Archive for January, 2012

Himsights v353 – Consuming Fire

Consuming Fire

Consuming Fire – that is what my God is – a consuming fire. Consuming what? The dross of this earthly clay, this mortal shell, this impure vessel, this admixture of the molten culture of this world alloyed with the spirit and likeness of God that I was originally created to be.

There is a feeling about who God is that is rampant in the world of religion that makes God out to be a pathetic and kindly old man with best wishes and a warm heart that accepts and is satisfied with whatever you choose to offer. That is not God anymore than the angel of light is the devil. It is another perversion and corruption of Truth designed to deceive you and help you believe what you want to believe (the easiest sales job on earth – Ear Tickler) so that you will not become a son of God, so that you will become like the idol you hold in your mind – a timid, pathetic, kindly old man (or woman) with best wishes and a warm heart that accepts and is satisfied with whatever you choose to offer.

Notice I said there is a feeling about God (a warm and fuzzy one at that, that makes a heart go pitter-patter). A feeling is the easiest place on earth to hide a lie. A feeling is based on our own faulty perception. How many times have you been wrong about something you have felt. God is not a feeling, He is a Fact, more Real than this world and its charades of reality. My God is not a figment of your or my feeling, my God is a consuming fire!!!!!

Remember when God met Moses in the burning bush? The bush burned but is was not consumed. That is a picture of God in man. He burns inside you, he burns and consumes but He does not consume you, just everything else that is not like You in Him. He burns up the dirt and filth of this world that clings to you but You in Him are not consumed. He is your safe place. Everything in the end will be consumed that is not in Him. He is the ark of salvation. Come aboard.

This actually was meant to be an introduction to what I really want to talk about. The message God has been speaking to me mostly through my experience for a couple of months (er years, er decades) now is the title for the series I will write on for the next series of weeks through the Listen message delivered of Saturdays. The thought is that “Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality” or just “Your Opportunity” for short.

Think of the Bible heroes, the shining ones of our faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel and the Prophets and many many more. “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:  And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  And these all, having obtained a good report…” Heb. 11. Sounds like a whole lot of shakin’ (i.e. suffering) going on.

We all have our giants to fell. God wants to bring more than just two men (Joshua and Caleb) into the Promised Land, he wants to bring everybody. We must face our fears of the enemy and claim our heritage… more than conquerors through Christ. That is why God places so much value on confession before men, being witnesses, living the Christ-life out loud – because it isn’t easy. In fact, if you do it as designed, you will be required to die in the process.

Die to what? Die to this world, die to yourSelf, die to everything that you hold in great esteem and value that God is jealous over. He is not jealous over anything that is dedicated to Him and set apart for His purposes, but everything else must go. Fire sale, literally.

So here is the inspiration of the title to get us started. In the movie “Return of the King”, the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is a scene where the father of Faramir, the steward of Gondor, gives Faramir the challenge of “an opportunity to show your quality” as he pressures him with unrighteous motives to go to a certain death battle and lead the charge.

The father had taken possession of the throne of Gondor, the seat of the throne of the King, when he was killed. He and his sons Boramir and Faramir become heirs apparent and have in some ways taken the rule of the city by default. The father wants to secure his position as reigning ruler and so puts his hopes in his son’s bravery. Boramir is the golden son, the apple of the fathers eye and he shuns the younger brother, Faramir as a coward, unworthy of his respect and affection (though in reality he is not). All this is a backdrop to the challenge that he gives Faramir to show his quality.

That statement is in essence a death wish for his son. In his grief that his eldest son Boramir has died, he wants Faramir to be removed permanently from his sight. Therefore when the city is under siege he sends him to certain death. The thought is: your king and your country require this (death) of you, now go prove your worthiness. As is often the case he meant it for harm, but God meant it for good. Think Job.

Suffering is Gods way of proving us, of showing our quality to Satan and the demonic host. It is the place that sons are born, the true quality of a son is in his heroic ability to die to himself for King and kindred. Then God says with a goodly smile, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased”.

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32

and again…

“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.” Luke 12:8.

Suffering, your offering yourSelf as a daily sacrifice, is your confession before men. Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality.

