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

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)