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)

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)

The Wise Man’s Eyes

The wise man’s eyes are IN his head
(Ecclesiastes 2:14)

Here is described in the simplest of terms the vision of those whom God calls wise.
True wisdom is not gleaned from what the eye of the body beholds outside, but rather by the continued discipline of a redeemed soul that remains watchful of its own internal affairs. We are exhorted to keep our hearts with all diligence because it is the nature of a man that determines his fruit.

For although our Lord and judge has for our sake become a man with like passions as we, still the prophet spoke of Him: “He shall not judge by what His eyes see, or decide disputes by what His ears hear; but with righteousness shall He judge…” (Isa 11:3)

And let that also be said of those who are to follow in His steps! The man who is motivated by apparent outcomes and outward appearances is caught in the ungodly self-awareness of sinful pride – minding  the things of the flesh rather than of the Spirit, which mind is “at enmity with God,” and “cannot please God…” But Christ Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, has once for all delivered us who believe into Him out of the slavery of that form of godliness into the substance and power of His indestructible Life; which now is evidently at work in those who obey Him in the Spirit of Life, by whose power we are raised from the dead in Him.

Therefore, we no longer need live as though debtors to the flesh; but rather we may despair of all but Him and give ourselves over to that One, whose power is ever at the ready to animate those who by faith will apprehend the fullness HIS resurrection Life in forsaking their own. And by such deliverance from darkness into His marvelous Light, we will indeed find that in HIS light we shall see Light! It is here that we shall live in the upright awareness of humility before the eyes of the Holy One – not according to human precepts and teachings, which “have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Col 2)

For our confidence in He who IS our life allows us to look upon ourselves – yet not as the world, which sees the outward appearance of its self-projected image – but rather as beholding HIM, and thereby rightly knowing our own true estate through the very eyes of the One living in us, who beholds the hidden secrets of every heart. Only one born from above and walking in Christ as a new creature has the veil removed so as to rightly discern by the mind of Christ through His indwelling Spirit what things lie within his innermost being; whatever pure and lovely things that bring holy delight, or whatever lingering idols lie in wait for his soul; whatever effectual working of God must be allowed to shine forth before men, or whatever detestable old creature must be expelled without mercy.

The wise man’s eyes are in his head; his counsel is derived of the Spirit of God within him, and he seeks that Counselor diligently so that he may obey His voice faithfully and without hindrance.

The lamp of the body is the eye.
Then if your eye is sound, all your body is light.
But if your eye is evil, all your body is dark.
If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
(Matthew 6:22-23)

Joshua 9: Pretenders & Discernment

 

As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”
(Joshua 9:1-6)

 

No sooner had the children of Israel revisited Mount Ebal and, had God’s Word reiterated to them, that pretenders from the world entered into the camp, coaxing them into an earthly covenant. So it goes with the children of God today.

As in the days of Joshua, these pretenders among the brethren still put themselves forward as having traveled far and having seen many things, and find need to make a show of their purported experience to make up for their utter lack of the fruit of truth and sincerity in them. They came in to the midst only for fear of man; for if they had feared God, they would have truly repented of their wicked hearts and been grafted in. But because they could not bear the Word of the Lord cutting open and exposing their hearts, they instead came in by another way: tempting God’s people to merely pity their estate and be impressed at their outward showing of humility.

The obedience of God’s children in love for one another is the key displaying the wisdom of God on the earth; but men of the earth demand their own unspiritual covenants with God’s people – and those who lack in vigilance make compromises with the world through a fleshly love, at the expense of men’s souls. Comforting men in their Godless estate replaces calling them to repentance, and so the holy love of God is adulterated and lost to human sentiment: a hindrance to men being truly regenerated by the Spirit of God.

 

But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”
And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?”
They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth.

So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, “Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, ‘We are your servants.'” Come now, make a covenant with us. Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.”

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord.
And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

(Joshua 9:7-15)

 

This is how wolves are introduced to the flock, and tares to the wheat field. When the sheep are not listening to the Shepherd’s voice, they are drawn by another and become lost; and while the tillers of the field sleep, the enemy plants his own harvest. The particular deception here was one of a false servanthood: they put themselves forward as having a “servant’s heart,” and were even indeed willing to do many earthly-helpful activities among God’s people – but it was all for self-preservation so that they may remain as they are, still expecting God to accept their own sacrifice; for HE was not their treasure.

