A.W. Tozer and the Test for Authentic Faith

Yesterday was a special day in the classroom. One of my classes asked some fantastic questions based off 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Here is the biblical text in question: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

They said, “We are all described in there, so what does that mean for us?” What a profound question! I have no reason lie. Many people struggle with sexual immorality, drunkenness, or some sin with how we speak. So, what about Christians who have committed these sins? These are prevalent sins in the body of Christ, and these are readily available in the high school world.

We discussed how big a difference there is between people who live in such patterns as Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 6, and those who did live in such patterns. There is a monumental difference. Some people’s lives never change after meeting Christ. If that is the case, has that person ever met Christ? Paul uses the conjunction, “But.” Paul says, the Corinthians used to live in these ways, but they have been washed, made new and called to a whole new way of living. Following Christ is not a decision, it is a new determined will to live like him ultimately given by God through the Holy Spirit.

Well, needless to say this was a very good class. Eyes were beginning to open about what happens to those who follow Christ. It seemed lights went off as they considered the reality that Jesus’ entrance into a soul’s life changes the entire life of a person, actions and desires! We realized that as a local pastor has recently said, God’s plan for our lives is not our individual happiness, but our holiness. Our “happiness” is road towards destruction. Our holiness is a road towards the glory of Christ.

So, what does Tozer have to do with this post? I was reading Tozer’s The Pursuit of God sometime after this class and came across these lines. He is talking about the average individuals’ claim that he is following Christ. He suspects this is actually not the case. He, in essence, is talking about the difference between people living for their own happiness instead of holiness. The following lines from his work (WingSpread Publishers, 2006:96-97):

Let the average man be put to to the proof on the question of who or what is above, an his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time.

Tozer said exactly what the class needed to hear, but I didn’t have it with me. The question is asked often about genuine Christianity. This is difficult for high schoolers to grasp. You can be a Christ-follower and be imperfect. You can, and will sin. Yet, you cannot, as Tozer put it, have a choice between God and something else and continually choose the “other” every time. Habitually choosing the other is indicative of a heart that is “other.”

Paul was getting at this same thing. People who are now in Christ once chose themselves first every time. But, they have been washed and justified. Their sanctification process involves a drastic lessening of their choosing self over God. Sanctification is saying “Yes” to Christ and “No” to self. Sanctification is about holiness, not happiness.

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