Many Aspire, Few Attain
1. Involvement in Spiritual Maturity Is Voluntary: Our Choice
Deuteronomy 20:8, “What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted, let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.”
2. Do Not Enter Unless You Plan to Win: Plan on giving your life totally to it. Plan on suffering persecution and ridicule from the devil and his demons directly, and indirectly by the lost and carnal Christians, who resent your dedication and scream “Condemnation!” and “No love.”
3. You can Sign a Peace Treaty with Satan and let him go his way while you go yours, at any time. Satan will hold the ladder for any individual to climb on the shelf and render himself less effective.
Some truths that will enable you to avoid failures:
I. SINGLE MINDEDNESS: Knowing and doing are two different things.
1. Deuteronomy 6:5
2. Psalm 27:4
3. James 1:3-8
4. Matthew 6:33 — SEEK, not “dabble” after
II. DESPISE SIN: Romans 12:9, “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” — Nauseates you.
— Especially the sins of mediocrity and failure
— All thoughts in private as well as those that come out in public
III. STAY HUNGRY FOR WORD: II Peter 2:2
— Jeremiah 15:16, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them…”
— Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
— Only chance of survival
IV. TRUST GOD: Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
— Many things one can do without trusting God, with- out faith — married, job, normal relatively happy life
— Hebrews 11:6
V. BURN BRIDGES BEHIND YOU: Luke 9:62, “…no man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
1. Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, burned ships, and all realized they were in Mexico for life and must win or die
2. Joshua, Jordan, and Jericho
3. Primarily in mental areas — education — ability — youth — vocational goals — career to be made
VI. AVOID INDEPENDENT SPIRIT:
1. Mavericks and loners want to serve God in their ways.
A. Today many Christians’ attitude is, “I am against spiritual authority and leadership, unless I am in authority and leadership.” They normally say, “Well, God is my Teacher. He can speak to me as easily as through someone else. After all, the Bible says we’re not to lord over the flock like little tin gods.”
— These usually stay angry at ones God uses and continually attack.
B. Bible: Numbers 16 shows this spirit. Argument Korah and Abiram gave Moses, “You take too much upon yourself. God can speak to us easily. We don’t need to follow you. We believe in the priesthood of the believers.” Desiring to be nonconformist, they create another kind of conformity. These don’t mind being called a servant, but don’t expect them to be a servant. Must have recognition and position to stay.
2. Be Wholehearted: II Chronicles 25:2, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart.”
— Usually shows up when faithfulness is required in doing that which you don’t like.
VII. FAITHFUL IN THE LITTLE THINGS: Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (i.e. unfaithful).
— Do all as unto the Lord, as promotion comes from God. (Psalm 75:6,7)
— How close do you have to be followed to get to do things? Some assignments belittle you.
VIII. REFUSE TO BECOME BITTER: Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
— The result of real or supposed ill treatment
— Self-pity is the other side of the coin
— Envy, jealousy, and bitterness — a competitive spirit. George Washington Carver, “I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate or re- sent him.”
IX. RECEIVE REBUKES: Hebrews 12:6, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son he receiveth.”
— Proverbs 9:8, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”
— I don’t mind God rebuking me, what I resent is other people rebuking me.
X. CONTINUALLY WALK BY FAITH: Exciting in the be- ginning but after the new and novelty wears off, most be- gin to desire to have some security. Begin to talk about how this and that needs to be emphasized..
— I have noticed that those whom faith is not really operating for are usually the fault finders.
XI. KEEP UP THE HEART FOR BATTLE: It is easy to be come tired of resisting the devil and pushing in to conquer and find a comfortable stopping place — a halfway house.
INTRODUCTION: In this book we will consider — Many aspire, but few attain. Everyone desires to be used mightily of the Lord, but not everyone is willing to pay the price. Everyone who finishes high school and starts college desires to have a college education, but not all are willing to pay the price, because along the way things might come between them and the desire they have.
God always has men and women who are more committed than others. Why is this so? It is necessary for them to be that committed, then they can help the others to come to maturity. Someone has to be more committed and more dedicated than the new Christians, in order to help them grow and mature.
