Salvation is an inside job and we are dependent upon God to do an internal heart-changing work in those for whom we are burdened…What are some things we can pray for them?
We can pray for God to send conviction, that they will sense the urgency of their need. At Pentecost, Peter’s sermon was interrupted by his listeners, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). Conviction is when God calls us to account and shows us our fault.
We can ask God to send enlightenment. Paul was commissioned by God to go to the Gentiles, “To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).
We can pray that God would call and draw, attracting them to Christ. While we, in our natural condition, are turned off by God, He has a way of engineering circumstances that cause us to be drawn to Him. “He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
We can ask God to destroy mental strongholds, to remove the barriers between them and Christ. Being a lost person is hard work. God gives witness to Himself in powerful ways. And the person who doesn’t want to turn to Christ has to defend himself against the guilt and feelings of foolishness for rejecting Him. So they build defensive walls to keep those feelings out—and to keep God from “meddling” in their lives. Some of these wall are made of intellectual rationalizations, some of the memories of bad experiences at church or with people who professed to be Christians. Some walls are made with the bricks of procrastination. But all the walls are a hardened bunker to keep God away. Prayer, however, can penetrate these walls: “The weapons with which we fight are not human weapons, but are mighty for God in overthrowing strong fortresses. For we overthrow arrogant ‘reckonings,’ and every stronghold that towers high in defiance of the knowledge of God, and we carry off every thought as if into slavery—into subjection to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4,5, Weymouth). By Derek Gentle
Jonah 2:7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.
Get your own copy of The Evidence Bible.
It is indeed an “inside” job. In John 3:3-5, we read how that Jesus told Nicodemus, unless a man is born again, he can neither enter, nor even “see” the Kingdom of God. We later read in John 4, how that those who come to God, MUST worship him in Spirit, and in Truth. We see elsewhere, in Paul’s writings, that our spirit is dead in sin, and trespass, and requires quickening by God’s Spirit.
For years I wondered what the new birth consisted of. I’d hear a variety of ideas, but it was not until I read Ezekiel, chapter 36, verses 25-27 that it made sense. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this passage is the quintessentially defining passage of what the new birth is, and what it consists of. IT sure nailed it for me.
From the Blue LEtter Bible website, NKJV.
25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
The first thing we see is that God will sprinkle us with clean water, and the result will be— we will be clean.
We then see that God will cleanse of us from our filthiness, and all our idols. As I’ve learned over the years, my idols are not little or even large, statues that I bowed to in the past. They are my false beliefs about God, my false ideas about what it means to follow God/Jesus, and false ideas about life. Eg., I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, becoming an adult by ’78. I grew up watching the movies of the 60’s, and the biggest lie I learned about life was that only wealthy, powerful, and handsome men got beautiful women, who were little more than their arm candy. I also learned that such women controlled men by simply flicking their wrist, and dropping their hankies. This, ironically was the first idol that was felled by God, for me… the night I turned to Jesus, I saw such a woman– all that the world said could have whatever she wanted by using her “ample talents”, she too had turned to Jesus. Our modern day idols aren’t so obvious, but they are copious.
The next thing we see is that God gives us a new heart, and a new spirit.
For years, I wondered what that meant, and over the past year or so, it’s connected…. look at the next part— he removes our old stony heart of flesh, and gives us a new heart of flesh. As I’ve considered that, I’ve come to realize that for this to stick, God has to take the heart that we’ve destroyed because of our sin, and simply replace it with a heart that is after him. A new heart of flesh. As I’ve considered that, I’ve come to realize that this means— a tender, kind, compassionate, and gracious heart, one that is turned towards God.
A new spirit….. as Paul said in Ephesians 2, we killed our spirit with our sin, and trespasses. So, since the only way to know God, as JEesus said, is by SPirit and Truth, we need to be given a new heart.
So….. let’s recatalogue….
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Look at what God does…
1- he cleanses us.
2- He removes our filth, and false beliefs.
3- He gives us a new heart.
4- he gives us a new Spirit.
5- he removes our old, stony heart of flesh.
6- he gives us a new heart of flesh.
7- He gives us His Holy Spirit.
what’s our job?
And is it JUST a job, or is is the result of all of what God has done, leading up to this….?
We will walk in his statutes, and keep his judgments, and do them.
It strikes me that the latter item— walking, keeping, and doing… are the fruit of what God’s done in us. So, this is indeed an “inside” job.
So…. let’s tie this back to more scripture. God cleanses/removes idols/filth. Jeremiah 1:10 (rooting out, tearing down, pulling down, destroying) 3:13 (our acknowledging our wrong, which connects to 1 John 1:5-2:2), 1 John 1:5-10, we acknowledge our wrong, turning to God, from sin (1 Thess. 1:9-10), and as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. As we confess our sin, he is faithful, and just to forgive us, and then cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness.
New heart, new spirit, remove the old stony heart– 2 Corinthians 5:17.
If anyone be in Christ, they are a new creation. Old things have passed away, behold! All things are new.
The old, stony heart is passed away. The new creation is a new heart, and a new spirit.
He gives us His Holy Spirit. Romans 8, Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 1:22-23, 5:5. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given to us as a down payment of our inheritance.
We walk in his statutes, we keep his judgments, and do them. Romans 8:3-7, Galatians 5:22-25. Philippians 4:6-9, which ties back to Psalm 19:5-10, Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalm 1.
Our old nature was dead because of sin. Sin cut us off from the life of God. Much like a plant yanked from the ground, by the roots, and even though it was laid back down on the ground, it was incapable of re-rooting itself.
God rooted us in himself, giving us His life, and giving us that components which we needed, wile removing the ones that we destroyed.
Yes…. it is indeed an “inside job.”
God’s the “inside man” who did what no one else possesses the wherewithal to do. He’s the only one who can accomplish it. No other religion, no other beliefs, no other methods. As Paul says in Romans 6-7, we can only reckon, or treat as, or consider it from God’s Perspective, as we read in Romans 4:17— God calls those things which are not, as though they were.