Finney – A Lesson From History

When we sanitize the long and sorted history of God’s people by filtering it through our personal traditions, we miss out on a greater appreciation for the saying, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

On to the subject matter…

Now to him who works, the reward is not counted as grace, but as something owed. But to him who doesn’t work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

Even as David also pronounces blessing on the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin.”

Is this blessing then pronounced on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it counted? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?

Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they might be in uncircumcision, that righteousness might also be accounted to them.

Romans 4:4-11 (WEB)

Now consider this quote:

“There can be NO justification in a legal or forensic sense, but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to law. This is of course denied by those who hold that gospel justification, or the justification of penitent sinners, is of the nature of a forensic or judicial justification. They hold to the legal maxim, that what a man does by another he does by himself, and therefore the law regards Christ’s obedience as ours, on the ground that He obeyed for us.”
– Charles G. Finney, Systematic Theology, 362

Why not instead say that faith without works is dead, as say the scriptures? The claim of justification without any sanctification is self-deception; but this does not permit us to throw out the former because we do not see enough of the latter. They are both part-and-parcel of the grace of God in salvation. This conflation of the two leads to a denial of what both are. For there is judicial righteousness, and there is experiential righteousness – and the two are not at odds (except in the minds of some). They are both present in true salvation, yet they are distinct in function; for the one is the begining and underpinning of the other. It is not without purpose that the apostle Paul frequently structured his letters according to this principle. Peter then shakes awake our sleepy hearts from interpreting Paul carnally, and puts in us the fear of God, convicting us of God’s holiness; and James with John clarify the synthesis: that the righteous will practice what has been given to them, and the rest are evidently not of His sheep.

It is not a question of too much or too little grace; it is a question of authentic grace. It is not a question of to much or too little law; it is a question of authentic law. Now the authentic article of faith is the divine law being written upon the heart of a man by the finger of God, and it is the giving of empowerment to obey such by the indwelling Holy Spirit – and this is all of grace. For no man has this inherently: he must be granted it from heaven. To deny this justification by faith in order to begin sanctification is to remove a foundation before building a house.

Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is GOD who justifies.
Romans 8:33 (WEB)

To set out upon a sanctified walk without being justified by faith is to set out across a bridge with no beams supporting it. It is doomed to fail, for it has no basis. It has no preexsisting grace by which to affirm that the way is sure and the goal attainable; and it has no ever-present grace to remind us that even what we have attained is all by God’s mighty power.

The man Finney often preached well against the tyranny of the self; but at times offered little more than the pitiful power of the fallen human will as its antidote – which only can perpetuate the cycle of said tyranny. (Rom 7). It is a sad truth that a great wealth of spiritual excitement and conviction can dwell alongside a ghastly lack of staying power.

Now this may be objected to by those who are aware of Finney’s teachings on the Holy Spirit, which are numerous and in many aspects quite excellent. But the Holy Spirit, were He bound by the choices of the human will or limited to man’s “uninterrupted obedience to law,” would have no power to sanctify us. For the will of man is the very first and primary matter that the Spirit comes to set right in us. For the law of God is not written on our hearts until the Lawgiver by the Spirit does so; and if He cannot do so without a sinner’s permission, then it will most assuredly never happen. But if we accept such teaching, we are left quite to ourselves, and we deny much of God’s help, however unwittingly.

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 hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Romans 8:6-9 (WEB)

And how is the Holy Spirit obtained?

I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see Him, neither knows Him. You know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you.
John 14:16-17 (WEB)

The more true obedience to His maker that a man walks in, the more he ought to behold the gracious preordination of God in every step along the way, and all the more quickly should he therefore yield himself unto the doing of that same will of God. But the man who becomes proud of his own obedience sees it only as the doing of his own will, and mocks the grace of the God who had soveriegnly worked it all in him. This man takes little delight in being humbled; and rather than simply surrendering to the will God, he constantly makes treaties with his Creator, thinking it to be the Lord’s method. Man’s desire to “be like the most high” of his own accord and by his own means is insatiable; and it must be crushed by the overbearing power of the Spirit of Grace, who is the mouth of the fount of true sanctification.

Do I hereby condemn Charles Finney? No! Based on many other things he said, I actually believe that he himself had a real and powerful walk with God. For by God’s grace, many who are attracted to vain philosophy may yet be constrained by His power to truly know and walk with Him despite their most carnal notions; and they are herein most blessedly inconsistent. Finney also lived in a day of great spiritual slumber – and despite the shear reactionism behind such of his teachings as those here quoted, he was apparently not without a good measure of real fruit. I dare any one of us to presume that we were the better man for that hour. God knew what He was doing.

The legacy of those things which we call the movings of Christ throughout the ages is one often beset with the mixture of man’s disasterous religious recipes and earthly philosophy.

O Lord, give us eyes to see that which is pure, holy, and becoming of You; that we may test all things, and hold fast to what is good!

Scripture & Thought – Obedience & The Self

There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (LITV)

A man cannot overemphasize his total inability to please God in and of himself; but there are those who struggle to obey God because they overshadow the cross of Christ with the ruinous heap of their recurring sins. This in itself is actually a fleshly self-centeredness, it is a faithless sin to be repented of in view of God’s mercy. For if one fears and delights in the Lord, including the sufficiency of His work and a trusting in His desire to continue it, then that same one delights in nothing less than the glory of God’s Name; and to obey the Lord then becomes a joy despite one’s existing shortcomings.

Only by this does one draw near to God in such a way that his personal faults and long-entrenched sins can be overcome in the Lord’s ever-nearer presence; for this honors the Holy Spirit and invites His power. But when our obedience is about ourselves, and not all about the Lord of Glory, then it is not true obedience anyways, and will ironically benefit us nothing. The Lord calls us not to the limit of our means, but far beyond, where we have no means but He Himself. The fruit of the Spirit is not invoked by the striving of the flesh.

For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. 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. And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.
Romans 8:5-9 (LITV)

The Fifth Day – Life In Abundance

Click here for day 4

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarmers having a soul of life; and let the birds fly over the earth, on the face of the expanse of the heavens.”
Genesis 1:20 (LITV)

The life of God must begin its reign in the heart of the creature – in the earth which has passed through water and the Spirit. We saw by the third day that such is the case, on which day life sprang up to be observed: rooted from the ground below and reaching heavenward, bearing fruit and perpetuating its own kind through the giving over of its own precious seed once more to the ground. For it is in dying to the things of earth held precious that more and even greater things are able to be sown unto reaping.

Yet that is still not the end of maturity for the making of the new creature in Christ; it turns out only to be the furnishing for that which is yet to follow. The earth (or for our purposes here, the heart) which has given itself to the bearing of good fruit welcomes the inner radiance of Christ and the rule of His light in all seasons (day four), capacitating His new creation to host deeper and higher expressions of God’s life.

And God created the great sea animals, and all that creeps, having a living soul, which swarmed the waters, according to its kind; and every bird with wing according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:21 (LITV)

“…having a soul of life… ..having a living soul…” – This is the stage where the various expressions of the Life of God within the creature begin to take on a life all their own. The uniqueness of God’s manifold wisdom in each life is meant to so thrive. The expressions of life which grace the waters are not bound to the surface of them, though at times they may dance between the waters and the air, welcoming the onlooker to search out the depths. And they which grace the heavens in their flight are not continually bound to the surface of the earth, though they often rest near it to establish their dwelling and to multiply their kind. That is to say, where the Life of God is truly at work, it should with maturity become observable in a plurality of expressions; from the hights of heaven’s most glad worship to the depths of the most burdened intercession.

These new expressions of Life in God’s creation are of a higher and more glorious form than the aforementioned plants and trees. They in fact utilize those things simply as their food and as the furnishings of their abode. The good fruit of the ground becomes sustenance for the living creatures in the air and waters, just as the fruitful obedience of Christ to His Father was His daily bread. For the Life which bears the fruit of the Spirit through the creature becomes bread accessible unto others; and in so becoming, its vessel in turn is fed by feeding. What a glorious cycle to be caught up in! Give the Life of God, and you shall receive it in abundance! This descibes not a “karmic” principle by which to gain, but the ongoing sustenance of a selfless living creature unto the glory of He alone who raises it up. This is the evidence of the word of God at last finding freedom enough within us to begin evidencing itself as that unbound word which it truly is.

