Thursday, February 20, 2014, 6:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song “Only In Him” in mind this morning. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 31 (NIV):

Relying on the Flesh

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the Lord.

Is it wrong to seek the help of others, or to seek godly counsel from those whom we believe to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ? I don’t believe this passage and its New Testament counterparts are a prohibition against allowing others to help us when we are in need, or that it is speaking against seeking godly counsel, wisdom and advice. God gives us the body of Christ, the true church, to help encourage, strengthen, build up, exhort, teach, instruct and counsel one another (with gifts of wisdom and knowledge). Yet, what I do believe this is teaching is that we are not to put our reliance upon (dependence in; trust in; confidence in) human and/or ungodly counsel or wisdom, and/or in human strength and help, and most especially not in place of the wisdom and counsel of God and his strength, help, love, joy, peace, and protection (shelter). We should not look to self or to others to meet needs within us only to be met by God, or that only God can truly meet.

The Apostle Paul addressed this issue of putting our confidence in human flesh in several of his God-breathed writings. In Philippians 3 he addressed the situation of believers being influenced by those who would try to convince them that they had to be circumcised physically as part of their salvation. Paul made it clear that believers in Christ are circumcised already of the Spirit of God, where it counts, and that is in the heart in the putting away of fleshly and worldly desires. He made it quite clear that no matter what we have gained in our flesh or in worldly accomplishments, they mean nothing for eternity.

He also taught that our troubles, sufferings and hardships in this life are for a purpose, actually many purposes, one of which is so we learn to not rely on ourselves (on our own human flesh) but on God. When we go through difficulties in this life we quickly learn just how limited our own resources are, how truly frail we can be at times, how emotionally we are just not strong enough to handle some things that come into our lives, and how much we really need God. As well, Paul taught us not to rely on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace which “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (See 2 Co. 1:9, 12; Tit. 2:11-14).

Mere Mortals

But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God;
their horses are flesh and not spirit…

There are many reasons we should not place our confidence and trust in human flesh, especially not over and above or in place of sincere and unadulterated trust in Almighty God. The main reason is that, as humans, we are mere flesh (mortals) and we are not spirit, i.e. we are not God. And, God, who made us, has commanded us that we not put any other “gods” before him, but that he is to be our only God in whom we place our trust.

Another aspect of us not being God is that we are not all-knowing and all-powerful nor are we infallible. We can make no guarantees. Our wisdom is imperfect, as is our knowledge. Humans make mistakes. They fail us. They may even try to lead us astray. They don’t always keep their promises. Sometimes they just forget. Other times it is because they never intended to from the beginning, i.e. they can be liars, deceivers, and manipulators, as well as they may betray us, turn on us, and/or forsake us, even in our time of deepest need. Even among the godliest of humanity we should never put our absolute faith and trust in humans, because they are still not God. We should always examine everything we hear against the word of God to make sure the truth of scripture is what is being taught.

Yet, many are putting much faith and confidence in mere mortals, and they do so in place of trust in God, or over and above their faith in God. Either way, God is being replaced in their hearts by the flesh of mankind. Paul addressed this issue when he told the Corinthian church that he was jealous for the church with a godly jealousy. He had promised them to one husband only, namely Jesus Christ, so that he might present the church to Christ as a pure (unadulterated) virgin (spiritually speaking). Yet, he was deeply concerned that the Corinthian believers were being led astray, by humankind, from their sincere and pure devotion to Jesus Christ, for they were putting up with those who taught “another Jesus” and another gospel other than what they received from the apostles (See 2 Co. 11:1-4). James also warned against becoming spiritually adulterous in our relationship with Jesus Christ via us “making nice” with this sinful world. Jesus jealously longs for us to be in pure (unspoiled) fellowship with him at all times, because he loves us (See Jas. 4:4-6).

Paul talked about this with his brother in Christ; his fellow minister in the gospel, Timothy, in his letter to him. He exhorted him strongly to preach the word and to be prepared at any time to correct, rebuke and to encourage with great patience and careful instruction (See 2 Tim. 4:1-4). And, then he warned him that a time would come when people would not put up with sound doctrine, but that they would, instead, gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their “itching ears” want to hear. I believe that time has come! We have so many so-called preachers and evangelists right now, especially here in America, who are saying just what people want to hear. They have forsaken the truths of scripture and of the gospel in favor of a false grace teaching which gives people a free license to continue in sin while making claim to their “ticket” into heaven. May that never be!

Return and Reject

Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.

“In that day” refers to a time of judgment God was going to bring on his people due to their stubborn rebellion, their adulterous ways, and their idolatry, and because they refused to listen to God but went their own way and chose to put their trust in humans in place of God. These Old Testament books are filled with such prophecies of judgment against God’s own covenant people because they strayed from their pure relationships with him, they went after other gods, got caught up in the passions of their sinful desires, and they closed their eyes and ears so as not to hear God and to obey him. Yet, such prophecies are not peculiar only to the Old Testament, and, in fact, many of these OT prophecies are speaking against those who are God’s people (the church) in these last days. There are New Testament passages, as well, that warn us against falling away, and which call for repentance and obedience, and which also warn of judgment if we do not repent and obey (See Rev 2-3, for instance). I believe very much that God is presently warning his adulterous church in America to turn from her sin and to make him her only God or she will face judgment.

Coming to Christ means that we die to sin and to self daily, and we follow Christ in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives – not I but Christ living in me. We can’t walk in the light of Christ in fellowship with him and still walk in darkness (See 1 John 1). Jesus doesn’t want part-time or casual or occasional followers. He gave his life as a ransom for us, buying us back for him. I wish we could all get this! Christ doesn’t want just a little bit of us that we are willing to give to him when we decide to give it. He wants it all! He wants us as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer living by the pattern of this world’s system, but transformed in heart and mind by the Spirit of God in order to live our lives completely in his will and under his command. Will you give him your all today?

ONLY IN HIM / An Original Work / February 19, 2014

Based off Isaiah 30

Woe to those who look to man’s help;
Who turn away from Jesus Christ;
Forming an alliance not in step with God;
Making their own plans, and praying not.

Willing not to listen to truth,
They close their ears to what is right.
Pleasing words are all that they’ll hear;
Feel good messages that bring cheer.

Trust in your Lord; turn from your sin.
Put your faith now ONLY IN HIM.
Do not turn to idols. They’ll not satisfy.
Jesus will save you. That’s why He died.

Your Lord will be gracious to you.
He cares all about you, ‘tis true.
He forgives you all of your sin
When you give your life up to Him.

Oh, how truly gracious He’ll be
When you bow to Him on your knees;
Turning now from your sin; walking in his ways.
He’ll lead and guide you all of your days.

Now you will sing praises to Him.
He delivered you from your sin.
You’ll tell others now of His grace,
So they may see Christ face-to-face.