Image of Today
Image by Niko Manuelides
Image by Niko Manuelides
“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”
The extraordinary life of the Son, in the hidden wisdom of God, is revealed within the context of human frailty. At no time in the Gospels do we see any attempt by Jesus to rely on His divinity to extricate Himself from the realities of life. He came into this world the same way we all do, He grew into adulthood as any of us do, He felt the same infirmities yet was without sin. He deferred His omnipotence in order to reveal the True Life within the physical boundaries of this world. In His human experience He became the Captain of our Salvation. The call of Christ to us is the same; through the experiences of life and the workings of grace to become like Him. It is in our experiences that we discover our need of Him and learn the secret of faith to draw from Him the resources to live in this world.
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us”
How many of us consider His human experience? How many comprehend the depths of His testings, His endurance of temptation and subjugation to the cruelty of this world? These are His very credentials to becoming our High Priest.
“For we do not have a high priest who is
unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are,
yet was without sin”
Hebrews 4:15 (BSB)
He became our High Priest through the overcoming of all of our temptations and as such He became our strength to “overcome as He overcame” (Revelation 3:21).
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,
even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne”
The experience of sitting with Him in His Throne will be via our own overcoming by the same power as Christ Himself. It is by His Life ruling in us that we become overcomers in this life. Think about His personal victory in this world. He came and walked through every temptation known to man in order that we may become victorious.
The Christ of God afflicted? That the very incarnation of God descended into the corruption and malice of this world without the bitterness and poison contaminating His inward life is in itself a marvel! His response to this toxic environment?
“…yet he opened not his mouth”
This was His reaction to the contradiction and utter injustice of all that was set against Him; from the betrayal of Judas to the constant antagonism of the religious hierarchy. The sheer ignorance of His own to the Word of God and the heart of God is staggering. The masses ruled and manipulated by the wickedness and arrogance of the pedantic priestly order of the day was in itself an unremitting affliction of His righteous soul. The dimness and slowness of His own disciples and the vast darkness of the known world of that time is incomprehensible to us. Yet He conquered all! His step did not falter. At the great crucible in the garden, where His “soul was greatly troubled” and His righteous heart vexed with the enormity of the path which lay before Him, He found strength as A MAN to finish His course and tasted death for every man. He felt the shame of the sin of each one of us and paid the penalty for the entire Sin of the World! Who cannot but bow at the pierced feet of Him and cry out for Grace to walk as He walked? Who cannot but touch the pierced hands of Him and not desire to do His works, to extend to the fallen human race this Eternal heart and life? Who cannot but touch this pierced heart and not be affected by a love so profound that even the very portals of Hell have been shaken?
How can we His people not be awakened by such Love? How can we remain unaffected by the demonstration of such selflessness? How can we continue to hold animosity, envy and unforgiveness and still claim to be a disciple of Christ?
It is a day for us to turn from the pretense of religion and draw near; within the secret chambers of our hearts to be transformed by experiencing the depth and wonder of the Love of God in Jesus.
“For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son…”
“No one heals himself by wounding another”
― Ambrose of Milan
“Neither do I condemn thee:
go, and sin no more”
Forgiveness is the means to God’s end not the end in itself. Forgiveness is not for the purpose of continuing in sin; it is the respite required to free us from sin.
The goldsmith does not abandon the gold in the fire because of the dross. He has patience in the process to realize his desired vessel. Justification is not the conclusion of God’s work; it is the vehicle by which we fulfill His purpose.
“…and whom he justified, them he also glorified”
The true glory is freedom from sin.
“Whereunto he called you by our gospel,
to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”
2 Thessalonians 2:14
“I press toward the mark…”
The true heart, the true seeker of God can never find contentment in forgiveness. We are always to find peace and gratitude in His forgiveness but never contentment. Sin in itself is the revelation of His unfinished work within us.
“Then Jesus said unto them,
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,
and drink his blood, ye have no life in you”
We cannot eat of Him and drink of His Blood yet walk in unforgiveness. It is impossible to drink of that blood which “speaks of better things than that of Abel” and walk contrary to what it speaks. The blood is the power and life to forgive others. In order to remain in a relationship with Him, and for us to receive His forgiveness into our lives, we must forgive others. If we withhold forgiveness from others our ability to drink of Him is cut off. Many Christians become stagnant in their life with the Living Vine because of envy, unforgiveness and bitterness. The flow of His life will always be to the degree by which we live in harmony with His life.
