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 is exalted in that which no longer conforms to the pattern of this world. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds 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 even before men. 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 it bearing weight upon their actually walk going forward. There is and unspoken notion 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 a false security in merely feeling the conviction of the Lord without letting Him take His Sword to their very life, and especially to its most hidden places 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)

The true entering in to the promises of God in the newness of the Spirit requires the exiting 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)

 

– Brendan

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; 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)

If in Christ we are crucified to this world and the world to us, then in Him we also have overcome the world! We may 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 extend ourselves into the realm of 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.

This is why it is written:
You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
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. It is the PRESENT KNOWING of He who is Life that 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 fulness 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.” (1Jn 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 manifest 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. The more we do not take heed to this warning sign and repent, the worse it will become.

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 5: No Reproach Before Heaven

At that time Jehovah said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives, and again circumcise the sons of Israel, the second time.” And Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins…
…And it happened, when all the nation had finished being circumcised, they remained in their places in the camp until they revived.
And Jehovah said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled the reproach of Egypt off of you.”
And he called the name of that place Gilgal to this day.

(Joshua 5:2-9)

The fruit of the promised land will not be partaken of by the double-minded; nor its cities conquered by an army whose trumpet makes an uncertain sound. Yet these are the hindrances which the reproach of Egypt produces.
The devil would have us still be ashamed and ever-conscious of the cities we once built for Pharaoh, convinced that his kingdom still holds the right to our bondage. 
“For you ran away like a foolish and unknowing child,” he calls, “Don’t you owe Pharaoh for all that he fed you and the shelter which he provided you? You ought to at least still live as one fearing him!”
Double-mindedness and uncertainty of heart produce compromise and cowardice.
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Prov 29:25)

But in this passage we see victory over this achieved simply by allowing God to take His knife to our hearts, cutting away the veil which He has opened so that we may joyfully walk before God in a good conscience in the light. The Lord intends that His people would be so circumcised in heart, so that being of a single-minded and sincere faith before Him, they might be able to mind the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh; and therefore walk unwavering in the freedom of obeying His word unashamed. He even went so far as to say to the stubborn ones, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart…” (Deut 10:16)

“And he called the name of that place Gilgal to this day.”
It is only fitting that the location at which they were circumcised was the location where the twelve stones of memorial had been placed (Joshua 4); where we meditate in thanksgiving upon His wondrous works in times past, and may be spurred to the obedience of faith in the hope of His promise. When David’s brothers sought to hinder him from facing Goliath, he recalled to memory the power which God had given him through faith to overcome the lion and the bear. And the same David sang, “Through God we SHALL do valiantly: for HE it is that shall tread down our enemies.” These are not the actions or words of a man ashamed before his God, nor of one wavering in faith due to circumstances; but of one who knows and trusts in the Lord whom he confessed before all men.

Those who are circumcised in heart have nothing left to lose before man, since they count all things loss for the sake of knowing God. Those who seek to follow Him very far must allow Him to take away the reproach of Egypt which covered them so that they may with a clean conscience partake of the blessing of the land of rest, being prepared in confidence to fight the good fight of faith unto every victory. The true sacrifice which pleases the Lord is the one offered in an undefiled conscience; and the obedience that will stand in the day of judgement is that which flows from a heart beating unashamedly with the Father’s pure and holy love: jealous for HIS glory and rich in mercy. But the heart and mind clinging to the reproach of Egypt are working against faith and therefore cannot please God. The works of faith reveal the Light; but the works not proceeding from faith keep men in darkness.
Despite his personal failures, David remained a man after God’s own heart because He always returned to abide humbly before God, obtaining such a good report from Him because he lived in 
“the end of the commandment,” which is “love out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith not pretended.” (1Tim 1:5)

So let us humble ourselves under the double-edged sword of His word that we may be made to clearly hear the voice of our Shepherd and be filled with the heart of the Father for keeping in step with His Spirit. To so walk in the Spirit, without the reproach of the former things having to limit the depth and nearness of our communion with Him, is the cultivating of that rest in which He desires us to abide.

For having passed through the veil of His flesh by crossing the Jordan, we may now “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts having been sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body having been washed in pure water…” In contrast, the uncircumcised heart, trapped in minding the flesh and living in the flesh, is a heart easily given to shrinking back; like the servant who faithlessly buried his talent in the ground, failing the Master who gave him all that was required to fulfill the calling.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
(
Hebrews 10:39)

And the sons of Israel camped in Gilgal, and prepared the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening, in the plains of Jericho.
And they ate the old grain of the land on the morrow of the Passover, unleavened bread and roasted grain, in this same day.
And the manna ceased on the next day after they ate of the old grain of the land.
And there was no more manna to the sons of Israel,
but they ate the produce of the land of Canaan in that year.
(Joshua 5:10-12)

