You live in a FRUSTRATED world! Everyone has problems, troubles, frustrations! Some in God's Church may feel hopelessly frustrated by some besetting problem! WHY?
ALL OF God's people meet trials and tests during their Christian life. Trials arise which seem to completely baffle them! Problems come seemingly from nowhere. Life becomes confusing, frustrating — and it seems that EVERYTHING goes wrong! Why? Have YOU ever felt this way? Have you ever felt your prayers went unanswered — that you were NOT growing as you should be? There is a reason for such thoughts, feelings and frustrations! They do not just "happen" or come from nowhere! It is time we all REALIZED the root CAUSE of our problems and difficulties! It explains why some Spokesman Club members reach a plateau and cease growing in effective speech. It explains why MANY are not GROWING as they should be, spiritually! This root cause explains WHY even some students at Ambassador College flounder around and drift along. The reason behind these problems, troubles and frustrations involves your human nature!
Human Nature Responsible
Your Bible says that YOUR natural, carnal mind is — by its very nature — HOSTILE toward God (Rom. 8:7). It is enmity toward God, toward His way, His divine nature, HIS WILL! Speaking of the heart of man, the Prophet Jeremiah was inspired to write, "The HEART is deceitful above all things, and DESPERATELY WICKED: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9). Yes, you, by your very NATURE, do not want to go God's way, do things His way, or SUBMIT to His will! You are by nature SELFISH! Your whole natural life is filled with self-motivation, self-seeking, self-exaltation, self-interests, pleasing the senses of the self! By nature, you want to get, seize, grasp, take, obtain that which you desire for your SELF! ALL your motivations are INWARD — directed inwardly. toward the satisfaction of the SELF! This nature is very obvious in a squalling baby. Babies have no consideration whatsoever for their parents. They don't stop to think of the trouble they cause their parents if they begin to bawl in the middle of the night! And we are just little babies grown up! WE STILL HAVE THE VERY SAME HUMAN NATURE! That nature is responsible for YOUR problems and trials! You don't begin to realize just how many of YOUR THOUGHTS are directed toward your SELF! And it is these selfish thoughts and actions that make YOU miserable and frustrated! Look at the world around you. Notice how everybody seems bent on GETTING HIS OWN WAY in everything he does! Is this any different from the tiny squalling baby? In business, ambitious young executive "climbers" knife and stab each other in the back in order to GET ahead themselves! At home, wives try to convince "hubby" that they need a new dress, coat, or should go out for dinner that evening. Children try to convince their parents that they need a larger allowance, more freedom, less restrictions around home. On the international scene, nations try to bully, cajole, or trick other nations into serving their own selfish interests. No matter WHERE you look, somebody is out to get the best of SOMEBODY ELSE! Everybody is out for "number one"! No love is shown — just a false veneer called "love" — a sanctimonious "look" which is calculated to disguise the inner deceit! While patting you on the back, a dagger is gently slipped between your ribs!
God's Holy Spirit
Brethren, each one of you has the same basically EVIL, selfish, grasping human HEART! But that is not all! IF you are a Christian, you ALSO have the Spirit of God abiding within you! The Apostle Paul was inspired to write, "But ye are not in the flesh, but IN THE SPIRIT, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now IF any man have NOT the Spirit of Christ, he is NONE of his" (Rom. 8:9). If you are a Christian, then you have God's Holy Spirit abiding WITHIN you. What is the nature of GOD'S Holy Spirit? Notice it! "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." (Gal. 5:22-23). How contrary to HUMAN NATURE! LOVE is outgoing CONCERN for other people — a desire to give, serve, and help. But human nature is SELF-love — wanting to give to, serve, and help THE SELF! God's Spirit is full of JOY. But human nature is so intent upon fulfilling its own selfish aims that it has no time for the expression of true JOY! It is trying to get, get, GET — and it is miserable when it cannot obtain its desires. God's Spirit brings PEACE — contentment and peace of mind. But human nature is always STRIVING to obtain more for the self. It knows no rest, no relaxation. It is full of worry, fears and frustrations! God's Spirit IS patient. It