The Mystery of Faith
“And Jacob was left alone”
Alone with God. God’s greatest work within an individual is often done in secret, away from the sight of others. God takes aside those upon whom His call rests, to achieve His end within their hearts. Wrestlings, breakings and spiritual insights are common to those who are “the called according to His purpose”. It is the broken vessel which most easily pours forth the fragrance and living waters of Christ. A vessel broken in the hands of God can never be broken by the circumstances of life. Broken ones are strong in God; they know that their weakness is the place of God’s power. They have learned of the One broken for them, from Whom springs joy and delight. In the secret places of God, they have discovered their call, their purpose and their destiny. Many circumvent this sanctified place of the preparation and dealings of God. They choose instead to fill their time with activities, entertainment, shallow relationships and even religious exercises in order to avoid the mystery of this alone time with God. The narrative of Lot (Hebrew meaning: veiled one) is an accurate portrayal of many today. Though righteous (2 Peter 2:7-9), he clung to the vestiges of the world while simultaneously being vexed by it. It is the conundrum of His own: loving God but also hanging on to the ways and wisdom of this world. Loved of God but lacking the intimacy and deep knowledge of Him reserved for those who come to that secret place with God.
“And when the dawn rose, then the angels urged Lot, saying, Rise up, take your wife and your two daughters who are found, lest you be cut off in the depravity of the city. And he lingered. And the men lay hold of his hand and his wife’s hand, and on the hand of his two daughters, Jehovah having mercy on him. And they caused him to go out, and they put him down outside the city. And it happened as they led them outside, he said, Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay in all the plain. Escape to the mountain, lest you be swept away. And Lot said to them, Please, no, Lord! Behold, now, Your servant has found grace in Your sight, and You have magnified Your mercy which You have done to me in saving my life. And I am not able to escape to the mountain lest some evil overtake me and I die. Please, now, this city is near, to flee there, and it is a little one. Please let me escape there! Is it not a little thing, that my soul may live?”
God’s call was to the mountain but, because of his undeveloped faith, Lot was fearful. He refused and asked God to change His call (on the basis of mercy) and deliver him to a small city! How sad is such a request; how dismal a faith that would forebear the call to be alone with God and choose a smaller inheritance in this world and the one to come. Interestingly, this is the first use of the world “mercy” in scripture. Calling upon God, on the basis of mercy, to deviate from God’s original purpose is a compromise that leaves one, though still righteous, stunted in faith and growth.
“And Jacob was left alone”
It was when he was all alone that Jacob, the conniver, schemer and manipulator, met HIS GOD! It is here that the natural man is crippled, and the inward man begins to rise by God’s grace. It is here Jacob receives the New Name. It is here that the God of Abraham and Isaac now becomes the God of Jacob! Such glory awaits those who embrace the secret of being alone with God. In this place we discover who we truly are and are forced to face the flaws and horror of our true condition. In his wrestling with God, Jacob must respond to this penetrating question:
“What is thy name?”
In other words, what is your nature and motivation?
“And he said, Jacob*”
God well knew his name. This rhetorical question was for Jacob to admit and confess the truth of himself. This is an essential requirement for those whom God uses. Jesus told the woman at the well to go get her husband. At that moment she had the choice to be authentic, honest and open with God or remain unchanged and miserable. Her choice determined whether she would receive the revelation of the One who spoke with her or remain a lost and wandering soul. So it is with us. Does our encounter with God bring us to the brink of the truth of ourselves, or do we hide behind a confession of faith, a doctrine or a religious cover? Do we avoid the call to come to Him in truth and instead find a “little one” in which to hide from the penetrating eyes of God?
Alone with God
Do we dare draw near to Him? Do we dare venture alone to tread this holy ground of piercing and revelation? Do we have the stamina of heart to cast aside the offerings of a religion more concerned with covering our sin than to find in Christ the power to be free from our sin. The one leaves us bereft of any sense of spiritual identity; the other brings us to the place of “becoming” like Him in truth!
Alone with God has ever been the experience of those used mightily of God regardless of covenant (New or Old Testament).
