Larry Kirkpatrick

A Positive Place on the Web for the Third Angel's Message

Driving Forces: Culture or the Holy Spirit?

Because the people of God are not ready, our Lord has not yet come. Let's be clear; we are not waiting for the world to become more wicked, for men and women to become more confused, more immoral, more worthy of destruction. That time has already come; we are living in its midst. When God commanded Noah to build the ark, it was no contingency plan just in case men became more evil. God saw what was happening. The degree of chosen rebellion in the world condemned the world. God set out to preserve a remnant, or, at least, seedbed for the remnant. But they were not ready.

He commissioned Noah to build the ark, and he did. When judgment came, Noah and those who entered with him were preserved. But the Great Controversy was not ended. Noah and His ark-riders were not judged as wicked with the world, but neither were they fully representative of Heavenly ideals. They were like Jesus but in part. Ending the Great Controversy War at that time would not answer the situation. It must still be proved that God is both merciful and just, that being like Jesus is being a different kind of person. God had set out to show what would happen when men and women lived unselfishly, givingly, like Him.

We all know what happened with the flood. Noah built the ark. God sent the flood. The wicked were destroyed. The waters subsided and humans set out to populate the earth again. And we all lived happily ever after.

Not quite.

Sin persisted. Fallen human nature was riding on that ark, wit its unnatural disposition in one's being to serve self. They still had that disposition. We still have it. Some fed that disposition and strengthened it. We've done the same.

This fallenness is in us and there is no way around it. In Eden the tempting tree was in one place. They had to go to it to be tempted. But when they sinned, the tempting tree moved within. Now we are always at the tempting tree; we cannot leave.

There was something that Adam and Eve could have done; they could have stayed away from that tree. We can't do that. But there is something we can do. We can receive help from God's Holy Spirit, the third divine person. The Holy Spirit can do things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. The Holy Spirit in combination with the consecrated human will constitutes a driving force, a power to change us much stronger than you or I possess in ourselves. He (the Holy Spirit) comes from outside of us. And, although the tempting tree has come inside and is always present, giving strength to every stream of seduction pouring over us, God's force is stronger. Today we take a look at these two forces, how we can oppose the destructive driving force with the constructive driving force. Victory is inevitable, IF we get ourself on the right side of the right driving force.

Let's consider the first of two driving forces. This one is the combination of fallen human nature with input from Satan's kingdom.

John warns us:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).

This passage tells us much about this driving power. Where would the lust of the flesh be located? John says it is located "in the world." Where our affections are, Jesus said, is where our heart is. There is the world and then there is the placement of our things in relation to the world. We are in the world and we cannot not be in the world in the sense of location. But while are located in this world physically, we need not locate our affections in this world. Our desires may be rewired so that they are affixed to heavenly things. Our valuation of things may be adjusted. Jesus set His valuation of things on the Father's will. The world did not own Him. Satan could show Him the video of all the kingdoms of this world in their glory, and Jesus was able to turn away.

This is not to say that there is not a power to draw us which is in the things of the world. Remember that our world was originally declared "very good." The entrance of sin and its effects marred the beautiful but it did not eradicate the beautiful. Roses now have thorns but they are still crowned by the beautiful aromatic flower. Skunks have been adjusted by the Fall but they still have soft fur. Mountains are rugged and broken looking, yet they give us some of the most breathtaking scenes in nature. The point: things that are damaged and impacted by sin still have in them much to appropriately attract us.

And yet, we are warned that everything in this earth will be burned up. Even our bodies will be remade in resurrection or glorification. In the new earth there will remain no evidence but memory that there ever was dental work or someone who designed an artificial knee. Even our present bodies are temporary. Disordered desires are also temporary.

When those disordered inclinations within us to self-serve are combined with the allurements in this world, then there is a driving force. Notice how this works. We attach ourselves to this content. We need shoes but we want Addidas shoes. We need a computer but we want an Apple computer. We need a car but we want a Mercedes automobile. It is good stewardship to want higher quality but often higher quality is higher mostly in perception. Ideas about things are marketed to us and then we choose to want them. It is the "sizzle" factor. We become attached to a thing because of the marketing.

We have to have this phone, this app. We have to watch this show or buy this music. I'm pretty familiar with music. I worked in a record store for five years. I know that some of you have never heard of a record store and that I am revealing my age. But we heard a lot of awful music then. I would hear it the first time and either like it or dislike it. Then I would hear it again and then again.

People would come in trying to decide which singles to buy and we would put them on the record player. Every week we updated the top singles on the wall, from the current billboard number one hit, to number two, three, four, and so on. My observation? The more familiar I became with a song, the more I began to develop an appreciation for it. There were exceptions. Familiarity often breeds contempt. But when it comes to media, many times, familiarity breeds acceptance, then appreciation. Finally, you adopt something; you fully identify with it. Something you at first had no connection to, or initially disliked, rises in your affections until you will pay to have it. Something that is not part of you can come to be so desired that you cannot live without it. Someone told Pam once that if they couldn't eat fried chicken in heaven, they didn't want to go there. I counter: if you cannot eat your favorite food in heaven, then friend, heaven will still be cheap enough.

