Faith Unencumbered

“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man will give to you;
for God the Father sealed this One.”
Then they said to Him, “What may we do that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God,
that you believe into Him whom that One sent.”
(John 6:27-29, LITV)

It is only when I accept the absolute sufficiency of the blood of Christ to wash away my sins that I finally make myself open to the work of His cross in killing the old man who commits those sins. For when I give in to the fleshly feeling that the blood of Christ is insufficient, I resort to self-induced sanctification to make up for it.

But this is an affront to the gospel. For by such efforts I will only ever fail to measure up to God’s holiness, and I will only ever prove the Devil’s point when he accuses me. But when I behold that Christ died even for the sin of such religious compulsions, I am now free to lay down upon the altar in surrender, where I may reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God whose Spirit is able to perform that which He has promised to work in those who believe.

Then do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of patience, that having done the will of God you may obtain the promise.
For, yet a very little and the One coming will come, and will not delay.
“But the just shall live by faith; and if he draws back,
My soul is not pleased in him.”

But we are not of those withdrawing to destruction,
but of faith, to the preservation of the soul.
(Hebrews 10:35-39)

True humility is bold to go before the throne of grace for strength – pride lingers in the outer court, caught in the fleshly cycle of self-pity, insulting the grace of God as it minds the things of the flesh: and in this place there is no sacrifice left for sins. From such let all repent! For the one who minds the things of the Spirit is the one who constantly allows the light of Christ to expose such unbelief and therefore walks in no condemnation before Him – looking no longer at his natural face in a mirror, but looking rather into the perfect law of liberty: which is to lay hold by faith of all things given in Christ Jesus. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God because they behold the old man; whereas those who walk after the Spirit walk by faith in the work of Christ, and thereby naturally bear His fruit, because their heart is replaced by His and their mind is being renewed in the Word of His gospel.

But if the flesh is given place to rise up and act, we will inevitably fall into subtly perverting the grace of God into an excuse to live worldly. The flesh is unsatisfied and unsatisfying in all things and will only leave us restless; and we will begin to make up our own outward works to prove that we are truly walking with God by His Spirit; yet we will not allow Him to expose said works as being wrought by the flesh and therefore evil. Such is not true and can never become acceptable before God. “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23)

And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the Light, for their works were evil.
For everyone practicing wickedness hates the Light,
and does not come to the Light, that his works may not be exposed.
But the one doing the truth comes to the Light, that his works may be revealed,
that they exist, having been worked in God.
(John 3:19-21)

It is the most imprisoned of Christ who are the freest men; for the one who has despaired of all but HIM has the truest hope and will not be disappointed. It is by child-like faith in the power of God alone that victory is found and the kingdom entered. The righteous fear and trembling that we are exhorted to walk in comes from seeing just how futile all but the means of Christ and His cross are. It is this very growing reliance upon HIM that produces maturity and allows God to will and to do in us according to His good pleasure. Only faith unencumbered by anything outside of God’s empowerment produces GOOD fruit. Only the Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from the dead is the author of those things in us that are uncorrupted.

A good tree cannot produce evil fruits,
nor can a corrupt tree produce good fruits.
(Matthew 7:18)

This only I desire to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of law or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh? Did you suffer so much vainly, if indeed it also was vainly?
Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working works of power in you,
is it by works of law or by hearing of faith?

Even as “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”
Know, then, that those of faith, these are sons of Abraham.
(Galatians 3:2-7)

But are you willing to know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? Was not our father Abraham justified by works offering up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith worked with his works; and out of the works the faith was made perfected.
And the Scripture was fulfilled, saying, “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted for righteousness to him;” and he was called, Friend of God. You see, then, that a man is justified out of works, and not out of faith only.
(James 2:20-24)

In God’s eyes, there is not a war between faith and works.
There is rather a war between dead faith – which requires no empowerment by the hand of God because it is going nowhere and is required to produce nothing; and living faith – which works in following God’s voice, requiring His power unseen for the obtaining of His promises because it walks obediently on an impossible road.
The war is between the old man, who obeys the flesh, which leads to death; and the new man, who obeys God, submitting freely to the ongoing labors of the Holy Spirit, which is the restful path of life and peace.

