20. The Setting of the Story
In the spiritual realms, the words that we speak are force. They cause things to happen. All of our words. And thoughts are the same as words. The spirit of our mind is as powerful as the tongue. When you or I say or think things that are contrary to what God says, we cut God out of our lives in that area. We limit God as far as we are concerned. We cannot prevent God from doing what He says, but we can keep ourselves out of it in the present age.
20. The Setting of the Story
All story takes place in a setting. God proves His word true before a very definite backdrop that God Himself has ordered. Seven of these ten new commandments refer to the life of Christ Himself filling us full and flowing out from us. But three of these ten orient us to the setting of the story, to the darkness pressing against the path upon which we walk.
Those three begin with the most frequent command in the New Testament: watch out, take heed, beware, adding to that prolific command our relationship with the uncleanness found in both flesh and spirit, in both earth and heaven, and our relationship with the world system of darkness.
7. Watch Out! Take Heed! Beware!
God’s people so often get a revelation from God, then they pull out their scissors. People don’t like to hold a word of assurance and a word of jeopardy both at the same time. Yet that is our covenant with God. People get a revelation of the grace of God, which is wonderful, but then they begin whacking out those verses and passages of the New Covenant that they imagine do not “fit” with “grace.”
There is no word in the New Covenant that is not found in grace.
But for me, really, it’s fine. Jesus knows what He is doing with all who belong to Him, and what He does with others is not a concern of mine. My concern is only to receive all who belong to Him with the same love with which He receives me.
However, I choose not to cut out anything God speaks in the New Covenant. To understand it properly, by the Spirit of revelation, yes. To know what has been poorly translated or deceptively mistranslated, yes. To know what is pre-eminent and what is subordinate, yes. To see it all as God speaking a creative word of power – Christ – into me, yes.
Jesus said that we live by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God. We live in a deadly and dangerous world, riddled with deceit and destruction. We have never seen anything with open eyes. We are blind as a bat. Our knowledge of God and His ways is far more trust than it is true seeing. That’s fine.
But I want all that God speaks.
“Old things are passed away, behold all things are brand new” is a word of grace; it is God speaking, Christ, fulfilled in our lives in all of His fullness.
“It was granted to him (the beast) to make war with the saints and to overcome them” and “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” are words of grace; they are God speaking – Christ – fulfilled in our lives in all of His fullness.
Both words are Christ; both are grace; both are essential to the covenant we signed with God. Both words bear mightily upon our lives in this world.
Obviously we must understand what God means in each word by the Spirit of truth and through the perspective of Christ our life.
Some say that in grace we no longer “fight.” Yet I have never been more exultant in the battle. Yes, we fight on a whole different level than we once did. But know this, God loves a good fight; and our Savior is the trickiest strategist in the universe. He deceived death and by His great expertise in battle destroyed it. If God is conforming us into the image of His Son, then we are becoming mighty warriors. Listen, most of the enemy’s seasoned strongmen are targeted against the mighty sons of God who are coming to know all that grace means in them. They see in us their destruction, and they are terrified.
Some claim that God is not angry when people abuse and torture and steal from others, when people manipulate and control others for their own gain. Yes, I believe in redemption. My view of God grows larger and larger; I see Him in all things. But I see Him in all things through what He speaks, not through what is suitable to me. God hates all forms of abuse and manipulation of others.
The most frequent command of the Spirit of God in the New Testament, through Jesus and all the apostles is WATCH OUT! TAKE HEED! BEWARE! It is a word of Christ in us, through us, as us. It is a word of grace!
Here are a couple of examples, two of many, many:
Take heed that the light that is in you be not darkness. Jesus
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. The writer of Hebrews
I am no longer on the outside of Christ with these statements of the Covenant pointing condemnation at me. That darkness is gone forever. On the contrary, Christ is my life, and the burning passion of His heart burns in mine.
I do not know who I am. John says that clearly in 1 John 3:1-2. I know that Jesus is revealing Himself through my life in this world. But I have only begun to know this Jesus who fills my heart. It is not possible that my present knowledge defines who He is.
When God says, “As Christ is, so are you in this world,” that word has a double meaning; and it is intended to have a double meaning. First, it means that whatever I am right now in all of my humanity, that is Christ living His life as me. And just as surely, it means that all that He is, the victorious ascended Christ, risen above all the heavens, HE IS in me right now.
We have no idea of the passion, the power, the pathos, the wildness, the anger against cruelty, the wrath, the jealousy, the overwhelming tenderness, the deepest compassion, and the conquering love of the Mighty One who fills our hearts with all of His fullness.
I am an expression of that Mighty One, and He reveals Himself through me.
God loves the people who live in this world, but He hates the system that holds them in darkness.
