Join to the Lord and Love His Name

April 09, 2018

Thus says the LORD (YHVH): “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon My salvation will come, and My righteousness be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD (YHVH) say, “The LORD (YHVH) will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD (YHVH): “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, who choose the things that please Me and hold fast My covenant, I will give in My house and within My walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD (YHVH), to minister to Him, to love the name of the LORD (YHVH), and to be His servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast My covenant— these I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” Isaiah 56:1-8

Remember that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. He confronted the Pharisees for faulting Him for doing His Father's work on the Sabbath. (Matt. 12:1-14) Also, He IS our Sabbath in this age during which believing Jews and Gentiles are being built up into the Body of Christ, the Church, a holy dwelling place for God. (1Pet. 2:4-5, Rom. 12:1-2, Col. 1:18, 1Cor. 3:16, 1Cor. 6:19-20) We “enter into God’s rest” when we enter into the Body of Christ. Those of His own, whom He came to save, who did not believe, did not enter in. (John 1:11, Rom. 11:17-25) Jesus is the ONLY way to enter in. (John 10:9)

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. Hebrews 4:1-3

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 9:30-33

Those who tried to earn their own righteousness failed, just as those who refused to follow Moses into the promised land after leaving Egypt wandered around in the desert until all of those above age twenty at that time died by the end of forty years. (Num. 14:1-36) They didn’t believe that God would deliver them from the giants who inhabited the land. We need to put all of our trust in Jesus—not the kind that assures us that we can behave the same now as we did before we were saved, and not the kind that “trusts” Him to give us “stuff” when we want/need it, but has no thought of Him the rest of the time. We need the kind of faith that SHOWS—the kind that works its way OUT from inside of us—the kind that shines, through sad times as well as happy ones—difficult times as well as easy ones. (Matt. 5:14-16, 1Pet. 1:6-8, Luke 6:46-49, Jam. 1:22-25, Jam. 2:14-17)

The Gentiles were NOT to convert to Judaism and observe its regulations, as the letter the apostles sent attested to. (Acts 15:10-11, Acts 15:19-29, Acts 21:25, Rom. 14:14, Matt. 15:10-20, Mark 7:14-23) Some teach that it was “assumed” that the Gentiles would keep the law, and the letters were only sent to emphasize the points addressed. This is simply untrue and goes against the PLAIN meaning of the passages. We are free to honor God in ways that we believe will please Him according to our knowledge of Him from the Bible, and by the prompting of His Spirit within us. We are not to force man-made rules on anyone in areas where the Bible gives freedom (like whether or not to eat meat). Nor are we meant to require anyone to serve exactly the same as we do. We must remember that God Himself gifts each member for the benefit the Body as He sees fit. It’s sinful to exalt ourselves over others whose service we feel is not as valuable as ours, or “falls short” somehow of OUR expectations. We are not all called to serve in the same way, but we are all called to do something for the glory of God—according to His plans, purposes and desires, which He brings to pass through the working of His Spirit within us. (Rom. 14:1-23, 1Cor. 12:4-13:13, Luke 22:24-27, Gal. 6:3-5, 1Cor. 4:2-8) (But we ARE to judge sin within the Church in order to keep the Body of Christ healthy. 1Cor. 5, Matt. 18:15-17)

Let’s think about how we would go about keeping the Old Covenant law during these times. Breaking part of it breaks all of it. (Jam. 2:10) So the males (or ALL, since there “is” no male or female in the New Covenant - Gal. 3:28) would be required to travel to the temple in Jerusalem three times a year. That’s a problem, since there IS NO temple, isn’t it? (Exo. 23:14-17, Deut. 12:13-14) What about the 7-year Sabbaths for the land and return of property in the Jubilee year? (Lev. 25:1-55) God wants to be worshiped in TRUTH and SPIRIT, not by rote and ritual. (John 4:23, Isa. 29:13, Matt. 15:6-13, Mark 7:6-13) Also see Heb. 8:13 about the New Covenant, as well as Matt. 9:16-17, Mark 2:21-28, Luke 5:36-39, Acts 10:44-48 and Gal. 3:10-14. Jesus came to FULFILL the law. (Matt. 5:17) The law we obey now is written on our hearts. (Heb. 10:15-31) We don’t have a lot of complicated rules to follow. (Jam. 2:8-26, Jam. 1:12-27, Matt. 7:12-29, Gal. 6:2) Paul scolded those who wanted to revert back to them. (Gal. 3:1-3) Peter asked why the Jews wanted to place a yoke upon the neck of the Gentiles that they and their fathers had not been able to bear. (Acts 15:10)

