Home Menu

The Plague of Complacency

Anabel had noticed that John’s wife wasn’t at her desk. "I didn’t see Mary in her office this morning. Is she okay?"

John hesitated as he pondered how to break the news. "Well, Mary doesn’t work with me any more. We’ve been separated for several months–and we’re getting a divorce."

"What?" Anabel was at a loss.

"It’s me, it’s my idea. Mary and I want such different things out of life. We never have had the same goals. And I think this is best for both of us."

This man is a Christian. Only a few years back he and his wife prayed so fervently for their daughter’s future husband, who eventually came to Christ. They were ecstatic because they believed the marriage would fail unless it was built upon Christ.

But shoot, you’re not shocked by this tale. You could tell me similar stories from your hometown or church or alas, from your own family. And divorce is but one of the destructive evidences, from pulpit to pew, of the moral decline today among seasoned Christians–which is symptomatic of their throwing in the towel on believe there is a victorious Christian life available to them.

Many Christian divorce-ers like John–because of their simple-minded belief that Jesus Christ’s death served merely to provide us with a ticket to heaven and an escape from hell–feel they are at liberty to divorce their spouses. This extremely limited view of salvation leaves the Deceiver a great opportunity to torpedo a person’s Christianity. Its adherents consider Jesus simply an Environmentalist who died to save us from a bad environment (hell) that we might live forever in a utopian one (heaven). A pleasant environment is the goal of this slip-shod theology, rather than that of developing an intimate relationship with Christ, of growing in Christ that we may live to glorify Him before men and angels.

Using this narrow view of salvation, the Deceiver cultivates the idea that once the Believer gets his celestial retirement plan in place, it’s pointless to be overly concerned about holy living. After all, when I get to heaven I’ll cast all my crowns at Christ’s feet anyway, so why worry about Christian maturity? You can see how this lie promotes complacency toward expending much effort to grow in Christ.

True, admission to heaven is based solely upon our faith in the finished work of Christ, but consider this analogy of the student who was admitted to Harvard. He celebrated the event with friends and family. His mom dropped a word to the society editor, who in turn ran a short feature along with his photo. His dad clipped it and had it framed for his bedroom wall. Over the years, when someone noticed the article, he enjoyed retelling the old, old story of the day he was accepted to Harvard. But he had never understood that he was to enroll in classes, had known nothing of moving to the campus, about using the library, or how all of these things were to play a vital role in his future! So he had spent his life working in a menial job,–oblivious to the future he could have enjoyed through obedience and perseverance–after being admitted to Harvard. This man had lived his life believing that admission to the University was the end instead of a means to the end.

The diversity of eternal roles in heaven–which is above and beyond admission–is based upon our faithfulness to allow Christ to live and reign through us during our earthwalk. There is no general admission seating in heaven (Mt. 20:20-23). Let me ask you point blank: Is Christ living and reigning in you now? The Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal how we operated on earth and either rewards us or denies us rewards accordingly (1 Cor. 3:10-15). It’s a pass/fail judgment of our performance, and only the work of Christ through us will pass; independent acts will be consumed by fire (verses 12-13).

Check out the parable of the talents in Lk. 19:12-26. Jesus told this story to illustrate that obedience to His will on earth correlates directly with our eternal role in heaven. God owns everything; we are His stewards and are responsible to do the Owner’s will. Earth is a training-for-reigning practice field, folks. Are you living independently? Or trusting Christ to live through you? How you live dictates your level of eternal reigning, and there are only two ways to live during your earthwalk: in the spirit (allowing Christ to live through you) or after the flesh (independently, trusting in your own ability).

Earth is a finishing school in which God works to refine and polish us for our eternal roles (Phil. 1:6, 2:13). You and I are both individually and corporately like "living stones" in the heavenly temple. Let me draw a parallel between the construction of Solomon’s temple in the Old Testament and earth’s finishing school, as I’ve called it. "The house…was built of stone finished at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor ax nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built" (1 Kings 6:7). Did you get that? Each stone was finished out where the chisels ring, the dust flies, and the storms blow, then trundled to the temple site and slipped perfectly into its assigned place. A threshold plate did not become an altar–once a threshold, always a threshold. I believe this illustrates that any changes in our eternal role must be hammered out here on earth; such changes will not be made in heaven. During our tenure on earth, we are locking ourselves into our eternal roles, from which we will never budge an inch. Read that sentence again. We get one shot at maturing into the spiritual state we will possess eternally–and it all happens on earth (1 Timothy 4:8; Rev. 19:7-8).

