Holiness, Part 6
We want to take a close look at holiness, and we will start by studying the time when Yeshua cleansed the Temple. Matthew 21:12 tells us, “Yeshua entered the Temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the Temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” So who were these moneychangers? The moneychangers (shulchani) were there to exchange foreign currency into the Temple shekels. You see, at the time of Yeshua, the people would have used Roman currency, which had the image of Caesar on it, and it was forbidden to carry this currency into the Temple because of its pagan image, since Caesar was considered a god. Most likely, those who sat at these tables were priests and Levites who had become dishonest. They were adding service charges and collecting far above the rate of exchange. Because of the Diaspora, many Jews had to travel to Jerusalem to make their sacrifices. At times it was too difficult for them to carry their sacrifices with them, so doves were sold to these people in the outer courts of the Temple. Though these people were offering a service for these travelers, it was against God’s Word to be doing this in the Temple; they should have been buying and selling on the street, not in the Temple courts.
Now we have to put this in its proper perspective so that we can understand Yeshua’s actions. It was the time of Passover, and according to Torah, one was to thoroughly clean one’s house and rid it of any leaven, even if it was just a crumb. Leaven symbolized sin and corruption. How appropriate, then, it was for Yeshua to go into His Father’s House and clean it of the leaven, the sin and corruption. Yeshua, as He overturned the tables, quoted two Scriptures.
Isaiah tells us, “I will bring them to My sacred mount and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be welcomed on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:7). We want to see why Yeshua would have quoted this verse.
First, I want to say that Rabbinically, when one quoted a part of a verse, it is as though he quoted the whole verse. So what was the content of this section of Scripture? The Scripture starts with “Observe what is right and do what is just; for soon My salvation shall come and My deliverance be revealed. Happy is the man who does this, the man who holds fast to it: who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and stays his hand from doing any evil” (verses 1-2). Isaiah declares that doing what is right and just and being obedient and careful in observing the commandments would give the people identity as a community. The declaration also states that the foreigner would also be allowed to become members of the community. Verse 3 goes on to say, “Let not the foreigner say, who has attached himself to the Lord, ‘The Lord will keep me apart from His people.’”
The prophet, speaking for God, tells the people, mainly foreigners who felt excluded, that Torah observation makes them complete members of the community. When we obey God’s Word, we will be a light to the nations and people will be drawn into our congregations. It seems as though Christians play the revolving door game. They just circulate from church to church, but this is not true church growth. This is not the lost coming out of darkness into the light. Throughout history, we see many foreigners attaching themselves to Israel. We see this in the Exodus from Egypt; also, people like Rahab and Ruth who attached themselves and became part of the royal line of Yeshua. When the Jews left Babylon, many people turned to the one true God and went back with the exiles. In Yeshua’s day, we see the Centurion who was a God fearer and also Cornelius who sent for Peter. This is why the Torah specifically addresses the issue of the foreigner and alien who sojourns with Israel.
In verses 6-7 God says, “As for the foreigners who attach themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—all who keep the Sabbath and do not profane it and hold fast to My covenant—I will bring them to My sacred mount and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be welcome on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” We clearly see that Yeshua’s heart was that all people would worship on His holy mountain, and indeed they will, as He declared, “For My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.”
But this requires more than what we may think. He was not just referring to people going to their local church, but one day all people would be worshiping Him in Spirit and in Truth. One day all people would be keeping Sabbath and the whole of Torah.