Sin – Suspicions of God

Sin is such a lovely walk in the park, such a nice little experience – initially. We start out meandering away from Truth and Obedience and Dependence. We find our own little path to follow, a pretty little trail full of things that please our eyes and our ears and our minds – our very soul’s delights. But it is not the path that God has for us, it is the path of our own choosing. James puts it this way, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” 1:13,14.

You see, we are drawn “by our own lusts”. We see the path that is nearby the clearly lit path we are on and we want to discover its beauty and surprises. Note to Self: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” 2 Cor.11:14. The things we don’t have, the things that are out of reach are the things that entice and dazzle the senses, beckoning us to “Come, enjoy”.

We begin this whole trip down the slippery slope (or delightful path as we see it) by questioning God’s Goodness. We suspect that God may not have the best in mind for us. “Hath God said…” As soon as our earthly senses are delighted by excitement and allurement we want to please them. Well why not? It looks good, or it smells good, or it feels good, or it sounds good, or it tastes good. It must be good right? Yes it is – for a season. So we barter the eternal – life with God – for the temporal – a bowl of porridge, a piece of fruit. the bauble laced with slow-release cyanide.

You see all we have to do is to suspend our trust of God and elevate our faith in Self. We place God under suspicion. After all, if He wanted what is best for me He would let me have this thing I want. Nowhere does it say that what you want is what is best for you. That is you selling you into sin. “But my God shall supply ALL YOU NEED [not want] according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philip. 4:14. Let me attest that what you need is far better for you and to you than what you want.

But you want it so you are drawn away “by your own lust”. Now note that chasing after things that are seen (heard, smelt, tasted, and felt) are clearly not of faith and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” Rom. 14:23. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1. You cannot see, hear, smell, taste nor touch the thing you need, except through faith by your spirit. You will not get at them through your flesh. The flesh and the spirit are contrary one to the other. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Gal. 5:17.

Faith is not blind, nor deaf, nor without smell, taste or feeling. It is all these (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) by the spirit of God within you. “And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” Luke 8:10.

Hath God said…? Yes He has.

And we can and should Trust Him. “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Rom. 3:4

v351 Voices From the Past

Voices From the Past

The following are things I desperately want you to hear and understand so I will not say them. It is understood by our Lord that people reject the Truth when it comes from those with whom we are familiar. “But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” Mark 6:4.

For so many, the stuff that is being doled out weekly through the religious system is at best corrupted and diluted truth, and in most cases the teachings of mere men for hidden  motives.

The following is from two readings I enjoyed this morning. I was asking the Father if I should share the first when he confirmed it by the second. “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Matt 8:16.

The first is from Voices from the Past (appropriately titled) and the second from Oswald Chambers. Taken together this is a very long read for most. “But the Kingdom of God advances violently and the violent take it…”

The new man takes a new course. His conversation is in heaven. No sooner does Christ call one by effectual grace, but he immediately becomes a follower of Christ. When God has given him a new heart, he henceforth walks in his statutes. Though sin may dwell in him truly a wearisome and unwelcome guest, it has no more dominion over him. He is not one man at church and another at home. He is not a saint on his knees and a cheat in his shop. He turns from all his sins and keeps all of God’s statutes, though not perfectly, yet sincerely, not allowing himself the breach of any. Now he delights in the Word, and sets himself to prayer. He has a good conscience willing in all things to live honestly without offense towards God and men (Hebrews 13:18). Here you find the unsoundness of many that take themselves for good Christians. They take up the cheap and easy duties of religion, but are not thorough with the work. They’re like a cake half-baked. You may find them exact in their words, punctual in their dealings, but they do not exercise themselves onto godliness; as for governing their hearts, they are strangers. You see them duly at church; but follow them to their families, and you see little but the worldly minded. Follow them to their closets and you’ll find their souls little looked after. They seem religious, but do not bridle their tongues (James 1:26). They may come to the closet and family prayer; but follow them to their shops, and you will find them in the habit of lying, or some fashionable deceit. The hypocrite is not thorough in obedience. The new man bears fruit unto holiness, and though he makes many a blot, yet the law and life of Jesus is what he looks for as his pattern. He respects all of God’s commandments. He is sensitive in his conscience even to the little sins and little duties.