“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”
How little we realize that the New Covenant is a law of life and its ministration is to bring us into a vital and living relationship with the risen Christ. My ability to partake of its ministration will be to the degree to which I have co-operated with the law of His life. If I hold on to bitterness, envy and strife, how can I expect to grow in my relationship with Him? I cannot hold onto these things and expect my relationship with Him to develop.
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies,
and envies, and all evil speakings,
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby”
1 Peter 2:1-2
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,
whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour,
and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”
Forgiveness is a quality of the Divine Nature; it is only ours by abiding in Him. On a human level we can forgive to varying degrees depending on the level of hurt and the circumstances involved. The forgiveness that God would bring us into leaves no lingering scar, no lasting memory or reliving of the event; for the forgiveness which He desires to bring us into is nothing short of the same forgiveness that we receive from Him. These things are impossible without His Blood flowing through our own lives enabling us to live and walk in a dynamic beyond the resources of self.
We see all around us the broken wings of men and women who will never know the freedom of the released bird without the blood of the slain bird (Leviticus 14:5-7) being applied to their lives. The blood not only works in us to set us free, it must also work through us to experience the true freedom we have in Jesus. Truth received is never really ours until we can give it to others in the power of God Himself.
“On account of this, brothers,
rather be diligent to make sure of your calling and election;
for doing these things, you will not ever fall into sin.
For so will be richly furnished to you
the entrance into the everlasting kingdom
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”
2 Peter 1:10-11
Forgiveness is not just a nice teaching; it is a truth which only has value through the medium of doing. It is in the operation of it we are free from the sin which always accompanies unforgiveness. It is a part of the very armor of God. It frees us from bitterness, sorrow and anger for in the holding of unforgiveness the stain of sin cannot be removed. It is in the doing of truth that we are set free. In releasing others we ourselves will partake of the freedom we give.
“But he that doeth truth
cometh to the light…”
It is heartbreaking to see the divisions and strife that currently exist in the true Body of Christ. It is through the flowing of the Blood of Jesus into each of our lives, and its life becoming the life of each member, that the healing and wonder of God’s Love will transform her into the beauty of all that He has purposed. Failure by any member to be exercised in this grace will result in stagnation not only in this life but will have eternal consequences.
Note: It is here that God’s people reveal the degree to which they know and walk in the Fear of the Lord. The Fear of the Lord is a necessary component to walking in the life and vitality of the Son. They who refuse to forgive know not of the Fear of the Lord.
“Then had the churches rest
throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified;
and walking in the fear of the Lord,
and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied”
When the Church walks in the fear of the Lord we see the fruit and the power of God revealed in corresponding measure.
“And they digged another well,
and strove for that also:
and he called the name of it Sitnah.
And he removed from thence,
and digged another well;
and for that they strove not:
and he called the name of it Rehoboth;
and he said,
For now the LORD hath made room for us,
and we shall be fruitful in the land”
Isaac, having removed himself from the well that he dug near Gerar, dug another well and again experienced contention and strife. This well seemed to be even more contentious than the first for he named it “Sitnah”. Sitnah in the Hebrew means accusation and hatred; it comes from the Hebrew root word satan. The severe meaning of the name indicates an escalated sense of contention; far more personal and malicious.
We all know from experience that we have an adversary. His name means to lie in wait to oppose or attack (satan). His strategies are varied as are the vessels through whom he works. The result of his influence within the Body of Christ has been much damage, sorrow and division. In this passage we see Isaac once again removing himself from this place to dig yet another well.
The journey in the things of God requires patience and persistence to discover a place of peace and rest within our own hearts. Forgiveness and fortitude must be the attitude by which we grow and walk within path of righteousness. These graces will enable us to be fruitful in the purposes of our God.
The persistent pursuit of peace and fruitfulness will always give way to God’s best for us. We read in Psalm 23 that the Lord our Shepherd leads us beside still waters where we can drink deeply of His abundant provisions even in desert places.
May the Lord teach us and lead us into such wonders; fellowship with Him and His people where the waters are quiet and sweet and filled with His presence.