We read of John the Baptist:
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel”
“…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus”
We read of John on the Isle of Patmos, Daniel, Moses, and many others who by faith drew near to the One who can take “worms” and make them “sharp threshing instruments having teeth” Isaiah 41:14-15
“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff”
Do not be fearful or tempted to compromise your walk with God in order to fit in with the consensus of many; either the cloistered ones who walk in their own counsel, nor with the multitude who frequent the broad paths. Let the lonely times, when friends, brothers and sisters reject you, be a blessing. Only as we are alone with Him can He truly purge us from the uncleanness of our own ways. Never be afraid to be Alone with God.
“Therefore, I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words…”
*Note: Jacob - “Adjective עקב ('aqeb) means overreacher; adjective עקב ('aqob), insidious or deceitful; adjective עקב ('aqob), tricky or treacherous (of terrain). Noun עקבה ('aqeba) means deceitfulness and noun עקב ('eqeb), consequence..” Abiram Publications
“Guard your steps when you go to God’s house; for to draw near to listen is better than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they don’t know that they do evil.”
The sacred place of prayer is the secret to our relationship with God. It is here where we draw near unto Him. We enter the closet of our hearts and shut out all the distractions and noise of the world around us; even the commotion within. In drawing near unto Him we enter His Presence and touch the atmosphere of Holy peace. This peace calms our troubled hearts and causes us to listen to Him alone who is our salvation. Often, in my own experience, this Peace floods in with a quiet hush to assuage my perplexities to such an extent that my requests are answered in the power of His presence alone. The wonder of His presence imparts the assurance that I truly am in His hand and need not worry about the storms without.
In God’s presence it is often far better to listen than to rush in with a multitude of requests from our anxious hearts. The calamities without are silenced by the Peace of Him within. How often in my haste I respond to things which should have been considered first in His presence. The desire of the Lord is for us to abide in prayer and in His presence throughout the day. This is not some grievous religious exercise; in reality it is His provision for us. In the storms which are coming to our land God is ever drawing us into the shelter of Himself.
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength…”
There is a a quietness founded upon confidence that is a result of our dwelling in Him. This dominion of peace is not achieved by a teaching, a reciting of scriptures or some other strategy; it is the Peace known by those who dwell within the courts of His presence.
The full scripture quoted above from Isaiah is as follows:
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not”
Many thrust themselves into prayer with list of wants and petitions while missing out on the Presence of God Himself. In truth His presence is the answer to our prayers. His presence is the privilege of those who love and seek His favor, “for in His presence is fulness of joy”!
I have found that praying for others becomes more fervent if I allow His presence and love to permeate my heart first. His presence can ignite a deeper love than my own and I find the fire of Him brings a far more intense prayer than anything I could manufacture. How good is it for us to come to His House of Prayer to first of all listen and allow our hearts to be filled with Him rather than rush blindly into the “sacrifice of fools”.
God has afforded us a time now to prepare for the days ahead. It is a time of great learning to draw near to Him to listen and to discover the “voice of stillness” (still small voice KJV) that we may meet this Day “Hid with Christ in God”.
“Be silent before the face of the Lord Jehovah, for the day of Jehovah is near. For Jehovah has appointed a sacrifice; He has consecrated ones He called”
Literally in the Hebrew: “He has sanctified His Called Ones”; those in whom His presence dwells and who receive His correction, and who “follow the Lamb” obediently wherever He leads.
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord;
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
In physics, a law describes the behavior and the observable function of a particular phenomenon.
“Laws are descriptions — often mathematical descriptions — of natural phenomenon; for example, Newton’s Law of Gravity or Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment. These laws simply describe the observation. Not how or why they work” Coppinger
Newton’s Law of Gravity describes the behavior of gravity. Gravity does not exist because of the law; the law simply describes the inherent operation of gravity. So it is in the Law of the Spirit. The Law of Righteousness is a Law which describes how a righteous life lives. It cannot make one righteous it is simply given to describe the behaviour of a righteous life.
“For the law made nothing perfect”
It is not in our trying to keep the Law that we are spiritual. It is because we are becoming spiritual that the Law of Life (His Life) is fulfilled. Whenever we break the Law it is because we are lacking the LIFE OF THE ONE who alone can keep it. Paul, referring to the Law as given by Moses, declared the following truth:
” For we know that the law is spiritual…”
The issue is that we are carnal; it is an absurdity to attempt to keep a spiritual law when by nature we are not. The only hope for any individual is by virtue of the Spirit of Christ invading our lives. By His power we receive a new nature, a spiritual nature which naturally fulfills the Law of God. Only a spiritual nature can fulfill a spiritual law.
