Readiness & Fruitfuness

And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf,
He went to see if He could find anything on it.
When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves,
for it was not the season for figs.
And He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”
And his disciples heard it.
…As they passed by in the morning,
they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
(Mark 11:13-14, 20)

The season of the world does not determine the fruit of the Spirit.
True fruit borne unto God is that which HIS call and HIS Life at work within us produces. The working out of our salvation with fear and trembling is the yielding to HE who works within us to will and yo do according to HIS good pleasure. The fruit which God recognizes and is pleased to savor is the fruit of HIS Spirit. It is in view of His abundant mercy that we offer ourselves living sacrifices upon the altar of our death, that HIS Life might be manifested in us, who by faith and patience inherit the promise of the word of Life which renews our mind and restores our soul day by day.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season…
(Psalm 1:1-3)

The Living God is not interested in what human metrics or men’s traditions regard as fruitful or useful; but rather the hidden man of the heart, which bursts forth in springs of Living Water from beyond what that vessel itself could ever provide. Our ability to bear fruit depends not upon busying ourselves with what men commonly perceive as “spiritual oriented activities;” but depends upon the readiness of a heart that is single towards God and His manifold purposes.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
preach the word; be READY in season and out of season…
(2 Timothy 4:1-2)

The fig tree which Jesus cursed was required by Him to be ready even out of season in order for it to bear fruit in HIS season. The seasons of the Lord’s trees are determined by the calling of the Lord Himself. They do not conform to the patterns of this world’s seasons; for they wait upon the Shepherds voice alone, being driven by the wind of His Spirit, which “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8) Trees that only bear fruit in accordance to the wisdom of this age are not bearing God’s fruit. True Life begins in and is sustained by the Word of Life. True fruit is borne only by the means of the Fruit Bearer Himself, whose kingdom is not of this world but is rather found within those in whom His Spirit finds a conduit to flow.

As men go to and fro throughout the earth, looking to bolster “my ministry,” “my calling,” “my inheritance”… meanwhile, the eyes of the LORD go to and fro throughout the whole earth looking to strengthen the heart that is pure before HIM, so that HE might minister through those to whom He has first ministered.

“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, the eyes of your mind having been enlightened, for you to know what is the hope of HIS calling, and what the riches of the glory of HIS inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of HIS power toward us, the ones believing according to the working of HIS mighty strength…”
(Ephesians 1:17-19)

The key to fruitfulness in season is readiness both in and out of season; and what we are ready for is determined by what our hearts are set to meditate upon. “Readiness” is the descriptor of the gospel of peace being manifest in our footsteps (Eph 6:15) – therefore our peace with God in His gospel must be our innermost meditation should our steps become truly stable and ready to bear His fruit in season. We do not wait for the Lord, for He is here! But now that He is indeed come to us, we wait upon Him, even as one waits the table of a king who loves them. We as a royal priesthood minister unto Him as He ministers unto us; for a sweet savor before His throne is the object of true ministry. To wait upon the Lord is most simply to be in constant communion with Him – this is why those who wait upon the Lord are renewed in strength. It is by abiding faith in His power that we as the branches of His vine bear fruit.

– Brendan

The Lord Who Takes

…The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the Name of the Lord.

(Job 1:21)

“Many say that the Lord indeed gives; but they say that it is not right to say that the Lord takes away. This is a raging controversy among preachers, who are having trouble just accepting the Word… They say that the Lord does give; but only the Devil takes away. They say (in accordance with the scriptures) that the Devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy; but my bible doesn’t say that he WOULD do it – it says that he CAME to do it – and if you don’t have a Shepherd, then he will indeed do it. But when THE LORD is your Shepherd, then the Devil can come to do whatever he wants, but he’s got to get permission to touch you. He can’t just walk up to me and take my life: my life is not in the hand of Satan – don’t give him that power. If we gave him that power, all of us here would be dead by nightfall. He’s not going to let a host of believers like this live if he has death in his hand. But I read in my scripture that JESUS said ‘I hold the keys of death, Hell, and the grave’!
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away!

“…We get so used to hearing, ‘The Lord gave.’ We get so used to, ‘Morning by morning new mercies we see.’ We get so used to having all that our hearts desire, until all that we can get to is, ‘The Lord gave.’
Maybe there really are those who can say, ‘Everything I’ve asked for, God has given to me’ – and if that’s true in your experience, keep on living; because I am witness that there is some more to this verse. For it says ‘The LORD’ – same God – ‘taketh away’! We get so used to, ‘The Lord gives,’ that we take it for granted; and so when the Lord takes away, we pitch a temper-tantrum. And the sign of Christian maturity is that when the Lord gives, we say, ‘BLESSED! BLESSED! BLESSED!’ But when He takes away, when He breaks your heart, when He doesn’t give you what you asked for, you still say, ‘BLESSED! BLESSED! BLESSED!’

