“To deny (the reality of) sin is to deny Christ… and sin lies hidden whenever Christ is veiled.”
– Douglas Wilson
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8
“To deny (the reality of) sin is to deny Christ… and sin lies hidden whenever Christ is veiled.”
– Douglas Wilson
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8
“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them (the Christians), and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election…
2 Peter 1:10 (ESV)
§I – ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICES
You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)
Our obedience to the priestly calling of every member of God’s house is the only source of our ability to please Him in what we do. And the priestly calling of all believers is not, as many evangelical traditions have made it, to primarily be the confidant of one another’s sins: it is rather to be a minister UNTO THE LORD, who purifies the true ministers of His temple.
For despite the small good that can come by the confession of our faults one to another (Jas 5:16), there is no overcoming power in the act of itself; and even the prayer of a righteous man, though it may avail much, is soon discovered by many to be of little use in the continued overcoming of worldly and fleshly lusts. This is because we tend to minister in these things not unto the Lord, but rather unto ourselves.
Men seek “accountability” for their besetting sins amongst themselves, and in so doing tend to quickly neglect the power of God; which is found only in each one offering his own incense upon the altar of the brokenness of interceding love to Him, through obedience according to the giftings and callings of God.
For there is but one mediator between God and men: “the MAN Christ Jesus.” And if that Man alone (to whom we truly have to give an account) does not appear or seem close enough as to keep us from falling, then we have found the real root of what besets us: that our present experiential knowledge of God Himself is lacking.
“…to offer spiritual sacrifices…”
A spiritual sacrifice makes no excuse for the self: this means that the one offering does not consider their present sins worthy of hindering an entrance into the holy places. For the blood that has been sprinkled for us, and the body that has been torn open for us, gives us entrance, so that “going boldly” we may find grace in the time of need. His throne in the temple is the mercy seat – and have not our own hearts become a seat of mercy for His holiness, if He has indeed regenerated us in Christ? We have no excuse not to offer the spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to the Lord, in view of God’s mercy.
“…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
To confess sin to a brother, or to receive prayer from an elder, is only a spiritual sacrifice as far as it is done freely as a love offering to the Lord (and this can only proceed from a heart enraptured in some degree by His goodness). But the confession of a sin or the receiving of a prayer as a resort to please the real or perceived standards of others, or to attain to a level of personal piety whereby one might feel spiritually accomplished, is idolatry, and is an unacceptable sacrifice.
Time will tell the source and motive of all personal piety. Even an external source or motive, if it is yet other than the goodness of God Himself, falls woefully short of His glory. God will not be mocked. And He will not uphold the proud: He will allow them to fall again, especially if one whom He loves cannot be humbled unto His grace by any other means.
Therefore, we are not left to our own devices, nor to the cleverness of schemes, nor to the wisdom of sound counsel only. But we are called to fulfill the calling of a new priesthood, wherein is found a santification that goes far beyond the overcoming of only one particular sin, though that victory is also given.
The office of priesthood is the office of intercession. If we will minister to the Lord acceptably as priests, then we will seek Him earnestly in all our motives – especially those pertaining to good works, though without delaying in action. We will also be willing for Him to lay upon our hearts the burden of His own soul for His house, and for the lost sheep of His pasture.
We too quickly excuse ourselves in saying, “But I am unworthy to minister to others.” Yet aren’t we much more unworthy to minister to the Lord, which is our first and primary calling, and for which He has made us a way into the holy of holies? Surely then, He will make us able to minister to others in word, in deed, and in prayer, if only we are found ministering to Him in the same things by the bearing out of our souls before Him, and the seeking of His heart to become our own.
And how, one might ask, can this ministry intercession cleanse a man’s way?
§II – “LIFT UP YOUR EYES”
And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.
Ministering to the Lord in the seeking and doing of His will, despite ourselves and despite our existing shortcomings, is the magnet for His overcoming power. We become witnesses of His work only through obedience. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Exercise thyself UNTO Godliness.” A man with no living experience of walking by the palpably leading hand of God will be a man of little or no strength in God; since the scope of his walk requires little or no strength, and he sees nothing beyond where he sits.