— Joseph Alleine from Voices From the Past


His Cross and Our Discipleship

There is a difference between revelation and experience. As Christians we must have an experience, but we must believe a great deal more than we can experience. For instance, no Christian can experience the Cross of Christ; but he can experience salvation through the Cross. No Christian can experience God becoming Incarnate; but he can experience the incoming of the life of God by regeneration. No Christian can experience the personal advent of the Holy Ghost on to this earth; but he can experience the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. A New Testament Christian is one who bases all his thinking on these revelations. He experiences the regenerating power of God, and then goes on to build up his mind in the most holy faith. Until a man is born again, he cannot think as a Christian. Belief of doctrine does not make a man a Christian. There are those who emphasise doctrine, they would go to martyrdom for the faith; whilst others emphasise experience, and take everything revealed in the Bible as picturing our experience. Either of these views is likely to become a dangerous side track.

Jesus Christ took thirty-three years over the historic completion of Redemption in order to exhibit what God’s normal Man was like. He lived the pattern normal life of a man as God wants it to be lived, and He demands of us that we live as He did. But how are we to begin to do it? We did not come into this world as God Incarnate came. He came from pre-existing Deity; we are born with the heredity of sin. How are we to enter into the life He lived? By His Cross and by no other way. We do not enter into the life of God by imitation, or by vows, or by ceremonies, or by Church membership; we enter into it by its entering into us at regeneration. The Cross of Jesus Christ is the gateway into His life.

The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realised in human experience. Beware of saying that Jesus Christ was a martyr. Nowadays He is frequently looked upon as a martyr, His life is acknowledged to be very beautiful, but the Atonement and the Cross are not being given their rightful place, and the Bible is being robbed of its magnitude and virility. The death of our Lord was not the death of a martyr, but the exhibition of the heart of God, and the gateway whereby any member of the human race can enter into union with God. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.

The Collision of God and Sin
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. It is not the cross of a martyr; it is the substitution of Jesus for sinful humanity. The Cross did not happen to Jesus, He came on purpose for it. The whole purpose of the Incarnation is the Cross—“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The Cross is beyond Time; the actual crucifixion is the historical revelation of the heart nature of the Trinity of God. The symbolic figure of the nature of God is not a circle, complete and self-centred; God is not all. The symbol of God’s nature is the Cross, whose arms stretch out to limitless reaches.

The Cross of Jesus Christ is a revelation; our cross is an experience. If we neglect for one moment the basal revelation of the Cross, we will make shipwreck of our faith, no matter what our experience is. The test of our spiritual life is our understanding of the Cross. The Cross of Jesus is often wrongly taken as a type of the cross we have to carry. Jesus did not say, “If any man will come after Me, let him take up My cross,” but, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”†† Our cross becomes our divinely appointed privilege by means of His Cross. We are never called upon to carry His Cross. We have so hallowed the Cross by twenty centuries of emotion and sentiment that it sounds a very beautiful and pathetic thing to talk about carrying our cross. But a wooden cross with iron nails in it is a clumsy thing to carry. The real cross was like that, and do we imagine that the external cross was more ugly than our actual one? Or that the thing that tore our Lord’s hands and feet was not really so terrible as our imagination of it?

Do we agree with God’s judgment upon sin in the Cross? There is a difference between sin and sins. Sin is a heredity; sins are acts for which we are responsible. Sin is a thing we are born with and we cannot touch it. God touches sin in Redemption, and the Cross reveals the clash of God and sin. If we do not put to death the things in us that are not of God, they will put to death the things that are of God. There is never any alternative, some thing must die in us—either sin or the life of God. If we agree theologically with God’s condemnation of sin on the Cross, then what about sin in our own heart? Do we agree with God’s verdict on sin and lust in our lives? The moment we do agree, we may be delivered from it. It is a question of agreeing with God’s verdict on sin and of will. Will we go through the condemnation now? If we will, there is no more condemnation for us, and the salvation of Jesus Christ is made actual in our lives. Unless our salvation works out through our finger tips and everywhere else, there is nothing to it, it is religious humbug.

The Sacrifice to Christ of Myself
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2; see also Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23)

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice.” We cannot present an unholy thing at the altar, and Paul’s word “brethren” means saints. It is only from the standpoint of sanctification that these verses apply. Our Lord says to those who have entered into His life by means of His Cross, “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”†† Not, “Let him give up sin”; any man will give up sinning if he knows how to, but, “Let him deny himself,” that is, “give up his right to himself to Me.” Our cross is what we hold before the world, viz., the fact that we are sanctified to do nothing but God’s will. We have given away our right to ourselves for ever, and the cross we take up is a sign in heaven, on earth and to hell, that we are His and our own no longer. The right to ourselves is the only thing we have to give to God. We cannot give our natural possessions, because they have been given to us. If we had not our right to ourselves by God’s creation of us, we should have nothing to give, and consequently could not be held responsible.

Jesus Christ is not dealing with sin here (sin is dealt with by His Cross), but with what has been referred to as the natural life, the life symbolised by Mary, the mother of Jesus, which must be sacrificed, not annihilated. The idea of sacrifice is giving back to God the best we have in order that He may make it His and ours for ever. Have we done it? Have we as saints given up our right to ourselves to Him? or do we while accepting His salvation thoroughly object to giving up our right to ourselves to Him? Sanctification has to do with separating a holy life to God’s uses. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19).

We are apt to imagine that the cross we have to carry means the ordinary troubles and trials of life, but we must have these whether we are Christians or not. Neither is our cross suffering for conscience’ sake. Our cross is something that comes only with the peculiar relationship of a disciple to Jesus Christ; it is the evidence that we have denied our right to ourselves. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). It is not only that we give up our right to ourselves to Jesus Christ but that determinedly we relate ourselves to life so that we may be appealed to only by the things that appeal to Him, and do in the world only the things with which He is associated. There are myriads of right things in this world that our Lord would not touch, relationships which He described by the “eye,” and the “right arm.” Our right arm is not a bad thing, it is one of the best things we have, but Jesus said, “If it offends you in your walk with Me, cut it off.”† Most of us balk this; we do not object to being delivered from sin, but we do not intend to give up the right to ourselves to Him. The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights. Unless we are willing to give up good things for Jesus Christ, we have no realisation of Whom He is. “But really I cannot give up things that are quite legitimate!” Then never mention the word love again in connection with Jesus Christ if you cannot give up the best you have for Him. This is the essential nature of love in the natural life, otherwise it is a farce to call it love, it is not love, but lust; and when we come to our relationship with Jesus Christ, this is the love He demands of us. If we have entered into the experience of regeneration through His Cross, these are the conditions of discipleship (Luke 14:26-27 and 33). Always notice the “If” in connection with discipleship, there is never any compulsion. “If any man come to Me, and hate not . . . , he cannot be My disciple.” He may be anything else, a very fascinating person, a most delightful asset to modern civilisation, but Jesus Christ says, “he cannot be My disciple.” A man may be saved without being a disciple, and it is the point of discipleship that is always kicked against. Our Lord is not talking of eternal salvation, but of the possibility of our being of temporal worth to Himself. How many of us are of any worth to Jesus Christ? Our attitude is rather that we are much obliged to God for saving us, but the idea of giving up our chances to realise ourselves in life is too extravagantly extreme. Some of us will take all God has to give us while we take good care not to give Him anything back.

The sacrifice of myself to Christ is not a revelation, but an experience. Have I sacrificed myself to Him, or have I refused to give up my right to myself to Him because there are several things I want to do? “There are so many other interests in my life, and, of course, God will not expect it of me.” Always state things to yourself in order to realise whether you ruggedly are what you sentimentally think you ought to be, and you will soon know the kind of humbug you are. Spiritual reality is what is wanted. “I surrender all”—and you feel as if you did, that is the awkward thing. The point is whether, as God engineers your circumstances, you find that you really have surrendered. Immediately you do surrender, you are made so much one with your Lord that the thought of what it cost never enters any more.