is willing to contentedly WAIT on God to perform His promises and pour out His blessings in His own good time. It is willing to suffer long, and endure reproach for Christ's sake. It is supremely patient. Not so, human nature! It is in a great rush, an excited hurry — full of haste! It wants to get, and GET NOW! Right now, it cries in anguish, thinking only of its OWN selfish needs and desires! The Spirit of GOD is very gentle, tender, loving toward others. Human nature is brusque, hurried, sharp with others, blunt, has no consideration for their feelings or weaknesses. What about goodness? God gives His blessings freely, to all, without respect of persons. God seeks to lavish GOOD upon His people! It rejoices God to be able to BLESS others! But human nature, on the contrary, is rude, insolent, and feels that others are worthless, undeserving of any favor. Do you SEE how rotten and contrary to God's way your human nature IS? Notice further! The Spirit of God is the Spirit OF faith — patient TRUST, and reliance upon GOD! It is willing to put its trust in God and look to HIM, no matter how circumstances may temporarily appear, knowing that GOD is able to change and alter circumstances to produce His promised blessings! But human nature HAS no faith! It does NOT believe in God's promises. It only believes what it can see, feel, hear and taste! It is not willing to trust God for anything. It relies TOTALLY upon self, seeks to work the angles, and is preoccupied with LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE! "Every man for himself" is its motto. What about humility? The Spirit of God is humble, respects others, and recognizes their potentialities and qualities. It is willing to GIVE UP its own comfort, even its own life, in order to serve and help others! It is willing to abase the self and SACRIFICE for others! — even as JESUS CHRIST Himself was willing to forsake all and suffer the ignominious death of the cross for OUR sakes! But not so, human nature! "Every man at his best state is ALTOGETHER VANITY!" Human nature is proud, insolent, full of scorn for others. Self is placed upon a towering pedestal, enshrined in an ivory tower, and puffed up like a bloated balloon! It is haughty, high-minded. It despises others.
The Cause of Frustration
Take another look at those qualities of human nature, brethren, because they describe YOUR natural heart! Yes, that is how loathsome YOUR human nature IS, in the sight of God! Yet, if you are a Christian, then you ALSO have the HOLY Spirit of God within you! Is it any wonder, then, why you sometimes feel frustrated and woefully confused? We read, "For the flesh LUSTETH against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are CONTRARY THE ONE TO THE OTHER: so that ye CANNOT do the things that ye would" (Gal. 5:17). In effect, YOU are a walking, talking Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! You are a walking, eating, sleeping, breathing phenomenon — a living PARADOX! You have two entirely different natures — your carnal human nature, which is ENMITY against God, as well as the nature of the SPIRIT OF GOD! That, if you can see it, is the reason for your frustrations! That is the REASON you sometimes feel depressed, discouraged, and harassed with TROUBLES! You want to obey God. But — because you are still a flesh-and-blood human being — you STILL HAVE YOUR HUMAN NATURE TO CONTEND WITH!
You Are SELFISH!
Analyze yourself! How OFTEN do do you submit to selfish temptations? How often do you exhibit competitiveness, greed or selfishness? How often do you become hasty, rash, in seeking your own way? How often do you become WORRIED, anxious, or fearful that you won't get what you want? How often do you sulk or brood over "what could have been"? How often are you DEPRESSED, because something you desired did not quite work out the way YOU wanted it? Have you ever been bitter because you did not get your own way about some matter? Have you ever lost faith in God and TRIED TO WORK THINGS OUT YOURSELF? Have you ever faithlessly TAKEN MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS, thinking GOD may not work them out for the best? How OFTEN have you "played the angles" in order to get ahead? How often have you tried to "impress people," little caring what your Almighty FATHER in heaven thought? How often have you permitted human PRIDE and vanity to assert itself in your life — taking pride in your accomplishments, boasting about what you have done, bragging on yourself? NO WONDER you have had problems, frustrations, TROUBLES! You still have HUMAN NATURE which leads you into SIN. And sin brings problems, troubles, frustrations!
