In the last episode of this three-part series, pastors Derek and Cliff discuss the causes of and cures for spiritual sickness.
Derek: Welcome to With All Wisdom, where we are applying biblical truth to everyday life. My name is Derek Brown. I am here today with Cliff McManis. We are both pastors and elders at Creekside Bible Church in Cupertino, California and professors of theology at the Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary in Vallejo, California. And this is part three of our series on the signs of spiritual sickness. And we would encourage you to go back and listen to episodes 57 and 58 to get caught up on what we’ve said so far. We talked about what are not signs of spiritual sickness. We’ve talked about signs of spiritual sickness, and now we are into the causes of spiritual sickness. Before we get back into our topic, I just want to remind you to check out withallwisdom.org—lots of great resources there. Each one is rooted in God’s Word in design to help you grow in your walk with the Lord. That’s what we want to help you to do—grow in your discernment, grow in your walk with the Lord, grow in your love for him. And so we try to take our resources and make them applicable to you. Taking the truth and applying it really is our theme here at With All Wisdom. And we hope that those resources are helping you do just that. So back to our topic, Cliff. We were right in the middle of talking about causes of spiritual sickness. And we said that wrong thinking is really the root of just about everything else. And along with that unbelief, these two causes are, you could say, maybe the deepest roots of all these other symptoms of spiritual sickness. They can be traced back to wrong thinking and unbelief. Another one I want to mention along with those two is unconfessed sin. Unconfessed sin can lead to spiritual sickness. And I say that because of Proverbs 28:13, [which says] “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” So we won’t prosper spiritually if we are hiding sin or not confessing it, keeping it to ourself, trying to guard it. And sometimes we can confess it to just the Lord and that’s adequate. But sometimes we need to confess to the Lord and confess it to someone else if we’ve sinned against them or if we need help with a particular sin. And it says here that whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper. They’re going to lead to spiritual ill health. But the one who confesses and forsakes then will obtain mercy. The grace and mercy of God will be flowing again through that person’s life. And they’re going to get back to some spiritual health. But unconfessed sin, concealed sin—you’re not going to do well spiritually.
Cliff: Yeah, don’t hide it because you can’t hide it, ultimately.
Derek: That’s right.
Cliff: That’s Hebrews 4. God says he sees everything.I mean, David was a believer. He loved God, and he wrote about his own testimony of not confessing his sin and how it just tormented him. So just a couple verses. In Psalm 32, when he committed adultery and he basically committed murder, and he’s trying to hide all this. And then he looks back and realizes in Psalm 32, “How blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven. How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” And then he says, “When I kept silent about my sin”— he was hiding his sin—”my body wasted away.” He’s talking about his physical body. Guilt was overwhelming him—through my groaning all day long, for day and night. God’s hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was drained away. Finally, I acknowledged my sin to you, God, and my iniquity. And then he was liberated and forgiven. So this probably went on for months of just being tormented under the weight of guilt from trying to hide from his sin.
Derek: And Psalm 51 also recounts his confession of sin to God. And it’s interesting how he confesses it. He says, “Lord, create in me a clean heart and cleanse me.” And then he says, “I’ll teach transgressors your ways.” There needed to be some spiritual health in order to then be an evangelist, so to speak. And it came from that confession of sin that you mentioned in Psalm 32. It was actually also affecting his physical health.
Cliff: Yes. Which is remarkable. This is also in James 5—believers in the congregation, some might have physical sickness because of unconfessed sin, which was in 1 Corinthians 11 as well, at communion.
Derek: Yeah. Well, that’s true, too. Alright, this next one here. This is interesting because we actually mentioned the lack of a desire to be with other believers as a sign of spiritual sickness. That can also be a cause. Let me explain to you what I mean. So this is another cause—lack of corporate worship and fellowship can actually lead to more spiritual sickness, and it can lead to a lack of desire to be with God’s people. It’s something that perpetuates itself when you are not being diligent in fellowshipping with other believers and going to corporate worship to hear the Word, to sing with the saints, to fellowship with the saints. That’s going to lead to a lack of desire to do that, which is going to lead to more lack of desire, that is just going to continue to feed itself and perpetuate the problem. So lack of corporate worship and fellowship is a cause of spiritual sickness, and the lack of desire. It can also be a sign. So we want to be clear that it can be a kind of cycle.