The Contradiction of God and Satan
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die. (John 12:31-33)

The prince of this world and Satan are synonymous terms. Satan is the manifestation of the devil for which man is held responsible, that is, Satan is the result of a communication between man and the devil (Genesis 3). Our Lord did not say to Peter, “Get thee behind Me, ‘devil,’ but, ‘Satan’”; and then He defined Satan—“thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”† What was it that Peter savoured? Self-pity; “Pity Thyself, Lord: this shall not be to Thee,” and Jesus “turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me.”† Peter’s appeal was made on the ground of self-interest, and the prince of this world governs everything on that basis. Self-realisation is the essential principle of his government. “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” The world is that system of things which organises its life without any thought of Jesus Christ. Paul says that the lost are those whose minds are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Nothing blinds the mind to the claims of Jesus Christ more effectually than a good, clean-living, upright life based on self-realisation. For a thing to be Satanic does not mean that it is abominable and immoral. The satanically managed man is moral, upright, proud, and individual; he is absolutely self-governed and has no need of God. The prince of this world is judged for ever at the Cross. If we enter into the Kingdom of God through the Cross of Christ, self-realisation cannot get through with us, it must be left outside. The Cross of Christ reveals the contradiction of God and Satan. The disposition of self-realisation is the manifestation in us of the devil as Satan, and when we come to the Cross we leave Satan outside, Satan cannot take one step inside the Cross.

The Suffering for Christ of Myself
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24; see also 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10)

That is suffering without any notice from the world, saving its ridicule. It is not suffering like Christ, it is suffering for Christ. It is not suffering for the sake of Redemption; we have nothing to do with Redemption; that is completed. We have to fill up “that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ for His body’s sake, which is the church.” When by the Cross of Christ we have entered into the experience of identification with our Lord, then there comes the practical working out of Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” When we learn of Jesus we shall not “grouse” at a dispensation of God’s providence that we cannot understand; we shall not give way to self-pity and say, “Why should this happen to me?” Jesus said—“Let him . . . take up his cross, and follow Me.”†† This means putting into exercise 1 Corinthians 13 and deliberately identifying ourselves with God’s interests in others, and it involves a moral decision on our part. God will bring across our path people who embody the characteristics that we have shown to Him—stubbornness, pride, conceit, opinionativeness, sensuality, a hundred little meannesses. “Now,” He says, “love them as I have loved you.” It works in this way, we see that someone is going to get the better of us, and every logical power in us says—“Resent it.” Morally speaking, we should, but Jesus Christ says, “When you are insulted, not only do not resent it, but exhibit the Son of God.” The disciple realises that his Lord’s honour is at stake in his life, not his own honour. A coward does not hit back because he is afraid to; a strong man refuses to hit back because he is strong; but in appearance they are both the same, and that is where the intense humiliation of being a Christian comes in. The Lord is asking us to go the second mile with Him, and if we take the blow, we will save Him. We can always avoid letting Jesus Christ get the blow by taking it ourselves. Be absolutely abandoned to God; it is only your own reputation that is at stake. People will not discredit God; they will only think you are a fool.

After the Resurrection, Jesus Christ did not invite the disciples to a time of communion on the Mount of Transfiguration,†† He said—“Feed My sheep.” When God gives a man work to do, it is seldom work that seems at all proportionate to his natural ability. Paul, lion-hearted genius though he was, spent his time teaching the most ignorant people. The evidence that we are in love with God is that we identify ourselves with His interests in others, and other people are the exact expression of what we ourselves are; that is the humiliating thing! Jesus Christ came down to a most miserably insignificant people in order to redeem them. When He has lifted us into relationship with Himself, He expects us to identify ourselves with His interests in others.

The Centre of God and Salvation
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. (Corinthians 5:14)
We cannot be saved by consecration, or by praying, or by giving ourselves up to God. We can only be saved by the Cross of Jesus Christ. Salvation is an absolutely free, unmerited gift of God. We would a hundred times rather that God told us to do something than we would accept His salvation as a gift. The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus Christ, and why it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much; and why it is so difficult to experience salvation is because human conceit will not accept, nor believe, nor have anything to do with unmerited salvation. We have not to experience God saving the world; it is a revelation that God has saved the world through Christ, and we can enter into the experience of His salvation through the Cross. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash, and the way to life is opened, but the crash is on the heart of God. God is always the sufferer.