Do not be afraid; He will keep you. But His love for you will not prevent His destruction of that Babylon that forces all nations to drink her iniquity. The problem comes when God delivers His people from the world system. When that happens, we will begin to understand how the beast has already defeated the saints.
But watch out/take heed/beware comes to us as we walk in all that Christ is in us on a much different level than it came in the past.
Take for instance that word from Hebrews 3, the strongest jeopardy passage in the New Covenant. Let me give the larger context.
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.
Notice what is sin. Notice what places our abiding in Christ in jeopardy. Sin is not standing firm in the grace of God. Sin is not exulting boastfully in the victory of Christ in us. Our abiding in Christ is placed in jeopardy when we doubt that Christ is our life, when we begin to imagine that we are self’s struggling to bring self into alignment with God and when we forget the confidence of our joy.
The word of grace is drawing people out of the evil sin of unbelief, out of not placing themselves utterly in Christ – out of trying to “line up” with an implacable God.
The tables have turned completely, and it is He in us who is watching. I love the meaning of the word “ready” that Jesus used. For instance:
Blessed are those servants whom the master, when He comes, will find watching… Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The word “ready” includes these truths — (from The Jesus Secret, Day 57)
Because I watch, I am ready for my Master’s coming. I take heed, I watch, I pray. As He knocks on my door, I open immediately.
I take heed to myself. The cares of this life do not weigh me down. I watch and pray. I am worthy to stand before the Son of Man.
I am equipped and supplied with what I need for Jesus’ return. I am prepared for immediate movement and action at Jesus’ return. I offer myself at once; I am available and handy for His need.
The King returns. I am His friend. I stand at His side. He counts on me. I am there. I am ready. In whatever way He needs me in that moment, I am His. We triumph – together. We win – together. My sword is His. My life is His.
For this one moment, I live all other moments. My mind is never distracted; my arm is never weary. For this I live.
I am ready. Come, Lord Jesus. — He is come.
8. Cleanse Yourselves
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:3
God created us as humans to live in both heaven and earth at the same time. He gave us two bodies, a physical body through which we reveal God to the physical side of creation, and a spiritual body, our spirit, through which we reveal God to the spiritual side of creation – heaven. Not just the earth, but heaven also, all creation will be set free in the glorious liberty of the sons of God. We are the image of God.
Part of our present experience of the life of the age to come is to learn to walk and function through our spirits. We already live in the Spirit, Paul says, let’s walk in the Spirit as well. Walking “in the Spirit” is not trying to relate to something outside of or separate from ourselves, hearing some other “voice” and then trying to do what we think that voice wants. No. Walking in the spirit is to learn to walk in a part of our own selves that we have not fully known.
Our spirit is united in a fused union with God’s Spirit. When we walk in God, we walk in ourselves. When we walk in ourselves, we walk in God.
I have set my heart on all that God speaks in the Covenant I signed with Him and He with me. All of it. Some say that the Covenant is Spirit only, that the words on the page from Matthew 1 to Revelation 22 are not the Covenant. But the words on the page are a record of what God has already spoken. Should He not fulfill one word that He has already spoken, simply because He follows some “whim of the Spirit,” He would cease to be faithful and true.
The Gospel is the Word spoken by God coming through the demonstration of the Spirit and power. That Word was written into the physical realm. As physical words, there is no life in them, they can only kill; but we take those words back off the page by the same Spirit through which they came, and they become life and power in us.
If I have to figure out the words on the page with my brain, I am lost. If I have to follow the wafting of the Spirit without reference to what God has already said, I am lost. I’m no good at figuring things out; I’m no good at following whims and hunches. But I love maps. I love to follow a road revealed on a map all the way through. I have been stuck in snow banks, ruts, or mud puddles many times because the map said the road went through, and I was determined to prove it. It’s what God put in my heart. I am good at digging a car out of snow banks. If the map says that the road goes through, I want to know that it is true, I want to see that part of the country I have not seen before.
The map is the written word fused with the Spirit and the Spirit fused with the written word. All of both, always, all at the same time.
I am so amazed at how many times I hear Christians saying things that God does not say, often things that oppose what God says. We must stop speaking what God does not speak.
In the spiritual realms, the words that we speak are force. They cause things to happen. All of our words. And thoughts are the same as words. The spirit of our mind is as powerful as the tongue.
When you or I say or think things that are contrary to what God says, we cut God out of our lives in that area. We limit God as far as we are concerned. We cannot prevent God from doing what He says, but we can keep ourselves out of it in the present age.
In fact, I am overwhelmed at how many ways Christians speak the words of Satan concerning this world – and imagine that what they speak is the Christian thing to do. Yet they are speaking darkness.