The further you go with the Lord, the fewer the options. The more God requires of you, the more He expects of you. At the same time, because He requires more of you and expects more of you, because you’ve been serving Him longer, then you’re able to perform more maturely. Your life should be more in line with the Word of God; your testimony should be more effective and stronger, because you’ve had more time with the Lord.
It’s like a job. If you’ve been there five years the boss expects more of you than he does one who has been there a year. In college more is expected of a student who has been there for three years than is expected of a freshman. He has some foundations that enable him to take courses as a junior or senior that he could not handle as a freshman. The same principle is true concerning believers. Because you’ve been with the Lord longer, you are able to face things and take some courses that the new Christian is unable to assimilate and receive.
I believe every Christian desires and aspires to be faithful to God. Many people make a good start but a bad finish. Every Christian starts good. They all start as Christians, they’re born again, born of God; all have the same Spirit, all have the full potential of God, but not all finish the race. Most of them make a bad finish, because they’re not willing to pay the price to be diligent and persistent in the things of God.
There are a lot of “Christian casualties.” The reason God wants a greater number of believers to be strong in the Lord is to enable them to help the new Christians. Then there will not be so many casualties. Many of them will not get discouraged and disappointed, and the devil will not be able to defeat them, because they will be fed and helped by you (the mature Christian).
By your aspiring and attaining, there will be fewer “Christian casualties” in the body of Christ.
Romans 5:17 says that we are to reign in life through one, Jesus Christ. “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one…” Through the offense and disobedience of Adam, death has reigned. Death reigns in everybody because of one man’s sin. “…much more they which receive an abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” The Bible is saying here, it’s a surety that death has reigned, through Adam’s sin. Much more, what Jesus did overrules Adam’s sin; therefore, you and I can reign in life through Christ Jesus.
All Christians aspire and desire to reign in life, but not all attain. The Scripture says in Matthew, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures,” being ignorant of Satan’s devices, not being taught and trained in the things of God. God’s will is birthed in every believer, but most are not willing to make the dedication to remain faithful. It’s God’s will for EVERY Christian to be successful. God does not desire any of His children to fail or be defeated. It’s always His purpose and plan for every Christian to come to full maturity. If it were not it wouldn’t be a perfect plan, would it? And God is perfect in ALL of His ways. God therefore desires every one of His children to come to full maturity, full fruition.
This is the glorious thing concerning the plan of God. This is why every person can be excited when they come to Jesus, and know that God doesn’t have bad plans and good plans. He has great and glorious plans for every one of His children, but they need to be willing to follow the conditions and walk the way of the written Word of God.
Before we get into our study, there are three remarks I desire to make.
1. Involvement in spiritual maturity is voluntary. It is our choice. God doesn’t force anyone to sell out, it’s always voluntary. Deuteronomy 20:8 says, “What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.” If you’re fainthearted and you’re fearful, return to your house; because you’ll not only fall yourself but you will cause somebody else to fall.
Many times we don’t realize God’s army is a volunteer army; there are no draftees. God will never force you to sell out, He will never force you to go all the way. He will let you stop wherever you want to, or He’ll let you go as high as you want to go. The Bible says He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world (I John 4:4). We have within us the ability of God; therefore, the potential to go all the way is there. We CAN make a full commitment.
We must realize that involvement in spiritual maturity is voluntary. In other words, you are going to have to volunteer to submit yourself to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, to become a spiritually mature person. By an act of your volition you must desire to become spiritually mature. “Lord, I don’t want to stay a baby; I’m not going to stay sick — spiritually, physically, mentally, financially, or in any way. I volunteer, Lord. I submit myself, Lord, for You to do the work within me that will enable me to come to full fruition and full maturity.”
2. Do not enter unless you plan to win, because it’s a winning army. If you enter into the things of God, and you don’t plan to win, then I’ll tell you what will happen to you — you will be defeated. You will back up somewhere. At some point along the road you’ll find some requirements of God that you think are too demanding, or too imposing upon you. Therefore, at the entering in many aspire, but few attain.