The Sacrament of God in Myself
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24; see also 1 Corinthians 15:30)
“Neither count I my life dear unto myself.” Paul was absolutely indifferent to any other consideration than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. He could never be appealed to by those who urged him to remain in a certain place because he was being of so much use there. Watch our Lord also. He went through villages and cities where He was marvellously used, but the great characteristic of His earthly life was that He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem; He never stayed in a place because He had been of use there (Mark 1:37-38). Beware of the sweet sisters and beloved brothers who say to you, “Now do consider whether you will not be of more use here than anywhere else.” Probably you will, and in the passing of the months you will become mouldy bread instead of eating bread. We have nothing to do with God’s purpose, but only with the sacrament of God in us, that is, the real Presence of God coming through the common elements of our lives (John 7:37-39). The measure of our service for God is not our usefulness to others. We have nothing to do with the estimate of others, nor with success in service; we have to see that we fulfil our ministry. “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Our Lord’s first obedience was not to the needs of men, not to the consideration of where He was most useful, but to the will of His Father,††† and the first need of our life is not to be useful to God, but to do God’s will. How are we to know the will of God? By living in Romans 12:1-2. By being renewed in the spirit of the mind and refusing to be conformed to this age, we shall make out “the will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect” (rv mg).

In the beginning was the Word – the Revelation of God, Who He is, His Will, His Truth – expression of Perfection, Light, Spirit, the Glory of God, manifestation of His Presence and Essence – Perfect Love.

And the Word was with God – It was not anywhere that He was not, It came from Him and filled the heavens and the earth and all that Was and Is and Will Be – and the Word was God – the Manifestation and Revelation permeates and consumes ALL within His Glory – no thing is unaffected, immune nor with excuse. The knowledge of God is made manifest, being revealed by ALL things.

v349 The Power to Forgive

The Power to Forgive

Here is the Gospel in its simplest form: God says to you by declaration of His Word, by design of our world and by demonstration of His Life (He loved not his own life unto death) given up for you on the Cross, “I love you. I made you because I want you. Let me show you the full extent of my Love. Won’t you trust Me enough to turn from your own strivings and fears and deny yourself and come to Me? Turn and come.”

These words came to me and what follows in a flash of revelation as I sat down to read my Bible this morning and saw the title “The Woman Taken in Adultery” John 8:1-11. I have been asking God to show me the power to forgive those who hate me and spitefully use me. He showed me Himself in Christ in this passage.

Here is a woman caught in the very act of adultery, a sin clearly condemned by the Law. She is brought out immediately in broad daylight before God for judgement. How is it then that she can be forgiven and set free from the Law? In a word, redemption. But didn’t she sin? Without a doubt, in living color and real-time. So how do you forgive that?

Please indulge me some license here. I want you to see what God showed me in that flash so I will try to put it into words.

Ma    n looks on the outside but God looks on the heart. 1 Sam. 16:7. We see sin as acts, behavior, what we do. God looks at the heart, the intentions, the very motives. I saw what He saw, I saw her heart by way of revelation. I saw the scared child, living in fear, desperately seeking that which only her heavenly Father could give her.

She had felt needs. She needed food, shelter – in other words, provision and protection. She needed to know that somehow these would be secured, that what she needed would be there. She did not know that. As she looked around she found herself in a culture that devours its inhabitants, a sin sick world, a world that says, “Why should I provide for and protect you? What have you done for me?”

She found herself in Babylon, the originator and inventor of capitalism, the buy-sell economy. Everything is for sale in Babylon, EVERYTHING. “So my pretty, what do you bring to the market to buy with?” “I have nothing, nothing but my body”, she replies. The market sizes up her wares and decides, “Well, it will have to do, you have youth on your side today.” So she prostitutes herself to meet her felt needs. She uses her body and wiles to attract a customer, hopefully one with a lot of money.

She did not want adulterous sex, that was the symptom, the external, the visible sin. She wanted security (albeit a pseudo-security) the kind sought and found in money and things. She needed provision and protection. But didn’t she have a husband? Good point. I will also ask you a question. Doesn’t a billionaire have money? Then what drives him like a demon to want more, and more, and yet more? He thinks he needs money to fill his hole. She thinks she wants sex and things, to be desired, to fill her hole. They both want Love. They both need Love. They and we are designed that way.

