Thursday, March 3, 2011
Laying Down the Law - Walk By the Spirit
Over the course of many years, as I have taught on this subject, one common concern I have heard expressed is that if Christians are not taught to keep the Law they will end up justifying unrighteous and selfish actions while saying the Spirit of Christ is the source of their direction. There is good reason to be concerned. Indeed, I have heard saints justify all manner of selfish desires, including adultery, as they proclaimed the Holy Spirit was guiding them.
Such failures are serious, however, the Law offers no more of a safeguard against spiritual deception and willful sin than does the voice of the Spirit. When Christ came to this earth to fulfill His ministry, the people of God were intently focused upon the Law. The entire society centered around the teaching of the Law of Moses. The High Priest, the Levites, the Scribes and Pharisees, and legions of Lawyers were all engaged in making the requirements of the Law known to the people.
We know the hypocrisy of those who professed devotion to Yahweh and allegiance to the Law of Moses. Christ stated:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and LAWLESSNESS.”
There has rarely been a people with a greater focus upon the Law than the generation to which Christ appeared. Yet Christ judged them to be lawless. Rather than fulfilling the law of love by taking care of the weak and needy, they were robbing widows and neglecting orphans. Through their traditions and interpretations of the Law they made the neglect of aging parents seem like a righteous act. Christ condemned them for justifying divorce through the decree of Moses when a wife had not committed adultery.
Such unrighteous actions are a manifestation of lawlessness. When men and women violate the will of God while defending their actions with the Law of God, they are lawless. In the same way, when men and women violate the will of God while claiming to have the approval and leading of the Holy Spirit, they too are lawless and will receive the penalty of their error.
For Christians who commit such deceptive or disobedient actions, the problem is not that the Spirit is unreliable, or inadequate, as a guide to know the will of the Father. There is no need to abandon a Spirit-led life, nor cause to return to the Law. Those whose hearts are set on obtaining their own desire will justify their actions in either case. Some do so willfully, others out of a lack of carefulness, or through ignorance.
In the latter case, the point of failure is in not rightly dividing between soul and spirit. Most Christians have not exercised themselves to develop the ability to divide between soul and spirit. The reasons for this neglect are two-fold. On the one hand, a great many Christians have never been taught that resident within their being is a voice that renders judgments regarding good and evil. This voice does not originate with Yahweh. It is the byproduct of Adam eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When faced with a decision, multitudes of Christians look inside themselves to discern what is the good path, and what is the evil path. They believe they have heard from God, not realizing that they have only consulted with their soul.
(What occurred when man ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden is discussed in detail in the book Sabbath. For a more thorough explanation of this matter, and how man gained an independent ability to determine right and wrong, I recommend this book. http://www.heart4god.ws/id214.htm)
Secondly, the natural, soulish man desires to be in charge of his own life. Being led of the Spirit will always lead to a crucifixion of the flesh, and a death to the soul’s desires. Many avoid inquiring of the Spirit to know the Father’s will, for they do not want to die to self, or experience suffering.
Nevertheless, there is a small number, a mere remnant among the body of Christ, who are desirous of being found pleasing to the Father despite the cost to self. The path the Father presents to them that they might become perfect is to take up their cross daily and follow Christ. They can only follow Christ by emulating His own manner of Spirit-directed living.
Step by step the Father has been bringing forth His desire to have sons in His image and likeness. At the appointed time He sent forth His firstborn Son, born of a virgin, that He might disclose to the world that which is well pleasing in His sight. Immediately after Yahshua was baptized by John at the Jordan River, a voice from heaven was heard declaring, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” From that moment forward, anyone who wanted to know what was pleasing to the Father needed only to observe the Son.
Yahweh is not satisfied to have only one pleasing Son. He desires to have myriads of them.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
It stands to reason that these sons must be Spirit led, for this was always the example of Christ.
Then Yahshua, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit...
We observe in this the natural pattern of the Spirit descending upon Christ, and His subsequently being led about by the same Spirit. This pattern is duplicated in the life of the Christian. Those who have received the Spirit are to be led by the Spirit.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
As noted previously, those who received the Law through Moses were referred to as “the children of Israel.” As children, they were placed under a schoolmaster, a tutor, and a guardian until the time appointed by the Father. That time arrived 2,000 years ago when Yahshua was “born of a woman, born under the Law.” He came to lead men and women out of the immaturity of childhood into the maturity of sons. To accomplish this Yahshua sent forth His Spirit to indwell His disciples.
