Out of the Darkness Into the Light
Chapter 5 - Into the Light
John 3:21, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” The Lord will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness (Mic 7:9).
When one comes out of the darkness and into the light, they are agreeing to enter into a covenant with Jesus Christ. This covenant was sealed in Christ’s own blood and is very grave (serious, somber, important, solemn, earnest, sincere, resolute, profound, meaningful). One must understand what they are agreeing (committing, pledging, vowing) to do. This is a covenant between God and man mediated by Christ. This will be discussed in the following sections. What you are going to discover is that God has been consistent throughout His dealings with man that what the Lord demands is what He created man to be – surrendered and obedient to Him in love. God consistently shows man that he is to totally yield to the Lord’s authority and then have high regard for his fellow man. This can only be achieved when man dies to the self exalting and seeking nature (darkness) that he transgressed God to obtain in Eden. To transgress God’s will is to die. To die to man’s will in performing God’s is to live - opposites. Man cannot possibly produce what God wants in and of himself, but must abide in Christ and yield to the working of God’s Spirit as one forsakes self in obedience to the Lord.
A covenant is a formal solemn agreement between God and man whereby man agrees to follow God (uphold the Lord’s will) in the prescribed manner – the commands, prohibitions, and promises of God requiring man’s perfect obedience. Covenants generally represent man willfully laying down all rebellion and self seeking and coming back under God’s authority and God responding with mercy and blessings. This is a very serious agreement that is not to be broken. If one does not continue in God’s covenant, then the Lord regards them not (Heb 8:9). God keeps covenant and mercy to them that love Him and keep His commandments (Dan 9:4). The Lord has made many covenants with man since creation. In every case God has been perfect and righteous in upholding His part of the agreement, whereas man has consistently violated his portion. We shall briefly consider several of the covenants God has made with man and conclude with the current covenant a “follower” of Christ commits (agrees, pledges) to walk in – to live by. Christ’s covenant is defined by His testament or gospel. Due to man’s violation of God’s commandment in Eden, all men stand under the condemnation of death (thou shalt surely die, Gen 2:17). The Lord God has no other (further) obligation to man. However, the lord God is merciful, gracious, longsuffering and forgiving and does provide for reconciliation for men who are sincerely repentant toward the violation of His will (Ex 34:6-7, Num 14:8, Ps 86:15). The attitude of heart that God looks for in man is one of faith. Faith looks beyond “self” with a heart of love, surrender, obedience and trust in God. Regard for God is placed above regard for “self.” For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him (2 Chr 16:9, Also Job 34:21, Ps 11:4, 14:2, 53:2, Pv 5:21, 15:3, Heb 4:13). God’s desire for man was most vividly demonstrated in the life of Enoch. Genesis 5:24, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Enoch walked in God’s ways (obedience and love, Gen 5:22). Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Notice that Enoch walked in God’s ways (which means he did not seek self) and did not see death at all. God promises all those who walk in His ways that they will have eternal life - will not see death (Jn 12:25, Rm 5:21, 6:23, Ti 1:2, 1 Jn 2:25). To be fully committed to the Lord is “LIFE.” God also said of Christ that He was “well pleased” (Mt 3:17, 12:18, 17:5, Mk 1:11, Lk 3:22, 2 Pt 1:17) and we certainly have the Lord’s very detailed example to now follow - Jesus always said, “come follow me.” Jesus leads the way to reconciliation with God and life eternal…..
Covenant with Noah
When Adam and Eve were put forth from the Garden of Eden after transgressing God’s will, then man began to multiply upon the face of the earth. Man was not under any laws or commandments, but was under the condemnation of death (Gen 2:17) due to Adam’s transgression in Eden. Adam’s descendants lived in the fallen nature and sought their “own way” doing what was right in their own eyes (Pv 14:2, 16:25, 21:2, 8). Man’s way always results in wickedness. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law (Rm 2:12). Genesis 6:5-7, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” As per the principles (values, ideology, main beliefs) of Satan’s lie, men thought only of self with disgregard for the will of God. This self seeking and the resulting actions was great wickedness in the eyes of God. The whole earth was corrupt; all flesh had corrupted “his” way (were not following God’s way) upon the earth (Gen 6:12). This was not the loving creation that was surrendered to God’s will that the Lord had intended. The Lord God had a change of heart that He had even created man. However, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord and was perfect in his generations – he feared God and eschewed evil (Gen 6:8-9, Job 2:3, 28:28, Pv 3:7, 4:27, 8:13). Noah was a preacher of righteousness and shined as a bright light amidst such darkness (2 Pt 2:5). The Lord told Noah: Genesis 6:17-18, “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.” The Lord made a covenant with Noah (based upon his faith) to preserve he and his family. This covenant (as all covenants) required Noah to obey God. Noah was to build an ark per God’s direction for the saving of his soul (and family plus animals, Gen 6:14-16). Noah exercised faith through his obedience in building the ark even though the flood was as yet unseen (Heb 11:7). Faith reaches beyond human senses and reasoning and trusts in God alone – not by sight. Rebellious and wicked man were given 120 years to repent while Noah built the boat (Gen 6:3). Not one single man repented and turned to God during this time of grace. The Lord said: Genesis 6:17, “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.” Death will always be the fate of those (the wicked) who transgress the will of God (Eph 5:17) – those who continue in “their” corrupted way (the condemnation: “thou shalt surely die,” Gen 2:17). Had Noah been disobedient to the Lord in not building the ark then he and the entire creation of man would have perished. Covenants are very serious agreements. Obedience to the covenant will bring life and well being; disobedience will certainly result in death and separation. The Lord directed Noah’s actions from the gathering of food and animals to the entering into the ark – all Noah had to do was obey. Genesis 6:22, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he (also Gen 7:5).” The token of God’s covenant with Noah to preserve life (through his sons) was the “rainbow.” Genesis 9:11-13, “And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” A token is a sign; something intended to represent or indicate another thing or an event.
Covenant with Abraham
The Lord next made a covenant with Abram. Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” God’s plan was to create a nation that would be surrendered and obedient to Him to be the example for all nations - and thus all men. Abram obeyed the Lord in all God required of him. Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” - trusting in God’s direction and not the knowledge of the flesh. The scriptures reveal that Abraham believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6, Gal 3:6). This belief was not mental agreement (or hollow profession), but was demonstrated through his actions. This is the essence of true faith – an application of your belief to your entire life – walking therein. Nehemiah 9:7-8, “Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous.” Abram found favor in the eyes of the Lord God – he was called a friend of God (Js 2:23). The Lord purposed to multiply his descendants into a nation (giving them the land of Canaan) from which He would bless all nations (Gen 18:18). Galatians 3:8, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Genesis 12:2-3, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” This nation (peoples) would be known as God’s “peculiar” people – if they obey (Ex 19:5, Deut 14:2, 26:18, 28:9, Ps 135:4). The reason that God was going to bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham was because of his obedience (Gen 22:18); for Abraham obeyed the voice of the Lord, and kept His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His laws (Gen 26:4-5). Abraham was faithful to God with a complete heart of love, devotion, trust and obedience known as faith. God said of Abraham: Genesis 18:19, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” This is what the Lord expects of all men. Abram inquired of God: Genesis 15:8-11, 17-21, “And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” The Lord’s covenant with Abraham was established through the righteousness of faith – for there was no law (Rm 4:13). Faith looks beyond the flesh in love and sincerity to God for all things - complete trust. This love for God is what motivates one to do what pleases Him – to live in the Lord’s will - uphold truth. Abraham always put self aside to fulfill the Lord’s will. In return (and in keeping with God’s will), the Lord offered Abraham blessings.
God began His nation from seemingly impossible circumstances. Abram and Sarah had no children from which a nation could begin. Genesis 17:1-4, 7, “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed (Christ) after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” Abram (later to be called Abraham, Gen 17:5, Neh 9:7) was a hundred years old and his wife was ninety when they had their only son, Isaac (only offspring of the two, Gen 17:17, 21:5). God’s nation began on the foundation of faith. Faith reaches beyond the flesh (the ability of) to accomplish God’s purposes. Hebrews 11:11-12, “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” Human reasoning and ability could not have produced the offspring that God did through the faith of Abraham – for it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women (Gen 18:11). The Lord was revealing to Abraham that faith (love and obedience) to God produces life (in this case - Isaac) – even when it seems impossible as is the case with fallen man’s lost condition. From this one son a people would come forth numbered as the sand of the seashore and the stars in the heavens. Genesis 17:10-11, “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you (also Acts 7:8).” God required a token for the covenant which was symbolic of a deeper purpose which was revealed at a later date (Deut 10:16, Acts 28:27, Rm 10:10). The foreskin was symbolic of the covering of one’s heart. Deuteronomy 10:12-16, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. ALSO: Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” The foreskin (covering of flesh) represented the fleshly covering of the heart (lusts, self-will) that deterred (prevented) one from truly loving God with heart, mind, soul and strength. We must have inward circumcision of the heart – in the spirit (Rm 2:29). Jesus Christ is the minister of the circumcision for the truth of God (Rm 15:8).
