Month 10:15, Week 2:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:281 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 13 January 2017
Futile Religion XII
Reactivating the Old Baggage
Continued from Part 11
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us as we resume, once again after another delay, our series on Futile Religion. I'm afraid age and recurring health issues are interfering a great deal with my output, both in terms of quantity and quality, so thank you for your patience.
The Goal is Abundant Life
So that none lose track, let me recap by summarising the goal of this series which is to address the reasons why so many get discouraged by their apparent lack of spiritual progress and absence of the abundant chayim (life) that Yah'shua (Jesus) promised His talmidim (disciples):
One or the Other
"Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have chayim (life), and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:7-10, NKJV).
After a careful analysis of the issues, we reduced the main problem to the self-life which is an expression of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or the Tree of Death. Defeat comes in the Christian/Messianic life because this old life is supposed to be dead. The two Trees cannot cohabitate in the same spiritual space you are standing in. You're either eating the fruit of one or of the other - you're either struggling in the flesh to become spiritual by your own effort or you have died to the flesh and are spiritual because of the work of the Cross in you. The latter is the Besorah (Gospel) and is the only means by which sinners may be saved - but it's also the very thing which every sinner finds naturally repulsive, for:
The Double Transaction
"The natural man does not receive the things of the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God), for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor.2:14, NKJV).
Last month I suggested to you that two transations take place when we accept Yah'shua (Jesus):
The Daily Choice
- 1. A INSTANT LEGAL TRANSACTION, that is to say, when you agree to have this transaction enacted, by whatever means and however long it may take, by entering into a covenant with Yah'shua (Jesus) to be His faithful talmid (dsiciple) in eternity, with He becoming your Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour). Then, as far as the Father is concerned, you are JURISDICTIONALLY or LEGALLY SAVED. Thus in freely giving yourself to the Messiah, a contract is instantly entered into, making you legally His, and when the Father looks at you, He sees the Son who overcame and was sinless. This is salvation by emunah (faith) alone, the only human 'work' involved; and
- 2. EXISTENTIAL PROCESS CHANGE, meaning, that although you legally belong to Yah'shua (Jesus) and He may make whatever demands of you that He wants, there is nevertheless a literal dying of self that must take place so that Messiah can fully live in you. "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by emunah (faith) alone" (James 2:24, NIV).
The moment we have truly made a decision for Messiah, He dwells within us. Thereafter we have to continually - on a daily basis - make the choice to do one of two things:
Oldest Trick in the Book
- 1. To feed this new chayim (life); or
- 2. Go back to feeding the old nature which we say we have put aside.
Here, then, is the potential dilemma: if my old self is dead in Messiah, why do I still feel it? And the impression that we are left with is that we have two natures which are warring against each other - a carnal, fleshy, Adamic nature vs. a Messiah nature. Once we believe this, we are falling for the oldest trick in the book - we are thinking 'good' versus 'bad' side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. All false religion teaches that there is this dichotomy between righteousness and evil warring inside us. Once we believe this lie, we leave the Tree of Chayim (Life) and find ourselves in this 'battle' represented by the Tree of Death.
No Cosmic Struggle
Christianity is not in a cosmic war between Yahweh on one side and Satan on the other locked in a bitter struggle. Neither is a parallel struggle going on inside of us. The moment you accept that this is reality - that we possess two natures and must daily engage in battle - you are thinking like a pagan, you have abandoned the Besorah (Gospel) and you have become an occultist. Then it becomes white witchcraft verses black witchcraft with you, the hero, fighting on Yahweh's side to change the universe for the better Star Wars-fashion. Such a picture denies the atonement of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) because what you are saying is that He did not finish His work on the cross. Then you are saying, without realising it, that you are joint-atoners with Messiah. That is the Moonie (Unification Church) heresy which combines Buddhist with Christianity. And I know about that heresy because I investigated it for some time.
The false teaching of the Tree of Death or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is to radically alter reality in favour of Satan's model, the one that keeps mankind fighting useless battles that achieve nothing - all you're doing is fighting the spiritual equivalent of communism verses fascism, both of which systems were, and are, evil. It is this false dichotomy that is the set-up in the political arena too - Republican versus Democrat, Conservative versus Labour, and so forth. All false religion - and that is all religion apart from the Besorah (Gospel) - plays this devious game that denies the finished work of the Cross.
The Scriptural Exposition of Vine Theology
Yahweh's system is rooted solely in the Etz Chayim or Tree of Life. Once you are eating of its fruit, the battle is over. The only battle that we do face runs much deeper than the imaginary one between 'good' and 'evil', 'Allies' vs. 'Axis', 'Capitalism' vs. 'Communism', etc.. Yah'shua (Jesus) explains Yahweh's system by means of a very simple parable which he repeats to make sure the point sinks in:
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the Davar (Word) I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My devarim (words) remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My talmidim (disciples). As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My ahavah (love). If you obey my mitzvot (commandments, Torah), you will remain in My ahavah (love), just as I have obeyed My Father's mitzvot (commandments, Torah) and remain in His ahavah (love)" (John 15:1-10, NIV).
All we have to do is, as metaphorical 'branches', remain grafted into the 'vine' which is Yah'shua (Jesus). All that is needed is that connection so that the sap - the new chayim (life) - can flow from Him to us. By being severed or disconnected from that old Tree of Death, where that old fake battle of 'good vs. evil' is played out and where we can be winners or losers - that old 'life' - ceases to operate in us. In the picture Yah'shua (Jesus) gives to us in this picture there is no warfare between the two lives going on at all. How can there be? A branch cannot be simultaneously grafted into two totally different trees..
What Remaining Entails
Notice, though, that whilst grafted into the Vine that is Messiah, we are supposed to do something with that eternal chayim or life flowing through us. We are to be fruitful in service. But we can only be fruitful if we remain in Messiah. The choice to remain or depart is ours. If we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit. If we don't remain in Him, then spiritually-speaking we whither away and die and are worthy only of being burned up. Notice that our prayers are answered only as we remain in Him. Why? Because the chayim (life) that flows through us is mediated by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the Ruach (Spirit) will always lead us to pray for what is right. Finally, in this segement of Scripture, please note what remaining in Messiah entails. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"Now remain in My ahavah (love). If you obey my mitzvot (commandments, Torah), you will remain in My ahavah (love), just as I have obeyed My Father's mitzvot (commandments, Torah) and remain in His ahavah (love)" (v.10)
I repeat: you make a choice for the chayim (life) that is in Messiah and through your exercise of emunah (faith) and your b'rit (covenant) to follow Him all the days of your life, which is marked outwardly by the sign of water baptism by immersion, you are grafted into the Vine. You are connected to Eternal Chayim (Life), you live in the New Chayim (Life), you are Regenerated, Born-Again. You know that you are this in Him, regenerated and reborn, because you start producing Kingdom fruit for the King which would otherwise be impossible. That eternal chayim (life) supplies selfless love or ahavah, which we are commanded to remain in. How, does Yah'shua (Jesus) say, we are to remain in that ahavah- or agapé-love? By obeying the mitzvot (commandments), the Torah. Obedience does not connect us to the Vine but maintains us in it after we have been connected through emunah (faith, trusting) and clinging to Him. These are the Master's own devarim (words). Indeed, in the previous chapter, Yah'shua (Jesus) said the same thing:
"If you love Me, keep My mitzvot (commandments)" (John 14:15, NKJV).
So are we agreed, now, that a regenerated believer does not have two competing natures operating simultaneously in him? Are we agreed that he is either connected to the one tree or the other? And are we agreed that in order to maintain that connection, we are to keep the mitzvot (commandments), thereby proving that we love Him? So where does this defeat come from?
Registered in our memories is our old life - the life connected to the Tree of Death. Every sin we have ever committed, every idol we have ever trusted, every identity message we have received and believed, is registered in our mind, will and emotions - a complete history or our old nature is stored there. The key question, though, is does it have life any longer?
When the old man or woman is put to death and is replaced by Yah'shua's (Jesus') Chayim (Life), Ahavah (Love) and Ruach (Spirit), we become echad or one with Him and He with us, even as it is written:
A New Heart
"I do not pray for these [talmidim/disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their davar (word); that they all may be echad (one), as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be echad (one) in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20-21, NKJV).
The navi (prophet) Ezekiel prophesied how this would be accomplished:
In other words, we receive new spirits but our old being containing the old information or memories remain.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new ruach (spirit) in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Ruach (Spirit) in you and move you to follow my chukkim (decrees, statutes) and be careful to keep my mishpatim (judgments)" (Ezek.36:26-27, NIV).
Everyone, with few exceptions, has burned themselves on something hot at some time in their life. One or mroe of these events will be registered in your memory and even if you lived to be a couple of centuries old I dare say you would remember these events and know that hot things burn. The events, emotions, choices, sins and idols of the old nature that belongs to the Tree of Death remains in us.
At some point in everyone's life we lose someone we love. Long after that person's death, an object may remind us of them and stir up emotions even though that person is no longer with us. Thus you might say that some of the 'baggage' from that deceased person's life still remains with us. I expect you have heard stories of people who have lost a baby or small child who keep that child's room exactly the way it was when it was alive. Some people can do this for decades. They may enjoy going back into that room and stirring up old feelings. The important thing is, the baby or child is gone but the emotional baggage remains.
Reactivating Old Idols
We have all kinds of old memories that we have accumulated over the years, especially memories associated with the old, unsaved nature. There is a reason (many, in fact) why Paul instructed us to "be transformed by the renewing of [y]our mind" (Rom.12:2, NIV). We have to come to terms with this residue or baggage of the old Adamic life, understand what it is, leave it behind and not allow it to be reactived emotionally. It is to be reckoned as dead, left in the archives as an object lesson, not revitalised to distraction and disconnection from the Tree of Life. Can you understand how a believer can be walking in Yah'shua (Jesus) for years and in an instant find himself attracted to the old sins, idols and feelings of the past. We have to say 'no', reneweing our minds, reaffirming our new identity in Messiah and choosing to remain in His reality, not returning to the past.
The Garden of Eden always had both of those trees in it - the Tree of Chayim (Life) and the Tree of Death. Even if our first parents had never sinned, they would both have been there. Yes, our lives are like a comet drawing a trail of events and experiences behind it, some of it in spiritual death and some of it in spiritual chayim (life). However, the only thing that matters is the present - we have to remain in the head of that comet in its journey. Amen.
Continued in Part 13
 Michael Wells, Sidetracked in the Wilderness (Devotional Life Press, Littleton, CO: 1991)