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)

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)

Wisdom & Folly – Spirit & Flesh – Sowing & Reaping

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction; to discern the words of understanding;
to receive instruction in prudence, justice, and judgement, and uprightness;
to give sense to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young man.
The wise hears and increases learning, and the understanding one gets wise counsel, t
o understand a proverb and an enigma;
the words of the wise, and their acute sayings.

The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Proverbs 1:1-7)

The proverbs of scripture are not merely earthly truth which in practice bring man’s approval; rather they are words of the Holy Spirit which in practice lead to greater fruitfulness in God. However, if they are not practiced patiently in the fear of HIM, then their true reward in HIM remains unattainable and they cannot be understood beyond carnal wisdom. For the wisdom of God is justified by her children, not by her mere admirers. Christ Jesus is truly heard, seen, beheld, and touched not by mere argumentation and human reasoning, but rather by His life at work in a man.

The proverbs are not a mixture of heavenly and earthly wisdom as some regard them; but rather in parables they reveal the fruits of the manifold wisdom of God, which now in Christ can be seen in His people: who after Him are called to walk in manner which generates hunger and thirst for righteousness in others. For it is the fruit of His Spirit borne out in those fearing God and walking humbly in submission to Christ, who IS the Wisdom and Power of God, which reveals the table set for those hungry for that heavenly Bread.

Yet in our day we often refuse to so walk by the power of God and would rather seek to honor Him by our own devices and methods – things which are passing away and are not holy before the Lord. For this we have been given over to a season of spiritual famine and an unready harvest – yet still we cling to our own wisdom. We are living in a rocky field of thorns; yet without repenting, we foolishly desire to sow among them in our own barrenness when we ourselves have nothing to sow! We expect God to bless our labors, when in all our doings we still have not worked out our own salvation by the One who would work IN US to the showing forth of HIS wisdom on the earth through HIS church. Little to nothing of value in God’s eyes is able spring up and grow where the earth has not first been tilled. For until we set our hands to our own plow, the ground of our own heart remains a fallow and unbroken land, riddled with the idols of worldly understanding rather than the wisdom of God revealed only by His Spirit. We look across the land, surprised at the hardness of the soil around us, not seeing that the ground of our own hearts is truly the most impenetrable according to what we have been given. Why then should we be astonished that we are judged, and that the Lord of the harvest tarries?

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed,
and its end is to be burned.

(Hebrews 6:7-8)

“If you return, O Israel,” declares the LORD, “to Me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from My presence, and do not waver, and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives, in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,’ then nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory.”
For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest My wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”
(Jeremiah 4:1-4)

It is the blindness of pride and arrogancy which desires or expects those in the world to spiritually comprehend the things of God apart from His new birth. It is also cowardice not to address them as requiring God’s illumination if we already discern that they have none. And if we do not discern (as I fear we largely do not), let us ask of God who would lead us into all truth in all things. Otherwise we are Fighting flesh with flesh and corruption with corruption. Only the new heart created by God Himself is the rightful vessel for HIS word; but the tendency of the old man’s deceitful heart is to sow among thorns in his own understanding, leading to death. And this we are largely guilty of.

When we so readily and proudly cast pearls before swine, we reveal the uncircumcision of our own heart. All argumentation is vanity where no spark of God’s life yet exists; and the subsequent lowering of divine Truth into the realm of earthy wisdom only renders it all the more devoid of power. Truthful things and Truth itself are not the same. The former is humanly understandable knowledge which can be argued for all day by unregenerate flesh; but the latter is spiritually discerned reality, only made manifest by the humble obedience of faith in discretion before God’s eyes. (For true obedience to Him only takes root in the secret place of the Most High – it is the fruits thereof that are seen outside, by which the Son of Man is lifted up upon His cross for all men to see.) The tree of life is planted in heaven – it is the branches thereof which reach down to earth. In all our zeal to philosophically argue spiritual realities to deaf ears and blind eyes, we have tried to re-plant the tree of life on earth, forgetting how to labor in prayer over men’s souls for GOD’s work in them, failing to let HIS light shine forth in us by walking in the labors of the Spirit rather than by our own wisdom. That which is not first from heaven cannot ever enter therein, nor can the unseen be revealed in those who do not walk according the heavenly thing once revealed to them.

Let it no longer be we of whom the scriptures say,
They are of the world; because of this they speak of the world,
and the world hears them.

(1 John 4:5)

 

That receiving birth from the flesh is flesh, and that receiving birth from the Spirit is spirit. Do not wonder because I told you, “You must receive birth from above.”
(John 3:6-7, LITV)

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man may sow, that he also will reap. For the one sowing to his flesh will reap corruption of the flesh. But the one sowing to the Spirit will reap everlasting life from the Spirit.
(Galatians 6:7-8)

For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God in order to pull down strongholds: pulling down imaginations and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ, and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, whenever YOUR obedience is fulfilled.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-6)