– E.V. Hill, preaching at his wife’s funeral

 

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
(Job 1:22)

Job was not rebuked for ‘blaming God’ (since that is not what he did by saying this) – but he was rather rebuked for afterward self-righteously defending himself against his foolish friends’ accusations. He started well in blessing the Lord, but slid quickly into pitying himself, to which God essentially replied, “Who do you think you are to complain? Am I not the Almighty?”

When God takes, He IS giving: He is giving us into His own hands to shape us into the image of the Son, who Himself prayed on our behalf, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but YOURS be done.” And let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus! As the scripture says, the desires of our hearts will be granted when we delight in HIM! Do we so delight in HIS will that we count it all JOY when we meet trials? The word of Elijah to king Ahab, “there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word,” came from a man so given over to the will of God that he could confidently speak even from his own heart; for his heart had become the GOD’S very own. We shall not truly appreciate the heights of God’s mountain until we have been tested in the valley. Let us therefore feast at the table which He has laid before us in the presence of our enemy, if that is where it is currently set for us. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and HE will exalt you” (James 4:10)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:6-9)

God’s Law – Part 4: The Law of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Romans 8:35-39)

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

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

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

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


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

– Brendan

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

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

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

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

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

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY.

(2 Corinthians 3:17)

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

If in Christ we are crucified to this world and the world to us, then in Him we also have overcome the world! We may still live in this body of flesh, but we no longer live after the flesh. For it is not even our own faith by which we live, but HIS faith! For Paul also wrote of the righteous requirement of God’s Law being fulfilled in him, “not having a righteousness of the law (that is, after the flesh), but through the THE FAITH OF CHRIST, having the righteousness of God on faith…” (Php 3:9)
These are the words of a dead man who lives in the liberty of another One being at work in him unto righteousness. This is the experience of one both born and borne of the Spirit of the Living God. He now savors the Word of God and delights to keep His commands, for he sees that they are for his own good in knowing his new Master. He finds that to be a bondservant of Christ is true liberty! For the FAITH of Christ is the law of liberty by which we overcome the curse of this world – even in this life – by the power of the Spirit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For in the faith of Christ we also have a shield against every fiery dart of the enemy’s accusation and intimidation, every whisper and imagination preventing the knowing of He who dwells in us. Many of us have been so trained by the spirit of man’s religion to wallow in condemnation as though it were pious, rather than to enter in and dwell in His tabernacle forever, where confident faith is met by His every provision to overcome all things. The mind of the flesh is so accustomed to dwelling in darkness that it fears the Light; and if we listen to its voice we remain tormented in fear, hardly touching the outer court – when truly Christ has made provision for us to inquire of His temple, even where His blood has sprinkled the mercy seat, the place where the Father’s glory dwells. For the blood of Jesus speaks authoritatively against every voice that seeks to prevent its work of drawing us near to Him, “wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:14-15) And God will not forsake what work He has begun; so that our greater victory is obtained by faith working with patience; just as Abraham, who, “after he had patiently endured, obtained the promise.” (Heb 6:15)

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

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

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

This is why it is written:
You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously”?
But he gives more grace.
Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep.
Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and HE will exalt you.

(James 4:3-10)

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

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

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

(Psalm 119:32-38)

– Brendan

God’s Law – Part 2: The Law of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Romans 8:2-4 LITV)

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

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

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

For I may have the new desires of the new creature to obey God; but I have not the power to overcome the law of sin and death at work in my members unless that new creature is animated by God Himself rather than by me myself. It is after I am born again when I truly begin to increasingly realize that it is I who is far more the enemy of God’s work in and through me than I ever previously conceived. The fault is not with God’s demand, nor His lack of empowerment; but rather my lack of surrendering even the new creature to His control. For though I am regenerated in spirit, I am unable to animate or operate the new creature. The new nature desires what is right but gives us no power to overcome by our own will. For we are made into a new creature so that GOD can reside in and rule over us, as HIS temple!

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

So we can have the Word of Christ dwelling in us in some measure; but apart from a direct work of power by His Spirit, we simply remain in a deep struggle between two natures: our spirit being alive in the conviction of His righteousness, yet our mortal body still being subject to the manifestations of sin.
This cycle is not meant to endlessly perpetuate, but to dwindle and die – hence the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Romans 8:12-14)

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

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

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

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

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

– Brendan

Vanity: All But Christ

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “vanity of vanities!
All is vanity!”

(Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Vanity is the only currency of this present world; and vanity its only prize. “The whole world lies in the evil one,” and the fruits of his pride at work in those who follow in his path are the vain and meaningless acquisitions of chasing that dragon. The Devil himself has not attained what he set himself after, and he shall never acquire it. The calling of God upon His people is one of being perfect even as He is perfect – and this is only possible by the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead quickening us, we who have been crucified to the world and the world to us with Him. All but the preeminence of Christ Jesus in all things is as dust in the wind. All that is contrary to each of us living and moving and having our being in HIM is chaff to be burned.

The mystery of God is Christ over all and through all and in all, as revealed in the members of HIS body. Those who are born and lead of His Spirit move with His Spirit, and not with another. Where they truly came from and where they are truly going cannot be discerned by the carnal man. The factions which men call “churches” are the robbers of Christ’s preeminence in HIS church, for they by nature cannot submit to His Spirit, and so they are vanity. But although He is dethroned in the “wisdom” of men, He exalts Himself in the things foolish to this devil’s world.

For this is a world in which the spiritual value of a thing is thought to be determined by its “earthly good.” But truly, it is the lack of outcry in our hearts against the vanity of the passing things of earth and of man’s self-aggrandizing agendas which keeps us from finding the only Worth. We must come to the very end of ourselves and find that HE is everything! As I have heard one sister say, “It is in the void that we find Him.” Men put great effort and sincere devotion into the plans and visions of what a committee decides God should bless; when it is only Christ the head, giving command to each member of HIS body, by which the whole can function and manifest the fullness of HIM. For the true body of Christ IS the fullness of HIM who fills all, as HE is in them all. Only that which God Himself creates, sustains, and truly dwells in will abide the day of His coming. All else will fall and is already falling deep into the obscurity of this fading world, for the Holy Spirit carries along  that which is begotten of Him; but His wind destroys the field which HE did not sow. Man’s own vision and earthly understanding cannot deliver him from the realm of this world of vanity and worthlessness.

For they sow the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind. He has no standing grain. The stalk will yield no head. If it does yield, strangers will swallow it up.
Israel is swallowed up. Now they are among the nations like a worthless thing.

(Hosea 8:7-8)

It is therefore no coincidence that the gatherings of man called “churches” under the authority of men are full of people in bondage to darkness, who bear the fruits of the law of sin and death; for a body manifests the person of whatever spirit is allowed to be at work in its members. The prince of the power of the air is at work in all those not subject to the Lordship and headship of Christ, for two masters cannot be served.

But the true and pure bride is His very body, she is ONE with Christ in His Spirit – of whom He can say, “bone of My bone and flesh of My flesh” – she is not a separate entity ruled over by other men. “They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world, and world hears them;” but the sheep of the Good Shepherd are hearing HIS voice, and He is leading them out, “Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away…” (Song of Solomon 2:10)

“And there shall be one flock, One Shepherd.”

God proclaiming all things of this world to be vanity is not a casual indictment. The engagement of our hearts with the “wisdom” and ways of earth is an adulterous union in His eyes.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
(1 John 2:15-17)

Joshua 6 -Part 2: The Zeal Of His House

And it happened at the seventh time the priests blew with the rams’ horns. And Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For Jehovah has given you the city. And the city shall be devoted to Jehovah, it and all that are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you shall certainly keep clear of the cursed things, that you not become accursed by taking from the cursed things, and shall make the camp of Israel become accursed, and trouble it. And all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, they are holy to Jehovah; they shall come into the treasury of Jehovah.”
(Joshua 6:16-19)

The only ground which God will continue entrusting to His people is that which they keep holy unto Him. What has been gained in the passing of former things must be kept by the obedience of faith in the newness of the Spirit. In all that God has freely given, He requires that we continue striving to lay hold of its fullness by submission to Him; for this allows Him to sanctify us fully that we may be kept blameless even as we keep ourselves blameless (Php 3:12, 1Thess 5:22-23).

Now Jericho was still standing before the people even after they had passed from death unto Life through the baptism of the Jordan: a fortress of the enemy’s defiance against what God had begun to work in His people. But God would have that work brought to completion. The stronghold of Jericho must be brought down should the people of God get any further into the land and drive out even more enemies. To lay hold of its treasures or compromise with its idols would be to fall away from the holy commandment delivered; but to be laying hold of what awaits us in God’s promise is to be forsaking what still calls us back to the world, for there is no crown until the cross is suffered. The troublers of Israel are not those who cry for God’s people to be holy as He is holy; but rather those whose cowardly disobedience and hypocrisy prevents that cry from being clearly heard and seen as righteous.