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas; and let the birds multiply in the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning the fifth day.
Genesis 1:22-23 (LITV)

There must, by obedience to every command of the Spirit, develop a harmonious melody of free and spontaneous Life within the creature; each part properly complimenting the other as every wonderful decree of God sets its rhythm. The whole of the new creature cannot operate with perfection where any one of its parts is absent or broken in function – this applies both to an individual child of God as well as to the body of Christ. The body is either built up or torn down according to the obedience of the parts, and likewise the parts are either edified or torn down according to the obedience of the whole. By this, the whole is made fit for the King of Glory to fully enter in: the very Son of God, unto whose image the conformity of the redeemed is predestined. And shall the elect continue giving themselves over to that perfect will of God? Before us this choice continually lies.

As Peter wrote to those of like precious faith:

The Lord of the promise is not slow, as some deem slowness, but is long-suffering toward us (the church), not having purposed any of us (the church) to perish, but all of us (the church) to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with rushing sound, and having burned the elements will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be burned up. Then all these being about to be dissolved, what sort ought you (the church) to be in holy behavior and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of God, through which the heavens having been set afire will be dissolved; and burning, the elements will melt?
2 Peter 3:9-12 (LITV)

CONTINUED IN PART SIX

The Fourth Day – Children Of Light

Click here for day 3

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
Genesis 1:14-15

Prior to the formation of these lights within the heavens of the creation, the express light of God began overtaking its inner darkness from without. This is good for a season; but light shining from outside cannot reveal much to the eyes of the creature regarding the seasons, nor effectively convey the signs of the times. Such light from without indeed begins a good work, even unto the bearing of some fruit (see previous post); yet there must become an undying flame of the light shining from within, by whose guidance a good witness is truly obtained.

Christ Jesus came to us at first as a light from without – Emmanuel, God with us: external to men. This was necessary so that He might initiate the process of our conformity unto His image; but it was also necessary that He went back to the Father, so that we might now receive the gift of God’s mystery: “which is Christ IN you, the hope of glory.” Without the indwelling of the Son within, there is no continuation of His making us evermore His own. Men who have only teaching from without, and even a perfect example before them, still can only passively observe; they cannot become with these alone. There must be that excellent law of the Spirit of Life at work; for that Life is the Light of men.

Because it is God who said, “OUT OF darkness Light shall shine,” who shone in our hearts to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure IN earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not from us…
2 Corinthians 4:6-7

The Light of the world now begins to take definite shape “IN the expanse of the heavens” as the Sun of Righteousness. This is the same expanse created on the second day, all contained within the created order – or for our purposes here, within the creature. This formation of light is the preperation for God’s Life to not only bring forth tender shoots or stately trees of the ground, but also to be found freely moving upon its earth and soaring in the midst of its heavens. (Again we see that each day is dawned upon with the intent of preparing for the wondrous work of the next.)

And God made the two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night – and the stars.
Genesis 1:16

The day is seen in the rising light of the Daystar of Christ Jesus’ indwelling; and the night remains in places where His light is only yet dimly reflected. The day of the creature is now defined by the express shining of His indwelling Spirit in the expanse He made between the waters, all beckoning up the fruit of our ground and keeping watch upon every matter within reach of His rays. And even the night of the creature is continually encroached upon by the Light of its world through the reflective nature of the lesser light; and with the Light embraced, the Day of the Lord is draws ever the more at hand, when “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Rev 22:5)

“…and the stars.” – Not only does the moon reflect the sun’s rays into the night, but now also the Light of Life shines in from fellow vessels, appearing as stars in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, bearing witness to the Truth through a realm devoid of light and substance. These also provide an additional measure of guidance in the traversing of our own earth and waters in the night seasons; and they cause us to marvel at the boundless wonders of the Almighty who placed them in His own heaven, calling them out each by name to the praise of His glory.

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
Psalm 19:2

“And let them be for signs…” – His children are for signs and wonders in Israel (Isa 8:18). Every faithful conduit of God’s light, both from within and without the new creature, serves to confirm His will and speak His word in season and to reveal the way which pleases Him as steadfast markers in an expanse blackened by sin; as voices in the desert ever preparing the way of the Lord. Behold, He cometh!