The Perfect Example
Jesus Christ also had human nature. But He was never FRUSTRATED. He never felt hopelessly confused or frustrated because of overwhelming problems. Do you know why? Remember! He was human like you and I — He also had HUMAN NATURE (Heb. 2:14-18). He was TEMPTED in all points like as we are (Heb. 4:15). But He knew human nature — He knew He had to fight against it — He knew that human nature only spelled T-R-0-U-B-L-E if He surrendered to its impulses, drives, or desires. Jesus mastered His human nature — He kept it under control — ALWAYS! Notice! As Jesus slowly strode into the garden of Gethsemane, just before the crucifixion, His thoughts tossed and turned within Him. He was sorely tempted by His human nature to "forget the whole thing." His human nature cried out, "WHY should you sacrifice YOUR life!" "Why should you suffer?" "What's in this for you?" Those thoughts are very human, and Jesus had human nature. But He did not give in to them! Jesus never flinched, never faltered in the face of the ordeal. He prayed to the Father, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, BUT AS THOU WILT" (Matt. 26:39). "...Nevertheless not my will, BUT THINE, be done" (Luke 22:42). Jesus had totally conquered SELF. He COMPLETELY surrendered HIS WILL to God. He had brought every thought into subjection to God. He did NOT seek His OWN WAY! But what about YOU? Do you sincerely pray for GOD'S WILL to be done in your OWN life? Are you truly, fully SUBMISSIVE to the will of God? Or do you allow your human nature to exert its selfish, imperious demands in your life? WHAT DO THE FRUITS SHOW? If you have felt confused, bewildered, frustrated — if everything seems to be going WRONG for you — or if you seem to have so many problems that you DON'T KNOW WHAT TO Do — then YOU need to stop and take stock of your life. Check up on your ATTITUDE! Have you been seeking your OWN WILL? Has your own human nature in some devious way deceived you into doing something that was not right in God's sight? Have the tentacles of SIN crept into your life? Have you trusted in yourself in some matter, not looking to God for direction or counsel? Have you ASSUMED something unnecessarily, without proving it first? Have you gone the way that "seemed right" to you? Look at your life! LOOK AT YOUR SELF! Perhaps, now, you are beginning to see for the first time just exactly WHY you, you personally, feel loaded down with problems and trials! Perhaps now you are beginning to realize more fully what your HUMAN NATURE is LIKE! If you feel that you have been virtually beating your head against a WALL — if you think that everything has been going wrong — if you feel totally miserable and utterly FRUSTRATED — then don't blame God bitterly for what has happened! Rather, stop and search yourself for the FAULT — the reason for your troubles!
Too often, once we are converted, we loss sight of the fact that we STILL have human nature. We forget the scripture, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH." That scripture applies not only to the world, brethren — it applies also to true Christians! Some of Gods people assume that because they have the Holy Spirit, they AUTOMATICALLY know which way they should go. They fail to see the pitfalls looming in their path due to the presence of human nature! Therefore, in their innocence, they carelessly plod onward, ASSUMING they will naturally do what is right, confident that no great trials will come to them. And then, suddenly, they find themselves in the midst of TROUBLE — confronted by unexpected trials. And they begin to wonder, "WHY?" "How could God let this happen?" They are tempted to think GOD has failed them somewhere — forgetting that most of our problems are due to our own foolishness — our human nature leading us astray. Jeremiah was inspired to write, "O LORD, I know that the way of man is NOT in himself: it is NOT in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:23). Jeremiah meant YOU. YOU don't know, automatically, of yourself, which way to go, how to make decisions pertaining to your life, what God's will is. You need to constantly check up on yourself, seek the counsel of GOD, keep close to Him in prayer and constant, submissive Bible study. Notice! Solomon wrote, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and LEAN NOT UNTO THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy PATHS" (Prov. 3:5-6). Do you see? The way that seems right to a man — seems right to you — is the WRONG WAY! And IF you are enticed into following that way, which looks so good, you will sooner or later find yourself hemmed in by sudden troubles — confronted with towering problems! And, whenever necessary, God will chasten you to remind you of this great lesson! David was inspired to write, "BEFORE I was afflicted I went astray: but NOW have I kept thy word'' (Ps. 119:67). Notice! His afflictions brought him back to God's way! He exclaimed, "It is GOOD for me that I have been AFFLICTED; that I might learn thy statutes" (Verse 71). David knew the value of God's loving chastisement and correction! Yes, our trials, troubles, "afflictions," are GOOD for us. That is why God permits them to OCCUR! By means of them God CHASTENS us and teaches us which way we should go! They may "hurt" for a while, but by means of them we learn to stop sinning, to stop seeking our OWN way — we learn to be more cautious, WE LEARN TO PONDER THE PATHS OF OUR FEET (Prov. 4:26). We also learn to build the qualities of HUMILITY, FAITH, PATIENCE! Knowing our trials and chastenings are indeed for our welfare, the Apostle James wrote, "My brethren, COUNT IT ALL JOY when ye fall into divers temptations: knowing this, that the trying of your FAITH worketh PATIENCE. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and ENTIRE, WANTING NOTHING" (Jas. 1:2-4).