The overcoming power of God is given according to the measure of obedient faith in the various callings of God upon each one. And although the obediences to which He may call us might appear irrelevant or unable to affect our present sins, that is not at all the point. Dare we counsel God in the methods by which He delivers us from our own folly? He places one step at a time in front of us; and He orders those steps according to HIS wisdom, not our own.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV)
The Hebrew for “loyal” here carries the concept of which Jesus spoke when He said “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single (or sound), thy whole body shall be full of light.”
In other words, while men seek to rid themselves of particular sins by developing tunnel-vision for those sins, the greater answer is truly found in developing a focused vision for whatever places Christ is calling one to in Him. For what the eye beholds, the body will soon reflect. The beholding of He who dwells in us and calls us will transform the beholder and the obeyer – and He is only beheld unto transformation by those who obey Him.
To neglect any prompting of the Holy Spirit is to neglect stepping into a greater place of His power.
If we wait to cross the Jordan until we are first made perfect, then we will never cross. We need to cross in order to find the beginnings of His perfecting power; for in that obedience are contained the seeds of perfection, and also the loyalty of heart which God answers in overcoming strength. In stepping into Jordan, the floodwaters which seemed to prevent us from taking the promised land are suddenly backed away from us, even beyond Adam (Josh 3:16), and the conquering of Jericho (the stronghold) comes well within the realm of possibility.
God fights on behalf of devoted hearts, and teaches them through continued experience to also fight for themselves. We are being made perfect through the crucible of obedience unto greater obedience.
As it was prophesied of such a priestly generation, to whom He comes as God into His temple:
And He (the Lord) shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Priesthood in God’s temple means that we are called to fearfully minister to His heart through walking by faith in the face of all ungody fear; and in this ministry we will find that He begins ministering far more deeply to our own hearts in the purification of the Holy Spirit than by any other means. It is the office by which the exercise thereof will call up a dead church to rise and meet the Lord who calls her to “come away,” shedding all the trappings of self-made religion as the faces of heaven’s inhabitants beam with awe and joy at the sight of a worthy Bride.
The heart of sanctification is not to please ourselves, but to honour God, who is worthy.
They shall enter into My sanctuary, and they shall come near to My table, to minister unto Me, and they shall keep My charge.
…And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
“Experience is the secret of power.”
– Brian Troxel
Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
A most notable characteristic that distinguishes the children of the flesh from those of God’s Spirit is the mocking spirit by which they operate.
These children after the flesh, whose eyes are full of scorn, walk about freely in the household of faith quite unnoticed. They are given to much commentary concerning the things which they see, hear, and think; at best feigning humility, hungry for argument; hearing many things and being understanding in few; hating reproach, scoffing without reason at those who have wise counsel; witnessing to the words of others falsely, so that they may steer men into the same bitterness by which they themselves walk.
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
For as it was with Isaac and the son of the slave woman, so it is today.
But those who, like Sarah, have been blessed to carry the Son of Promise, and bear out His fruit of their womb, are able to discern the subtlety of that scorning which is seen in the posture of the fleshly children; and are sorely grieved by their presence, and become filled with a righteous anger that such are able to continue in their mocking ways among God’s flock.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, for You filled me with indignation.
These walking mockeries of God’s children make sport of the righteous in their conversation, not fearing the Lord in their houses; and they make much outward fellowship among God’s people with the laughter of self-assurance, seeking always to be at ease in Zion. Alas for their souls! Unless they are struck with the true fear of the glorious God before the end, how great will be their final fall! For it is better to dwell more often in the house of mourning, and to quiet one’s soul before He who searches it, than to always break bread presumtuously, chattering on in the house of gladness, giving no thought to the day of judgement.
“These are ones who cause divisions,” the apostle says. For even if they are outwardly guilty of only a little of this mockery of the way of God’s Spirit, and even if they are not set above many brethren, nor so grieviously ravage the church as those described in Jude’s letter; it is still the same spirit (or spiritual posture) of mocking by which they walk. Even if they are not purposefully and conciously undermining the harmony of the body of Christ; these still are a blemish at its love feasts, waterless clouds, and raging waves of the sea, driven about by fierce winds.
