Psalm 73 – Purity Of Heart

Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
Psalm 73:1 (ESV)


~ FIRST, AN EXHORTATION ~

The holy nation of God is made up of those who are pure in heart. The thing which God is after is a holy nation, and He will have it at great cost. No, He has even already paid for it immeasurably. So when and how shall He see the full fruit of the travail of His soul? His being poured out unto death is the promise of glory; but in every merciful promise of God, the recipients are justly charged to actively inherit its spiritual substance in the likeness of He who opened the way unto that abundance of His Life.

The aim of our charge is love
that issues from a pure heart
and a good conscience
and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5

His holy uncompromising love issues forth from pure hearts because the pure heart has no defilement of conscience, so that their participating in the faith can always be instant and authentic. These are a peculiar people, for they are no one’s possession except His. They are not even their own, for they see and are ever undone at the immeasurable worth of His buying price. Today is the day for purity of heart to be sought and acquired in the members of God’s house, lest the jealous yearning of His indwelling Spirit be provoked to wrath upon His near visitation.

The prophet wondered aloud regarding the day in which the Lord suddenly comes to His temple: “But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiners fire…” We the temple stand at the threshold of that day, and we ought to be trembling; for He shall first visit His own house to purge the iniquity and burn the chaff. If evil will not be removed from our hearts by the Lord in His strivings with us, then the Lord is free to remove the evil of heart.

Beloved, we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared;
but we know that when He appears
we shall be like Him,
because we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3:2

He identifies His own by their likeness to Him. Now, there are degrees and varied expressions of His manifestation through each one of us; but let each one earnestly participate in whatever measure which God has entrusted to them, lest any be ashamed at His coming as was the wicked and slothful servant. Those who will not see Him as He is will not be like Him. This truth transcends whatever we may think defines the boundaries of His house. Those who abide in Him unto the doing of righteousness by faith may have confidence at His appearing; but those who shrink back from substantive faith leave themselves to walk in a most precarious hope and superficial assurance. For by not being continually lead of His Spirit, they see little of Him in person, and the wonder of His Life remains but a faint abstraction easily traded for lesser things. Pray the Lord opens their eyes, lest they carelessly slip away and not endure!

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:
“The Lord knows those who are His,” and,
“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver
but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,
he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy,
useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:19-21

If the ungodly shall not be spared in the final judgement, much more should the unfaithful servants learn again to serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling before that final day; those whom He expectantly appointed to present His church to Him a chaste virgin, spotless and without wrinkle. “It is time for judgement to begin at the house of God.” The names of those who weep over the ravished daughter of Zion are being written in the books, as well as those who have ravished her; and not a wicked soul shall His slaying Spirit spare: beginning at His most holy sanctuary, which they have defiled by their abominable revelings in HIS bride.

Let every one whom God has called into the fellowship of His mystery heed the warnings of His word.

 

~ THEREFORE ~

I write this (especially what follows) to the earnest of heart, who desire no other shepherd than the Good One, who cry for nothing less than the Lord Himself to be fully glorified in them: His perfect will done in light of these things.

This Psalm [73] has for some time now been a sharp instrument in the skilled hands of my Physician, and it necessarily remains so. It contains the words of a man rightfully disenchanted with the spiritual injustice of his day, yet crippled by the impure response of his heart toward it. The proverb is true: “the more knowledge, the more sorrow;” and the sorrowful soul not being continually restored by the Lord can become just as deceitful and desperately wicked as any unregenerate heart. Those who see the horror of things as they are and hear the urgent call of God can easily run the risk of feeling as though they have come to something which excludes them from requiring further heart surgery. Herein lies the path of becoming both unmerciful and unjust in response to what God is revealing. The great danger of conviction is that we become content with its mere presence, neglecting its call to ever-deepening repentance.