Many of those who enter in don’t enter to win. They don’t enter in and say, “Lord, I’m going to pay the full price. Whatever price is required of me, God, for You to bring me to full maturity, I’m willing to pay. I volunteer. Lord, do in me whatever is necessary. Take out, put in, whatever is required for me to be the man or woman You want me to be.” Do not enter unless you plan to win. Plan on giving your life totally to Jesus Christ.
Plan on suffering persecution and ridicule from the devil and his demons (directly and indirectly), by the lost people and carnal Christians, who resent your dedication and scream, “Condemnation!” and “No love.” You see, the more you are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, the more you’ll find that the devil and carnal Christians will ridicule and mock you, and they will say you bring them under condemnation.
What they’re saying is that your going that far makes them look bad. When people begin to look bad they don’t like it. Pride rises up inside of them, and they get mad. They’re not willing to pay the price, therefore the devil through them is going to come against you to try to keep you from paying the price. Most Christians settle for less, because so many others are willing to settle for less.
The men and women who go on and are used of God pay a price. If you begin to confess to your brothers and sisters in the Lord, “I’m going all the way with the Lord, I’m committed to the Lord Jesus Christ,” and you begin to live a life that shows you’re laying aside a lot of things they’re not willing to lay aside, they will begin to come against you. The next thing you know they say, “Well, you bring me under condemnation. Every time I get around you, you’re so picky.” You’ve got to be picky if you’re going to be faithful to the Lord. You’ve got to be nit-picky, about everything you do and everything you say.
Desire to be a specialist — a specialist in the things of God. A man who is not dedicated in the area of being a specialist (in some secular field) will never make it. He doesn’t think it’s necessary to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. Many times as Christians we don’t think it’s necessary to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. It is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Why? Because God requires it. That’s what total commitment, that’s what dedication, is all about.
If you’re going to aspire and intend to attain — plan to win. Remember: Romans 5:17 says we’re to reign in life. Jesus has done enough, therefore we CAN aspire and we can WIN. At the same time realize when you go into it, it’s a battle. The devil is not going to roll over and play dead, and let you rise to full fruition. He’s going to try to shut you down every way in the world he can — problems, persecutions, etc. in order to stop you. He knows once you begin to see these things, and you begin to get your feet upon the solid rock, he can’t do anything with you.
I’ve taught this principle for years concerning faith. The devil doesn’t want you to learn faith. Once you learn faith and you learn how to believe God, Satan can’t do anything with you. He can’t shut you down. He can’t shut faith down. Once you learn faith, once you learn that God is the way, he can’t shut you down.
The only time we fail is when we shut ourselves down, because God has already said He wants us to REIGN and rule in life. He’s already said we’re more than conquerors. He’s already said we can do all things through Christ Jesus. He’s already said He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Therefore we can reign and rule in life. Saints, when you enter the race, plan to win.
3. You can sign a peace treaty with Satan and let him go his way while you go yours, at any time. Satan will hold the ladder in order for any individual to climb on the shelf and render himself less effective. You can sign a peace treaty with him at any point you want to slow up. Satan will sign a peace treaty with you, but be sure he won’t keep it.
There is only one way you can walk in victory — have him underneath your foot. His peace treaties are of no value at all. If you’ll slow up a little bit, he’ll back off. If you’ll quit plugging and digging, he’ll back off. There won’t be nearly as much pressure on you. He’ll give you some room, and let you get on the shelf. He’ll hold the ladder for you to get up, and then he’ll move the ladder. He’s a liar from the beginning. The Bible says he’s the father of the lie; he can’t tell the truth.
It’s naive for a Christian to think he can bargain with his enemy. You say, “Oh, Brother Willis, I don’t bargain with him.” If you slow up, you’re making a peace treaty with Satan. When the going gets rough and you back up a little bit, you make a peace treaty. What you’re saying is, “Hey, it’s getting a little too tough, a little too hard; I’m going to back up and get a little help from man.”
At that point you’re making a peace treaty with your enemy. And when you make a peace treaty with him, he’ll help you. You can be assured he’s just like the Russians — he’ll not keep it. They have one thing in mind — conquer the world. Their definition of the same words we use is completely different. The devil has one thing in mind, and that’s to conquer, kill and destroy.
