(The Sanctified Life II)
n my first article in this series, The Victory, I endeavored to show that the Bible teaches it is possible to overcome one’s sinful nature completely, to take on the nature of heaven, and to be as free, but as sinless, as the very angels. Scripture not only backs this up in the words of the prophets and the apostles, but also historically, in the recorded experiences of Elijah and Enoch. But when one comes to the place where he or she realizes that the Gospel tells us it IS possible to “take the battle inside,” it can be a scary time indeed. For when one has truly begun to live in Christ, the words of Paul become our experience also: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but... against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12) No longer are we faced with the fear of committing known, sinful acts, but rather our struggle takes place on a higher level – learning to realize that all the things which would drag us back to our “fleshly,” dead mindsets are mere illusions by the Shedim... the demons.
It’s ALL about the mindset at that point. For “we have the mind of Christ,” (1 Cr 2:16) the trick is just learning what that means in our lives, and realizing the power that Yah will pour out on us as we more fully keep His commandments in both letter and spirit; not to be justified thereby, but because it is out delight to fulfill His will in our lives. “... cease to do ill, LEARN to do well.” (Isaiah 1:16,17) If we feel His laws and regulations are in any way a burden to us, we are not quite converted yet – for a true convert will say “and His commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3) And remember, Peter walked for some time with our Lord while He was on earth, healing the sick and raising the dead – by all accounts a full follower, yet even near the end he was NOT a full convert! At the very end of Yahshua’s mission He said to Peter, “You still don’t quite get it yet, you still don’t see the glory that my Father is willing to have unfold in your life.” To quote Him, He said to Peter, even after all they had been through together, “WHEN thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32)
It’s not about FEELING converted, or that one has experienced the workings of the Spirit “every now and then.” That same Peter denied Christ during His trial, despite having had all those events happen to him. Visible signs can come just as easily from Satan, this I know from personal experience. But “by this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep His commandments.” (1 John 5:2) That is the true and ONLY reliable seal of a believer. When one has made the decision to follow what the Bible teaches at ANY cost, and backs that up by walking and not just talking, then the wonders will truly begin! We need not look for a “sign” for the right moment. We need not wait to be awakened in our sleep by the voice from Heaven bidding us, “Come.” Just reading this, you are being summoned. For Yah delights in having His children speak His blessings upon others. Don’t wait! The Kingdom calls NOW. What matter to you the things of the world, if you miss out on this truth? “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36, Matthew 16:26)
It can all be summed up in the verse, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Yah will not leave His children to be ashamed before the world. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? “ (Matthew 6:25,26,28-30) Do not worry what people will think of you for keeping His holy law, and claiming the victory in your life.
Above all, do not say it can’t be done! “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, ‘With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 9:26) “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:3-5) Do you see the connection? ALL things are possible through Christ, if we will only CLAIM them with our mouths and exercise our limitless faith! “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:10) In this the writer is talking about us blessing or cursing others, but how much more will it not apply to our own selves? Whenever we say we cannot do some righteous thing, we are not only denying the words of Christ, but we are speaking a curse unto ourselves. The tongue is the rudder of the whole body.
The Scriptures give us a portrait of someone who did well in this matter. She was not a Jew, and she knew less of Yah’s workings than many who claimed membership among “His people.” Our Lord is no respecter of persons, you see. No Biblical scholar, evangelist, theological expert or monk has more claim to the Victory than do you! The woman Ruth was a plain, ordinary person, of whose religious background nothing is said, except that she had a husband who was of Hebrew descent. The husband of Naomi, her mother-in-law, died, and also her own husband and his brother. Seeing that a great famine had been lifted in her homeland (the reason her family had left), Naomi decided to return to Judah, and revealed her plan to Ruth and Orpha, her other son’s widow.
Naomi’s two sons had died, leaving widows, and her OWN husband had passed away, meaning, at her age, that further offspring was unlikely. Even so, her two daughters-in-law declared their desire to go with her. Realizing what they would be giving up to do this, she said to Ruth and Orpha, “Turn again, my daughters, why will ye go with me? Are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?” (Ruth 1:11) Naomi was making it plain to her two younger companions that following her to Judah would mean giving up the possibility of a life of security and good reputation in those hard times.
There is a parallel here to the New Testament Gospels. Read the record of Yahshua’s meeting with a rich young ruler in Luke 18:21-23, “And [the ruler] said, ‘All these [commandments] have I kept from my youth up.’ Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, ‘Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute it unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me.’” Instead of complementing him for his keeping the letter of the law, or for even coming to Him for salvation, Christ immediately let him know what the price would be of following Him to the new land. If we think to be justified by our works, we miss the spirit of the Law. At the same time, if we think to be justified ONLY by faith without works, only by the asking, this is also shown to be a false doctrine.
Matthew also recorded this fateful meeting, and it had in fact started out with Christ answering the question with, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Mat 19:17) When asked which, He indeed listed some of the precepts of the Decalogue, to show this was the same set of “commandments” engraved in stone tablets on Sinai. Yahshua did not say NOT to keep these, only that he “lackest one thing.” Christ did not say it was only by the asking and the faith, but said, “You do well” to follow the law; moreover, there IS a cross to bear. But if you do both, fearing not to give up the security and pleasures of this temporary world, seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven, then shall He show you His wonders... and then shall the world see His wonders through you!