The Psalmist continues…

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
Psalm 73:2-5

“I was envious of the arrogant…” Here is the admission of a man who observed the order of things correctly, yet contemplated them unrighteously within his soul. A lack of personal peace due to the succeeding of the wicked indicates this envy in the hidden heart. Envy is not merely covetousness. Covetousness has to do with lusts and selfish desires; but envy describes a self-centered sense of justice. Envy is a root of restless evil which supplies the many tendrils of covetousness. But even if we do not directly covet the unrighteousness of men or their gain by it, it is still the sin of envy which we find inwardly robbing us of walking in the peace of God. In being envious of the arrogant, we become arrogant. Where God does not appear to be the fulcrum of justice, we overstep Him to seek out our own. This is the envy here described. We act in the passion of envy and speak in the heat of our own displeasure. The reasoning is righteous, but the execution is not; and this is not a matter of outward method, but of the inward heart.

This envy reveals the absence of Godly contentment; it is the frame of those seeking their own justice for all that rightly disturbs their souls. The Devil has learned well to drain the Godly contentment out of those who are righteously dissatisfied with the status quo of man’s religion. For what we envy is the apparent peace of the wicked in light of the apparent disappointment of “I the righteous.” But this is not reality as God sees it; since there is no true peace for the wicked, and disappointment is not the mind of those who trust in the Lord. We think too highly of our selfishly impassioned understandings. A lack of entrusting God’s capable hands to be in control of matters too lofty for us brings about the crippling frustration of envy in our souls, so that in the secret of our hearts we rail against the most high over our perceived predicament while the wicked prosper.

Self-pity is the unrighteous bog in which we soak our hearts when we allow the evil of men to overshadow the goodness of God in our present sight. But we are exhorted to see from eternity, that we may bring back the piercing decree of eternity to lighten this present darkness. The decree from what our own eyes see and our own ears hear among men will not do; since from these God’s perfect justice and equity can never proceed. But those who have stood in His council are constrained to speak the truth in a true heart; for at their appointments with the King, mercy triumphs over judgement. By the brightness of His glory before their eyes and in the burning of His coals upon their lips, His perfect justice ever becomes their acquaintance.

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged:
and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.
Proverbs 16:6

Let us therefore with thankfulness and fear fix our eyes upon the things which are of Christ, our only boast; for by these we find the renewing of our troubled minds, and receive the heavenly wisdom both seen and heard in the stark yet measured words of our Lord. Neither the fear of man nor the wrath of man works the righteousness of God; but there is an inner choosing of God’s peace which disarms the provocateurs of Satan, and a bold confidence in “His own arm” amidst dire circumstance which confounds the evil powers. Blessed are they who invite the searching light of God into the unvisited places of the heart, that when His purifying fire comes it may be gladly received to do its work.

But regarding the wicked, whose hearts we ourselves emulate through the unrighteous fellowship of envy, the Psalmist continues…

Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore His people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them. And they say,
“How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease,
they increase in riches.
Psalm 73:6-12

“The murmuring spirit… has much of the spirit of Satan within it.”
– Jeremiah Burrows

The soul most embittered by perceived injustice most quickly rises within the ranks of the unjust. The unjust were all at one time crying out for justice themselves. For no sooner does a man give himself to earnestly seek God’s justice in light of great evil, than the Devil and the flesh remind him of every wrong that he has suffered at the hands of men – especially the betrayal of his very brothers. When we seek the undoing of unrighteousness to find the peace of God rather than standing in the peace of God to find the undoing of unrighteousness, we inevitably find ourselves likewise setting our mouths against the heavens. Yet what was our Lord’s response to this world, who knew men’s wicked hearts beforehand? See what it accomplished! For in Him the Spirit blew where it wished. At one time He was quick to rebuke; at another, to extend mercy; at another, to leave men to themselves. All these interactions were enthroned upon righteousness and justice; for He knew what was in man, because He knew where He came from and where He was going. He perfectly discerned others because He perfectly discerned Himself, so that the Holy Spirit was at liberty in Him. The degree to which we discern ourselves determines the degree to which we discern outside of ourselves and are enabled to be more precisely led by His Spirit.

He shall not judge by what His eyes see, or decide disputes by what His ears hear, but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall kill the wicked.
Isaiah 11:3-4

Such is the way of one whose life proceeds from heaven. The desired reward of true righteousness is the singular glory of God, who today still sends His rain upon the just and the unjust alike. The pure in heart know that they are not the protectors of God’s glory – this is why they can stand undeterred in spirit despite the wicked schemes round about them. For the wise do not dare touch the Ark of God to steady it, though it appears for a moment to waver. The tempter prompts good yet undiscerning men to seize the day right when God is about to make it His own. Any ministration which bypasses the direct working of His Spirit is a ministration after the spirit of antichrist. If we are grieved by what we see and spurred to action with the Holy Spirit, then let the justice of God first overtake and trample our own motivations, lest our own decree go forth and not His. The purest justice flows from a vessel which has itself been most refined in judgement; but the heart envious toward evil men reveals its own impurity as it wearies of walking uprightly amidst such a perverse generation…

All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
Psalm 73:13-17

The response of an impure heart toward evil both within and without God’s house causes our brethren to stumble, for in our envious condition we ourselves are slipping. Let such infancy in grace give way to maturity through both receiving and trusting His good counsel, which He reserves for the ones who diligently seek Him. Holy ground is walked upon by those who earnestly desire to look upon His beauty and inquire in His temple. Only here is made known in the depths of our being the unfathomableness of His perfection in His dealings with men: of His foreknowledge and His longsuffering, of His mercy and His wrath stored up for their respective days, of the desperate longings of His heart unsearchable, of the boundless symmetry of His way inscrutable. Those who humble themselves to seek the counsel of the Lord regarding their grievances will find not merely words to fill an intellectual gap, but living eye-salve of the Holy Spirit. For He reveals His heart regarding the wicked only so much as we allow our own darkness to likewise be lightened.

Truly You set them in slippery places;
You make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when You rouse yourself,
You despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward You.
Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
Psalm 73:18-23

In the nearness of God the end of evil men is at last discerned; for here is our own wickedness also discerned. He allows the wicked to prosper that they may heap up a most complete judgement for themselves: this itself is a judgement of God, and we dare not interfere with His proceedings as children rudely interrupting His court. The pure in heart do not overstep God’s decree regarding the wicked: they are satisfied with it; for they have seen His decree’s relevance even to themselves but for His ever-new mercies. They find peace even in the hearing of His heavier counsels, for they know the good of conceding to His way. In this they are not denying His intercession through them, but they uphold its rightful place. Intercession is the extending of God’s heart within us for what He has decreed, not of our own counsels toward Him; and there are times when He emphatically says, “Pray NOT for this people, for their good…” (Jer 14:11) There is a sin leading to death, and we would do well to walk in the discernment of He who sees the hidden thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts. Conversely, in those for whom God still suffers long there can be a particularly unruly waywardness which requires us to trustingly remove our hands from them, so that He who drew us to Himself apart from man’s devices might be able do the same in them. It is not that we give up; but we do let go, certainly grieved with the Spirit yet also freed from ourselves that we may rejoice in His hope.

We often despise God’s times and seasons, because He uses them to challenge what we think should be happening and how soon. The sooner we trust Him, the sooner we shall see His hour. But we need to trust Him first – then He will do whatever pleases Him, however it pleases Him. The prophet Elijah, who hid himself in virtual exile for years at a time upon the command of God, became so entwined in God’s perfect will that he could confidently say, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to MY word.” (1 Kings 17:1) Elijah lived standing in the Most Holy Place before God Himself, speaking and moving according to whatever he saw the Father doing. He was a true intercessor: a man who stood in the gap, just as Noah who “by faith… condemned the world” in his building of God’s refuge for the righteous few. The battle within us is not merely between action and inaction; it is a matter of whose action. There is a Devilish restlessness which saps the Godly strength of the ready soul.