Here are some truths that will enable you to avoid failures:
I. SINGLE MINDEDNESS: Single mindedness is necessary. Knowing what you ought to do, and doing it, are two totally different things.
1. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Love the Lord thy God how much? With ALL thy heart, ALL thy soul, ALL thy might. The world says, “How can I do that? I love my wife and love my kids.” If you love Him with all your heart and all your soul and all your might, what are your wife and your kids going to get? Through Him it will bounce back and they will get some of that love.
Many people want to be dedicated, love their family, and love God. Listen, He doesn’t want part of your love; He wants ALL of it. You say, “Brother Willis, do you love your wife? Sure I do; but I love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my might. Why? Because He said so. Where does she fit in? I don’t know; but she’s in there. What God is saying is, you love to the extent that if it comes to a decision between someone else and God, it’s no decision — God always wins.
Even when I pastored a Baptist church I said, “I love my wife and children, but if it would come to a choice between them and God, they’re not in the race.” If I’m that way about God, then He’s going to help take care of everything for me.
2. Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”
3. James 1:3-8 says we’re not to be doubleminded but singleminded. A doubleminded person is unstable in ALL his ways.
4. Matthew 6:33 says to seek first the kingdom of God — not “dabble after” it. This word “seek” means with intense desire, with a hunger for, a cherishing to have — not just to dabble after. I’m not trying to be hard or harsh, but there is very little dedication in the body of Christ today. If there were more dedication, there would be a much more mature level of Christianity.
God always has some who will dedicate themselves to a greater degree. It only took one to lead two and a half million people out of Egypt: Moses. It only takes ONE to bring a great revival. It can be you; it can be me. But we have to realize one of the necessary things is to be singleminded.
Your confession must be: “I’m going to follow God. I’m going to obey His Word; I’m going to walk with Him diligently and faithfully.”
II. DESPISE SIN: Many aspire but few attain. If you’re going to attain you’ll have to despise sin. Romans 12:9 says, “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” It means that sin should nauseate you. Whenever you disobey God’s Word and say something you shouldn’t say, or act some way you shouldn’t act, it should nauseate you. You should be so conscious of your desire to please God, that whenever you do something wrong, even if you’re in a public place, inside you say, “Oh, God, forgive me; it was evil, that was wicked of me.”
Too many times we want to baby and pamper and pet sin. We try to excuse it and try to justify it, when the Bible says to abhor it. Literally, it means to hate it, despise it. Why? Because sin will keep you from attaining; it will destroy your fellowship with God. It will keep you from maturing in the things of God. You’ll never be able to walk in the victory that God wants you to unless you realize sin is against God. This will cause you to abhor it.
Especially the sins of mediocrity and failure. You need to say, “Oh, God, forgive me for failing. Lord, You’ve already given me victory at Calvary — forgive me, Lord; I failed. I couldn’t hold to Your Word, I couldn’t hold to Your promise — forgive me, God.” If you don’t realize failing (when it comes to God’s Word) is sin, you have the door open to failure.
“Brother Willis, you mean we’ve got to be victory-conscious?” Yes! “What do you do?” I repent of it. I confess it as sin, because the Bible says He that is in me is GREATER than he that is in the world. The Bible says I can do ALL things. The Bible says I ALWAYS triumph; the Bible says I’m MORE than a conqueror. Therefore, according to the Word of God, there is no room for failure. Man likes to give room for it, and then the devil HAS room.
All thoughts that are sin, in private as well as those that come out in public, must be despised, and dealt with. Whenever you begin to think negatively, contrary to the Bible, or think bad about someone, wrong about someone, you must despise it. If a negative thought comes to your mind about some brother or sister, you’ve got to say, “Oh, God, forgive me. Lord, it was evil for me to think that way about him or her.” You have to despise it. “Why, Brother Willis?” The Word of God says that as you are faithful in the little things (your private life), He can give you greater responsibility.
How many Christians are attaining? Not many! They always think it’s not necessary; they always think it’s requiring too much. Listen, brothers and sisters, God is not requiring too much. The blessings are well worth it. Many times the flesh doesn’t want to pay the price.