And the people shouted, and blew with the ram’s horns, and it happened, when the people heard the sound of the ram’s horn, the people shouted a great shout. And the wall fell under it; and the people went up into the city, each man in front of him; and they captured the city. And they destroyed all that was in the city, from man even to woman, from young even to aged, and to ox, and sheep, and ass, by the mouth of the sword.
(Joshua 6:20-21)

Where is such zeal of the Lord’s house today? Who will take upon themselves the armory of the Lord and draw the Sword against the foe of His inheritance? Let not a single ruler of the enemy, nor the heads of its houses; let not those who might bear more of its wicked children, nor the wicked children it has already borne; let not one of its wisemen, nor its beasts of burden – let not one unholy thing be left to roam free which perpetuates the works of the devil in the land of the living! If we are a temple of the Living God, then may the Lord Jesus Himself be allowed to turn the tables in His house! It will only cost us what should have already been counted as loss for Him. The authority of Christ is with those who obey Him, and His power is boundless toward those rejoicing in the fellowship of His sufferings. For the first order of our holy warfare is dying to the flesh so that His Life may abound in us;and where there is no longer a mixture of two natures there is complete victory. The Spirit wages war against the fleshly nature if the old man still lives; for in the flesh dwells no good thing, but only evil things dwell therein. The warfare of the heart must be won utterly by the Spirit of God should the Lion of Judah rise up in His people and remain forever. There can only ever be one master served, and this is the day of choosing.

And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the house of the woman, the harlot, and bring the woman out from there, and all whom she has, as you have sworn to her.” And the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and all whom she had; yea, they brought all her family, and set them outside the camp of Israel.
(Joshua 6:22-23)

The great enemy of all holiness is mixture. All things that are to remain in God’s house must stop conforming to the world that they might be transformed and become a vessel for honor. Rahab and her household were brought outside the camp of Israel, which is the place of sanctification and of offerings for sin. For she who was plucked from the midst of the enemy’s lair also had need to bear the reproach of Christ outside the camp so that she might enter into His rest. And she was saved with Israel that day, for she did not consider herself to have a continuing city on earth, but instead sought the holy city that is coming (Heb 13:12-14, Rev 21). And so she was honored, being mentioned and recorded as a member of HIS house, even a citizen of Zion, the city of God (Ps 87, Matt 1:5).

And they burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only they gave the silver and the gold, and the vessels of bronze, and of iron, to the treasury of the house of Jehovah. And Joshua kept alive Rahab the harlot, and the house of her father, and all whom she had. And she lives in the midst of Israel to this day. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
(Joshua 6:24-25)

Only fire conducts an assured purge. Our God is He whose answer is by fire. The Spirit, the water, and the blood are the ingredients of rebirth, renewing, and cleansing; but purifying fire signals the very presence of God and is the blazing witness of heaven. Up to this point, the people had the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood – which are the witnesses on earth. But these three are together a witness to that which is in heaven: “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit” (1Jn 5). Now these three, which are the Father, Son, and Spirit, are supposed to be our three baptisms: one with water in the Son, one of our spirit in the Holy Spirit, and one of fire, for God our Father is a consuming fire. Now the fire of the Father before His throne is ready to descend upon a ready altar: an altar begotten of the Spirit of Truth, drenched in the waters of repentance, ready for the bloody sacrifice of ourselves, even as the Lamb who has already prepared this very way before us.

The fire consumes all that it is allowed to engulf. Therefore, let ALL the things which are an offense to God be offered for His burning that they may never again hinder His work in His people! And if the Lord Himself is indeed present and known, and if His power and authority is indeed clearly seen and walked in, then woe to those who have truly walked in all such things and yet turned utterly back to walk after the treasures of Egypt and its ways!

For it is impossible for those being once enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of the Holy Spirit, and tasting the good Word of God, and the works of power of a coming age, then falling away – it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame.
(Hebrews 6:4-6)

After the Jordan was crossed, it returned flowing into the Dead Sea, along with any who would dare attempting to cross it back the other way. If the foundation was truly laid, it cannot be laid again. If what God teuly built upon it has been destroyed by us, the same things cannot again be built. There are those who will be saved on the last day only as through fire (1Cor 3:11-15). It is far better to have His fire already burning and purging us today then to wait until the last day without assurance. There are indeed few today who have very much to fall away from; but let that not be an excuse for bearing no further responsibility. Those who purposely avoid having much to lose spiritually have already buried their talent and will still receive nothing. Let us instead obey the upward call, for therein is true grace to continue with strength and most assuredly obtain the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

And at that time Joshua adjured, saying, “Cursed be the man who rises up before the face of Jehovah and builds this city of Jericho. He shall lay its foundation in his first-born, and he shall set up its doors in his youngest son.” And Jehovah was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
(Joshua 6:26-27)

– Brendan