After the birth of Isaac, the Lord God tested Abraham’s love toward Him as He will every man. Genesis 22:2, “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Abraham had been faithful for years in waiting for a son (an heir) and now the Lord was asking him to sacrifice the object of his desire – his most cherished possession, which was even given from the Lord. Even so, Abraham was faithful and obedient. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Genesis 22:10-12, “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Abraham was sincere in his “belief” toward God. Hebrews 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Abraham cosistently looked beyond self and the flesh and placed God foremost. He was willing to serve God even if it meant self-denial and personal sacrifice - a rare thing in this present world. We can conclude that Abraham offered up his only begotten son and his faith and trust in God saved his son. Later, God offered up His only begotten Son (Jesus, Jn 3:16) and the unbelief and disobedience of Abraham’s descendents (and mankind in general) killed the Lord’s Son (Jn 19:6, Lk 23:21, Acts 3:13-14, 4:10, 27-28, 5:30). Galatians 3:6-9, 14, 29, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Jesus is the son of David, the son of Abraham (Mt 1:1). Our faith is made perfect in Christ as we are led of His Spirit in following Jesus to the Promised Land (New Jerusalem) to dwell with God eternally (Rev 21:1-8). Matthew 1:1, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Jesus Christ, the son of Abraham, through Whom the world has been blessed. God always honors His covenants! Therefore it can be concluded: Genesis 22:18, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice (also Gen 26:5).” The Lord God has always required the obedience of man! A great lesson we must learn.
Covenant with the Children of Israel Via Moses
Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt to Mount Horeb (i.e. Sinai) where God met with them (Ex 3:10-12). The Lord verbally spoke the Ten Commandments from a cloud above Mount Horeb (Ex 19:16-20, 20:1-18) and great fear came upon all (Ex 19:16, 20:18-20, Deut 5:5, 24-27, Heb 12:18-21). Nehemiah 9:13-14, “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.” These commandments required man to deny “self” for God foremost and then his fellow man (Ex 20:3-17, Deut 5:7-21). To be devoted to another (loving God or neighbor) is to deny self or vice versa. Deuteronomy 5:2-4, “The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire.” The Lord later wrote His Words in stone: Deuteronomy 5:22, “These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.” The covenant the people were agreeing to live by was to walk in God’s commandments and statutes. In return, God was going to give them the land promised to Abraham and great blessings as long as they obeyed Him (Deut 5:31-33, Neh 9:15). The people told Moses: Deuteronomy 5:27, “Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.” The Lord’s desire was: Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” This expectation of God will be discussed again in Christ’s covenant. Exodus 24:3-8, “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words (also Heb 9:19).”
Blood was the token of the covenant that God made with the children of Israel (Ex 12:13). They were saved by the blood from God’s final judgment upon Egypt. They were required to kill an unblemished (without fault) male lamb (symbolic of Christ, Ex 12:5-7) and take the blood and place it upon the upper and side door posts as a covering - foreshadowing of Jesus’ blood covering our sins (Ex 12:7, 21-23). Exodus 12:12-13, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” This was known as the “passover.” God also revealed: Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” God’s covenant with the children of Israel was sealed in blood, which is a sacrifice. Essentially this covenant required the sacrifice of self as a lifestyle for God foremost and then your neighbor. This covenant was intended to teach humbleness, surrender, obedience, love, and trust - reliance upon God.
Once the children of Israel entered into God’s covenant they had to abide by it. Disobedience to any of the Ten Commandments brought death. Romans 10:5, “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” A sacrifice (animal) was made and the covenant was enacted by the sprinkling of blood. The law was binding and to be kept with no clause of mercy for transgressors (Neh 9:29). Hebrews 10:28, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses.” Disobedience to the will of God will always result in death – “thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). Obedience to God produces life, life more abundantly and life eternal (Jn 10:10, 1 Jn 5:11). The law was to teach man that he is to deny self (our way, the flesh) and absolutely obey the Lord in all things and to have great respect for others. The Ten Commandments were to direct man’s attention off of “self” and onto first God and then his fellow man – to restrain “self” or the wicked nature of man (consider: Lev 19:11, 13-18, 33-36, 20:9-10, 13). The law was added because of transgressions, till the seed (Jesus) should come to whom the promise was made (Gal 3:19). The Lord God placed a tremendous emphasis on keeping (obeying) His commandments and cleaving to Him in love (Ex 19:5, Lev 22:31, 26:3-13, Deut 4:2, 40, 5:1, 29, 6:2, 17, 25, 7:11, 8:1-2, 6, 10:13, 20, 11:1, 8, 22, 27-28, 13:4, 18, 15:5, 17:19, 19:9, 26:16-18, 27:1, 10, 28:1, 9, 13, 29:9, 30:8, 10, 16, 20, 31:5, Josh 22:5, 23:8). The Lord was looking for man to surrender self-will and come back under His authority to obey and love God with all their heart, mind and strength – to cleave to Him. The Ten Commandments were God’s will written in stone and unalterable. In like manner to God’s command to Adam in Eden, transgression of these commandments would result in death (Heb 10:28) – just one infraction (Js 2:10-12)! John 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Grace and truth refer to Jesus providing the Holy Ghost to work in your life to conform you to the truth. Jesus provides the means to complete the course – the Holy Spirit. God’s laws are written in your heart and mind (Heb 10:16). The Spirit teaches, leads, empowers, and convicts. Through your obedience to the Spirit’s workings, you are conformed to Christ’s image. “grace and truth” equals “Spirit and truth” - the Father desires such to worship in Spirit and truth (Jn 4:23-24). God’s grace (Spirit) leads you to the truth (light). So, the Spirit leads us from the darkness into the light as we submit and obey. Jesus came full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). Jesus was led of the Holy Ghost and perfectly walked in God’s truth – with no transgressions. Can you see how Christ was our perfect example of God’s will for man? The law under Moses had no such provision for grace. The ability to keep the law has always been found through sincere love and surrender to God.
God’s Covenant via Joshua
Joshua made a covenant with the people after subduing the Promised Land. Joshua 24:18-28, “And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.” The great sin of the nations that had occupied the land was their idolatry. The children of Israel agree to do that which God has always required, to surrender in obedience to Him and have no other gods. However, soon after Joshua died they soon forgot the Lord. Judges 3:5-7, “And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves (also 1 Chr 5:25).”
The Lord honored His part of the covenant, but man continually broke his agreement. Man is by and large a “covenant breaker” (Deut 31:16, Rm 1:31, Ps 78:10, 37, 2 Kgs 17:11-17, Jer 11:3-4, 7-8, 10, 32:21-23, 35:15, Dan 9:11, Hos 6:7) – just as man was a commandment breaker in Eden. Nehemiah 9:16-17, “But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.” Man continually dishonored God by violating His laws and worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator (consider Judges Chapter Two, Neh 9:18, Ez 20:10-13, 16-21) – and turned the truth of God into a lie - lived in Satan’s lie/nature (Rm 1:25). The Lord said of Israel: Isaiah 1:4, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” The children of Israel (and man in general) disregard their covenant with God (transgressed the agreement, Jdg 2:20, Jer 34:18-22) and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way (Jdg 2:19, Ez 2:3-4, 3:7). They were a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God; they kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law (Ps 78:8, 10). Man loves the darkness (Jn 3:19) where he can follow his “own” doings and steadfastly continue in his “own” way. The penalty for breaking God’s covenant was severe (read Lev 26:15-39, Josh 7:15). The Lord honored His promise to Abraham and gave Israel the Promised Land - they defeated mighty nations (Neh 22-25). Nehemiah 9:26, “Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.” Psalms 78:36-37, “Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.” The Lord eventually stopped driving out the wicked nations around Israel (Neh 9:27-35), but used them to prove Israel (just as the Lord does today with the wicked culture) if they would keep the way of the Lord to walk therein (Jdg 2:22, 3:1-4) – these became thorns and snares to them (Jdg 2:3). For as many as have sinned in the law (covenant) shall be judged by the law – for not the hearers of the law are justified before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rm 2:12-13). The Lord’s peculiar people for the most part (the majority) turned out to not be so “peculiar” after all – rather were corrupt as the nations around them and in the image of the world. God sent judges to deliver the people from their enemies. Yet the people continually did evil in the sight of God, constantly provoking Him with their vanities (Jdg 10:6). The Lord set up kings over the people as per their request (1 Sam 8:4-5, 7). The first king, Saul, was disobedient to the Lord in seeking his own way. The second king, David, had a whole heart to serve the Lord (1 Kg 9:4, 11:4, 15:3, Ps 119:34, Acts 13:22) – and from his lineage came Christ. David’s son, Solomon, started out with a heart toward God, but was turned to idols (by his many foreign wives) in the end (1 Kgs 11:4-10, Neh 13:26). Due to Solomon’s transgressions, the Lord split Israel (rend ten tribes from Solomon’s son, 1 Kgs 11:11-13) into two kingdoms – Judah and Israel. Judah had a mixture of good kings (those that did right in the sight of the Lord) and bad kings (transgressors of the Lord) – over the reigns of twenty kings. Judah eventually went into Babylonian captivity due to their wickedness and transressions - idolatry. Israel’s first king, Jeroboam did evil in the sight of the Lord by making two golden calves for Israel to worship. All twenty kings of Israel were evil and never departed from the sins of Jeroboam – they worshipped the golden calves and Baal (2 Kgs 17:16, 21-22). The Lord said of Israel: 2 Kings 17:38, “And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.” However, this is just what they did continually. The Lord had said, “Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them (2 Kgs 17:35).” To “fear” another god is to love that god and obey its commands and walk in its way – to cleave to it. This is to deny self (make sacrifices) to serve a false god! This is incredibly dishonoring to the true Creator who had delivered and cared for Israel over and over. The Lord (who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm) had told them to fear Him, worship Him, and do sacrifice to Him (2 Kgs 17:36). They wouldn’t obey God because they always sought self through gods that would cater to their lusts and desires. 2 Kings 17:18-19, “Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made” - man’s ways rather than God’s. Israel was carried away to Assyria (2 Kgs 17:23). 2 Kings 18:11-12, “And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.” Israel violated (over and over) the sacred agreement (covenant) with God whereby the had agreed to obey the Lord and walk in His ways – to love and cleave to the Lord.
The Lord God also sent prophets who spoke His Words. In all cases the messages of the prophets were for the people to turn from (forsake) their wickedness and rebellion (2 Chr 7:14, 2 Kg 17:13-14, Neh 9:26, 30, Jer 18:8, 25:4-5, 26:5, 12-13, 29:19, 35:15, 44:4, Ez 2:5, Zech 1:4, Heb 1:1-2, Lk 11:49-50), and come back to God, who would have mercy (Is 55:7). 2 Kings 17:13-15, “Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.” Those who had covenanted with God disobeyed broke their solemn pledge and sought their own vain ways – they sought self – the flesh. Does this rebellious theme in man not repeat itself over and over through the ages including today – and also with many of those who call themselves Christians? Jeremiah 25:4-5, “And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever.” Turn ye, turn ye from “your” wicked ways – from your path (Ez 33:11). God said: Isaiah 65:2, “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good; after their own thoughts.” The Lord also said, “Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. They did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not (Is 66:3-4).” The Lord said they had a revolting and rebellious heart (Jer 5:23) and would not walk in the good path (Jer 6:16). Perhaps you can see how the fallen nature of man (Satan’s nature, the “lie” which is self seeking, darkness) is continually resurfacing in rebellious man? God’s prophets were “not received” and were mistreated (beaten, cast into prison) and killed (2 Kg 17:13-15, 2 Chr 36:16, Jer 2:30, Neh 9:26, Ez 20:8, Dan 9:10, Zech 1:4, Amos 2:12, Mt 21:35, 23:34, 37, Lk 13:34-35, Acts 7:52). 2 Chronicles 36:16, “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” An end, the end is come - enough (Ez 7:1, 6)! An evil, an only evil is come – the day of trouble (Ez 7:5, 7)! I will have no pity, but will recompense for their abominations (Ez 7:9). Jeremiah 25:7, “Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.” They plowed wickedness, reaped iniquity; ate the fruit of lies (the forbidden fruit, the devil’s lie): because they didst trust in their own way (Hos 10:13). Drastic measures were taken by God to get Israel’s attention (Jer 32:23). God said he would destroy His people because they turned not from “their ways” (Jer 15:7, 18:11-12). The Lord would recompense them according to their abominations (Ez 7:3-4, 8-9, 20, 27). God sent His four sore judgments of the sword, famine, pestilence and noisome beasts (Jer 15:2-3, 34:17, Ez 5:8-12, 6:10-14, 7:15, 14:21). Those who survived were carried off into Babylonian exile (Jer 4:18, 5:13, 16:12-13, 25:4-12, 32:37-40). This was intended to get Israel’s full attention. Jeremiah 2:35, “Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.” Israel had not been able to see their iniquity or self seeking ways in anything they did (Jer 4:22). They were not submitted to God, but thought they were in “their way” (Jer 26:5). The Lord did not do this without a cause (Ez 14:23). In Babylon, they would have frame of mind to ponder such things - see things as they are. Ezekiel 20:43-44, “And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” AND Ezekiel 20:35-38, “And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels (those who rebelliously walk in their own way), and them that transgress against me (those who follow the devil’s lie): I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” Jeremiah 24:7, “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (also Ez 11:19-20). Seventy years later, a remnant returned to the land of Israel and rebuilt the Temple (which had been burned during the Babylonian seize that led to captivity) and began to lay a religious foundation for serving God (Jer 25:11, 29:10, Ez ). In the ensuing years a tremendous religious system was developed, yet degenerated into a work of man (Mk 7:7, Rm 10:3). This system had tremendous religious form, but no heart, love or compassion (Mt 15:8). The children of Israel (at the time of Christ) observed the law in a strict legal obedience, which was ritualistic and heartless – full of rules, regulations, doctrines and traditions of men. Religious parties (Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Zealots) and lawyers had derived thousands of rules and regulations from the original Ten Commandments and made life a great burden for all. “Love” had been almost snuffed out. The law could not in and of itself (apart from the love of God) produce the “heart” faith that God desired. The law was weak through the flesh (men seeking self, Rm 8:3). This great religious system was so far from God that it did not recognize or receive the Lord’s own Son (Jn 1:10-11) – the promised Messiah. Worse! This religious system that claimed to worship and serve God, killed the Lord’s only begotten Son who had become flesh and dwelt among them – who was full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14, 1 Jn 1:1-2) who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (Acts 10:38).
Christ’s covenant is the Lord’s “testament.” This testament is Jesus’ declared will which became effective after His death (Heb 9:16). Jesus hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim 1:10). The word “testament” is the equivalent to “covenant.” Hebrews 9:17, “For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Jesus gave His life to secure the covenant. This agreement is one whereby God agrees to reconcile with repentant man (peace) and bestows eternal life (salvation) on man, upon the condition that man shall believe (in faith) in Christ and yield obedience to the terms of the gospel. This is a very serious agreement and like all of God’s covenants with man there is an expectation that you will genuinely abide therein (Ps 103:17-18). Christ took away the covenant made with the children of Israel - they didn’t keep it and God regarded them not (Heb 8:9) that He may establish the second (Heb 10:9). This covenant has better promises (Heb 8:6) – forgiveness and the Holy Ghost – discussed in Chapter Two. Jesus said the new testament was sealed in His blood, which was shed for you (Lk 22:20). Hebrews 9:15, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” They which are called are those who respond to Christ calling them out of the darkness and into the light. So, when one gives their life to Jesus Christ in coming out of the darkness and into the light, just what are they agreeing to do?
