Purity of Faith

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not
receive the kingdom of God like a child
shall not enter it.
(Luke 18:17)

While men attempt the work of entering the kingdom in order to recieve it, Jesus reveals that in God’s wisdom we instead recieve the kingdom by faith in order to enter it.

When men lack faith to allow the cross to outweigh their sin, they redifine the gospel one way or another to fit their experience. Either they will make out Christ to be accepting of ungodliness in them, or they will place the power in their own soul to ensure their deliverance and salvation. Both are an afront to God, but I am dealing with the latter here, which can be the greater temptation to truly earnest hearts who have already seen something of holiness and desire to pursue it. Those whom the Devil cannot convince to live lawlessly, he tempts to live legalistically. Those in whom he cannot dispell the fear of God, he seeks rather to terrorize with doubting the sufficiency of His grace to provide true strength. The enemy is equally pleased to make us serve an unjustly permissive God as well as an unjustly overbearing one.

New believers who stumble in the Way yet have the fear of the Lord in them may become tempted to add dead works in order to gain visible righteousness; when truly the only righteousness that produces the works of God is the righteousness which is by faith.  For “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Where men build a golden house upon no foundation, it is fool’s gold. The great bane of immaturity is a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of the grace of Christ to provide strength in all things. The power to walk as Christ walked does not reside in the natural man, it resides in the promise itself; for truly the promise of eternal life is Christ Himself, and all His fullness, which is the fullness of God. We can do nothing pleasing to God except through Christ, by whom we can do ALL things! If we but trusted Him in this, we would with patience be enabled to see His righteousness working in us through obedience; and then our faith would continually bring growth as good soil and water bring to a great tree, like the kingdom of God is pictured (Mt 13, Mk 4, Lk 13, also see previous article).

But because in this devil’s world we are encouraged to lack such deep and unshakeable faith (and the spiritual patience inherent within it), we instead either settle for compromise, or “go on ahead” from the pure doctrine of CHRIST into our own methods, just because we do not see the manifestations of faith which we have lead ourselves to expect. Ironically, this is actually a foothold for all manner of sins. It is all too common that after someone finds deliverance from certain sins early in their walk, the temptation is to become proud in the self, as though a new spiritual status has been gained by improved behavior. Truly the change in behavior was by the power of God through faith; but nevertheless this pride makes way for a blindsiding fall, and the response to this fall will reveal just how pure the faith of a person is. How they get up may sady determine their trajectory for years to come. Will they stand up in faith and continue to rest in Christ, who alone can deliver those who believe? Or will they try crawling another way? Many turn to their own power with the unspoken intent of adding to God’s power for deliverance. This can only make matters worse. For if, after having begun by the Spirit, we now seek to be perfected by the flesh, then we will only further feed the pride of the same old man who also commits the other sins we think ourselves to be contending with. But the weapons of our warfare are only mighty because they are THROUGH GOD. Only those who wait upon HIM will renew their strength.

Therefore it is written,

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not:
behold, YOUR GOD will come with vengeance,
even God with a recompence;
HE will come and save you.”
(Isaiah 35:3-4)

True and pure obedience is that which chases the impossible out of an absolute trust in the power of God. What we so greatly lack by-and-large is humility enough to finally die and let only CHRIST be our vey life. We do not know the power of God! Righteousness rains down upon those who have already sown to themselves IN it. For in Him they already have it by faith, if their faith proves true.

Sow to yourselves IN righteousness, reap IN mercy;
break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD,
till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
(Hosea 10:12)

And how can we sow to ourselves in what may not yet be visibly raining upon us? The answer is that we sow IN a righteousness, which although not yet fully seen, has been bestowed upon us so that we may ACT upon SOWING in it. We obey not the possible works we make up for ourselves, but rather we obey the impossible works which God has prepared for us to walk in. For wherever we step into His impossible path, we shall find his power. The same sanctification and holiness which many of the scriptures call us to walk in is eslewhere stated to already be finished. This is not a contradiction, nor does it merit a compromise in our thinking. The answer is found in the integrity of our faith (or lack thereof). Faith mixed with the motives and excuses of the flesh cannot reconcile this thing and therefore leads to the production of many elaborate and compromising doctrines; but faith unmixed, unencumbered, and dying to self can say boldly to a true brother, “I am confident of this very thing: that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the Day of Christ.” (Php 1:6)

This is descriptive of faith LIKE a child. A new child believes without question its Father’s promise, and expects without compromise the fruits of that promise. This alone shall lay hold of all that God reserves in His inexhaustible treasury. For He has gladly bestowed upon us the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus – let us therefore not insult His Spirit through passing it by in unbelief! In the end, the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable was not the younger, who boldly received the open arms of his father; but it was the elder, who kept himself a stranger to the grace of his father even though he never left his vicinity. He had continual access to every good and perfect gift, but never asked or received of it. Under the self-made cloak of loyalty (dead works of the flesh), he lived after his own will rather than availing himself of becoming a son; something which his father had reserved for whomever would recieve it. “But as many as received him, to them gave he POWER to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
(Romans 8:12-15)