For they love what benefits of the Lord’s table might numb their soul to His Spirit’s conviction of their depraved nature, and also what comradery of the brethren might justify them in the sight of certain men whom they percieve to be leaders. But because it is all a self-deception and a ruse, they indeed cause divisions by the very nature of their presence; since, being devoid of the Spirit, they cannot harmonize with those whose walk with Christ happens to challenge them, and so the flow of the Spirit is impeded by this dead wood that has fallen into the river.
Hence, brothers become divided over them unknowingly, and cease to work together in what the Lord is truly concerned with. Time is thrown into the void, and many a spiritual life is exasperated by the casting of pearls before the swine. Ever do they learn in order to keep up in the natural eyes of men, yet never do they come to a true knowledge of the truth. Ever do they hurl foolish and unlearned questions at those in God’s house whom they secretly despise, and ever is the proverb fulfilled in them, “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain.” (Prov.14:6) For their wells are broken, and their soil salted.
In short, these sons of the slave woman are a mockery of the sons of the free simply by what they are.
Therefore, let the members of Christ see it fit to cease their worldly entreatment of the carnal; for such entreatment will not win such men over to Christ Himself. But the turning of them over to the world which they still love, which world is the mirror of all hypocrites, might bring even some of these to repentance.
The accomodating of Ishmael is not the mission of the church. He is rather to be repented of; so that perhaps God may later work salvation for him, and the church will also be blessed, and freed of his leaven. May we come to discernment! Without discernment there is no dividing between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit; and if division is not made between the workers of both, it will drive a wedge between the brothers of the latter. Because of this, even many a true son after the Promise is caught in the ways of the spirit of mockery, and are thereby driven to many unnecessary divisions.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
To the woman He said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Genesis 3:16 (ESV)
The desire of the fallen woman was to become contrary to her fallen husband.
The desire of the redeemed church is to become consecrated to her Kinsman Redeemer.
He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.
Ruth 3:9-10 (ESV)
There are only two ways that we can be toward Christ: contrary or consecrated. There is no middle ground. Consecration is not a lukewarm state of affairs, it is a posture of focused devotion at the feet of One.
In secret halls of darkness grim,
The princes who love greed and sin
Have made to strike the Son their task,
But shall be foiled unto the last.
For He who searches mind and heart
Has let from them His light depart,
And as they serve the ancient snake
The Lord prepares the earth to quake.
Beneath their temples, high and bright,
They think their deeds shall see no light;
But flesh and blood of souls unknown
Have cried aloud before God’s throne.
His sword is whet, His bow is drawn,
The night brings forth His Day to dawn;
So let God’s children now awake,
For He has made the tyrants shake.
The punishment has never slept
For all in whom the serpent crept.
Let kings therefore, and every ruler
Remember He whose wrath is crueler.
Fear, therefore, and kiss the Son,
That to your good, God’s will be done;
For all shall bow without exception,
With or without His election.
Ever shall His rule increase
Within His kingdom’s reign of peace;
“Therefore,” He commanded, “Go,”
As holy leaven in the dough.
How can we then be excused
From in His kingdom being used,
When in this world we need not fear,
Since death itself brings Life more near?
And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven. And whatever you may loose on the earth shall be, having been loosed in Heaven.
Matthew 16:16-19 (LITV)
This scripture gives us an insight into the mystery of God’s intercession through His people on behalf of His people.
The “binding” and “loosing” which the church is here expected to do is that which accords with the will of heaven – for othewise it would not be reflected in heaven, as is here described. And don’t we pray, after all, for God’s will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and not the other way around? Therefore the church binds and looses according to God’s will, or it truly binds and looses nothing. For it is no single man except THE LAMB who is worthy to loose the seals that are bound; and the saints pray in accordance with HIS Spirit unto that end.