The most well-intentioned self-will is the greatest neutralizer of true intercession. The tether which binds fleshly action to a holy burden is sensual and demonic; but those who are overcome of Christ overcome the world in His faith. They are secure in daring to say “Thy will be done” because they have chosen to live before the judgement seat of Christ today. For it is here that we discover our need to be led by the hand into the maturity of a living understanding, where our perspective of justice gives way to His own. If we could taste but a drop of His holy anguish over the injustices of wicked men, we would be utterly ashamed of our own imperfect angst. In the covert of His wings vexation is removed from the soul; and the spirit of loneliness and rejection which fostered all manner of sins gives way to renewed strength by returning to the arms of He who never truly forsook us. The burden of the whole world is the Lord’s; and we shall only rightly partake of His burdens if we allow Him to minister rest to our souls, else their weightiness will cause our hearts to fail and our flesh give way to defeat. We cannot minister to the Lord if we are not first ministered to by Him. We may speak much of readiness yet His love remains bound within us, unable to be fully and freely expressed.  But deliverance finds those who at last give up pride and let Him win, consolation is found by those whom His word breaks in pieces, and the anointing is poured out of broken vessels. The works of which the pure in heart shall tell are HIS.

You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth
that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from You shall perish;
You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:24-28

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)

Whoever Exalts Himself…

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Short Word on Idols

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. Amen.
(1 John 5:21)

An idol is not always the object of your veneration; it is also the object of all your blame for whatever evil is well within your reach and your authority in Christ to address. Your idol can be that which you lay all responsibility at the feet of in order to excuse yourself of your specific responsibility in what God has revealed to you.

Those whom God’s true call passes by in such complacency are forsaking His flock as members of the One True Shepherd; and after their idolatrous and insolent hearts, there are always raised up for them worthless and self-serving IDOL shepherds, which lead them further astray as a judgement; whose arms work corruption, being blind to the Father’s will.

For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.
Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
(Zechariah 11:17, KJV)

Joshua 8 – Part 1: Our Authority & the Enemy’s Blindness

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Do not fear, nor be afraid. Take all the people of war with you,
and rise up, go up to Ai. Behold, I have given the king of Ai, and his people,
and his city, and his land into your hand.
And you shall do to Ai and to its king as you have done to Jericho and its king. Only, its spoil and its cattle you shall take for yourselves. Set yourself an ambush for the city behind it.”
(Joshua 8:1-2)

“Behold, I have given… into YOUR hand…”
“Set YOURSELF an ambush…”
 
The walls of Jericho were conquered not by the hand of any man; but by the overcoming faith of the people in their Captain.

But having been delivered from the great stronghold, they were now expected to walk in THEIR authority from heaven to continue their conquest. Jericho was handed to them without any requirement but the first steps and proclamation of newborn faith; but the taking of Ai required a walk of both holiness and meekness. This was initially failed by the man who stole the things devoted to destruction (Joshua 7), which brought grief and delay upon the whole camp of Israel; and that man was purged from their midst. The putting off of idolatry is the putting on of authority in the Spirit.

And this authority is that of the pierced hands; for pride brings the loss of authority in God’s kingdom, just as the Devil was opposed and cast out. Pride is the root and substance of all idolatry. But the method of Christ’s victory was through death and humiliation at the hands of all the fury of the adversary; for the enemy is blinded by his own vanity, so as not to discern the mystery of Godliness. The greatest warriors in the army of the Lord are the meek, for the enemy cannot comprehend the mind of Christ, “who subsisting in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross.Because of this also God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

And Joshua sent them away, and they went to the ambush,
and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west of Ai.
And Joshua remained that night in the midst of the people.
And Joshua rose early in the morning and called up the people,
and they went up, he and the elders of Israel in the sight of the people of Ai.
And all the people of war with him went up and drew near,
and came before the city. And they camped on the north of Ai,
and the valley was between him and Ai.
And he took about five thousand men and set them as an ambush
between Bethel and Ai, on the west of the city.
And they set the people, all the camp on the north of the city;
and its rear on the west of the city.
And Joshua went into the middle of the valley on that night.