A Heavenly Picture
As we go on, we will see that what Yeshua did that day and what He was declaring to the people was quite a serious charge and one that we need to heed today. God made it clear to Moses when He told him to be careful to do all that He had told him to do in the making of the tabernacle. God’s sanctuary here on earth is to represent the throne room of God in heaven. Every detail and every item represented the exactness in heaven. God is holy and He demands holiness and obedience to His Word. Isaiah declared, “I beheld my Lord seated on a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple. Seraphs stood in attendance on Him. Each of them had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his legs, and with two he would fly. And one would call to the other, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy! The Lord of Hosts! His presence fills all the earth.’ The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the House kept filling with smoke. I cried, ‘Woe is me; I am lost! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have beheld the King, Lord of Hosts’” (Isaiah 6:1-5). Then an angel took a coal from off the altar and touched his lips. We see that even the angels must cover themselves in the presence of God. Isaiah, in the presence of God, recognized his sinfulness and his need to be cleansed.
The Temple Laws were all about holiness and purity. The priest would stop at the laver, which was symbolic of one submerging himself in God’s holiness, cleansing himself from sin. There were many laws concerning purity which we are not going to go through now, but remember that the unclean represents sin, and the clean represents purity. They both represent the two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. The Psalmist writes, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, and has not sworn deceitfully.” (Psalm 24:3-4). This is talking about who may enter God’s presence.
God requires holiness; in fact, He demands it. Before we can approach God, we have to repent and confess our sins so that we remain in right standing with God. Then, we can approach God with confidence and liberality. We take that Scripture so out of context that we can approach God with boldness and a confidence. Yes, we can, but only if we have cleansed ourselves before God. We must understand that God is holy and He takes His holiness quite seriously. Paul tells us that we should examine ourselves before communion so we do not partake in an unworthy manner. Examine ourselves for what? Sin. When we pray, are we not having communion with God? James, writing to believers, says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:7-10).
Cleansing is not just a one time deal, but daily we are to come before God and confess our sins. Scripture says that everyone who has the hope of His coming purifies himself, just as He is pure. Sin separates us from God, and only repentance cleanses us. God says, “A broken and a contrite heart I will never turn away” (Psalm 51:17). Even though the physical Temple is gone, the operation of the Temple still remains. Now we are the Temple of the Lord. Our Temple must be pure and holy. Nothing unclean must enter our Temple. We are the priesthood, and we must be clean and holy as we are going to approach the altar of the Lord. Only holiness can approach a holy God.
The Flesh vs. the Spirit
Yeshua tells us that God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must be in spirit and truth. Paul writes, “For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Yeshua the Messiah and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3). So what is this putting confidence in the flesh? Yeshua tells Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). Paul writes, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that please you. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:17-18). Why? Because if you are following the Spirit you are keeping the law.
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…you who practice such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). “For those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God” (Romans 8:14). What are the deeds of the Spirit but love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, to mention a few.
Yeshua was against those who were corrupt, those who did not live by the Torah, those who were not living a holy life; and they brought this corruption and sin into the sanctuary of God. John writes to believers in 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”
We Christians like to believe that when we accept Yeshua as Lord and Savior that we now have a license to live as we want, for all our sins have been washed away. But this is only part true. Yeshua made the way for us to be forgiven and to be made right with God, but we must live according to His Word and keep His commands. Sin still separates us from God. We still must repent of our sins daily. John writes to believers, “If you say that you are without sin you are a liar” (1 John 1:8). I know that I don’t always walk by the Spirit, and I know that if you are honest with yourself that you don’t always either. John writes in that same letter, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).
We must daily walk with God, living by His Word, being led by His Spirit, and walking in truth and righteousness. But because we wrestle with the flesh that is at war with the Spirit in us, we struggle, and we do not always walk as we should. We must repent and return, walking in God’s ways. We must not continue to lie to ourselves and think that God has overlooked our sins because of Yeshua. God is holy, and He demands holiness from His people, and that requires us to walk daily in the Spirit, crucifying our flesh. The leadership of our congregations must speak out about sin, and they too must deal with their own sin. Scripture tells us in the last days that people will not accept sound doctrine but they will only want their ears tickled (2 Timothy 4:3).
As the days go on, deep darkness will cover the earth and the evil deeds of men will increase, and the Bible speaks of a great apostasy, the falling away of the saints. And we can only wonder, “Why?” The answer is in the second part of Yeshua’s message.
Yeshua said (when He quoted part of this verse), “Do you consider this House, which bears My name, to be a den of thieves? As for Me, I have been watching, declares the Lord. Just go to My place at Shiloh, where I had established My name formerly, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel” (Jeremiah 7:11-12). Verse 13 goes on, “And now, because you did all these things, declares the Lord, and though I spoke to you persistently, you would not listen; and though I called you, you did not respond. Therefore, I will do to the House which bears My name, on which you rely, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, just what I did at Shiloh.”
Shiloh was the place of worship before David moved the Ark of God to Jerusalem. So, what were these things that the people were doing that angered God? Verse 18 tells us, “The children gathered sticks, the fathers build the fire, and the mothers kneaded dough to make cakes for the Queen of Heaven and they poured libations to other gods, to vex Me.” So let’s go through this.
The sanctuary at Shiloh was destroyed because the people failed to observe God’s Torah, and Jeremiah was saying that the Temple in Jerusalem could be destroyed for the same reason. Yeshua was reminding the people that the Temple in His day also could be destroyed because of sin, which we know took place in 70 CE. In Jeremiah’s day, God tells Jeremiah not to even pray for the people. Yeshua, when going to the cross, tells the women not to cry for Him but for themselves, because He knew what was coming in the future. So we see that it was this sin of idolatry that brought down God’s House.
Idolatry is a misunderstood concept; we just tend to think of a wooden image. The second commandment says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6). So is this commandment done away with? I think not! I think it is for today even more so.
Ezekiel gives us the answer. He writes in chapter 14 regarding the elders, “Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through their idols.”’” Yeshua said, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” (Matthew 15:8). We are to love God with all of our heart, life, and strength. We can not serve two masters. Idolatry can be anything that we have in our hearts that keeps us from God, like lust, greed, unforgiveness, bitterness, lies, immorality, pride: it’s all sin. For the moneychangers, it was greed and dishonest gain; they were stealing from the people with their dishonest rate of exchange.
Paul writes, “Let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1). You see, if we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are His holy priesthood, then we have to be holy, godly people, clean from any hint of uncleanness, any unrighteousness, anything that may suggest anything other than holy and pure. Yeshua was telling the people that the Temple had become common and corrupt. The leadership was not representing or teaching God’s holiness. Sin had crept into the Temple and was defiling it and, even though there were no carved images in the Temple, the leadership had set up idols in their hearts and in turn led the people astray.
1 Corinthians 10:6-14 tells us, “Now these things happened as an example for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved. And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’ Nor let us act immorally as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction, upon which the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” If this was written for our example then we must live by it.
Sin separates us from God. The Psalmist writes, “If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god, would not God discover this? For He knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:20-21). Our hidden sins become our hidden lives. When the Word is allowed to convict us of our sin and those idols that we have put before God, then we will repent and turn from our evil ways, and idolatry cannot take hold in our hearts. Yeshua cleaned out the Temple because of sin, because of idolatry. David wrote, “Search me, O God and know me.” He also wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 129:33). Shouldn’t we examine our hearts to see if there is any sin in us?
Where Has Holiness Gone?
Yeshua was very determined, when He overthrew the moneychangers, to set an example and warn the people that God does not tolerate sin and corruption in His leadership or in the lives of His people. The Temple of God was to be holy and the things of God sacred. We are to be holy just as God is holy. We must ask ourselves, “Do I live a holy life, one that represents the holiness of God? Is the music I listen to the music that God would listen to? (And I must add, just because they use the name of Jesus in the music does not make it holy, because many of these so-called Christian artists are not themselves living a holy life.) Is the TV that I watch holy and pleasing to God, or have I just become accustomed to the trash? Are the movies that I watch something that God would sit down next to me and watch?”
Have we moved so far away from the “Turn or Burn” message of the 1800’s that brought such great revivals? Have we no need for the principles of the “Holiness Movement” or the organizations that monitored purity and decency, or have we become callous and even blinded by our sins and the idols we have set up in our hearts? This is what our idols have done to us by telling us that we are OK in what we do. We close our ears and no longer hear, we hardened our hearts and our eyes have become blind. This is the process of sin. We take the parts of Scripture that we want to hang on to and pull them out of context and throw away the parts that we don’t like and say that Jesus got rid of them. Yeshua said that heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle of God’s Word will be done away with.
Scripture tells us that judgment will come to the House of God first. You see, throughout Scripture it tells us to purify our hearts, and unless we purify ourselves, we will not see the Lord. In Revelation it says, “These are the ones who have made their garments white” (Revelation 7:14). You see, if we do not purify ourselves, then God will, and of course, God will always discipline His children. We have been taught that we will be raptured because God does not want to bring us wrath. He doesn’t, that is why we must repent of our sins and live a holy, godly life or, like the Scriptures tell us, we will be judged with the wicked.
This idea of the rapture is a fairly new concept. It really became popular with authors like Hal Lindsey and movies like “Left Behind” and even at that, the concept is once again based on a Hellenistic view instead of the Jewish worldview. Yeshua warned the people in His day of judgment, and judgment did come to the House of God. I believe that we have begun to see that judgment once again with the abuse cases in the Catholic Church and ministers like Jim Swaggart and Jim Bakker and so many other ministers in all denominations who are being exposed for their idols, the sin that is in their hearts. We will see God expose even more, for God demands holiness from His people and in their places of worship. Yeshua is returning for a bride that is spotless, blameless, and holy. He will put His bride through the fire to purify them. He will judge His church so that He can rightfully judge the world. Because of the sin that is in the church, we have been taught that God will overlook our sin, but God does not overlook anyone’s sin. He has made the way for us to be forgiven. He has given us His Word so that we may know how to walk in His ways. He has given us everything we need unto salvation, but He has not given us a free ticket to live our lives how we choose. We are the light of the world, and we are to imitate Yeshua. Yeshua was holy and blameless and a Torah-keeper. He did only what His Father required of Him. This was obedience to His Word.
Why will there be a great apostasy, a great falling away? Because we believe our idols saying that God requires nothing of us. He does! He requires of us to circumcise our hearts, to crucify the flesh, to put away our idols, and to walk holy and blameless lives totally devoted to Him. We are to honor Him and give Him our best. We are to have no part of the world. We are only to be a light to the world. And if you say that this is “works,” then that is exactly what it is! Yeshua’s message is for us today; it was written for our example and we need to heed His warning. With everything that is going on in the world today, and as we see God already beginning to judge His congregation of believers, it should open our eyes to see that His next step will be to judge the wicked. But first He will purify His people.
How close we are to His return! The position of the believers should be one of repentance and humility, one of prayer and intercession, one of weeping and mourning. This is Yeshua’s prayer: that one day the idols will be done away with and His House will be a House of Prayer, which the incense of the saints will be brought to, even to the altar of God by His holy priesthood as a holy and pleasing sacrifice before the presence of God. Paul writes about the peril of apostasy: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied the power. Beware of men who enter into households and captivate the weak, men always learning and never able to come to the truth. Men like Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected as regards to the faith”
(2 Timothy 3:1-8). This is talking to Christians. This is talking about the result of unrepentive sin.
The apostasy of the last days is here, and judgment has begun in the House of God. Won’t you open your eyes and see? Won’t you open your ears and hear? Yeshua’s message was written for all of His people throughout the generations. God is holy and He demands holiness in the lives of His people and where they worship!
Imitators of Yeshua
In Hebraic thought, to be one’s disciple was to imitate his teacher: his every word, mannerisms, and even thoughts. I guess we would say that the disciple would be a “clone” of that person. In a manner of speaking, this is what Yeshua was of the Father. Yeshua spoke only His Father’s words, and He did only what He saw His Father do. Yeshua was the exactness of His Father. He told Philip, “If you have seen Me than you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). We, too, must imitate Yeshua this same way, and so too His disciples learned from Him. When they asked Him how to pray, they, being Jews, knew how to pray, for prayer is the foundation of Judaism. But every rabbi taught his disciples their own forms of prayer; usually it was a shortened form of the Amidah (the eighteen benedictions) which was said only when they would be on the road traveling. This is what we call today the Lord’s Prayer.
So as followers of Yeshua, we too must do entirely what He did. We must not just pray any prayer but the prayers He prayed; Mark 11:25 refers to the Amidah which is said standing in the morning and the evening. We too must call people to repentance (Matthew 4:17) and show mercy and compassion (Matthew 20:29-34). We too must heal the sick and cast out demons (Mark 16:17-18). We must keep God’s Appointed Times, not man’s; in other words, we must take on the yoke of the kingdom. Paul tells his readers to imitate him as he imitates Yeshua. This means that Paul kept Torah. He kept the seventh day Sabbath and all of God’s Appointed Times, which we know from reading Scripture. He did everything Yeshua did. He did not change ONE thing! If he had, he could not have imitated Yeshua, nor could he have been Yeshua’s disciple. Scripture tells us, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments (speaking of Torah) and so teaches others shall be called least in the kingdom” (Matthew 5:19). So we must imitate Yeshua to the letter. When Yeshua tells His disciples to go out and make disciples, He was saying, “Go and teach people to imitate Me.”
Yeshua’s Call to Follow Him
Yeshua went through the countryside and called people to follow Him. But He took it a step further, and He said “If you wish to follow Me, then you must deny yourself and pick up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23). What did Yeshua mean by this? Many people think that Yeshua meant that if they have an illness, then that is carrying their cross, or if they have a problem child that they have to deal with, that they are carrying their cross. But is this what He meant? Well, let’s take a closer look.
Yeshua continued by saying, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Luke 9:24-25). “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27). Paul tells us this: “Brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1). So we see that carrying our cross has to do with laying down our lives for the Kingdom of God. So let’s look at this.
The cross was an instrument of death. It was designed to maximize pain and suffering. It was also designed to bring shame, for the person was hung naked. Paul tells us that, “We should not be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). “For the word of the cross is, to those who are perishing, foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18). So despite the shame, as disciples we must pick up our cross and crucify ourselves along with Yeshua. Does Yeshua mean literally crucify ourselves? Well, we know the answer to that is “no,” but what He does mean is that we are to deny our flesh, our desires, our life by dying to ourselves. Paul writes, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Messiah. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Messiah, and may be found in Him not having salvation by the keeping of the law, but that through faith in Messiah I may have salvation which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11).
What does it mean to know Him? Well, this word “know,” yada in Hebrew, is the same word which is used when referring to the covenant. It’s not just to have the knowledge of Him, but to personally experience Him. God revealed His Name to the Israelites, and through His judgments on Egypt and their deliverance from slavery, they experienced that this Name was true. He then further revealed Himself by the giving of the Torah. John writes, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we know Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:3-6). This word, “know,” is parallel to fearing Him
(1 Kings 8:43), to serving Him (1 Chronicles 28:9), to trusting Him (Isaiah 43:10), and to walking in a straight path worthy of the Lord (Colossians 1:10).
So, we must have this intimate relationship with God. Paul was saying to know Him completely. So when we truly know Him we will also know His power. For the same Spirit which raised Yeshua from the grave lives in us when we truly know Him. Paul writes, “There are those who have a form of godliness but deny the power”
(2 Timothy 3:5). Again, this takes walking in the covenant; for this is the only way we can know Him in truth. This power is walking in salvation, which includes having the authority over rulers and principalities and evil forces in the heavenly places, over every kind of sickness and disease. These are the signs that shall follow a believer (Mark 16:17-18). But because we do not always see these signs and wonders, we say that they do not exist. We cannot keep justifying our wrongs by denying truth.
When we know Him and walk in His power, we will have fellowship with Him. John writes, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7). The Book of 1 John is full of knowing God in that covenant relationship. To know God, walk in His power, and fellowship with Him will always bring about suffering.
Yeshua told His disciples not to fear, for the world hated Him and it will hate them too. Yeshua, on the mount, tells His followers, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12). Peter writes, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Messiah, keep rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exaltation. If you are reviled for the name of Messiah, you are blessed, because the Spirit of Glory and God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a believer let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. For it is the time for judgment to begin with the House of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous are saved, what will become of the godless man and sinner? Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:12-19).
But all too often we think that fellowshipping in Yeshua’s sufferings is just when we tell someone about Him and they start to call us names or think us to be crazy, but to know Him and His power and to fellowship with Him means we have to take things one step further, and that is to be conformed to His death. Until we do this, we truly can not know Him the way we need to know Him, as to know His power and to fellowship with Him in truth. This is the point to which many Christians never reach.
I Too Must Die
For us to be conformed to Yeshua’s death, then we must die also. Paul writes, “Now those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Paul tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world, but to “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). John writes, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world; if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16).
To be a follower of Yeshua, we must put down the world and pick up the yoke of the kingdom. Peter writes, “Therefore, since Messiah has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries (Torahlessness). And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and malign you.” (1 Peter 4:1-4).
Yeshua tells His followers, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Matthew 10:38). In other words, if we do not imitate Yeshua by carrying our cross and crucifying our flesh, by denying this world’s sinful lusts and pride, we cannot be one of His followers. We preach grace and faith, but not what it takes to know Him. We preach the love of God, but not what He demands of us. We do not hear enough about sin and dying to self. Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Messiah Yeshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4).
Answering the Call Daily
When we answer the call to follow Yeshua, we begin our daily walk with Him. Scripture tells us that the Torah is a tutor leading us to Messiah. It is the only manual we have to teach us how to walk in holiness along with our Counselor, the Holy Spirit, who leads us in all truth. The Torah shows us our sin, and the Holy Spirit convicts us of that sin, and this process leads us to repentance. God prefers us to judge ourselves, but if we do not listen to His voice and we harden our hearts, then He must discipline us. Unfortunately, all too often, we do not repent because we have been taught that Yeshua died for our sins so they are all forgiven. Only part of this is true. Our sins are forgiven when we repent and turn from our sins, then the blood of Messiah washes us clean. Paul tells us not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies. We are not to be slaves of sin, but slaves of righteousness. There is no condemnation to those who are in Messiah Yeshua who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And it is this that we are going to take a closer look at.
Wrestling with Sin
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. Paul tells us how he wrestled: “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Torah, confessing that it is good. So no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:15-18). Paul, through this wrestling, comes to the conclusion that the only one who can rescue him was Yeshua, thanks be to God! But what we miss is that he says that the requirements of the law are fulfilled in us when we do not walk by the flesh, but by the Spirit. Why? Because we are no longer sinning but living in God’s commandments. For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are living according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Is your heart divided? Do you serve two masters? Do you want the things of this world more than the things of God? What do you spend most of your time doing? How far would you go for money? Do you find yourself looking at things that you ought not, even on TV? Are you angry with your brother, maybe even a little intolerable? Do you love the praises of men? Do you trust in your own righteousness, even blinded by it? We are to love God with all of our heart, all of our life, with all of our strength. So how do we begin to solve this problem?
I Must Die to Be Born Once More
When I accept Messiah Yeshua as Lord and Savior, than I must die to myself. I must die to the world and all its lusts and desires. I must lay down my life so that I can pick it up again in Messiah, so that it is no longer I who lives but Yeshua who lives in me. We must let go of self and robe ourselves now in Messiah. Job writes, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there.” (Job 1:21). What does Job mean when he says that he will return to the womb? Nicodemus asked Yeshua the same question, “Can a man return to his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” (John 3:4). Job was referring to the second birth, and Yeshua explained it to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven” (John 3:5).
How is a person born again? Well, you must be born of the Spirit. Your new birth is a birth of the heart. Jeremiah tells us that, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Yeshua says, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of men proceeds the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.” (Matthew 15:18-19). Sin hardens our hearts and thoughts. We no longer hear the Holy Spirit speaking to us. We have seared our consciences and we make all sorts of excuses and we begin to rationalize our thinking. We walk according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, though we can make ourselves believe that we are in God’s will while in reality we are not, and we do not even realize that God is no longer walking with us. The solution: we must cut away that which is of the flesh; we must circumcise our hearts. How do we do that?
God tells us that He will never turn away a contrite and broken heart. We must repent. Repentance is a turning back to God and walking now in His ways. A heart always in the state of repentance is truly a circumcised heart. Now, I know that this is exactly what preachers teach against. They say you should not walk in guilt. Exactly! But remember, there is no condemnation to those who walk uprightly, those who are walking according to the Spirit and not the flesh. Repentance is God’s blessing to us. Do we not wash ourselves every day? Then why would we not want to spiritually cleanse ourselves daily? Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning. The difference between a repentive heart and a hardened heart is hearing God’s voice. This is a warning from God, “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts like they did in the wilderness when they rebelled.” (Hebrews 3:7-8).
We must be willing to lay our lives down on the altar and die to ourselves so that God can consume us with His Spirit and transform us into His new creation. The old man must die so we may become the new man in Messiah.
New Birth, New Life
Paul tells the Corinthians, regarding the Feast of Passover, to “clean out the old leaven (sin) that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover lamb also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). According to Torah, no person could celebrate Passover unless they were physically circumcised. This was because they were not considered a member of the covenant. Jeremiah, when speaking of the new covenant, says that God will write His laws upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). God can not write His laws upon a hardened heart, a heart of stone. We must be people who walk in newness of life, not according to our former ways. For us to take part in our Passover Lamb, we must be made new. Just like Yeshua, we too must die and be buried and rise again, not as the old but as new, not of the flesh but of the Spirit. For if any man is in Yeshua, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come. John writes, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).
Now as new creations, our lives are hidden in Messiah. It is no longer I who live but Yeshua who lives in me. And what is this new life in Messiah? It is one who abides in Him. Yeshua tells us that if we keep His commandments we will abide with Him. This abiding is done by walking in the Spirit, who leads us in all truth, the truth being His Word. Yeshua tells us that if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit, and what is this fruit? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). It is in these things that there is no condemnation, because this is the opposite of walking in the flesh. But, once again, to do this we must crucify the flesh and begin to walk in the Spirit. It is in this that we no longer live out the old man, but we begin to walk in newness of life as new creations.
We now read God’s Word with new insight. It not only becomes alive to us, but it convicts us of our sins and it changes us from the inside out. We no longer can live behind our excuses and our rational thinking. We see ourselves as guilty of sin, and we now feel remorse for those deeds done in the flesh, and this godly sorrow leads us to a broken and contrite heart of true repentance. We no longer run from truth, but we head for the Cross of Calvary on bended knee and confess Yeshua as Lord of our lives, so we surrender our will to His. He is faithful to wash us clean, pick us up, and walk with us again. We begin to love God more than our own lives. We become attentive to His voice. We long to hear from Him not occasionally, but daily. God has so much to say to us, so much He wants to show us and share with us. We fall in love with God all over again, and we love Him more each day, not less. He becomes more apparent in our lives each day, like John the Baptist who said, “He must increase as I decrease” (John 3:30).
This is abiding in Him. This is the New Man. This is the Spirit filled life. And those who walk by the Spirit are the children of God, obedient to our Master’s voice. We become good and faithful servants.