Jesus took the Ten Commandments of God and reduced them down to two. These Two Great Commandments are Christ’s gospel of love (Canon of love): Mark 12:29-31, “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (also Mt 22:37-40, Lk 10:27).” These two commands revealed the law and what the prophets had been saying when they spoke God’s Words; this is superior to burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mt 22:40, Mk 12:33). Love is the fulfilling of the law (Rm 13:9-10). These commandments were not new, but had also been spoken to the children of Israel (at the time of Moses) as what God required of them: Deuteronomy 6:5, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (also Deut 10:12, 11:13, 22, 13:3, 30:6, Josh 22:5).” AND Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” The Ten Commandments themselves did not actually (explicitly) contain the word “love.” Notice the use of the word “love” in the Two Great Commandments. What does “love” mean? Consider the popular verses: John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” AND 1 John 4:10-11, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” God defines love as “sacrifice” or giving of yourself for another. God so loved the world He “gave” or “sacrificed” His own Son for us – for our benefit. God loved us and “sent” His Son to be the propitiation (sacrificial unblemished male lamb to appease God’s wrath against sinful man) for our sins - for our benefit. ALSO If God so loved us (sacrificed for our benefit) then we should love one another and sacrifice for each other’s benefit. Jesus said: John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Those who make a vow or solemn promise and enter into Christ’s covenant, which was sealed by His blood (1 Cor 11:25), must keep Jesus’ commanments. Psalms 25:10, “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” Christ’s covenant is “love” and to keep this testament you must obey. You must love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength (all encompassing) and then your neighbor as yourself. There is really nothing left for self - self exaltation and self seeking. The giving of self is caring, compassion (tenderheart), patience, longsuffering, meekness, gentleness, goodness, kindness, mercy, forgiving, etc. (Col 3:12-13). In Christ, faith (defined below) worketh by love (Gal 5:6, Eph 3:17). 1 John 4:7-8, 16, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Therefore, we must dwell in love by sacrificing self for God foremost and then others - which is our obedience (1 Jn 4:16). We obey Christ’s commandments which are love, which is the sacrificing of self for others. The Lord helps us in this by shedding (causing to flow out) abroad love in our hearts through the Holy Ghost which He has given unto us (Rm 5:5, see “The Holy Spirit, Chapter Two). So, this is forever a circular (eternal, never ending) requirement of God. Love is self sacrifice and self sacrifice is love and all is executed through obedience to the Lord – and obedience to the Lord is love. Whosoever shall save his life (find his life) shall lose it and whosoever shall lose his life for Christ’s sake and the gospels (which is love) the same shall save it (find it) – emphasized six times in the gospels (Mt 10:39, 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25)! In other words, if you live for self, then you shall die (no love) and if you die to self for Christ and the gospel, then you shall live (love). Romans 6:8, “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” We must “fear” the Lord and walk in His will. Psalms 25:14, “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant (also Ps 33:18).” The transgressors have no “fear” of God (Ps 36:1) and will never “know” God’s covenant – they shall be destroyed (Ps 37:38).
Jesus said: John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another (your neighbor), as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” If we do not love others as Christ loves you, then we have no right to Christ’s love. John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” How did Jesus love us? He sacrificed everything (His physical life) for your benefit to make peace between you and God. Consider this relation: John 3:16 reveals that God “gave” His only begotten Son for the benefit of man - Christ laid down His life for us. 1 John 3:16 reveals that man is to “give” himself for his fellow man - we lay down our lives for each other (1 Jn 4:21). Therefore, the Two Great Commandments completely take your attention off of self and direct it in love (giving, sacrifice) to first God and then others and this is known as charity. Romans 13:8-10, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law (given to Moses). For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Love sacrifices self for another. So, to obey Christ’s commandments is to live in the law of love (1 Jn 5:2) which is to die to your will - self seeking which is Satan’s lie. John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” In other words, if a man sacrifices self to keep Christ’s Words, then God will sacrifice for your benefit and dwell with you. Love is reciprocal – but must first place God foremost. When we come back under God’s authority in obedience as reconciled through Christ, we have a personal relationship with God (Rm 5:10, 2 Cor 5:18). The Holy Spirit resides within us (1 Cor 6:19). 1 John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” You cannot “know” Christ apart from submission and obedience to Him. To submit and obey Christ is to deny self – to be Christ-centered and not self-centered. 1 John 2:3-4, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” Consider how well this fits with what God had told the children of Israel: Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” John 15:9, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” Your vow of faith to Christ is for love and obedience hereafter – stedfastness (firmly fixed or established, constant, resolute, not wavering). 1 John 2:5, “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” Our assurance that we are in Christ is found in our obedience to Him, and this perfects our love. Sacrifice of self equates to obedience which equates to love. 1 John 5:2-3, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” We sacrifice self for the benefit of God. If you continue to seek self then you are not obeying the commandments of Christ and are not walking in love. Therefore, we can conclude that God is amazingly consistent in His Word and dealings with man.
Those who make a vow or solemn promise and enter into Christ’s covenant, which was sealed by His blood (1 Cor 11:25), must keep Jesus’ commandments - for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (Lev 17:11). Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant (sealed in Jesus’ blood, Heb 9:14-15), wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Woe to him who does despite the Holy Ghost! Christ’s covenant is “love” and to keep this testament you must obey. We must walk in faith, which is a bypass of the flesh/self. Faith is to trust and draw towards God; to conciliate (to draw together; to unite); to believe, to obey. Faith is to “believe” in God’s truth to such an extent that it becomes the foundation of your very life (Lk 6:47-49) - an entire confidence and trust in God’s character and declarations; an unreserved surrender of the will to the Lord’s leading; reliance on God. God’s law is not made void through faith, but rather established by faith (Rm 3:31). As we walk in love, sincerity, truth and obedience, the Lord works in us through His Spirit such that we conform to His Will (law, commandments) and manifest His nature in our actions. So it is by faith, which reaches beyond the flesh/self (which is a denial of the flesh/self), that all men (those under the law and those apart from the law) will be reconciled to God (Rm 4:16). Jesus become your very life (Col 3:4) – for ye are purchased with a price (1 Cor 6:20) – that being Christ’s spilt blood (Rm 5:9)! Jesus washed us from our sins with His own blood (Rev 1:5). When you obey Christ in His truth then you are drawn together and unite in His love - Christ and the Father make their abode in you (Jn 14:23). When you continue to walk in the ways of the world (self seeking, the lie, the darkness) then you are disobedient to Christ and walk in the lie (sacrifice of others for the benefit of self) and are separated from Jesus - away from the light and into the darkness. Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace (reconciliation, Rm 5:10) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (also Eph 3:12).” Grace is the divine influence on the heart as reflected in one’s actions (or life). This will be manifested as God’s nature of righteousness and holiness. Therefore, we can say that by yielding our lives in obedience to God’s leading, we have access to the Lord’s divine influence on our hearts. As you yield, the Lord renews and transforms. Thus: Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts (what self seeks), we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity (sin), and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Now consider two cases, one is following the flesh and the other is following the Spirit. The flesh - Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God (the Holy Spirit working in me): for if righteousness come by the law (forced adherence through the flesh – compulsion, will power), then Christ is dead in vain.” The Spirit: Romans 8:4, “That the righteousness of the law (God’s requirements) might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh (man’s ways), but after the Spirit (allowing grace to work in you).” So, you can now see that the righteousness God desires must come through the Lord’s grace which is the Holy Ghost working in you through your faith (willful surrender and obedience to God) to transform you. You will always fall short when you approach God through the flesh such as religious works, doctrines, memberships, positions, etc.