III. STAY HUNGRY FOR THE WORD:
I Peter 2:2 says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow, because the Word is going to help you to grow.
Jeremiah 15:16, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them…”
Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
The only chance of survival is to stay hungry for the Word. If you don’t stay hungry for the Word, you can’t last; you’ll get weak. The Word of God will feed you. The Word is your way of survival. The more knowledge you have of the Word, the more wise you are in the ways of God, the more wise you are about the devil. Therefore it is necessary to stay hungry for the Word.
IV. TRUST GOD: You will have to trust God, not just have a vocalizing trust in God. Let your life prove it. Many people say, “I trust God,” but their life doesn’t demonstrate it.
Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with ALL thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
There are many things one can do without trusting God, without faith. You can get married, and not trust God. You can keep a job, you can live a normal, relatively happy life, without faith and without trust in God. There are a lot of Christians doing it. They’re living a normal, relatively happy life, without trusting God.
It’s easy to say you trust God. But it’s something else to live it. Many cannot truly attain because they don’t really trust God. They talk about trusting God, but they’re continually leaning upon the arm of the flesh, and looking to the ways of the world. They say, “Oh, we believe God for everything,” but in actuality they’re not doing it.
Hebrew 11:6 tells us God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
V. BURN BRIDGES BEHIND YOU: Since you’re aspiring, and you want to attain, you must burn the bridges behind you.
Luke 9:62 says, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
1. Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, and burned the ships. At that point everyone realized they were in Mexico for life; therefore, they must win or die. That is a true story. He came from Spain, and when they landed he sent some men back to the ships to set them on fire. He knew if it got tough they would run back to the sea, back to the ships, and head toward home.
2. Joshua. When they crossed the Jordan River, it closed behind them, and the Israelites had no ditches and no boats. It was take Jericho or die. You’ve got to burn YOUR bridges behind you. Many times the reason you can’t attain is because when the devil makes it hot for you, you run back to the arm of the flesh. It is absolutely necessary to burn your bridges behind you.
3. Primarily in the mental areas you must burn your bridges — trusting in your education, trusting in your ability, trusting in your youth, or in your vocational goals, or your career. Burn the bridges behind you. You say, “But Brother Willis, I’m out there in the world; God wants me to be successful.” Then just wait for Him to provide for you while you’re successful with Him. God must be first. “But Brother Willis, I want to succeed out there.” Where do you want to succeed the most — in the world, or with God? If you succeed with God you have a guarantee of success in the world, because it says seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added.
VI. AVOID INDEPENDENT SPIRIT:
1. Mavericks and loners want to serve God in their ways.
A. Today many Christians’ attitude is, “I am against spiritual authority and leadership, unless I am in authority and leadership.” Give most of those who rebel against authority a position, and they’ll change at the snap of your fingers.
A lot of them say, “Well, GOD is my teacher. He can speak to me as easily through someone else. After all, the Bible says we’re not to lord over the flock like little tin gods.” These are some of the words of those who do not want to submit to authority. They’re not a part of the body of Christ. They go their own way; they’re going to walk their own way — they have independent spirits.
B. The Bible. Numbers 16 reveals this spirit. The argument Korah and Abiram gave Moses is a good example. “You take too much upon yourself, God can speak to us just as easily. We don’t need to follow you.” These were the words spoken to Moses. “We believe in the priesthood of the believers” — is what they were basically saying. Desiring to be nonconformist, they created another kind of conformity.
An independent spirit desires to be independent, so he creates his own kind of conformity. He says, “Well, I don’t want to conform; I don’t want to be a yes-man or a yes-person, therefore I will create my own kind of conformity.” These don’t mind being CALLED a servant, but don’t expect them to BE a servant. They must have recognition and position. What are we talking about? People with independent spirits. They’ll not stick around long if you don’t give them recognition, if you don’t give them prestige, if you don’t give them position, if you don’t give them jobs. They will not submit to authority.
2. Be wholehearted. II Chronicles 25:2, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the lord, but not with a perfect heart.” This usually shows up when faithfulness is required in doing that which you don’t like. We’re talking about avoiding an independent spirit. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart.”
