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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 12/03/06
What it means to be initiated into the secret of the mystery. Part 46.
The Portfolio of Invisible Assets. Part 6.

We have been noting the general categories of testing which occur in all stages of spiritual growth as a part of your portfolio of invisible assets: 1. The old sin nature test. 2. Cosmic #1 test. 3. Cosmic #2 test. 4. Disaster testing. 5. People testing. 6. System testing. 7. Thought testing. 8. Prosperity testing. We have noted the first 6, and we continue in #7: Thought testing.

Mental attitude is the one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship with God and deepening it. Each experience we have is to operate ultimately for our good. This is a correct mental attitude to adopt and we must be able to see all things in that light. Ability is what you're capable of doing; motivation determines what you do; mental attitude determines how well you do it. It is our mental attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which will affect its successful outcome. Human beings can alter their lives by altering their mental attitudes. Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. 1CO 1:26-31 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written [quotation from JER 9:24], “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Your life comes to be what you think, not what you feel. Most believers today want overt impact, yet know nothing about the PPOG. You should be exposing yourself to Bible doctrine daily so that your thinking comes to divine viewpoint, with the result that the battles in the soul are won. ROM 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Born again believers should be alert, thinking people, not mindless, emotional, irrational, yapping, rolling, screaming imbeciles. Spiritually adult believers can be in danger when they have a mental attitude test because it may knock them out of living the spiritual life if they are not humble enough to receive correction and recognize it. If they do not become alert when the mental attitude test comes, they will fall back into the cosmic system without even knowing it. You'll know when you’ve failed the mental attitude test, especially when you enter into the sins of the tongue which inevitably will also lead to overt sins. So, when you are advancing toward an objective, you must be alert, and that alertness comes from objective, not subjective, thinking, GAL 6:3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the mental attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. The single most significant decision you can make on a day-to-day basis is your choice of mental attitude.

EPH 6:16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. You must be on the alert to the attacks of Satan the kingdom of darkness. This why Paul said in EPH 6:12 Because our struggle is not against blood [people's souls] and flesh [their old sin nature], but against the rulers [these are the archons like Abaddon and Beelzebub], against the powers [demon officers who have phenomenal authority], against the world forces of this darkness [kosmokratoras = demons who specialize in possessing or influencing the cosmos or world rulers] against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places [against the spiritual forces of evil in the atmosphere around the earth, the stellar universe and in the presence of God]. The longer you live, the more you will realize the impact of mental attitude on life. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way, the only thing we can do is determine our mental attitude. Life is 10% what happens and 90% of how you react to it; we are in charge of our mental attitudes. It's easy to let life deteriorate into making a living instead of making a life. On any day, Satan can launch a surprise attack that can sink your spiritual life. Satan is both relentless and ruthless, and as we have seen, he not only prowls; he also devours.

In our corrected translation of EPH 6:11 Pick up and put on the full armor from God, that you may be able to hold your ground against the schemes or the strategies of the devil. The word schemes is transliterated methodeia in the Greek, from this we get our word method. If the devil is our adversary (1PE 5:8), it stands to reason he will attack us.  Satan’s strategy is not always a frontal assault, most often it's subtle. Because the spiritual battle is invisible and, therefore, often inconspicuous, we are sometimes ignorant of it altogether. It is for this reason that, in 2Co 2, Paul warns the Church to forgive a repentant sinner and reaffirm their love for him in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan.

            We need divine power and the divine mental attitude; this is why the apostle said in EPH 1:18-20I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who have believed. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might or for the delegation of His superior power which He has put into operation by means of Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places.” The average believer does not even know about God's superior power or how God has delegated it to us through thought. That's why we have a lot of mindless emotional activity rather than doctrinal thinking. There is very little doctrine being taught and thought today. The delegation of superior power comes in the form of thinking metabolized doctrine circulating in the right lobe of the soul, which is the  heart, called the kardia in the Greek.

So, the real you is the thought content of your soul. PRO 23:7 says “For as a person thinks within himself [himself is nephesh = soul], so he is.” This passage reveals that hypocrisy is a manifestation of an evil mental attitude. People use thoughts to justify their wrong doings, and speech to conceal their thoughts. Hypocrisy is the ultimate form of wickedness and evil. It's interesting that the one group of individuals that our Lord was so angry against, He called hypocrites. He taught that the scribes and the Pharisees were hypocrites who gave alms, prayed, fasted, tithed, they were overtly moral and righteous, they studied and taught the Bible, but their mental attitude was evil (MAT 6:2; 6:5; 6:16; 23:23; 23:25). You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. Concentration is matter of your priorities in life. What you're concentrating on right now, if you're not sleeping, is your priorities in life. If Bible doctrine is your number one priority then you will be motivated from your own soul. Bible doctrine is the thinking or the mind of Christ, 1CO 2:16 “For who has known the thinking of the Lord that he should instruct Him, but we have the mind of Christ [the mystery doctrine of the Church Age].” To become a winner believer you have to be motivated from your soul.

