often weekly moved, shaken, and convicted by the Lord? Should they not confess today, "Oh, that it could happen once a month or once a year"? Where are the active, current exercises of spiritual life? "Oh," they confess, "It is so dead! And the rest is all spoiled manna."|
What should be yearned for here is not some sort of spirituality, or appearance of it. What should be yearned for is not a emotional outburst or over welling of joy. Indeed, as Dan Phillips has pointed out, being spiritually alive may not always be accompanied by feelings or emotion. In fact, when our yearnings are for feelings of "spirituality", or emotions of joy, or emotions of being "on fire for Christ", then what we are actually desiring is satiation of desires of the flesh. That is not to say that God does not often bless us in those ways, it merely means being truly alive spiritually results in yearning for our minds to be set on the things of the Spirit and not to be set upon satifying our desires. In a time when our churches have shunned worship in exchange for "celebrations", it is clear that we are seeking to meet the fleshly desires of those that should be worshipping rather than the commands of THE ONE worthy of worship. We honor Him with our lips, but are hearts [and minds] are far from Him. We worship Him in vain and our teachings are just rules taught by men.
Romans 8:5-8 (ESV)
5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
What the spiritually alive yearn for is God's truth, to be humbled and awed by His majesty, to be afraid of His justice, to have our minds set upon His will and not our own, and to have our minds set upon His desires and not our own. The spiritually alive yearn to submit themselves to Him, not just as a pheasant would before a nobleman or fuedal leader (read as "Lord"), but as a slave before a master... completely owned. Completely owned...
Is this the view of the people in the church today or do most rebel against His Lordship... His Mastery of our lives? We need to "start with ourselves," wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, [r]emember what we received and heard, keep it, and repent.
Pastor Phil Newton of Southwoods Baptist Church in Memphis, TN points to the Church of Sardis in a sermon [text] [mp3] on Revelation 3:1-6 as the Biblical example of a spiritually dying church. He not only draws out the traits of a church under a "deathwatch", but also gives a prescription for dealing with spiritual deadness in the church.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.