Cliff: It is. It’s a vicious cycle.
Derek: And so again, back to Hebrews—the author of Hebrews makes this so clear. Spiritual health is tied to our being vitally connected to the body of Christ.Paul uses the analogy of the body to talk about how we are united to one another in 1 Corinthians 12—that we are all members of one body. And the interesting thing about a body is that in the physical body, when I look at your hands or your feet or your arms, Cliff, everything looks fine. Everything looks normal. And this is a little gruesome, but it proves the point. If we were to walk outside and we saw a severed foot on the ground, we would know something is desperately wrong. Not because a foot is bad, but because a foot is not attached to a body. It needs to be attached to a body or it looks grotesque. Similar kind of thing. When a Christian is detached from the body, they begin to start to look grotesque. And we’ve seen this a lot. People will take on weird views; they’ll become more proud and arrogant. They will resist your counsel. They will begin to just fill their lives with sinful patterns. It’s just, it’s not good.
Cliff: No. They live in their own myopic little world, shielded away from accountability and objectivity and basic health. God describes the church as the body. So we need each other. We can’t be isolated. God also describes the church as a family, many members, and also as a temple. You’re one of many stones. So those corporate analogies just talk about how important this is—as being with the fellowship.
Derek: Here’s the next one. Just like the physical body, when you lack proper nutrition, you’re going to be unhealthy. You’re going to be susceptible to illnesses. And it’s the same with our spiritual lives, poor spiritual nutrition—Bible, prayer, hearing the Word of God, reading the Word of God, being in communion with God, feasting on really solid books and really solid sermons and even podcasts and other forms of edification. And you might be thinking, I’m listening to stuff and I’m reading stuff. Well, you could be listening to and reading junk food. That’s possible. And so we’re not just talking about any spiritual nutrition as though just any sermon or any podcast or any devotional is going to be helpful. We’re talking about solid, good, trustworthy truth that is being conveyed by a skilled teacher. We’re talking about getting into the Bible for yourself, feasting on it, listening to the Word of God, going to corporate worship and hearing it. If that’s not happening, then you’re going to be spiritually anemic and sick.
Cliff: And this is another one of those. This is a cause of spiritual sickness and a symptom.
Derek: Yep. That’s right. So that, again, is another one that perpetuates itself and that’s why Bible reading needs to be a discipline and not just something you do when you feel like it. Because you leave it off, and that begins to perpetuate itself and you lose the taste and the desire.
Cliff: You said when you don’t feel like it. I would imagine that a lot of Christians who get in that rut who don’t read their Bible regularly, if you were to ask them, why don’t you read it regularly? “I don’t feel like it.” That’s probably their answer. And I’d say most of the time, spiritual health has nothing to do with how you feel. You could eat Twinkies and chocolate milk every day, all day, because you don’t feel like eating vegetables and healthy food and eight glasses of water. And so a lot of the disciplines that are good for us in the Christian life are not about feeling. They’re about obedience. And that’s where we get in trouble. I don’t feel like doing it. Well, it’s not about feeling. It’s what is right. What is obedient, what pleases God. And you have to act on obedience and not on feeling and emotion.
Derek: And the health and the blessing is going to come through that disciplined practice of obedience to God’s Word.