Those who have experienced Spirit birth are truly new creatures in Christ. They have passed beyond being “living souls” to become spiritual men and women. Spiritual men and women have capabilities that are absent in those who have not been born again. They have been granted spiritual sight and hearing.
Yahshua answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Christ is a spiritual man. Paul testified that as the “last Adam” Christ was “a life-giving spirit.” Yahshua could see the kingdom of His Father. He was able to observe what His Father was doing, and so too can all those who are born of the Spirit.
"For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing...”
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own initiative; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
What a vast improvement from the former method in which God guided His people! Rather than having a shadow of His will revealed through commandments written on stone, the sons of God have the Spirit of God dwelling in them.
II Corinthians 4:7
We have this treasure in earthen vessels...
Yahweh is now able to speak freely to mankind, and man can clearly discern the thoughts, will, and desire of their Creator and Father.
I Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
The overall effect of a Spirit-led life is that it causes a man or woman to focus upon the Spirit of Christ within them. They are made aware of their union with God through Christ. They are encouraged to abide in Christ, drawing freely from the life of the vine into which they have been grafted. No longer do they need to ascend to heaven to find God, or descend into the abyss to find the Word of God. God, and His Word, are in their very hearts, and in their mouths.
Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.’
Christ, the Living Word of God now dwells in the hearts of His saints. Men no longer need to look to tablets of stone to find the word of God. A far greater revelation of the Word of God now resides in their hearts. Do you believe this to be true? Do you perceive these things in your own life? If you are unsure, then you should test yourself, to see if you have become a partaker of the life of Christ.
II Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Yahshua Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?
Those who have been born again will receive the witness within that they are sons of God, and He is their Father.
You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...
Do you have this witness? Do you know God as your Father? Do you perceive the Spirit of Christ dwelling in your heart? Are you hearing His voice and being led by His Spirit? Being led of the Spirit is the normal and expected experience of all those who have been born spiritually.
Confession of a set of beliefs, or doctrines, does not make one a Christian. A man must be born again. They must become a partaker of the life of Christ.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
It is necessary for every man and woman to settle this matter for themselves. Perhaps you were baptized in a church and declared to be a Christian by virtue of this act. Maybe you said a sinner’s prayer, and a minister assured you that you were now “saved.” Do not permit another to be the judge of whether you are a partaker of the life of Christ. If you are, you will know it. The Spirit inside will bear witness to the fact.
What should you do if you perceive that you do not have the Spirit? Ask for it, believing that God will grant it to you. God knows that it is impossible for any man to live a single day pleasing to Him apart from receiving His Spirit. He will not withhold that which a man must have, if it is sought with determination and faith.
"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
The words rendered as “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” in this passage are written in a verb tense that indicates ongoing, persistent action. It is aptly expressed as “keep on asking,” “keep on seeking,” “keep on knocking.” If you were famished, would you cease asking for something to eat before you received what you needed? Those who come to God must believe He will give them what they need, and they must persist in asking until they receive it.
Some want some proof that they have been born again. The most common evidence that the Church focuses upon today is whether a person is able to speak in tongues. The apostle Paul never had such evidence in mind when he said, “test yourself to see whether you are in the faith.” Satan can mimic the gifts of the Spirit. There are such things as “lying signs and wonders” (II Thessalonians 2:9).
If you have been born of the Spirit, the Spirit within will bear witness of the fact. You will know that God is your Father. You will have your eyes and ears opened to perceive the kingdom of God.
It is not a bad thing to wrestle with this issue until it is settled. Even as a butterfly must struggle to emerge from the cocoon, and a chick must struggle to break free of its shell, a man or woman may find themselves struggling as they transition from carnal beings to spiritual. Those who have not settled the issue of whether they truly are partakers of the Spirit of Christ will either walk in deception, thinking they are spiritual men and women when they are not, or they will lack the confidence needed to walk by the Spirit.
Once this issue is resolved, and a man perceives the Spirit of Christ within his being, he has gained entrance into a Spirit-led life. Satan has cheated multitudes out of their spiritual heritage. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. Through lies and deception, Satan has robbed many Christians, persuading them that they must continue to remain under the custodian of the Law. He would direct their attention outward to know the will of God, that he might divert their attention away from the riches of the life of Christ inside their members.
If you are a partaker of the Spirit of Christ, WALK BY THE SPIRIT. Settle for nothing less.
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