Outward clothing...or inward filling

One of the most powerful books written in the last twenty years is a short, terse volume entitled A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. Edwards weaves a heartsearching narrative around three kings of ancient Israel: Saul, David, and Absalom. Here is Chapter XV:

What kind of man was Saul? Who was this one who made himself David's enemy? Anointed of God. Deliverer of Israel. And yet remembered mostly for his madness

Forget the bad press. Forget the stinging reviews. Forget his reputation. Look at the facts. Saul was one of the greatest figures of human history. He was a farm boy, a real country kid. He was tall, good-looking and well-liked.

He was filled with the Spirit of God once he became king.

He also came from a good family, that is, in his lineage were some of the great historical figures of all mankind: Abraham, Israel, Moses, these were his ancestors.

Do you remember the background? Abraham had founded a nation. Moses had set that nation free from slavery. Joshua gave those people a toehold in the land which was promised to them by God. The judges kept the whole thing from disintegrating into total chaos. That's when Saul came along. It was Saul who took these people and welded them into a united kingdom.

Saul united a people and founded a kingdom. Few men have ever done that. He created an army out of thin air. He won battles in the power of God, defeated the enemy again and again, as few men ever have.

Remember that, and remember too that this man was immersed in the Spirit.

Furthermore he was a prophet. The Spirit came on him in power and authority. He did and said unprecedented things and it was all by the power of the Spirit resting on him.

He was everything men today are seeking to be:

Empowered by the Spirit
Able to do the impossible..for God
A leader, chosen by God with power from God.

Saul was given authority that is God's alone. He was God's anointed and God treated him that way.

He was also eaten with jealousy, capable of murder and willing to live in spiritual darkness.

Is there a moral in these contradictions? Yes, and it will splinter alot of your concepts about power, about great men under God's anointing, and about God Himself.

Many men pray for the power of God. More every year. Those prayers sound powerful, sincere, godly and without ulterior motive. Hidden under such prayer and fervor, however, are ambition, a craving for fame, the desire to be considered a spiritual giant.

The man who prays such prayers may not even know it, but such dark motives and desires are in his heart....in YOUR heart.

Even as men pray these prayers, they are hollow inside. There is little internal spiritual growth. Prayer for power is the quick and the short way, circumnavigating internal growth.

There is a vast difference between the outward clothing of the Spirit's power and the inward filling of the Spirit's life. In the first, despite the power, the hidden man of the heart may remained unchanged. In the latter, that monster is dealt with.

Interesting about God. He hears all those requests for power, which fervent men pray (in every generation) and He answers them!

Very often He grants those requests for power, for authority. Sometimes in answering them, he says "yes" to some very unworthy vessels.

Why does God do such a thing? The answer is both simple and shocking He sometimes gives unworthy vessels a greater portion of power so that it might eventually be revealed for all to see the true state of internal nakedness within that man.....

If you are young and have never seen such things, you may be certain that sometime in the next 40 years you will see.

Highly gifted and very powerful men....reputed to be leaders in the Kingdom of God, do some very dark and very ugly deeds.

What does this world need: Gifted men, outwardly empowered?

Or broken men, inwardly transformed?

Keep in mind that some of the men who have been given the very power of God have raised armies, defeated the enemy, brought forth mighty works of God, preached and prophesied with unparalleled power and eloquence....

And thrown spears,

And hated other men.

And attacked other men

And plotted to kill,

And prophesied naked.

And even consulted witches.

That's enough to make me want to fall on my face in repentance, crying out to God to completely transform every part of me.

How about you?


Gretchen Lavender said...

Phil, thank you for sharing that chapter. I had been working on a post myself about how spiritual leaders should keep their focus on God, but this guy, Gene Edwards, wow - he did such a better job! I think I just might start writing my post all over again:-)

ruthrap said...

just stopped in the catch up on your posts and to say "hello"