Money cannot fill his hole. Sex, things and controlling power cannot fill hers. Right here is where compassion and mercy come running to her, heralding forgiveness.

This child is sinning externally, under the Law, this child is not sinning internally. She is lost, she has not found her Father, she has not found God’s Love yet and so she lives a pathetic, self-absorbed, self-destructive half-life, driven by fear. The world, the devil and the flesh have all hammered on her mind making fear her reality and driving motivation.

So here is this child of God (who does not know her heavenly Father) brought before Jesus by the religious leaders. They come seeking judgment for her sin and with the hidden motive of testing Him to find something against Him. They all come pointing fingers at her sin, her external act. Man looks at the outside but God looks on the heart.

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” John 8:7-10.

There has always been a lot of conjecture and interest regarding what He wrote. What sin or sins could He have listed in the dirt that could have brought that kind of conviction? I have a thought. If He wrote in the sand, “Fear = Sin” I believe He could have silenced everyone there. Fear grips everyone, the fear that it will not be good for me. That I won’t measure up, that I won’t have enough, that I have failed in some way. The enemy is continually sending messages to you that you are guilty of something and must be condemned. He is accusing you that you haven’t done enough right things or you have done too many wrong things. Fear is believing these things. Fear is faith in the enemies lies.

Fear will drive you to desperation either by tying so hard to measure up you become exhausted or by giving up altogether and not wanting to please Him. It puts all the focus on you and what you have done, can do or will do. Both of these preoccupations are effective in keeping you from the heart of your Father. You are so distracted with Self and producing self-righteousness or Self pursuing unrighteousness that you will not come to Him.

Notice, they all left His presence. All but she. They were cockroaches, she was a moth. They fled from the Light, she was drawn to it. I believe she saw compassion, mercy and Love in His eyes. I believe she died to herself, her own righteousness. She had nothing else she could do but trust in His mercy. I believe all her fears were vanquished. Finally, someOne Who I can trust, someOne who Loves me, someOne. Self-destructive behaviors are often driven by fear.

God has told us 365 times in His Word in one way or another, “Fear not”, “Be not afraid”, “Trust in Me” and so may other ways.

I believe we need to realize that people are driven by fear more than any other reason, if not exclusively, until they have an encounter with God. I believe this woman met God that day and He removed the fear that kept her from Him and replaced it with Love. I believe He looked on her heart and saw a scared child who needed her Daddy desperately. I believe she found Him.

The power to forgive is found in the ability to see what God sees, through His eyes.

“So then, from now on we do not think of anyone from a human point of view.” 2 Cor. 5:16.

v4.48 The Spirit of Competition, The Spirit of Murder

That same spirit that caused Cain to murder his own brother is very much alive and well in the world today. Not only is it thriving and surviving, it is flourishing and promoted and taught enthusiastically in the world. It is that same spirit that Niccolo Machiavelli exposed so poignantly in his classic the “The Prince” back in the 1500’s. The Prince’s life motto was, “It is far better to be feared than loved…” It is the concept that power and control and domination will get you everything you want.

Also from that same book is an essay on how “the ends justify the means”. It is a win at all cost, every time, take no prisoners philosophy. It is the quintessential playbook for competing according to Satan’s rules and pattern. “Submit or die!” “I must win, you must lose.” Sadly, no tragically, it is the favorite tune of our capitalistic, materialistic, self-indulgent, self-centered godless world. It is the mantra of business, politics, sports, and every other blatantly and even covertly competitive endeavor.

This philosophy (the deification of Self) is the heartbeat of every problem we have in the world today. And I don’t mean YOUR problems I mean everybody’s. We even look at problems self-centeredly with this Machiavellian attitude, that the only real problems in the world are my problems. How do I get what I want? How can I be happy? How can I be the center of praise and worship and desire? It’s there alright, in you and me (apart from a living relationship with Christ). It may be buried deeply or covered with a glossy coat of religious piety, but its there. It buries itself in the sin nature and the carnal heart. That heart of Self that seeks its own.

