“For I know with an absolute knowledge and stand persuaded in the Lord Jesus that not even one thing is unhallowed in itselfexcept it be to the one who reasons it out to be unhallowed. To that one it is unhallowed. For, if because of food your brother is made to grieve, no longer are you conducting yourself according to love. Stop ruining by your food that one on behalf of whom Christ died. Therefore, stop allowing your good to be spoken of in a reproachful and evil manner; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the sphere of the Holy Spirit; for the one who in this serves the Christ is well pleasing to God, and because having met the specifications is approved by men”
Romans 14:14-18 (Wuest Translation)
Paul prefaced this plea to the Body of Christ with:
“For, on the one hand, there is he who judges a day above another day. On the other hand, there is he who subjects every day to a scrutiny. Let each one in his own mind be fully assured. The one who has formed a judgment regarding the day, with reference to the Lord he judges it. And the one who eats, with reference to the Lord he eats, for he gives thanks to God. And the one who does not eat, with reference to the Lord does not eat, and he gives thanks to God…”
Romans 14:5-6 (Wuest Translation)
“But as for you, why are you judging your brother? Or, as for you also, why are you treating your brother with contempt? For we all shall stand before the judgment seat of God. For it stands written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Therefore, then, each one of us shall give an account concerning himself to God. Therefore, no longer let us be judging one another. But be judging this rather, not to place a stumbling block before your brother, or a snare in which he may be entrapped”
Romans 14:10-11 (Wuest Translation)
There is within the economy and glory of Christ the liberty and respect for each member to hold within their hearts their own faith concerning food, drink, and days. The secret to this liberty is that they are “serving Christ” in their persuasions.
Paul in Colossians stated:
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days”
Let not him who regards a day judge him who regards not a day; let not him who regards not a day judge him who esteems a day over another.
The living fabric of Christ’s Body is more than meat, drink or reference to some day or season. His LIFE is the very sinew and connection of each and every part. The ignorance of who and what the wonder of Christ is becomes apparent when the mundane issues of life become of more importance than the unity of His Spirit in our midst!
Paul goes on to say in his letter to the Colossians that they who judge others in respect to the elemental and menial things are
“…not holding firmly to the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with God’s growth. If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, “Don’t handle, nor taste, nor touch” (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men?”
We violate the very life of Christ who supplies the rich ministrations through which we are knitted together. Those who emphasise the mundane over the Holy will give an answer to Him in the Day of Judgment.
Paul finishes his discourse of these things by stating that the observance of these things will in NO WAY bring victory for a believer over their flesh. There are no spiritual victories to be gained by the foolishness of fleshly ordinances. Our victory comes only by living and abiding within the sphere of Christ Himself.
May God free us from the horror and stain of the Pharisee spirit in the observance of trivial matters while failing to comprehend that “the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5).
“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Seven Ones – Perfection)
Those who would destroy the bonds of peace and sever the very ligaments of Christ over the rudimentary elements in respect to days, food and drink, know not the heart of He who is the Head of all things.
One cannot read the beauty of Ephesians Chapter 4 and Colossians Chapter 2, with any illumination of the Spirit of God, and not feel the very essence of Christ Himself beckoning us to preserve the Unity of His Spirit and the wonder of the Body of Christ.
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”
Fellowship is the natural outflow between those who are in Christ. Where there is no deep and powerful flow of Christ there is darkness and separation from the Life and Wonder of Christ. Beware of something added (or taken away) from the Life Giving essence of Christ alone. Light (not knowledge) is the basis of true fellowship.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another”
1 John 1:7
“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”
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”
“He was oppressed…”
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.
