Faith Unencumbered

“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man will give to you;
for God the Father sealed this One.”
Then they said to Him, “What may we do that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God,
that you believe into Him whom that One sent.”
(John 6:27-29, LITV)

It is only when I accept the absolute sufficiency of the blood of Christ to wash away my sins that I finally make myself open to the work of His cross in killing the old man who commits those sins. For when I give in to the fleshly feeling that the blood of Christ is insufficient, I resort to self-induced sanctification to make up for it.

But this is an affront to the gospel. For by such efforts I will only ever fail to measure up to God’s holiness, and I will only ever prove the Devil’s point when he accuses me. But when I behold that Christ died even for the sin of such religious compulsions, I am now free to lay down upon the altar in surrender, where I may reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God whose Spirit is able to perform that which He has promised to work in those who believe.

Then do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of patience, that having done the will of God you may obtain the promise.
For, yet a very little and the One coming will come, and will not delay.
“But the just shall live by faith; and if he draws back,
My soul is not pleased in him.”

But we are not of those withdrawing to destruction,
but of faith, to the preservation of the soul.
(Hebrews 10:35-39)

True humility is bold to go before the throne of grace for strength – pride lingers in the outer court, caught in the fleshly cycle of self-pity, insulting the grace of God as it minds the things of the flesh: and in this place there is no sacrifice left for sins. From such let all repent! For the one who minds the things of the Spirit is the one who constantly allows the light of Christ to expose such unbelief and therefore walks in no condemnation before Him – looking no longer at his natural face in a mirror, but looking rather into the perfect law of liberty: which is to lay hold by faith of all things given in Christ Jesus. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God because they behold the old man; whereas those who walk after the Spirit walk by faith in the work of Christ, and thereby naturally bear His fruit, because their heart is replaced by His and their mind is being renewed in the Word of His gospel.

But if the flesh is given place to rise up and act, we will inevitably fall into subtly perverting the grace of God into an excuse to live worldly. The flesh is unsatisfied and unsatisfying in all things and will only leave us restless; and we will begin to make up our own outward works to prove that we are truly walking with God by His Spirit; yet we will not allow Him to expose said works as being wrought by the flesh and therefore evil. Such is not true and can never become acceptable before God. “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23)

And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the Light, for their works were evil.
For everyone practicing wickedness hates the Light,
and does not come to the Light, that his works may not be exposed.
But the one doing the truth comes to the Light, that his works may be revealed,
that they exist, having been worked in God.
(John 3:19-21)

It is the most imprisoned of Christ who are the freest men; for the one who has despaired of all but HIM has the truest hope and will not be disappointed. It is by child-like faith in the power of God alone that victory is found and the kingdom entered. The righteous fear and trembling that we are exhorted to walk in comes from seeing just how futile all but the means of Christ and His cross are. It is this very growing reliance upon HIM that produces maturity and allows God to will and to do in us according to His good pleasure. Only faith unencumbered by anything outside of God’s empowerment produces GOOD fruit. Only the Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from the dead is the author of those things in us that are uncorrupted.

A good tree cannot produce evil fruits,
nor can a corrupt tree produce good fruits.
(Matthew 7:18)

This only I desire to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of law or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh? Did you suffer so much vainly, if indeed it also was vainly?
Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working works of power in you,
is it by works of law or by hearing of faith?

Even as “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”
Know, then, that those of faith, these are sons of Abraham.
(Galatians 3:2-7)

But are you willing to know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? Was not our father Abraham justified by works offering up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith worked with his works; and out of the works the faith was made perfected.
And the Scripture was fulfilled, saying, “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted for righteousness to him;” and he was called, Friend of God. You see, then, that a man is justified out of works, and not out of faith only.
(James 2:20-24)

In God’s eyes, there is not a war between faith and works.
There is rather a war between dead faith – which requires no empowerment by the hand of God because it is going nowhere and is required to produce nothing; and living faith – which works in following God’s voice, requiring His power unseen for the obtaining of His promises because it walks obediently on an impossible road.
The war is between the old man, who obeys the flesh, which leads to death; and the new man, who obeys God, submitting freely to the ongoing labors of the Holy Spirit, which is the restful path of life and peace.

We do not grow out of the gospel, we grow into its fullness.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.
(Psalm 131, ESV)

Joshua 8 – Part 2: The Word, Our Divider

Then Joshua built an altar to Jehovah, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, as Moses, the servant of Jehovah, commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses; an altar of whole stones, on which had been wielded no iron. And they offered upon it burnt offerings to Jehovah, and offered peace offerings.
(Joshua 8:30-31)

“…in Mount Ebal…”
Mount Ebal is where the blessings of abiding in Gods Word and the curses of straying from Him were pronounced upon and agreed to by the former generation under Moses (Deut 27-28). Its name means the place of cursing, and this is well; for that generation cursed themselves by binding themselves to the Word of the Lord and then breaking covenant through disobedience. Let this be a warning to every generation who has seen their forefathers go astray, and let them not follow after them in despising the authority of every word that proceeds from the mouth of God! For even now He has lifted His Spirit from off His rebellious children and goes to and fro throughout the whole earth, seeking those whose hearts will be pure before Him. He came unto HIS OWN, but His own DID NOT receive Him! Therefore, into the highways and byways, which are according to HIS wisdom, will be shouted the call of God for those who will receive only HIM, who will serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.

“…an altar of whole stones, on which had been wielded no iron.”
The tinkerings of man’s wisdom and man’s agendas find no place in the altar of the Lord which is made of His people. The house and the city of the Lord is neither built nor served by human hands; for it is an abode from heaven, made of new creatures in Christ, born of the Spirit of the Living God. Those whose hearts remain enamored with the things of this present world remain a part of the world, and will partake of its curses accordingly. This is not a matter of God being unjustly mean-spirited; it is a matter of nature. For He is Light, and in Him is NO darkness. None! The nature of this rebellious world is such that God’s holy Name can only be rightly borne by those who no longer conform to the pattern of this world. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds ONLY through the washing of the Word of Life, which was spoken to the fathers by the prophets, but now is revealed in His SON.

For that Word of God is the Light of men, of whom David says,

“I will thank You with my whole heart;
I will sing praise to YOU before the gods.
I will worship toward YOUR holy temple,
and give thanks to Your Name for Your mercy and for Your truth;
for You have magnified Your WORD above all Your Name.”
(Psalm 138:1-2)

For His Name will be exalted throughout all the ages in that Word which proceeded from the Father from the beginning: the One hidden from the “wisdom” of this world, the Mystery of Godliness of whom the righteous and holy partake (which is Christ in them); for they make their calling and election in Him sure unto the very end. These are they who bow to none but the King of kings and Lord of lords; whose souls have been purged of the dross of this world, that their spirit may have fellowship with His.