“For we know that the law is spiritual:
but I am carnal, sold under sin…”
Here is the great contradiction in the life of every individual. The natural man cannot fulfill a spiritual law. There is no amount of striving, no matter how earnest the effort, that will ever enable one nature to fulfill the law of another. In the Law of Gravity, if an object has mass, it is subject to its inherent law of attraction. In spiritual things where there is a residue of the natural man, he will find himself subject to the Law of Sin and Death. It cannot be otherwise. What is this Law of Sin and Death?
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do”
There is only ONE WAY to be free from the Law of Sin and Death; it is in our discovery of the power of Christ to liberate us from walking in the flesh! This freedom requires a new nature. This nature must be freed from the pull and the horror of the Law of Sin, a law which holds all things carnal in its deadly grip. The freedom of the Law of Life is the provision of God. It is in our abiding in Him that we are freed from the chains of sin.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”
The simplicity of the provision of God is clear. The agonizing struggle for all who are seeking freedom from this Law of Sin and Death is described clearly in Romans 7.
“For what good I desire, I do not do. But the evil I do not desire, this I do. But if I do what I do not desire, it is no longer I working it out, but the sin dwelling in me. I find then the law, when I desire to do the right, that evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members having warred against the law of my mind, and taking me captive by the law of sin being in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Paul called this agonizing dilemma a war. It is a war to those desiring to fulfill the Law of God but who constantly find the Law of Sin holding dominion over their actions. The truth is our attempts to fight this war with our carnal nature is like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket; as futile as it is absurd. To try to overcome the flesh by the power of flesh is like a man jumping up from the earth in order to over-come the Law of Gravity. That momentary state of freedom is quickly erased by his inevitable return to the ground. Let this truth stand as God’s verdict upon the carnal mind (the natural man) and especially to those who ascribe to the futility of religion.
“…the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
The Law of God decrees (as evidenced in all creation) that the carnal man is subject to the Law of Carnality. Its nature determines its behavior. Those who live in the Spirit of God live their life according to the nature of His Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-25).
“Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
The logic of God is clear; the fruit of a thing reveals the nature of it. A thistle cannot bear figs. James states that fresh water and saltwater cannot flow from the same fountain. It is here that religion attempts to circumvent the simplicity and truth of God’s Law of Being. What individuals do reveal the nature by which they live. In Matthew 7 Jesus is describing to His disciples the basic law of true spiritual discernment: “you will know them by their fruits”. In the sphere of religion, the clarity of God’s truth becomes murky (by men’s design) when the validity of a person’s standing in God is judged on confession rather than behavior! This deception of Satan infiltrates and spawns its deadly contagion among those who are not discerning.
In Galatians Paul sets forth the “works” of the flesh.
“Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”
Wherever these traits are expressed it is the result of living and walking out of the nature of the carnal man. Let no one deceive you in this. Confession, good works, prophecy, speaking in tongues, prayer, teachings, fastings, and a thousand other things cannot circumvent the truth. Those who DO these things are under the dominion of a life subject to the carnal mind. What men do reveal the nature in which they walk!
The Law of God frees us from our religious deception. This Law is fixed, and its declaration is eternal. We are to judge ourselves by its ministration that we may know the validity of our walk before Him. If I have lust in my heart, I know my need for His Life. If I become bitter, it is because I am living in the flesh. There is no excuse for bitterness because the Spirit of God frees me from its stain and sorrow. If I hate my brother, I most definitely know such a thing is not of God. If I continue in its dark influence, I disqualify myself from God’s Kingdom. If I hold envy or jealousy, I clearly reveal the nature of my walk. To envy another is to be angry with God for what He has graciously given me. The list is endless! The value of the Law is that it reveals to me my desperate need of His Life to free me from the works and the dominion of Sin and the Flesh.
“But we know that the law is good,
if a man use it lawfully”
1 Timothy 1:8
Again, Paul states in Romans 7 that the Law is good and it is to be used to this end.