We become the Lord’s peculiar people – if we come out of the darkness and obey. Consider the Lord’s work of grace in one’s life: Titus 2:14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” AND 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people (lost in darkness), but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (by coming to the truth).” There is nothing peculiar about you if you remain in the darkness seeking it’s lusts – God’s grace will have not manifested. Consider the similarities: God took Abram, who was not a people, and multiplied him into the people of God – a peculiar treasure. God later called them out of darkness (Egypt) unto Himself in the wilderness (Who is light, Ps 104:1-2, 1 Jn 1:5). Jesus calls whosoever will, who are not a people, as the people of God – a peculiar people (Hos 2:23). Christ calls them out of darkness - our rebellion, iniquity and self seeking (1 Jn 1:6) into His light (Mt 5:16, Jn 1:4-5, 8:12, 12:35-36, Rm 13:12, Eph 5:8, Php 2:15, 1 Jn 1:5). The children of Israel became God’s peculiar people by virtue of their forsaking their old life and obeying God’s laws through faith. The “followers” of Jesus become God’s peculiar people by forsaking their old life and obeying Christ’s commands through faith (Jn 14:15, 21, 23, 15:10, 1 Jn 2:3-4, 3:22, 24, 5:2-3, 2 Jn 1:6). The children of Israel were not to walk in the manner of the nations around them; for God had separated them to Himself from other people (Lev 20:23-24). God told them they were to be holy as God is holy, because He has severed them from other people that they should be His (Lev 20:26). Similarly, Christ’s “called out ones (ekklesia)” are not to be as the world around them; for He hath separated them to Himself from the darkness. They are to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect (Mt 5:48). 1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (lifestyle); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Christ’s covenant was superior to that of Moses (the law) in that Jesus provided for mercy (forgiveness) and grace (the Holy Spirit working in you)! Once again: It is of faith (surrendering self to God) that it might be by grace (God working in you through your obedience) that all will be justified before God – those under the law and those apart from the law; the circumcision and the uncircumcision (Rm 3:30, 4:16). The “gospel” is now made manifest, the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, that being that man shall be saved through the obedience of faith (Rm 13:25-26). Obedient faith (saving faith) allows the Holy Ghost to work in you and produce the fruit God desires to the saving of your soul – it will not happen any other way! Man is justified by faith with or without the deeds of the law (Rm 2:14-15, 3:28). If you live in God’s grace (allowing the Spirit to transform you – a servant to righteousness and holiness, Rm 6:18-19), then you are not under the law. Romans 8:2-4, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Those who serve the law must do so in their own strength (flesh) and it is impossible (Rm 7:18-20, 8:8). Those living in God’s grace fulfill the law through the Spirit’s working through their obedience (Rm 8:11). Romans 6:15-16, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” To continue in sin (darkness) will only reveal that God’s grace is not being worked in you. Obedience to the Spirit produces righteousness which is evidence of God’s grace. Romans 8:13-14, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” To live after the flesh is to continue in “your” way (which is Satan’s nature, the lie) and produces death - it’s fruit. To die (mortify) to the flesh (your way, your will, your lusts) and yield to the Spirit’s working in you is the Lord’s grace which produces life - it’s fruit. Israel under the covenant of Moses had sought after righteousness by serving the law (Rm 9:31). They served the law by a forced adherence (outward, not inward devotion) rather than serving God through their hearts – faith (Rm 9:32). They never grasped what the Lord was telling them when He said for them to love Him with all their hearts, souls and might (strength) – and to cleave to Him (Deut 6:5). This is what Abraham and Moses had done and their actions demonstrated it! Christ’s covenant is superior because His Spirit writes God’s laws in your heart (Jer 31:33, Ez 11:19-20, 36:25-27, Heb 8:10, 10:16). The Lord renews a right spirit within you – gives you a clean heart (Ps 51:10). Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (also Ez 11:19).” It’s like this: The children of Israel looked at the Ten Commandments and said “we must do this, that and the other thing” – just the facts – they narrowed their focus. They should have rather considered the intent of the commandments and why God had wanted them to do those things. They should have broadened their focus and considered what God was ultimately after. They should have realized that God wanted their love and sincerity as demonstrated through their obedience to do the Lord’s will. They should have realized that God wanted their focus on Himself and then others rather than on themselves or works. They should have considered what Abraham and Moses did that the Lord found so noteworthy and pleasing. They should have realized that the letter killeth (if focused only on the letter), but the spirit giveth life (Rm 7:6, 2 Cor 3:6, this does not mean that in spirit they could disregard the law). In Christ’s covenant, we now have the Spirit to guide us and teach us – and empower. Now we must consider if all those who “profess” to be Christ’s “peculiar” people are really all that peculiar (curious, odd, unusual, distinct, set apart) at all. Those who “follow” Christ are a people (who were not a people) who have been “called out” of the darkness into the light (truth). Certainly the “few” who have sincerely forsaken the darkness or world are “peculiar” and stand out as such. However, there are “many” who profess belief in Christ that remain in darkness and are as the world - no different. Examine yourself dear reader and honestly consider your fruit (Mt 7:20). Perhaps this writing will provide some with enough light to compel them to come forth. We must not say, but do – we must “be.”
We have discussed how the children of Israel forsook God and “feared” other gods, and bowed down to them - worshipping and making sacrifices. They disregared God’s covenant! God was not foremost in their lives and they intentionally ignored His commandments and ways in pursuit of self. Many have entered into Christ’s covenant and treat it with much the same contempt - disdain, disrespect and condescension. They seek their own way daily placing it foremost in their lives. They “fear” other gods such as television, careers, money, or hobbies; serving these things with love obedience and making all necessary sacrifices. They do their own will, and perhaps ask for forgiveness later to soothe the guilty conscious. Consider the television – enjoyed by all. How many “love” the television and sit in front of it for hours a day? How many will make great sacrifices to be “entertained?” How many are heavily influenced and motivated by the things they hear and see on the television? How many could never truly forsake the television? This is worship! This is “fearing” and serving another god! This is serving “self!” Where you spend your time is a very good indicator of your devotion – known as your “deeds.”
Community of Christ
The following sections address the New Testament model for the body of Christ (church, ekklesia – called out ones) as led or governed by the Holy Ghost - sent from God. We will consider how the life and love of Christ should manifest in our lives once we enter into covenant with Jesus and how “followers” should interact with each other and the world. This insight into the early church will certainly not put the modern “religious” version (of man) in a good light. We will understand what it means to be truly filled and led of the Holy Ghost verses being led of man and his doctrines and traditions. Who is leading the church makes all the difference in the world as to where it is going. The group that is led of God’s Spirit will reflect the image of Christ as revealed in God’s Word - conformity, actually walking in truth. The group that is led of man will reflect the image of the world (as lived and practiced by its members) and will always side toward the flesh (self). The true body of Christ will face many persecutions, tribulations and sufferings as they walk as their Lord proclaiming the truth (light, Jn 16:33, Acts 14:22, Rm 5:3, 12:12, 1 Pt 4:13) – they enter into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Php 3:10). Those led of man will walk in relative ease and comfort due to compromises with the world and a propensity (inclination) toward the flesh. They will consider sufferings to be the inability to completely satisfy their flesh (their wants, lusts and needs in seeking their way) through the lack of what they believe (perceive) to be “due” blessings from God - to serve them.
The disciples of Christ had gathered in Jerusalem awaiting the “promise” that Jesus said would be sent of the Father (Acts 1:4, Jn 14:16, 26). There were about one hundred and twenty “followers” who had forsaken all for their Lord (Acts 1:15). These were submitted and obedient to the Lord’s will. They were waiting for the “power” that would come as a result of the Holy Ghost, such that they could be “witnesses” in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the world (Acts 1:8). On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit fell upon them and they boldly witnessed among great multitudes of men (Acts 2:1-4, 22-40). The men who heard their witness were cut to the heart: Acts 2:41, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Now we must understand that nothing of any significance was done for the cause of Christ by these disciples from the time of Jesus’ death until Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was the “power” which transformed these disciples into “bold” witnesses for Christ. Prior to this the disciples had been scared, troubled and without full understanding. The Shepherd had been slain and the sheep were scattered (Mt 26:31, Mk 14:27). The Holy Ghost (power from on High, Lk 24:49) came upon these disciples to accomplish the will of Christ (and the Father). These disciples spoke with other tongues as the “Spirit” gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). The men did not understand (know) what they were saying, but the multitude of men who were listening (from various cultures all around) heard them quite clearly and in their own languages (Acts 2:5-11). They were proclaiming the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). The Holy Ghost was definitely leading and the disciples were just submitting and obeying. The flesh was blind to what was transpiring (bypassed by the Spirit) and received no glory. The results of the Spirit’s work were astounding – three thousand souls in one day! What happened next is equally astounding: Acts 2:44-47, “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” They were likeminded (together with one accord), unified (singleness of spirit), and sacrificed “self” for the benefit of each other (Eph 4:2-3, also Php 2:2). Psalms 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” This is apparent in that they sold their goods and possessions and parted to all men, as every man had need. This is a “dying to self” for the good of others. This is what Jesus meant when He said: John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” This could only happen as a result of men yielding to the Holy Spirit! Jesus gave the commandment and the Spirit (sent from the Father per Christ request), acting on the hearts of men, made it happen (Jn 15:26)! The Spirit is sent to perform the will of the Father in those who will yield and obey. We know that these new disciples were sincere because of their selfless love for one another – the fruit! They were demonstrating the Two Great Commandments in their lives by their actions – they applied Christ’s Words. This was a tremendous testimony of God’s love and grace acting upon the hearts of men. This can only happen when men die to the nature of “self” (Satan’s lie, the darkness) and genuinely surrender and yield (obey) in a selfless way to the Holy Spirit. They were as one (submitting themselves one to another in the fear of God – no lording over each other, Eph 5:21). as Jesus and the Father are one that they may be one in the Lord (Jn 17:21). Notice: the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved – a significant point. Religious man always forces this issue and generally adds such as have not released the darkness - and have no intention to.
Peter, John and the other disciples then continued to go out among the people and boldly witness the gospel of Christ (Acts 3:11-26). Their message of hope immediately became a threat to those who were not willing to receive it (i.e. the world, established religions) and they were persecuted (just as Christ was, Acts 4:1-3). The message of God always brings persecution, but must be proclaimed! The Lord’s message must be proclaimed even to your own personal suffering or demise. Jesus could have easily sought compromise and avoided the cross, but He said “thy will be done” to the Father – this was to our benefit. We must never seek comfort for the flesh (self) at the expense of the gospel! This will always be a temptation, but it brings great dishonor to God. Rejoice in persecution (Mt 5:10-12, Lk 6:22-23)! Peter and John were put in jail, but five thousand souls were added unto the Lord (Acts 4:4)! How incredible! Five thousand “believed” in one day as a result of the sacrifice of two men submitted to God’s Spirit – willing to offer up “self” to make it happen. They were brought before the religious authorities: Acts 4:8-13, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” The boldness, the wisdom, the Words, all came from the Holy Ghost - the flesh receives no glory before God (1 Cor 1:29). Peter and John were just submitting and obeying (putting self aside) the leading of the Spirit. Jesus had told them beforehand: Mark 13:11, “But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost (also Mt 10:17-20, Lk 21:12-15).” The religious authorities told them they must not speak in Jesus’ name anymore (Acts 4:18). The world will always try and put out the light (truth) because it exposes the wickedness of the darkness (Jn 7:7) – that evil men will not depart from. Peter said they should obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19). If we all could just grasp that statement! We now live in a world that compromises God in order to obey man (be accepted). Those who genuinely love Jesus cannot help but speak those things which they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).