I’m reminded of a time during Pres’ teenage years when we were visiting an Ozark Mountain crafts park, watching a woodcarver hew an Indian out of a log. "How in the world does he do that?" I marveled.

"Aw, it’s easy, Dad. He just chips away everything that doesn’t look like an Indian."

Gang, that’s what God is doing to us in this earthly quarry–chiseling away our old flesh patterns and conforming us to Christ’s image.

Now how does this apply to the true story at the beginning of this article–and perhaps to you? God uses all things to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29), and though He accomplishes this in single people just fine, marriage is a major catalyst He uses to mature Believers. Marriage and kids are a dynamic mix of love, joy, anger, euphoria, tragedy, satisfaction, success, stress, crushing disappointment, inexplicable pain, ecstatic hope, etc., all of which drive us toward weakness, or to a recognition of our inability to make life work. And what comes afterward? The wonderful discovery of how to let Christ do it through us, for us. Jesus is the only One Who has ever lived the Christian life, and just as he was totally dependent upon the Father, we are to learn to give up on own strength and be totally dependent upon Him.

And depending entirely on Him and His strength isn’t automatic with salvation; it must be learned and practiced. Divorcers rebel against the marriage in which God seeks to weaken and mature them, taking a giant stride backward in their spiritual maturity resulting in God’s eternal social order. What a price to pay, both here and there! Many married Christians, who have not been instructed as to earth’s role in training them for reigning or who feel life is passing them by, receive the Deceiver’s lie:This marriage is so tedious and stressful. Why not dump my marriage "phase" and get a fresh start with no entanglements? God will forgive me; and after all, I know I’m on my way to heaven, so what difference does it make if I get a divorce? Or sleep with my secretary…or follow after whatever my unique version of the flesh happens to be?

Christians will reign with Christ over the repopulated earth during the millennium. Those who allowed Christ to reign over them on pre-millennial earth will reign with Him on millennial earth. "And You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign over the earth" (Rev. 5:10). There’s reign in tomorrow’s forecast, gang.

"…And they shall rule along with Him a thousand years" (Rev. 20:6, Amp.) To illustrate how long a millennium is, the first of the Crusades occurred in 1095. Had you begun reigning with Christ in 1095, you’d still have 100 years to go!

"…And they shall reign forever and ever…through the eternities of the eternities" (Rev. 22:5, Amp.). Whoa! That’s even better. How’s that for tenure in office! No term limits! Those over whom Christ reigns now will reign with Christ over the future social order, which He will create. I don’t know what sort of critters we’ll reign over, but "…if we endure [cooperate with God and His workings in us], we shall also reign with Him…" (2 Tim. 2:12a; brackets mine). Reigning-through-submission courses are available only on earth, gang, not in heaven. Endurance in trials is eternally significant to your future, reigning role, so don’t buy the lie and blow off your Christian walk or marriage like some are doing.

Who would love to see you become a divorcer in light of these glorious plans God has for you? Think about it. Esau swapped his future for a bowl of stew, and to this very day that man is stewing over that lousy decision. Think about what you will be doing in 2072, or 6589, or 15758. Does it seem like that’s so far into the future that there’s no need to get started today? Remember, you can be in God’s presence in a heartbeat, and maturity come only via time, so get started today. After all, even if you get your "three score and ten," the years pass so very fast.

God is the one who called this ministry out and trained us, blessing us with practical teaching materials on the exchanged life. to God be the glory. But folks, these materials will never prepare you for reigning as they sit on our shelves. Why not select some products listed on page four which will be used by God to equip you to "run the good race"? For example, tell God you want to be a "stayer" and not trash your marriage the way John did. Then let Him show you how your marriage can become an exciting adventure through these materials. He specializes in putting Life into our lives and keeping us on His training-for-reigning schedule.

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.