The sin of the elder brother in Jesus’ parable was a lack of faith disguised in the outward humility of dead works. Under the premise of not spoiling his father’s abundant grace, he never availed himself of any of it. But true humility is that which boldly asks God for strength in the time of need without pretending to bring anything of worth to the table; for it knows the folly of self-effort well enough to ask for nothing less than the provisions of God Himself in Christ Jesus. For if we have a perfect Father who rewards the diligent seeker (and we do), then we can be certain that He on His part will not fail – only let us also exercise faith to walk forward into the unknown, not shrinking back as those who are destroyed. The true humility of faith moves beyond the veiled pride of self-deprication: it is the confidence to depend upon God alone at the expense of all self. It is the same mind which also was in Christ Jesus, it is HIS faith! Our faith shall grow up to His stature if we exercise that which is already given; and His grace indeed sufficient. Do you believe this? Die! Rise and walk! God’s rest awaits those who by faith and patience inherit the promises, where the Spirit works through the yielded of God who trust and obey.

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it,
and those who formerly received the good news
failed to enter because of disobedience;
again He appoints a certain day,
TODAY, saying through David…
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”

(Hebrews 4:6-7)

We are all too eager in our day to label all boldness before God as “arrogance,” and all humanly-conceived works as “humility.” This propensity of ours is the Devil’s programming through the unstable and unspiritual men whom many today call teachers. Satan would not have any man approach the throne of grace, and he will do everything within his power to dissuade us. But the foot-dragging of doubt and self-sufficiency is the spiritual melodrama of a belligerent soul which only causes it to continue stumbling and falling in darkness. This will only continue where the Holy Spirit is given no further room to empower because the self remains enshrined, if not enthroned. Self-righteousness is the greatest obstacle to true repentance; and therefore itself requires much. The depth of REPENTANCE determines the potential depth of faith’s roots; and the depth of going beyond our own strength determines the depth in which the Holy Spirit can operate. “Now the lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the lord is, there is liberty…”

When Peter stepped out of the boat, he stepped further out of his own life and further into Christ’s. In that moment his heart caught a glimpse of the truth that the only safe place is to be with Christ wherever HE goes at the expense of all else.

“The christian life from start to finish is based upon this principle of utter dependance upon the Lord Jesus… Do you think that if you cease trying to please God your good behavior will cease? If you leave all the giving and all the working to God, do you think the result will be less satisfactory than if you do some of it? It is when we seek to do it ourselves that we place ourselves back again under the Law. But the works of the Law, even our best efforts, are “dead works,” hateful to God because they are ineffectual.”
– Watchman Nee, ‘Sit, Walk Stand’

For the Law perfected nothing;
but the bringing in of a better Hope did,
through Which we draw near to God.
(Hebrews 7:17)

“Come to Me, all those laboring and being burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

Dying To Live: The Faith Of Christ

For through the grace of God which is given to me, I say to everyone being among you, not to have high thoughts beyond what is right to think. But set your mind to be right-minded, even as God divided a measure of faith to each. For even as we have many members in one body, but all members do not have the same function, so we the many are one body in Christ
(Romans 12:3-5, LITV)

The fruit of faith will be in accordance with its measure. First there is that initial measure which “God divided” to each; and then there is the greater measure attained as each one humbly invests said deposit by the allowance of God’s power to be at work in them unto righteousness, bringing forth fruit unto salvation. For the gospel in which His righteousness is revealed from faith to faith is unto salvation (Rom 1:16-17). The parable of the talents illustrates to the wise the absurdity of not walking in such increasing faith; since the deposit of faith was freely given, as well as access to the power for said increase. This is also why we ought not to think highly of ourselves above one another, since even our increase is by the power of God through faith in Christ…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5, ESV)

“Guarded through faith” – but what is the nature of that faith? It has long been taught that all one will ever need to walk in the power of Christ is faith the size of a mustard seed. No such thing can be found in all of scripture. Jesus said nothing about such little faith except in rebuke. He did however reveal that we are required to have faith LIKE a grain of mustard seed: “…If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20, Lk 17:6)
The difference here is immense, considering the parable of the grain of mustard seed. For while the natural man proudly settles for little faith (the size of a mustard seed), Christ Jesus meanwhile describes the kingdom within His people in terms of ever-increasing faith (LIKE a mustard seed)….