More than once did Naomi lay out before Ruth and Orpha the price of following her. More than once did she say, “You will have no husband if you do this. Consider all you are giving up to be loyal to me!” “And they lifted up their voice and wept again: and Orpha kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her.” (Ruth 1:14) Had things gone the other way, we would have been reading out of the Book of Orpha, not the Book of Ruth, but as it turned out, Ruth decided to be faithful to the decision she had made, whereas her sister-in-law, whose name means “stiff-necked” in the language of the Hebrews, turned away. She followed in the path of the rich young ruler, but Ruth desired something more than earthly gain, or even a husband.
Her deceased husband, it seems, had been a man of faith, for give heed to what Naomi told Ruth after Orpha left, “Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister-in-law.” (Ruth 1:15) You see, Ruth was not merely clinging to her mother-in-law for filial duty alone. Her husband had taught her the ways of Yah, and the young widow had come to love all that she had learned of the God of Israel. Naomi was the one link she had left to the Heavenly Father she was beginning to adore, and she would not give that up for all the world.
She could not consent to being left behind in the idolatrous country of Moab while her godly mother-in-law departed. “And Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’” (Ruth 1:16) Ruth had seen the example of a faithful life in both her husband and Naomi, and she desired what they had! She would rather live destitute and face a fearful future than not be like them... We, as Christians, we NEED to be this to the rest of the world. Consider the time that Revelation says is just upon us... We need to be the kind of powerful, godly people that others will look upon and desire our love, our kindness, our peace, our passion; will want all of these qualities so badly that they would be willing to brave the time of trouble and even death to obtain them. When we can honestly say we are that kind of a people, THEN we will be ready for our Lord’s return!
But to become that kind of a people can be scary at first. Of the 12 spies sent out in Numbers 13, 10 returned with lying reports, saying the land could not be taken. Only two told the truth, “Let us go up at once, and possess it,” Caleb cried, “for we are well able to overcome it!” (Num 13:30) Yes, it’s scary at first, but we MUST take that leap, we MUST jump off the cliff’s edge... so we can learn to fly. We must claim it, we must “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Rom 4:17), and then we will, through Christ, MAKE it true in our lives. That is faith doing what it was designed to do... we will walk on water.
“And what of the things of the world?” you may ask me. “Must we forsake all this for that new country?” By “things of the world,” I do not merely mean the promise of riches or security or the approval of one’s church or family. I mean more than this. The “things of the world” can also be one’s religious traditions and customs. Is your church forsaking the Law of Yah and His holy commandments? Are they saying the prophecies of Daniel and John are irrelevant or of low priority? Are they teaching erroneous doctrines about some mystical “vanishings” that will occur any day now? Do they fail to understand the spiritual nature of the Levitical tabernacle? Do they say that Yah does not care about any area of your life, be it diet, language, practices behind closed doors? Do they say a child of Yah can continue in sin? Do they keep a false Sabbath, instituted by an anti-Semitic civil power?
If your traditions follow any of these “false gods,” then yes. Like Ruth, you must be willing to leave your country for a better one. Yah has promised us eternal life and all the amazing blessings that go with it. But like all His gifts, He cannot merely pour out His power on us. We would misuse it, as did Lucifer. We would destroy ourselves. We MUST be willing to be obedient to His principles, for by this we show ourselves responsible enough to handle the awful, awful majesty of the inheritance He has promised us. When we do this, not only will we have the everlasting spiritual promises at our disposal, but we are promised that we will have all we need in this current world as well!
“Must we forsake all this for that new country?” To answer this another way – not always. IF the things we love keep us from the Father’s face, they must be put away. There is no question of that. But Yah does not want us to be without the non-corruptive pleasures of this world either. Money is not evil. Clothing is not evil, and neither is a husband or wife. For consider... Ruth is the one who was willing to give up all, including a potential mate back in her home country, to follow Naomi and Yah, but SHE is the one who found happiness both in a peaceful rest until the Judgment AND while she yet lived!
While nothing is ever again said of Orpha, Ruth met a gentleman, Boaz, who was both godly and wealthy. “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.” (Ruth 4:13) The pleasures of this world are not evil unless they lead us away from the principles of Heaven. The name of Ruth’s son was Obed. Obed later married and had a son named Jesse. Jesse’s youngest son bore the name David, who was king over ALL Israel, and from him came also the Avatar Himself, Christ Yahshua our Redeemer. Naomi, for her faithful example, is considered a member of this illustrious group from whom He descended, though not so closely related in blood (Ruth 4:16,17). The meeting of Ruth and Boaz is a spiritually significant tale in itself, and I would encourage everyone to read through this short book (it’s only four chapters).
Though we were once a strange people, a “Moabitish damsel,” by our former sins and inherited, fleshy nature, nevertheless Christ encourages us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat 11:28) Just as Ruth followed all the light she had, and was willing to give up home, wealth, family, possibility of marriage and ingrained traditions in order to go where Yah led, so are we to do. So MUST we do, if we will be the kind of people Revelation says we will be. Though we have given up all the world to take up the cross and follow the Son of man into His glorious kingdom, we will also be taken care of along the way. “All these things will be added unto you,” the Scripture promises. We need only now claim them. Just as Ruth, by virtue of her choice, became ancestress to Christ Himself, so He would later say to us, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mat 12:50) His voice is calling out today, and calling out to you. Who will respond? Who will say, “I will,” and go? Who will use his/her tongue to speak the possibility of the greatest blessing possible unto himself or herself? The universe watches on, eager to see who will be the next to awaken.