Now the Gibeonites in our own day have learned to become teachers, and teach God’s people in such a way that conveys the outward sacrifices of their insincerity to always automatically be accepted by God as true spiritual obedience, so that the falsehood of their ways eventually cannot easily be discerned by God’s children; and no longer does any man have the fortitude to cast them out. In such an atmosphere, the distinction between those who merely honor God with their lips and those who truly obey Him from a heart exposed by the Light of Christ becomes blurred as men draw teachers unto themselves who speak great swelling words that their itching carnal ears want to hear. Their goal is to appeal to the world and unite with it, rather than to lift up Jesus Christ, the divider of all men. Mixture between the kingdom of God and the causes of men rules the day. Caesar is expected to further God’s kingdom and propagate the tenants of the faith; and the kingdom of God which delivers men from the bondage of the world is lost to a gospel of earthly utility at the expense of transcendent heavenly truth, where distinguishing between what is spiritual and what is unsanctified becomes touted as “judgemental” and “unchristian”. In this “gospel”, dying to self becomes achievable through outward actions of showman’s humility rather than by the Holy Spirit’s sword of conviction, and the ego is applauded for outwardly sounding more humble than those faithful few who cry against this great evil.

But separation from the world and its causes unto God and His heavenly kingdom is not careless or selfish as these carnal men have declared: it is actually an all out declaration of spiritual war against Satan’s devices and will get you despised by all men. For they have been deceived by him into sympathizing with mere outward human justice in order to avoid submitting to God’s justice upon their own idolatrous hearts that they might be saved.

The apostle Paul spoke of the falsehood of deceivers who would permeate the landscape of the last days, saying of them,

“…always learning, but never being able to come to a full knowledge of truth. But in the way Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so also these withstand the truth, men having been corrupted in mind, found worthless as to the faith.”
(2 Timothy 3:7-8)

The two conjurers who opposed Moses appeared to perform many of the same signs as he did – so it is with the false spirit of a false gospel. The greatest counterfeit is the one which shares as much possible resemblance to what God’s people currently deem to be authentic; therefore these men also learn much after the words of respected teachers so that they may improve the effectiveness of their deception. Therefore, only those who instead walk with God and are taught by God Himself through His Word rather than only by men: only they can fully see through these deceivers and walk in true substance beyond that which pretenders can imitate.

But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men (Jannes & Jambres). You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
(2 Timothy 3:9-11)

The “form of Godliness” (2Tim 3:5) which these men display consists of the outward works of sacrificial devotion to man’s agendas; yet it is only the divinely empowered obedience to God of a transformed heart which alone produces steadfastness and unwavering obedient faith in the eternally unchanging Word of God. The pretender’s appeal is to man’s wisdom under the pretense of it being God’s Word, and to man’s emotion in the name of God’s Spirit. Only the Word of God and the Spirit of God are directly and specifically described in scripture as TRUTH; and they are the two witnesses of God which in these days of apostasy are being killed before the eyes of all men, who celebrate their death and persecute the faithful, even supposing themselves to being doing God Himself a favor.

Truth and has fallen in the streets of man’s city and is rejoiced over, for it has not been allowed to divide and conquer the hearts of those hearing. Even the children of Israel had just heard the Word of God preached to them on Mount Ebal; yet their leaders lacked mature discernment of the good from the evil, and all Israel would now suffer the ongoing consequences of allowing evildoers into their midst upon false pretenses. Nowhere were the Gibeonites required to give up their idols to serve the true and living God; but they were allowed in to partake of the blessings of God simply out of earthly convenience and worldly human pity. No repentance from dead works or faith in the God who saves was required; and thus many a soul was “loved” to damnation. This was also one of many occurrences setting the stage for God’s people to be drawn away to other gods even from within the camp, so that during times of great apostasy, the faithful remnant and the true prophets in their midst became the greatest outcasts at the hands of those who falsely claimed to love God.

