I set out to read the bible back to front. I had been a Christian many years and attempted to do this several times. I finally out of shame set to this in agreement with a group committing to read at least a chapter from the old and a chapter from the new daily. Before, even reaching Deuteronomy I began having a sick, disgusted feeling over the weakness of human nature and our sheer desire for what is not Him. God made man to fellowship with and reveal His Son to, but as John stated, “Man chose darkness rather than light.” And this, dearly beloved, is the state of our people. I read as Adam and Eve chose the tree of knowledge instead of the tree of life, which most assuredly represents Christ. I read of Cain who could not understand God’s ways and then ran from a forgiving God seeking rather the things of this world. Cain most definitely hated this way of life Abel had… relying upon a spotless lamb to be his justification- instead choosing ways to combat the curse and make this cursed life easier and more enjoyable. This is shown by the many inventions his descendants brought about- music, art, weapons, tools, etc. From there we continue to see men choose this world over God, such as Nimrod or Esau. And then one makes their way to Exodus. God sees that his people are suffering and delivers them just as He brings our salvation about. But what great horror do you see in the wilderness? Complaining, bitterness, UNBELIEF, distrust, and a sheer hatred for living this life dependent on God- desiring the leeks and onions of Egypt, the easy living of the world. God seeks to have a people that are dependent upon Him, that need Him! His hearts cry is for fellowship. Why do you think Jesus ate with sinners and not saints? Because it is those that have been forgiven much that love much! People that cannot go on in themselves, that just cannot seem to get things right are the perfect clay for his divine pottery. God can work in a person that knows they are nothing in themselves. People that think they are saints – that they have arrived – are mistaken indeed. Paul said, there is no one good – no not one.
With all these people turning their backs on God, I could not help but notice the INTENSE love of God. That he continued to forgive, rescue, and love these people regardless of their dislove for Him. It is truly the story of Hosea and Gomer, delivering us from captivity only so we could return and Him bring us back yet again. My heart began to break with each chapter I read, but to my dismay man never changed. Man continued to fail and God continued to deliver. I read as God gave man a law he knew he could not live up to – only in hopes we would see our great need for a Savior. God even spoke of sacrifices most of multiple books in the bible and spoke of cities of refuge, hoping men would understand the typology to a Redeemer. I finally reached Joshua and thought, “FINALLY! Israel is wholeheartedly after God!” And then I reached, “and Joshua died.” And because Israel had no one pulling them along they fell apart, mixing with the world and becoming something so opposite to their destiny. Then I began the book of Judges and oh how my heart continued to melt. God seeing His people in a miserable condition, saving them, appointing a leader, bringing them to victory, only for that leader to pass and the people to fall again. He picked them up just as a father that picks up his fallen child and wipes the dust from his clothes. Judge after judge passed, and God’s people fell every time. Are we this way? Do we have to have someone else pulling us along? Or by chance is there that few, that small remnant, who go on with God wholeheartedly? Where are the Abrahams? The Jacobs? The Josephs? The Joshuas? The truth is, these people are very rare and dispersed.
There is a phenomenon in psychiatric medicine I like to call the “I feel better effect.” It is when a patient is put on a psychiatric medication for certain symptoms (i.e. hallucinations, depression, etc.) to treat a mental disorder and, once those signs/symptoms subside, discontinues the medication abruptly. This commonly results in serious and disabling outcomes. For example, one might be on a depression medication and when that medication beings to take effect, relieving the depression, they may believe they are “better.” As soon as the medication leaves their system, they begin to feel an onset of the previous depression, occasionally worse. I believe that we also, as weak human beings, experience this same phenomenon.
There are many times we are unhappy with a situation in our life; whether it is our jobs, schooling, spouses, or health. We see we lack in said area and we begin to put forth an extra effort to reconcile the wrong. Time goes by and we are doing very well in our endeavor and then we arrive at a plateau of sorts. We come across a decision which questions our going on or going back. Passively, we think, “Well this one decision will not affect my entire future.” Thus begins our tendency to passivity extends until we are right back where we started or at an even worse point. For a sad example, say you began eating only healthy foods. Days passed by as you accomplished your goals. Then someone offers you a donut. You do not see how one unhealthy food will compromise your entire plan of eating healthy, thus you partake. Afterwards, the decline seems continual – your conscious attention to unhealthy foods has peaked and the temptations seem hard to resist- thus you continue failing in your endeavor. Weeks later you are back to not consuming anything of true sustenance.