The “called out ones” (ekklesia, early church – those called out of darkness into the light) continued to suffer persecution for Christ name. Acts 4:29-32, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” Please see the significance here! These disciples knew they would be persecuted and suffer of “self,” Jesus had told them that (Lk 21:17, Jn 15:18, 20, 16:33, 17:14, 1 Jn 3:13). They didn’t pray for relief, but for boldness (ability, wherewithal) to speak God’s Words and perform God’s works - just as Jesus had done. Christ suffered greatly at the hands of man and these men knew they were “following” in His steps. Such a prayer (in keeping with the Lord’s will) was granted and more boldness was given. Please realize that with more boldness will come greater persecution and suffering. They had died to “self” and were “willing” to give all. Notice a couple of things: They were of one mind and one spirit; only the Holy Ghost can bring such unity and understanding! Also, no one considered anything his own, but they shared all things in common. This cannot be accomplished when men are still “seeking self” as per the devil’s lie – in the darkness. This can only occur when self dies. Men were selling land and laying the price at the apostles’ feet to give to everyone that had need. Acts 4:33-37, “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” God’s grace is the working of the Holy Ghost in men’s lives - those yielded and obedient. True “love” is the sacrifice of self (your things) for the benefit of others. This produces caring, compassion, patience, meekness, unity, likemindedness, mercy, goodness, etc. How did these “followers” of Christ handle disputes? They appointed brethren that were of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom to settle the matters. These were men that were fair and impartial yielded to the Lord and not given to “self”.
Having read the above few sections, you are no doubt thinking that such a group (called out ones) does not seem to exist in this day and time. This is a great condemnation of “religious man” and all of “his” religious institutions, organizations and denominations. There are tremendous (awe inspiring) buildings (the work of men, financed from the world), but even their own memberships do not demonstrate such love, likemindedness and unity (one accord)! – much less to those apart (Php 2:2). These groups and sects are no threat to this dark world and thus suffer no persecution! They have compromised to such an extent (in seeking comfort) that they are just like the world – overcome! There is no unity in the purpose of God! There is no likemindedness, which would certainly manifest if they were following the same Holy Spirit (please read again and consider this statement)! There is no “death to self” or the things of this world and thus no real love or “community of goods.” What calls itself the church today is nothing like the one we “know” (from God’s Word) was led by the Holy Ghost. Why? Why? Why? The author will attempt to answer this seemingly complex issue. The basic and simple reason is because men (religious) are seeking self as per the devil’s lie and fallen nature and still love the darkness. Men have not totally surrendered and yielded in obedience to the Lord’s work in them or others. They seek god through their flesh rather than apart from it - death to their will and lusts. For instance, just where in the entire New Testament did Christ (or His apostles) ever say to build buildings (facilities) - empires? The answer is nowhere, no even once – yet this has been the focus of man for centuries - focused on the flesh – see, touch, feel, enjoy. All of the maladies (problems, troubles, woes) and abnormalities (aberrations, faults, failings, deformities) described above are the symptoms of “SELF.” Men are living for self and not dying to self. This is reflected in man’s religious institutions, which are in the image of the world. This is the fruit by which they are known (Mt 7:16-20). The members mostly live as the world except for maybe a short period of time on religious days. Even then, the truth is not being proclaimed – if it were there would be great offense of flesh. By and large men have not fully embraced Christ’s Lordship over them. Their midset is much more temporal than eternal. They want a form of godliness, but deny the “power” thereof (2 Tim 3:5). The “power” is the Holy Ghost and the Spirit will not tolerate the self-centered (consider Acts 5:1-11). They deny the Spirit’s working in their lives. The Spirit will tear down and destroy the things of the flesh (the darkness). The Spirit does God’s will and that is to transform you into the image of Christ, which is to be loving, obedient, surrendered, trusting, and compliant to God. Do not try and deter the Spirit from doing the work or the work will not get done – and this is not to your benefit - something that will be of great regret and agony of mind to you throughout eternity. The author has always considered the basis of fellowship to be the willingness of one to submit and obey the Holy Spirit – this is all that is needed. Many religious men are unreasonable and wicked - for all men have not faith (2 Thess 3:2, 1 Tim 6:5, Ti 1:15-16) because they want to argue endlessly in twisting God’s Word to benefit “their” way (self). Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” If one will just submit to and obey the Spirit, then all things will fall into order. Most people just will not yield to the Holy Spirit – plain and simple. For instance, the author has had many conversations with others (very religious people) regarding the wickedness and evil routinely shown on television. Everyone agrees that this premise is true and that these things are ungodly. However, no one will forsake this evil - what an indictment! Their opinions and arguments always outweigh (in their lives) the plain truth in God’s Word and always favor “self.” No one ever wants to possibly err in their “logic” on the side of God. Rejoice not in iniquity (darkness), but rejoice in truth (light, 1 Cor 13:6). The author has found that most people just will not yield to the Spirit’s workings. Why? Because the Holy Spirit will always pull down the things of the flesh and this will result in personal loss, denial and sacrifice. There is no way around this: you will either die to self (the darkness, Satan’s lie) or you will grieve (and quench, Eph 4:30, 1 Thess 5:19) the Spirit and disregard the Lord’s purposes. Its so basic, yet so disregarded! The answer to all the errors in “religion” today is that “men love the darkness” (Jn 3:19) and will not approach the light (Jn 3:20-21). The flesh finds it very difficult to release its control and “die.” Faith bypasses the flesh (denies it, kills it, destroys) by surrendering to another’s will altogether. Is there anyone in heaven not totally surrendered to God’s will? Be absolutely assured – when you come to the light, the Holy Spirit will begin the task of tearing down “self” for the glory of God. Those who love Jesus (Jn 14:15) will “change” and those who do not will not change. How else will you ever become totally submitted to the authority of God? How will you be reconciled given your transgressing and rebellious state? The men who came out of the darkness after Pentecost were sincere and yielded to the Holy Ghost and the Lord worked wonders (miracles) – likemindedness, unity, boldness, great signs, etc. Those called out of the darkness today find it a bit more difficult – why? Because there are a myriad of religious choices all claiming to represent Christ. Most will say that you do not have to change all that much (just become churchy – religious). There is no self denial in their doctrines and Lord forbid, no suffering or persecution. Their doctrines are based (founded) upon the teachings of men (Calvin, Arminius, Wesley, Luther, Popes, Augustine or modern day favorites) and not of the Holy Ghost. There can never be likemindedness because all these doctrines of men conflict with each other. Likemindedness can only be achieved through the Spirit as He unfolds the Word of God – correctly. The Holy Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth (Jn 16:13). If there is no likemindedness, there can be no unity. Satan has fractured the church from within by appealing to men to seek self just as he has always done (modus operandi). The religious message (watered down, of none effect) of the modern religious man and the way it is being proclaimed does not threaten the world at all and there is no persecution from the world. Men are quite comfortable in their religious buildings - their territory. If there were suffering or persecution, then compromise would quickly be sought (and has). There is no willingness to suffer for God’s glory (Php 1:29)! In the early church the message was taken to the people and resulting persecution strengthened the body and drew men closer to God. The persecution actually accelerated the spreading of the gospel. We must be partakers of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God (2 Tim 1:8). 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.” Read the New Testament for yourself and see if the church of today is anything like the church of the Bible – be honest. 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Some may say that the Amish or Mennonites (Anabaptist) have accomplished a community like the early church. This is mostly true, however there may be a fault - talking in generalities; and this does not apply to all. In shunning the world (a good thing) some went too far and lost their witness to the world. They kept to themselves and compromised with the world - leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone. They lost their witness and the persecution ceased – they were no longer a threat to Satan. They hid their “light” to those outside their established group and became ineffective. The gospel must be proclaimed and “so be it” to the persecution and suffering. The author knows of several attempts by sincere individuals to start a community of Christ like the biblical model. All of these attempts have failed. The underlying reason is “self” and a refusal to submit to the Lord in all areas. First there must be a sincere and total surrender of one’s life to the Spirit. Second, the Spirit must make it happen! The Lord adds as He will. Many consider themselves submitted to the Lord and refuse to see (are blinded and deceived) their own denial of God’s work in their lives. For instance, if the Spirit told you to stop using birth control methods (seeking your way, your will) and embrace and love however many children that God gives (flesh has no control, submission of your will), would you? If the Spirit told you to never again watch the filth and wickedness on television or at the movies, would you obey? If the Lord asked you to stop listening to rebellious and worldly radio (even Christian), would you? If the Spirit told you to stop celebrating idolatrous worldly holidays that bring dishonor to God (yet cater exclusively to your flesh), would you? If the Spirit told you to stop buying things (possessions) and be content with such things as you have (a dying to self), would you? If the Spirit told you to stop seeking entertainment and trips (travel) to satisfy self, would you? If the Lord told you to stop seeking the ways of man (newspapers, weather, investing, position, etc.) and soley rely on Him, would you? Now you will probably say that God would never ask such things. This would only reveal that you do not “know” God nor His Word (as applied) and are not allowing the Spirit to lead in “your” life. If you would truly follow the Spirit with regards to the things above (and more) you might be “peculiar” (unusual, odd, uncharacteristic, strange, weird) in the eyes of the world – yet a great witness. You might lose friends, family relations, jobs, etc. You would not be popular and men might separate from your company (Lk 6:22)! There will always be a separation between light and darkness – and yes, there are not so many in the light. What you may not realize is that you have acceptance because you are in the darkness! Wake up! Come to the “light.”