Cliff: Yeah. Well in intersecting this, I have a question for you, Derek. It’s similar to one of your verses. First Peter two, verse two—this is a command. Peter is talking to Christians like newborn babes. Every Christian, in a respect, is like a newborn babe. Meaning we need one thing for spiritual health—we long for pure milk. The pure milk of the Word of God. That’s biblical truth. Long for it, desire it. Take it in. Verse two goes on to say, “So newborn babes long for the pure milk of the Word of God.” That’s what he’s talking about. So that by it, as you intake the truth of God’s Word on a regular, constant basis, you may grow in respect to salvation. This is how we grow—by taking in God’s Word. We’ll become anorexic, spiritually, if we don’t have a regular intake of God’s Word. It’s a command—long for; desire. And it’s a hard thing to think about. Well, I don’t desire it. I don’t feel like it. Well, you need to desire it. You need to feel like it. I mean that’s what he’s saying. How come you’re not reading your Bible? I don’t feel like it. Well, you need to feel like it. Yeah, but I don’t feel like it. But you need to feel like it. How can somebody make you feel like doing something? And I think that’s a common predicament Christians get into. I don’t feel like doing it. What do I do about that? Well, one thing you can do is do what David did in Psalm 51, referring to when he realized how sin got him in trouble. And he makes an interesting statement there. He’s talking to God and he says, God, you desire truth on the inside. This is what you desire for me. You desire that. I have your desires, but I don’t have your desires. And so David goes on to pray and ask God, give me your desires. That’s where it starts. If you don’t feel like reading the Bible, then the place you have got to start is you have got to ask God. God, give me the desires. Give me your desires. Cause I don’t have them.
Derek: Yeah, that’s good.
Cliff: So you have got to turn it into a prayer request and plead with God. Give me your desires, because Jesus said the same thing. You need to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Well, what if you don’t feel like it? Well, you need to ask God, and confess your sin. Soften my heart. Give me your desires. Plead with God. He’ll answer that prayer if you’re sincere. If you pray specifically, and you trust him, he will answer that prayer. He will create a desire in you. That’s why David said, renew in me a desire. That’s holy and it has to come from you.
Derek: Right. And, I can tell you from experience, God answers that prayer. Those are godly prayers. Those are the prayers that God loves to answer. Because they’re going to be wonderful for you and they’re going to bring him all kinds of glory, because you’re going to be worshipful and obedient. And so that’s an excellent reminder. We’re so dependent upon the Lord. It’s interesting, I’ve been preaching through Hebrews, and when you come to chapter five, prior to that is chapter four where he talks about going to the throne of grace. And that is so important to his argument because all these warnings could really shake you up. Well, they’re not meant to draw you into yourself. They’re meant to draw you back to the Lord, crying out to him at the throne of grace. And he answers your prayers. And those prayers that you just mentioned—give me the desire for righteousness, for reading your Word, for walking in obedience. God’s going to answer those prayers. Next is what I call unchecked pride. And the reason why I say this causes spiritual sickness is because it’s tied to the unbelief one that we mentioned earlier. And let me tell you where I’m getting this. In John 5:44, Jesus makes a rhetorical question to the Jewish leaders. They were going back and forth and he was saying to them that you study the Scriptures because you think in them, you have life. You search them, but you refuse to come to me, the very one who can give you life. And I’m standing right here, but you refuse to come to me. And he goes on to talk about the reason why they don’t come to him is because he doesn’t seek his own glory. But if someone else comes in his own name seeking his own glory, they’ll go after him. But they don’t like Jesus because he’s humble and he requires humility in his followers. And then he makes this rhetorical question, which I think is applicable to the Jewish leaders at the time who were unconverted, but also I think it’s a principle that carries over for the Christian. He said, how can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? And so with that rhetorical question, the answer is, well, you can’t believe in Christ when you’re seeking your own glory. And that was for them in their unconverted state. So long as they had a love affair with the praise of men, they would not be able to believe in Jesus as Christians. Though we do have saving faith, I do think faith can be hampered and hindered as we let the love of the praise of men grow up in our hearts. I just think that’s a principle you can take home from this verse. How can you believe, Christian, when you are cultivating pride and the love of the praise of men and trying to get glory from people and leveraging your life to get more and more attention from others, whoever those others might be, whether it’s your boss or people in the church or whatever? So long as you’re cultivating a love for the praise of men, you’re not going to be able to believe in Christ, at least fully. Yes, you are a Christian, but your faith is really going to be hindered if you cultivate this love of the praise of man. So that’s why I say unchecked pride can be a cause of spiritual sickness, because it’s going to hinder faith and everything flows from faith. If we’re not believing, if we’re lacking faith, we’re going to lack thankfulness. Our love for God and others is going to decrease; our love for the world’s going to increase. Religious hypocrisy, and so on. So it flows from faith. And faith can be hindered by pride.