We do not grow out of the gospel, we grow into its fullness.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.
(Psalm 131, ESV)

Come Out, That You May Hold Fast

Brothers and sisters:

If you will stand for holiness and separate yourselves from this world and its demands upon God, then those who keep trying to preserve that which God shall soon destroy will call your behavior heartless and unchristian in their lack of understanding.

So be it. Those whose great concern is supposedly not to judge others have hated you and judged you unrighteously; for you are a holy temple of the Living God, who is jealous for that temple. And He will defend those who hold fast; but He will take no pleasure in the one who draws back in faithlessness. It is only the consecrated who enter His rest. It is only the obedient and steadfast in whom His word is proven.

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

(Psalm 18:30)

Jesus’ call to not judge lest we be judged is a warning against unrighteous judgement, stressing that “with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured again to you.” But if our eye is single, and if that in which we do judge is free of hypocrisy (which is actually possible, as we are in fact called to this), then we being full of light do indeed see clearly to remove the speck in our brother’s eye. “For the spiritual man judges all things, yet is himself discerned by no one.”

But the one who judges those in whom God’s law is truly being fulfilled by the Spirit of life is speaking against the Law and judging the Law. And as long as such do not repent, they have sided themselves with the accuser and serve the purposes of Mystery Babylon, which we must remove ourselves from in order to remain in all the abundant mercies Christ. You cannot partake of two spirits. For Jesus has condemned us to righteousness and holiness, to remain unspotted from this world of iniquity.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up by your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to everlasting life.
(Jude 1:20-21, LITV)

There is no true functioning body of Christ where each member is not first able to stand alone with HIM. Unity in God is predicated upon separation unto God by the whole of the body. That which is not comprised of consecrated parts cannot be a functioning body.
We do not comfort men in the world, nor do we condescend the gospel of Christ into human terms; rather we call men out unto God who provides spiritual comfort to those whom the truth has first slain and regenerated into a kingdom that is not of this world. For those who belong to His kingdom are free to have confidence before Him, as nothing else need hold mastery over their soul.

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

The tares are becoming manifest to the ones being awakened; and they hope diligently for the coming harvest of separation. The slandered and misrepresented sheep of Christ’s fold who are grounded in the unchanging truth of His word are not ashamed even before His coming; for they know whom they have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep what they have committed unto Him until that Day (2Tim 1:12).

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
(Daniel 12:10)

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.

Revelation 13 – Warnings & Meditations

And I stood on the sand of the sea.
And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns,
and on his horns ten diadems, and on its heads names of blasphemy.

And they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast;
and they worshiped the beast, saying,
“Who is like the beast; who is able to make war with it?”

…And all those dwelling in the earth will worship it,
those of whom the names had not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world.
If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

(Revelation 13:1,4, 8-9)

Those who are finding no rest in God through Jesus Christ the sacrificial Lamb are ultimately found following after and rendering their worship to the spirit of this present evil age. Where the blood of the Lamb and the word of the testimony of His holy ones is not held up and walked in by faith to thwart the Devil’s onslaught of accusation and temptation, it becomes replaced by the carnal devices of man and flesh unto the enthroning of ourselves and our self-will. And in this arrogant self-deception, even the bringing about of the appearing of Christ’s kingdom becomes a work that we ourselves must accomplish through political means and social actions; rather than a bride being cleansed from all such worldly mixture by He who gave everything so that she might be made ready BY HIS OWN MEANS for His return.

The Spirit goes on to warn:
If anyone gathers captivity, into captivity he goes.
If anyone will kill by a sword, by a sword he must be killed.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
(Revelation 13:10)

Such is the landscape of today: where those in God’s house, who should be at peace in Him, enduring with patience and faith unto the day of salvation, are instead being seduced to seek and to give honor unto men that they might see their perceived image of heaven take shape upon the earth through the captivation of men’s agendas and by the sword of their own arms – not realizing that such is the very essence of the second beast…

And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth.
And it had two horns
like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon.
And it executes all the authority of the first beast before it.
And it causes that the earth and those dwelling in it should worship the first beast, of which was healed its deadly wound.

And it does great signs, that it even causes fire to come down
out of the heaven onto the earth before men.

(Revelation 13:11-13)

“…coming up out of the earth.
– This false spirituality, which seeks to build the kingdom of God rather than to receive it through meekness in due time: this is of the earth, not of Heaven. For His kingdom is not of this world; and its unveiling before all is not until HIS unveiling before all when all the kingdoms of the earth are judged. Until then, it is within those who follow the Lamb wherever HE may go.

And it executes all the authority of the first beast before it.
– The faithful should not distinguish between the evil of the world’s first beast, which rises out of the sea of all men, and the evil of the second beast which is born of a church that has become earthly. For its authority is equally carnal and its power equally satanic. Its venture to influence the world in its greatness is equally as blasphemous as the very world which it desires to take unto itself.

And it causes that the earth and those dwelling in it should worship the first beast, of which was healed its deadly wound.
– This wound being healed may very well speak of specific future or current events surrounding this first beast; but it is also at the very least a parable of the political and false religious outcome of a worldly ‘gospel:’ a gospel which declares righteous that which has not been cleansed by Christ’s blood, declares mended that which has not been healed by HIS wounds, and declares anointed that which heaven has not ordained. It is the call of the wicked one upon all men – and especially God’s people – to render spiritual honor and obedience to world powers, under the claim that such have suddenly been sanctified and anointed to have authority in the household of God – much as we see rampant today. The signs which wicked carnal men seek are conveniently being provided to them by devils who lead them further astray into their own worldly desire.

And it deceives those dwelling on the earth, because of the signs which were given to it to do before the beast, saying to those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast who has the wound of the sword, and lived.
And was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak, and might cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
And the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, it causes that they give to them all a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads, even so that not any could buy or sell, except the one having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here is wisdom: Let the one having reason count the number of the beast,for it is the number of a man and its number is six hundred and sixty six.
(Revelation 13:14-18)

The image and mark and number of the beast is the image and mark and number of A MAN! The abomination which causes desolation is that very image being set up in God’s temple as the object of worship – for His children are that temple! Therefore it causes desolation because it is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, who upon being replaced by another cannot abide in it. And they are slain by the sword of the mouth of He who could have been Life to them, because they worshiped the image of that beast (Rev 19:20-21).

It is clearly Satan’s objective to cause God’s children to fall away into worshiping the creature rather than the Creator, to esteem themselves so that they esteem Him not, rejecting HIM ALONE from truly ruling over them.

“He was despised… and we esteemed HIM not…”

“He came unto His own, and His own received HIM not…”

The gospel of self-ascension and worldly-kingdom-building is preaching well today, and it will lead many astray into destruction. Deliverance from all evil is found only in slavery to Christ, who came to destroy the Devil’s work. Anyone not regenerated by the Spirit of Christ nor abiding in Him IS indeed the Devil’s handiwork, they themselves carrying it out even further; but praise be to God for the blood and cross of Christ, by which we die with Him so that we too may walk in the newness of HIS Life through the mighty work of His indwelling Spirit!

The Devil is not rebuked in our own names, but only glorified. Let only the Name above all Names be esteemed in the conduct of His people. All other names are flowing into the beast, and we must cut ourselves off from them in order to keep the faith of Jesus. The only mark we can afford to bear in this world is the mark of God, even the marks of Jesus Christ crucified; unto which end we have many sufferings yet to endure. We are supposed to be dead in the Lord, the only place of resting in the labors of His Spirit, by the obedience of faith. HE alone is our peace and our only rest. HE is our only strong tower against the enemy, and the Rock higher than I. Only HE is that which is truly good – all else is the path to self-seeking and blasphemy.

And a third angel followed them, saying in a great voice,
If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead,
or in his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the anger of God which has been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb.

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.
And those worshiping the beast and its image have no rest night and day,
even if anyone receives the mark of its name.

Here is the patience of the saints;
here are
the ones keeping the commands of God,
and the faith of Jesus.

And I heard a voice out of Heaven saying to me,
Write: Blessed are the dead, the ones dying in the Lord from now.‘”
Yes, says the Spirit, “they shall rest from their labors,
and their works follow with them.