And He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard, which, when it is sown on the earth, it is less than all the seeds of those on the earth. And when it is sown, it comes up and becomes greater than all the plants, and produces great branches, so as to enable the birds of the heaven to roost under its shade.”
(Mark 4:30-32, LITV)

It is within the very nature of genuine faith to grow unto greater faith; and the sustaining of living faith over time actually depends upon its continual growth. Only through such faith as this can we be guarded by God’s power until the end. Today’s faith is not sufficient to lay hold of the power required to overcome the world tomorrow. But such faith cannot be born of the flesh. Only the ever-increasing faith of Christ Himself is the faith which becomes able to move mountains. Jesus has overcome the world, and we have yet to grow into the fullness of HIM! For by faith, “we all with unveiled face behold the glory of the Lord… being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 2:18)

Faith will only attain life in God to the degree that it has attained death in ourselves. The great tree grown from a grain of mustard in the parable of the kingdom is the Tree of Life, Jesus. He was sown in the earth a dead Seed and now lives to give life to all who died with Him. We grow up into His fullness by being members of Him in His death, burial, and resurrection by faith. Now if these three things are indeed our spiritual history by faith, then they should also become present realities by the obedience of faith for which we have received grace from God. “…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith…” (Rom 1:5, ESV) That which true faith believes, it finds power from God to apprehend in experience. The grace of God appeared not simply to be admired, but to be walked in the power of. For He who died is the One in whom we are to remain planted, and He who rose also seeks to water and supply the growth. Let us therefore accept and submit to our death in Him daily, laying hold of the nutrients of His word and the watering of His Spirit by faith ever extending itself heavenward; as our roots drink evermore deeply of the love of the One who first loved us when we were yet His enemies. And that is the first key of faith: the acceptance of our place IN HIM apart from our own doing. It is only the pride of the sinful nature which doubts this; and it must be reckoned dead before Christ’s own Life can live in us. He will not suffer a rival in His temple.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat that falls into the earth dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it to everlasting life.
(John 12:24-25)

If we derive the power to walk after Christ from our own soul, then we do not truly walk as Christ walked. Only the faith of Christ is of true substance, not ourselves. The soul is saved to be restored unto the rule of the Good Shepherd, not unto its own. The soul is always beholden to the storm-tossed flesh if it is not beholden to the spirit under God’s Spirit. Jesus calms the storm from the inside out. The only works pleasing before God are those wrought in HIM. Only Christ living in and through us is a true fruitful life in the sight of God. All we bring to the table is the faith to surrender to His working – the faith which He gave us in the first place! If the matter was finished for us when Christ died, how much more then, since He is risen and seated on high, shall it now be being finished in us by the power of His own Spirit whom He sent for that very purpose! Or are we greater than He who said, “I am able to do nothing from Myself… for I do not seek My will, but the will of the One sending Me, the Father”? Surely we are not! So let us be made conformable to His death, even that the measure of the stature of His fullness might be shown forth in we who are HIS body. We are not our own: He would see our spirit and soul and body kept blameless for His coming – all three must come under the dominion of His own Spirit. This is the inner working of true faith that produces the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faith which reckons itself dead in Him is proven by the same faith springing forth and branching out in the tangible substance of Christ’s Life. If we truly submit to God’s Word, then He (the Word) will even divide soul from spirit and lay bare every secret of the heart and mind, giving way to the complete rule of the Spirit of God in us. For the will of man and the faith of his own soul cannot lay hold of that which belongs only to the Spirit of God. It is only possible by the very FAITH OF CHRIST, who beheld the Father at all times, which is unfeigned and ever-increasing from glory to glory; and it only comes “from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

For as He beheld His Father, so do we in Him, and He in us. And as His likeness becomes revealed in us, “His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons…” May such pure and unmixed faith thrive and multiply within the regenerated hearts of His own to become grown sons! Let that same mind of humble confidence be found in us which also was in Christ Jesus: the Seed who died to plant the kingdom of God within His people. Let us likewise more fully believe unto death that we would more fully believe unto Life: from glory to glory by faith to faith! Such is the faith of Christ, our only true Life.

For in it (the gospel of Christ) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, “But the just shall LIVE by faith.”
(Romans 1:17)

The measure of faith exercised within us is displayed in the measure of His righteousness being revealed through us. If I know that I have already died on the cross with Christ, I can find rest in dying daily. And if I have so  died and remain dying, His Spirit may thereby work His resurrection Life in me. This is how the daily cross which results from obedience in a rebellious world becomes a light and momentary affliction; and even the earthly body may begin to acquire the marks of the cross. But again, the order is from the inward man to the outward man; it cannot be the other way around – that is self-made religion. If we have come to rest in Christ, let us remain working from that surrendered bliss and allow the body to reflect what is first true of the soul…

…Always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus in the body, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.
(2 Corinthians 4:10)

For I calculate that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to compare to the coming glory to be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God.
(Romans 8:18-19, LITV)

Faith which suffers the cross rejoicing is faith that overcomes the world. And we can have confidence because this faith has been tried and proven true; for it was the Lord’s before it became ours.