Now, through all that I do have a point to disclose which greatly affects our lives as Christians. It is simply the weakness of human nature and Paul puts it most pristinely.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, having been sold under sin. For what I work out, I do not know. For what I do not will, this I do. But what I hate, this I do. But if I do what I do not will, I agree with the Law, that it is good. But now I no longer work it out, but the sin dwelling in me. For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good. For to will is present to me, but to work out the good I do not find. For what good I desire, I do not do. But the evil I do not desire, this I do. But if I do what I do not desire, it is no longer I working it out, but the sin dwelling in me. I find then the law, when I desire to do the right, that evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members having warred against the law of my mind, and taking me captive by the law of sin being in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?(Romans 7:14-24)
The meaning of the word fleshly when Paul states “I am fleshly” is human nature. And it is this dismal topic that is the object of our focus. Please do not be disheartened. We will most certainly come into the next clause:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death.(Romans 8:1-2)
Where did the weakness begin?
And the serpent was cunning above every animal of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, Is it true that God has said, You shall not eat from any tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die. And the serpent said to the woman, Dying you shall not die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it, even your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil. And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to make one wise. And she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed leaves of the fig tree, and made girdles for themselves.(Genesis 3:1-7)
The weakness began where it always begins – getting our eyes off of Christ and onto ourselves. This is the source of untold confusion. We know the story of Adam and Eve. Satan assisted in this turning of their eyes from Christ to themselves. How de he go about this? He simply deceived them by subtly questioning the Lord God Almighty. In this simple task he accomplished taking Eve’s eyes off the Tree of Life (which most certainly represents Christ) and his commandment to them, and onto what she could receive out of the situation. She was promised she would not die, that her eyes would be open, and that she would be as God, knowing good and evil. Not to mention this fruit appealed to her natural senses. And thus she forsook the Word of God given to her so freely and went on to satisfy her own desires presented to her, followed by Adam. A terrible curse resulted:
He said to the woman, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception; you shall bear sons in sorrow, and your desire shall be toward your husband; and he shall rule over you.(Genesis 3:16)
This is brought into our very spiritual experience in this earthly world. Our experience in bringing forth new life, progress, fruit of labor is now only produced by intense suffering and hardship. We cannot go on with God without suffering the loss of earthly comforts. Our desire must be towards him and he must rule over our hearts. We are told:
The one loving father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And the one loving son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. The one finding his life shall lose it. And the one losing his life on account of Me shall find it.(Matthew 10:37-39)
And He said to the man, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat from it, the ground shall be cursed because of you; you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life. And it shall bring forth thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat the plant of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until your return to the ground. For you have been taken out of it; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.(Genesis 3:17-19)
We are no longer offered the comforts of this world but now partake in a life completely dependent upon God. This is where Cain and his descendants went astray. Able accepted the curse. He knew he was sinful and lived in a cursed world; he accepted that and looked to God through Christ (the slain lamb) to help him through his hard way of existence. Cain brought to God the fruit of his labor; he worked hard to fight the curse and offered what he had accomplished up to God. His descendants also strove to make this life easier in themselves. They invented tools to cultivate the land and weapons. They began to kill animals as an effortless route to food. They also began indulging in fleshly activities: killing men, taking multiple wives, and pursuing to make the world more pleasant by introducing arts and music.
The Cainites existence is similar to the way we live now. It is implanted in us to follow after our lusts. Life has become easy, quick, and sharp-witted. We are surrounded by items men have created to make life easier without Christ. It is uncomplicated to live for oneself – only considering your own personal needs, wants, and desires. It is most difficult to live for Christ as someone completely dependent upon Him. Receiving all needs and even wants and desires from him.