The delegation of divine power includes: 1) The content of thought--Bible doctrine with emphasis on the mystery doctrine of the Church Age. 2) The communication of this thought through the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher. If there's anyone who's going to be a pain in the neck to everyone, it is a pastor-teacher (GAL 4:16). 3) The delegation of divine power also includes the concentration of the believer on doctrine as it is being taught. Worship demands concentration, and as believers in TLJC, we are mandated to worship God. All forms of worship are a concentration test. Concentration on the teaching of doctrine reflects your values, motivation, mental attitude, and spiritual status quo. Whether it's concentration on doctrine, concentration during the communion service or in prayer, it's all a part of the same thing: THINKING. Correct thinking is the only way we grow spiritually. JOH 4:24 says “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in [the filling of the] Spirit and truth[metabolized doctrine].” The word for worship is proskuneo which means to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand. That is what you do when you are here learning doctrine under the filling of the Spirit, you are like a dog licking your master's hand. A thought (or lack of thought) can make or break you at any given moment, depending on whether your thought is human viewpoint or divine viewpoint. 1CO 10:12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” GAL 6:3 “For if anyonethinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

Mental attitude determines your true character and personality. Character cannot be developed in ease and quietness. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, discernment developed, godly ambition inspired and spiritual success achieved. Trials, temptations, and disappointments are all helps instead of hindrances if one uses them rightly by having the proper mental attitude when going through them. They not only test the fiber of your character but strengthen it. Every trial endured and weathered in the right mental attitude makes a soul  more virtuous and stronger than it was before. And it all begins with mental attitude.

We are now ready for the eighth test: Prosperity. Prosperity testing actually has reference in the last passage we studied in the book of Philippians. PHI 4:11-12 “Not because I am speaking with reference to poverty or lack; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” The prosperity test is difficult for a lot of people. In fact, there are two categories of prosperity testing: 1) Individual prosperity testing, in which some form of success challenges the top priority of doctrine. 2) Collective prosperity testing, in which a city, state, nation, business or group becomes very prosperous.

The believer sharing in prosperity can become distracted from doctrine, and lured away from the PPOG. There are many believers today who cannot handle any form of prosperity because promotion and recognition causes them to become arrogant and think more highly of themselves than what they ought to think, especially in churches. You might have a position in a church and people highly respect you. It's not because of you, it's because of the position that you have, and it's TLJC that they really honor and worship. Every believer must pass the prosperity test before he can achieve spiritual maturity. Prosperity cannot bring happiness apart from the believer's residence function and momentum inside the PPOG. Prosperity is the most subtle distraction to life in the PPOG, so our capacity must always precede our prosperity.

The cosmic system can offer you success, sex, fame, wealth, promotion, social and professional prosperity, but all these are without happiness and you make your own misery. The prosperity test is vitally necessary before reaching spiritual maturity. Passing this test consolidates the believer's scale of values, making them consistent with the PPOG, resulting in stabilizing the right priorities of life, and giving capacity to enjoy prosperity. Passing this test means that the mature believer receives God's greatest prosperity, the greater blessings of time and eternity.  If you are unhappy in the midst of prosperity, it means that you have flunked one of these tests. When you have the same happiness in adversity as well as prosperity, it means you have passed the test. If you flunk any of these tests, you go backwards. If you pass any of these tests, you accelerate your spiritual growth. Therefore, it is concentration on occupation with Christ as per HEB 12:2 that makes Him the focus of your life, the priority solution, the motivation, and the basis for worship, as in communion. In spiritual autonomy, you have a very keen focus and motivation. You concentrate on Jesus Christ through metabolized doctrine in your right lobe so that occupation with Christ continues as the motivation and focus of your life.

Occupation with Christ becomes a major problem solving device in passing momentum testing and advancing to spiritual maturity. We will all face life and prosperity and death and adversity, therefore we need to learn how to adapt in life. DEU 30:15 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;” On a good day, enjoy yourself; on a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won't take anything for granted. JER 22:21I spoke to you in your prosperity; but you said, I will not listen! This has been your practice from your youth, that you have not obeyed my voice.” The prosperity test usually comes when you least expect it. It may be the giving of prosperity which might change the believers lifestyle or it may be the removal of the prosperity that the believer was enjoying. The prosperity test also brings out the covetousness and jealousy that some believers still have within them. For example, there is the prosperity of the wicked which sometimes causes envy in the righteous. Psa 73 (A Psalm of Asaph), is a Psalm that warns us about envy and jealousy, especially when you see individuals prospering who could care less about God.  Asaph was one of the finest and chief musicians in Israel. PSA 73:1 Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! This type of thinking, that God is good to His people, is very important especially when you're going through something and you don't know how that thing is going to turn out. Even if you don't understand what you're going through remember God is good to His people.