The heart of genuine faith gives way to only the Life of Christ Himself within His body. How can we claim to possess the faith of Christ when we live from ourselves?

“When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?”

Holiness Through Surrender

...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, so as for us to serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter.
(Romans 7:4-6, LITV)

Holiness is not merely a way of living, it is the very Life of God reigning freely in a man who is given over to Him. We shall only authentically live like Christ from the inward parts to the degree that His impending Life is at last allowed to replace our own. To seek for anything less from God in light of our sins reveals the pride of life that is born of the self-deceived sinful flesh. “I am simply too weak Lord” is the inevitable cry of the man who has evidently tried to accomplish by the fleshly nature the holy Life which he himself can never live. But the proper cry of the new creature is, “Lord, you are all that I have, my very Life: as I bring nothing except what You work in me.”
For the “weakness” of God cannot even be lowered to comparison with the “strength” of man: it is a comparison of the very nature of God with the nature of that which cannot but oppose and fall short of His glory. The strength for which we must cry is not strength of ourselves, but rather the strength which is His very Life; because except for Christ, I do not even have life before God! Yes, even the new creature is not mine to operate: it is HIS vessel, meant to be operated by the power of His Spirit.
No other is able. Not I, but Christ – Christ in me.

The fear and trembling with which we work out our salvation is the sweet fear and trembling of surrender; for it is only God Himself who can work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The law of sin and death is set aside by the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus – and by no other means. And these two laws, which work in their respective subjects, were spoken of by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians…

For through law I died to law, that I might live to God.
(Galatians 2:19, LITV)

By faith’s surrender to the law of the Spirit of Life, we are released from the law of sin and death that is at work in the sinful flesh. That which causes us to walk against the will and pleasure of the Spirit may truly be done away with to continually receive the Life that is in Christ Jesus! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
Without Christ, I lived after the flesh and was dead to God. But by faith, although still living in the flesh, I died in Him; so that my only Life may now be securely hidden with the risen Christ in God. For the righteous shall live by faith! And by a faith which has no motive except God’s own glory at every expense, we may lay hold of His Life in actual experience…

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is through law (that is, apart from the Spirit through faith), then Christ died without cause.
(Galatians 2:20-21, LITV)

Christ is the end of that which ministers condemnation through the fleshly attempts of outward observance: He is the very law God’s Life at work in those who keep HIS faith in themselves. The great sin of disobedience which caused the children of Israel to fall away, according to the writer of Hebrews, was unbelief. It was this bitter root of dissatisfaction with the original and unchanging promise of God by which they kept themselves from entering His rest. In other words, they judged God by what their carnal eyes saw rather than walking after the Spirit by faith which is the substance of things hoped for. Those who kept no faith in the promise instead longed again for the bondage of Egypt: rather than looking for the city of God, the heavenly kingdom, in which we now may be immersed by the Holy Spirit. For the King of glory has arrived to His people: let Him come in and reign! Is not the kingdom within His own? Are they not His temple? But when we have no trust in Christ to be our present sustainer and only strength, we shall likewise come short of entering that rest (Heb 4:1). Meanwhile, the promise of entering still stands, waiting to be reached by the steps of faith that can only be made in the very Spirit who labors graciously to that end. Let us therefore not insult Him by disallowing His rule in and over the entirety of our being.

“This is the work of God: that you believe into Him whom that One sent.” – Jesus spoke of faith as the key to the very powerful working of God. It cannot the work of a man; for the best that any man can do is revive the old man to rule over the new and so deceive himself. “You cannot serve two masters…” It is only by God that all things are possible, and this is given to those who actively believe. The key to holiness is surrender – nothing less. “It is finished” must become an ever-nearer reality in our lives, bearing the righteous fruit that can only be apprehended by unfeigned faith, trusting in God to increase in us as we ourselves decrease. All we can bring to the table is surrender on all fronts. It is finished: and by the grace of God through faith not pretended, let it continue to be finished within the purchased possession! For by blood of His covenant we are sanctified; as the the Spirit actively works even in the present moment through our faith – faith which surrenders the whole being to the refining fire of God. We take hold of Him as we let go of our own ways and things, knowing the love of God toward those who so believe Him with their lives. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.” (Heb 4:9-10) Today, let it no longer be we who live, but CHRIST!

…for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them to be trash, that I might gain Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness of law, but through the faith OF Christ, having the righteousness of God on faith: to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, having been conformed to His death, if somehow I may attain to a resurrection out of the dead. Not that I already received or already have been perfected, but I press on, if I also may lay hold, inasmuch as I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-12, LITV)

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