For after all these things the nations seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.(Matthew 6:32-33)
A Psalm of David. Do not inflame yourself with evildoers; and do not be envious against workers of perversity; for they soon wither like grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in Jehovah and do good; live in the land and feed on faithfulness. And delight yourself in Jehovah, that He may give you your heart’s desire. Roll your way on Jehovah and trust in Him; and He will work. And He will bring forth your righteousness like the light; and your judgment like the noon day. Rest in Jehovah and wait patiently for Him; inflame not yourself with him who prospers in his way, with the man practicing evil wiles. Abstain from anger and cease from fury; also do not inflame yourself to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off; and the ones waiting on Jehovah, they shall inherit the earth. It is but a little while and the wicked shall not be; yea, you shall consider his place, and he is not. But the meek shall inherit the earth; yea, they shall delight themselves in abundant peace. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes on him with his teeth; the Lord laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword and they have trodden their bow, to cause the poor and needy to fall, to kill those who walk uprightly. Their sword shall enter into their heart, and their bows shall be broken. A little to the righteous is better than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken; but Jehovah upholds the righteous. Jehovah knows the days of the upright; yea, their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in an evil time; and they shall be full in days of famine. But the wicked shall perish; yea, the enemies of Jehovah shall be like the beauty of pastures; they are consumed; like smoke, they vanish. The wicked borrows and never repays, but the righteous is gracious and giving. For His blessed ones inherit the earth; and those cursed by Him shall be cut off. The steps of a good man are established from Jehovah; and He will delight in his way. Though he falls, he is not cast down; for Jehovah upholds his hand. I have been young and am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging bread. All the day he is gracious and lends; and his seed is for a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good and live forever. For Jehovah loves judgment and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever; but the wicked’s seed shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the earth and live on it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks judgment. The Law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slide. The wicked spies on the righteous and seeks to kill him. Jehovah does not leave him in his hand; nor does He allow him to be found guilty in his judgment. Wait on Jehovah and keep His way; and He shall exalt you to inherit the earth; you shall see when the wicked are cut off. I have seen the wicked ruthless, even spreading himself out like a luxuriant, native tree; yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not; and I looked for him, but he could not be found. Watch the perfect and behold the upright one; for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors are destroyed together; the end of the wicked is cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from Jehovah; He is their strength in the time of distress. And Jehovah helps them and delivers them; He shall deliver them from the wicked and saves them, because they trust in Him. (Psalms 37:1-40)
The Hindrance in our Progression
This brings us to what hinders us from going on with God. We do not trust Him and we are not afraid of Him. Let me expound. We follow after our desires and impulses so often it has become our nature. When he leads a certain direction, or better yet away from one, we may not follow. If truly of the Lord, it will be most probable that His way is much different than ours. And if we do chose His way, there will most definitely be an attack of Satan against it. It will be just as Eve’s temptation. “Did God say? Does he really want you to do that? That could not be good for you! Most assuredly he does not want that for you!” Take Peter for example in Matthew 14. He answered God and walked out upon the waters, but he began to sink due to his doubts and unbelief.
Food for thought
Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak.(Mark 14:38)
But now, knowing God, but rather being known by God, how do you turn again to the weak and poor elements to which you desire again to slave anew?(Galatians 4:9)
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and let him drink of the cup; for he eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. For this reason many among you are weak and feeble, and many sleep. For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged. But being judged, we are corrected by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world.(1 Corinthians 11:28-32)
For if anyone sees you, the one having knowledge, sitting in an idol-temple, will not the weak one’s conscience be lifted up so as to eat things sacrificed to idols? And on your knowledge the weak brother will fall, he for whom Christ died. And sinning in this way against your brothers, and wounding their conscience, being weak, you sin against Christ.(1 Corinthians 8:10-12)
But we, the strong ones, ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to please ourselves. For let each one of us please his neighbor for good, to building up.(Romans 15:1-2)
There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the Law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous demand of the Law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not being subjected to the Law of God, for neither can it be. And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His. But if Christ is in you, the body indeed is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of the One having raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One having raised the Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies live through the indwelling of His Spirit in you. So, then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to flesh, for if you live according to flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, also heirs; truly heirs of God, and joint-heirs of Christ, if indeed we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together. For I calculate that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to compare to the coming glory to be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but through Him subjecting it, on hope; that also the creation will be freed from the slavery of corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that all the creation groans together and travails together until now. And not only so, but also we ourselves having the first fruit of the Spirit, also we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly expecting adoption, the redemption of our body; for we were saved by hope, but hope being seen is not hope; for what anyone sees, why does he also hope? But if we hope for what we do not see, through patience we wait eagerly. And likewise the Spirit also joins in to help our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes on our behalf with groanings that cannot be uttered. But the One searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He petitions on behalf of the saints according to God. But we know that to the ones loving God all things work together for good, to those being called according to purpose; because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers. But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Truly He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up on behalf of us all, how will He not freely give all things to us with Him? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? God is the One justifying! Who is he condemning? It is Christ who has died, but rather also is raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession on our behalf. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Even as it has been written, “For Your sake we are killed all the day; we are counted as sheep of slaughter.” Psa. 44:22 But in all these things we more than conquer through Him loving us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.(Romans 8:1-39)