We Are To Become GOD
Perhaps you have heard that trials are good for you — but you still are not really convinced. But consider! Without trials, how would you come to see how carnal — selfish — and self-willed you are? How would you come to see the faults and weaknesses in your character? Trials and troubles come upon us because of faults or flaws in our character. As long as these faults remained, we could not enter God's Kingdom! There are MANY lessons each one of us needs desperately to learn and have ingrained within his character, in order to enter God's Kingdom. We need to learn the LESSON to depend upon God, and not upon our own selves. We need to learn FAITH — reliance upon God instead of looking to our own works to get us what we want. As human beings, we are naturally proud — so God gives us trials and tests in order to HUMBLE us and make us learn by experience that we are not sufficient unto ourselves. Pride, cocky conceit and vanity are the ANTITHESIS of God's character, and these carnal traits must be rooted out of our character if we are to become God! Patience is another lesson we learn when God permits trials to come upon us. Perhaps the particular trial remains around for some time, and even though we pray, God does not remove it immediately. Does that cause your faith to waver? It shouldn't. Rather, you should LEARN that God is trying your faith and patience. As you faithfully persevere in whatever test God gives YOU, patiently WAITING for His divine and promised answer, God will NOT let you down. But — He will give you the answer WHEN He sees it is right for you — in the way He knows is best for you! And, in the process, you build PATIENCE. By means of our trials we BUILD the very CHARACTER God wants so we can enter the Kingdom! Your trials teach you to STOP looking to yourself for deliverance — for the solution to your problems. For, the longer you look to self, the greater the PROBLEM becomes! Your trials teach you how human you are — and how much you need to REPENT of self — what you ARE, as well as the evil you DO! Do you begin to see? You NEED trials! Without them you could not grow spiritually! Without them and the pressure they put upon you, you would simply coast along, blithely assuming everything is all right — carelessly taking for granted your salvation! Brethren! WE cannot become SONS OF GOD — members of the very God family! — simply by coasting along, not overcoming, not learning the spiritual lessons we need, not DEVELOPING the character of Jesus Christ! God will not entrust AWESOME POWERS to US until He has tested and PROVED us! He wants to know we will be FAITHFUL to the end! God is PROVING you — testing you — and PURGING YOUR CHARACTER! To become a member of the GOD FAMILY, you must put OFF selfish, untrustworthy human nature, and be clothed with the DIVINE nature of God! Frustration comes when you follow your own nature, seeking your own way, instead of the way of God. But, God loves you so much that He will PUNISH and chasten you to PURIFY your character — to bring you back to Him, His way, so that you might enter His glorious KINGDOM! What great love and concern God has for His children! He is concerned FOR YOU! That is why He permits TRIALS in your life! These trials are the PROOF of God's love! Even as a father spanks his children, God chastens YOU for your own spiritual welfare!
What is your attitude toward your troubles, tests, and trials? Do you grumble, gripe, or complain? Do you become sarcastic, bitter, or enraged? No matter how circumstances may appear, no matter how many howling hurricane-like trials may blow across your path — no matter if you feel you are lost in a thick forest of mountainous trials — are YOU willing to say to God, "I KNOW your way is best! I KNOW you permit trials for my good, so I might see the foolishness of my own way, so I may be chastened and purified, in order to develop the very character of Jesus Christ!" "I will follow you, ALL THE WAY, no matter what happens, no matter what trials may come!" Is that YOUR attitude? It was the attitude of Jesus Christ! NEVER did Christ rebel at His lot! Never did He curse God and seek His own way! Rather, He surrendered His life completely to God. At the moment of greatest temptation and trial, He declared, "Not my will, BUT THINE, be done!" He went all the way, and never drew back. His life was truly a LIVING SACRIFICE! What about YOU? Are you still hanging on to some of your carnality? Are you STILL clinging to the flesh, fleshly desires, selfish interests, personal aspirations? Are you compromising with God and your own human nature? Are you going only "part way" with Him? Do you still have reservations? Is there an "escape clause" in your contract with GOD, so that if you don't get YOUR own desires, you can "back out" of the agreement? If so, you are only fooling yourself There IS no middle ground!