And by this we know the wicked church of man, along with its shepherds: that they themselves suppose to bind and to loose, but aginst the commandment of God; and therefore in heaven it is not reflected. For as Peter wrote, the cleverly devised myths of the false shepherds come not by the decree of God as given in His more sure Word of prophecy – which many of us are so fortunate to hold in our hands, and unto which we would do well to take heed (2Pet 1:16-21). Therefore, those unrepentant idol shepherds of men risk being bound in chains under gloomy darkness, as exemplified by their once heavenly predecessors, and having an eternal hell loosed upon them thereafter (Jude 1:6-8).
For this intercessory mandate is not a permitting of men to autonomously decree and declare that even good things occur by the hand of God as they see fit, nor some manner of test to see what the church will do with the keys. Rather, it is a call for the members of Christ to intercede for the things of the kingdom of heaven in accordance with the already decreed and declared will of God.
But what is that decree of God? Who has fully known the mind of the Lord? And let no man say, “I have the mind of Christ.”
For what do the scriptures declare?
“WE have the mind of Christ.”
Yet who is this “we”?
Paul made the above statement while explaining how the things of God are truly known only by the Spirit of God; and immediately after describes those who are not spiritual, who are not ready to rightly hear the deeper things of God due to their carnality. Concerning these he remarks:
And, brothers, I was not able to speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly ones, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, and not food, for you were not then able, but neither now are you yet able.
For you are yet fleshly. For where among you is jealousy, and strife, and divisions, are you not fleshly and walk according to man?
For when one may say, “Truly I am of Paul,” and another, “I of Apollos;” are you not fleshly? What then is Paul? And what Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, and to each as the Lord gave?
1 Corinthians 3:1-5 (LITV)
The striving after ministries of good repute and the dependence upon other men of the faith to define our own faith, doctrine and practice on our behalf, are the sure signs of a carnal people. Even the apostle Paul permitted no man to regard his own faithful reputation in their consideration of the very word that he himself preached, saying, “but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:9)
The discernment of spirits is the province of the Spirit of God alone; and unless each one submits to the tryings, searchings, and purgings of the Spirit, there shall be no “we” that can attain to any measure of knowing the mind of Christ, so as to bind and loose on earth what is to be bound and loosed in heaven. For that mind is the mind of He who searches hearts, “and He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom 8:27)
It is HE who fully knows the will of God, and to that end the Spirit is given. It is in the groanings of the Spirit of God that each member of Christ’s body begins to move according to the mind of Christ: even as God in Christ was incarnate in human flesh, always being about the Father. Whatever part of the body is out of harmony with CHRIST THE HEAD by His Spirit alone, is a disharmony in the body of Christ. Nothing brings the members of His body outside of His harmony more than when they subtly join themselves unto another.
This is how the Spirit of God views the condition of those who do so:
…being puffed up by the mind of his flesh without a cause, and not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body having been supplied through the joints and bands, and having been joined together, will grow with the growth of God.
The ministrations of the body of Christ on earth are to be born of the very will of God, according to whose will the Spirit of Christ intercedes on our behalf, groaning unutterably within us. No effectual intercession can take place in the body of Christ without the discernment of spirits through Him. When discernment dies in the church, the church can no longer partake in much of the Spirit who intercedes according to the will of God. For they defy His will in their lack of discernment.
The spirit of a thing is known only by the anointing [Gk. christos] of the only-begotten [Gk. monogenes = “one-of-a-kind,” “unique”] Son of God. And antichrist is that which is another anointing; of which there are many. [Gk. anti = “instead of”]
Therefore John writes for us,
Young ones, it is a last hour, and as you heard that the antichrist [Gk. antichristos] is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up, from which you know that it is a last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have remained with us; but they left so that it might be revealed that they all are not of us.
1 John 2:18-19 (LITV)
Take note first of the word “us”. This is the same collective “we” of which we already saw that Paul speaks, who, together as the body of Christ, know the mind of Christ according to His work in each member. It is those who depart from the one anointing of the one Good Shepherd who “went out from us”. It is those who take a postion of supposedly greater anointing unto themselves, cautioning no man against esteeming their reputation in the church, who reveal themselves to be “not of us”.
