A Primer for the Forthcoming Series on Joshua
“This is the work of God, that you believe…”
The works which God has ordained that we should walk in are the fruit of HIS work in the ones who believe. And this fruit cannot be borne through a man whose eyes are fixed upon what is before him on earth; but rather through one whose eyes are fixed upon that which we have been blessed with in heavenly places: namely, the fullness of JESUS, through whom nothing begotten of his Heavenly Father’s desire is impossible! For He says of the faith of the one believing, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”
“Delight yourself in the LORD…” (by which you adopt HIS desires)
“…and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
There are many empty works which one can do from one’s own heart that earthly religion and man’s church will praise; but the truth remains that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). And this is how we may discern the works of faith: that they are done only unto God who ordained them, and only through Him whose love is perfected in those who by His love keep His word.
“He who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in GOD.”
These are the evidences of the work of God manifest the one who believes: faith, hope, and love; “and the greatest of these is love.” Now the first love of the one believing is the Father Himself. “And this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments…” A heart which purely loves the Father is one which for HIS good pleasure “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”– and such faith working through love can only proceed from a life that is surrendered into the working of HIS mighty hand in the hope of HIS righteousness being revealed.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone believing; both to Jew first, and to Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, ‘But the just shall live by faith.’
Those believing every word of God are able to truly walk in His light, being strengthened in His grace; that grace in which they “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2), this hope not being held in vain, since “those whom He justified, He also glorified.” For we know that until we are fully glorified, “this is God’s will: your sanctification;” because for those who believe every word of God and walk in it, both to them and through them is revealed the mystery of the gospel, “which is Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory.”
And so Christ can say,
“All things are possible to the ones believing.”
And these things being so, how then will any of us excuse disobedience in seeing that which we have been called to inherit?
But to which of the angels did He ever say, “Sit at My right hand until I place Your enemies as a footstool of Your feet?” Are they not all ministering spirits for service, being sent out because of the ones being about to inherit salvation?
For this reason it is needful for us more abundantly to take heed to the things having been heard that we should not slip away. For if the word spoken by angels was confirmed, and every transgression and disobedience received a just repayment; how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation??
A faith which has been dampened by the earthly cares of this life, subdued by the worldly doctrines of man in pride, or crushed by the devil’s accusation because of unrepentance, is a faith in the throes of death; and is therefore unable to produce the revealing of the righteousness of God. Those lacking obedience in the little are unable to be spiritually fruitful in the much, since they have become satisfied with the little and fear the unknown. Only Satan himself would have us be so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good on earth! Or did the Lord not pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”? The accepting of the dim and shallow paradigm of man, so cherished by his self-deceiving heart, is the embracing and excusing of that same unbelief for which God did not allow the rebellious children of Israel to enter into His rest (Heb ch 3-4).
For just as believing is not merely the accepting of doctrinal truths, but rather a state of being in submission to He who is Truth; likewise unbelief is not simply the rejecting of doctrinal truth, but rather a state of living in an illusion which is truly contrary to He who is Truth. Many indeed honor Him with their lips, but their heart is far from Him. Disobedience is the expression of unbelief. A man is always moving one direction or the other. Stagnancy in spirit is truly a path unto death: such is the essence of unbelief. To become unresponsive to the Spirit’s conviction is to become as one not believing and so be given over to a spiritual decay unto death.
For we have become partakers of Christ, if truly we hold the beginning of the assurance firm to the end; as in the saying, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the provocation.” For hearing, some provoked Him, but not all those coming out of Egypt through Moses.
But with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with the ones sinning, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter into His rest, except to those not obeying?
And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief.
Therefore, let us fear lest perhaps a promise having been left to enter into His rest, that any of you may seem to come short. For indeed, we have had the gospel preached to us, even as they also; but the Word did not profit those hearing it, not having been mixed with faith in the ones who heard.
The fruit of the promised land will not be eaten by those who do not first enter into it (Joshua 5:11-12), and no one having entered therein will take upon its cities with success who do not submit to the covenant in the blood of Christ who marks them, removing all reproach of their former association with Egypt, which is the world (Joshua 5:2-9).
There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus (the reproach of Egypt removed – Joshua 5:8), 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, so that the righteous demand of the Law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.
(Romans 8:1-4 LITV)
The natural man only ever lives in reproach, and therefore he must be done away with in order to make way for the new creature to live under the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. The fleshly nature can only ever bear the fruits of unbelief. “For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.“ (Rom 8:6)
The mind of the flesh is death because the flesh is not able to receive the love of God, and therefore can only live in the fear of punishment. That is why it depends on faith to enter into His rest: for faith which acts upon the hope of glory that we have been promised in God’s steadfast love creates space for the Holy Spirit to move and work in us far more than we could ever ask or think; but unbelief, which is born of carnal fear, is where the flesh overcomes a man and he does not enter into God’s rest, since he who believes not obeys not.
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
After they refused to hear His voice directly from the mountain for themselves, God administered to the unbelieving children of Israel a hidden word (the Law) which could only magnify the power of sin and death, through a mere man who could not lead them over the Jordan into the promised land of rest. Those who shrink back from sowing of what they have received from the Lord forsake reaping of their inheritance in the kingdom of heaven: such are the consequences of minding the things of the flesh rather than the things of the Spirit.
“And the one who received the one talent also coming up, he said, ‘Lord, I knew you, that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter; and being afraid, going away, I hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have yours.’