Cliff: That was on my list. What causes spiritual sickness? Pride.
Derek: Yep. Great.
Cliff: And this is a fundamental, basic sin. This is the first sin committed. This was Satan and then the snake appealing to pride.
Derek: And, again, it’s important to me that John 5:44 has been so helpful in my own Christian life, because I can see it. I can see that if I’m cultivating or enjoying the praise of men, my walk with the Lord begins to tank and I need to repent. And when I repent and I begin to be thankful to the Lord and just content in him and just content with walking with him and doing whatever he’s laid out for me to do and not needing the praise of men, things are good. And so this has been a very helpful verse for me in my own walk with the Lord. And I’m encouraged to hear that that was one for you, too. Because another verse that you could think of is God is opposed to the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. And so if God is opposing you in your Christian life because you’re cultivating pride, then you can’t expect to be spiritually healthy. Another one is a defiled conscience. And I’m getting this from 1 Timothy 1:19. Paul says in verse 19 that Timothy is to hold faith in a good conscience.He’s been previously exhorting him and encouraging him in his ministry. And he says in verse 18, “This charge I entrust you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare in holding faith in a good conscience.” And then he says this: “By rejecting this, some have made a shipwreck of their faith.” And then he goes on to mention those who had apparently made a shipwreck of their faith. Well, how did that happen? Well, apparently it had something to do with him not keeping a good conscience, because faith can’t flourish in a defiled conscience. And when faith can’t flourish and you’re not doing something about your defiled conscience, it’s going to cause spiritual sickness inevitably. And a key to spiritual health is maintaining a good conscience, confessing your sin, acting with integrity, repenting when you haven’t, making sure that you’re confessing your sin to others if you’ve wronged them or if you need to. And keeping that conscience clean and clear. And you will find that your faith flourishes. You’ll find that you’ll be spiritually healthy. You’ll have inward spiritual strength and vigor, and without it you are in danger of making shipwreck of your faith.
Cliff: Yep. Protecting your conscience. Don’t sin against your conscience.
Cliff: That’s dangerous. Protect your conscience. If there’s something in doubt about a TV show or a movie, don’t watch it. Don’t subject yourself to that. That defiles your conscience. It deadens your conscience.
Derek: And it’s totally worth it, by the way. It is totally worth it to maintain a good conscience and to not partake in the thing that you are doubting. Like you said, don’t sin against your conscience. If you doubt, don’t partake. And I’ve never in my life, I’ve never looked back and gone, oh, I obeyed my conscience. I didn’t do the thing that I was doubting and I left with a good conscience. I’ve never looked back and regretted that decision. I haven’t looked back and been, oh, I wish I would’ve watched that show. No, the good conscience always wins out in terms of a superior pleasure. And so this is something that we have to maintain as Christians. That clean and clear conscience comes by confession of sin. So number eight—and then that’s the end of my list and I’ll see if you have any—but number eight, I said is greediness, stinginess, a love of money. I kind of grouped all those together. And I pulled this from Matthew 6:22 and 23, where the discussion is literally the love of money. Jesus is preaching on the love of money. And he says in verse 19, “Do not lay up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves breaking in steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So that’s verse 21. And then in verse 24, it says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other, or he’ll be deceived or devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” So you have these two verses that sandwich 22 and 23, and this is what 22 and 23 say: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if the eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness?” And there clearly we’re talking about spiritual sickness and unhealth. And he’s even talking about the eye being healthy here. Well, what is he even talking about in 6:22 and 23? Well, I think the context tells us what he’s talking about. And that’s why bookended it with 19 and 20 and 21 and 24. Because here I think he’s talking about what our gaze is upon. Is it on money and wealth and the love of material wealth? Is our gaze set upon that? Is that what we are longing for? Is that what we’re looking for? Is that what we’re making a priority of our life? And if that is the case, then the whole body, as he says, is going to be full of darkness. Whereas if the eye is healthy, if we have our eye set on the right things, namely, as you’ll see later in the passage, on the kingdom of God and his righteousness. He says in verse 33, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Then our eye will be healthy and the whole body will be full of light. In other words, the whole body, the person, will be healthy. And so I take this to be an indication that greediness and a love of money will actually cause spiritual sickness. It will cause other virtues to deteriorate, other good things in our souls to deteriorate. And we need to be aware of how that works. The spiritual dynamics of how a love of money can really decrease our love for spiritual things. So that can be a cause of spiritual sickness. Would you agree with that assessment?
