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|The Closet: A Time To Go In and Time To Come Out||02/05/2010|
It was obvious that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wanted believers to set the proper example before men. It was clear that as people of faith and children of God we were not to do anything for show or to appear in any way to be something we are not. He had very hard words for the most religious group on earth during his day because they looked good outwardly, but as he put it, "within were full of dead men's bones and ungodliness."1
He was speaking of and directly to the Pharisees. He called them hypocrites, the great pretenders. In the Sermon on the Mount when giving instructions concerning giving and praying, he made it very clear that neither practice was to be done to impress people. They were not to give for show, and they were not to pray in such a way as to call attention to their pious religion and what was actually a self-righteous lifestyle.
Jesus gave clear instructions concerning prayer, which the King James Version translates as "enter into thy closet."2 In other words, get in a secret place to find time with God who sees in secret and then rewards and blesses openly. Why would He want us to start in a "closet" or "secret place?"
Asking God and interceding in behalf of others are certainly very important aspects of prayer. He invites and encourages us to seek and to find, to ask and to receive. We are encouraged to bring our petitions and our requests to God, who is a loving and caring Father. There is, however, much more to prayer than merely asking. There is the beauty of fellowship and learning that meaningful prayer is not only sharing our heart and speaking our concerns or desires, but it is also hearing the heart of our father. Communication is truly a two-way street. We not only speak; we listen. The more I have matured in my prayer life, the more I find myself in what might be described as meditation. I focus on God, listen and hear His voice. I have been asked, "Is it audible?" And I have answered, "It's much louder than that!"
I have received impressions in my mind that impact my total being. I truly have fellowship. I have come to understand how clearly my Father hears me and how deeply he cares, but I think to the pleasure of God, He knows how sincerely I desire to hear His heart. If it's possible for a father to be excited about the response of his children – and it is – then I believe He is excited about how anxious I am to know Him, fellowship with Him, and hear His heart's desire. I love to know His will and I seek to fulfill it.
Why is a quiet, private place so important? Because the sounds of this world, including the needs of those around us, are continually shouting. The world will tell you how to meet needs, but its solutions are usually inappropriate and incorrect.
The people in the day of Jesus had plans for Him. They knew what He needed to make what they considered to be a necessary difference. He must take a place of prominence and power. "He must be king on the throne now!"
Yet He made it clear that He was to be king in their heart, and that the kingdom of His father was to be established in us as believers and expressed through us. Jesus left the most powerful moves of God's spirit and the pressing throngs to pull away into the wilderness, alone on the mountainside – His secret place.
Jesus did not go to be with the Father to receive power. All authority and power was given to Him in heaven and in earth. The fullness of the godhead dwelt bodily in Him. He was the direct representation of the very nature of almighty God. Why did He go alone? I believe for several reasons.
First, He loved His father and wanted to spend time in intimate exchanges with Him alone. Second, I believe He wanted to hear His father's voice, to know His heart, and His will. Finally, He wanted to see where the father was working and move in that direction according to His eternal purpose and in the fullness of time.
I believe these are the very same reasons we need to get alone with God and separate ourselves from the sounds of the world with all of its deception and distraction. As Paul did, we must "count all things but loss for the surpassing value of knowing Him," and even share in His sufferings and concerns. We need to feel what He feels, to learn to care as He cares, and to move in the direction He is looking so that we may also fulfill His kingdom purposes.
Jesus made it clear that while there is a time to go "into the closet," there is a time to come out. "No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all."3 We are not to hide the light of the witness, which He has established in us by His very presence, under the covering of conformity, worldly comfort or religious compatibility. We are never to accept the traditions of men as the truths of God. We must not honor Him with our lips while our heart is far from Him.
When we "come out of the closet," we are to put the light on a lamp stand to let it shine as brightly as a city set on a hill. This simply means we are to live as the holy habitation of God – His dwelling place. We are His temple, the temple of the Most High, and His spirit is to fill this physical house – our very lives – and we are to learn the importance of living in spiritual unity and a holy connectedness with other believers so that we reveal Him in all His fullness. This means that when we come out of the closet, we begin to stand firm against the schemes of the enemy, suited up in the whole armor of God to win the battle against the spiritual forces of darkness and give Him the glory as mighty warriors.4
In our present day, "coming out of the closet" implies acknowledging your own lifestyle, however anti-scriptural and unnatural it may be. In this context, taking a bold stand brings personal benefit or relief and empowers some cause. This worldly view stands in direct opposition to the Biblical view.
I believe that "coming out" is becoming the salt and light of the earth. Our light is Jesus, so when we let our light shine it is the positive and transforming power of the relationship we have with Him in order that people see these good works and it glorifies our Father in heaven. We are told that we are to write a letter, not on "tablets of stone" or paper and ink, but a testimony in other men's hearts.5 We are to be bold and compassionate witnesses for Christ. We are to tell of His wonderful works and the personal experiences we have had with Him. A person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument. We are not going out to argue. We are going out to declare and demonstrate the power and transforming affect of a relationship with Jesus. If we are to be the salt of the earth, we are to affect the flavor and direction of everything around us. We make a difference and become a positive influence.
In a free society like we enjoy in the United States and some other countries, we have the democratic privilege of standing up for the principles in which we believe. That means that if we "come out" to be the light and salt of the earth, we need to understand the effects of the policies men put in practice. We need to understand the Old Testament truth, "Cursed is man who trusts in man and makes the flesh his arm."6 And we must caution all of our friends concerning the danger of depending upon men for our sustenance, provision and our very lives, which is the trend today in this great nation. We must understand the consequences of certain actions and the character of people that seek to put these policies into place. Many of them lack an understanding of sound principles and do not possess the character necessary to support them.
There is no way we can go into the closet, have fellowship with this great Father, and then come out indifferent, without compassion, and refusing to be bright lights and bold witnesses. Believers who claim to have a relationship with the greatest person in the universe and have in their very being the greatest power in the universe – the Holy Spirit – cannot remain silent witnesses and covered light. It is time to go into the presence of God and come out to demonstrate the manifestation of the powerful effect of this relationship.
Please accept His invitation to come into His "secret place," then His commission to go out! The last words of Jesus before ascending into heaven commissioned us to be his witnesses, beginning at home and ultimately to the ends of the earth.7 Count on me – to come in, then go out!
1 Matthew 23:27
Author: James Robison
Editor: Randy Robison
Word Count: 1658
About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and His wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.
Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.