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet”
Can we not see the Law is a ministration for good? By its ministration the nature of Sin is revealed, and I can see the necessity of my need to live and abide in Christ! How deceptive is a gospel that teaches us to abolish the law by the declaration of a doctrine that we are forgiven and absolved of our wrong doings; as if we are no longer to measure our life by the Law of God! Many have embraced a gospel which frees them to live out their carnal nature with no concerns about their standing in God! This is the LIE which was first spoken by the Serpent in the Garden. God told Adam and Eve, “if you eat of this tree you will die”. The Serpent told Eve go ahead and eat of the tree for “you shall not die”. What was the end of the evil deed of Adam and Eve? What is the end of a life which walks in the “works of the flesh”?
“…of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”
Why such a harsh decree? Did not God pay the penalty for Sin; not only ours but the sins of the whole world? The decree of God is not against the acts listed in Galatians 5:19-22; God’s judgment is upon the Nature from which those evil expressions spring. The Kingdom of God is spiritual and those who would enter its dominion must do so on the grounds of the Law of Life in Christ Jesus. To what end?
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us
who walk not after (according to) the flesh
but after (according to) the Spirit”
(Read the whole context of this scripture)
The Law is good, and it is for our instruction. Let us not be deceived into believing that a religious confession trumps a carnal life. The conviction of God is the path to discovering the Law of Life which alone can free us from our sins. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
“For sin shall not have dominion over you:
for ye are not under the law, but under grace”
Grace is not an excuse to ignore our sinful ways. The validity of Grace is revealed in my personal freedom from sin’s power. The gospel of today states we are freed from the law therefore we need not concern ourselves with the Law’s decree. Let us read the above scripture again through the eyes of faith – “Sin shall NOT have dominion over you”. Why? Because if you walk “under (the influence of) grace”, its power will set us free. Paul goes on to contend with those who would use the “teaching” of grace to excuse sin…
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law,
but under grace? God forbid”
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ,
we ourselves also are found sinners,
is therefore Christ the minister of sin?
Those who teach a grace which makes provision for sin have no understanding of the purposes of God in Christ. To hold to a doctrine of justification and still hold to sin is the false gospel of today. Christ is not the minister of sin nor are those who have been justified in Him doomed to a life of sin and powerlessness. Let the Word of God deal with the false teachings of our day. Let His truth penetrate our hearts with His promises and power!
The purpose of living truth is to bring each of us into the holy freedom of God; it is not to find loopholes in the Law. It is to bring us to such a place that we are no longer subject to its decrees because we are living in such a way that we do not violate its righteousness. If I drive at or under the speed limit, I am not subject to the speed limit sign and therefore the penalty of the law holds no terror for me. The falsity of a gospel which states that I can sin, and since I have confessed Christ the wages of sin no longer apply to me, is appalling and deceptive. One who subjects himself to pornography knows within the defiling wages of sin. The one who holds hatred in his heart knows by experience the truth of the wages of sin. Peace is not found in the way of the sinner. Communion with God is not possible in the life of one who lives out of the carnal nature.
“So then they that are in the flesh
cannot please God”
The above scripture is not a teaching; it is the statement of God. It is God’s verdict upon humanity. Praise be to God there is an answer to such a decree!
“Marvel not that I said unto thee,
Ye must be born again”
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh;
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”
The necessity of being “born anew” is the beginning of our deliverance. Our growth in the life of salvation is revealed in the ever- diminishing dominion of sin in our lives. In our growth in grace we find the power of His Salvation manifest in our lives by the demonstration of the fruit of His Spirit! This is the evidence of our deliverance from the works of the flesh and our “translation” from the kingdom of darkness into the glorious Kingdom of Light. The Apostle John, in his later epistles, wrote as a warning to all:
“Little children, let no man deceive you:
he that doeth righteousness is righteous…”
1 John 3:7
A faith that does not carry the life, the power and the works of God is a dead faith. A faith which is in word only has no value in the working out of God’s salvation.
“They profess that they know God;
but in works they deny him…”
The nature of Christ within must be accompanied by a revelation of Him without.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed
from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall LIVE by faith”
To be a living Faith, it must grow from one degree unto another degree of faith (faith unto the faith). It is to produce greater expressions of God’s righteousness! “The just shall (truly) live by faith”. Jesus declared “I AM come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. Notice the tense here; not “I will come” but that “I AM come”. It is the folly of religion to point to a day in the future when in reality HE IS COME! There are greater things to come and will be for all eternity. But faith is for me to know and grow within the wonder of His “present truth”.