(Revelation 14:9-13)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not from us; in every way being troubled, but not having been hemmed in; having been perplexed, but not utterly at a loss; being persecuted, but not having been forsaken; being thrown down, but not having been destroyed; always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus in the body, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.
For we who live are always being delivered up to death on account of Jesus, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh…
(2 Corinthians 4:7-11)

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.
(Galatians 2:20)

“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)

– Brendan

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 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)

Who’s Image?

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years and fathered a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and called his name Seth.
(Genesis 5:3)

If all men are already children of God, or if all men are already imagers of God, then they would not need to be born again of His Spirit.

But the fall was the trade of the image of God for the image of Satan; it was the the trade of God as Father for the Devil as father; it was the trade of knowing God Himself for the worship of a self-image that is independent of Him. With the fall came the divide of one flesh once together called “Adam” into two self-seeking rebels called Adam and Eve. The image of God was lost to man and so he began to produce only after his own image. For that is the very character and nature of Satan: to set himself apart from God that he himself may be as God; and both the Devil and his children have not changed their objective to this day. The gospel of “finding the Christ within” is blasphemy. Those who truly believe into Christ are given the power to become the sons of God – this means that they are initially not His sons outside of Christ the Last Adam; for they are still in the first Adam under the curse, being “strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now IN Christ Jesus, you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ…” (Eph 2:12-13)

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that HE might be the firstborn among many brothers.
(Romans 8:29)

If we must be conformed to His image, then clearly we had lost it. If we must be born again, then clearly we had not been His children. If we must become His sons, then clearly we had not formerly been found in THE Son. That which God predestines is a path: upon which we choose to walk, or from which we choose to stray.

“Therefore IF any man be (present-tense) IN Christ,
he
is (present-tense) a new creature:
old things are 
(present-tense) passed away;
behold, all things
are (present-tense) become new.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

IF – This reconciliation to God is dependent upon one’s position with Christ, in Whom we are commanded to abide lest we be thrown away and burned as a fruitless branch. He is not automatically a part of us; we are rather called to be grafted into HIM, as He is the True Vine. We are supposed to be being conformed to HIS image, and God specifically distinguishes Him from us, so that in all things HE might have the preeminence. “HE is THE image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature”!

The esteem of self is always the esteem of Satan and the denial of Christ. The image and mark and number of the beast is the image and mark and number of A MAN! (Rev 13:18) The abomination which causes desolation is that very image being set up in God’s temple as the object of worship – and His children are that temple! This causes desolation because it is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, who upon being replaced by the “higher self” abandons such a temple. And they are slain by the sword of the mouth of the very Word who could have been Life to them, because they worshiped the image of the beast (Rev 19:20-21). For the Spirit of the Living God is not to be assumed as naturally being a part of us: rather we must partake of HIM on HIS terms. But it is clearly Satan’s objective to cause God’s children to fall away again into worshiping the creature rather than the Creator, to esteem themselves so that they esteem Him not, rejecting Him from truly ruling over them.

“He was despised… and we esteemed HIM not…”

“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not…”

The gospel of self-ascension is preaching well today, and it will lead many astray into destruction. Deliverance from all evil is found only in slavery to Christ, who came to destroy the Devil’s work. And anyone who is not born of the Spirit of Christ nor abides in Him IS indeed the Devil’s handiwork, they themselves carrying it out even further; but praise be to God for the blood and cross of Christ, by which we die with Him so that we too may walk in the newness of HIS Life through the mighty work of His indwelling Spirit!

The Devil is not rebuked in our own names, but only glorified. Let only the Name above all Names be esteemed in the conduct of His people. All other names are flowing into the beast, and we must cut ourselves off from them in order to keep the faith of Jesus. The only mark we can afford to bear in this world is the mark of God, and the marks of Jesus Christ crucified; and we have many sufferings yet to endure. We are supposed to be dead in the Lord, the only place of resting in the labors of His Spirit. HE is our only strong tower against the enemy, and the Rock higher than I.

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice,
“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever:
and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image,
and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, ‘Write,
“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.”‘
“Yea,”
saith the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours;
and their works do follow them.”
(Revelation 14:9-13)

– Brendan