And answering, his lord said to him, ‘Evil and slothful slave! You knew that (if) I reap where I did not sow, and I gather where I did not scatter, then you ought to have put my silver to the bankers, and coming I would have received my own with interest. Therefore, take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to each who has, more will be given, and he will abound. But from him who does not have, even that which he has will be taken from him. And throw the worthless slave out into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth.'”
Such unfounded fear is the shackle of death; and where the Devil smells this fear he finds an easy target to devour through the flesh, deceive through the world, and so lure down to destruction through unbelief. But this is the perfect love of God in Christ Jesus which casts out all such fear: that “since the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb 2:14-15)
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment; and the one fearing has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18)
The wilderness of condemnation in which the people wandered outside of the promised land of God’s rest was the result of their distrust and disbelief of the goodness of His perfect will for them, simply due to a little hardship – and may such wildernesses never be excused or embraced by those who have known God and been known by Him! Let not the same things be said about God’s children today that may also be said regarding those of old who did not enter into His rest, “Because knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful. But they became vain in their reasonings, and their undiscerning heart was darkened… And even as they did not think fit to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind…” (Rom 1)
Therefore our Lord says to the feeble, “Do not fear, only believe.”
To fall short of walking in God’s grace against all unfounded fear is to place oneself under the Law of sin and death, under which God can only be a harsh Master, and where man attempts to excuse himself for his fruitlessness when confronted. But to the one believing, “His commands are not grievous,” for such a man can freely walk obedient to God despite himself and despite the devil’s accusing voice, in the confidence that “He who began a good work in you will bring it unto completion for the day of Christ;” and we may glory in this hope because we have “not received the spirit of bondage again to fear… but the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, ‘Abba, Father!'”
Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it was not yet revealed what we shall be. But we know that if He is revealed, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone having this hope on Him purifies himself even as that One is pure.
(1 John 3:2-3)
Having in us the hope of His glory and righteousness being revealed is the very conduit of faith by which we are able to be purified BY HIM to the measure of HIS purity. We “purify ourselves” in that we keep our eyes fixed on HE who authors faith in our heart and perfects it in our obedience; and thereby we are kept and so keep ourselves in His love (Jude 1:21). For the one whose hope is on Him, and who by that hope lives separated to Him, is given the revelation of Who He is – though for now as through a darkened glass.
And the hope does not put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us; for we yet being without strength, in due time Christ died for ungodly ones.
But those born of God who do not keep their gaze fixed upon the Beloved in whom they are accepted (Eph 1:6) – who is well able to deliver them from every evil – will soon again become only hearers of the word and not doers, because “faith is the SUBSTANCE of things HOPED for, the essence of things unseen.” Faith is that which firmly grabs hold of the power of God’s grace for our sanctification: because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is indeed liberty to walk in the newness of the very Life of God; but he who is not a doer of the word by such living faith is described in scripture as being “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)
Why was he a hearer of the word only, and not a doer? Notice that he beheld only his NATURAL face in a mirror, not in the mirror of the perfect law of liberty in the Spirit; and he did not remain there, for he was surely ashamed at what he saw! But the one believing all things in the gospel of Christ and rendering Himself fully to His work through obedience unto Life, this is the one whose eye is “single” towards God, by which “your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt 6:22-23)
This is the verdict: that Light has come into the world; and men loved the darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil.
Unbelief is darkness; and men fall into the shelter of that darkness because their hands have worked that which is not according to faith. For the works of faith are revealed by the light as having been wrought in God, whereas the works of the flesh are revealed as having been wrought in unbelief; for the old man of the flesh is under condemnation, but the new man is in Christ under grace.
Unbelief is cultivated by trusting in the arm of the flesh, by having hope in that which fails. “The flesh profits nothing:” and he who falls by the flesh must choose whether he will come into the light and abide there, or remain in perpetual darkness. So if our own hand causes us to sin, why do we turn back to it for help in the time of need? This only works more unbelief! A man cannot cast out his own flesh any more than he can die to demons. The flesh must be reckoned dead and be died to. We must give up and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, entrusting ourselves to the work of Jesus in His death, which He has died as the One for the many, believing the word of His gospel which says, “For you HAVE died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3) Therefore “Reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God…” and so we may, in view of God’s mercy, offer our bodies a living sacrifice…
The ultimate posture of heart in the one believing is that of getting out of God’s way and submitting to HIS work; so that by the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead, who quickens even our mortal bodies, the Spirit “which He gives to them that obey Him” – thereby let it always be “GOD who works in you, to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” This is the essence of abiding in Him: to remain obedient in His gospel, which is the power of God through Jesus Christ our intercessor who is able to “save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him”! (Heb 7:25)
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
So if we have been called out of Egypt, let us immediately draw near to enter the Lord’s rest across the Jordan after He who has gone in before us, Who now calls His people even into the most holy place, which He has opened to us.
This is the work of God, that you believe INTO Him whom that One sent…
(John 6:29 LITV)
Therefore, brothers, having confidence for the entering of the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, which He consecrated for us, a new and living way through the veil; that is, His flesh; and having a Great Priest over the house of God, let us 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; let us hold fast the confession of the hope unyielding, for He who has promised is faithful.
Why should I not be fully persuaded of every word that proceeds from Your mouth, and why should I not walk in it?
For in Your covenant I then would ever abide; upon this life Your hand would ever rest.
Why should I not be rendered by fire a vessel for honourable use, a living stone eternally placed in the temple of Your glory?
For this You have desired: that your child should be a light in the world, in whom the Light of Life abides.
“ALL things are possible to the ones believing…”
“Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”