Cliff: Yeah, absolutely. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6, (he’s talking to Christians), “Hey Christians, be careful, because those of you who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. And some professing Christians, by longing for it, have wandered away from the faith. And they have pierced themselves with many griefs.
Derek: Yep. Well that is all I have for causes of spiritual sickness. Do you have any more that I didn’t mention, Cliff?
Cliff: No, I had all yours on my list, too. And then I just had this one. What causes spiritual sickness? I said, Satan. He is the tempter; he’s on the prowl. He wants to tear Christians apart and we always need to be aware of him. And that’s why Jesus said, when you pray, pray every day and pray for protection against Satan. Another one I put from a pastoral point of view of what causes spiritual sickness that we have seen is devastating. It is unexpected trials in the life of a Christian—usually the death of a loved one. And people just go into a tailspin and they just abandon the faith. They do the opposite. When they face a trial, whether they go through a divorce or one of their family members abandons the faith or one of their loved ones dies. And as a Christian, that’s when you need the body of Christ and when you need to be with God’s people. And yet some Christians do the opposite, which is very harmful and dangerous. And they isolate themselves from the body of Christ as a result. They’re in mourning, they’re in depression, their loved one has died, they’re not going to church anymore, they’re not reading the Bible, they’re not praying anymore. And then it’s just this vicious cycle that we see, where they’re just not in a good position of spiritual health. They’re doing the exact wrong thing they should be doing. They need God’s people in those times of crisis, not pulling away. One pastor once said—and I never forgot it because I thought it was good—he said the best way to deal with death as a Christian is to prepare for death. Meaning you have a solid biblical perspective of what death is all about so that you don’t have wrong expectations. False idols. Clinging to people in the world too much. Because death is coming. It’s a reality.
Derek: That’s good counsel. That’s really helpful. Probably people are afraid to do that. Cause that means they have got to look death square in the face.
Cliff: Yes, I think so. It’s fear.
Derek: Well, any others?
Cliff: Those were mine.
Derek: Well, let’s then lead into the last part of this series, then. What are the medicines that can heal spiritual sickness? And we’ve already alluded to, or even mentioned some already, so this won’t take too long. But I do want to at least list them out individually and say a little something about them so we’re clear. Number one, what’s a medicine? I would say the number one medicine is a clear understanding of the gospel. A clear understanding of the gospel. One of the spiritual practices in my life that just developed early in my Christian life, was reading Romans three and four and five, just all the time. I do it all the time. Because I just need to be reminded of the gospel and that my righteousness is not my own in terms of something I’ve produced. It’s outside of me. It’s in Christ that God declares me righteous. Not because of my growth and holiness or any work that I did prior to my conversion or any work that I will ever do. It is who entirely in Jesus Christ and for Christ’s sake that he justifies me. When I believe in Christ, God is just, and the justified is the one who has faith in Christ. And I just need to be continually reminded of that. And I find that when I am, I have greater spiritual clarity, spiritual energy, vitality, motivation to put sin to death. All those things seemed to flow from that clarity of the gospel. But I don’t think that’s just merely my experience. I really think that’s what Scripture is teaching. You can’t move beyond this clear understanding of the gospel to then dealing with other issues in your life. This needs to be central and foundational. And often I found, when dealing with people in counseling situations or just informal and formal, that it’s a clear understanding of the gospel that really begins to breathe life into their souls again. Maybe they did have a clear understanding and got muddled, however that happened. Because it can get muddled. We have wrong teachings surrounding us all the time that can undermine the gospel. So I would say that’s number one.
Cliff: I agree.
Derek: Next one—we’ve already mentioned it. Confession and repentance of sin to God, and to others if necessary. If we’re going to be healthy spiritually, we have got to make confession and repentance a regular part of our life. I’ve heard people say or ask, why do we need to confess and repent if we’re already saved? And what we’re not saying is that you’re getting saved each time you’re doing that. But all you’re doing is just maintaining a healthy relationship with your heavenly Father and with others and keeping that conscience clear.
Cliff: And you’re restoring the fellowship of the relationship every time you do. So 1 John 1:9—this is actually a command for a Christian to have. Confession of sin is pretty much your daily discipline. It’s a Christian discipline. When you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So this is ongoing cleansing on a practical level. And anytime we sin against God, we break the fellowship. We don’t lose our salvation, but we do break the fellowship of that relationship. Every time we confess, we’re restoring that relationship. Like if you’re married and you have a spat with your spouse and you breach the relationship and then you forgive each other and you restore it. Same thing.
Derek: Yeah, exactly. So we need to be doing this on a regular basis. You even said daily. I think that’s right. And daily, just keeping that conscience always clear. And if you have sinned against someone, you do need to go to that person and clear it up. Matthew chapter five. You need to clear it up before you go to worship and make sure everything is right with that person. Another important medicine that we must take is hearing and believing and obeying the Word of God. We’ve talked about this already, but we just want to reaffirm it. Hearing the Word of God through preaching, through your own reading, believing it, taking it into the soul through meditation. I think really just dwelling on the Word of God rather than just skimming over it is helpful for getting it into the soul and then obeying it. Because James says we will be blessed in the doing, in the obeying.And we don’t want to be hearers only who delude themselves, but we want to be active in the obeying, and we’re going to find blessing. James is just picking up on what Jesus said when Jesus would tell his disciples, blessed are you, not only that you’ve heard, but if you do these things. So we want to hear and believe and obey the Word of God. It’s not easy. It’s challenging. It’s hard. That’s why we need each other. We need the help of the spirit. But this is a key to spiritual health.
Cliff: It is. It’s milk for the soul and it’s meat. This is our food. This is basic.
Derek: And it’s not merely supposed to be intellectually stimulating. You know, we can be intellectually stimulated over Scripture or theology, but that’s not what we’re talking about. I mean, am I intellectually stimulated by God’s Word? There’s no doubt. But it’s deeper than that. It’s like you said—it’s food for the soul. It’s the mind; it’s the heart. It’s the whole person taking in the truth of God’s Word. Understanding it intellectually, taking it into the heart by faith and not merely finding it thrilling intellectually, but literally feeding us spiritually. And the reason I say that is because I’ve occasionally bumped up against folks where it seems like they’re mainly interested in the intellectual component of Christianity or a theology and not too concerned about believing it or applying it or living by it. So just a reminder. And that’s certainly not suggesting that believing the Bible is some sort of endeavor that doesn’t involve the intellect. It absolutely does. But what we’re saying is it doesn’t merely involve that. It’s the whole person. Number four, seeking first God’s kingdom and trusting God to supply all your needs and being generous. I know from Scripture and just our own experience—me and Amy—that God has done this in our lives. And seeking first the kingdom and trusting him is just the gateway to spiritual health. And then just being generous with what you have, whatever it is, whether it’s your home or your money or it leads to real spiritual health. And that’s what Jesus is saying in Matthew 6:25 through 33, and what Solomon is saying in Proverbs 3:5-8 and following. So just an encouragement to seek God’s kingdom first. He promises he’ll provide for you. And there’s just tremendous spiritual blessing in giving your life and service to the Lord and trusting him. Number five, receiving the admonishments, rebukes, and encouragements of your brothers and sisters.
Derek: It’s not always pleasant to hear the doctor’s orders.
Derek: And to hear that regimen and to hear the hard words, but it leads to health.