So what this means is that OUR observance of the Sabbath (and also the “law of Christ”, “royal law” and “law of liberty”) is actually a HIGHER standard, not lower. We are to abstain from all forms of evil (1Thes. 5:22, Rom. 12:9, Rom. 16:19, 1Thess. 2:11-12, Heb. 5:14), and to do HIS will (Rom. 8, 2Cor. 5:14-15, 1Pet. 4), EVERY day. ALL we are and have is from Him and belongs to Him (Phil. 4:19-20, Psalm 24:1, Hag. 2:8, Rom. 1:6, Rom. 7:4-6, Rom. 8:9, 1Cor. 15:23, Gal. 5:24, John 17:6, Luke 14:25-35), not just a portion (like the tithes and Sabbaths in the Old Testament). So we should consider how to honor and glorify Him in ALL we do and with ALL we receive. (1Cor. 4:7, 1Cor. 16:1-2, 2Cor. 9:5, John 15:8, Col. 3:23-25, 2Cor. 5:20) We need to have a deep understanding of the GREAT privilege it is to belong to the Lord of lords and the King of kings. (Rev. 19:11-16) Our motive every moment of every day is love, gratitude, respect—our desire is to bring HIM, our Redeemer, Ransomer, Savior, as much joy, delight, glory and honor as we possibly can, with His help. (John 14:18, 26)

Notice how Paul goes on to clarify that in the passage below, he is NOT talking about believers being free TO SIN when he says that we are not to be judged for refusing to submit to the regulations of the law. We obey Jesus’ commands (which He simplified for us into TWO that can actually be simplified to ONE - love) - Mark 12:28-34, Rom. 13:8-10, 1John 3:23-24, 1Cor. 13:13) because we are saved, not in order to be saved. God at no time EVER said that He “doesn’t mind” sin now that Jesus suffered horrifically (Isa. 52:13-53:12) and DIED to pay the penalty for ours (but there is forgiveness for ANY sin we confess to Him and repent of - 1John 1:5-2:6). We obey according to the power of the Holy Spirit in us, not according to our own power by the letter of the law. (2Cor. 3:6) As Jesus said, the flesh does not save, but only the Spirit. (John 6:63) Likewise, the Spirit is the One who produces works that glorify God through us. (Eph. 2:8-10, John 15:8) If we grieve and quench Him, using our God-given free will, that is our choice—God doesn’t want robots. (Eph. 4:30, 1Thess. 5:19) But if we genuinely LOVE God, we will want what He wants. (1Cor. 2:9-10, Jam. 1:12-16, Rom. 8:28, Jam. 2:5)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you are in him fulfilled, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 2:6-3:25

We were baptized by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11-12) into His Body and His death when we believed that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day. (Eph. 1:13-14) We accepted the FREE gift of salvation when we believed in Him as our Lord and the ONLY way to be saved. (1Cor. 15:1-7, Rom. 10:8-10, John 14:6, John 8:24, Acts 4:11-12) We were to have then been baptized with water, signifying that our old self has been drowned and we have risen a new creation into His resurrection. (2Cor. 5:17, Gal. 2:20) This is an action we intentionally take OURSELVES, indicating OUR desire to be washed clean of our former sins and to follow Jesus. (2Pet. 1:3-12, 1John 1:5-10, Mark 8:34-38, Matt. 16:24-27, Matt. 10:37-39)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:1-6

Water baptism has deep, profound meaning for the believer—a joyous memory—but it does not save. It’s an act of obedience—one of many that believers should gladly and willingly do as part of their NEW life IN Christ. (John 20:30-31, Rom. 5:17, Rom. 6:23) Jesus was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness” even though He NEVER sinned. (Matt. 3:13-17) Paul re-baptized believers who had been baptized by John for remission of sins, once they received the Good News that the One for whom John had prepared the way, Jesus, had died for their sins and rose again from the dead. (Acts 19:1-7) Jesus’ blood washes us clean, which was symbolized in the Old Testament by sprinkling of blood. (1John 1:7, Eph. 1:7, 1Pet. 1:2, 1Pet. 1:17-19, Heb. 9:13-14,  Heb. 9:18-28, Heb. 10:22, Heb. 12:24, Rev. 5:9, Rev. 7:14, Rev. 12:11, Lev. 16:14)
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16