In the rush of our daily lives we are often in such haste that when we do get a time of quiet there are multiple voices ready to accuse us of many things. The list is as endless as the day is long. Even here, as the woman is brought before the Holy One, her accusers are the loudest bellowing out their demands for judgment and wrath. What a picture of that which transpires in spiritual places! Yet in the midst of all the accusations there arises ONE who not only scatters the accusers but speaks words of power, words of comfort, and words of release for our troubled souls. “Neither do I condemn thee…”! Let these words sink deep down into the depths of our being. May they ring with the truth of our Glorious God and speak power to lift the trampled soul lost in sin’s misery. “Neither do I condemn thee…” Where else can we hear such comfort? Where else will Mercy’s steam flow but from the heart of such Love!
Let the trumpet sound… “There is no condemnation…” Let the weary hear and rise up with a new vision of our Reigning King. Let us lay aside every weight of sin and be captured by the beauty of such Royalty. Who can resist this Mercy or stay in sin’s grip when such words of release are spoken? Not only does He lift us up to heavenly places, but he washes us in His own blood and sends forth His word to heal us. He invites us to walk in His Father’s house not as an invited guest but as a child of His own begetting! Let us rise as those who have been captivated by such Love to run the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus….!
“For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest…”
Religion has a way of clouding and obscuring the thought and purpose of God in Christ. Righteousness is not simply a standard of moral conduct. Righteousness is a description of a life that is compatible with God’s character and an expression that is consistent with His redemptive plan of salvation. It is here in David’s acknowledgment of his transgression, with godly sorrow and repentance, that he shows what the righteousness of God is. “For I acknowledge my transgression…that thou mightest be justified”. It is in our acknowledgment of our sin that we justify God’s sending His own Son to atone for our wickedness. We are now in the place of agreeing with God that this way is absolutely necessary for us to have relationship with Him. We clear Him to speak to the accuser of the brethren on our behalf. By faith we release the efficacy of the blood of His Son to justify us to the righteousness of God. It is here that many of us stumble and labor under a sense of condemnation that is not of Him. Condemnation is a ministration of the enemy that ever seeks to undermine our faith in God. It causes our countenance to fall from that of hope in Him to a hopelessness in ourselves. Its intent is to motivate us to try and establish a “righteousness” based on our efforts and resources. It ever declares that we are not worthy of the mercy and grace of God. When we agree and allow ourselves to wallow in that ministration of condemnation we now are siding with the adversary of God and we become recipients of all that he stands for. The fruit of such a ministry will produce bitterness, discouragement, anger and hopelessness for us and others. Those who agree with and hide not their transgressions from the face of God will find themselves the recipients of His mercy, grace, faith and forgiveness and the fruit of such a life will be found in agreement with Gal. 5:22-23. Fruit by its very nature is the result of something else. It is the inherent result of a law that is either unto life or unto death. So we find David at one of the lowest points in His life agreeing with God and as the Psalm continues we see the hope of God’s forgiveness and his restoration to the joy of God’s salvation.
Let us not linger in our failures and sins. Let us not wallow in the mire of our wickedness but let us agree with the purpose of all that Calvary stands for! For it is in this place of agreement with Him that we will discover the resources to rise out of our own helplessness into the joy of His salvation. It is in this place of us honoring the grace and salvation of God that His righteousness will be revealed in us from “faith unto the faith”. It is in our acknowledgment of the righteous work of God in Christ that His righteousness is ministered into the reality of our own life. Who cannot glory in such a God? Who can remain silent in the revelation of such things! Who could ever seek any other righteousness than this! It is declared with great clarity in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The salvation of God is two-fold. First is the forgiveness of sins and the second work is to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Unless we agree with the first there will be no ability to draw upon the resources of God to complete the second. So let us go on and not grow weary but agree with our gracious God and draw from Emanuel’s veins the life and the power of the everlasting covenant that He signed with His own blood. Let us declare unto Him that He is worthy of our praise. He was just in sending His own Son for our atonement, He paid the debt of our transgression, He died that we might live, He was bruised for our iniquity, wounded for our transgression, He took upon Himself the shame and sorrow of sin, in dying He tasted death for every man and in rising from the dead He now offers life to everyone that comes to Him by faith. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified”
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Let us arise in the power of this! Let us lay aside every weight of sin and run with endurance and hope because of what He has done. Let us seek to provoke and encourage one another to rise up in His life and by the blood of the Lamb overcome the accuser of the brethren so that we no longer partake of his lies but that we through the life of agreement partake of the truth and life of the Lamb of God.
“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him”.