Turn Not from It! #8

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:7 KJV).

Dear readers, let us learn this vital lesson from ancient Israel’s history.

Second Peter chapter 2: “[1] But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. [2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” Whether Old Testament Israel, future Israel, or even the present time, Satan’s preachers always labor!

As today’s Scripture indicates, spiritual prosperity is achieved only when we follow the doctrinal path Almighty God has laid out for us. Israel would suffer tremendously if she drifted from the Law of Moses. Once Joshua died, the Jews waxed worse and worse. The Old Testament record abounds with a myriad of resultant tragedies—civil wars, collapse of family, droughts and famines, Gentile oppression, plagues and diseases, poverty, death, and so on. All these unfortunate situations were because Israel failed to maintain sound Bible doctrine.

Romans chapter 16: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Here is the Holy Spirit’s warning to us the Church the Body of Christ. People will use false doctrine to split local churches and cause saints to stumble. Their main perversion is stressing Law and ignoring Grace (Romans 6:14,15). Mixing God’s Word and will for us, with God’s Word and will for Israel, is sure to bring spiritual ruin. Therefore, follow Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Turn not from the rightly divided Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)!

Turn Not from It! #2

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:7 KJV).

Dear readers, let us learn this vital lesson from ancient Israel’s history.

Listen to Moses’ parting counsel to his Jewish nation: “[1] Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. [2] Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you…. [5] Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. [6] Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. [7] For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?” (Deuteronomy chapter 4). This chapter abounds with warnings!

As touching “turn not from it [the Mosaic Law]” (today’s Scripture), read these other cautioning passages directed toward Israel. “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left(Deuteronomy 5:32). “And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them” (Deuteronomy 28:14). Decades later, Joshua’s parting words to Israel were: “Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;…” (Joshua 23:6). Yet, Israel neglected the counsel….

Bible Q&A #740: “Who was High Priest—Annas or Caiaphas?

The War with Amalek! #14

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

In Scripture, water symbolizes the Holy Spirit (and the impartation of life). For example, John chapter 7: “[37] In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. [39] (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”

See also 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The verb “drink” carries the connotation of a liquid—water. Once we believed on Christ as our personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit identified us with Him, and we received His life. Here is Israel drinking from the rock (cf. today’s Scripture). They had God’s life, His blessings because of His grace, and victory over sin—until they embraced works-religion. The poor Apostle Paul wound up in a similar trap. His Christian life started right (Romans chapter 6), then he abandoned Grace to follow Law and become conquered and miserable (chapter 7). Hope and victory come in chapter 8!

“[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

If we have a clear understanding of Grace (“mind the things of the Spirit”), brethren, there will be no room for Law—or losing to Amalek! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the Bible say about fatherhood?

The War with Amalek! #13

Friday, June 14, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Here is grace living (as opposed to legalism, Law-keeping): “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:11-14).

When we quote Romans 6:14 (“We are not under the law, but under grace”), that does not mean we believe God encourages us Christians to sin. If ever someone objects with, “Grace is a license to sin,” they either do not know what grace really teaches, or (sadly) they have seen a “grace” person regularly behave carnally. The verse says in full, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” All the Law can do is show us our sin; it cannot (!) make us righteous and it cannot (!) cause us to act righteously. The Law functions as a mirror: it reveals our shortcoming, our need for the Saviour Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:21-25).

Scripture says the Law “is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Timothy 1:7-11). If we have recognized our lost estate, deadness in trespasses and sins, and have come to Christ by faith alone, then we are righteous in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30,31). The Law has no purpose in the Christian’s life, for the Law has already accomplished God’s intention: it has directed the lost person to trust Christ and become a Christian. For the Christian to then place himself under the Law is to cause sin to dominate him (Romans 6:14). We overcome sin—the flesh—not by striving to make ourselves holy, but realizing we are holy (sanctified, set apart) in Christ and instruments of His works (Titus 2:14)! The victory over sin is in Grace, not Law!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

The War with Amalek! #12

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Experiencing a new life in a new land, the nation Israel encounters a most ruthless enemy. Their jubilant Promised Land trip was interrupted when the Amalekites arrived. However, through the sword (the Word of God, the Scriptures) and the lifting of hands (prayer), Israel was victorious. God in His grace had given them the ability to conquer sin! In fact, between chapters 14-18, He provided for all their needs. They needed deliverance from Egypt and passage through the Red Sea. He delivered! They needed potable water. He gave drink! They needed food. He gave bread and meat! They needed water again. He gave drink! They needed military might. He gave victory! They needed Divine counsel. He gave wisdom! Grace is what God can do for sinners; sinners can do nothing for God!

Alas, Exodus chapter 19 now appears. Tragically, Israel abandons God’s grace. They now want to work for the blessings God had freely offered them! Having not learned the lessons of grace in the previous five chapters, they insist on performing in religion. Rather than appreciating the identity God gave them simply because He loved them, they want to make themselves God’s people. They honestly believe they can keep all of God’s commandments (conquer sin by their efforts). If they engage in 100 percent righteous living, then they will be His people. Israel was most reckless to enter this covenant. Yet, let us not be hard on Israel, for billions today have been equally deceived. This includes all professing Christians (mere church members) and most genuine Christians (members of the Body of Christ).

Very rarely is a pure Gospel of Grace preached. “Sinner’s prayers,” walking of aisles, confessions of sins, water baptisms, shaking preachers’ hands, and so on, all obscure a clear grace message. What God has done at Calvary for the sinner is overlooked because what the sinner can do in religion for God is stressed ad nauseum. No wonder people are confused! Am I saved or lost?! In Christ or still going to Hell?! They need to approach the Word of God rightly divided, believe it, and prayerfully apply it to life….

The War with Amalek! #11

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Dear brethren, having trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have passed from Adam to Christ, death to life, Hell-bound to Heaven-bound. But, why did God bother to save us? Why not let us go on to our deserved eternal damnation? Ephesians 2:10 explains: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” He desired to do a mighty work. We werewe are—His work. He worked to save us from Hell, to the intent that He would work in and through us to express His life in and through us. It is His words that “effectually work” in us who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Galatians chapter 5: “[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh…. [24] And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. [25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” How do we “walk in the Spirit?” We read and believe Pauline doctrine. The indwelling Holy Spirit will take that doctrine and work in us, and we will thus walk in accordance with it.

The heart of grace living is thus: since we belong to Jesus Christ, our sin nature has been crucified with Him (Romans chapter 6), and now we believe the Holy Spirit’s words about our new identity in order to have victory over daily sins (Romans chapter 8). Sin does not have to dominate us: “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7). We have now been resurrected with Christ “to walk in newness of life” (verse 4). Read Romans chapters 6 through 8: they are the key to successful Christian living. Read chapters 12 through 16: they are specific examples of grace living. Read Ephesians chapter 4, Colossians chapter 3, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Titus. Here are “the things of the Spirit” that we are to “mind,” the teachings on which we should concentrate. Like Israel, we can win the fight with “Amalek….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is ‘purloining?’

The War with Amalek! #10

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Prayer occurs when we talk (silently or audibly) to Almighty God about our life in light of His Word to us. Knowing where to go in the Bible to learn that information—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—is the first step to productive Christian thought and living. Due to denominational teaching and religious confusion, however, very few believers ever discover how to use the Scriptures “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). Hence, their thinking and conduct are anything and everything but Christian!

After we do approach the Bible dispensationally, we must believe those verses and apply them to life by faith. First Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” The challenge after believing the verses is to discern how they relate to our specific situations. Unless we believe what Pauline doctrine says about employment, marriage, parenting, and managing money wisely, God’s words through Paul will not profit us. God’s Word will “effectually work” only in those who believe it!

Romans chapter 8: “[26] Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [27] And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” One role of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to take His words that we read and believe, and then, as we pray, adjust our thinking so that our words to Father God better align with His words to us. We thus pray according to God’s will (but, unless we believe the verses dispensationally, we will not know how to pray the Pauline way!!).

Therefore, prayer is how we allow the Holy Spirit to reinforce in our minds the Bible concepts He taught us when we read the Scriptures earlier….

The War with Amalek! #9

Monday, June 10, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Romans chapter 8 continues: “[5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Whether Christians acting like unsaved people they are not, or unsaved people behaving like the lost individuals they are, they are all “after the flesh.” Being “carnally minded,” they “mind the things of the flesh.” Sin governs their thoughts and conduct. Not thinking as God originally designed people to think, they are not acting like God designed people to act!

The Christian life functionally dies when the believer ceases to think as the Spirit of God has taught Christians to think! “For to be carnally minded is death.” However, “to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” If the believer in Jesus has the renewed mind, then eternal life will be experienced daily. He or she will live as God Himself lives, the very way He designed man to live before the Fall! But, where do we find what the Holy Spirit teaches?

First Corinthians chapter 2, “[13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” We find the inspired, preserved words of God in the Holy Bible: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Here—especially in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—we find the sword needed to fight “the war with Amalek.”

Now, prayer, or specifically, Pauline prayer….

The War with Amalek! #8

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Romans chapter 6 says, “[11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof…. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” The sinful act results only after a lengthy process of bad thinking; Paul’s dilemma in chapter 7 was the consequence of forgetting this grace doctrine.

The answer to the quandary in chapter 7 is to keep reading into chapter 8: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

When we “walk after the Spirit,” we have victory over sin on a daily basis. However, if we “walk after the flesh,” sin will defeat us. In his own Christian life, Paul himself grew frustrated and miserable. Sin had dominion over him because he had placed himself on the religious treadmill (Romans chapter 7). Having returned to a legalistic system—assuming his performance under rules and regulations was how his Christian life operated—he overlooked God’s grace (chapter 6). He did not need religious laws to tell him how to live. The grace of God had already fully instructed him: his victory was in his identity in Christ. Yes, the sword and the lifting of hands, the Bible and prayer, will cause us to triumph over sin….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus justified in destroying ‘private property?’

The War with Amalek! #7

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

East of the Red Sea, as the Jews are en route to God’s land, the Amalekites assault them. JEHOVAH God has given Israel life, and a war has broken out. Man’s sinful flesh opposes God, and God combats man’s sinful flesh. As soon as the spiritual water flows from Christ—once the believing sinner passes from death to life and receives the indwelling Holy Spirit—a bitter conflict begins.

Romans chapter 7 describes that war: “[15] For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. [16] If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. [17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. [18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. [19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

“[20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. [21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. [22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: [23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. [24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [25] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

The saint (here, the Apostle Paul himself) wants to do right, but sin interferes, causing him to stumble and lose the fight. If he is to be victorious, he must remember how the ancient Israelites defeated the Amalekites….