And so, in our passage from abiding in Christ to being all the revelation of the Father, there is a stretch of road which we must traverse. This stretch of road has two lanes, like all roads do, both, in this case, are going in the same direction – they are two sides of the same thing. One side is“cleanse yourself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,” the other side is “do not love the world.”
“Watch out; take heed; beware” is the most frequent command of the Spirit of God to us in the New Testament. “Do not be afraid” is second in frequency. But every time we hear the words, “Watch out; take heed; beware,” they always point to this stretch of road, “Cleanse yourselves,”and, “Do not love the world.”
My heart breaks for my brethren who love the world and who speak what God does not speak. Yet, at this time, that continues to be every one of us. There is no way that you or I will ever know all the fullness of God or the revelation of Jesus Christ or the glorious liberty of the sons of God until we first know all that God means when He says, “Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,” and, “Do not love the world.”
Perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
I fear God. When He speaks, I tremble. Playing loose and fancy with His Word scares the tar out of me. Speaking what God does not speak, explaining why God does not mean what He says, these things just plain frighten me.
Yet I am very weak. I have no ability to “get it right.” I have no confidence in myself or my own understanding. If I do not speak what God speaks – all of it, even that which appears to contradict itself – what do I have to say? What do I have to think? How could I possibly survive? Yet to speak all that God speaks is to walk alone in this world. Very few seem to be interested.
What is holiness? Holiness is union with God. Holiness is no separation. Holiness is God in me and me in God with no shadow of any thought of any other possibility. I am already one spirit with God. To perfect holiness is to perfect my knowing of that union.
God opens the eyes of our hearts, and we see God. We blink in the light, not knowing what it is we are looking at. But as we walk with God, He causes us to know Him. As we know Him, we know that God is our life, we have no other life.
To be separate from God in any possible way is to set ourselves up as our own god. To know God in me and me in God is the only way to escape our own self-deification. Self putting self “to death” is the highest exaltation of self that there is. Abandoning all thought of any independent self is the gospel.
To perfect holiness in the fear of God is to perfect my knowledge of this union with God in heart and in understanding.
Let’s move on to the heart. My heart is good because Christ lives in my heart. Yet the heart of man runs very deep and encompasses so much of life. Our mind thinks out of what is stored in the heart. Our mouth speaks out of what is found there.
To what extent do past experiences, past pain, shock, unforgiveness, past manipulation and control coming from other people, sit in the heart as a negative “program,” a negative energy, a negative spirit, silent, hidden, waiting for that one moment when it leaps to the surface and causes our eyes to see what is not God and not real and our mouth to speak things that are not true?
I believe in inner healing, because it has been a large part of my walk with God. He has wounded, and then He has healed. And He has done this in me over and over again. It is His way.
I have been deeply wounded in my life, as I’m sure you have. I have been hit by things that were hard and confusing. I did not always react well. I have known bitterness and despair. God has brought healing to me over and over through deeper and deeper truth and greater understanding of His love and His grace. But some pain would not go away. Great comfort would come to me, but a few days later, there was the pain, undiminished. There is no question that pain affected my life.
A few months ago, I walked up to a shelf of books at Barnes & Noble. On the bottom shelf was a book with a picture of a ten-year-old boy with his eyes screwed tightly shut called Look Me in the Eye. The book called to me to read it. All my life the thought of looking someone in the eye was a horror that I could not do.
I learned that I am an Asperger’s personality, that is, I have the neurological disability of Asperger’s Syndrome, part of the autism spectrum. I have lived with this my whole life. I lack a certain social function or knowledge that almost all others simply take for granted. I walk blind to certain things in relationships with others that most people see easily. Reading that book opened up, once again, all the pain of my past – specific instances of confusion and despair.
Today, the pain is gone; I do not know it at all.
What am I saying? I am saying that our mind and our heart must be re-programmed to think and to see as God thinks and sees. That is what it means to be cleansed in this context. We were cleansed by the cross of Jesus; we are continually cleansed of sin by the blood as we walk in the light. But every negative energy, every dulled frequency, every past hurt, every forgotten bitterness, every thing that hinders the full knowledge of God in our minds and in our hearts, we want God to remove so that we look out from Him and see all things by His eyes and by His heart alone.
So let’s look carefully at every word that we speak, every phrase, every saying, and every reference we make to life, to this world, to other people, to God, and to His ways, and judge those words by what God Himself actually says in the New Covenant of Grace.
Sin is whatever separates us from God. The whole world is reconciled to God by the blood and cross of Jesus. There is nothing that separates us from Him, we in Him and He in us, except the blindness of our own minds and hearts. Whatever is not of faith is sin. Faith believes that what God says is actually and really true against everything the natural eye sees and the natural feelings feel.
We believe God when we speak what God speaks and when we stop speaking and stop thinking that which speaks contrary to what God says. Let’s speak and think only what God speaks.
The pure in heart see God.