For this reason the scripture also says,
For the Word of God is living, and powerfully working, and sharper than every two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of both soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge of the thoughts and intentions of the heart; and there is no creature unrevealed before HIM; but all things are naked and laid open to His eyes, with whom is our account.
(Hebrews 4:12-13)

It was necessary that God would reiterate His words to the new generation so that they might be held to account going forward into the land; so that the plucking out of tares might occur in righteousness without hypocrisy. The tendency of those still walking after the flesh rather than the Spirit is to become puffed up in the limited revelation that they have without allowing it to bear weight upon their actual walk going forward. There is a unspoken notion in them that they have seen it all or that they have arrived to something beyond all others. But those in whom HE has arrived, these walk daily under the knife of His care and discipline, holding fast in the fear of Him, which He treasures and makes into a fountain of life. A man can only rightly divide the Word of truth to the extent that he has allowed that same Word to divide him. And he must not stop at mere conviction, but even enter into being fully transformed by it; for many have false security in merely feeling the conviction of the Lord, without truly letting Him take His Sword to their very life, especially to its most hidden places, so that every work of the devil in them might be undone.

Let every man take heed to and OBEY what is written and truly spoken of the Lord; lest the light in them become great darkness, and His Spirit be offended and driven away, and He leave them accursed, since they abide not IN HIM.

For as many promises as are of God,
IN HIM they are “yes,” and IN HIM are “Amen,”
for glory to God through us.
(2 Corinthians 1:20)

A covenant is only sustained by the reciprocation of both parties, as in any true and living relationship. As His day draws near, that which men have long looked to as the evidence of their relationship with God, outside of the Spirit’s inward witness to their obedience, will be shaken and is even now beginning to be shaken…

But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Therefore, bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.
And do not think to say within yourselves, ‘We have a father, Abraham.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
But already the axe is even laid at the root of the trees; therefore, any tree not bringing forth good fruit is cut down and is thrown into fire.
I indeed baptize you in water to repentance; but He who is coming after me is stronger than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, whose fan is in His hand, and He will cleanse His floor and will gather His wheat into the barn. But He will burn up the chaff with fire that cannot be put out.”
(Matthew 3:7-12)

Truly entering in to the promises of God in the newness of the Spirit requires an exodus from the old letter of the accursed land of man’s thinking. The word through human filters is not the Word. The two cannot abide together.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
I came to dissever a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother,
and a bride from her mother-in-law.
And a man’s enemies shall be those of his own house.
(Matthew 10:34)

So the Word was again delivered to God’s children, even those who had made it into the land; and there it would continue to divide the wheat from the chaff as some continued in the faith of Him and others disobeyed.

And he wrote there on the stones the copy of the law of Moses
which he had written in the presence of the sons of Israel.
And all Israel, and its elders, and authorities, and its judges were standing on this side, the alien as well as the homeborn, and on that of the ark, before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim, and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of Jehovah had commanded at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel.
And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that was written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the aliens that walked among them.
(Joshua 8:32-35)

God’s Law – Part 4: The Law of Love

I run in the path of Your commandments, for You have set my heart free.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes. I will keep them to the end.
(Psalm 119:32-33)

…now the end of the commandment is love
out of a pure heart and a good conscience,
and faith not pretended…
(1 Timothy 1:5)

Love (agape – the highest form of love, unique to God) is the true expression of God’s Law being fulfilled in us by the Spirit; because that love is the very substance of the whole of His character and nature.

God IS light, God IS love – both are equally true. A concept of truth with no expression of love is devoid of God’s Life and is therefore untrue. A form of love with no bearing in truth is devoid of God’s Light and is therefore unloving. For the light of God defines His love, and His love defines His light. Grace and Truth are so married in Christ Jesus, love and light are so married in God, that the apostle John could write unequivocally…

And by this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commands. The one saying, “I have known Him,” and not keeping His commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that one. But whoever keeps His word, truly in this one the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him. The one claiming to rest in Him ought himself to walk as that One walked.

Brothers, I do not write a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again I write a new commandment to you which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true Light already shines.

The one claiming to be in the Light, and hating his brother, is in the darkness until now. The one loving his brother rests in the Light, and no offense is in him. But the one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
(1 John 2:3-11)

The whole of God’s Eternal Law is summed up as the Royal Law of His Love (James 2). And that same Law is called both “new” and “old” here by John because it is the very same Word which was from the beginning, only in differing revelations at different times. The revelation of God’s Law, the very Word of Christ, was through Moses as a schoolmaster bringing those who could see to the end of the flesh, in the hope of a coming Redeemer who would dwell within them to fulfill it; Who, having at last been revealed to His saints, and now being revealed in them, causes them to become the very righteousness of God in Him! For “God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by His Son…” (Heb 1:1-2)

And by that Son, He spoke saying,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:34-35)

It is one thing to love our neighbor as ourselves, it is another to love even as Christ loved us; “who did not sin, nor was guile found in His mouth; who, having been reviled, did not revile in return; suffering, He did not threaten, but gave Himself over to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore in His body our sins onto the tree; that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; of whom, by His wound, you were healed.” (1Peter 2:22-23) – And this command is specifically given to be carried out among the brethren first. The pattern of order is, “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and (then) to the uttermost parts of the earth.” For if we do not love our brother whom we see, how is it possibly true that we love God whom we do not see? Those living in the darkness of this world do not truly come to the Light by seeing the hypocrisy of His people, but rather by beholding HIM as He is through His people. Our calling as His own is to be filled with all His fullness, so that even as He is, so also are we in this world. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God.” (Rom 8:19For in the liberty of the Spirit, we may surrender to the obedience of the very faith of Christ Jesus Himself, so that the will of the Father might be fulfilled in us also.

For, brothers, you were called to freedom. Only do not use the freedom for an opening to the flesh. But through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another; lest whatever you may will, these things you do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law
(that is, to fulfill it by the flesh).
(Galatians 5:13-18)

The true love of God is the pure expression of His Light and Life through those who have died to the flesh and live in the resurrection life of the Spirit. The flesh desires to have its own way, the flesh desires to have the last say; the flesh hungers for gossip and seeks to slander whatever opposes its own agendas. The reason that love is patient, kind, and not envious; the reason that love is neither vain, nor proud, nor indecently behaved; the reason that love does not pursue its own things, is not easily provoked, and thinks no evil of another, is because the one who truly loves in this way has died and is living free from his own selfish ambition or the agendas of man. He does not try to outwardly display these qualities to give credence to something or to grow what he perceives to be a “movement;” but rather he is inwardly being transformed as an individual by these qualities of Christ through the Spirit, becoming a man free from the will and decree of anyone but the Father.