And, indeed, all desiring to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
But evil men and pretenders will go forward to worse, leading astray and being led astray. But you keep on in what you learned and were assured of, knowing from whom you learned, and that from a babe you know the Holy Scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:12-15)

The earnestness of conviction in the pretender’s cause does not justify its propagation in the household of faith. Those who deceive others do so because they themselves are being willingly deceived. They must be warned as men whom the Lord desires to have mercy on; but as it pertains to the assembly of faith, if they continually refuse to stop teaching things contrary to the sound doctrine of Christ and His first apostles then they must be marked and avoided until they truly repent. Do not sware oaths to any man, lest you throw in your lot with an evildoer and be held to your oaths by God, who desires for you true liberty through death – death both to yourself and to all men – that you may live unto God and serve only HIM.

 

At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders.

But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.”
And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them. Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.”

They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you – so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.”
So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that He should choose.

(Joshua 9:16-27)

 

In our day, many in God’s house have entrusted themselves to those who ought not to be in their midst, and have made covenants with them. Therefore, as God marks those who are His unto the preservation of their souls on the day of slaughter, let us rather choose the wisdom of the fountain of life – which is the fear of the LORD; and let us be sure that we have given ourselves over to be judged and slain and raised again to life anew by the Word of Christ unto the clear vision of His holiness. We will remain befallen with the growths of that which does not belong in the body and the absence of that which does belong, until mature discernment is obtained through the continual exercise of faith’s obedience both in and to the word.

Every scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfected, fully furnished for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Lord works in this day of separation to deliver unto life those who trust in Him, to try the substance of their faith so that it may result in praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged. But being judged, we are corrected by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Whoever Exalts Himself…

In a day when the message of man’s church is to “rise up,” we truly need more than ever to humble ourselves before the Lord.
The working out of our salvation with fear and trembling is sustained by humbly yielding ourselves to God who desires to work IN us according to HIS good will and pleasure.

The second beast of Revelation 13 is one which looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. It is the very same voice of self-ascension “rising up out of the earth” (Rev 13:11) which beguiled Eve long ago.
If YOU are rising up of YOUR own volition, it is only the dragon who empowers you in any success. But those who humble themselves under the mighty hand of God will be exalted IN DUE TIME (1Pet 5:6).

The earth that the meek will inherit is the new one after HIS return – and He does not return for a self-asserting bride that has conquered the earth; but rather for a humble people who have at last allowed Him to fully conquer them!

We conquer the enemy by Christ’s victory in us, not by our own victory outside of us.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they loved not their lives even unto death.
(Revelation 12:11 ESV)

This is the only true victory, and the only way that God’s people shall endure in the day of their greatest trial.

Wisdom: Fear & Discretion

Fear Jehovah, His holy ones, for they who fear Him lack nothing. The young lions have lacked and been hungry; but they who seek Jehovah shall not lack any good thing.
Come, listen to me, my sons, I will teach you the fear of Jehovah.
Who is the man who desires life, who loves days in order to see good?
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile; depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous; and His ears are open to their cry. The face of Jehovah is against those who do evil, to cut off their memory from the earth.
(Psalm 34:9-15, LITV)

The proud cannot be reasoned with in the things of God; but the righteous receive the Word of the Lord with humility and joy.

The many words of the man not fearing the Lord are unworthy of heeding. He is ensnared by the empty wagging of his own tongue; through the publishing of his foolishness are the subtleties of his crooked ways uncovered before the eyes of the discerning.

Discretion is the secret of the wise, and the fear of the Lord is the foundation of their peace.
His hand is a terror upon the rebellious; but His heaviness is the beloved dwelling place of the pure and humble.

Let the redeemed find no other resting place, for in Him no darkness can remain in them.

My son, if you will receive My words, and treasure up My commandments with you, so that you attend to wisdom, you shall extend your heart to understanding.
For if you cry for discernment, lifting up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures, then you shall understand the fear of Jehovah and find knowledge of God.

For Jehovah gives wisdom; out of His mouth are knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to the ones who walk in integrity, to guard the paths of judgment, and He protects the way of His saints. Then you shall understand righteousness and judgment and honesty, yea, every good path.

When wisdom enters into your heart, and knowledge is pleasing to your soul, discretion shall keep you, understanding shall watch over you; to deliver you from the evil way, from the man who speaks perverse things; those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice to do evil; they delight in the perversities of the wicked; whose paths are crooked, who are devious in their tracks.

(Proverbs 2:1-15, LITV)

The Righteous Man Perishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Brendan