Ex. 32:26 π Dan. 11:32 π Mt. 24:13 π Jn. 4:24 π Acts 17:30 π Rom. 8:2 π Rom. 8:9 π Rom. 8:21 π 1 Cor. 2:8 π Eph. 6:12 π Col. 2:15 π 2 Tim. 3:5 π Heb. 5:9 π Heb. 5:13 π Heb. 8:10-11
"The Prophet tells us that we cannot set ourselves free without God's help. He says that if we had been willing to change our ways, God would have rescued us long ago. Therefore we must get rid of sin and pride and take our stand on God's side. When we do that, great things will happen!" (Men Called Him Master, Elwyn Allen Smith, p. 9)
In Smith's wonderful book, these words are spoken by Andrew before he becomes a disciple of Jesus. This is his thoughtful summary of John the Baptizer's message and it is a message we would do well to hear since we are again in a time when making straight paths for the Lord to walk upon is the highest spiritual priority. Let us consider these statements in more depth.
"The Prophet tells us that we cannot set ourselves free without God's help."
In the face of a whole genre of self-help books, videos, philosophies and psychologies, this simple statement stands as the ultimate rebuke against mankind. Unless God helps us to get free, we will never get free. After two millennia of "Christianity," we often do not even know what it is we are supposed to be freed from! God be merciful to us - we have almost entirely lost sight of His Way.
Paul told us, "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." ( Rom. 8:21 ) All creation is to be delivered from all forms of corruption under the kingdom of Christ and brought into the glorious liberty and light and life that attends the children of God. But if we are not growing into the likeness of Christ - and this is more than a mere superficial imitation or intellectual approval of our favorite, self-generated "Jesus" crafted after our own likeness and according to our own tastes, presuppositions and predispositions - then we simply are not His. ( Rom. 8:9 ) The man who lives his life in corruption - obedient to the flesh nature, ensnared in demonic deceptions, conformed to the likeness of this world, etc. - has no basis for his claims of belonging to Christ and God, no matter what titles (like "pastor," "apostle," "elder," "prophet," etc.) he has taken unto himself. Those who worship God must do so in spirit and in truth ( Jn. 4:24 ) - those who practice a mere form of godliness but who do not possess its power are those from whom the genuine followers of Christ and God must withdraw. ( 2 Tim. 3:5; top )
In the face of Andrew's great expressions of truth, let us clearly recognize though that he holds these truths even as he holds onto his own preconceived notions (which includes hatred of the Roman oppressors) that are entirely incompatible and even in opposition to the truths of Christ's kingdom. So even as Andrew speaks of being rescued and set free, he is thinking in terms of freedom from Rome even as Christ comes to set us all free from sin and death. ( Rom. 8:2; top ) And when Andrew speaks of great things happening, his view is decidedly temporal whereas Christ's is transcendently eternal. And just as Andrew (and the other disciples as well) was completely capable of viewing eternal truths through the fog of his temporal perspective, so too can we view all the truths of Scripture through the eyes of our flesh and completely misunderstand - and malpractice! - what Christ wants us to do.
"He says that if we had been willing to change our ways, God would have rescued us long ago."
God commands all men everywhere to repent ( Acts 17:30 ) because Christ is the author of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him. ( Heb. 5:9; top ) Obedience precedes blessing. It always has and it always will. The "cheap grace gospel" that abounds these days will not save anyone from the eternal lake of fire. Only obedience to Christ in all things will do that.
"Therefore we must get rid of sin and pride and take our stand on God's side."
Sin and pride are the virulent expressions of me, the big I, the center of my universe where I am my own "God" and I decide what I will and won't do based on my own ability to decipher what is right and wrong, good and evil (in my own opinion, that is). Our sin and iniquity is intricately wrapped up in our personality and woven tightly by the schemes of the devil and the demonic which have far greater influence upon us than most are willing to recognize. The devil and the demonic have had two thousand years to practice their deceptive schemes to entrench themselves further into the lives of the people who would otherwise belong to Christ and God. After two millennia of religious traditions of men ("church"), sin and pride are not only the primary expressions of the flesh nature, they have become the most often accepted means by which we are to "follow Christ"!
Recognition of our need to conduct effective spiritual warfare against the demonic spiritual beings is the next stand we must take if we are to become the purified bride of Christ. For too long we have acquiesced under the deceptions of the demonic and, in so doing, have served the kingdom of evil and darkness more than we have served Christ's kingdom of light. When Jesus was here, He dealt with the spiritual hosts of wickedness in a very straight-forward manner simply commanding them to be silent and to leave their victims. But the other three types of spiritual entities (principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this age - Eph. 6:12 ), He left entrenched in their positions. He left us an example of how He confronted and overcame those types in His own life - an example of telling God's simple and complete truth and refusing to be moved from performing God's will for His own life - but He did not openly confront and tear down the schemes the enemy would enact in reaction to their humiliating defeat at the cross. ( 1 Cor. 2:8 , Col. 2:15 ) His unshakeable stance and obedient endurance ushered in the unshakeable kingdom that cannot be taken from those who endure for His sake. ( Mt. 24:13 ) Those who stand for their own flesh and for what is right in their own eyes (practiced in His name) will not accomplish anything of eternal value. The time is long overdue for the call to go out among the people of Christ and God, "Who is on the Lord's side?" ( Ex. 32:26; top )
"When we do that, great things will happen!"
The writer of Hebrews told us,
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the
After Andrew makes these four statements, the traveler he and John have met on the road (who turns out to be the Man who will become their Master, Jesus) says simply, "John speaks the truth."
Let he who has ears hear
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!