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
Genesis 1:17-19

“…to rule over the day and over the night…” – This stage of God’s work within us characterized by Light shining forth from within gives way to His very present and active rule: the law of His Light becoming an inescapable operative principle. Up until this fouth day, God has illuminated, divided, and disciplined waters; He has established ground, and even borne some good fruit in us with relatively low responsibility on our part. But a good Father desires His children to take what light has been given thus far and continually use it to discover what more He has hidden away in the deposit entrusted to them.

“…and to separate the light from the darkness.” – A child of God is one being marked by the growing distinction between light and darkness. Our response to the piercing, the reflecting, and the guiding of His light will determine how much more we become made in His image; for the eye that is not single to this one purpose of God in Christ has left the creature full of great darkness. His children are those of Light, of the Day; they are to remain walking as such. The wise are not content to rest upon the good of yesterday as today’s assurance, for it cannot sustain what God has prepared further in advance; but the reward of today inspires hunger for tomorrow’s blessed obedience. There remains yet room within the heights and depths of the creature to be filled with all manner of His Life, and that in abundance.

All is seen by the Day of the Lord appearing in the heart.
– Francis Howgill

CONTINIUED IN PART FIVE

The Second Day – Deep Calls To Deep

Click here for day 1

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.
Genesis 1:6-7

Once His illuminating work has found a footing in His creation, there is a new depth of division which the Word of God brings forth in it. On the first day of creation, we see the Spirit of God brooding over the surface of the waters – and we might even say striving and groaning for the creation to manifest the form which He intends for it. So it is with ourselves in Christ.

Our Potter begins with a lump of clay, formless and void, under darkness. There is depth of water, yet not a revealed purpose for it: not a river to flow in, not a sun to reflect majesty. Then there is light. And in His light, we shall now truly see light, and more still. For not only have waters once darkened and obscured in a mass of mixture now been exposed by the pure light of God Himself, but the Spirit which once hovered over them now sends His rays into the depths by the word of God’s mouth unto to the dividing of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It is here in the continued shining of His light that the dividing of waters from waters begins to take place. Here, not only is discerned light and darkness upon the suface of the creature; but now more importantly even the depths within this new creation are spiritually discerned.

Natural men are not comfortable with such discernment: they want neither to discern nor to be discerned. Both edges of that sword are equally inconvenient to man’s facáde of peace with God. But the true peace of God is holy, so that the same word of the Lord which creates whatever is good also by necessity divides the good from whatever is contrary. Therefore, if we shall maintain and grow in the peace of God, we must submit ourselves to the more unpleasant surgeries of our Great Physician. Those without the faithful wounds of His word are not His friends. But those who have truly walked in some degree of God’s light are quickly confronted with the revelation of the great expanse between their own waters and His waters resident within this new creation.

And God called the expanse “Heavens” (plural in the Greek, ie: the skies). And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Genesis 1:8

His pure waters must be discerned from our own waters lest we deceive ourselves in every matter: this is why He divides them by His word, “let there be an expanse;” therefore we find a distinct choice to either walk after the flesh (our waters) or after the Spirit (His waters). But those who are not divided by His word are filled with mixture, for there is no sword of division within them to so judge between what is of God and what is of self. The separation of waters is a confirmation of His work in us.

The separation of these waters is discernment for the conscience. Here we discover all the more “the exceeding sinfulness of sin;” for in the seperation of His waters, by which our sense of holiness increases, our conscience of sin is thereby sharpened. We find the depth within us of law of sin and death we must daily contend with: the gravity by which our own waters remain bound to earth. Conversely, His waters within us are unbound, above the expanse of the heavens; but of our own strength we are unable to access their invaluable resources. It becomes increasingly obvious that there are greater depths of Him with which our present depths cry out to meet; and we begin to see how much higher above our ways and thoughts are His own, “even as the heavens are higher than the earth.” We long to plunge into His waters, to live out of His fountain rather than our own – that His wellspring of eternal life would become our own in Him, that the voice of HIS many waters would be the sound poured out through each of His own.