Satan is a murderer from the beginning. Believe you me, he would have taken God out if he could have. He hated God with an eternal hatred. He not only wanted God’s power, worship and throne, he wanted to be God (not like Him). This is the spirit of competition, the spirit that I must be worshiped, I must lead, I must get the prize, I must be in charge, in control, in absolute power. Anyone who threatens this goal or makes me look bad must die or be removed from the landscape.

Why do you think that they (read we) crucified Christ? It is because He stood there in absolute perfection condemning us, not with His heart, not with his words, but by His Life of Righteousness. His blazing white makes our bleached white look dull and unimpressive. The focus of attention went to Him. We paled in His Light, we even look desperately dark.

This is what we see repeatedly throughout the Bible. This spirit of competition and murder. It is captured for us in the account of Cain and Abel.

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:  But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” Gen. 4:3-5.

There it is. right there, that seed of murder. Cain wanted the favor, the glory, the focus of God’s attention and affection. He set his death sights right on Abel his brother because his brother did right and was respected by God. What is God’s solution?

“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” vv. 6,7.

So, is that what was in Cain’s heart, equality? To be like Able, to obey God and be accountable for himself. No! He had another plan, take out the other guy. He is not your brother, he is your adversary. Competition is a form or murder. It is taking from your brother so that he loses and you gain. It is evil and wicked when it is born from a comparison that Self makes with another. It is one thing to do your best and be satisfied with that (i.e. competition with your own ability), as Able did. It is quite another to seethe with envy and covetousness at what your brother owns. When the focus of your performance is the comparison to others it is murder. So what did Cain do? Did he work on becoming righteous? No, he just removed the bright light that exposed his own darkness.

“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” v. 7.

Can you see it? Cain got his brother to walk with him, requesting a talk with him (probably under the guise of brotherly relationship). He brought him to a field where no one could witness. He thought that if no one could see him that he was innocent. Apparently God saw. Here is His commentary on the subject:

“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.  Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” 1 John 3:12,13.

That spirit of competition, that spirit of murder is from the father of lies. It’s how you can tell “who’s your daddy?” That spirit wants, no needs, no must have the preeminence on the playing ground. It is a spirit that says all eyes on me. I must have it all. There is no room for the glory of another. I will not work on my own relationship with God. I will eliminate the competition. Murder.

This is how the Pharisees and other religious leaders justified their crucifixion of our Lord and Redeemer. This spirit is seen repeatedly throughout the bible. Just as the Holy Spirit has fruits that are manifested so does the unholy spirit. Among them are: Pride, envy, unrighteous (i.e. selfish) anger, lies, covetousness, narcissism, competitiveness, greed, stealing, deception, etc. You can tell a tree (the reproductive son from the seed of the father) by its fruit (visible behaviors).

Here is just a few of the biblical characters that come to mind when I consider these fruits. Notice some of them repented and found favor in God’s eyes. Most were judged severely.

Korah (Moses)
Aaron and Miriam (Moses)
Joseph’s brothers (Joseph)
Saul (David)
Jezebel (Elisha)
Haman (Mordecai)
Daniels accusers (Daniel)
Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego’s accusers
Religious leaders (Paul)
Stephen’s murderers (Stephen)

There are more examples of attacks on righteousness out of competition and envy and greed.

The clearest and most widely obvious example today is religion. It is a system where people justify themselves outwardly by what they appear to be, their presentation, yet there is no interest in hearing from God through Apostles and Prophets, there is no true seeking. “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Mark 7:6.

But God says to the traditional church (that is false) as He said to Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” The church can be saved but not without repentance from dead works. Until then religion continues to murder the sent ones, through silencing, rejecting or discounting their testimony.

The voice of God is alive and well today, but largely goes unheard. It is being murdered by lesser lights that compete with it. God includes everybody in His offer but at the same time He makes it conditional, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself…” He says, “Seek me while I can be found.” “If you seek Me with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your soul, then (and only then) will I be found by you.” Sounds like an all-or-nothing proposition to me. He is not interested in our religious gymnastics and seeing what we can do in our strength. He wants you to see what He has done and for you to sit down and shut up – no competition.

%d bloggers like this: