“A higher plane than I have found; Lord, lead me on to higher ground!”
1 Thess. 5:14-15 “And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.” (NASB)
We started out with a line from the hymn ‘Higher Ground’, because that “higher plane” is what these verses have hidden within them. There is a higher way than what is around us in the world today. That “higher plane” is the kingdom of heaven—which, in short, is God’s ruler-ship within an individual’s life. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are RIGHT NOW partakers of the kingdom of heaven. As we receive God’s word through memorizing and meditating—listening and receiving, that kingdom’s reality increases in us. This kingdom is not seen with physical eyes, but through God enlightening the eyes of our hearts by His word and His revelation. It is a spiritual kingdom that we will only know as we listen to God’s voice, keep His commandments and submit to His authority over us.
But God does not expect us to gain entrance into or know this kingdom on our own or in our own strength. God our Father has given us a precious and wondrous gift, through Jesus Christ His Son, and that gift is His Holy Spirit. It is through being continually filled with the Holy Spirit that we have eyes to see this spiritual kingdom—this “higher plane”. It is through the workings of the Holy Spirit within us that the kingdom’s reality becomes more real to us than this physical realm surrounding us. The Holy Spirit joins us and unites us to God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son; He teaches us how to commune with the Father and Son, and He reveals to us all things freely given to us by God. It is through His working that we are humbled and see our need to repent of being master over ourselves and seek Someone greater than ourselves; it is through the Spirit that God draws us near to Himself so we can know and share pure and satisfying fellowship with Him.
It is by the Holy Spirit that the above verses can be carried out affectively. It is not that those in the world cannot or do not do these things…They DO! Where do unruly young people go? Off to join the Army—where they are admonished and humbled by the non-optional disciplines enforced on them there. What about those that are fainthearted—i.e. in despair, depressed, and discouraged. Or what about the weak? For them, there are numerous doctors, counselors, psychologists, coaches and mentors with countless self-help programs, check-lists, tips, diets, medications, advice, etc. etc. to bring them relief and to strengthen them. But all of those things as aids are TEMPORAL and will pass away, because the world itself is passing away. And because they do not meet the eternal need of the individual as only Christ can. All of those things are futile. As John 15:5b says, “…apart from Christ you can do nothing.” A whole lot of nothing is happening in the world today and a whole lot of nothing is being done in the lives of Christians today, because they lack the understanding of what it is to abide IN Christ.
In the world evil is returned for evil. There is good done for others, but self-approval or self-acceptance is often the motive behind that good. So, all these things are done in the world, but in light of God’s eternal kingdom they are purposeless and ineffective. Because they are done in man’s strength and for man’s glory, they are in opposition to God and His kingdom.
“A higher plane than I have found, LORD LEAD ME on to higher ground!” Praise the LORD, that He has provided a Way to a higher plane! Praise the LORD, that we can live IN that higher plane as we deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Jesus. As we ask God our Father to empty us of self and fill us with the very life of Jesus Christ through the Spirit, we will see His life flow out of us in gently reproving (orig. Greek) the unruly, in encouraging the fainthearted, in helping the weak, in being patient with all men, and in not returning evil for evil, but doing good for one another and for all men. This is loving God, FIRST, and then the outflow is loving your neighbor as yourself.
Think about this question: If Jesus said there is only One who is good, how can I be good, or show others good or do good to others if I do not personally know or have a relationship with the One who is good? If I am not good, I cannot do good to anyone. God the Father ALONE is good! And it is only as we yield ourselves to Him and receive His life that we can know good from evil, and can then be an expression of His goodness to others.
Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing, the words I speak to you are spirit and life.” Brother and sisters, these are nearing the last verses of the Journey challenge. Though this challenge may be over for the year, God’s word is not! His word endures forever! Our flesh is weak, but the Spirit is WILLING! He greatly desires to make known to us Life on a Higher Plane—that is Life IN Jesus Himself! My prayer for all of us as we walk through 2016 is that we would humbly receive God’s Word implanted IN us which is able to save our souls. May He keep us in His love.