A lot of times you can do things and still be grumbling and mumbling. A lot of people come week after week and hear teaching, and walk out mumbling and griping about it. They’re doing a good thing, but not with a perfect heart. Some of them will sit around a church for years, and walk out the door and have roasted preacher for dinner. Then they wonder why God doesn’t bless them.
VII. FAITHFUL IN THE LITTLE THINGS: We are talking about — Many aspire and few attain. Why don’t they attain? They’re not faithful in the little things. Luke 16:10 says, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
When you find a person who is not faithful in the little things, he’ll not be faithful in greater things. If God can’t get you to be faithful now, to sit and learn, you can’t be faithful in leadership. When I taught the book of Joshua I taught about the preparation phase. It takes faithfulness to sit and learn, to bring you to any place of leadership.
Do all things as unto the Lord, as promotion comes from God — Psalm 75:6,7.
How close do you have to be followed to get you to do things? Do some assignments belittle you? How close does your boss have to follow you out there on the job? Does he have to “bird-dog” you to get you to work? Well, if he has to “bird-dog” you out there, when it comes to God’s work you’ll have to be “bird-dogged” to do God’s work. If you’ve got that spirit, it will manifest itself everywhere.
Ladies, if you have to be bird-dogged by your husband to get the housework done, you can’t do anything for God. If you have to be bird-dogged to get the house straightened, or bird-dogged to wash the dishes because company is coming, etc., if you’re not faithful in the little things then you can’t be faithful in big things. Realize, faithfulness in the little things is a necessity if you plan to attain.
You will not get promoted if you’re not faithful in the little things. Why? Because the boss can’t trust you. If he can’t trust you to do little things, how can he put you over something big? If God can’t trust you to be faithful to just sit, and study, and meditate the Word, then how can He trust you in a leadership position? How can He trust you OVER the people, when you won’t even be faithful to sit and learn? You’re not even faithful to meditate the Word while you’re learning.
If you are not even faithful to be a good Christian while you’re learning, God can’t put you in a place of authority, because of your lack of faithfulness. You’ve got holes in your armor, and it will eventually show up in a greater way. A man must be faithful to minister to two, or three, as much as he would to 500. Most people say, “Boy, if I had 500 or 600, I could be faithful.” No; if they can’t be faithful to sit and learn, they can’t be faithful there either. That same spirit is there. It doesn’t leave.
If you’re going to be unfaithful to yourself, how can you really be faithful to others? You’ll do it for a season; then you’ll fizzle. The devil knows it; therefore he’ll put much pressure on you. Be faithful in the little things; otherwise you’ll not attain.
It’s those who falter in the little things that never attain to the greater things. It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. Really, in Christians it’s not the big sins, it’s not cussing that keeps them from attaining. It’s not drinking, it’s not adultery, it’s not beating their wife — yet they fail, they don’t mature. Then what is it? It’s unfaithfulness. We would call it one of the “hidden sins.” They’re not hidden from God; it’s the hidden thoughts of their minds, their unfaithfulness, in areas that most people don’t pay attention to.
VIII. REFUSE TO BECOME BITTER: Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” “Brother Willis, I desire to be faithful to God; how can I become bitter?” When you don’t get that promotion you think you ought to have; you don’t get the recognition you think you ought to have.
A lot of people have left the Christian Teaching Center bitter at me, because I didn’t give them recognition or do what they thought they should have had. You know, if God thought they should have had it, He could have gotten it to them without me. Faith always gets what you believe you receive.
Every Christian has some battles with bitterness. You say, “Brother Willis, why is this so important to me?” What you’re saying is, you believe God wants to use you. As God begins to use you, many who are not willing to pay the price that you’re paying will get resentful at you. You’ll be going to Bible College two or three nights a week and being diligent, and when you get around those who are not doing it and start talking about it, they don’t like you. They’ll get a little resentful of you. They don’t want to hang around you. If they find out you’re going to Bible College all the time, and they’re not going, they’ll tell you it puts them under condemnation.
You need to be aware of these things, because it can cause you to get bitter. Someone will get a blessing and you won’t — you can get bitter. Someone will get that car, get that raise, get that house — watch the bitterness.