“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God:
Every spirit that confesseth that
Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh is of God”
1 John 4:2
The confession of a dead faith will talk about future things while denying the power of Christ which IS COME, present tense. That is the spirit of the anti-Christ (1 John 4:3). Those who do not take responsibility for walking righteously now, soothe their conscience with a future idea, absolving themselves from a present-day walk. It is a subtle lie of the devil himself and those who live in this “faith” sow to themselves great sorrow on an eternal scale. It is a sign of the Day in which we are living that there are many who subscribe to the lie of this faith.
Paul continues his discourse in the Book of Romans by following up Romans 1:17 with:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who hold the truth in unrighteousness…”
What is the wrath of God to be revealed against? “All unrighteousness” even upon those who “hold the truth” for they hold it in “unrighteousness”. Any faith which is not causing men and women to grow in their ability to live righteously is the result of holding the truth of God in unrighteousness. Let all who have ears to hear; faith without the works of God is dead! The Greek word used for “works” in this scripture is best defined by the English word “energy”. Faith which does not produce the “energy” of God within the life of an individual, unto the demonstration of its author, is dead and carries no eternal value.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead,
so faith without works is dead also”
Let us hear the truth of what James is declaring by the Holy Spirit. A body without the spirit is but a carcass; so are those whose faith is without works. May we all reconsider the degree and the power of His Life within us today! God is calling, ever beckoning us to “come unto Him” that we may have (present tense) the wonder of His life within our hearts.
“If any man thirst,
let him come unto me, and drink”
To what end?
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”
Christ HAS COME but more importantly, HE IS COME! Even greater, HE IS COMING!
“Who delivered us from so great a death,
and doth deliver:
in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us”
2 Corinthians 1:10
Delivered (past tense)
Doth deliver (present tense)
Will yet deliver (future tense)
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live;
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I NOW live in the flesh
I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave himself for me”
Lastly, Paul in the Book of Galatians states that the life he “NOW” lived, he lived by the faith of the Son of God. May we take note of the life he lived and its power it had on the world about him! It is time for us to begin to consider what we allow as acceptable. May the power of God’s word move us afresh to pursue in Him greater vistas of grace and glory in our salvation. May His Word move within our hearts to produce a new apprehension of what HE has called us to and for us to begin to see the full provisions which are ours in Christ Jesus!
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end”
“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”
The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ lies not in the words and the doctrine of it; its true power lies in the Love of it. The Love of God IS the Gospel; more than a message, a doctrine or a teaching, the Gospel is in itself the expression of God’s love to His fallen creation. It is the WHY which caused God to send “His only begotten Son”. Until those who declare it comprehend its true power, it will remain an impoverished message. It must be expressed from the lives of those who bear in their hearts the passion of God’s WHY!
“For the kingdom of God is not in word,
but in power…”
1 Corinthians 4:20
What is this power? What is the flame which enabled men and women of old to turn the world upside down? What is the glory of God which fills the heavens with awe, worship and exaltation? It is the God of Holiness and His undimmed fiery Love. A Love so incomprehensible that Paul had to pray for the Church at Ephesus to be “strengthened with might” in order for them to be able to comprehend the “breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of the Love of God.
A loveless gospel is a powerless Gospel. The Church is not perishing for lack of knowledge; she is languishing from the loss of the dynamic of His love (Revelation 2:4-5). Love is the furnace, the fire and the very essence of God Himself. In the midst of all of our correct doctrine God’s decree stands as the Divine witness against our true state:
“He that loveth not
for God is Love”
1 John 4:8
Those who hold within their hearts even the faintest quintessence of this Love cannot remain untouched in heart. They cannot sit in faithless inactivity or take comfort in a knowledge bereft of the Divine heartbeat. Many would rather discuss the correctness of the words rather than feel the burning power of the God of the message. The world will remain untouched by those who share from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge rather than the power of the Law of Life in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is not a WHAT, it is a WHO.
The cry of God is summed up simply:
“Let this mind be in you,
which was also in Christ Jesus…”
It is impossible to hold the love of God within your heart and not feel the anguish, the urge and the pulse of the Almighty to express His Light and Life into this world.
