JOB 19:1 – 21:34 and ROMANS 8:1–39
Job responds to Bildad’s latest speech by saying how vexed his soul had become. It is bad enough that his physical body has been in torment coupled with the loss of family members but now the issue of his soul makes it all the worse. Their words have added to his woes as opposed to helping him. This helps us to appreciate the power of what our words can do. They can uplift and give strength and help or they can tear down and destroy, especially at crucial times such as what Job is going through. The Lord takes very careful note of our words, especially those words we speak about Him.
Mat 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
It is by our confession where we come to know the salvation of God (Rom 10:9-10). Our words express what is truly in our hearts. There is great potential in the words we speak based on the spirit in which they are shared. I have seen this through the years and have had reminders again of late about the dangers of a critical spirit. We need to be very careful what we say about people, especially people who are in positions of leadership. The Lord spoke the worlds into existence (Gen 1:3). The prophet Ezekiel spoke to the dry bones resulting in that which was dead coming to life (Eze 37:4). We can kill and destroy with the words that we speak as Job is accusing Bildad of doing. We need to ask the Lord to help put a guide on the things we say especially in delicate situations like the one seen here with Job.
Luk 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
In verses 4-6 Job says that if he has erred in any matter that it is between him and God. He was not admitting to anything here but was making the point that if there was an issue it should stay with him and not be something that others would take advantage of. Job was seeking for some understanding from his friends but what was coming back was a sense of their taking advantage of his condition for self-justification. This mode of approach was only adding sorrow and woe to Job. In verse 6 Job still sees God as the one who is at work throughout this trial. He has not blamed the devil but again attributes the sovereignty of God in all that is taking place. Job is still saying many of the same things as before but he has not yet given up. To me the fact that Job sees God as sovereign helps this process to go forward. His words may not always be appropriate however his views of God as being overall says much about Job.
In verses 7-24 Job gives an overview of recent experiences that have befallen him. His reputation has been totally diminished; his servants do not respond to him, (vs 16) young children despise and talk against him (vs 17) and former friends have forsaken him (vs 19). It was not that long ago when he had the admiration of all now he has no respect given to him by anyone. Have you ever heard the term hero to zero? Can there be a more pertinent example than what is seen here? Yes, there a few examples that comes to mind such as King David when fleeing from Saul. The slayer of Goliath and the one anointed to the throne had to run and hide in caves. An even better example is the Lord Jesus Christ especially during the last week in the leading up to the Cross. The descriptions that Job gives of his condition in verse 20 are very much of what is seen of Christ while on the Cross.
Psa 22:17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
In verses 24-29 Job makes the declaration that in spite of all of this he knows that His Redeemer lives. It is clear that Job cannot fathom the purpose of what God is producing through him but there is no denying an element of what will be seen in Christ when He comes as the Redeemer of mankind. Job is giving a glimpse and portrayal of what will take place at Calvary. In fact, Job is turning out to be another one of those books that serves as a mini Biblical account of God’s dealing with man. You have God, Satan and Job who gives a picture and type of the Lord. He portrays the life of a believer who can be transformed through the work of the Cross. He pays an extremely high price in helping to bring clarity to this truth. The Book of Esther also served as a mini Bible in helping to present the plan and purposes of God. Can you see elements of the Cross and what was accomplished through the ordeals of Job?
Zophar, like the other friends took Job’s words as insults against him. He responded harshly without giving regard to the physical deteriorating condition that was so evident upon Job. Zophar felt that his reputation as well as the others was at stake and so he responded accordingly. Zophar then goes on to give a description of the potential of the heart of man when taken to its length in verses 4-9. It is similar to the description given to Satan in Isa 14:13-14. It is also similar to the description of Satan’s demise as seen in Isa 14:16. Zophar and the other friends had great insight into many aspects of God and his kingdom. This is something to take note of because of similarities that can be seen today. It is not enough to know about God, His kingdom and His exploits there is also the need in coming to know His ways. This is something that does not just happen; it develops over time in a day to day walking and communing with God. Zophar’s insights are accurate as it pertains to the end of man and sin but it has no bearing on Job and only adds to his misery. Knowing the ways of God are costly which requires a dying to areas of self. Many are not willing to go this far and so major on an intellectualized gospel. How does this play out in modern day Christianity? There are a few key indicators to watch out for.
1. Ministries that do not believe in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Some of the most profound teachers that are known today have never come to know this blessing. Their insights into many passages of scripture are exceptional in how they bless many in the body of Christ. Many of these teachers are also very good story tellers. Remember, Apollos was such a person until he was shown the way of God more perfectly (Acts 18:26). In the end such a person is limited in the fullness of understanding about themselves and God.
2. Over emphasis on Kingdom Living. We are called to be kings but we are also called to be priests. God has given us the mandate to take the kingdom to the world and to be salt and light in our respective places of influence. The Bible is clear however that the Lord is returning for a bride, not a re-Christianised world. Christ will establish rule during the millennium with those who are part of the 1st resurrection (Rev 20:6). The priestly role needs to emerge to help deal with the kingdom issues of the inner life. This is where the penetration needs to take place in order to effectuate the kingdoms of this world.
Zophar, his friends and many others speak from a position that cannot reconcile the ways and thoughts of God. This must be understood because one can have a very good knowledge of who God is and yet not know His ways. This is what distinguished Moses from the congregation of Israel (Psa 103:7, Exo 33:13, 18). If we understand this distinction it helps to put the respective discourses between Job and his friends into proper perspective. We will later see a man by the name of Elihu who has that perspective, who knows the ways of God and who will be able to speak life, insight and correction into Job.
Zophar in talking about the wicked is making application to Job. His words are brought forth from a wrong spirit which in the end is adding further pain and anguish to Job. He responds in Chapter 21.
Job very much wanted them to hear his upcoming response. The contention between them was resulting in insults and heightened tensions and Job wanted just one more chance to have their attention. He even says that if you want to mock me afterwards then go ahead, but listen through this one time. In verse 6 Job says he is afraid when trying to reconcile the woes of the innocent against His divine justice. He speaks of his former wealth and blessing and is now terrified as to all that has taken place. Secondly, he then draws the attention to what happens to those who prosper. There are those who are wicked and yet seem to continually prosper. You can hear Job asking the following question; Do you think that is fair? In verses 8-13 Job gives examples of how the wicked seemingly prosper in their lives without any kind of intervention from God to check them. Job is contrasting his experience with theirs and is perplexed as to why it is so. It almost sounds like Job could be the author of Psalm 73 because there are many similarities that can be drawn from it. The Psalmist asks many of the same questions that we see Job doing. The key verse which brings light and perspective to the psalmist’s dilemma is found in the following verse:
Psa 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end
It is in the sanctuary (The Holy Place and Holy of Holies) where we gain perspective and insight regarding ourselves and God. Job is not quite there yet but will be soon brought into (God’s sanctuary) when Elihu addresses him. Can you see the parallels?
Job’s insight seen from verse 14 is true when he says that man desires to not know the ways of God. That really sums it all up. Man wants to serve God and life on his terms. The knowledge of God is not convenient (Rom 1:28). There are those who may live a life of ease, blessing and prosperity void of disasters such as what Job is going through but they are among those to be pitied. It is the mercy of God to be apprehended by Him and brought into places where His ways can be revealed and developed in our lives. Job is trying to make the case to his friends that prosperity is not the necessary proof to determine whether men were living right. The friends of Job were asserting that it was because of some sin or wickedness that he had done which brought about his suffering. They then told him that all he had to do was to repent and God would again restore and prosper. Job made the point that if this were true why were there known wicked men prospering up to the time of their grave? Just because a man is prospering is not proof of God’s approval. He tried to make them see the error of their supposition but it was to no avail. He finishes by saying that their attempts to bring comfort to him were in vain and that their conclusions were false. The conversation will continue with Eliphaz in chapter 22.
We now continue the insert from my project on the Two Streams. We will look at the subjects of Grace, Sin and Choice. These are highly debated subjects in today’s church and they must be confronted and understood. It is hoped that this portion of the Two Streams study shed appropriate light for our benefit and use.
Grace-The Bridge between sinful man and a Holy God
Is there any subject more debated or misunderstood than the subject of grace? Regretfully, it is dividing the church due to its application or definition that people give to it. There are two streams in evidence on this subject alone. The Romans Road can be very helpful in shedding proper light on this issue. In fact, the two streams concerning grace draw much of their support from Romans chapters 6-8.
How does one define grace? There are two primary definitions that theologians give to grace.
1) Grace is God’s unmerited favor. A loving God freely gave to man the gift of salvation. Man was undeserving yet God lavishly bestowed His grace so that mankind could be restored to right standing with God. God’s grace did not end at salvation. It is given to those who please God and who walk uprightly.
2) Grace is God’s enabling power. The Apostle Paul stated: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”. (1 Cor 15:10)
Our focus is to examine how grace is viewed through the lens of the Romans Road. How is it appropriated if sojourning through the narrow road as opposed to opting for the way of the by-pass? Let’s begin by looking at some key verses concerning grace.
Rom 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
Jude1:4 “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ”
Heb 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”.
I remember well the evening in October 1979 when I accepted Christ into my life. The tremendous joy and sense of liberty has never been lost on me as I openly testified my need for a Saviour. Within two to three years there was a noticeable slipping back into some of my old habits. I still professed Christianity yet there was no denying my living a dual life. There was genuine effort on my part in praying that I would gain victory over certain sinful strongholds however the ways and pull of the world via old friends and desires grew stronger. I was comforted with teaching that no matter what a believer did he or she could never lose their salvation. These teachers never advocated continuing in sin nonetheless the statements of never being able to lose salvation did affect me. I did take license with them.
My life took a direct turn in March of 1982 when fresh off an evening of being out on the town, engaging in things I did before accepting the Lord, I had an encounter that changed everything. I was miserable yet ever seeking to change. That night two things happened: First, there was an acute awareness of hell and that this would be my destination if I continued on my current path. This was a counter to many of the teachings and understanding that I previously had. Secondly, there was an even greater revelation of God’s love that so filled the room. It was unconditional, undeserved and it was REAL. The contrast between these two experiences could not have been any wider.
On the one hand hell was to be my destination if I continued my hypocritical lifestyle. On the other hand God’s love enveloped me in overriding torrents. I was despising myself and how I had been living yet the love of God just kept flowing. “But God commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). This was grace being extended pure and simple. I certainly did not deserve this outpouring of God’s goodness and favor. So how does one respond in such a scenario? Though this event took place over 35 years ago I remembered what I prayed. The gist of the prayer was one that required a choice. (This will be elaborated on in the next message)
(I will seek to paraphrase: Lord, I am tired of living like a hypocrite and literally spitting in your face through my secret life. I need help Lord; I need and I want to change but I cannot do it in my own strength. I want to choose to serve you and to be true. Lord, please help to bring people into my life who can help me to be the person you have called me to be. Lord, I want this evening to be a turning point.)
My prayer was sincere especially due to the revelations that God gave me. Within two weeks’ time I came into contact with a man who literally helped steer me into the right path. This man is still my senior pastor to this day. That night was a turning point. It did require a choice, a deep rooted desire to want to change and God in His mercy honoured that request. This too is grace. Can you see how the grace that was given required of me a choice? What if I ignored the warnings and the significance of that experience? Would God have given another opportunity? I honestly cannot answer that but what is clear is that a choice was required. I recognized no ability in being able to live the life God was calling me to. That enablement of grace came as I acknowledged my need before Him. I could no longer rely on the “once saved always saved” license that characterized my life in the lead up to that evening. This is why I strongly take issue with the premise of once saved always saved.
Why is there a controversy amongst believers today? Personally, I feel it is due to the improper definition of grace. It would help if we bear in mind the two brief definitions given above.
Grace via the By-Pass
One of the definitions commonly heard is that grace serves as a covering for sin. In its rawest form it can be defined as excusing sin. This is taking Rom 7:14 to the extreme. Most ministers would never condone such a blatant explanation of grace. It’s the subtlety of doctrine that poses an even greater danger. If it’s blatant it can be dismissed out of hand. When it is cleverly packaged, spiritualized and accepted well it then becomes a greater concern. How is this achieved? Let’s go back again to Genesis.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die” (Gen 3:4). This was a direct contradiction of what God stated in Gen 2: 17. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die.” Once again we see how the law is linked to grace. The serpent was able to diminish the law and its consequence by convincing Eve that God would never follow through with such a severe judgment. It’s as if the serpent is saying to Eve you are not subject to the law but you under a new dispensation of grace. Sin and disobedience is excused because a loving God would never execute or follow through in actually bringing forth death. Are you getting the picture? Is it possible to make a modern day application to doctrines and teachings of our day? It’s an easier way and one that is more palatable. In fact, it makes sense when viewing through the lens of the soul. If one is governed by the soul then one will naturally view life differently. His actions and decisions will reflect this perspective. The soul is fertile ground for the enemy to do his work. Ones view of God will also be altered differently. Finally, the subject and meaning of grace will follow suit. Grace will be appropriated or applied according to ones relationship with God. The serpent was able to make sin appealing while minimizing its consequence. Sadly, the subject of sin has lost much of its sting in today’s church thus rendering great damage to ones understanding of grace. Instead of penetrating through the narrow road of Romans 6-8 where the Cross, Sin and the Law are front and center an easier and more convenient route of the by-pass is chosen. It is not possible to see grace in its proper role if this is the path that is chosen. Grace indeed can become a license and excuse for a lifestyle that does not embrace the narrow way of the cross. This is not the “True Grace” of God. Christians need to be warned of the dangers of the “false grace” message that is being propagated in many church settings today. The by-pass provides a most appealing alternative path. The subtlety that deployed against Eve is being played out today. The tactics are still the same. May God grant that we overcome the “wiles of the enemy”.
“True Grace-The Bridge to Holiness
The traveller who seeks to press in via the narrow road has encounters in stark contrast to those on the by-pass road. The message of the Cross is personalized. The reality of sin becomes overwhelming especially when the Law of God is embraced and applied. One only needs to review Romans 7 to capture the essence of anguish and travail that grips the narrow road traveller. How does one cope? How does one find relief? How does one answer the cry as echoed by Paul? “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Rom 7:24)?
It’s in the absorbing of Romans 7 where grace begins to show forth its true meaning. It is cheapened when it is seen as a covering for sin and transgression or a means whereby sin can be excused. Perhaps it is best defined when viewed as a bridge. Grace has the ability to take us from our sinful woeful state to the heights of God’s divine likeness. The Cross represents death, requiring of a believer to learn to die daily. The Law helps to give a better picture of who God is. What He is like and what He requires. When the Law is understood and embraced it helps to make sin become even more alive. It is not be avoided it is to be embraced. This is the New Covenant (Jer 31:33). The prophet Jeremiah represents the picture of a man who walked the narrow road. He saw the heart as deceitfully wicked above all things. He did not choose the by-pass, in fact he prophesied the unpleasant message of the Babylonian Captivity (Jer 17:10). Is it any wonder that he is able to give definition to the New Covenant?
The Cross, the Law and Sin convince a man of his inadequacy and hopeless state. What does he do in such a place? How does he respond? This is a most critical juncture in this process of grace. There may be the tendency to give up or seek for an easier way. It is here where the enemy works very hard in seeking to deter the traveller from going forward. Why? It is here where True Grace can be found. It is here where man acknowledges his need and confesses his woeful condition. It is also here where man can step into the bridge of grace that results in a transformed overcoming life. This is where God’s enablement is availed. A personalized experience of death to self while appropriating divinely appointed attributes of God which enables us to become more like Him.
I have found in my Christian life that enabling grace does not come easily. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. When we are in a position of needing it (grace) the most it oftentimes is the last thing that we want. Here is a brief example to illustrate this point. Several years ago while in India I witnessed an event that caused my blood to boil. In short, I was angry, very angry. Thankfully my wife was able to stop me before the venting of my poison. What happened next served as a reminder and a pattern as to how I was able to grow in grace through the years. The Spirit of God helped me to cry out for that enabling power that comes from God to take away that anger. In the flesh I did not want to be pacified, truthfully I would have taken great satisfaction in being able to follow through in my anger. One moment of satisfying venting could have caused untold damage. I needed that attribute of peace; that measure of God’s grace that was not within me. It required of me to make a decision to be willing to die to this element of the flesh. I did not want peace it was the work of the flesh that my natural man longed for. Can you see how this can be applied to any work of the flesh? If one is in the midst of battling lust the last thing the natural man desires is purity. He may know that is what’s needed but it’s not the appetite that is screaming for its fulfilment. This is the scenario that is played out through Romans 7. The thing I should do I have no desire to do. That which I should not do is raging war within me; it is that thing I so desperately want to go after. What is happening here? The law is being applied whereby sin becomes magnified. It is law that is applied to the heart where the issues of life within a man originate (Pro 4:23). Those who have a love for the Word of God experience the penetrating power of God’s sword cutting its way to the source. “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). It is here where we also see the clear distinction between soul and spirit. The matter of the heart is a critical component when seeking to define true grace. The condition of one’s heart goes a long way in determining whether we are candidates for the “grace” that enables and changes a person. This is the grace that serves as a bridge in bringing us from sinful man to the place of holiness.
Let’s revisit one of our key verses that we highlighted earlier: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb 12:15). Do you see how the attitude or condition of heart can directly determine one’s measure of grace? The Romans “narrow road” cuts to the heart. It forces one to come to face to face with what is really in the heart. It cannot be avoided. The signposts of the Cross, the Law and Sin are all too real and cannot be dismissed, avoided or shunned. These experiences then bring into greater clarity the nature and work of true grace. It is not a journey for the weak, timid or shallow believer. The allure of the by-pass is ever present both at the beginning of Romans 6 and at various junctures along the path. These routes are popular and found to be buzzing with considerable traffic.
As this series go forward we will see many such junctures where choices and decisions were made. The Biblical accounts will easily parallel with events that mark our day. The primary message to be reinforced in these series of messages is that the church is dividing. The question that must be honestly addressed is which stream are we in? Are we among those who choose to take the narrow road through Romans 6-8 (Mat 7:14-15)? It should be clear by now that decisions and choices will be required. These choices are not the daily mundane variety of decisions that we make daily. In this journey on the Romans Road the choices made can and do have eternal consequence. There are seasons when such decisions are required. This will be the focus in the next instalment.
Choose you this day
Life is full of choices. We make hundreds throughout the course of any given day which help to chart our course and direction. Does it really matter for eternity whether I eat corn flakes or Bran Buds in the morning? This is actually one of my daily decision’s that has to be made. There are seasons and defining moments in one’s life where choices really do matter. Whom to marry, what career path to choose are but a few examples. The single most important choice that anyone could make is asking Jesus into their heart to be Lord and Saviour. Though it represents the most important decision it does not end there. Joshua had a long serving relationship with God throughout his life. He chose to serve faithfully under the leadership of Moses before assuming the leadership role on behalf of Israel. Still, as he was nearing the end of his life he declared openly to make a choice. He then followed up by stating “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Jos 24:15).
Today we are in a position where defining choices are being made. They need to be made. Too often we couch ourselves behind the winds of general opinions of the day. We may have our beliefs but more often than not they are not seriously challenged to the point we have to take a stand. To make a choice that distinguishes and separates us. Joshua lived a life that conditioned him to make the needed hard decisions (Num 13:30, 14:24). Joshua along with Caleb took God at His Word in confessing their ability to go in and possess the land. That is two out of a countless multitude of people. They were of a different spirit resulting in their flowing in a stream separate from their brethren. (See subject of the Two Confessions).
The Narrow Road of Romans 6 presents the sojourner a similar scenario. Do we choose the straight and narrow way or opt for the easier way of the by-pass. This initial choice is but the beginning of several more to come. What happens when we come face to face with the cross? We are now at a point where it’s more than just Jesus dying on the Cross for my sins. Romans chapter 6 provides a vivid picture in helping to see ourselves (in Christ) upon the cross. Suddenly, the cross becomes personalized which requires whether we choose to die to self or allow that element of the flesh to carry on. Yikes! I can see many making a beeline for the alternative path after such a revelation. Add to this the reality of sin coupled with emphasis on the law and many more will be seeking another lane to the by-pass. The message of choice is strongly laced throughout Romans 6 as shown below:
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom 6:13).
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16)
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” (Rom 6:19)
One of the greatest gifts that God gave to man was the ability to choose; to have a free will whereby man is not programmed to be a robot in his relationship with God. Think about this gift! God is not limited; He can do all things but He will not force His will upon man to conform. Now it is true that God helps for man to make right choices by way of declared laws, prophets or even day to day circumstances that come into our lives. It is His desire that all men would respond to His overtures but in the end man has to choose. You may recall that we defined holiness earlier as a choosing to separate from the world, flesh and the devil and a choosing to be separated unto God. Romans chapter 6 captures this truth fully. The narrow road presents man with the cross; he can choose to embrace its message and then choose to yield his life in a way that leads him to a righteous path unto holiness. It starts and ends with choice.
There are many other factors that come into play here. I doubt that anyone wants to simply say that they give up and choose an easier way. That does not sound good; it is not valiant or triumphant. It is here where clever doctrines begin to take shape. In fact, there are some signposts within these three chapters which help to point the way in this direction. Let’s look at two of them:
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14)
“There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom 8:1).
We touched upon Rom 6:14 a bit earlier but it bears repeating. The subject of grace is being greatly abused in church circles today. This oft quoted verse seems to suggest that we now live under a dispensation of grace which somehow voids the age of the Law. The fruit of this is a theology that eventually goes off course and down a contrary stream. Oftentimes it does not happen overnight. If the law is somehow invalidated it will begin to make allowance for things God never intended. In the above verse the subject and meaning of grace can be taken to a whole new extreme. Think this is far-fetched? Consider the admonition from the Apostle Jude.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4) .
We make a big mistake if we somehow feel this verse does not apply in today’s church setting. One thing that must be made clear, especially as we approach the last days. God is going to have a pure stream, a church that radiates the life and vibrancy of the bride of Christ. How will this be achieved? Are you ready for an inconvenient truth? God is going to allow false teaching to come into the church. Who will be the purveyors of this falsehood? Would you be surprised if it came through ministers, some who have walked with God and have had viable ministries? Look at verse 4 again. Do you see that that it mentions men who have been ordained to this ministry? How would you like to be part of this ordination process? Does this then mean that God just randomly appoints people for such vile ministries? Here is the warning and it is one we must take seriously. There is going to be considerable deception in the last days.
“And no marvel; for Satan Himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14 ).
Look, if Satan, the father of lies and ultimate corruption can be perceived as an angel of light it can and will happen too many of God’s ministers. What is the primary criterion that distinguishes those who propagate false teaching as well as their followers from those who embrace the truth, know the truth and walk in it? It comes down to the choices we make. The choices we make reflect what is truly in our heart. How do we make right choices? Simply to love the Word of God and learn to delight in and do His will. That’s it! Doing so will preserve us and help ensure we stay on the right path, flowing in the glorious stream.
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psa 40:8)
Is that our hearts cry? This is especially pivotal when we are facing great struggles. Here is another verse which will help to bring all of this into proper perspective:
“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isa 7:15).
The above verse was prophetic of the Messiah about 700 years before His birth. Jesus at all times was able to discern the tactics of the enemy while flowing in obedience to His father’s will and plan. Don’t forget, the Father had a plan for His Son even before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8). Jesus as the Son of Man had to travel the narrow road that is why He can speak concerning it (Mat 7:15). The culmination took place in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to his becoming sin and going to the Cross. One final time the enemy was positioned with the arsenal of hell to try and circumvent the appointed course. “Father if there be any other way…” Like many times before the Lord could have taken a by-pass. (See Math 4:1-10) He could have obtained the glories and kingdoms of the world, had renown and spared Himself the humiliation and suffering of the Cross. At all times He held steady and was strong. At all times He had perspective of the big picture and was able to answer by way of the Word of God. There were times when the religious and so called pious challenged Him in areas of doctrine. Once again, he could respond “It is written” in His developing years he fed on milk and honey which speaks of the Word of God. This enabled Him to have perspective as well as be able to discern. Now, if this is true for our Lord how much more for us today? If we learn to feast upon the milk and honey of God’s Word we will have the ability to travel the narrow road. We will be able to sniff out and discern doctrines that subtly take people out of the good path. It all comes down to choice.
Let us be warned as to the day and hour in which we live. God will have a pure church and an adorned bride. To achieve this God will allow false teachers and prophets to enter the church. They are there due to their own heart being deceived and hardened. Balaam was such a prophet. He had power, authority and recognition. There came a time when he was presented with a choice. This choice required him to be one way or the other. He made a choice where he sought to have the best of both worlds. Consider the following:
1) This event occurred on the threshold of a significant move of God. It was the time when the Lord was about to lead the children of Israel out of the wilderness into Canaan. Do you think this timing is coincidence?
2) He persisted in seeking to have this duality of function. Eventually God answered him according to what was in his heart.
3) His prophetic ministry resulted in great damage to Israel.
4) He sowed the seeds of Baal worship which affected Israel up to the time of the reign of Ahab and Jezebel.
5) The fruits of Balaam serve as a warning to the church of the last days.(Rev 2:14, 2:20).
It started with a choice. Balaam functioned as a mightily recognized prophet who knew God and His Word. There came a day when a definitive choice needed to be made. The fruits of this choice not only affected him but a nation. It is a similar choice confronting believers today. Will we choose the narrow way or the alternative by-pass? When confronted with the reality of who we are will we cover up and excuse our person or will we choose to experience the way of the Cross?
I would like to close this section by examining Rom 8:1 through the new International Version lens:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
How often do you hear this verse quoted? Do you notice what is omitted from the previous version? It is the element of choice. It makes clear that the promise is conditional in our learning to yield to the Spirit as opposed to the flesh. Whom will we yield too? What will be the factors that will determine our decisions?
Remember, the primary message of this study is that the church in the last days will divide. In fact, it is already beginning to divide. What choices will we make? What doctrines and teachings will we gravitate towards? The question that has been constantly asked in this section of our study is which road we will take. Will it be the narrow road as seen in Romans Chapters 6-8; The road which introduces us to the reality and importance of the Cross, the Law, Sin, Grace and Choice or will it be the road of the By-Pass.
In the next section we will look at familiar accounts from the Word of God which brings the Two Streams into full view. You will also see the Romans Road and the By-Pass in clear and identifiable terms with each example. It is prayerfully hoped that the reader will be able to inject him or herself into each account and ask honest questions. Who am I in this narrative? This will help reveal where we are in our respective walk with God. It will also aid us in seeing where we are with regard to the Roman Road. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…”