Among these are ones who say of themselves, “touch not the Lord’s anointed,” although Jesus is the Anointed One of God. Also they are raised up above the flock of Christ as “shepherds” and “pastors,” wielding an organizational authority, as though God recognizes anything less than a living body. Jude calls such men “shepherds feeding themselves”.
They deny the correcting and unifying word of the apostle, they silence the warnings and discernments of the prophet, they despise with great jealousy the outward call of the evangelist, and they steal unto themselves the role of all teachers, seldom allowing others to teach. In all this, they profane the calling of the true pastor, which is one who humbly serves in the body by helping to care largely for the earthly needs of its members. Thus, they destroy the fivefold ministry in the church by denying the unique intercessory roles of each, also thereby compromising their own, if they are even truly called to it.
And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I did not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because every lie is not of the truth.
1 John 2:20-21 (LITV)
“And you know all things” – This is the beloved apostle’s encouragement to a body of believers who were solid in their discernment and rejection of other “anointed ones”. This is the compliment given not to great and clever minds, but to children of God who “by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.” (Heb 5:14) These ones see how the embracing of another anointing is a denial of the Son, and cannot abide the leaven of those who do so.
John continues a little further in his letter,
And the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you. But as His anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and as He taught you, abide in Him.
1 John 1:27 (LITV)
How viscerally do the false shepherds react to this scripture whenever they are opposed with it! How greatly do they minimize its plain teaching! Any man who is uncomfortable with these words is untrustworthy in the ministry of the word, for he does not really trust that God can build HIS own church. It is only the unfiltered anointing of Christ Himself upon His body which produces a true harmony, and a harmony in the truth, unto the good pleasure of God. Only by HIS Lordship alone can the body of Christ “know what is the hope to which HE has called you, what are the riches of HIS glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of HIS power toward us who believe, according to the working of HIS great might…” (Eph 1:18-19)
This brings us back to the theme of our study: intercession. Those who fall under HIS anointing are able, according to the measuring of grace unto each, to discover the substance of His calling upon their lives; so that they, in whatever capacity He has gifted them, may through obedience in the Spirit be found partaking in HIS intercession on behalf of the saints, according to the ministrations of God operating in them.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV)
One of the great lies surrounding this matter in our day is that God may give a stone when His children ask for bread. Truly the worst that the children will recieve is discipline. The insincere indeed have reason to so fear; but they do not care. The devil has created such a grotesque smokescreen of demonic and false manifestations, that now many of the true children fear what only the bastards should. The adversary has done this because he knows what is coming. The children who fled the fall of man’s church are restoring the altar of the Lord in their own hearts, calling upon the God who answers by fire. Let us lay hold of the immense promise of Christ to His own, an access to heaven of which the dry bones of this blind dead world cannot concieve: “Seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you.”
It is the operation of the Holy Spirit in the secret places of our hearts, through our seeking of no anointing except the Son of God, then flowing out unto the good of the whole body, which brings us to participate in the sufferings and joys of He who is the Head of all that He calls His own. And this we long for if we seek His face.
The LORD is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.
When the members of Christ covet and follow after the anointings of men and the visions of people puffed up in their own imaginations, who also knowingly pose foolish and unlearned questions to those who challenge their fables, the jealously of God is kindled; for it is not they who have the right to bind and loose, nor to open and shut, but it is HE. Let them be found repentant, and enter by the only Door of the sheep, lest they be cast out with the hirelings, the thieves, and the robbers of God’s glory.
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write: “These things says the Holy One, the True One, the One having the key of David, the One opening, and no one shuts; and shuts, and no one opens:
I know your works. Behold, I have given a door being opened before you, and no one is able to shut it, for you have a little power and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I give out of the synagogue of Satan those saying themselves to be Jews, and they are not, but they lie. Behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they shall know that I loved you.
Revelation 3:7-9 (LITV)
The church fulfills her calling when she at last allows Christ Himself to be her kinsman redeemer.
Little children, guard yourselves from idols. Amen.
1 John 5:21