“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Help Me help you

“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…. And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:15,18).

“God helps those who help themselves.” That expression says that first we must help ourselves out of trouble, and then God will come to our rescue after He determines we have sufficiently helped ourselves. Doesn’t that smell like righteousness by works? “God helps those who help themselves” stinks. All of my helping myself is like filthy rags. Where is it in the Bible?

Let’s see, is it in John 15? “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:4-7).

No, it’s not there. We can’t even start to help ourselves without Jesus’ help.

Maybe “God helps those who help themselves” is in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian saints? “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Cor. 12:10). No, its not there.  If power packed Paul could realize his weakness, shouldn’t the rest of us admit to ours?

How about Jesus’ words in Revelation? Can we help ourselves? “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name.” (Rev. 3:8). No. Then we must conclude that “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the New Testament.

Then it must be in the Old Testament, right? “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the LORD.” (Isa 54:17). All who let Jesus protect them must first realize their inability to protect themselves.

So far, we see that we have no righteousness or strength to offer God. All He wants to see is His Son’s righteousness and strength.

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jer. 23:5,6).

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” (Isa. 26:3). “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isa. 40:31).

None of our righteousness gets very high marks with God. How can we help ourselves be good?

“Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!
Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is He which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire He shall destroy them, and He shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD….
Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.” (Deut. 9:1-7,24).

“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
But because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations...
Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers:
And He will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: He will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which He sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.” (Deut. 7:6-15).

So, Moses seems to be completely against trusting in our own strength to do righteousness. But, what can we do to help God save us?

We have to work hard, right? It appears Moses commanded us to work hard on our works, or else?

“All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no.
And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.
Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him.
For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which He hath given thee.
Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command thee this day:
Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.” (Deut. 8:1-20). All that the Lord had given Israel were holy, just, and good laws (Romans 7:12). To do them was life for them. And isn’t that what Paul meant when he wrote, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Rom. 8:10).

The question of effort and obedience can be tricky. Keeping the commandments is a vital part of salvation. But Satan has also used it for his ends. By his devious twisting of minds weakened and confused he turns glorious laws of righteousness into laws of oppression. How are we to know if we have righteousness by faith or by works? How can we know if we are keeping the Law of life or the same Law of death. The question we must ask is: Why are we working hard to keep the commandments? What is our motive? Are we keeping them to prove something to God or to people around us? Or to know Jesus better? By asking this question we examine ourselves to make sure we are truly in the faith. Either to know Christ is my motive for right living, or I am reprobate.

This was the motive that Paul demonstrated. “That I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.” (Phil. 3:10). For Paul obedience was all about knowing Jesus better. The same for Peter. After explaining his ladder to sanctification, he added, “And if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:8).

So, are we helping Jesus help us? Are we making ourselves available to His words that are Spirit and life, in which our flesh profits nothing? If we are, then He can work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. If we don't come to Him in His words and the biography written of Him, then we severely limit His ability to be our Helper, our Comforter, our Shield and exceeding great Reward. He cannot and will never force Himself on us. Of our own will our spirit must reach up to His down-reaching Spirit. My heart with His must meet together in a cleaving that never lets go. His salvation of hearts must ever require His call and our response. Therefore His cry, Come unto Me! I want to be your helpmeet! The Lord Jesus was saying this as Lord God of Israel, “Therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.” (Isa. 30:7). The Sabbath plays big in this. His children will sit at His feet and learn of Him. He magnified the Law and made it honorable.

“Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?
And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” (Deut. 4:1-9). 

“Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.…
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us.” (Deut. 5:32-6:3,24,25).

What does all this say? It says that everyone who keeps all the Law or all the Spirit of Prophecy counsel will be blessed by God. But, they must keep the whole Law and also all of the prophets’ inspired commentary on it. They must hear the precursors to the Law given in the wilderness: the Genesis promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for trusting in the Lord God, who is the Lord Jesus, Messiah the Prince; and they must hear the Job rebukes to self-righteousness and self-exaltation for all of Job’s good deeds. As Genesis and Job were written by Moses before delivering Israel, they hold a status of higher eminence, and as a strong balance for the upcoming laws for liberty.

“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:15-17).

If the Jews wouldn’t obey the promises, how could they obey all the Law, as the Lord Jesus required? Satan loves to hold back either one, Law or gospel. He moves rebellious hearts to disdain correction and reproof. But, when the curses come upon the rebels and they choose to obey the rules, then the very same devil leads these humbled souls to overwork themselves in their obedience and to neglect the promises until they utterly reject the promise-based covenant. They are doing real good at obedience to the laws and rules and statutes and judgments. They’ve got it all down pat pretty good. Satan whispers into their thinking, “Its time to sit back and let the good times roll. We don’t need God for anything else. We don’t need to go further than the Law, and do the rest of His covenant—that is, heart work. We’ve done enough for His Majesty! We’re all holy enough; our heart are circumcised; we all basically good people. Look at all of our works! Who can argue that we aren’t holy people! Look at our evangelism and all our records for Christian service! We’ve listed all our works and kept perfect records for the glory of God! Let the whole world check us out; we are perfect examples of obedience! We don’t need to launch off into the unknown world of faith and love, and risk unsettling all the good works that are moving along so nicely!” These are Satan’s very sentiments; this is all his doing.

Therefore they don’t keep all the Law; they keep part of it. They don’t keep all the commandments; they only keep some of them. They only keep the works of the Law; and that is not the whole Law. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matt. 23:23). They refrain from the weightier matters of faith and sin and judgment. They keep the circumcision of the life, but not the circumcision of the heart. These kind of commandment keepers need to keep both in order to satisfy the Judge of the Law. We need to do the one and not to leave the other undone. But, they keep the letter of the Law, and not both the letter and the Spirit of the Law. They are not spiritual, and cannot keep a Law that is “spiritual” (Rom. 7:14). Christ’s words “are Spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63), “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Rom. 8:9).

“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:3,4). If we would do the whole humbling Law, then we would seek God for the empowering redemption in His mercy. Christ would become of great effect to us. By exposing ourselves to the conviction of His Law, and being brought to repentance, we have also received Christ’s help. We have helped Him to help us.

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” (Jas. 2:10,11). If we keep the Law, but “obey not the gospel”(1 Pet. 4:18), then we are as much transgressors as if we were not commandment keepers. Does Jesus love only the truth? Does Jesus love only grace? He loves them both; and He was full of both (John 1:14). He desires to win our hearts through both. Grace and truth together, welded together, are His realm. Not one without the other, but ever together. The painful truth He ever spoke graciously. The precious promises of grace He ever spoke in strong conviction. We must enter this environment if we want to come to Him for His sure help.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-20).

These leaders overseeing their flock were such sticklers of the law, yet broke the second commandment, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:17,18).

“And some of them would have taken Him; but no man laid hands on Him.
Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought Him?
The officers answered, Never man spake like this Man.
Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?
But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” (John 7:44-52).

They weren’t keeping the whole Law. The unconverted cannot love its neighbor as itself. It speaks arrogantly and rudely, when charity would speak patiently and kindly. The Pharisee is anyone who has hot works on the outside, “on fire for the Lord”, but is empty and cold on the inside. The second greatest commandment is the challenge that our God puts before each Pharisee, for him to know that sin lieth at the door so that he will know to humble himself, confessing his sinfulness, and come for forgiveness. The whole law includes the confession of our sins to God and our faults to one another. A life of only outward goodness is under a greater curse of God because of its pretended service to Him than a life of outward badness.

“So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Gal. 3:9-13).

Let us muster all the faith we have been given, and come see a Man who tells us everything we ever did right and wrong!

“Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law….
The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” (Isa. 42:1-4,21).

Jesus wants us to keep His commandments from both Old and New Testaments; He wants us to do the whole Law of His gracious mouth. He came here and exemplified His requirements, but Satan refused to give up his territory in the hearts of those who had adopted his methods and signed on to his covenant.

Paul had dealt with the effects of Law without grace. And the results were horrifying him.

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” (Gal. 4:8-15).

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”  (Gal. 5:1-9).

Paul had the truth. But, the Jews had a counterfeit from the devil.

Jesus wants to bring us to Himself through both His statutes/judgments, and His grace/trustworthiness. In short, His truth and grace are the only balanced, redemptive power to save us from sin and deliver us from Satan’s power to deceive.

Jesus calls us to Himself. He did this all throughout the Old Testament, and He did it again throughout the New. But, He cannot force anyone. He holds out the promised blessings of His love and His Father’s love, with all of love’s glorious by-products in the fruits of His Spirit. But, we must go to Jesus and let Him draw us in. We must witness His love in action as recorded in the whole Bible.

We help ourselves, not by immediately getting busy working hard on His obeying His laws of good works, or even working hard to obey His requirement of believing. He only requires heeding His loving call to “come and see” (John 1:39). We must have His help to help ourselves even in believing, for we have little strength. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom. 5:6).

We cannot make ourselves surrender to either the Law or the gospel. All we can do is come and see. But, once we see, with the seeing comes the power to obey. Watch the leper when the sight of Jesus grabbed him and would not let him go. Watch the crowds fall away, yet he did not see them. All he could see was Jesus. Then the leprosy of sin we cleansed and he had perfect obedience—righteousness.

“In the region of Christ’s ministry, there were many of these sufferers, and the news of His work reached them, kindling a gleam of hope. But since the days of Elisha the prophet, such a thing had never been known as the cleansing of one upon whom this disease had fastened. They dared not expect Jesus to do for them what He had never done for any man. There was one, however, in whose heart faith began to spring up. Yet the man knew not how to reach Jesus. Debarred as he was from contact with his fellow men, how could he present himself to the Healer? And he questioned if Christ would heal him. Would He stoop to notice one believed to be suffering under the judgment of God? Would He not, like the Pharisees, and even the physicians, pronounce a curse upon him, and warn him to flee from the haunts of men? He thought of all that had been told him of Jesus. Not one who had sought His help had been turned away. The wretched man determined to find the Saviour. Though shut out from the cities, it might be that he could cross His path in some byway along the mountain roads, or find Him as He was teaching outside the towns. The difficulties were great, but this was his only hope. 
     The leper is guided to the Saviour. Jesus is teaching beside the lake, and the people are gathered about Him. Standing afar off, the leper catches a few words from the Saviour’s lips. He sees Him laying His hands upon the sick. He sees the lame, the blind, the paralytic, and those dying of various maladies rise up in health, praising God for their deliverance. Faith strengthens in his heart. He draws nearer and yet nearer to the gathered throng. The restrictions laid upon him, the safety of the people, and the fear with which all men regard him are forgotten. He thinks only of the blessed hope of healing. 
     He is a loathsome spectacle. The disease has made frightful inroads, and his decaying body is horrible to look upon. At sight of him the people fall back in terror. They crowd upon one another in their eagerness to escape from contact with him. Some try to prevent him from approaching Jesus, but in vain. He neither sees nor hears them. Their expressions of loathing are lost upon him. He sees only the Son of God. He hears only the voice that speaks life to the dying. Pressing to Jesus, he casts himself at His feet with the cry, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” 
     Jesus replied, ‘I will; be thou made clean,’ and laid His hand upon him. Matthew 8:3, R. V.” Desire of Ages, p. 262, 263.

“It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model.” Great Controversy, p. 623.

The work of my salvation is a cooperative effort—me doing my part, and Jesus doing His part. But, that doesn’t assume that His part and mine are separate from each other; they are rather in conjunction. Both ours and His are joined together as if braided like a rope. I receive strength only from His strength. He gives me strength to get heavenly treasures. But, I must come to hear His words and see His works. I must receive from His hand the evidences of a friendship that He desires me to have with Him. Then He will pick me up and I will “ride upon the high places of the earth” (Isa. 58:13) and He will feed me with the heritage of Israel. I will sit in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6).

“The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.” (Hab. 3:19). 

“Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” (Isa. 27:5).
“Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.” (Ps. 91:14).

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dying daily

“And He saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow.” (Luke 19:22).
“For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:17).
“But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap. And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:2,3).
“Renunciation of Self. I thank the Lord this morning for His keeping power. I awake very early, unable to sleep. During the past night my mind has been greatly burdened. I am charged to bear to those in Los Angeles and all who shall assemble in these meetings who minister in word and doctrine, the message that they need to be reconverted, for they do not understand the philosophy of the genuine missionary work that should be done by those who are acquainted with present truth. In the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth chapters of John, God’s will is plainly outlined before them. It is their privilege to understandingly watch unto prayer, [and] believe that God means just what He says. The Lord charges them to stand faithfully, to believe every verse in these chapters, and to live them out before their brother ministers.  
     To every one God has given His work. Not all have the same line of work, but all are to be workers together with God, laboring in perfect unity and love with one another, bearing fruit to the glory of God. God’s servants are branches of the true Vine, and they should produce the best quality of fruit. They are distinct branches, but they draw their sustenance from one Source-- the parent stock, Christ Jesus.
     Those who work for God are daily to empty the heart of self, that they may be cleansed of their hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong. They are to depend wholly upon Him who taught as never man taught. Unless the soul temple is daily emptied of self, and prepared for the reception of the Holy Spirit, self will rule the entire being. The words and acts will be tarnished with selfishness. Christ will not appear in the life. There will be seen a self-confidence that is wholly inappropriate.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, p. 168.
“No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 159.
In Sabbath school yesterday the question was raised, “What does dying to self actually look like? What does it mean?” One answer offered from the class likened dying to self and sanctification to eating an onion. You peal it off layer by layer. Likewise, the Lord will peal away our sinfulness layer by layer, deeper and deeper. That sounds correct. Except that we must ask, do we have the drive that pleases God in the process of our sanctification? Do we have faith, the faith of Jesus? Do we mosey along in our sanctification “work of a lifetime”? Or do we run at our personal Goliaths like David did whirling his sling with his one smooth bullet? Do we say with Paul the following?
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” (Phil. 3:8-10).
 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” (Phil. 3:13-15).
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.” (Luke 13:24,25).
“I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50).
“The high calling of God in Christ Jesus”, “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” Do we strive like that to have our layers of sin pealed off of our soul, and purged from our spirit? Are we truly dying to self? Are we keeping up to speed with the pealing, as God desires? Are we striving to cooperate with Him for the death to our self? Are we striving to see Jesus die to self in Gethsemane and on the Cross? Filled with the presence of sin while He was in the garden, and without His Father to wash it all away in His usual nightly flood of tears, the Son of God was further punished by God on the cross for having sinful flesh and punished by us for having no beauty in Him that we should desire Him.
Jesus’ faith was true dying to self. Jesus’ death to self is the standard. “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Heb. 12:4). Not my death or yours, not our neighbor’s effort to die to self, but the Son’s death of His every fleshly want is the standard. We need to repent of our dying to self. Historically, the effort of God’s people to cooperate with Him for their death has been a dismal enterprise. With a few exceptions, it has ended in their total desolation and rejection.
“Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach.
Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.
We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows.
We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us.
Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.
We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
Servants have ruled over us: there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand.
We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.
Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.
Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.
They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.
The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick.
The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.
The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!
For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.” (Lam. 5:1-17).

“For the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Dan. 9:27).

Are we Adventists, who are the people of God, “the remnant of His heritage” (Mic. 7:18), taking His commandments seriously? Are we afflicting our souls for the investigative judgment? Are we purifying ourselves, as John called for and Ellen White seconded?