Deep calls to deep at the roar of YOUR waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me.
Psalm 42:7

We must discover in our present earthly experience that glorious Law of the Spirit of Life which makes us free from the law of sin and death. It is here in the revelation of the divided waters that obedience becomes of particular importance to the new creature; for by the drawing up of God’s waters above its own, the creature has begun to sense its great need to follow the upward draw of Lord’s current in order to remain flowing in it. The call unto His own ever remains, “Come up hither.” The new creature which submits itself to the word continues discovering the evidence of even greater depths in God far above its present experiential knowledge; thirsting always to drink deeper of that eternal spring so that even the waters of earth below might be made conformable to the word of His mouth, “Peace, be still.”

CONTINUED IN PART THREE

Foaming Out Their Own Shame

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Jude 1:1-2

“Sanctified by God the Father… preserved in Jesus Christ…” – The firey words of Jude find their basis in this verity of God’s ever-present salvation for His own. They are pure words, sanctioned by God Himself for the use of those sanctified by HIM; they are the unerring and skillful arrows of the Captain’s quiver against the enemies of He who by HIS own mighty hand preserves His saints. They are a calling unto the called, that their obedience to the gospel would develop and flower into an obedience in it by the contention for it. And this contention begins at the house of God, which is the true battleground for the faith.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:3-4

Overt depravity is the inevitable outcome of an impotent religious grace. “…turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” – There is not a more apt description of the hypocrisy within the self-made heart; a heart which regards the grace of Christ according to the flesh and so denies His great power by instead walking in its own. When men so mistake the grace of God for laciviousness, they choose to walk not in grace; but by their own means they seek to perfect themselves according to their own standards, calling it holiness. And rather than giving grace unto others so that true holiness might be seen, they lay burdens upon men too great to bear; according to which none can attain the righteousness of God which is by faith. It is through this circumventing of God’s grace that they deny Him, even the Lord Jesus Christ, leaving both themselves and others to wallow in the flesh. Saul of Tarsus was such a man: “According to the flesh, blameless” – but we regard Christ not according to the flesh any longer. Those things which Paul later counted loss, these men would still count aquisitions.

[The Greek for “turning” here is μετατίθημι (Str. 3346) – meaning to change, remove, translate, or turn something.]

The thing which Jude contends for the defence of is the the gospel“THE faith once delivered to the saints.”
We make ourselves an enemy of this faith when we give not freely that which we freely received; and until we repent unto God, renewing faith toward Christ, we have put ourselves under the curse of the law for having counted common the blood of the covenant through such a blatant lack of its use. For to live in such a sore disregard of the faith, through which alone we have access to the grace wherein we stand, is to walk in unbelief. It is a posture of heart which keeps not our first estate of being seated in the heavenlies in Christ, but leaves behind that rightful habitation in order to commit fornication with the man-made religion of earth and all of this present world’s corruption. This is why man’s every religious institution becomes a house of filth; for in not being the spiritual kingdom within the hearts of the redeemed (which consists not in talk but in power), they are necessarily built upon the sinking sands of the flesh and of earthly wisdom. It is the mark of the whoring daughters of Babylon: who seek to ascend of their own volition and so persecute those whose strength is God Himself; mocking the ones who trust not in man, but in God.

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation (apostacy – to leave one’s post), he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example (of said apostacy), suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude 1:5-7

For the gospel of Christ is that by which He touches our eyes unto seeing all things from our heavenly abode by faith. By this alone are we cleansed, and even is our flesh saved; and through the same faith we submit to the dominion of the kingdom of God within ourselves, always accepting the word of the Lord from the mouth of His true dignities. Therefore, those who mock the grace of God and so deny this faith, supposing that they have found godliness without surrendering to the working of God’s grace: these sear their own consciences through the constant denial of their ever-present sin, which has been neither purged nor covered; and they cannot see in their high-minded rebuke of sinners that their own guilt yet remains. They speak little and lowly of grace, for they know it not except according to the feeling of the flesh; and within the walls of their whitewashed tombs they rot away in the very corruption which they suppose to be their deliverance.

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Jude 1:8-10

Those who walk not both under and by the grace of God walk accursed. Such a curse was the lot of Ham’s lineage, who, rather than gracefully submitting his father’s indiscretion to the Lord, impiously aired the matter to his brothers instead…

And Noah, a man of the ground, began and planted a vineyard. And he drank from the wine, and was drunk. And he uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father. And he told his two brothers outside.
Genesis 9:21-22 (LITV)

Such are the actions of the arrogant, who dwell in a world of offence and brute reaction where the scandal of their own sins is buried beneath a ruinous facade of self-defined virtue. Ham’s gross impropriety regarding the sin of his father was the very revelation of his own great wickedness. For if he had done as his brothers did, then Noah would have awoken covered, and offered a sacrifice of thanks unto God for the prudence and integrity of his younger son. But as it was, Ham bears the blame for the curse of his own progeny; whereas the other sons of Noah showed wisdom in the grace of God, even that love after the manner of Christ which covers a multitude of sins, unto a blessing.

And Shem and Japheth took a garment and put it on both their shoulders. And they went backward and covered the nakedness of their father, their faces backward. And they did not see the nakedness of their father.
And Noah awoke from his wine. And he came to know what his younger son had done to him. And he said, “Cursed be Canaan. He shall be a slave of slaves to his brothers.”
And he said, “Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem; and may Canaan be his slave. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall live in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be their slave.”
Genesis 9:23-27 (LITV)

The inability or refusal of men to grow into and walk in the grace of God in the midst of the brethren is telling that they do not behold their own iniquity as being so vile that it requires recompense on the very account of God. If they have not entered into the Lord’s fold by way of HIS cross, then they are theives and robbers. These are they who make offerings unto God, but not according to His mercies; they desire reward in the things of God, but seek it not according with the heavenly kingdom; they have great zeal, but not according to the knowledge of Christ. They speak much of holiness, but produce only the dead works of the fleshly heart; they speak much of righteousness, but display only the hypocrisy of man’s religion. They claim to have life, but give birth only to the corruption of their own shame; they seek to lead the way, but drive men only into confusion…

Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Jude 1:11-13

The ungodly thing being illustrated here is foremost a man-made religious spirit. Cain offered the works of his own hands and the fruit of the accursed ground as though it were holy unto the Lord. Balaam took the riches of the world for the riches of God at the price of perverting the word of God. Core (Korah, the son of Izhar) was dissatisfied with the way and the leading of God; so he slandered the Lord’s command through Moses and lead a rebellion in which thousands out of Israel perished (Numbers ch 16).

He who speaks from heaven will judge between men. He is transcendent of man’s every imagined paradigm; and He is the leveler of man’s every device by which they seek to undermine His preeminence. No one is excused before Him; for no creature is unrevealed before His sight, and He has not excluded Himself from being sought out by each one.

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,
“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints (holy ones), to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Jude 1:14-15

The ungodly are those whom God Himself does not make Godly. They rather seem to make themselves Godly; but this is not the true gate and way unto life. These are they who mind earthly things, seeking the deliverance of their own hands, following after worldly wisdom, living by the power of their own imaginations in the name of Christ Jesus: seducing His people to share in their hypocrisy unto boundless corruption. The appetite of religion is the great overreaching appetite of all sinful flesh: it is anything but the means of God as the means of godliness, and thereby it becomes anything but God Himself as the true object of worship. What men dream, say, and build unto the flattering of their own hearts and minds becomes the very word of the Lord to them; and what the Lord truly says becomes an obstacle to their plans.

These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Jude 1:16-19

“These be they who separate themselves: sensual, having not the Spirit.” – It is not the Word of God which divides these men soul from spirit, but only themselves. They discern themselves, but not according to the word of Christ. Thus the lusts after which they walk are the result of their ungodly self-suffuciency. The neglect and replacement of God’s inner working by the Spirit for fleshy means and worldly device renders men unable to work out their salvation; for God is not even working that salvation in them according to His good pleasure. What the sword of the Spirit ought to be doing within them, they have not allowed. They may think themselves to be wielders of that mighty weapon; but truly no man wields the word of the Lord, the word of the Lord wields men. It is the contrite in heart who tremble at His word that are made instruments of its work; but those who do not fall upon the word of Christ will be fell upon by Him.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
Jude 1:20-25

“…hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” – This speaks of the spotless garments of righteousness given to us by our Lord at His cross, according to which we have our identity in His kingdom. Those who follow after the ungodly ones here described will inevitably render their garments filthy, tattered and trampled under foot unto great loss in the coming kingdom. The mixture of the heavenly with the earthly, the mixture of the gospel with dead works, the lowering of God’s grace into an unworthy or insufficient means of righteousness: these are all unto the spotting and rejection of keeping the purity of that identity – even unto disrobement.

