Our Saviour Himself could do no mighty works in Nazareth because of the people’s unbelief. Some of us are concerned these days over the ineffectiveness of so much of our religious activity. For all our churches, schools, conferences, campaigns, movements, where are the greater works our Lord promised that we should do? The mountain labors and brings forth a mouse. What is it that limits the Holy One of Israel? How have we grieved the Holy Spirit?
Evan Roberts used to say that there were three spirits in any meeting, God’s Spirit, man’s spirit, and the evil spirit. There was an evil spirit at Nazareth. I venture to name three evil spirits among us today, among even Bible Christians, that make our meetings mediocre when they could be miraculous.
There is the fighting spirit.
Now, there is a fighting spirit that is fitting and proper. We are to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, fighting the good fight of faith with spiritual weapons, clad in the whole armor of God.
I have heard of a soldier in the Civil War who was asked, “How many of the enemy did you account for?” “None,” he replied, “but then I got as many of them as they did of me!” Too many soldiers of the Lord are just about as effective. They need a fighting spirit. But most of the saints are fighting each other these days. The greatest danger to the church is not from without but from within.
Our Saviour cannot do many mighty works among us because of a frivolous spirit.
We are in favor of good humor and have been accused sometimes of using it too freely. There are those who imagine that to be all out for God they must look “all in.” We are to beware of hypocrites of a sad countenance appearing to fast. But it is very easy to cross over from humor to levity, to foolish talking and jesting. “Good fellowship” among God’s people is a precious thing, and God does not expect us to talk about spiritual matters all the time we are engaging in such fellowship. But there is an inherent seriousness in our message and mission and our manner should befit both.
Another spirit that hinders the work of our Lord today I would call the fed-up spirit.
While millions have never heard the Gospel and while multitudes even in our own land are pagans, with no knowledge of the Truth, we have the strange spectacle of thousands of Christians who have heard so much and read so much that they have reached the saturation point. Stuffed with Bible knowledge, they have become spiritual dyspeptics, rich and increased with goods and having need of nothing.
The fed-up spirit is a deadly spirit, and all the more dangerous because those most infected with it are least responsive to any challenge about it. We have become wise and prudent but God has revealed His secrets to babes. I am not pleading for gullibility. There is much error abroad and we must try the spirits, but we easily overdo things and sometimes sit with our guard up when we might relax and become receptive.
There is hope for a gracious awakening among us if we will honestly face up to these hindering spirits and see what hold they have on us. It was unbelief that hindered our Lord at Nazareth. Wherever humble souls simply believed, He always worked His miracles. Religious Pharisees, taught in Scriptures, separated from the world, stood critically by and missed the blessing, while the plainest of people felt the power of God. If we can renounce our childishness and sit at His feet in childlikeness, He will do His mighty works again