“In him was life;
and the life was the light of men”
“There is too much theology in the Church now,
and too little of the Gospel”
“For he that will love life, and see good days,
let him refrain his tongue from evil…”
1 Peter 3:10
The sacred scriptures speak much to us of the relationship between the words we speak and the quality of life we are afforded by the Grace of God. This exhortation from Peter is often overlooked. In the midst of the strife, contention and competition in religious circles, these words offer us a warning and a promise from God. Wisdom is the result of the fear of the Lord. In its sway we begin to weigh our words before we speak. We are saved from rash words filled with evil intent and the tendency to inflict upon others the poison of our own hearts. How often we need to be reminded of His omnipresence. He is present at every conversation weighing the words of our anger, foolishness and unsanctified thoughts.
“But I say to you, that every idle* word,
whatever men may speak,
they shall give an account of it in Judgment Day”
There are no words spoken which will not be accounted for in the Judgment Day. All our words will be required of us in that Day. Jesus continues on in His discourse;
“For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned”
The fruit of one’s lips are the revelation of their heart. We see here God’s perspective on the words we speak and the deeds we do. How we need to touch the Holiness of God to see and understand the implications of foolish words and an unbridled tongue! The gossip, slander and the seemingly innocent words spoken to dishonour another brother, or to further inflame situations in the Body of Christ, carry heavy repercussions in this life and judgment in the next.
“Do any of you think you are religious?
If you do not control your tongue,
your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself”
The value of a person’s walk and their relationship with God is readily seen in the words spoken. Regardless of our profession of faith, the religion of one who speaks with an undisciplined tongue is vain and worthless.
“One who brings gossip betrays a confidence,
but one who is of a trustworthy spirit is one who keeps a secret”
In our daily lives we either justify our walk with God or we reveal the vanity of our religious ways.
“So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”
*Note: The Greek Word translated “idle” ἀργός is a compound word comprised of “ergon” (ἔργον) translated as works and deeds and is used 176 times in the New Testament; “ἀ” (the letter alpha which is often used in the Greek as a negative). A simple transliteration would be “words without the corresponding works”. (Words without power, fire or purpose. Words which do not inspire change in the hearers).
Humility is the precious fruit of the Spirit which becomes ours by the seeing of Him. It is in touching the Presence of God where we are delivered from our boastful words and the discrepancy of saying one thing while walking in another.
Our works are to give the words we speak the
weight and verity of Christ living within us.
“So speak ye, and so do,
as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty”
(Please read the context of this scripture James 2:12-26)
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, DO: and the God of peace shall be with you”
In our day the Christian landscape is rife with erroneous teachings and heresies. Most of these are obvious to any child of God with even a limited concept of the foundational truths of Christ. However, Jesus addressed two aspects of hearing with His disciples; each were critical in the measuring of His truth to them. These are clearly set forth for us: take heed WHAT we hear and take heed HOW we hear. The first warning concerns the “hearing” of those who follow Him.
“Take heed WHAT you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear”
Here Jesus is addressing the content of WHAT people hear. There is a divine measuring of truth proportional to what we are willing to hear. If we allocate God’s truth to be for another time and not for us today, we will be unable to hear anything further. The “measure” that we allow will determine what is measured to us. We must “take heed” to these critical warnings. Only then will the Body of Christ be a light and a wonder to the world around us!
God has always been concerned with HOW His people hear His Word. Many may read its content. Many may discuss its implications and even teach its meaning, but few hear with the ears of faith.
It is HOW one hears that determines how one walks.
Hearing is the foundation of an individual’s life in God. This intrinsic and essential faculty determines the whole concourse of our life. Where there is no hearing by the ear of faith there can be no growth in our relationship with Him. The crisis of every heart is reduced in God to this ONE THING. It is here that the eternal destinies of all people are concluded.
“Take heed therefore HOW ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have”
There is a deception which is of a far higher order than merely taking heed to WHAT we hear; it is in the realm of “HOW” we hear. Throughout the New Testament we are struck with the clear distinction God makes between those who hear and those who do not.
“Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock…”
Jesus continued in this Parable to contrast the one who heard correctly from the foolish one who also heard correctly WHAT Jesus was saying but failed in HOW he heard.
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand”
The strength of the House which each man built was not determined by WHAT they heard but in what they DID with what they heard. In other words: in HOW they heard! One man heard the Words of Jesus as the Word of the Lord who is to be obeyed; the other heard the Words of Jesus as a Teacher and viewed God’s Word as something to know rather than something to be obeyed! The “fruit” of these two contrasting lives is clearly set forth in the power of Christ’s Word to His disciples.