In conclusion, those who enter into covenant with Christ are agreeing to come out of the darkness and into His glorious light (1 Pt 2:9). Its like this: you must become blind to the things of the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you about (known as faith), putting all trust and obedience in the Lord. You are agreeing to “follow” the example the Lord set (Jn 6:38, 8:28-29). You are agreeing to deny self daily, take up your cross (die to your way, Lk 14:27, 31, Rm 6:6) and follow (Mt 16:24-26, 19:21, Mk 8:34-36, 10:21, Lk 9:23-26, Jn 12:26). You are agreeing to forsake all (Lk 14:33). What do you really have anyway that you can take with you? You are agreeing to love not your own life, but live unto Him (Lk 14:26, 2 Cor 5:15, Gal 2:20). You are agreeing to shun the things of the world (1 Jn 2:15-17). You are agreeing to surrender (yield) and obey the Holy Spirit and obey all of Christ’s commandments (Jn 14:15-17, 20-21, 23, 15:10, 1 Jn 2:3-4, 3:24, 5:2-3) – to abide in Jesus (Jn 15:1-10). You are agreeing to suffer persecution and love not your life unto death (Php 1:29, Rev 2:10, 12:11, 14:33) – be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you suffer (2 Thess 1:4-5). You are agreeing to make sacrifices for God foremost and then others. All it comes down to this: you love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself – the Two Great Commandments (Mt 22:37-39, Mk 12:30-31, Lk 10:27). Jesus really must become total Lord! Those who violate the covenant are no longer subject to its benefits. Many will say this is too hard to accomplish – were only human. Well, most are doing these very same things now (in an opposite way) with regard to “self.” Its like this: the vast majority have become blind to the things of the Spirit and allow their flesh to lead them about (known as unbelief), putting all trust and obedience in self - their way. These are following the example of those around them (everybody’s doing it) and their own selfish desires according to the course of this world (Eph 2:2). Most are denying the Spirit (quenching, grieving, 1 Thess 5:9, Eph 4:30) daily, taking up the cause of self and following their lusts and desires (carnal, Eph 4:22) – fulfilling the desires of the flesh (Eph 2:3). Most are forsaking the will of God for their higher priorities to self – whatever gets in their way of accomplishing their desires and lusts. These love their own way (life, path, will) and are seeking all they can get out of life - you only live once. Most will endure or suffer the bondages, burdens, addictions, hardships, sicknesses and misery in pursuit of “their” way. Most are led about by evil or unclean spirits (demons) that they have opened themselves up to in seeking their way. In seeking their way they transgress the will of God everyday in thought, manner and deed. It all comes down to this: Most seek their selfish way with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. They sacrifice others to get their way. Now carefully consider this: all who seek their own way are really serving Satan (the devil, serpent, dragon). This is his nature and his lie and all those who follow after are worshipping him. If you are not obedient in Christ’s covenant, then you have made a covenant with death (results from living in the devil’s lie) and an agreement with hell (your destination, Is 28:15, 18). Do you, oh man, make such a fuss about serving self – perhaps saying its too hard, we’re only human? The broad way is very accomodating isn’t it? What is your perspective? Who will you serve? You are going to serve somebody (this is a fact!), whether God or man (self, men and ultimately Satan). Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Death to self and obedience to Christ brings eternal life – a promise from God who cannot lie (Ti 1:2, Heb 6:18). Living for self and disobedience to Christ brings eternal death - separation to torment. Satan promised those who followed him - life, but only delivered bondage and death - you’ve been duped. The Lord God calls to those who are deceived, in bondage and residing in the darkness - come forth; you have been redeemed – come into the light (truth); - come forth and see (eyes opened) and partake of life. Who will respond?
The nature of the darkness is to deny (disregard) established authority in order to seek self. Everything will be interpreted based upon self and will favor self. In other words, those things which hinder or upset the comfort of the flesh will have to be denied or disgarded for the benefit of getting one’s way. This is why God’s Word will never be taken literally or applied as written by those who insist on seeking God from within the darkness – a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (2 Tim 3:5). This is why those with itching ears, seeking their own lusts, will always seek their comfort (what they want to hear) in the myriads of groups (choices) that claim Christ (2 Tim 4:3). The kingdom of God is light (truth) and opposite of the kingdom of darkness (lie). Therefore to come to the light, you must do the exact opposite of what “self” wants or the tenets (system of belief, doctrines) of the darkness. If a religious doctrine states that once you are saved, then nothing you do will ever cause you to lose your salvation, then you must reject it because it is based upon the principles of darkness, which states that you can disobey God and ye shall not surely die (Gen 3:4); rather than the principles of light, which clearly state that if you disobey God, thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17). If a doctrine says that God’s love toward you is unconditional (regardless of behavior), then you must again reject it because it is based upon the tenets of darkness (same as above). If a doctrine says that salvation is a free gift and cannot be merited or sustained by anything you do (note: salvation is given through God’s mercy, made possible through Christ’s sacrifice, but as per the conditions God set), then you must reject it because it is based upon the darkness (if ye love me, keep my commandments – Jn 14:15, He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings – Jn 14:24). Don’t be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Eph 4:14). Correct doctrines must be based upon love, obedience, surrender, trust and reliance toward God and the Lord’s truth. Correct doctrines must also recognize that the flesh or “self” is the greatest hindrance (impediment, barrier, obstacle, encumbrance, limitation, interferance) in serving God. Self does not want to serve, it wants to be served! You are to serve God; the Lord does not serve you in seeking your way. Correct doctrines must place God foremost with creation surrender to the Lord’s absolute will – and creation makes all necessary sacrifices to yield to the Lord’s will.
The Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God must begin in your heart and be demonstrated in your actions. You become a citizen through active participation – partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the darkness (2 Pt 1:4). Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink (fleshly things); but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” This kingdom is one of love and such love extends to one’s enemies. There is no place for hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, or war, which is killing and violence (Gen 9:5-6, Ex 20:13, Lev 19:17, Job 4:21, Pv 25:21-22, Mt 5:39, 43-45, 22:39, Lk 6:27-36, Rm 12:20, 1 Jn 2:9, 11, 3:10, 15). We have been COMMANDED to abide in Christ’s covenant of “love (Mt 22:37-38, Mk 12:30-31, Lk 10:27, 1 Jn 3:23-24, 4:9-11, 21).” If a man hates his brother, regardless of cause, then he is in darkness and walks in darkness and is blind to the truth (1 Jn 2:9-11, 3:10-11, 15, 4:20-21). These walk in the lie, which is abiding in death (1 Jn 3:14). This applies to all who profess Christ and support war – killing and violence! If a man love me (Jesus), he will KEEP my commandments (Jn 14:23). This is the gospel!!! John 15:12, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you (also Jn 12:34-35, 15:17, Rm 12:10, 13:8, Gal 5:13, Eph 4:2, 1 Thess 3:12, 4:9, Heb 10:24, 1 Pt 1:22, 3:8, 1 Jn 3:11, 23, 4:7, 11-12, 2 Jn 1:5).” You must be prepared to suffer violence, but never dish it out. Meekness includes forbearance under injuries. This is the ability to suffer the wrong and not seek retribution. This is the command of temper and restraint of passions. The exercise of patience, longsuffering and indulgence toward those who injure us (Rm 5:3-5, Col 1:11, 2 Thess 1:4, Js 5:10, 2 Pt 1:5-7). Acts 14:22, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” We must consider the patience of Job (Js 5:11) – covered in Chapter One. Jesus demonstrated great forbearance under injury when He walked the earth as a man – and we follow. Consider the Lord’s example: Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” 2 Corinthians 6:4-7, “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” One of the pillars of the kingdom of God is forgiveness…
Followers of Christ are required to live (walk) in the nature of their Master. The nature of the Lord has the characteristics of mercy, forgiveness and longsuffering. God has forgiven you much and you must also do likewise. Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This statement is very explicit (unambiguous, precise, definite, frank) and to the point and now requires our obedience. Followers of Christ are expected to extend forgiveness regardless of the situation. There are a couple of circumstances that should be addressed. The first situation is when someone has wronged you and acknowledges the trespass while petitioning (entreating, beseeching) for forgiveness. Jesus said: Luke 17:3-4, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Peter asked a similar question: Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” This is saying that we may set no limitations on extending forgiveness. Perhaps you have asked God for forgiveness multiple times? The fallen nature of man wants to lash out in retribution (vengeance, reprisal, payback) at those who wrong him. This cannot be for those who walk in light and enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus told a parable: Matthew 18:23-35, “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents (large trespass). But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence (small trespass by comparison): and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Wrongs against us whereby the perpetrator (one responsible) asks forgiveness are probably the easiest ones to forgive. Now let us consider a more difficult circumstance. Mark 11:25-26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (also Mk 11:25-26).” You may be wronged and the one responsible may refuse to admit fault or ask for forgiveness. You must still forgive this individual. You do not have the authority to hold them accountable (judgment is the Lord’s, Jn 5:22, 27). You cannot walk in the nature of the Lord and hold unforgiveness, bitterness and enmity in your heart. Granted this is a sort of one-sided forgiveness. What you are essentially doing is “suffering the wrong” with no enmity against the perpetrator or expectation of recompense (compensation, making up for) – this is absolution (pardon, release, forgiveness) from the heart (Mt 18:35). Consider Christ, our example: 1 Peter 2:23, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously (also Ps 31:5).” We must practice forbearance under injury (facet of meekness) – longsuffering toward others. Remember what Jesus said on the cross: Luke 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do...” It is much harder to forgive those who do not admit wrong (sometimes you are the one who is wrong) or are just plain vindictive (spiteful, malicious, hurtful, bitter, mean, cruel) and antagonistic (aggressive, hostile). Do not become as (take on the nature of) the darkness in your response. Forgiveness is an element of love, you sacrifice self for the benefit of another – even when they are undeserving as was the case with man (you and I) when Christ gave all. You overcome the darkness with love. The darkness seeks self, but love sacrifices self – love triumphs over (conquers) all. One day God will right all the wrongs, but remember you may have dished out (perpetrated, committed) some yourself – be forgiving so that you may merit forgiveness. Luke 6:40, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” We must “follow” in the steps of Christ (1 Pt 2:21).
Those Who do not Inherit the Kingdom
Those who seek the will of the flesh shall walk in continual iniquity and transgression toward God known as unrighteousness. The fruit of their lives will reveal their hearts for all to see. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” AND Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” These are the children of disobedience (unbelief) who had their lives in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath - corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (Eph 2:2-3, 4:22). They walk in the vanity of their mind – their thoughts and opinions (Eph 4:17). Ephesians 5:3-5, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Be ye not partakers with them (Eph 5:7). Romans 1:28-32, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Notice that many have pleasure in them that do these things. Yes, many sit in front of a television, rented movies or at a theater and actually take pleasure in all manner of sin acted out in entertaining ways! Its all so innocent and everybody’s doing it. This is why the broad way is so well traveled by so many – everybody’s doing it. Those who take pleasure in unrighteousness are surely apart of it all – they do not really believe the truth (2 Thess 2:12). If they did believe the truth, they would live and practice it. Oh, the deception of the darkness! Just how deceptive is the darkness? Many a professing Christian who is a regular church attender practices characteristics named above as they seek self and believe that all is well. Did God really say what He meant and meant what He said? Many must think not! The above negative attributes are the ways of darkness and those who live and practice them really do not want to hear the truth. In the “Introduction” it was stated that many ask “what is truth?,” but have no mind to hear. This book has stated the truth; do you have a mind to hear or will you disregard? Jesus said: Luke 10:16, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me (also 1 Thess 4:8, 1 Jn 4:5-6).” The author has sought the Lord long and hard concerning the things written herein. This is the message the Lord has spoken to my heart. Discern dear reader (through prayer, Word and Spirit) if these things be not so. Jesus said: John 13:20, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” These shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan 12:2). Contempt is to be treated as vile and worthless – being despised. The “self” you loved and sought so much will be looked upon as disgusting and despicable.
Things in heaven were perfect and in right order before Lucifer (who became known as Satan or adversary) exalted himself to seek “his” way (which was a great lie and opposition or hostility to the truth). Things on earth were perfect and in right order before man exalted himself (having been enticed by Satan) in seeking his way. In both cases the creation exalted itself above the Creator in disregard to God’s will. This challenge to the truth and authority of God would not stand and Lucifer, the evil angels and man were all cast down and greatly humbled. The Lord God Almighty is just and true in all His ways and shall prevail (Rev 15:3). The condemnation for all the rebellious is that thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17). All things must now be restored to right order and the wicked and rebellious must be separated for all eternity. The absolute vanity (futility, emptiness), wrongfulness (offense, transgression) and misery (gloom, despair, suffering, distress, desolation, wretchedness) of rebellion must be understood by all of creation. God in His manifold mercy and forgiveness offered man a path of reconciliation – a very narrow way traversed by “following” Christ (Mt 7:14, Jn 14:6). There is no condemnation (death sentence) to those men who abide in Christ Jesus and walk in the Spirit, having died to the ways of the flesh (died to self, Rm 8:1). Since transgression against the will of God (the Giver of life, Gen 2:7) brings death, it can be said: 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” When the rebellion is put down and wickedness is removed to the lake of fire, there will be no more death (Rev 21:4). Things will be restored to right order, which is submission to the will of God. Man was put out of the garden of Eden due to his rebellion lest he take of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever (Gen 3:22). Genesis 3:24, “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Rebellious man was deny access to the tree of life! However, restored man will once again regain access to the tree of life (things will be put back into right order): Revelation 22:14-15, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Those who loveth (fallen angels and rebellious man) and maketh (Satan) a lie (challenge God’s truth) will be without (in a lake that burneth with fire, Is 66:24). Those that live outside the truth or in a “lie” are rebellious and shall surely die. Notice that those that actually “do” God’s commandments have right (entitlement, justification, permission, claim) to the tree of life! They also have place in Christ’s city, New Jerusalem (Rev 3:12). Consider these two accounts: Isaiah 65:17-20, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem (New Jerusalem, Rev 21:2) a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” AND Revelation 21:1-4, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” There will be no more death because there will be no more transgression of God’s will (Pv 2:21). The transgressors will be in the lake of fire (Pv 2:22). We cannot image how wonderful it will be to no longer have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23:4). 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (also Is 64:4).” Those that love Jesus are the ones who keep His commandments (Jn 14:15-17, 20-21, 23, 15:10, 1 Jn 2:3-4, 3:24, 5:2-3). Psalms 145:20, “The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.” Revelation 21:7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” To overcome is to forsake the darkness and love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
There is now a mixture of light (day) and darkness (night) just as there is a mixture of the righteous (light, truth) and wicked (darkness, lie). One day (the Lord’s Day) there will be a great separation between the righteous and the wicked. Only the righteous (who live in truth) shall inherit the land (Is 60:21). At this time there will be no more darkness upon the earth (night) or wickedness (lies). Isaiah 60:19-20, “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” AND Revelation 21:23, “And the city (New Jerusalem) had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” ALSO Revelation 22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. Truth shall eternally prevail! The glory of the Lord will be the eternal light. There will be no more darkness or “lie.”
Jesus said: John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” This book has greatly endeavored to reveal what Jesus said and what we must do. However, this book in no way replaces your responsibility to diligently and persistently study God’s Word and seek the leading of the Holy Ghost. You must walk in the Lord’s ways with truth, righteousness and uprightness of heart with all you heart and soul (1 Kgs 2:3-4, 3:6). Religious man, please note the following phrase spoken by Christ that will no doubt resound throughout the judgment of man: Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” You must repent of your wickedness; forsake the darkness; come into the light; and yield to the Holy Spirit’s working in your life. This is a lifetime of dying to your way and walking in the truth as led by the Spirit! If your way does not die, then you are still in rebellion and will be eternally cast away! He that has an ear! Listen! Listen! Listen! Now Act!
Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Revelation 2:23, “…I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Revelation 22:12, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Jesus does not reward according to your belief (mental acknowledgment), he is looking at what you actually “do.” Romans 2:6, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds.” One is found in Christ by walking in Christ.
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