It is very important that we pay attention to the words “in Him.” Jesus told us to ABIDE in Him. (John 15:1-19) We mustn’t make false claims of abiding in Him, of being clothed in His purity and perfection, if we are doing everything in our power to please ourselves, embracing the wicked ways of the world and soiling the pristine, white garment He suffered and died to clothe us in. (1Cor. 15:34, Phil. 3:17-21, 1John 2:15-17, Rom. 13:14, Jam. 1:27, Rev. 3:1-6, Rev. 3:14-22, Eph. 5:22-33, Rev. 19:7-8, Rev. 22:10-15) That would be extremely foolish and evil! (Heb. 10:26-39, Heb. 6:4-8, 2Pet. 2:1-22, Phil. 3:18-19, Jude 1:3-23, 2Tim. 2:19) We are to HOLD FAST to the end—fight the good fight, run the good race, hold on to our crowns. (1Cor. 15:1-2, Heb. 3:5-6, Heb. 10:23, Rev. 2:25, Rev. 3:11, 1Cor. 9:24-27, Heb. 6:9-12, Heb. 12:1-29, 2Tim. 2:3-7, 2Tim. 4:7, 1Pet. 1:3-9) We mustn’t “sell our firstborn inheritance rights” “for a bowl of soup,” which means in a nutshell that we should value the kingdom of God more than the world (to which we FORMERLY belonged). (Heb. 12:12-17, Heb. 12:22-24, Matt. 13:18-23, Eph. 4:22, 1Pet. 1:14-19, 2Cor. 6:14-18, Jam. 4:3-10, Titus 3:3, John 15:18-21) Some people rightly point out that when a child disobeys, they still belong to their parent. That’s true, but many a rebellious child has failed to receive the inheritance they hoped for and expected.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:12-18

The reason that “the kingdom is within us” is that the Spirit of God dwells in true believers in the New Covenant. (Luke 17:20-21, John 14:15-26, John 17:22-23, John 17:26, John 3:3-8, Rom. 8:10-11, 1Cor. 3:16, 1Cor. 6:19-20, 2Tim. 1:14, Jam. 4:5) (This is not to say that there won’t also be a literal kingdom, over which Jesus will rule. This is borne out in too many passages to mention, both OT and NT.)

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:13

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:9

These next three verses obviously beg the question of how someone can be saved apart from hearing and understanding the word. They simply can't, but those who are unable to understand (due to mental capacity) are under grace.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. John 15:3

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

When Jesus abides in us and we in Him, then we "bear fruit" and "make a profit" for Him, our Lord and Master who has gone to receive a kingdom to Himself. (See: Heb. 4, John 15:1-27, Matt. 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27, Matt. 13:18-23, Matt. 21:43, Luke 13:6-9, Matt. 7:15-20, Gal. 3:14) Apart from Him, we can do nothing that pleases God. Pleasing God BEGINS with FAITH. (Heb. 11:6, John 15:5) We don't "work" to earn or to keep our salvation, whether out of fear or for any other reason. (1John 4:17-19, Rom. 3:28, Titus 3:4-8) However, we DO obey willingly out of love, gratitude and respect for our glorious, mighty God who saves us. Jesus laid down His life willingly for us in obedience to the Father's will. He deserves ALL of our devotion in return. (John 10:17-18, John 6:38, John 8:28-29, John 15:9-14, Luke 22:41-42, 1John 2:1-5, 1John 3:16-22, John 14:15-26)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:12-16

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:1-21

Always remember, our part in all of it is to SURRENDER to the ONE, TRUE, LIVING God of the Bible, and let HIM do the work of transforming us spiritually into His likeness. HE produces the fruit INSIDE and it works its way out. If what’s on the inside is bad, then no amount of effort to project a holy outward appearance will fix it. (Matt. 15:18-20, Mark 7:20-23, 2Tim. 3:1-9, Rev. 3:1-3, Luke 6:43-45, Matt. 7:16-27, Heb. 6:7-8) Read your OWN Bible to find out what God is like and what pleases Him. (Please stay away from paraphrase versions, but stick with a solid translation.) Don’t listen to anyone telling you (whether for profit, or to seem “nice”) that God is not concerned about the behavior of His children (John 1:12-13, Rom. 8:12-15, 1John 3:1-24), OR that we are still under the law. 

The road is narrow and those who are on it LOVE God FIRST. Because of that love, we OBEY Jesus by loving our neighbors as ourselves, in both word and deed—not casting stumbling blocks by approving of or enticing anyone to sin, nor trying to force each believer to conform to our OWN ideals on matters of personal freedom in Christ, nor judging others while ignoring the sins we do ourselves. (Luke 12:32-48, Matt. 6:19-34, 1Thess. 4:1-12, 1John 3:16-18, Rom. 2:1-11, Gal. 6:7-9) Even though the wide road leads to destruction, it’s the POPULAR one (and may even be falsely advertised as being the right way). (Matt. 7:13-29, Luke 13:22-30) Don’t choose it! (2Pet. 2:18-19, 2Tim. 3:12-13, Matt. 5:10-13) Also, be sure not to wander off the narrow path (of walking in obedience by the Spirit and faith in Jesus’ finished work) and into “law-keeping.” (Eph. 4:1-32, Gal. 4:4-5)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:8-14

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