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)

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)

God’s Law – Part 4: The Law of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Romans 8:35-39)

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

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

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

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

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

– Brendan

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

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

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

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

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

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY.
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

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

If in Christ we are crucified to this world and the world to us, then in Him we also have overcome the world! We still live in this body of flesh, but we no longer live after the flesh. For it is not even our own faith by which we live, but HIS faith! For Paul also wrote of the righteous requirement of God’s Law being fulfilled in him, “not having a righteousness of the law (that is, after the flesh), but through the the faith OF Christ, having the righteousness of God on faith…” (Php 3:9)

These are the words of a dead man who lives in the liberty of another One being at work in him unto righteousness. This is the experience of one both born and borne of the Spirit of the Living God. He now savors the Word of God and delights to keep His commands, for he sees that they are for his own good in knowing his new Master. He finds that to be a bondservant of Christ is true liberty! For the faith of Christ is the law of liberty by which we overcome the curse of this world – even in this life – by the power of the Spirit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For in the faith of Christ we also have a shield against every fiery dart of the enemy’s accusation and intimidation, every whisper and imagination preventing the knowing of He who dwells in us. Many of us have been so trained by the spirit of man’s religion to wallow in condemnation as though it were pious, rather than to enter in and dwell in His tabernacle forever, where confident faith is met by His every provision to overcome all things.

The mind of the flesh is so accustomed to dwelling in darkness that it fears the Light; and if we listen to its voice we remain tormented in fear, hardly touching the outer court – when truly Christ has made provision for us to inquire of His temple, even where His blood has sprinkled the mercy seat, the place where the Father’s glory dwells. For the blood of Jesus speaks authoritatively against every voice that seeks to prevent its work of drawing us near to Him, “wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:14-15) And God will not forsake what work He has begun; so that our greater victory is obtained by faith working with patience; just as Abraham, who, “after he had patiently endured, obtained the promise.” (Heb 6:15)

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

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

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

Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously”? But he gives more grace.
Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep.
Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and HE will exalt you.

(James 4:3-10)

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

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

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

(Psalm 119:32-38)

– Brendan

Joshua 4: Setting In Stone

And it happened, when all the nation had completely crossed over the Jordan, Jehovah spoke to Joshua, saying, “Take twelve men for you out of the people, one man of each tribe. And charge them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from this place, from the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the feet of the priests were fixed. And you shall carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place which you stay in it tonight.'” And Joshua called to the twelve men whom he had readied from the sons of Israel, one man out of each tribe.
And Joshua said to them, “Cross over before the ark of Jehovah your God to the middle of the Jordan, and each man of you lift up one stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, that this shall be a sign among you, when your children ask hereafter, saying, ‘What are these stones to you?’ You shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, as it crossed over into the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ And these stones are for a memorial to the sons of Israel all the days.”

(Joshua 4:1-7)

The placing of these stones of memorial was for the continual reminder of the wonders which God had done among His people so far. There is much good in meditating upon that which God has done in order to help us remain walking in wisdom and obedience regarding that which God continues to do. Not that we measure where we now stand by where we have once been, and so deceive ourselves; but rather that by seeing His works for what they truly are according to His word, we may continue striving toward the greater glory, of which and to which those wonders were meant to inform us and point us.

It is a sad reality in our day that many who have at one time seen the hand of God truly move did not consider and meditate on what He was truly intending to accomplish; and have since fallen into all kinds of foolishness, even specifically denying the very things which God was calling them to walk in. Many who once saw the need for the people of God to repent and weep for their idolatry and worldliness are now found saying that all is well; many who once walked in a humble submission to the Holy Spirit have become puffed up in the carnal “wisdom” of man’s various doctrines; many whom God was calling away from the spiritual falsehood of man’s “church” have since settled back in; many who for a time experienced true freedom by God’s power from the former lusts of the flesh have since become consumed in them again; many who were becoming bold and fearless in prayer and in the declaration of the gospel for lost souls have shrunk back and become impotent; and the list could go on. These are the fruits of a once zealous people who have conceded to the will of the enemy to fall back into the world from which they had once been turning.

But the Apostle Paul spoke of the results of life in the Spirit amidst all adversity:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39)

The only thing missing in Paul’s list is  former things. It is clear enough that “things present” and “things to come” cannot separate those who walk in the Spirit from the love of God; however, those who fall away from that walk are those returning to the former things, even as those who fell in the wilderness, and one of whom we read later (Joshua 7).

What these stones of memorial speak to us may be summed up in these two statements: on the one hand they promise, “the One having begun a good work in you will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ;” but on the other hand they also warn the one looking back toward Sodom and Egypt with a coveting heart, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

So if we have been brought over into the land where His rest is found, let us not linger by the river’s edge looking back and coveting the corruption in which we once lived before the crossing, nor travel back to cross it again into the world where there is nothing but spiritual death upon death awaiting us. Instead, having meditated upon the Word of our new life, let us be found “looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.” So let us consider these stones a hopeful promise for the faithful and a warning sign at which the backsliding may repent; an altar of mercy upon which we may offer ourselves to God so that His fire may fall and purge our impurities rather than destroy us.

“Take twelve stones… from the place where the feet of the priests were fixed.”
Again we see mentioned (as in chapter 3) the feet of the priests in the waters; and here the stones of memorial are to be taken from exactly where their feet were planted. So even the stones themselves become a type of those redeemed by passing through the waters through the way that Jesus as our priest has made: the living stones who also are being made after HIS likeness into “a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 2:5)

And how appropriate that there are twelve stones; since the New Jerusalem, the bride of our King, is founded upon twelve foundations, upon which its gates are guarded by twelve pillars inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles (Rev 21). So these twelve stones at Gilgal by the Jordan may be seen as that spiritual foundation of Christ which is to be continually built upon until the very end, since after these stones are placed, the children begin the inheriting of the kingdom.
[Paul spoke of this “building” founded upon Jesus Christ in specific reference to the collection of believers in a locality; warning the people of God at Corinth to take care not only of what the foundation is, but even afterwards what is built 
upon it, lest they lose much reward in the coming kingdom by building upon it that which proceeds from carnality rather than from God Himself (1Cor 3:10-15).]
For the altar with which God is pleased, and upon which His fire will truly fall, is made of twelve stones that no man has profaned with the working of their own devices 
(Ex 20:25, 1Ki 18:30-31)and the true spiritual life of God, of which we partake in Jesus Christ, is twelve-fold over abundant (Mt 14, Mk 6, Jn 6).

This is all to say that, since we have such a sure foundation upon which we may trust Him to build His kingdom, such a sure way, by which having entered we may remain in His presence and inherit the promises, such a holy altar of mercy upon which to offer ourselves and so become pure vessels tried by His fire, ready for honourable use, and such a rich promise in the reward of partaking of HIM – what then, other than blatant stubbornness in unbelief, should keep those who come to His land from resting in His labors and conquering therein?

So if anyone has fallen back, let them fall no further back than these stones, these pillars, this foundation; and let the one who hears the merciful voice of the Lord’s promise and warning be found repairing that altar which has been neglected, drenching it with such tears of repentance that only the fire of God from the altar before His heavenly throne will suffice to engulf it. And this is the great need of our day in the house of God, which temple we are, the temple made of those same living stones that are meant to become the finished New Jerusalem, which is the spotless bride of the King (Rev 21).

So we see that the children of Israel were to lodge among these stones placed at Gilgal, finding some rest and assurance among them so they would be prepared for the inheriting of the kingdom.

In that day Jehovah made Joshua great in the sight of all Israel. And they feared him all the days of his life, even as they feared Moses. And Jehovah spoke to Joshua, saying, “Order the priests who carry the ark of the testimony, that they rise out of the Jordan.” And Joshua commanded the priests, saying, “Rise out of the Jordan.” And it happened when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of Jehovah had come up out of the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the feet of the priests had been lifted to the dry land, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and flowed over all its banks, as before. And the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth of the first month, and camped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
(Joshua 4:14-19)

– Brendan