Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we explore the process of testing our faith. We shall examine intellectual testing, moral testing, and finally move on to spiritual testing
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." James, Chapter 1, Verse 12
Brothers and sisters, as the old hymnal laments: "Why the test, when we try to do our best?" What is the nature of these tests? How do we know when we have passed? What can we do to insure that we pass it? What sources of help are available to us as we enter the crucible? Intellectual, moral, and spiritual testing are all different. Let us begin with intellectual testing.
Most of us are familiar with having gone to school for at least 13 years, including kindergarten. In these grades the information that is imparted starts out very simple, such as writing our name; knowing our alphabet; knowing our address and telephone number, and etc. Also, the socialization process is implemented. As these instructions are imparted, the student is given homework to practice which helps him to better understand the information that is being imparted.
Homework is designed to help the student retain information. After a certain period of time, the student is tested to see how much of the information he has retained. He has to successfully demonstrate that he has retained a certain amount of information in order for him to pass the test. Below a certain standard, he is considered to have failed the test and must be tested again after remedial work. The student cannot go forward until he mastered the minimum standard deemed necessary for success at the next grade level. This testing process continues through his school career and at the end of his 13 years of education he graduates from the program of public education. Some go on to more advanced education but testing is also part of that process as well.
As we proceed through life, we also encounter a different kind of testing. This test does not involve the grasp of intellectual factors but involves the recognition and acceptance of responsibility. Moral testing involves choosing that which is right. Moral decisions involve reflections and contact with the moral center of an individual. This is a God-given gift to all bonafide individuals. The moral sense along with worship and wisdom constitute what it is to be a human being. These tests start out simple, and they progressively become more complex. There are no external rules governing the choice of right over wrong. Even though some legislative laws embody certain moral principles as some traditions do, they are not absolute guides for making moral decisions.
Experience has shown us that we cannot abide with legislative processes and traditions to guide us into choosing what is right and what is wrong. Not too long ago, millions of individuals thought that slavery was right because the laws said it was. These laws governing the enslavement of one group of people by another were enacted by immoral men whose motive was based upon purely economic consideration. And while it is true, many justifications enclothed in the garment of morality was brought forth to justify the laws that upheld the institution of slavery.
Some went so far as to invoke God and religion as justification for the practice; while still others denied the humanity of slaves, assigning them to the ranks of beasts and inferior human beings. They failed to realized that intellectual achievement and cultural advancement do not determine whether someone is human. And while these slaves had not achieved a higher intellectual and cultural level compared to those of the west, they did have some level of intellectual and cultural achievement. They were not wild animals running around in the bush. Those who justified slavery on these grounds may have been sincere in their position, but many who owned slaves exposed this hypocrisy by mating with them. And while there may have been a cry from those who said slaves were beast or inferior human beings, the cry was not very loud. There were some who decried the immorality of slavery. They were fearless in their denunciation and worked tirelessly to bring an end to slavery. Then there were others who recognized the wrongness of slavery but who were moral cowards and refused to condemn it.
In more recent times, during World War II, we witnessed the government of a country condemn a whole race of human beings to destruction. This group of people was highly intelligent and extremely cultured and had made many contributions to society. But the government of this country which had been taken over by immoral men blamed this race for all the ills of society and the world. And there were other groups who were also singled out for destruction and barbaric treatment. Most of the people of this country did not speak out against such treatment. They were moral cowards. But there were some who did speak out against this practice or in other ways worked to destroy this mad government. And let’’s not forget the countries of the world who chose to ignore the plight of these groups of people who were so unjustly and immorally treated. Only those who stood against these moral injustices passed the moral test. And of course moral testing goes on in our private lives all the time. When we choose right over wrong, we advance because we pass the test. Character reflects the degree of our moral mastery.
And now we move unto spiritual testing. While morality is the basis for spiritual development, spiritual testing involves a whole new dimension, a whole new level of reality. While moral decisions are a known factor in the human mind, spiritual development is an unconscious acquirement and requires a different kind of testing. Spiritual development consists in the development of our potential selves, our souls. This is the domain of faith, the province of those things that cannot be proven to the material mind. Thus, spiritual testing always involves the test of faith.
The spiritual experience involves our growth and development in our relationship with the heavenly Father, who is spirit. It is the Father’’s spirit that has descended from heaven to recreate us in the material mind, to create us in the image of his Son, and then to lovingly nourish us while still in the flesh and then translate us to a new level of existence when our material temples fail (when our material minds die). The values of the material mind and values of the soul are different. Values of the material mind are selfish and are strictly involved in the preservation of the self; the values of the spirit are unselfish and takes preservation for granted. The conflict is immediate.
Associated with the spiritual experiences are certain values that must be developed and become supreme in the soul, and consequently in our reactions to life. Being material and self-conscious that we are mortal and only faith conscious that we are immortal in our souls, we are constantly being bombarded with threats to our material existence. With each threatening episode, we wonder if this is the one that will destroy us. These threats range from the environment to other human beings and sometimes even from animals. We just witnessed a large number of thunderstorms with deadly tornadoes that killed 23 people in our state, with millions of dollars of property damages and injuries to people. This constant threat of vulnerability to our material existence creates insecurity and fear within our minds. Most of the time, we try to ignore this vulnerability or retreat into religious consolation. It is no wonder that we have such a large amount of fear in our minds and souls.
It is the purpose of our developing spiritual nature to demolish fear and replace it with the consciousness of love. Fear is to be replaced with the understanding that even though we must go through a fear-inducing experience, there is no reason to be afraid. We should remember that the kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink (not material) but peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the spiritual experience does not prevent us from experiencing the ups and downs of the material life. But if we believe wholeheartedly, we will not be afraid when the great test comes. Jesus does not promise to deliver us from our difficulties, but he promises to go through each and every one with us.
With the Father and the Son living within in our souls, and not only living there but going through experiences with and as us, we are invulnerable; we are indestructible. Yes, we must suffer physical dissolution and all of the intermediate phases before we get there, but our true selves remain untouched by the destroyer of the material nature--death. In the face of human vulnerability and human tragedy, the spiritual nature responds to those who are hurt with love, compassion, and mercy. Human insecurity and vulnerability are designed to develop the faith, trust, and hope response within us. These responses are forecasts of our eternal existence. During disasters the spiritual nature brings out the best in those who allow it to function, those who pass the spiritual tests.
Passing the test involves believing that the Father loves us with an infinite love and that, no matter what we go through, that loves overshadows and protects us. Faith is the only thing that we have to justify these spiritual attitudes. We must wholeheartedly believe that the Father loves us, and that he is always going through our experiences with and as us. And when we can hold fast to our faith (exercise faith in the goodness of the Father) through every trial and tribulation of human existence, our fear will be replaced by love, the consciousness of the heavenly Father. We will have passed the spiritual test. This eventually advances us to a new status where we can now behold in person what we beheld in faith while living the life in the flesh.
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of spiritual testing. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry