Individuality and Personality
Beginning the Perfect Life
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 16 November 2002
Click here to read Part 3
Over the last two weeks we have seen some of the things that can go wrong in the personal life. We have understood that our greatest battles are not so much in the visible or known areas of life, but in the invisible and unknown. We are at war with invisible but very hostile forces (Eph.6:12). We have seen some of the delusions that our personalities can fall for and discovered the demonic origins of insanity, personality disorder and the Stockholm Syndrome. And perhaps the greatest revelation of all is that we were never built to handle all of these things in our own strength. We were made to function as sons and daughters of a Higher Being, a Divine Person called Yahweh, who is our Heavenly Father, and not as self-contained demigods. Paul said to the Athenians:
"He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring'" (Acts 17:27-28, NKJV).
A rendezvous is an appointed place of meeting. According to the Bible, the heart is the appointed place of meeting, not only for all the life of the body physically, but for the life of the whole soul - body and spirit. It is the heart that gives the body life, not the brain - it is the heart that kills off the brain when it stops, not the other way round. The heart is the centre of the physical life as well as the spiritual life. Indeed the Bible not only makes no distinction between 'mind' and 'heart' but calls both 'heart' (lev). And though our modern English Bibles use words like 'mind' quite liberally, there is no actual equivalent in Hebrew, and very often we render words like peh into 'mind' when it actually means 'mouth' or 'speech', or nefesh meaning 'breath' or 'life'. Indeed, thoughts are said to come from the heart (e.g. Ezek.38:10). This does not mean that the Hebrews were ignorant of the difference between brain and heart but rightly understood thought and feelings to originate from a wholeness that lies above and beyond the two biological organs. Greek concepts about the dichotomy of mind and heart and not found in the Scriptures and often miss its integrated meaning. In the Bible we are not supposed to separate them.
The physical body is the most gracious gift that Yahweh has given us. If we hand over the mainspring of our life to Yahweh, we can work out in our bodily life all that He works in through the heart. It is through our bodily lives that Satan works and, praise Yah, it is through our bodily life that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) works. Yahweh gives us Grace and His Ruach (Spirit). He puts right all that is wrong - He does not suppress it or counteract it, but like a maintenance engineer, readjusts the whole thing. And then our work begins. For we in our turn have to work outwards what Yahweh has worked inwards, and we have to be aware of the snare for blaming Yahweh for not doing what we alone can do. When Paul says in a typical English translation, "be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph.4:23, NKJV), what he is actually saying be renewed in your heart, which is itself renewed by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). The expression of the heart is made through the mechanism of the brain and not by it. The marvellous emancipation or liberation of soul that comes to us, slowly and surely, is that when Yahweh has altered the heart and filled it with a new Ruach (Spirit), we have the power to will and to do all that He wants us to do. He does not - I repeat - does NOT bypass the heart and start in the brain! Any revelation that bypasses the heart is almost certainly counterfeit and of the devil, but at the same time any revelation that passes through it does not necessarily have to be true either. The important thing is: Who is resident in my heart?
The brain is not, however, to be an inactive rock. Yah'shua (Jesus) puts the test this way: "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (Jn.14:15, HRV; cp. Dt.11:1,13,18) - not some of them, but all of them. But no man can keep Yah'shua's (Jesus') Commandments unless Yahweh has done a radical work in his heart: but if he has this, this is the practical common sense proof - he quite simply keeps the commandments of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
The Temple of Solomon, revealed by Yahweh through David by revelation, was divided into three rooms to indicate to us that our own body (which is a temple of the Ruach/Spirit) is similarly divided. There are three levels of "depth" to the personality.
We may be said to consist of the Inner, the Inmost, and the Innermost parts, or to use the temple language - an 'Outer Court', 'Holy Place' and 'Holy of Holies'. The innermost 'Holy of Holies' contained the Ark of the Covenant, the Throne of Yahweh, which in us represents the Throne of our Heart. In a truly born-again believer walking in Torah, this place is occupied by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and therefore the Elohim (Godhead). In one who is not a believer, that throne is occupied by 'Self'. Under the Old Covenant, only the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies once a year at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in order to make atonement for the sins of Israel. He had to pass through a veil or curtain which only he was allowed to pass. Yah'shua (Jesus), through His substitutionary death on the Cross, has become our Eternal High Priest and has ripped that veil down so that we too can approach the Most High - El Elyon, Yahweh-Elohim - through Him.
The Holy of Holies, or the Throne Room of our Soul, is our Heart. Thus King Solomon soberly declared:
"Above all else, guard your heart (lev), for it is the wellspring of life" (Prov.4:23, NIV).
As I have already said, we are too complex to understand ourselves - we must hand over the safekeeping of our hearts to Yahweh. If we thought that we were simple and easy to understand, we would never ask Yahweh to save us or keep us, would we? But if we have arrived at the condition of the Psalmist, we will hand the keeping of our hearts right over to Him and say:
"Search me, O God (El), and know my heart (lev): try me, and know my thoughts (sar'af)" (Ps.139:23, KJV).
It is so important that we put the emphasis where the Bible puts it: "God (Elohim) is the strength of my heart" (Ps.73:26, KJV). "You shall love Yahweh your Eloah (God) with all your heart and with all your nefesh (soul) and with your entire mind and with all your might ... And ...you should love your neighbour as yourself" (Mk.12:30-31, HRV). According to the Bible, the highest love of the human heart is not for our kind, but for God. Yah'shua (Jesus) distinctly taught His disciples that if they were going to live the spiritual life, they must exchange the natural life for it. And by 'natural' life we mean the ordinary, sensible, healthy, worldly-minded life. In our natural state, we do not love God - we mistrust Him. As a result, we tend to apply to God what should be applied to Satan. Satan uses the problems of this life to slander Yahweh's character - he tries to make us think that all the calamities and miseries and wrongs spring from God.
Love, in its highest sense, is the sovereign preference of my person for another person. The surest sign that Yahweh has done a work of grace in my heart is that I love Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) best - not weakly or faintly, not intellectually, but passionately, personally, and devotedly, overwhelming every other love of my life.
The Apostle Paul writes that "the love of God (Eloah) has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Ruach haQodesh) who was given to us" (Rom.5:5, NKJV). Paul does not say that the capacity or ability to love God is poured into our hearts, he says "the love of God is poured into our hearts". The Bible knows only one love in this connection, and that is the supreme, dominating love of Yahweh. Yah'shua (Jesus) teaches that if we have had a work of grace done in our hearts, we will show to our fellowmen the same love that Yahweh has shown to us. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (Jn.13:34, KJV).
I repeat clearly again: the natural heart does not want the Gospel. We will usually take Yahweh's blessings and His loving-kindness and prosperity, but when it comes to close quarters and the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) informs us that we have to give up the rule of ourselves and let Him rule us, then we understand what Paul means when he says "the carnal mind is enmity (hostile) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom.8:7, KJV). Now listen to what it says in the original Aramaic:
"The thinking of the flesh is Ba'al Zebub with Eloah, for it is not subject to the Torah of Eloah because it is impossible" (Rom.8:7, HRV fn.var.).
What is he saying? He is saying that the carnal mind - or the "mind of the flesh" - is anti-Torah - anti-rules, anti-commandment-keeping! Worse than that, the word we render "hostility" or "enmity" in our Greek-English translations is actually Beelzebub or Satan! To put it bluntly, those who are anti-Torah are at war with God like Satan! Those who are anti-Torah are anti-God because they are walking in carnal love, not godly love. Their hearts are all wrong. They are the enemies of God.
So the big question is this: are we willing to let Yahweh totally alter the ruling disposition of our heart? The wonderful work of the grace of God is that through the Atonement, Yahweh can alter the centre of my life, and put there a supreme, passionate devotion to Yahweh Himself and His Torah.
The natural man does not like God's commandments. He will not have them, he covers them over and ignores them. Yah'shua (Jesus) said that the first commandment is "You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength". But men love the second commandment first: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself". The great cry today is "love for mankind". The great cry of Yah'shua (Jesus) is "love for Yahweh first", and this love - the highest love, the supreme, passionate devotion of the life, springs from the inner centre. So when I hear people say: "I want nothing to do with Torah, commandments, or rules" I know that the love they have for Yahweh is springing from somewhere else. For obedience to the commandments is the natural outflow of one whose heart is bathing in the love of Yahweh, just as it was for King David who passionately loved Him and proved it by passionately loving His Torah too.
What a rest comes when the love of Yahweh has been poured out in my heart by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)! I realise that God is love - not 'loving' - but love, something infinitely greater than loving, and consequently He has to be very stern. There is no such thing as Yahweh overlooking sin. That is where people make the great mistake with regard to love. They say: "God is love and of course He will forgive sin." But God is holy love and He cannot forgive sin. Yah'shua (Jesus) did not come to forgive sin. He came to save us from our sins. The salvation of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) removes the 'sinner' out of my heart and plants in the 'saint'. THAT is the marvellous work of Yahweh's grace, not some bogus, wishy-washy 'unconditional forgiveness' that allows us to just keep on sinning regardless.
That the natural heart of man does not want the Gospel of Yahweh is proved by the resentment of the heart against the working of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). "No, I don't object to being forgiven, I don't mind being guided and blessed, but it is too much of a radical surrender to ask me to give up my right to myself and allow the Ruach (Spirit) to have absolute control of my heart and align me to Torah". That is the natural resentment. But oh, the ineffable, unspeakable delight when we are made one with Yahweh, one with Yah'shua (Jesus), and one with every fellow-believer in this great, overwhelming characteristic of love, when life becomes possible on Yahweh's plan!
It is not difficult to see from this simple truth the difference between the true Christians and the bogus, nominal ones. This is the difference between the wheat and the tares. Frightening, isn't it? Not really - not if you love Yahweh with your whole being and prove it by obeying His Torah in the empowerment of the Ruach (Spirit).
I wonder if you have heard of the word 'licentiousness'? It is a word that usually means 'someone who is sexually unrestrained or promiscuous', but it also has a lesser used meaning these days, and that is 'someone who shows disregard for convention'. In Ezekiel we read:
"Say to the prince of Tyre, 'Thus says the Yahweh-Elohim:
"Because your heart is lifted up,
And you say, 'I am a god,
I sit in the seat of gods,
In the midst of the seas,'
Yet you are a man, and not a god,
Though you set your heart as the heart of a god" (Ezek.28:2, NKJV)
In this scripture we are given a graphic picture of the personality of sin - not a picture of a 'wrong disposition' (which we have all inherited), but of the being who is the instigator behind the wrong disposition inciting to licence. The word licence here means: "I will not be bound by any laws but my own." The human spirit resents Yahweh's Torah and will not have anything to do with it: "I shall rule my body as I choose, I shall rule my social relationships and my religious life as I like, and I will not allow God or any creed or doctrine to rule me." In short: "I will follow no divine convention." That is the way licence begins to work.
Watch how often the Apostle Paul warns us not to use our liberty or freedom "to indulge the sinful nature" (Gal.5:13, NIV), i.e. don't use your liberty for licence. What, then, is the difference between liberty and licence? Liberty is the ability to perform Torah (the Law), and perfect freedom to fulfil all the demands of Torah. To be "free from the Law (Torah)" means that I am living the Law of Yahweh and there is no independence from Yahweh in my makeup. Licence is rebellion against all Law or Torah. If my heart does not become the centre of Divine Love, it may become the centre of diabolical licence. Do people believe that nowadays? The majority of Christians do not accept Yah'shua's (Jesus') statements. Immediately we look at them, their intensity and profundity make us shrink.
It is well worth making a careful study of that interesting phrase "children of the devil", as used by Yah'shua (Jesus). "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do" (John 8:44, NKJV). He is not here referring to ordinary sinners, but to 'religious' sinners. 'Natural' sinners are called "children of wrath" (Eph.2:3) but when Yah'shua (Jesus) used the phrase, "children of the devil", He was referring to religious disbelievers, in other words, those who had seen the light and refused to walk in it, because they would not have it!
Remember the two alternatives: our heart may be the centre of the Divine rule, making us one with Yahweh's thoughts and purposes, or it may be the centre of the devil's rule, making us one with the prince of this world, the being who hates Yahweh, and one with the natural life which barters the spiritual.