And it happened, when the king of Ai saw,
the men of the city rose early and hurried to go out to meet Israel in battle,
he and all his people at the appointed time before the plain.
He did not know that an ambush was against him behind the city.
And Joshua and all Israel were stricken before them,
and they fled the way of the wilderness.
And all the people in the city were called to chase them.
And they pursued Joshua, and were drawn away out of the city.
And there was not a man left in Ai and Bethel who had not gone out after Israel. And they left the city open, and chased Israel.

(Joshua 8:9-17)

The Lord set Joshua and the people in a place which to their enemy made them appear vulnerable and open for attack; but his brashness was the very mechanism of his downfall. Joshua took the way of apparent defeat in order to lay hold of victory for his people. This is a wonderful picture of the cross, upon which Christ Jesus took the fall for His people’s deliverance, enduring the scorn and temptation of the Devil; but being the spotless Lamb of God, He was raised from the dead. And having emptied the gates of hell upon Himself to their own exposure, He now holds every key to their final demise. For it is HIS authority by which the gates of hell (the council and strategy of the enemy) cannot overcome those who remain in HIM. For what He has bound and loosed in heaven is bound and loosed on earth by those who give themselves over to walking obediently by faith in what they see the Father doing.

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai. For I will give it into your hand.”
And Joshua stretched out the javelin in his hand toward the city.
And the ambush rose up quickly out of their place,
and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand,
and entered the city, and took it.
And they hastened and burned the city with fire.
And the men of Ai looked behind them, and saw; and, behold!
The smoke of the city had gone up into the sky.
And there was no power in them to flee here or there.
And the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers.

And Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city,
and that the smoke of the city had gone up.
And they turned back and struck the men of Ai.
And the others came out from the city to meet them.
And they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that.
And they struck them until not was left to them a survivor, not one that escaped.
And they caught the king of Ai and brought him alive to Joshua.

…And Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Only, Israel seized for themselves the livestock, and the plunder of the city, according to the word of Jehovah which He commanded Joshua.

(Joshua 8:18-23, 26-27)

The boldness to walk in overcoming faith is a boldness unfamiliar with pride which is held in meekness. Walking in the authority of Christ is knowing of the Father’s will without the restraints of our own will and drawing the power of that heavenly kingdom to earth by stepping out upon what can only be presently seen by eyes of singleness toward HIS purposes and hearts longing for HIS appearing. This requires the present knowing of His actual will: not as a distant and general unknown, but rather as a clear vision of His desire for today into which we step and speak that it might be so, for He has decreed it. It is OUR faith which overcomes this Devil’s world (1Jn 5:4), that upon the gallows meant for his intended victim, he himself might hang, even as Haman did (Esther 7:10).

And Joshua burned Ai, and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.
And he hanged the king of Ai on the tree until evening time.
And at sundown Joshua commanded, and they took his dead body down from the tree, and threw it into the opening of the gate of the city;
and raised over it a great heap of stones until this day.

(Joshua 8:28-29)

The hidden wisdom of God in Christ Jesus is unto the demise of His enemies by the manifestation of HIS authority and power through those in whom He dwells.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
which none of the rulers of this age has known.
For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory…
(1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

…the mystery having been hidden from the ages and from the generations,
but now was revealed to His saints; to whom God willed to make known
what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations,
who is Christ in you, the hope of glory…
(Colossians 1:26-27)

…and to bring to light all, what is the fellowship of the mystery having been hidden from eternity in God, the One creating all things through Jesus Christ;
so that now, to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenlies,
the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church,
according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through HIS faith.
(Ephesians 3:9-12)

And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom.
And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in heaven.
And whatever you loose on earth shall be, having been loosed in heaven.
(Matthew 16:19 LITV)

– Brendan

The Righteous Man Perishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Brendan

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)