Let's be clear. Jesus paid for your trip to heaven; you aren't really paying anything. He paid for your new body in the new earth. He paid for your new mind, your new heart. He bled for you. He expired for you. He rose for you. How can you become so attached to the things that are passing away, when Jesus spent His life to give you life? And not just a shadow life, either. He wants you to have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

How do we change our desires? How do we deaffix ourselves from the earth? We should not feed the driving forces, that combination of fallen human nature developed in appreciation of these passing things that surround us. How do we starve it? We perhaps cannot directly starve it, but we can transfer our loyalties from one to another kingdom. We can drink in from the Bible the things from the kingdom of Christ, become acquainted with it. We need to see the beauty of Jesus, see the difference between His kingdom and the kingdom we are familiar with.

All the representations in this world are skewed. Cartoons, children's programs, movies are not pure. They are made by humans and they reveal dominant ideas. Violence, representations of different sexual moralities, the legitimizing of homosexual couples as families, the representation of the current flavors of evolution, views on relations between men and women, and so on, are all pushed into our grey matter by means of the media. Does anyone recall the movies of the 1960s where the heroes were usually shown smoking cigarettes? Surely you are aware of product placement in movies. Large sums are paid by manufacturers to feature certain brands of automobiles, computers, cigarettes, soda pop, and coffee so that when people watch the movie, they see their favorite stars and personalities using them. They are there because by beholding we are indeed changed.

Our warning today is not hard to understand. It is this. When you behold, you behold in your fallen nature. You behold in a damaged kind of humanity. You behold from under the branches of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, entangled in you and with you. Because of this, when you behold you unleash a driving force upon yourself. You are your own--that's right--your own worst enemy.

No generation has had so much media at their fingertips. No matter how far we run from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we are never more than five seconds away from it. It is as though rather than there being one, now we are in a forest of trees of knowledge of good and evil. In any of these cases, we are no more than one thought away from adding their content to our free will in a fallen nature trained in sin: We are but a moment away from a rocket ride to destruction in any direction. Because we are in charge, we have the push-button. We may engage the driving force and speed to becoming someone different than we are.

Consider now the second of the two driving forces: the combination of fallen human nature plus input from God's kingdom.

The fallen nature is like the rose we talked about. It still has some features in it that God and you can use for good. Remember, our humanity was originally good, but now is bent. It still has a capacity to feel, to weigh intellectually, to will, to do. It still has a conscience. And it is still able to respond to the Holy Spirit. It is still able to receive from the kingdom of God.

Let's think again with our passage which was so much trouble to us before:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).

When we are commanded not to love the world or the things in the world, we should get some clue. It would be useless to Heaven to command us something which we could not do in cohort with Heaven. It would be little benefit to us to plead with us to make a change which cannot be made in us. So, when we are commanded not to love the world or the things in the world, this helps us to understand that even in our present state we need not love the world; we need not be attached to it affectionally. We can participate in this world without buying into it. We can walk through this world, have its muck splatter upon us and still, in the power of God let the rain of the Holy Spirit wash it from us.

The "how" of this is the real question. The "how" and the "who." Just as the tree of knowledge of good and evil accompanies us everywhere we go, so too is there a Spirit who can accompany us wherever we go. The Holy Spirit is a distinct person. He chooses, He wills, He thinks His own perfect thoughts, and He feels His own feelings. He is everywhere present in the cosmos, and while specifically present in all that infinity, He is also particularly present in your finitude. He communes as closely as closely can be with the believing Christian who accepts Jesus as Savior.

This Holy Spirit is vastly more powerful than you or I will ever be, and yet He cares up close, He knows just exactly what we need, and He is ready to give it to us. He is God come to us as a very present help in time of trouble. His person and power combined even with our fallen humanity, is invincible.

How do we know this?

Because Jesus had the Spirit's presence with Him in the desert forty days and nights. He was alone but for God. The Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness to be tested. Jesus trusted Him implicitly. He trusted His very mission, indeed, His very existence. Jesus cooperated with the Holy Spirit, therefore, for Jesus, the Spirit was a driving force.

The love of the Father was in Jesus, therefore there was no room for the love of the world. In His love for His Father, Jesus was resolved to do one thing and do it well. He would do the will of the Father. How to know that will? Know the Scriptures; know the Spirit who superintended the Scriptures.

Think now how different these driving forces are, the forces of Satan's kingdom, and of God's. Satan's kingdom is an assumption of knowledge and power which, combined with mere humanity, is mostly illusion. God's kingdom is a recognition and reception of divine power, which is all aimed to uplifting us and doing us good. In one kingdom the driving force drives us to self-trust. In the other, the driving force leads to self-distrust. In which kingdom is your neighbor safer?


No one is waiting for the world to become more wicked. The question is, what does Christianity do for a person? More broadly, which of these two driving forces will we choose to drive us, and where will it drive us? Let us lay hold of the same power Jesus laid hold of, and be driven by the same Spirit He permitted Himself to be driven by. Let us find among the buttons and switches of the devices we own also the "off" switch. If it is too loud too long, we will lose connection with our Savior. May Jesus and His Father and His Spirit be chosen all day long every day long to be yours and my driving force.


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