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” (1Jn. 3:2,3).
“Says the prophet: 'Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2, 3. Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14.
     When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look “forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Song of Solomon 6:10. “ Great Controversy, p. 425.
“Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator-- individuality, power to think and to do. The men in whom this power is developed are the men who bear responsibilities, who are leaders in enterprise, and who influence character. It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen. Instead of educated weaklings, institutions of learning may send forth men strong to think and to act, men who are masters and not slaves of circumstances, men who possess breadth of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions.
     Such an education provides more than mental discipline; it provides more than physical training. It strengthens the character, so that truth and uprightness are not sacrificed to selfish desire or worldly ambition. It fortifies the mind against evil. Instead of some master passion becoming a power to destroy, every motive and desire are brought into conformity to the great principles of right. As the perfection of His character is dwelt upon, the mind is renewed, and the soul is re-created in the image of God.
     What education can be higher than this? What can equal it in value?
     ‘It cannot be gotten for gold,
     Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
     It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,
     With the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
     The gold and the crystal cannot equal it
     And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
     No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls:
     For the price of wisdom is above rubies.’ Job 28:15-18.  
     Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godliness--godlikeness--is the goal to be reached. Before the student there is opened a path of continual progress. He has an object to achieve, a standard to attain, that includes everything good, and pure, and noble. He will advance as fast and as far as possible in every branch of true knowledge. But his efforts will be directed to objects as much higher than mere selfish and temporal interests as the heavens are higher than the earth.
     He who co-operates with the divine purpose in imparting to the youth a knowledge of God, and molding the character into harmony with His, does a high and noble work. As he awakens a desire to reach God’s ideal, he presents an education that is as high as heaven and as broad as the universe; an education that cannot be completed in this life, but that will be continued in the life to come; an education that secures to the successful student his passport from the preparatory school of earth to the higher grade, the school above.” Education, p. 17-19.
“And thou, O Tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto Thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.” (Mic. 4:8). “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14).
Are we really dying to self? Are we really striving to enter into the gates of the city?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dime a dozen and a measure of wheat for a penny

“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matt. 3:9).
We are a dime a dozen? Not worth a plug nickel? Was John saying that? Why would John compare the children of God to the worthless rocks that were strewn all over the surrounding wilderness?
Keep in mind that it was the Spirit of God who spoke through John. To whom was John speaking? “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt. 3:7). Why did John call them the snakes that he found all over the desert? Why was he so hostile to them?

Because he was being serious with everyone about preparing for the Messiah. His message was 100% serious, and the people were responding with heart-felt repentance, until the religious leaders showed up hardened in sin, unfeeling, and chilling. They didn’t come to make confession with penitent tears. They came only to look faithful, in order to steal back from John their power over the people. That made John angry not because he considered it sheep-stealing, as if he owned the people, but because they were stealing from the Lord’s flock. They were disrupting the work of God for their own aggrandizement. The strait, unvarnished truth that John was giving the people was tough love, but it was strong fatherly love, and the people were flocking to hear it. It was refreshing compared to the stale, lifeless humanism of the Romanized religious leaders.
Because the leaders were coming to John in rebellion, the Spirit of God would reflect back the same on them. “With the pure Thou wilt shew Thyself pure; and with the froward Thou wilt shew Thyself froward.” (Ps. 18:26). No, the repentant people weren’t a dime a dozen; rather, the dime a dozen were the fake, heartless “robbers of thy people.” (Dan. 11:14). “Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.” (Jer. 7:11). The Lord through Jeremiah was speaking to the Jewish priests who worshiped and preached Baal religion. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jer. 9:25,26).
John’s statement spoke to the heart. If the religious leaders remained proud and self-exalted, then God had no place for them in the coming kingdom. The Father would find His gems for the kingdom from the rough, apparently worthless limestone littering the desert. The people, burning under the wrath of God because they were unwillingly made ignorant of the way to faith in God, would be chosen by Him to receive the wonderful “refreshing from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19) when His Son would begin His ministry. Only those who came to hear John received the rich spiritual blessings from the Anointed One (see Luke 7:29,30).
The Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ expensive, flowing fashionable vestments, which they wore, would work against them in the new kingdom. The kingdom that Satan had used them to build was soon to be replaced by a spiritual kingdom flowing with righteousness, over which love ruled, and where everyone was equal; and willful, tyrannical power lords could not enter. “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27). To God their religion wasn’t worth a twelfth of a dime, less than a farthing, and hardly a mite. Their wealth and overlording would not buy them a single star for a crown in the new kingdom. They that make such idol religions are like them.
Jesus’ warning was very clear, “Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24).
Spiritually speaking, the Pharisees were supposed to be descendants of the pre-captivity rulers over Judah’s tribes and cities, and they clung to their high status and wealth because their hearts were uncircumcised; they had never known faith and love. “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided Him.” (Luke 16:14). They believed in a prosperity gospel, and that they must be blessed because they had wealth. But, we can see by their being the focus of God’s displeasure and rebukes from Christ, His forerunner, and His later apostles,  that they weren’t blessed of God but blessed of the devil. As the Lord foretold, “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:5). When Rome required tribute from the nation, the wealthy elite, which were also the religious elite, wouldn’t share in the burden of taxation, but took the tribute debt out of the people, and impoverished them. The leaders wouldn’t lift a finger to satisfy the tribute requirement of their hated dictators. The Pharisees’ “blessings” really came from oppressing the enslaved, weakened classes under them. However, they knew not what they did because what they did was all that they had ever seen from their fathers. That didn’t make it right for the subordinate classes to lose their meager daily allowance to carry the high taxation, but, God was willing to be merciful to these rulers of the people. But, not forever. After repeatedly hearing their sin from the loving Son of God, through many merciful parables, and mocking Him for it, their probation ran out.
Not the power hungry and wealthy, would the Messiah claim. On the contrary, all who they had oppressed would be the Lord’s portion. The poor had been humbled and would be exalted in the new kingdom of humility. All the humbled children would receive from Jesus crowns that would endure unto eternal life.
“And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them,” “whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mark 9:36;Matt. 18:4).
“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” (Ps. 8:2).
“And Samuel said [to King Saul], When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? ...Thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.” (1Sam. 15:17,26). If we will humble ourselves and be like little children, we will receive from God a worthy portion. Otherwise, if we will not bow our pride, after many opportunities to do so, our probation will end, He will become our enemy (see Isa. 63:10), and He will judge us not worth a dime. The humanity and compassion we have for the least of the human race, we have for the Lord of hosts.
“All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.” (John 10:8). “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matt. 11:12). The great reward received by everyone in the end would be equal to the humiliation and suffering received in the name of Christ. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou shalt also judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” (Zech. 3:7).
In the end, God will judge His people. The fires of oppression will purify Him a worthy people, and will simultaneously create the oppressing wicked. “What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory.” (Rom. 9:22,23). “I will make Mine arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people: for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people.” (Deut. 32:42,43).
In other words, as the oppressors heaped up their own judgment, over time as their oppression mounted. And simultaneously their oppression would boil away the natural-born pride of the oppressed and enslaved people under them, and in due time would heap up for the humbled a rich reward. Beautiful system of judgment! “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the LORD hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God.” (Isa. 61:1,2). No one is born meek. We must suffer under a yoke before we can be the meek that are overjoyed to hear good tidings from the Saviour. (See Ex. 4:31).
From their oppression He will create a holy people where there was none. “As He saith also in Osee, I will call them My people, which were not My people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” (Rom. 9:25,26).
Every detail of this post speaks of another subjugation this time for Protestant America and the Advent movement. If you have an ear to hear, you will see that every detail from the word of God translates to the coming collapse of the world economy, which Rome again already dominates. And Satan dominates through the Vatican. Another enslavement of the world, of America, and of the Advent movement will devour the whole country, the churches, and the whole world. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” (Rev. 13:11). “For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand.” (Rev. 19:2).
The coming enslavement will be punishment from the Lord because Protestantism has turned back to the lawless doctrines of her paganized Mother, and because Adventism has followed the Protestant churches in their Spiritual Formation and celebration worship, as the Jews followed the apostatized northern nation of Israel. “And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto Me. But she turned not. and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a billof divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jer. 3:7,8).

Yet, the Lord doesn’t curse for pleasure. He didn’t curse Adam and Eve out of revenge. He punished them with the perfect things that would lead them to surrender to His will, to need a Saviour, and to repent at each death of a lamb, which represented the Lord. He punished Abraham with the result of following local customs instead of obeying what he knew of the original Eden marriage. He punished David for fornication and murder, even to almost losing the kingdom that he had assisted the Lord in setting up, and which he began to destroy.
Our Lord punishes to save. He desires to redeem with as much discipline as will lead His people to submit to the only method that can save them. The coming enslavement upon the world, the heavy tribute for repayment of all the debts owed to Rome from this world’s nations, will be designed to lead God’s people everywhere to surrender to the Lord’s long called for “special work of purification” Great Controversy, p. 425. That work of special purification has called to the Protestant denominations since 1888. How are we doing at it?
But few of the Protestants—and that includes their Remnant—have been obedient to the call from the Lord in the Bible that they professed to love, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” (1Jn. 3:2,3). Our nonchalant profession of waiting for the Lord’s return does not measure up to His expectation, any more than did the Jews in Christ’s day. We are living this life as if it will continue as it is forever. Like nothing supernatural will come down from the heavens. We’ve abandoned our Reformation and Advent movements’ purposes for existence, God’s purpose in us for preparing the world for the eternal kingdom. Now we need this last enslavement from God in order for us to take part in finishing the great controversy and this world of sin.
But, there is a bright future. The refreshing from the presence of the Lord will return. Our living under the wrath of God will be washed away by a magnification of both His Law and His grace. That is, His strait testimony from another John the Baptist movement, and afterwards, another obvious presence of the Anointed One walking among all who received the strait testimony movement. Salvation will return, big salvation, and Jesus will be very, very close “unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob” (Isa. 59:20). His Spirit will fill His people again as in the days of the apostles, and signs and wonders will follow His people. Their minds will be sealed in the knowledge of God, and they will love righteousness and the abundance of peace. Their hearts and mouths will be sanctified. Like Levi “The Law of truth was in his mouth” (Mal. 2:6), out of the abundance of their sanctified hearts will their mouths speak truth and “gracious words” (Luke 4:22). Again it will be said of His Protestants and Adventists:
“The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Ps. 37:11).
“A Psalm for Solomon. Give the king Thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the king’s son.
He shall judge Thy people with righteousness, and Thy poor with judgment.
The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
They shall fear Thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.
In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” (Ps. 72:1-8).
“Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against Me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against Me. And it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.” (Jer. 33:6-9).
The difficult, harsh, terrible troubles ahead are actually really, really good in the long run. Before the glory must come the cross. Nothing less than a time of trouble can give the necessary humiliation to us Protestants and Adventists and to our have-need-of-nothing, blasé, self-sufficiency. Nothing else will seal our hearts in godly perfection so that we can become the 144,000 and make us qualified to bring the gospel to the world “for a witness to all nations” (Matt. 24:14). And beyond the traumatic troubles there is even a greater promise. An Earth made new without sin and sorrow, spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” (Rev. 21:22-24).
Let’s not be counterfeit, worthless, “good for nothing” (Matt. 5:13), saltless, professed Christians. Let’s be the real McCoy, genuine gems, priceless stars in His crown, children of the living God. “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” (Mal. 3:16-18).

Let’s not make the dreadful mistake that the Jews made, and not be ready when Jesus comes again, this time in power and great glory. And miss all the life from Jesus eternally.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Perfect freedom (i.e. doing anything you please)

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1Cor. 10:23).
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1Cor. 6:12).

I used to wonder what Paul meant by “all things are lawful for me.” Either it was the perfect recipe for lawlessness, or it was perfect freedom. Was Paul saying he could do anything he wanted to do? That sounds like antinomianism.

I believe what Paul was saying is that he could do anything he wanted, but not everything he wanted was the best for others or for himself. But, everything he wanted to do was OK by the Law. Let’s first break this down. The first half of my first paraphrase says that Paul could do anything he wanted. Anything? Yes, anything. Who did Paul think he was, king?

Paul was a king. King Paul! Paul was to the New Dispensation what Moses was to the Old Dispensation. They both expressed the law of each respective dispensation. Moses was a king.

“Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob. And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.” (Deut. 33:4,5).

How were they kings?

Jesus made them kings. Christ filled them with His Spirit, and with that came perfect wisdom to craft the will of God and the freedom to teach and lead. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2Cor. 3:17). Our Lord knows how best to run a government. He knows that love with all of its elements will keep a nation united and free. When He fills His kings with His Spirit, they learn the best way to run an organization and a nation. Then they have perfect freedom to do as they please, because they do as God pleases. They please God. This is what we see with King Saul when he was anointed. Samuel told him, “And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee…and [thou] shalt be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.” (1Sam. 10:6,7). Saul could do anything that he wanted because he had the heart of the Lord. He had the Spirit of the Lord for his spirit. Saul was in Christ and Christ was in Saul. Saul was a new creature in Christ and his old man was dead. Jesus was in his heart, and therefore as long as Jesus was in his heart, Saul would only do right.

“Ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.
Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousnness is righteous, even as He is righteous.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this prupose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1Jn. 3:5-9).

King Saul had perfect freedom to do his will, to do as he pleased. Now that is perfect freedom—accomplishing what you want to do without any external restrictions. That kind of freedom is sought out by everyone on earth. But the world does it for selfish reasons, therefore they must be restrained. They must have a law that is higher than them. But, they don’t want any restraint. They certainly don’t want any of God’s restraints. They want power—absolute power, so that no one can tell them what to do or forbid them what not to do; and they want to destroy everyone who tries to tell them what to do. By nature, power corrupts; and, absolute power corrupts absolutely. That absolute power is abusive and oppressive, brutal and ruthless; that’s why absolute power is what Satan always installs on every throne that he controls.

But absolute power is not what Samuel was speaking of to Saul. The new king of Israel would be without external restraint, but God would be the king’s restraint. There would be restraints, but only internally. As long as the laws of God remain fresh in the thoughts of the king, they will have God’s intercession for the king’s work of leadership. This is not what the world’s rulers have because they aren’t anointed by the Creator and the self-sacrificing Redeemer, who anointed King Saul. Possessed by God, the human does as he was designed to do. In God’s image and under God’s control, he works out righteousness, love, holiness. He has the constraint of the Lord’s Spirit, the constraint of love. And love fulfills the whole Law; the Law hangs on love. The commandments are founded upon love; and they are decorated by love. The Law sat in the ark under the mercy seat. The ark around the Law was gold plated; and the mercy seat was solid gold. Mercy has lots of value to God. Justice forms the foundation of mercy and mercy beautifies justice. Justice and mercy together make the throne of God.

Jesus made His kings follow-ons to Himself and to Adam, the two original Monarchs of Earth. If the Garden of Eden is the size as New Jerusalem, then Adam’s throne was the size of Washington State; that is, 71,000 square miles of every necessity satisfied for life and love.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads….
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:7-10,15-18).

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” (1Cor. 15:45-47).

Yes, Paul and Moses have ruled over the human race because the human race has a conscience, and both Moses and Paul wrote to the conscience. They owned the world as did Adam and Abraham and all the champions of righteousness and faith—that is, righteousness from/through/by/springing out of faith. “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law [self-righteousness], but through the righteousness of faith.” (Rom. 4:13).

When Paul stood before kings and governors, he was not speaking up to them. If he had stood before Caesar Augustus he would have played the part of a slave or criminal in manacles. But, Paul would have been as respectful to the Caesar as he would to the street urchin beggar. Paul would have intelligently, and from the heart, defended himself in a way to woo Augustus Caesar to God, as he did King Agrippa, which was amazingly beautiful (Acts 26:1-27). Paul’s eloquence came from the heart and soul of Christ’s Spirit. And the king was so moved that he said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (vs. 28). But, although in manacles, he still would have been head and shoulders higher than Octavius. The only advantage Augustus would have had was his regal attire, his washboard stomach breast plate, and his multitude of courtiers. Nero was the Caesar that Paul stood before, and, judging by his public speaking to King Agrippa, the greatness of the holy apostle must have towered over the self-importance of that evil dictator.

It was one king speaking to another. But, the same can be said of every soul that the King of kings has humbled and lifted up. They all speak like kings. Of John the Baptist Ellen White wrote:
“He looked upon the King in His beauty, and self was forgotten. He beheld the majesty of holiness, and felt himself to be inefficient and unworthy. He was ready to go forth as Heaven’s messenger, unawed by the human, because he had looked upon the Divine. He could stand erect and fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because he had bowed low before the King of kings.” Desire of Ages, p. 103.

Humility is the prerequisite to being one of God’s kings. They have been awed by Him, they fear Him and know their place. But their place is to sit before the God of love; and sitting there, hearing his word, gives them perfect joy. They are loved, and love gives them power over a world that receives only accusations from the god they serve. “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” (Ps. 8:2). God’s kings speak with authority from the heart of a child. How can that ever be bad? Never!

All become kings who have wrestled with the Law that stands as tall as a 14 story skyscraper, “an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.” (Rev. 21:17). Since angels are more than three times the height of a man, 144 cubits may be actually 700 feet tall. When we are awed by the great representative of the Father—His Law, His holy Hedge—we are candidates of His Son’s grace. Once our hearts are subdued by both His Law and grace we become dynamos that God can use to take back a world ruined by spiritualism and humanism.

King David said, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8). The kings of God are redeemed. They have the earnest of the eternal inheritance with God and His powerful persence of love.

“That [they] should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom [they] also trusted, after that [they] heard the word of truth, the gospel of [their] salvation: in whom also after that [they] believe[d].” (Eph. 1:12,13).
“And because [they] are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into [their] hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal. 4:6). With the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9) they are “enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and [are] made partakers of the Holy Ghost” (Heb. 6:4). They are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of [their] inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” (Eph. 1:13,14).

They are sealed with the power and mind of the holy God. His goodness and mercy fills them and follows them. They are like Jesus, the anointed One and the sealed One. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.” (John 6:27). Jesus wants His children to be sealed, too! “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given Me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” (Isa. 8:18, cf Heb. 2:13; Isa. 9:6).

Once sealed, they have a new heart and mind. No longer vexed by the devil, they have liberty to think clearly and deeply. Apart from the omniscient Holy One, everything is foolishness. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom...” “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” “ made unto us wisdom....” (Jer. 9:23; 1Cor. 1:25,30). The Spirit of God has graciously healed His children; and their gratitude to Him has no bounds. Now they are free to choose like God in their own lifestyle and in others who love to be with them and be like them. Everything is lawful to them because they have the Law of love in their hearts. And love doth not behave itself unseemly. Their choices are God’s will. They think, act, look like Jesus. They are true representatives of the great King. They give Him glory. They are honored and feared by all.

“The early Christians were indeed a peculiar people; Their blameless deportment and unswerving faith were a continual reproof that disturbed the sinner’s peace. Though few in numbers, without wealth, position, or honorary titles, they were a terror to evildorers wherever their character and doctrines were known.” Great Controversy, p. 46.

“He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (1Cor. 2:15).
The exceeding privilege of being sealed and exalted to a child of the King through the Spirit puts the man and woman of God stronger, wiser, taller than everyone around. They are kings (the males and the females). They are settled in God’s love and they know that He accepts them and walks with them.

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5,6).

“He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star.” (Rev. 2:26-28).

“I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isa. 58:14).
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the LORD.” (Isa. 54:17).

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before Me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.” (Jer. 15:19).
“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7).

These are wonderful promises with equally wonderful conditions. We are kings so long as we live in Jesus’ presence and under His influence by His words that we willingly keep in our minds. He says to us, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). His people reign in the earth because their flesh is not the mode of operation in their minds. The Spirit of God gives them their mode of operation; and It can only inhabit hearts and minds that don’t have self as another resident.

Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.
And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul,
That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
And then the LORD’s wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.
Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave unto Him;
Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.
There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as He hath said unto you.
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day.” (Deut. 11:8-27).

And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in His ways.
And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.
And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
The LORD shall open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in His season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.” (Deut. 28:8-14).

The kings of God scare the devil. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” (Rev. 16:12, cf Rev. 1:6).
“But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.” (Dan. 11:44, cf Dan. 12:1).

The kings of God strike fear in everyone who inhabits Satan’s kingdom, the devils also, and even Satan himself. The kings of the east are anointed with the Spirit of God and with His love. They have calm demeanors from a spirit of mercy, but they also preach righteousness from the housetops. They bear not their sword of the Spirit in vain. They have put their trust in God, and He has given them the witness that He has put His trust in them (see 1Jn. 5:10,11). They love the Law of their God, and He has authorized them to do as they please. Their pleasure is to please God. The Spirit of Christ is in them; and their pleasure is to see righteousness reign in the earth. Because “if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Rom. 8:10). When the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9) controls us, our sin-marinated flesh no longer controls us, and we are alive because we are justified and new creatures.

“Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art My servant: I have formed thee; thou art My servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me.
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee.
Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.
Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself;
That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
That confirmeth the word of His servant, and performeth the counsel of His messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:
That saith of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not know Me.” (Isa. 44:21-45:4).

The greatness of God’s kings is that they do no oppression. They have His Spirit and His love restrains them from overdoing justice. Love, consideration, compassion keep them back from carelessly bringing damage to any soul. Being filled with His wisdom, they divine His will and speak only that. Thus, they are prophets of the Lord, and He “confirmeth the word of His servant, and performeth the counsel of His messengers”.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13).
“Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation: and Thy right hand hath holden me up, and Thy gentleness hath made me great.” (Ps. 18:35).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22,23).

Liberty in the Spirit is balanced with righteousness restrained—judgment. Though they have the power to afflict more justice, they refrain themselves in the hope of restoring the sinner. This is what we hear Paul doing in the church at Corinth after he came down hard on a church member who humbled himself before Paul’s rebuke (see 1Cor. 5:1-5):

“Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2Cor. 2:6-11).

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2Cor. 3:17). The prophets and kings, judges and patriarchs of God have their high positions because the seed of truth has lodged itself in the soil of their heart.

“And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” (Gen. 18:17-19). Abraham lived the Law of God before the Lord proclaimed it—because he had Jesus in his heart, and obeyed His Law by faith. “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Gal. 3:). And that kind of obedience—obedience by faith— was “blessedness” (Rom. 4:9). Blessedness.

“And it shall be, when he [Israel’s kings] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.” (Deut. 17:18-20).

Being priest and king of the New Testament church, Paul understood the Law, not only in its written words, but also in its spirit. So, he wasn’t throwing out the Law when he counseled: “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” (Rom. 14:13-15).

With the words of Christ and the Spirit of Christ, we have everything we need in order to know righteousness and truth, to “discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” (Mal. 3:18). Christ’s words without His Spirit, or vice versa, Christ’s Spirit without His words, ends in error and leaves us wide open to Satan’s upside-down interpretations by which he calls righteousness sin and sin righteousness. Paul knew perfectly well how important the laws of health and cleanliness are to God. He wrote, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1Cor. 9:27). And as king of the Gentile churchs, Paul studied the scriptures and meditated on them every day, as Jesus commaded through Moses. Yet, he also saw that law-keeping just for the sake of keeping the rules was not the right motive. Obedience must be by faith. And Moses would have agreed, as anyone can see by reading his book of Job. Job was an upright man, but was strongly rebuked by the Lord for exalting himself and his good behavior, instead of glorifying God (see Job 32:1; 33:8-30; 34:5-7,12-17,31-37; 35:2,14,15; 40:1-8; 42:6). Love, faith, and the Spirit are the overarching guides for righteousness. “Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people. And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto Him, If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” (Ex. 33:13-15).

We have taboos and sacred cows; and they look like truth that God gave us. But, taboos and sacred cows are man-made traditions that tell us what to do and what not to do. And they have no love and redeeming principle to them, no matter their complex sophistication or their sleight of hand marble-under-the-walnut shell type convoluted scientific nothingness. They are not self-denying and redemptive, therefore they are very appealing to the unrepentant soul, as Cain’s was. Yet, that being said, the rules that God gave for our good have higher rules that can temporarily override the basic rules. But, not without much deliberation. This principle of overrides never creates taboos and sacred cows. Every higher law is perfectly compatible with the subordinate laws. Woe to the man or organization that treats even the basic rules of God lightly. Woe to them who discard the least commandment because they are obedient to what they call the greatest commandments. They will “not live out half their days.” (Ps. 55:23).

So, Paul was not wrong to use the higher law of keeping unity through love, rather than individuals fighting to make their personal victories mandatory on everyone. The old standards remain intact; the higher victories remain the goal. But, part of the higher standards are adding to your virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. (see 2Pet. 1:5-8). Paul’s conclusion: “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” (Rom. 14:22). Whoa!

Notwithstanding that side of the coin, because righteousness has boundaries and protection of everyone, man, beast, personal property, et cetera, God’s kings must keep order and discipline everywhere they go. While they do not abuse with careless justice and truth, neither will they enable with careless mercy and grace. As their Master Jesus was perfect in balancing truth and grace, they do likewise “having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience.” (2Cor. 10:6).

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour…. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:15-18).

This “do as you please” concept does not preach a lawless gospel because it has great promises with conditions. It’s not a dreamland. Neither was Eden a dreamy paradise because it also had conditions. Neither grace without Law nor promises without conditions are good, healthy, or realistic.

The religion of grace without truth as a counterbalance is a proud religion that won’t allow for conditions. It’s a spirituality that has not bowed before the Most High but wants “its” blessings (not “His” blessings) without humbling itself. Grace without truth, mercy with justice, is spiritualism, and Satan owns the souls who are willingly under that regime.

Undoubtedly, the freedom that God wants to give His children puts them higher than the proud world. It is true liberty. But it isn’t an out-of-control liberty. The prerequisite of a meek stance before the Law keeps them back from oppressing others. This is true grace—the grace of God. They are peacemakers in the earth. They are OK with authority and a chain of command. Service, redemption, and restoration are their central orientation. Self is lost in love. Dictatorial dogmatism does not enter their thinking.

So, we talked about Paul’s declaration, that all things are lawful to him.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1Cor. 10:23).

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1Cor. 6:12).

What about the second half, that everything is not expedient, or not the best for himself and others and God? The greatness of the kings of God comes from His gift of discernment in given situations. This is not situational ethics, which is founded upon atheistic. This is about using Spirit-driven judgment, judging how to apply the Law and the laws properly. Only the spiritual have this ability. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1).

The expediency Paul spoke of is about the principle of “good, better, best”. Even if an action looks good or is good, there is usually room for improvement. And all along the way of improving, the goal should be to provide the best interpretation of the laws so that the souls that God is reaching are not unnecessarily offended by His servants. The kings of God are experts at interpretation of the Law. That is why Jesus makes them apostles and prophets, judges and kings. They keep the benchmark true, even when situations and conditions change, and Satan bends societies and cultures here and there over time to trip up the church of God in its effort to evangelize the world.

Paul taught principles of righteousness, good for all time and everywhere on this world, principles which God gave Adam’s children, all of us made of one blood. Moses taught the same principles, as did David, and the Anointed One when He walked the earth. Their vocabulary sounded different, but they all blended truth and grace perfectly. They all placed God above His intelligent creation, but not out of their reach. Trusting and obeying Him was preeminent. Ultimately, peace on earth and holy characters was the goal.

Dear reader, receive an education that few get. Line up all the lessons of the kings and priests of God in the Bible, compare those lessons, analyze them. That’s what the kings, et al did with those who came before them. Submit to the consequences that God has given you for Adam’s sin, for your sins, and everyone’s sins in between you and Adam; there are wonderful lessons from consequences, too.  “For the work of a man shall He render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.” (Job 34:11,12). Let’s compare it all; it’s all holy and just and good. Let’s receive a very deep, broad, and high education in righteous, loving leadership straight from the Almighty.

And let’s all become kings in the earth.