Brethren, we cannot "kid" God. What we sow, we shall reap. There is NO hiding from God. He KNOWS our innermost thoughts and desires — our HUMAN HEART! He knows our natural selfishness! And God knows that as long as we compromise with Him, or seek to work things out ourselves — seek our OWN way, will, desires, interests — the end result will be greater and greater FRUSTRATION, confusion and bewilderment — leading eventually to DEATH! God knows that we of our own selves are simply CARNAL — SELFISH! But He does not want us to stay that way! He gives us trials and tests. He chastises us and punishes us in order to cause us to CHANGE! — stop following the way that seems right — stop seeking our OWN way — and REPENT! God DESIRES that each one of us enter His Kingdom as His very own SON! But, in order to DO this, we must first purge OUT the selfishness, the carnality — the human nature — and we must be imbued and inspired with the NATURE or GOD! In order to make this drastic change, God gives us His Holy Spirit — the Spirit of POWER, or LOVE, of a SOUND, BALANCED MIND (II Tim. 1:7). And as we yield to God, surrendering more FULLY to Him, He will give us MORE of that Holy Spirit — more of His divine attributes! We will GROW in love, in JOY, in peace — even in patience. We will grow in humility, goodness, and FAITH! We will grow in exercising self-CONTROL! There is NO EXCUSE! There is no reason for any true Christian — any servant of Jesus Christ — to bog down in frustration or confusion! Frustration and confusion are works of the flesh! They are works of DARKNESS! God's Spirit is NOT the Spirit of frustration but the Spirit of FAITH! If your life is TOTALLY yielded to God, you will not FEEL "frustrated," "baffled" by overwhelming problems, or "confused" by seemingly inexplicable troubles or trials! Rather, you will KNOW that frustrations are due to seeking your own will and following HUMAN NATURE! You will know that GOD is not to blame — rather, your OWN HUMAN NATURE is responsible for your problems! You will know that you need to draw CLOSE to God in prayer and earnest Bible study, so you can SEEK God's will in your life and not be deceived by your human nature! And, as you do, you will learn to distinguish between the WILL of GOD and the desires of the flesh! Frustration will VANISH from your life! It will be REPLACED by the fruits of the Spirit of God — LOVE, JOY, PEACE! FAITH IN GOD! No longer will troubles frustrate or confuse you! Rather, when you realize the purpose behind your trials, you will have cause for great JOY, knowing that God is working with YOU!
Are YOU Frustrated?
Put yourself through a spiritual examination! Are YOU personally frustrated? Does something "bug" you? Are you bitter or angry — do you find fault with a decision reached by God's ministers? Do certain things dissatisfy you? Are you DISPLEASED at the trials God has permitted to develop in your life? EXAMINE YOURSELF! If you are frustrated, you need to deeply acknowledge that YOU have SINNED — you have been in the wrong attitude — and you need to REPENT! If you find fault with the government of GOD, or the way God deals with you, you are in the wrong and God commands you to repent! This is not a light thing with God. It is not a trivial matter. It is deadly serious! Anyone who has physical frustrations has spiritual problems as well. The two go hand-in-glove. One can be caused by the other. The number and size of YOUR frustrations is a gauge of your spiritual temperature! The Word of God commands, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; PROVE your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (II Cor. 13:5). The Apostle Paul exhorted, "For if we would JUDGE OURSELVES we, should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (I Cor. 11:31-32). You can avoid frustration if you heed these words! If you will constantly and faithfully EXAMINE yourself — the way you are going — you can avoid falling into the dangerous pitfalls that lurk ahead! You can walk safely, securely. You can WALK WITH GOD!