These days people try to verbally inoculate themselves against the charge of 'religious disbeliever' by claiming that the word 'religious' is something dirty. It isn't. In fact, 'religion' and 'religious' are neutral words. There is true religion and false religion. One can be religious in the right way and religious in the wrong way. "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless" (James 1:26, NKJV). What, then, is useful religion? In this context, bridling your tongue. There is false religion and false humility (Col.2:23; Ac.17:22). But as James says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27, NKJV). To be truly religious is to separate yourself from the world, by obeying New Covenant Torah, for that will separate you entirely from the world. In my experience, most of those people who have a grievance against all religion, who yet call themselves Christian, are really saying they are anti-Torah, anti-rules, and anti-commandments. In fact, they are anti-Divine Love and want the natural, human version instead. So if anyone accuses you of being "religious", as though it were some anti-Christian crime - as though there was no such thing as the 'religion of Yahweh', remind them that it is they who are in rebellion against Yahweh. The apostle Paul said:
"... when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom.1:21, KJV) " ... having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart" (Eph.4:18, NKJV).
These are striking passages, are they not? They are quite at home in the New Testament but at home nowhere else. This is not the darkness which comes from intensity of light, but is the refusal to allow any light at all. Listen to John:
"this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19, KJV).
On another occasion, Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt.6:23, NKJV).
Darkness, as I have said before, is my own point-of-view. When I once allow the prejudice of my head to shut down the witness of my heart, I make my heart dark.
When Yah'shua (Jesus) preached His first public sermon in his home town of Nazareth, the hearts of the people witnessed to Him wonderfully, then their prejudices got in the way and they closed down the witness of their hearts, broke up the meeting and tried to kill Him. That is an instance of how it is possible to choke the witness of the heart by the prejudice of the head. In John 2 Yah'shua (Jesus) was talking to a man who was in danger of closing down the witness of his heart because of his Jewish prejudice. Is there any light for which some of us have been thanking Yahweh, as the Psalmist puts it: "Yahweh is El, and He gave us light; bind the festal offering with cords to the horns of the altar" (Ps.118:27, ISRV), and is there a prejudice coming in and closing down the witness of the heart? If so, that is where the darkened heart begins: the light does not shine because it cannot. Until the Ruach (Spirit) comes in, we see only along the lines of our prejudices. When we let the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) come in, She will blow away the lines of our prejudices with Her dynamic power, and we will begin to "go" in Yahweh's Light.
A darkened heart is a terrible thing, because a darkened heart may make man peaceful. A man says: "My heart is not bad, I am not convicted of sin. All this talk about being born again and filled with the Ruach (Spirit) is so much absurdity". The natural heart needs the Gospel of Yah'shua (Jesus), but it does not want it, it will fight against it, and it takes the convicting Ruach (Spirit) to make men and women know they need to experience a radical work of grace in their hearts.
"Their minds were made stone-like; for to this day ... the same veil remains over them when they read the Old Covenant, because only by the Messiah is the veil taken away" (2 Cor.3:14, JNT).
The characteristic of the hardened heart is familiar in the Bible but not anywhere else. For instance, we read in Exodus that Yahweh hardened Pharaoh's heart (Ex.4:21ff). This must not be interpreted to mean that Yahweh hardened a man's heart and then condemned him for being hard. It means rather that Yahweh's laws, being Yahweh's laws, do not alter, and that if any man refuses to obey Yahweh's Torah he will be hardened away from Yahweh, and that by Yahweh's own decree. No man's destiny is made for him - he makes his own. But the imperative necessity that a man must make his own destiny is of Yahweh.
Whenever a man comes into an exalted position, it is a position in which he can either show the marvellous grace of God, or the hardening of his heart away from God. This is true of the prejudiced heart and the hardened heart, but not so true of the darkened heart. In a hardened heart there is no witness to being crushed down, because the heart is simply hard and untouched. And when Yahweh's love and Yahweh's works are abroad, it remains like ice. It may be smashed and broken by judgements but it is simply breaking ice. The only way to alter the hardened heart is to melt it, and the only power that can melt it is the fire of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
The heart is so truly central that Yahweh alone knows it, and the illustrations the Bible uses are varied figures in order that we may understand how Yahweh deals with the heart.
Next week I shall conclude this series by looking at the perfected heart - the Inmost Heart. I have covered many different but important issues in this slightly longer than usual sermon because it was important that you get an overview. The Gospel is, at ground level, about heart-issues, and as I think you will see now, the natural heart is, as Jeremiah said, a devious and desperately wicked thing (Jer.17:9), and knows how to pretend to be in God - with Satan's enthusiastic encouragement - when it isn't. I pray that these keys will bless you in your discernment both of your own heart and those of others. Amen.
Click here to read Part 5
This page was created on 19 October 2002
Last updated on 29 October 2002
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