PSA 73:2-3 “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious [or jealous] of the arrogant, {As} I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He nearly missed seeing God's goodness because he was looking the other way; looking to people who were prospering. There are certain people who prosper even though they are wicked and this is also a part of your prosperity test. How do you handle the prosperity of others? Do you live in 1CO 12:26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.—or, do you compete and compare with others and rejoice when you hear bad news? God in His grace actually will allow the wicked to prosper on this earth. One of the reasons is because this is their heaven and God loves them so much.  He sent His uniquely born Son for them but they rejected Him. However, His impersonal love, loved them, and so this life is their only form of prosperity. This is their heaven. So, there are reverisionistic believers and unbelievers who cheat and lie and steal and who are criminals and who would do what they can to get ahead and they can get more than you. That's what happened to this individual, he saw the prosperity of the wicked.  PSA 73:3For I was envious of the arrogant, {As} I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” You may look at what others have, but you only see their outward display.  You don't see the discomfort and lack of content in their soul. You don't see when they go to sleep at night that they have all these riches and all these things and all this form of prosperity, but there's something missing in their soul. ECC 5:12 says, “The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much. But the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.”

PSA 73:4 “For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat.” He really has no idea whether or not there are no pains in their death, but he's thinking like many do, that if you have money all your problems are solved. That's not true! (ECC 5:10-11). By the way, fatness in the ancient world was considered to be prosperity. Remember that this is the thinking of the individual who almost slipped. You always need to remind yourself of something, you have something in your soul that money cannot buy, a peace that will take you through any tragedy, disaster, sickness, and still say, “I have learned to be content in whatever state I am in.” You cannot buy that contentment.

PSA 73:5 “They are not in trouble {as other} men; Nor are they plagued like mankind.” Remember again that this is the thinking of the individual that almost totally slipped away from that which was important, the plan of God. PSA 73:6“Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them.” They wear their own pride and their own violence as jewelry and they want everyone to see. PSA 73:7 “Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of {their} heart run riot.” This refers to the fact that whatever their heart wants, they get, because of their riches. Solomon said this inECC 2:10  “And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,” He said this when he was miserable. PSA 73:8 They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. Refering to their arrogance. PSA 73:9They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth.”They think that what they say is important, and they deny, reject, and attack God. There's the "I Will" syndrome of Satan. What they say is considered by human viewpoint to be wisdom and success. PSA 73:10 “Therefore his people [a reference to the wicked who prosper, they always have people because of their riches] return to this place; And waters of abundance are drunk by them.” They recruit more wicked people like themselves and teach them to do the same things. PSA 73:11 And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” They deny the Omniscience of God. PSA 73:12Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased {in} wealth.” Everything goes right for them, and in their carnal security, they become very powerful and mighty.

The Psalmist, at this time, thinks that those who try to live Godly have nothing but misfortune and for those who are living wicked everything goes right. But remember verse 2 and 3: “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; my steps had almost slipped.  (Why?) I was envious or jealous of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”  The man began to look at what people had overtly instead of what he had and that's why he almost slipped. PSA 73:13 “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence;” Sometimes this is the thinking of those believers who are trying to do right things, but who do not see immediate results. PSA 73:14 “For I have been stricken all day long, And chastened every morning.” This may be true for a believer who is under divine discipline, because of rejection of God's plan for his life, but this is not the norm and standard for us. PSA 73:15 If I had said, "I will speak thus," Behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children.” meaning that he knows that the answer is not to become wicked so he can prosper. PSA 73:16-17 “When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight. Until I came into the Sanctuary of God; [that's a good place to go when you have a problem]. Then I perceived their end.” Once he came back into the sanctuary or the place where God's Word was taught, his eyes were opened again to the truth.  When things are not going right in your life, that's a time to draw near. If everything's going wrong in your life it’s time to get to Bible class, to hear how God is on your side, to hear what the Spirit says to the church. PSA 73:18Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction.” The wicked were standing on a smooth place (everything's going smooth for them), but always remember, smooth places can be very slippery. Every person who is anti-God and has negative volition has a year assigned by God for their punishment.

PSA 73:19-20 “How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form.” When the person awakes, the dream is forgotten quickly, and so it will be for the wicked and their prosperity. You have something far greater than any rich man could ever, ever buy and never forget that. PSA 73:21-23 “When my heart was embittered, And I was pierced within, Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was {like} a beast before Thee. Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand.” I don't care if things are going wrong. I don't care if I don't have that money. I don't care if I don't know what my future is all about. “I am with thee;  You have taken hold of my right hand.”

PSA 73:24With Thy counsel [your doctrine] Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory.” He knows that afterwards, even after this dark way of faith, God will still receive him. PSA 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven {but Thee}? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.” I'm back to my senses.  Thank you God. PSA 73:26-28 “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. But as for me, the nearness of God [being near to God in fellowship with Him] is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works.” What a beautiful Psalm. You have something that wealth cannot buy or gain. The mental attitude of the positive church age believer is the greatest of all prosperity. There's never been anything like it in all of history.

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