Here we see that the people’s own true fruitfulness in the land began at the aforementioned place of memorial and circumcision: Gilgal.
For even as the manna from heaven was good for those who had just been brought out of Egypt, so is the pure spiritual milk good for those new babes in Christ who have just been newly translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His light. But those who will keep themselves in His love must seek to walk in ALL of His Truth by the Spirit; and the fruit of the Spirit is found ever-increasing those who enter His rest and 
abide therein, unashamed to partake of it. It is in this posture that they themselves become fruitful and thereby a revelation of He who dwells in their midst.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a Man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
And He said, “No; but as Captain of the host of the Lord have I now come.”
(Joshua 5:13-14a)

The Captain became very present to lead them in battle after their reproach was taken away; for they were now truly able to be lead by Him in unwavering faith, being of a single eye towards Him in a clear conscience. Notice how our Captain said to Joshua that He now had come to lead them on in battle.
His ability to lead them on in victory depended on their ability to render themselves HIS vessels.
As it was said to those who escaped Egypt, “the LORD will fight for you.” Those who surrender themselves as living sacrifices to His will may become the very vessels of HIS warfare. And by the continued experiences of His victory through faith, we more and more readily surrender and fully trust Him to be our rearguard and the shield around us when He commands us to war. As the children become sons, they develop a seasoned faith in the Lord as being their very strength, who can now “teach my hands to war and my fingers to fight,” with weapons of warfare that are “not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him,
“What saith my Lord unto His servant?”
And the Captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua,
“Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.”
And Joshua did so.
(Joshua 5:14b-15)

“What saith my Lord unto His servant?” – The true worship of God is seen in the acknowledging of and obedience to He who is the true and only commander that can lead His people to inherit the kingdom.
“…for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” – There is no lasting victory upon the ground which God has not set apart and dedicated to Himself; and He will not devote even that ground to our conquering if we ourselves will not also be set apart to Him. Without holiness, no man will see the Lord (Heb 12:14). His kingdom shall only be taken by those spiritually violent in faith under the direction of the Captain of the host of the Lord. For the warring of a holy people is spiritual, not against flesh and blood; but a people who always war according to the flesh – seeking the worldly things and trusting in the wisdom or devices of man – are evidently a profane and a faithless people. The true kingdom consists in the power of God working mightily in those who take to it’s borders and beyond with a holy violence; and holy violence is only seen in a faith which renders its loyalty exclusively to ONE Captain. For having the reproach of Egypt taken off of them, they are being renewed in the spirit of their mind and putting on the new man, “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

And by so partaking of the divine nature, they become fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, whose qualities they begin and continue to show forth; which they are able now to do without reproach, since they have not forgotten that they were cleansed from their former sins. And regarding such faith which increasingly practices these qualities, the apostle Peter said, “in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
For this is the holy spiritual violence of those who count all things loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus:upon whose revelation they become ever more poor in spirit, knowing that except He lead them and they abide in His way, they will not taste of the greater glories of His fullness. It is for HIM that they hunger and thirst.

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
(Matthew 11:11-12)

“My hearer, have you ever been one of these violent men, or are you so now? Blessed be God if this holy violence is in your spirit: you shall take heaven by force yet; you shall take it by storm, and carry the gates of heaven by the battery of your prayers. Only persevere with importunity; still plead, still wrestle, still continue to strive, and you must at length prevail. But ah! my hearer, if thou hast never had a strong unconquerable anxiety about thy soul, thou art as yet a stranger to the things of God. Thou dost not understand that violence victorious without which the gates of heaven never can be stormed.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon


“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

(Psalm 42:1-2)

 

– Brendan

Joshua 4: Setting In Stone

And it happened, when all the nation had completely crossed over the Jordan, Jehovah spoke to Joshua, saying, “Take twelve men for you out of the people, one man of each tribe. And charge them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from this place, from the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the feet of the priests were fixed. And you shall carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place which you stay in it tonight.'” And Joshua called to the twelve men whom he had readied from the sons of Israel, one man out of each tribe.
And Joshua said to them, “Cross over before the ark of Jehovah your God to the middle of the Jordan, and each man of you lift up one stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, that this shall be a sign among you, when your children ask hereafter, saying, ‘What are these stones to you?’ You shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, as it crossed over into the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ And these stones are for a memorial to the sons of Israel all the days.”

(Joshua 4:1-7)

The placing of these stones of memorial was for the continual reminder of the wonders which God had done among His people so far. There is much good in meditating upon that which God has done in order to help us remain walking in wisdom and obedience regarding that which God continues to do. Not that we measure where we now stand by where we have once been, and so deceive ourselves; but rather that by seeing His works for what they truly are according to His word, we may continue striving toward the greater glory, of which and to which those wonders were meant to inform us and point us.