Cliff: It does.
Derek: I need to be sometimes given a hard word.
Cliff: And these are part of the “one anothers.” Rebuke one another; admonish one another. It helps us maintain spiritual health. And it is a sign of humility, too. This is why we need the body of Christ. That’s one of the biggest blessings of marriage, actually—is somebody gets to know you really well. So they learn all of your faults and then they tell you about it. It’s easy being single and alone and living by yourself. Because you don’t have to hear that.
Derek: But also then—and your kids are out of the house now—but I’ve still got the little kids at home and I’ve got kids who will tell me my sin and they’ll tell me that I said something and didn’t do it.
Cliff: I know. Kids are great. They’re so honest and observant. And the more kids you have, the more kids you have telling you that.
Derek: Yes. But I’ve found that when I’ve been rebuked, it hurts and may even make me a little mad. And I may not like it for an hour, but it always results in something good in my own heart. It delivers me from sin and delivers me from wrong thinking. Helps me see things clearly. Number six: we need to actively seek spiritual maturity. We can’t just let it happen. That was what the author of Hebrews is getting after in Hebrews five and six. He said, we need to advance beyond these elementary principles. We need to grow in our maturity, our understanding of Christ, and understanding of spiritual truths. And we need to pursue it and don’t get pushed back downstream. We’re swimming upstream and you stop swimming upstream and get pushed back downstream quickly. So we need to be actively seeking spiritual maturity. And Paul made that the aim of his ministry, exhorting and admonishing people so that they would be built up and growing in maturity in Christ.
Cliff: It’s proactive. It is active. Paul uses the verb sometimes, “agonize.” From agonizing—strive, strenuous, volitional, deliberate activity of pursuing God and obedience. And it’s not easy. You can’t be passive. This is why we’re not mystics or passive in our personal walk with God. It’s a struggle.
Derek: Yep. It is. Number seven. We’ve already alluded to this. Growing in humility, or seeking to grow in humility. God gives grace to the humble, and he opposes the proud. Pride is a hindrance to faith, as we mentioned. So we want to make the pursuit of humility something we’re deliberately doing. And number five is a good way to do it, like you’ve already mentioned. And just being in the church, being around other believers, being open to correction and rebuke—that’s going to help us grow in humility. Being under the Word of God, having a wife and children telling you your sins. That’ll work. That’ll help, too.
Cliff: And we need to welcome that.
Derek: And then to wrap everything up. We’ll end with this. Maintaining a good conscience. Well, that’ll be the end of my list. You might have more to say. But maintaining a good conscience, as we’ve already mentioned, is a good medicine for our souls. Keeping our conscience always clean through repentance and confession of sin. Walking in integrity. And that’s going to be good medicine for our souls.
Cliff: Yep. Amen. That exhausted my list as well. Good stuff. So just by way of reminder, that last category—these were preventative measures. Things that we can proactively, deliberately do as Christians to help maintain spiritual health and to prevent spiritual sickness.
Derek: That’s right. Any last words that you want to say on this topic, Cliff? I think this has been great. I think we’ve been able to cover a lot of ground.
Cliff: Yeah. There’s a lot of factors to attend to. But I would just recommend to folks if they have opportunity to go through and listen to these three episodes again. Because we gave a lot of verses and a lot of principles in those four categories. Big picture, just by way of summary, what overall, what we asked or what we were looking at today, was signs of spiritual sickness, but broken down into four categories were really questions. The first one was things that are not necessarily signs of spiritual sickness. And then the second one was, what are some potential signs of spiritual sickness? Third was what are the causes of spiritual sickness? And then this last round, how do we prevent spiritual sickness?
Derek: And so we hope that this has been helpful for you and will be helpful as you go back and listen to them again. That’s a great idea, Cliff, because we did give so many principles and Scriptures to think about and check out for yourself. And we’re thankful for you, our listeners. You keep tuning in. We want you to keep checking out withallwisdom.org. We’ll always be providing more and more resources there for your edification and for your walk with the Lord. And until next time, keep seeking the Lord in his Word.