“He was afflicted…”
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…”
Life in God is all about seeking. There is the seeking one and the One who is sought. As with every spiritual relationship there is always one who is the initiator; God being love is the initiator of all things. At the core of all relationships are a seeking and reciprocation. The flow of interaction is what deepens and intensifies the bonds of relationship. In our pursuit of Him we find the One Great Love of the universe responding within the depths and wisdom of His own being. It is the story of the Beloved and the Loved becoming one in Spirit and in Truth. The scriptures declare the wonder of this very well:
“We love him, because he first loved us”
1 John 4:19
Our seeking of Him is based upon the reciprocation of Him seeking that which was lost. The impact of His love upon the human heart is always revealed in our pursuit of Him. The Parables of Jesus reveal the intensity of this relationship from both perspectives. The Parable of the Good Shepherd is the story of Him, though unsought by us, finding and rescuing us in our lost and wayward condition. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price is the description of us seeking Him and selling all to obtain its wonder. Those who are forgiven much love much. His creation was specifically designed to respond to and be governed by love. As a result of the fall, man was separated from the source and power of Love itself; we became slaves to the disorder of self-love, self-realization and depravity. The ongoing work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts is one of reconciliation and growth ever moving onward to full unity in Him and with one another (John 17:21-22).
Our finding of Him will always be in proportion to our seeking of Him. Entering into deeper places of abiding in Him will be in proportion to our knocking at the door of Love’s domain. Seeing of Him brings us to new and fuller experiences of repentance and change; it is impossible to see Him and remain the same. The unfolding of His person brings us to new vistas of His love for us which in turn will be reciprocated by a further depth of our love for Him. True relationships hold the mystery of eternity for within those bonds with one another there is no point of arrival. Relationships stagnate here on earth because of the impurities of pride, stubbornness, unforgiveness and a myriad of other unresolved sins in our lives.
In truly loving God we are struck with the impossibility of holding aught against our brother for this is the very measure God uses to validate our love for Him.
“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother”
1 John 3:10
The validity of our seeking Him and being born of Him is revealed in the simplicity of how we live. We not only seek Him in the secret places of prayer but also in the doing of righteousness and in the substance of loving one another in truth. Love is not just a teaching it is a life of becoming more like Him.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”
“For WE must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”
2 Corinthians 5:10
Contrary to much of the teaching of our day we are to live righteously and to admonish one another to keep His Fire burning in our hearts. If we succumb to the world and its ways we will not desire nor seek out the fellowship of others who will hold us accountable. It is in our hearts knowing that we must all appear before the Judgement seat of Christ whereby we desire the true fellowship in order to grow and walk in righteousness. They who are of the night have no inclination for these things.
The revelation of the life of those who claim to be His is known by the environment and the relationships they choose.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ”
“But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not”
Not long ago I was waiting before The Lord on how to pray for a certain brother according to HIS WILL. As I did the above scripture was brought to my attention. So often we pray for God to remove the situation, bring healing, deliverance or whatever seemingly corrects the issue at hand. But here we see Jesus praying for Peter’s faith to stand in the midst of the situation that was about to unfold! He did not pray that Peter would not fail; it was necessary that Peter come to face his reliance on his own strength. He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. It takes faith, strong faith, to hold us in the crises that we must face. Faith to stand when we must confront our weaknesses and failures; for if our faith stands we will come forth in victory.
“And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith”
1 JOHN 5:4
We are to become, by the out-workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives, “Kings and Priests unto our God” (Revelation 1:6). As we grow we begin to see and understand the purposes of God in those around us. There will be times when, in order to pray effectually, instead of praying for the situation to change we will find ourselves praying for our brother’s/sister’s faith to hold strong. Faith is our victory; faith is also their victory. For faith is the power of God in us to enable us to live beyond our own resources. In so doing we discover the wonder of overcoming.
Effectual prayer is borne out of our hearts by sensing and knowing the will of God for others. Such things are not learned quickly but if we seek HIS Wisdom He will not withhold it from us.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and with no reproach, and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, doubting nothing”
Praying according to the will of God requires wisdom and wisdom is the fruit of the fear of the Lord. We seek His Will concerning the things for which we pray because we have learned, or are learning, that we can easily pray amiss by not seeing things clearly. In order for the true power of prayer to be restored to the people of God we must learn these things. Effectual praying is determined by the depth of Faith, Wisdom, Persistence, and the Love of God operating within our hearts.