For the love of God is holy, and holiness is perfected in the fear of God; but the fear of man lays a snare. “The secret (the disclosure, the intimate friendship) of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” (Ps 25:14) God indeed so loved the world that He sent His Son for them all; but those who believe step into the covenant of His love, which man can still break. A man can talk about the love of God all day long; but he will only truly experience and operate in its true substance to the degree that he fears the Lord. For just as the perfect love of God casts out earthly fear, so also the perfect fear of the Lord purges out earthly love, making way for that which is truly of God. And the man who presently walks in the purity of the holy love of God discerns clearly between the ministrations of flesh and the ministrations of the Spirit; between the mind of the Devil and the mind of Christ. But those who break covenant to walk after the flesh again are warned…

Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21)

The more “subtle” and internal works of the flesh are in God’s eyes equally as destructive as the more “obvious” ones; for they are all the bad fruit of HIM not being the only ruler in His temple. To walk in any form of darkness is to neglect and damage our brethren in ways that we and they may not even percieve, since we all are members one of another. The supply of the Life of the Head is transferred through the joints of the body; which means that the measure to which I may walk in darkness and corruption is the measure to which I withhold the greater expression of Christ’s light and life being released in His body.

Rivalries, divisions, envies and the like have no more place in the body than sexual immorality. “The one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness…” For lawlessness is to not fulfill the Law, which is God’s Love; and every form of sin violates that Law because it damages or hinders the body of Christ being built up. Therefore anything contrary to the body being built up in love is lawlessness. “Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” But the humility of true faith working through love leaves no room for spiritual pride, and it is the healing balm of a body cut in pieces through lawlessness. Faith working through love fulfills the Law, just as Moses offered to be blotted out from the book of life rather than to see God destroy His rebellious people and start over again through Moses. In this, the royal Law of love was being fulfilled in Moses’ heart, and God heeded his petition; and Moses was spoken of as God’s friend.

Greater love than this has no one,
that anyone should lay down his soul for his friends.
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his lord does.
But I called you friends, because all things
which I heard from My Father I made known to you.
(John 15:13-15)

Those of whom Jesus says, “I never knew you” are the same whom He calls “lawless.”
Therefore it is when we walk in the Light that we have true fellowship with Him, and with one another; for only there do we also remain under the fresh flow of the blood of Christ (1Jn 1:7), by whose stripes we are all healed. It was for not discerning themselves and thereby partaking of the fellowship of the body of Christ in an unworthy manner that Paul said to the divided church in Corinth, “For this reason many among you are weak and feeble, and many sleep. For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged.” (1Cor 11:30-31) The healthier HIS body, the less symptoms of its sickness need be present in our own. Corinth was a local body which had become factious through the idolizing of men as shepherds and the quarreling over of mere teachings at the expense of knowing Christ Jesus in His humiliation, in whose heart and mind we are meant relate to one another (Php 2).  And by our knowing of Him in keeping His Word, He also knows us. Love is called by the apostle Paul the “greatest” among faith, hope, and love; because such love is the very outworking of true faith and hope!

In love we endure many roadblocks, letdowns, and uncertainties on our path, seeking to live honorably, uprightly and pleasing to God in a perverse age; not being overcome by disappointment, for our consolation and our certainty is in God. Though reviled, those who are being perfected in love do not revile back; since they are not self-serving at heart, but truly desire what is spiritually best for those around them. In love we come to realize our own responsibility for the state of our brother in Christ and seek his edification. In love we discern the true need of the hour, becoming a vessel of God’s intercession, by whose power we see through the eyes of Jesus, know the will of the Father and “feel” with His heart . In love we lay our lives out on the line for the sake of the brethren, forgetting what lies behind. In love we rejoice to take upon ourselves the measure of the sufferings of Christ that are lacking in His body. By walking in this love we walk in the light as He is in the light, where true fellowship occurs and the blood of Jesus flows freely for the cleansing of His bride.

“Love always trusts” – and it especially trusts that GOD can work all things to the good of those who love Him as we submit joyfully to He who works to accomplish all that He intends for His faithful. The love of God which bears, believes hopes, endures, and rejoices in the truth is that by which God’s house is able to maintain true unity and peace, each member being reconciled to one another as this love covers a multitude of sinsFor the actions of love are the impartation of the blood of Jesus among the brethren; as His blood speaks of peace with God and reconciliation, not as the blood of Abel which cried out from the ground for vengeance. For by walking in this love, we walk in the light, where “we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.”

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.
And everyone who loves Him who begets also loves the one who is begotten of Him.
By this we know that we love the children of God:
when we love God and keep His commandments.
For this IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not heavy.
(1 John 5:1-3)

The love of God IS to keep His commandments, and this is not heavy because the command is one of promise: that for this impossible thing to be seen in the earth, we have been given all that is required by the Holy Spirit to walk in this divine nature, if only we will obey in faith, which is where His power is discovered. Those who so keep themselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21) will not grow cold or weary in doing good even when iniquity abounds; when all around there is betrayal, offence, animosity, and all kinds of spiritual falsehood leading many astray. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against a spiritual enemy which rules over them in this world; and by faith working through love, we have hope in this warfare, because everything having been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory overcoming the world: our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

God reveals to us the impossibility of the hour in order to show us what is possible by faith, and that faith working through love. Let us therefore step obediently with boldness and humility into this realm of God’s Life where only HIS mighty hand can bring forth that which He has required. For it is all of the grace of the Spirit of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law.
But the ones belonging to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not become glory seeking ones, provoking one another, envying one another
(Galatians 5:22-26)

Those who bind themselves and their expression of His Life to an organization or limit it under the authority of any “shepherd” below Christ have bound themselves to a ministration of man and flesh, even to the curse of the law of the old letter once again; and therefore cannot move in the true substance of God’s love by the Spirit. So the witness of the Spirit departs and the lampstand is removed from a city, for the Lord is provoked to righteous jealously by the unrighteous jealousy of men and their agendas. The “first love” from which the church of Ephesus departed was Christ Himself, whom they had come to know only in an empty religious form rather than in the very substance of His person present within and among them; thus making Him no longer the one Lord over all and in all and through all. Provocations and envies abound in such environments by nature; and amidst the scuffle for the top of the ladder, the truth itself is lost and God’s love becomes adulterated and conflated with carnal human sentiments. Where men are gloried in, the love of God cannot operate to any effect which takes glory away from them. Therefore Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day,  “I do not receive glory from men; but I have known you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.” (John 5:41-42)

This is why today, a man in bondage to darkness who seeks the Lord for deliverance is not confronted with the need for repentance to break the place of its grip; but rather is convinced that all is well and he need not concern himself much with submitting to God because he is ultimately “under grace”: and this is done all in the name of “love” – but such is not the love or grace of Christ, it is a damning lie! “For the saving grace of God has appeared to all men, instructing us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly and righteously and godly in the present age…” (Titus 2:11-12) The grace which is in Christ Jesus is that which strengthens us to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Jesus cast out demons in perfect love, He zealously drove out the world’s commerce from God’s temple in perfect love, and He rebuked the religious hirelings of His day in perfect love; for He loved not in pretense for selfish gain, but in the sincerity of all truth, as He is the Truth.

…Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices in the truth.
(1 Corinthians 13:6)

The reason that love quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things, is not because it is blind; but because it is free to walk in the exposure of God’s light unashamed and unaffected by other men’s deeds of darkness! The man who loves even as Christ loved him not only knows that vengeance is the Lord’s; but even knows that through walking in the meekness of love, he in fact intercedes on behalf of those currently opposing him. For in love we were predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son; so that by walking in that same love, we also may bear on our own bodies the marks of Christ.

The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient, in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the devil’s snare, having been taken captive by him to his will.
(2 Timothy 2:24-26)

This is the walk of the mature man, the one growing into all the fullness of God who is love. For having been loved by God, and thereby now loving his brethren through God; he discovers that he is truly enveloped not merely in a love for God, but rather in the love OF God. For that love is IN Christ Jesus, in Whom we must remain abiding by the rule of His Spirit, that He also may remain abiding in us.

“If you keep My commandments you will continue in My love, as I have kept My Father’s commandments and continue in His love.”
(John 15:10)

And of abiding in this place it says,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  Even as it has been written,
“For Your sake we are killed all the day;
we are counted as sheep of slaughter.”
But in all these things we more than conquer through Him loving us.
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God IN Christ Jesus, our Lord.

(Romans 8:35-39)

“These days, shallow and feeble resolve abound;
and true devotion, and passion and fervor are seldom found.
But there are those who often feel they’re all alone,
those whose identities are known
By the marks of the crucified Son…

Praying, caring, loving, sharing
– these are the marks of the cross.
Giving, bearing, feeling, daring
To lay down your life on the line,
Forgetting what you leave behind;
And willing to suffer the loss
Of the marks of the cross.

These days, the search for detachment and solitude
leads to retreating to fortresses no one would dare intrude.
Then there are those whose restless burdens start to show,
those who unmistakably must know
There’s no crown ’til we suffer the cross…

Praying, caring, loving, sharing
– these are the marks of the cross.
Giving, bearing, feeling, daring
To lay down your life on the line,
Forgetting what you leave behind;
And willing to suffer the loss
Of the marks of the cross.

All our identity rests in the knowledge of who we’re created to be.
We are His workmanship, made in His image for all of creation to see
The marks of His pain and His glory…
– “Marks of the Cross,” written by Bob Hartman & Ronald C Cates

– Brendan

God’s Law – Part 3: The Law of Liberty

There are three “laws” that are scripturally useful to understand at this point. The most important is simply God’s Law, which is the eternal Law of the Love of His very being, even the Word of Christ which was from the beginning. This is Light, for He IS Light; and the same defines His agape love, since He also IS that Love.

The other two “laws” can be thought of as animating powers at work in a man, either in opposition to or in fulfillment of that Law of God’s Eternal Word. The first of these two is the law of sin in the flesh which leads to death; the second is the law of God’s Life by the Spirit which is Life and peace (Rom 8:2). The one leads to bondage and death because it is of Satanic origin and human power, the other leads to liberty and Life in God because it is the power of God, indeed the very substance of His gospel’s victory. The one is the mystery of iniquity (lawlessness) at work in a person, the other is the mystery of Godliness at work in a person. The former is that by which the Law of God’s Word can only be transgressed; the latter is that by which the righteousness of God’s Law is revealed and fulfilled in whomever it is at work (Rom 1:16-17, 8:4). For the Law of God is the blessing of liberty to those within whom it works by the Spirit; but it is the curse of bondage to those who try to work within it by the arm of the flesh.

But if you are led of the Spirit, you are not under law.
(Galatians 5:18)

The law which we are no longer under is the former revelation of God’s Law that seemed to require the flesh to work according to the letter; whereas in Christ Jesus the flesh is crucified and the Spirit gives Life according to our faith! For that former and limited revelation of His Word from Mount Sinai was a schoolmaster upon the stubborn to bring us to Christ; Whose gospel, at one time being hidden, is now being revealed to His saints, that His righteous requirement might be fulfilled in and through them by the power of His resurrection Life in the Spirit, rather than by their own power in the corrupt flesh. Our liberty in Him is liberty from the law of sin and death, now being made slaves to righteousness by the Law of the Spirit of Life at work in us…“to fulfill the Word of God, the mystery having been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but now revealed to His saints……which is Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory…” (Colossians 1:25-27)

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY.
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

Liberty is found in the labors of the Holy Spirit when by faith we put aside our own labors of the arm of the flesh, as in the flesh dwells no good thing, but it is deceitful even to itself. The man who has died with Christ is raised to the newness of Life in the Spirit, and finds the command of the Lord no longer heavy; but even finds His yoke easy and His burden light! For the man who has died and dies daily is the man who can happily say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live – yet not I, but Christ lives in me – and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 KJV)

If in Christ we are crucified to this world and the world to us, then in Him we also have overcome the world! We still live in this body of flesh, but we no longer live after the flesh. For it is not even our own faith by which we live, but HIS faith! For Paul also wrote of the righteous requirement of God’s Law being fulfilled in him, “not having a righteousness of the law (that is, after the flesh), but through the the faith OF Christ, having the righteousness of God on faith…” (Php 3:9)

These are the words of a dead man who lives in the liberty of another One being at work in him unto righteousness. This is the experience of one both born and borne of the Spirit of the Living God. He now savors the Word of God and delights to keep His commands, for he sees that they are for his own good in knowing his new Master. He finds that to be a bondservant of Christ is true liberty! For the faith of Christ is the law of liberty by which we overcome the curse of this world – even in this life – by the power of the Spirit.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works?
Nay: but by the law of faith.
(Romans 3:27)

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world:
and this is the victory that overcomes the world,
even our faith.
(1 John 5:4)

OUR faith –  our faith overcomes the world because it is HIS faith that has become our very own. We live by the faith OF the Son of God!

For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast..
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

The gift which we have not of ourselves nor by works, is the faith of Christ! And now, having this gift of His faith, we may work out with fear and trembling the salvation which God Himself is working IN us to will and to do according to His good pleasure; perfecting holiness in the fear of God, “obtaining the END of your faith, the salvation of your soul…” (1Pet 1:9)

…for we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God before prepared that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:10)

And to walk in this law of faith was always the intention of God for His people, of whom the prophets foretold, “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezk 36:27) Even under the old covenant, God’s heart was already set on those who perceived the true heart of His Law, which was hidden but now revealed in Christ for all who might believe; hence the the praise of Abraham’s faith, Moses’ close friendship with God, and the purity of David’s heart, who was a type of Christ. For even to those ones, it was (to a degree) made plain to them by faith that they themselves were also “Christ’s letter… not having been inscribed by ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, not in tablets of stone, but in fleshly tablets of the heart.” (2Cor 3:3)

But of those who did not perceive the true Word, it says,
But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts.
But when one turns to the Lord
(Jesus), the veil is removed.
(2 Corinthians 3:14-16)

For the ordinances of the Law by which they once were bound because of the flesh were truly a shadow of things to come, “but the substance is of Christ,” said Paul (Col 2:17). Therefore, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) “Substance” and “evidence” speak not of a concept or teaching or doctrine, but of the living and fruitful reality of Christ in us. For by faith we hear the blood of Jesus Christ speaking better things than the blood of Abel, which cried out from the ground for vengeance; but the blood of Christ rather speaks, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people… Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned…” (Isa 40:1-2) The writer of Hebrews saw the imperfect men of old through the blood because of their faith, and therefore spoke nothing of their widely known shortcomings (Hebrews 11).
And we, knowing that we likewise have peace with God by faith in His blood, may also boldly approach His throne of grace, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, to find strength in Him to DO the Word. For “all the promises of God are yes and amen IN HIM”!