Try to deliver the ones who are so lead astray; but turn away from those who so lead them astray. For these deceivers defile the consciences of men in every way; for by glorying in the arm of the flesh while calling it the Spirit of God, they are left prey to its every weakness. By this they betray that they themselves both reason and walk according to the flesh, both denying and knowing not what evils still dwell in the secret places of their own hearts. And regarding the very things in which they stand condemned, they even exhort other men in hypocrisy. It is the shame of their own hidden deeds about which they speak, it is the darkness of their own hearts which they project. The light in them is darkness; and how great is that darkness! For they behold not Christ, but themselves; and they fear not God, but men.

For many walk as the enemies of the cross of Christ, of whom I often told you, and now even weeping I say it: whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and who glory in their shame, those who mind earthly things. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body of humiliation, for it to be conformed to HIS body of glory, according to the working of HIS power, even to put all things under HIMself.
Philippians 3:18-21 (LITV)

Forgotten Gospel – A Testimony

What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light.
And what you hear in the ear, proclaim on the housetops.
Matthew 10:27

Long have I inwardly burned against the self-deception of the liars and the unfaithful, who fell proudly from the grace of God into works of the flesh, boasting not in Christ but rather in themselves – though they do not admit to be guilty of it, nor have they even comprehended that this is their sin.

Hear this thing which I have seen; behold this treachery that has reached my ears.

In the day that the Lord redeemed my life from the pit, setting me upon the Rock of my salvation; others He also gathered. Repentance rang out, and many approached the throne of grace for true strength, as the kindness of God in Christ was being made known. The traditions of men were losing some ground, and the Spirit was moving very directly in the midst of some.

Then just as discernment was being given among a few and spoken by them to judge between dead works and a faith which gives way to the mighty power of the Spirit – the Devil injected his details among the many.

Many who at one time had found much deliverance from sin’s power began measuring themselves by themselves and so walked again after the powerlessness of the flesh. Where once the judgement seat of Christ was rightly considered unto the gathering of heavenly reward, now it became seen as eternal damnation upon those who yet gather little. The assurance in Christ they once possessed gave way to doubt in light of their stumbling; and so they would not approach Christ in the humble confidence that once had claimed them deliverance. The Spirit became quenched by their lack of faith; for as they obsessed over their own filthy rags, they no longer reckoned themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus unto His fruitful work in them.

Few have continued into much excellence after the Spirit; for by forgetting that they were once-for-all purged of their sins by the blood of Christ, they refuse to lift their heads unto Him: preferring not to to be assured in what is hoped for, but rather in what is seen of themselves according to the law of works.

Now to the one working, the reward is not counted according to grace, but according to debt. But to the one not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as also David says of the blessedness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not charge sin.”
Romans 4:4-8 (LITV)

The same temptation to fall into much unbelief has incessantly knocked at my own door; but I refuse to be so unmindful of the gospel which I received, in which alone can I stand, and by which alone am I kept safe. The truth of the wickedness of my own flesh leads me only to throw myself all the more upon the mighty strength of He whose life I choose to dwell in by this faith.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness.
Romans 6:17-18

We present ourselves as instruments of righteousness only by presenting ourselves as we are in Christ Jesus according to His promise. We present ourselves to Him by faith as those who are the living out from among the dead; for in Him we are indeed that (Romans 6:8-14). Only then shall the Spirit find much room wherein to work, for the heart is at rest in His labors. Only then can we ourselves possibly learn to labor IN HIM. Only in this rest is known the ease of His yoke and the lightness of His burden.

If we seek to keep God’s commandments for any reason other than that He in Christ has already loved us, then we are walking after the flesh. For it is by the power of the very Spirit of Christ through the faith of HIM that more-than-conquerers are made. It is those who keep themselves in His unfailing love that will be kept by Him from stumbling.

…you who are justified by law are deprived of all effect from Christ, you fell from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness out of faith. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any strength, but faith working through love. You were running well; who held you back that you do not obey the truth? The persuasion is not from Him calling you.
A little leaven leavens all the lump. I trust as to you in the Lord that you will think nothing else, but that the one troubling you shall bear the judgment, whoever he may be.
Galatians 5:4-10 (LITV)