It is a sad reality in our day that many who have at one time seen the hand of God truly move did not consider and meditate on what He was truly intending to accomplish; and have since fallen into all kinds of foolishness, even specifically denying the very things which God was calling them to walk in. Many who once saw the need for the people of God to repent and weep for their idolatry and worldliness are now found saying that all is well; many who once walked in a humble submission to the Holy Spirit have become puffed up in the carnal “wisdom” of man’s various doctrines; many whom God was calling away from the spiritual falsehood of man’s “church” have since settled back in; many who for a time experienced true freedom by God’s power from the former lusts of the flesh have since become consumed in them again; many who were becoming bold and fearless in prayer and in the declaration of the gospel for lost souls have shrunk back and become impotent; and the list could go on. These are the fruits of a once zealous people who have conceded to the will of the enemy to fall back into the world from which they had once been turning.

But the Apostle Paul spoke of the results of life in the Spirit amidst all adversity:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39)

The only thing missing in Paul’s list is  former things. It is clear enough that “things present” and “things to come” cannot separate those who walk in the Spirit from the love of God; however, those who fall away from that walk are those returning to the former things, even as those who fell in the wilderness, and one of whom we read later (Joshua 7).

What these stones of memorial speak to us may be summed up in these two statements: on the one hand they promise, “the One having begun a good work in you will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ;” but on the other hand they also warn the one looking back toward Sodom and Egypt with a coveting heart, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

So if we have been brought over into the land where His rest is found, let us not linger by the river’s edge looking back and coveting the corruption in which we once lived before the crossing, nor travel back to cross it again into the world where there is nothing but spiritual death upon death awaiting us. Instead, having meditated upon the Word of our new life, let us be found “looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.” So let us consider these stones a hopeful promise for the faithful and a warning sign at which the backsliding may repent; an altar of mercy upon which we may offer ourselves to God so that His fire may fall and purge our impurities rather than destroy us.

“Take twelve stones… from the place where the feet of the priests were fixed.”
Again we see mentioned (as in chapter 3) the feet of the priests in the waters; and here the stones of memorial are to be taken from exactly where their feet were planted. So even the stones themselves become a type of those redeemed by passing through the waters through the way that Jesus as our priest has made: the living stones who also are being made after HIS likeness into “a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 2:5)

And how appropriate that there are twelve stones; since the New Jerusalem, the bride of our King, is founded upon twelve foundations, upon which its gates are guarded by twelve pillars inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles (Rev 21). So these twelve stones at Gilgal by the Jordan may be seen as that spiritual foundation of Christ which is to be continually built upon until the very end, since after these stones are placed, the children begin the inheriting of the kingdom.
[Paul spoke of this “building” founded upon Jesus Christ in specific reference to the collection of believers in a locality; warning the people of God at Corinth to take care not only of what the foundation is, but even afterwards what is built 
upon it, lest they lose much reward in the coming kingdom by building upon it that which proceeds from carnality rather than from God Himself (1Cor 3:10-15).]
For the altar with which God is pleased, and upon which His fire will truly fall, is made of twelve stones that no man has profaned with the working of their own devices 
(Ex 20:25, 1Ki 18:30-31)and the true spiritual life of God, of which we partake in Jesus Christ, is twelve-fold over abundant (Mt 14, Mk 6, Jn 6).

This is all to say that, since we have such a sure foundation upon which we may trust Him to build His kingdom, such a sure way, by which having entered we may remain in His presence and inherit the promises, such a holy altar of mercy upon which to offer ourselves and so become pure vessels tried by His fire, ready for honourable use, and such a rich promise in the reward of partaking of HIM – what then, other than blatant stubbornness in unbelief, should keep those who come to His land from resting in His labors and conquering therein?

So if anyone has fallen back, let them fall no further back than these stones, these pillars, this foundation; and let the one who hears the merciful voice of the Lord’s promise and warning be found repairing that altar which has been neglected, drenching it with such tears of repentance that only the fire of God from the altar before His heavenly throne will suffice to engulf it. And this is the great need of our day in the house of God, which temple we are, the temple made of those same living stones that are meant to become the finished New Jerusalem, which is the spotless bride of the King (Rev 21).

So we see that the children of Israel were to lodge among these stones placed at Gilgal, finding some rest and assurance among them so they would be prepared for the inheriting of the kingdom.

In that day Jehovah made Joshua great in the sight of all Israel. And they feared him all the days of his life, even as they feared Moses. And Jehovah spoke to Joshua, saying, “Order the priests who carry the ark of the testimony, that they rise out of the Jordan.” And Joshua commanded the priests, saying, “Rise out of the Jordan.” And it happened when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of Jehovah had come up out of the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the feet of the priests had been lifted to the dry land, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and flowed over all its banks, as before. And the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth of the first month, and camped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
(Joshua 4:14-19)

– Brendan