Because if anyone is a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, this one is like a man studying his natural face in a mirror; for he studied himself, and has gone away, and immediately he forgot of what kind he was.
But the one looking into the perfect law of liberty, and continuing in it,
this one not having become a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work,
this one will be blessed in his doing.
(James 1:23-25)

Studying one’s natural face and looking into the perfect law of liberty are two opposite things – that is why the one man only hears but the other man is able to do what he hears. The man who beholds only his natural self will remain beholden to his natural self; but the one who in faith beholds the provisions of Christ Jesus is able to step unashamed by the same faith into the obedience of Christ, who strengthens him to do all things, knowing that he was cleansed of his former sins and will never be forsaken if his heart is truly set on God.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with Godliness, and Godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind,
having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
(2 Peter 1:5-9)

For by His faith made ours, we also reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ. By faith we render ourselves slaves to the mind of Christ and no longer to the mind of the flesh; and by His renewing of our minds we find ever-increasing liberty; for therein we begin to truly know Him, and He is subsequently being revealed IN us by the divine nature of the Spirit! For if faith is the sight by which we walk, it ushers us in to live beyond the veil that has been torn, to dwell in the holy of holies beholding the Lord Himself, by whose very near presence we are changed into His likeness…

And we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror,
are transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as from the Lord, the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

The working faith of which James famously speaks is the faith of Christ at work in a man who reckons himself dead to sin and alive to God in Him; thereby being at liberty to obey God in the newness of the Spirit of life despite the temptation to raise up the old man again and again. Faith is the victory of the gospel because it is the means by which we are brought from the realm of our power into HIS power. True faith steps into that which only the Spirit of God Himself could enable! Those walking by faith discover that the Law of God IS liberty because it is being fulfilled IN them as they walk in the surety of the faith of Christ, Whose faith steps out upon the promise of God’s perfect will.

Now, the righteousness being revealed in us is revealed from faith to faith: meaning that when today‘s obedience is complete, tomorrow‘s provision is obtainable. If I do not have faith today to withstand the voice of the adversary accusing and tempting me in my own mind, how will I have pure faith tomorrow to raise the dead? But we learn to walk in the very faith of the Son of God by enduring the suffering of trials and temptations; just as He also learned obedience through the suffering which He Himself endured. For what faith overcomes the world except faith which has been tried as through fire?

You by the power of God are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in various trials, that the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ – whom not having known you love; in whom, though now you don’t see him, yet believing, you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory – receiving the result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:5-9)

For in the faith of Christ we also have a shield against every fiery dart of the enemy’s accusation and intimidation, every whisper and imagination preventing the knowing of He who dwells in us. Many of us have been so trained by the spirit of man’s religion to wallow in condemnation as though it were pious, rather than to enter in and dwell in His tabernacle forever, where confident faith is met by His every provision to overcome all things.

The mind of the flesh is so accustomed to dwelling in darkness that it fears the Light; and if we listen to its voice we remain tormented in fear, hardly touching the outer court – when truly Christ has made provision for us to inquire of His temple, even where His blood has sprinkled the mercy seat, the place where the Father’s glory dwells. For the blood of Jesus speaks authoritatively against every voice that seeks to prevent its work of drawing us near to Him, “wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:14-15) And God will not forsake what work He has begun; so that our greater victory is obtained by faith working with patience; just as Abraham, who, “after he had patiently endured, obtained the promise.” (Heb 6:15)

For men indeed swear by a greater one, and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. In this way God, being determined to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil (the holy of holies); where as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever…
(Hebrews 6:16-20)

It is pride which leads to a lack of confidence in His ability to keep us walking upon unknown waters: the false humility of shrinking back for preservation is pride; and by this we in fact forsake our true preservation. “…But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed…” (Heb 10:39) Therefore, by faith we also continually humble ourselves and stoop under the yoke of Christ, allowing Him to take our burden and give us His. But until His yoke and burden are upon us, they appear tiresome and heavy to the carnal mind – just as the darkness hates the Light, and the flesh supposes to know better than the very Spirit of God. “For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be.” (Rom 8:7-8) But if we humble ourselves, we find that it is the Lord Himself who renews our strength: to lift us up on wings as eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not grow faint! True and pure faith begins and remains in the meekness of Christ, “who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted Him, and gave to Him the Name which is above every name…” (Php 2:5-9)

This is the Lord whom we behold; for what we meditate upon in our hearts and minds, we inevitably follow after. The Devil beheld only himself, and so exchanged the glory of God (which he once had dwelt in) for a glory of his own selfish desire. And now, with the whole world lying under his dominion, he is the enslaver of every heart and mind not yet made a bondslave to Christ. Faith is not possible for the Devil: for now he walks by his own sight in ever-increasing darkness. The humility of true faith is the great stumbling block to those in spiritual pride. The liberty of a man to continually walk in the presence of God and fulfill His Word will be in proportion to that man’s ability to continually die and eventually fade into the role of being a spectator of God’s mighty work in him. The great strongholds of selfish ambition and vain conceit cannot remain standing should God have us as vessels for honorable use in His house.

Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously”? But he gives more grace.
Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep.
Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and HE will exalt you.

(James 4:3-10)

The liberty of the Spirit found by the humble boldness of faith is the realm where the vexation of spiritual youth is cast aside for the soundness and assurance of obedient steps taken in trusting gladness. It is the place of discovering that the narrow path we tread becomes as though it were a wide place by the Spirit so that our feet no longer need slip. By the trial and exercise of our faith, the fear of the unknown fades into the earnest apprehending of that for which we ourselves were apprehended of God. And in finding ever-increasing delight in the rule and reign of our Almighty King, our heart becomes as a reflection of His own, so that His desires within us might be granted; since nothing begotten of HIS desire is impossible to the one believing!

And the desire of those in whom He dwells is the fulfilling of His Word in them for His glory. Therefore as dead men, and consequently free, we may ask of Him with the eyes of our heart being enlightened by the Spirit, and with boldness and humility of faith worthy of His empowerment, that He might fulfill the Law of the new covenant of HIS love within us:

I run in the path of Your commandments, for You have set my heart free.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes. I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law.
Yes, I will obey it with my whole heart.
Direct me in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in them.
Turn my heart toward Your statutes, not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things. Revive me in Your ways.
Fulfill Your promise to Your servant, that You may be feared.

(Psalm 119:32-38)

– Brendan

God’s Law – Part 2: The Law of Life

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying,
“I am the Light of the world. The one following Me
will in no way walk in the darkness,
but will have the Light of LIFE.”
(John 8:12)

To have and to walk in the Light of God is both to have and to walk in the very LIFE of God. What it truly means to “believe,” according to Jesus, is a thing of such substance that His very Life is revealed in those who believe. And because they bear witness of Him by the fruit of HIS Life actually being brought forth in them, that very witness of His Life in them even judges those refusing to see it. Not that we judge of our own accord, but that the Witness within us judges all things, and we discern after Him. For the dead are not aware of the living; but those who have passed through death unto Life are with diligence able behold all things through Him.

The one believing in the Son of God has the witness in himself.
The one not believing God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness which God has witnessed concerning His Son. And this is the witness: that God gave us everlasting life, and this Life is IN His Son.
(1 John 5:10-11)

The phrase “everlasting life” speaks not merely in terms of time eternal, but of the substance of KNOWING HIM ever-increasing TODAY.  “And this is Life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (Jn 17:3)

“And this Life is IN His Son” – the Life of God remains abiding in those who remain abiding in Him. “He who has the Son HAS Life (present tense), he who has not the Son has not Life…” The river of His Living Water is the river of HIS eternity, into which He brings us; yet we know that some fall away from the Living God – this means that they were once truly in Him by some measure. To have everlasting Life means to presently know Him. For it is this present knowing of He who is Life which keeps us in His Life, and His Life in us. For unto us He has come, and in Him we must abide.

And we know that the Son of God has come,
and He has given to us an understanding that we may know the true One,
and we are in the true One, in His Son Jesus Christ.
THIS is the true God, and the Life everlasting.
(1 John 5:20)

But how do we walk in this Life, and how does its witness abide in us? By what power does the Light of Life shine forth? For a lamp requires oil; therefore it is spoken of He who lights our lamp: “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because of His SPIRIT He has given to us.” (1 John 4:13)

He who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life indwells us by His Holy Spirit – and more than that, He the Spirit is the very power by which the spiritual death once at work in us gives way to His Life being at work! We know that we know Him by His Life being manifested in us – not by our own assumption or doctrinal confession. For in dying to the carnal man by the cross and giving way to the working of HIS life, we abandon the working of corruption unto death through sin in the flesh, for the working out of God’s Law both in and through us by the Law of the Spirit of Life (Rom 8:2).

…My brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another’s, to One raised from the dead, so that we may bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were working in our members through the law for the bearing of fruit unto death. But now we have been set free from the law, having died to that in which we were held (the flesh), so as to serve in newness of Spirit, and not in oldness of letter.
(Romans 7:4-6)

It would seem to be a contradiction that the Law of God’s heart will be fulfilled in those who were “made dead to the law” – but that is because man supposes that the Law has to be fulfilled through the flesh. But no, Paul said, “the Law is spiritual.” The problem is not that the Law is carnal, but that man is “carnal, sold under sin.” Therefore the old man must be put to death in order for the righteous requirement of God to be fulfilled in us. For the ultimate Law of God is the Word Himself, Who remains forever; and the law of Moses was simply a hidden revelation of HIM to bring men to the end of themselves, begging for the Spirit’s rebirth. This is why Paul wrote “For through the law, I died to the law, that I might LIVE to God.” (Gal 2:19)

For the law “in which we were held” was ultimately the law of sinful flesh, which cannot obey God in a pure heart – this is why the Law of Moses only worked unto death, because the wages of sin is death. For Paul, posing as the carnal man, says, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Rom 7:22-23)

Therefore the grace of God, if it will make us free indeed, cannot end at the forgiveness of sins, it also must include deliverance from the very power of sin still at work. Now of course we are told that the power of sin is the law; but again, that is because of the weakness of sinful flesh, so that God’s requirement remains holy and just, still requiring fulfillment in His creatures. Therefore our continued salvation and deliverance is found through the putting off of the old man and the putting on of Christ. The old is condemned and must be reckoned dead for the new and blameless to be lived in with any power over sin and death. And this is all by the Spirit of the Lord. “For IF by the SPIRIT you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13) Those who live after the flesh are still under the condemnation of the Law and abide in death; but those walking after the Spirit are not condemned and abide in the Life of God.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law, being powerless in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh (not the law);
so that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us,
those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.

(Romans 8:2-4 LITV)

At the end of Romans 7 is the cry for deliverance from the cycle of the flesh warring against the Spirit, and Romans 8 lays out the path of said deliverance. The man in Romans 7 is still setting his mind upon and walking according to the flesh, which is death; but Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death! This is why Paul also said in Galatians 5, “But if you walk by the Spirit, you will NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”

The one who practices sin is of the Devil;
for the Devil has sinned from the beginning.
The Son of God appeared for this purpose,
to DESTROY the works of the Devil.
(1 John 3:8)

Jesus didn’t come to make an excuse for sins, He came to destroy them. His call from the cross is not merely, “Look at what I did;” but it is also, “Now having seen Me, come up here and die with Me, that you may truly live.” His work is truly finished; but have you stepped into all of it, to walk in the labors of the Spirit of His resurrection Life?

For I may have the new desires of the new creature to obey God; but I have not the power to overcome the law of sin and death at work in my members unless that new creature is animated by God Himself rather than by me myself. It is after I am born again when I truly begin to increasingly realize that it is I who is far more the enemy of God’s work in and through me than I ever previously conceived.

The fault is not with God’s demand, nor His lack of empowerment; but rather my lack of surrendering even the new creature to His control. For though I am regenerated in spirit, I am unable to animate or operate the new creature. The new nature desires what is right but gives us no power to overcome by our own will. For we are made into a new creature so that GOD can reside in and rule over us, as HIS temple!

“If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin,
yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
But if the SPIRIT of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life
even to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
(Romans 8:10-11)

So we can have the Word of Christ dwelling in us in some measure; but apart from a direct work of power by His Spirit, we simply remain in a deep struggle between two natures: our spirit being alive in the conviction of His righteousness, yet our mortal body still being subject to the manifestations of sin.

This cycle is not meant to endlessly perpetuate, but to dwindle and die – hence the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit.

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be My witnesses…”

Being true witnesses to the power of Christ requires that the power of His Spirit be clearly at work in us; for the Truth is not merely a concept taught and thought, but a Person known and lived in. To walk in the Way of the Light of Life is to walk by faith in the very shoes of He who IS Truth. For He said, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” For in Christ Jesus all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily; therefore He is the Way (the Son,) the Truth (the Spirit), and the Life (the Father). Yet on a ‘practical’ level for us, it is by His Spirit working in us that we are made His witnesses; therefore it is says, “And the Spirit is the One witnessing, because the Spirit IS the Truth.” (1 John 5:6) We will only be His witnesses to the degree that we allow HIS power to be operative in us. We are meant to be continually being filled with all the fullness of God!

For just as one is not a Christian without the initial seal of the Spirit of God and by Him the implanted Word; likewise, one cannot get far into their Christian walk without the ongoing filling of the baptism of the Spirit being present. For this baptism is meant to be a constant flow, a continual refreshing; we cannot run effectively for long on yesterday’s power for today‘s work. Our own strength is insufficient to power the new creature because it is in fact counter-productive to the work of the Spirit. To work out our salvation with fear and trembling truly means to humbly yield ourselves to GOD “who works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” So it’s supposed to be HE who works in me, not myself who works in me! The best intentions of our own efforts still amount to nothing but works of the flesh; and we do not have to live by those any longer.

Such is the confidence we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the SPIRIT. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives Life.
(2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

The trade of our own power for God’s power, and the trade of our own life for God’s Life, is the trade of deeds which amount to filthy rags for deeds which are manifest as having been wrought in God” (John 3:21). When we are operating out of any power except God’s power, we are placing ourselves back under the law of the letter rather than the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus and thereby walk under condemnation. Our growth from children into mature sons of God is accomplished only through the very Life of the Son being at work by His Spirit within in those who are dying to self. It is one thing to initially be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise – it is another to be led in the Father’s will by His power.

So, then, brothers, we are debtors: not to the flesh, so as to live according to flesh; for if you live according to flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.
For as many as are LED by the Spirit of God, these are SONS of God.

(Romans 8:12-14)

The children are many; let them put away childish things and become sons. The children of Israel were not called sons until after they had passed through the death of the river Jordan to enter into God’s rest; which is where we rest from our own labors and walk in the labors of the Spirit. The righteousness of God’s Law cannot be fulfilled and revealed except in those who walk by the Spirit of His Law, the Law of the Spirit of Life. For Jesus said to John of His own baptism in the same river Jordan, “this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” It was after this that God spoke from above, “This is my beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased.” Then He was “LED by the Spirit into the wilderness.” And we are called to follow in His steps.

“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin.
For he who has died has been freed from sin.
(Romans 6:3-7)

True Life is to know Him; and to know Him is to see, to look upon, to touch and to handle the substance His very Life indwelling us – by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Him. And by this, Hi’s Law is being fulfilled in us. But those of whom He says, “I never knew you” are the same whom He calls “lawless.” For sin is the transgression of the Law (1Jn 3:4) – that being the eternal Law of God’s unchanging heart and mind, the Word. And only by this exchange of our life for His, to live by His Spirit, do we find the liberty of His Law at work in us, wherein that royal Law of HIS Love can be fulfilled.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
And we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror,
are transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as from the Lord, the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

– Brendan

The Righteous Man Perishes

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7)

It is because many still walk in darkness that fellowship languishes and the blood of Jesus has seemingly become practically of none effect in the body at large. For with true fellowship in the Father and the Son comes the mending of the body; and by the blood of Jesus in His stripes are its members healed, and death largely kept at bay in their mortal bodies. It is because our soul does not prosper that our mortal bodies are likewise subject to far more corruption than ought to be present in our midst. He who walks in darkness walks in sin, and the wages of sin is death. This is obviously first a spiritual reality; but that which is at work in the spirit becomes inevitably manifest in the natural. If I do not walk in the light, then I do not have true fellowship with my brother, and I keep at bay the effects of the blood of Jesus in His body at large. For to walk in darkness among the brethren is to bring that darkness into the very body of which we partake, spreading corruption and death; and for this reason are we so judged…

For he eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself,
not discerning the body of the Lord.

For this reason many among you are weak and feeble, and many sleep (have died).
For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged.
But being judged, we are corrected by the Lord,
that we not be condemned with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:29-32)

Paul here is speaking beyond the mere physical representation of the last supper as most have come to know it. Yes, it is certainly in context of discussing the Corinthians’ gathering for a fellowship meal (among other things); but it is ultimately the very body of Christ, of which we are all members, that is being referred to, as well as the application of Christ’s blood (or lack thereof) based upon whether or not we walk in the light. In Corinth, their sin also included the factions and divisions which the people made between themselves, becoming autonomous under the names of men, supplanting Christ the only Head. So it is also today, the love of Christ among the brethren having all but grown cold. Therefore many among us in our own day are not being healed and are dying untimely because many others are walking in such darkness. For the judgement which a man eats and drinks upon himself” is not necessarily of his own mortal body perishing; but is often rather of now bearing the responsibility for another member departing who themselves might have walked in the light. For it is often those whose walks are more blameless that are taken from among us, making this judgement all the more severe and its warning all the clearer. As Isaiah wrote of himself, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me ARE signs and portents in Israel…” (Is 8:18) The more we do not take heed to such warning signs and repent, the worse it will become.

…And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
(Isaiah 8:22)

Now it has often been said in response to such things that this cannot be so because we are not under law but under grace. But truly the Word contends with you if this is your assumption. For the scripture says,

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN Christ Jesus,
who walk NOT after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
(Romans 8:1)

The place where the condemnation of the Law does not apply is “IN Christ Jesus”. But while a man walks in darkness, he abides not in Christ. For we must always be abiding in Him, which is to walk in the light as He is in the light! But “The one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness…” For lawlessness is to not fulfill God’s Law, which is His love. “Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” The humility of true faith working through love leaves no room for spiritual pride and is the healing balm of a body that has been cut in pieces through lawlessness. And this is only possible in walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For it is also written, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” (Gal 5:18)
This also means that when one is not walking after the Spirit, one is actually walking back under the condemnation of the Law and needs to repent and return to walking in the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And the curses of the Law are upon all those who are under it, for it cannot be kept in the flesh. As it says of them, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL the things having been written in the book of the Law, to do them.”

And among its many curses are these:
Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation
and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew.
They shall pursue you until you perish.
And the heavens over your head shall be bronze,
and the earth under you shall be iron.
The LORD will make the rain of your land powder.
From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies.
You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them.
And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away.
The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt,
and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed.
(Deuteronomy 28:19-27)

Let us test and examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord!
(Lamentations 3:40)

…For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged…

The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.
But you, draw near, sons of the sorceress, offspring of the adulterer and the loose woman. Whom are you mocking? Against whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, the offspring of deceit, you who burn with lust among the oaks, under every green tree, who slaughter your children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks?
(Isaiah 57:1-5)

– Brendan

Joshua 7: It Repented The Lord

And the sons of Israel committed a sin in the cursed thing. And Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took the cursed thing. And the anger of Jehovah glowed against the sons of Israel.
(Joshua 7:1)

The Lord does not show partiality in His judgement, as though He would blindly pass over ongoing rebellion among His own people. His wrath is kindled against all the sons of disobedience – especially those who trouble His own house from within. It is always assumed in our midst that God is on our side; and it is seldom questioned as to whether or not we are on HIS side. Such is the mindset that allows a people to begin falling away – if they haven’t already fallen greatly. This is the great blind assumption of all spiritual pride, declaring of its self-supposed heavenly estate, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Even Joshua himself had begun to assume the welfare of his fellow brothers when He sincerely questioned God as to why they were suffering defeat on the field of battle; but the Lord corrected him:

“Get up! Why do you fall on your face this way? Israel has sinned, and they also have transgressed My covenant which I commanded them, and have also taken of the cursed things, and have also stolen, and also deceived, and also put it among their stuff. And the sons of Israel have not been able to stand before their enemies; they have turned the back before their enemies because they have become cursed. I will not be with you again if you do not destroy the cursed things from among you.”
(Joshua 7:10-12)

We ourselves occupy a day in which sin is tolerated in the camp, God is not sought sincerely about it, and the wretched state of His house is excused as being due to uncontrollable and external circumstances. Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer shall the Spirit of Christ bear with us? Those who trust not in His power so as to obey Him and tear down the altars of their every idol cannot expect to be graced with His presence. And today He has already forsaken the gathering place only to be found by those who will dwell in the secret place, which often brings isolation; but the fellowship of God is there. The grievous “church” of man is the outer court of our day, and is now fully ruled and trampled underfoot by the Godless. And regarding such a state of affairs, in which the hope of Eden returning seems all but lost, the scripture says,

And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth,
and it grieved Him at His heart.
(Genesis 6:6 KJV)

This astonishing description of God’s heart can be applied not only to fallen mankind as a whole, but even more potently to a backslidden people who were at one time His very sons and in step with the Spirit. Upon these words hang for all of us the balances of judgement and mercy, of redemption and woe. The holy eyes of the Lord cannot look upon the fruit of man’s corrupting ways without His wrath being kindled and His heart pained with exceeding sorrow.

The love of God is pure, therefore He agonizes over our sins because He cannot abide their stench. It “repented” God that He had made man because He is holy and must take vengeance upon the wicked, for He hates all of their evil deeds; therefore it also “grieved Him at His heart” because He is merciful and takes no delight in the punishment of any. It pleased the Lord to crush the Suffering Servant (Isa 53) because that Servant became sin, in order to put sin itself to death with Himself and rise without it for those who would believe into Him, that they might partake of that same newness of Life. Only the One not accursed could take all of the curse upon Himself for all men; but remedies begotten of the sentiments of human pity are powerless to quench its eternal rot. Only the burning of God’s fire in our hearts will remove the dross to keep the gold pure: and dross can be whole persons or even peoples. For He beholds with holy eyes the horror of it all in great anguish and fervent scorn.

“And it repented the Lord…”

All of heaven itself stands aghast at the spectacle of our spiritual famine; yet men are content to continue praying for earthly good with no recognition of their dire condition in God’s eyes, taking no thought that in doing so they only further provoke His wrath. His Ark awaits to lift them above the flood of His fury, yet nearly all stand in mockery; and though claiming to honor Him, refuse to enter in. Most of those who are said to be born-again bear no fruit in keeping with repentance; and most of those who are supposedly Spirit-lead remain as worldly as they ever were. But those who truly see through the eyes of holiness take no delight in the futile matters of this passing earth, and they despair of hope in all but God Himself. These are the only ones possessing anything of worth, for they realize that the Lord Himself is all they truly have. Those who live from such a place of freedom and peace in the Lord Himself will no longer have need to confess, “I saw, I lusted, and I took…” (v 21) for they have allowed the Lord to take them as HIS own possession.

All of creation groans for the unveiling of God’s mystery in His offspring through Christ in them, and the heavens declare His glory even through the dull and miserable tones of the curse; but the exposing Light of Christ is so repulsive to those who continue engaging in the works of the devil, that to satisfy the insatiable appetite of hell is more desirable for them than to dwell in the piercing presence of the Holy One. It is no wonder that nothing short of the travail of the very soul of the Son of God Himself shall alone bear fruit unto God from among men, those of whom His Spirit declares “No one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does any good, not even one.” The agony of our Lord Jesus just before His crucifixion can never be weighed for the dread of drinking the bottomless cup of the eternal wrath of God, being plunged into the fiery baptism of the furnace of that righteous indignation, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.” Yet who in our midst is found agonizing in the Spirit with Him, seeing that there remains only a small remnant of the faithful? If we do not allow the fire to purge us today, what assurance do we have that hell will be satisfied with our absence from it on the day of judgement? TODAY is the day of salvation for every man, especially for those of His own house.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23)

Our trifling day lacks any real sense of the weightiness and urgency of the Lord’s mercy. A true revelation of His longsuffering in light of our stubbornness and rebellion should implant a lasting fear of Him in us which burns out all desire or draw to remain in any measure of idolatry. Those who have not been marked by the near despair of God’s own heart over their rebellious ways have not touched the cross; and those who refuse to continue carrying the burden of the Lord’s heart for today have strayed from it. These are the troublers of the true Israel of God, who grieve and lie to the Holy Spirit as did Ananias and Saphira; and these He will reveal and expel from the true camp of His people as the Day of redemption draws nearer and the faithful remain true to Him.

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and brought Israel near by its tribes. And the tribe of Judah was taken. And he brought the family of Judah near; and he took the family of the Zarhites. And he brought near the family of the Zarhites by men, and Zabdi was taken. And he brought near his household by men, and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
And Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and give thanks to Him, and please tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, “Truly I have sinned against Jehovah, the God of Israel, and this I have done: when I saw among the spoil a goodly robe of Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, one of fifty shekels in weight, then I lusted after them, and took them. And behold, they are hidden in the earth, in the middle of my tent, and the silver under it.”
(Joshua 7:16-21)

The futility of all things outside of God Himself must be realized should we make an offering of obedience truly pleasing to Him in this dark day, lest we perish by His own hand untimely for failing to redeem what little time is left. Waiting for a future hour of necessity to consecrate ourselves only reveals a failure to recognize that the hour of necessity is already passing. The hand of the Lord which prevents great evil from entering into His fold is quickly lifting because of their hidden idolatry and spiritual pride. Many have fallen away and many more will continue to drift. The wheat and the tares are also becoming manifest. Today, and today only, is the last day for being made ready to be broken and poured out unto death. The Lord will hear the cry of contrite in heart who tremble at His word, for them He is able to answer with mercy.

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven: “We have transgressed and rebelled, and You have not forgiven. You have wrapped Yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity; You have wrapped Yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.”
(Lamentations 3:40-44)

May we no longer tolerate in the temple of God that which troubles the holy progress of the body of Christ: may it no longer repent the Lord that we are called His children.

And Joshua said, “How you have troubled us! Jehovah shall trouble you today!”
And all Israel threw stones at him, and they burned them with fire,
and they stoned them with stones.
And they raised over him a great heap of stones to this day.
And Jehovah turned back from the heat of His anger. On this account, the name of that place is The Valley of Grief until this day.
(Joshua 7:25-26)

– Brendan