Jesus, in a few verses preceding this Parable, set forth what He was clearly meaning.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”
The eternal question to each of us is, “HOW are we hearing?” Do we hear Jesus as LORD, or do we hear Him as our Teacher? One to be obeyed, or one who came to merely enlighten us with divine teachings? The manner of our walk reveals the evidence of HOW we hear!
“Take heed therefore HOW ye hear: for whosoever hath,
to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not,
from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have”
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves”
“My son, don’t take lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him; For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives”
Every child of God will know and experience His dealings; it is the surest sign of Him setting His Love upon us. King David knew much of God’s blessings and judgments. He was inspired to declare in Psalm 23:4 “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, they comfort me”. The true in heart find as much comfort in God’s Rod of correction as they do in the Staff of His provision and protection. All God’s children know of His correction, but many do not benefit from it. It is here where disciples are distinguished from adherents. Correction has no benefit to those who ignore God’s dealings. Those who seek to know the wonder of Him appointing them to His service, will consider these things as vital to their development.
“All chastening seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby”
The peaceful fruit of righteousness is the result of being exercised by His corrections! Why would we ignore or take lightly His dealings with us? His corrections are given to make us partakers of His Life.
“Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?”
We want life, His Life, in us. His Life grows in those who are in subjection to His corrections. A stubborn and rebellious child will not bear the likeness, the wonder and the power of God in any depth. It does not negate the power of a gift of the Spirit*, but it will leave the one in whom the gift operates with a sense of emptiness and may bring them to eventual ruin.
The Path into the life of ministry and service is filled with the dealings of a loving and wise Father. In His corrections we also discover a growing into and a knowing of His Holiness.
“For they indeed (our fathers in the flesh), for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness”
Holiness is more than a gift; it is the very essence of God Himself. The only path to growing in His holiness is in our partaking of Him. God cannot give us holiness; we become holy through the medium of living and abiding in Him. He is the Holy One and it can only be real in us via relationship.
What is the fruit and benefit of His Holiness in us?
“Eagerly pursue peace and holiness with all,
without which no one will see the Lord”
The depth of an individual’s ministration will be in corresponding measure to their seeing of God.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you,
that ye also may have fellowship with us”
1 John 1:3
A wise son desires
the correction of the Father.
*Note: There is a great difference between the power expressed in a gift versus the authority and power revealed in those who live, abide and walk in submission to the King of kings. This will be covered later in this writing.
“I thank Him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because He counted me faithful, appointing me to service”
1 Timothy 1:12
In the midst of much speaking, praying and Christian activity we see little in terms of the release and the power of Christ. While much of these endeavours are born out of a desire to make Christ known, the issue is not desire but the source of the power. Let these words penetrate our hearts afresh…
“As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself…neither can you, unless you remain in me”.
Relationship and Prayer
The heart and power of the New Covenant is founded on one fundamental truth: relationship. It is not in our abilities, money, strength of personality or associations with others whereby this power is known.
Endless prayer meetings and strategies in themselves will not make this power to be released. It is in our being in Him alone wherein we will find the enablement to make Him known. Too often the religious have exalted prayer over obedience and relationship. It can become the panacea for all of our ills when in reality it is only effective in proportion to our relationship with Him.
“If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you”
Religion always excludes the relationship aspect of our place in Christ. In Israel’s darkest days the priests were still praying, offering sacrifices and observing all of the rituals, while they neglected to walk in obedience from their hearts. We want answered prayers; God looks for obedience and relationship. We want His benefits apart from His person, His life apart from the Cross, His blessings apart from obedience; it will never be.
We hear much today concerning prayer and rightfully so; yet how little attention we pay to God’s Word concerning this. We often hear a partial quotation of the scripture from 2 Chronicles 7:14; “If my people will pray then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”. When in reality the full quote is as follows…
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”
2 Chronicles 7:14
Religion can have the appearance of sincerity and earnest appeal unto God, but it often ignores the need to take heed to our ways so that we may be properly related to Him from our hearts.
The remedy to the crisis of this hour is simple and available to all who desire Him out of a pure heart.
“If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you”
“I thank Him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because He counted me faithful, appointing me to service”
1 Timothy 1:12