Invariably in every film where there is a confrontation and a capture the captured person indignantly yells out, “I know my rights!” Now sometimes the victim does know their rights; but that phrase is usually just an empty shield or a smoke screen to delay justice. But what about in real life, especially in the spiritual realm; do you know your rights? Do you have any rights? Would you wag your finger in Satan’s face and loudly tell him, “I know my rights!”? When I imagine a scenario like that I cannot help but smile a little. However I would love to see it actually happen. But returning to reality, do we have any rights in the spiritual realm? Does God or our Lord grant us any? Let us address the question by working our way in reverse starting with a few rights that we do not have.
In the beatitudes our Lord said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matt 5:11). Okay, I guess that leaves out the right to being liked and respected. In fact, in the very next verse Jesus reminds us that even the prophets were persecuted; and we all know that the prophets were very special people in God’s kingdom and in God’s sight.
Now how about material comfort and riches? Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:24, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Alright, it is not impossible for a rich guy to enter Christ’s kingdom, but it is obviously not going to be smooth sailing either. Starting in Matthew 19:16 one can read this whole story in its full context. But getting back to my initial questions regarding rights, it would seem that Believers do not necessarily have the right to riches and material comfort as well as to gaining the Kingdom of God. Now that should be a challenge thought needing contemplation for Believers in the USA; because we are a very rich people.
Since Jesus said persecution is almost a certainty, we therefore cannot claim the right to be safe and secure. And since we are to live to glorify God, forget the right for personal praise and celebrity. But how about the right to self determination; to live as we wish?
In my concordance there are 27 pages for the word “will” with about 200 entries per page. But limiting my search to a person’s volition and their right to self determination this is the passage that I came up with: Mark 8:34-37. In verse 34 Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Recently Pastor shared a similar thought with us from Matthew 10:39: “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Those two verses share the same concept. In God’s kingdom we do not have the right to self will. In fact in Scripture even Jesus relinquished His will, sharing with the Father: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:39).
So to summarize our rights: a Christ follower gives up the right to be liked and respected; the right to be rich and comfortable; the right to be safe and secure; the right to be praised and paraded; and the right to his own will and preferences. We do not even have the right to victory or success when we pick up our cross to follow Jesus. However, the Bible does tell us of two rights that we do have.
Believers have the right to be called a child of God and they have the right to be filled with the Holy Spirit. John 1:12 tells us: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” And in Luke 11:13 we are reminded`: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” So in this verse Jesus is telling us we have the right to ask the Father for the Holy Spirit just like He told the Apostles to anticipate the power that will come to them with the Holy Spirit. As our heavenly Father, God also delights to give us the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Scripture teaches us that the Spirit’s power can be given multiple times as God prepares us or empowers us for different tasks EXs: Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31. The bottom line is that we are children of God who desperately need to be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit from time to time; and we have the right to expect and even to ask for the Holy Spirit’s filling. So, know your spiritual rights; use them and enjoy them. God’s blessings.
~ Carlos M.