Here is a word that came to my heart in a recent discussion with my wife Carolyn.
If you follow someone real closely as Elisha followed Elijah you can receive impartations from them that can be life changing and ministry altering, but you can also receive error from them. Be careful how closely you follow someone. Follow the Lord closely. Listen to the Lord while men speak. Many ministers may teach and preach truth 90% of the time (even that is a stretch), but it’s the 10% that can throw you off. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU FOLLOW, WHAT YOU HEAR AND READ
I know of a man who was a great apostle to his nation, but he began associating with some people who subtly twisted the Scriptures and over a long period of time this man converted to Roman Catholicism. It was difficult to believe that this minister who was once mightily anointed by God would revert back to dead religion. I came out of Roman Catholicism and was never taught the Word of God. Basic doctrines of Christ such as repentance from dead works and faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, and laying of hands, etc. (Heb. 6:1-2) were never taught. I was never given an opportunity to be born again or baptized in the Holy Spirit. I never saw anyone healed or delivered. I never even saw anyone carry a Bible or read a Bible in the RC church. I’m convinced that a seducing spirit got ahold of this minister and deceived him.
I also remember hearing of another man who was a great soul winner, but then he started reading a book about the kind of diet God prescribed to Israel in the Old Testament and what they could eat and couldn’t eat. Soon he became consumed with it, and began to preach and teach on it. He lost his ability to win souls and his ministry ended up on the spiritual junk heap all because of a book he read.
Although our Christian culture is filled with good books, there are also many self-help books, motivational books, and spiritual junk food with doctrinal tangents containing unsound, unscriptural practices. In my 30 years of preaching the gospel I’ve witnessed extreme teachings on prayer and spiritual warfare, angels and demons, personal prophecy, and many other such topics. It seems there is a boredom with the basics of the Bible and a constant insatiable desire for something new. Be careful who you follow and what you hear and read.
THE ENVIRONMENT CAN ALSO AFFECT YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE
Even the environment and sometimes the city or region you live in can affect your spiritual life to a great degree. For instance, there was much sexual immorality in the city of Corinth that infiltrated and began to defile the early church (1 Cor. 7). They became promiscuous.
My wife and I knew of a godly couple, Mr. and Mrs. X, along with their children who moved to Dallas, Texas years ago. The entrepreneurial spirit that is prevalent in cities like Dallas got ahold of Mr. X and he began chasing the money. Soon his spiritual life dried up and undue stress and strife entered into his marriage sadly ending in divorce. They started out with such a purity and a love for the Lord with a genuine calling on their lives to serve Him in the gospel, but the spirit of mammon spoiled their early innocence and ruined their marriage. Tragic.
In Tulsa where I went to Bible school there is a political spirit in the body of Christ there as ministers seek to build their churches and ministries at any cost. Much envy, strife, and division exists there from the competition between churches. Lack of true accountability and ministerial ethics, moral failure, greed and covetousness, and a spirit of control have tainted so many ministries and works in that city. I have friends who live there that have witnessed horrible things being done in the name of Christ that are appalling and unbecoming to the kingdom of God.
Although there are many good and reputable ministries that live in the city and have come out of that city and produced much blessing, the political spirit has infected many lives and churches and caused damage to the body of Christ there. Callings have been corrupted and motives tainted by the bigness and politicking of churches and organizations. Many ministers have become money minded and lost the anointing. The tragedy is that many don’t even know it, but continue on with business as usual.
Furthermore, in such cities where there are so many churches and ministries it becomes quite easy to slip into something the Lord has not called you to do and even intrude into an office you’re not called to and thus shorten your life. Add to that, the many believers who sit under pastors who are very controlling and quench the Spirit, affecting entire congregations, and some of them don’t even realize how dry they are.
In assemblies where the Holy Spirit is not allowed to manifest Himself you can dry up and stall in your spiritual race where you reach a ceiling of limitation and confinement in your life and calling. It is the moving of the Holy Spirit that renews us and makes everything new, fresh, and alive again.
Teaching is very important as Jesus did more teaching than anything else, but we must also be mindful that the letter kills; it is the Spirit that gives life. The apostle Paul prayed for utterance so that Christ would be made manifest (Col. 4:3-4). He always purposed to preach the Word, not with enticing words of man’s speech, but in demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God, so that people’s faith would not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:4-5).
These are examples of environments, associations, and ceilings that affect our spiritual lives and callings.
RELEVANCE OR THE POWER OF GOD
Today there are many churches who are more interested in being relevant to draw people into the congregation and not offend them than they are to follow the plan of God as laid forth in the Scriptures. God’s plan is that His people would be a Spirit filled people who demonstrate the supernatural.
Many churches have toned down on the supernatural and are not allowing the Holy Spirit to move. Some no longer even allow the public use of speaking in tongues, but seem ashamed of it, when many of our young people are actually intrigued and fascinated by it.
Understand this: Whenever the supernatural ceased to operate in Israel of old they returned to idolatry and heathenism. And they only got back into relationship with Jehovah after a series of stunning supernatural manifestations. I see the same type of thing happening today in many churches.
I conclude with a word for the wise. Don’t get stuck. Don’t get in a rut. Don’t dry up. Watch your spiritual diet. Watch your spiritual associations. Be careful who you follow. Make sure they have a strong base in the Word and are sound in doctrine. They must also be men of proven character who are filled with the Spirit and allow Him to move in the corporate assembly.