Bitterness comes as the result of real or supposed ill treatment. It can be real or it can be supposed, just an imagination of the mind. You’ll have to learn these things if you plan to go into leadership, because you can easily get bitter.
Self-pity is the other side of bitterness. Bitterness is hidden under self-pity.
Envy, jealousy, bitterness, and a competitive spirit — all work together. When someone is envious, or jealous, or bitter at you, they’re bitter because you are more faithful or more dedicated or receiving something. They don’t think you’re doing this or that, or they’re envious because you’re receiving something or they’re jealous of something you have — that’s a competitive spirit. What they’re saying is, “I ought to have that, too.” As you go on with God and become faithful, this is what will happen.
Listen to what George Washington Carver said. “I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate or resent him.” He was smart! Many people fail today because of bitterness, self-pity, resentment, envy, or jealousy. All of these are branches off the same tree.
IX. RECEIVE REBUKES: Remember: We’re talking about many aspire and few attain. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
Proverbs 9:8 says, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” Many people say this: “I don’t mind God rebuking me; what I resent is other people rebuking me.” “If God rebukes me it’s all right; but, Brother Willis, don’t you do it. Who do you think you are?” God knows that; that’s why, many times, He will have a man of God rebuke you — to check your temperature. If that thing is down inside of you, it will rise up; it will “get your goat.”
“Brother Willis, how do you know all this?” I’ve been there! That’s why I don’t rebuke very many men; most of them can’t take it. I’ve found very few who can accept rebuke. That’s why I just minister strongly from the pulpit. When most men come to talk to you about something, they don’t really want you to be honest, because if you tell them the truth about it they’ll think you’re against them. This is very important, because many men fail because they can’t take a rebuke.
What does it say in Proverbs 9:8? “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” I’ve found some who have been rebuked, and they’re wise, and they love me. They appreciate it, because they’re hungry. They want to learn, they want to grow, they want to mature. Normally an independent spirit in a person’s life will never let them accept correction or rebuke.
X. CONTINUALLY WALK BY FAITH: It’s exciting in the beginning, but after the new and novelty wears off, most begin to desire to have some security. They begin to talk about how this and that needs to be emphasized.
I have noticed that those for whom faith is not really operating are usually the fault finders. The ones who criticize the “full faith message” are usually the ones it’s not working for. The ones who water down divine healing usually can’t get their own healing. They failed somewhere, therefore they have to justify their failure, they have to justify their excuses. Realize: if you’re going to attain, you’ll have to continually walk by faith.
XI. KEEP UP THE HEART FOR BATTLE: It is easy to become tired of resisting the devil and pushing in to conquer, and find a comfortable stopping place — a halfway house. You might ask, “Do you ever get tired? Studying all the time, pushing and staying with it?” Keep up the heart for battle. The devil keeps the pressure on all the time.
I can remember when God began to show me the fact that we are conquerors. I said, “Lord, what does a conqueror do?” He said, “He takes territory.” I said, “Lord, if I’m always going out taking territory, that means I’ve got to be attacking the devil and everything he stands for.” He said, “Yes; that’s why most of my people don’t mature.” They go out as conquerors, but they want to stay on R & R (rest and relaxation) most of the time.
You know what a little resting time is for? Just long enough for you to rest, regroup, and go back and fight. Do you ever get tired of studying all the time, meditating in the Scriptures? And after a while you say, “Aw, well, I’ve got a bunch of other things to do”? The devil always has something more exciting and more encouraging for you to do. He knows that you’ll find you a resting place.
“How do you know, Brother Willis?” I’ve had that temptation many times. I’ve seen a lot of times, in past years, I wanted to rest and relax for a while. I’ve got my faith out all the time. I stay in the Word all the time; I can’t take a break. Many times the body and the mind say, “Now you deserve a rest; look how faithful you’ve been all these years, believing God.” That doesn’t mean you don’t take a break, but I’ll tell you what — I don’t take it for long. I can’t afford to. You take an R & R very long, and the devil will take the territory.
Saints, keep up the heart for the battle, and you can attain and win.