Last Thursday our pastor was preaching on love, 1 Corinthians 13.
He explained how Jesus perfectly demonstrated all the qualities therein; even to the last drop of blood that stained the soil at the foot of the cross.
Jesus walked the ancient path.
Paul gives us a hint here as to how Jesus followed the ancient path when He descended from heaven prophetically and
. . . emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant,
and being made in the likeness of men.
~ Philippians 2:7
How do we follow his footsteps that lead to the old path? What does this term the old/or ancient path mean? Jesus gives us a big clue here:
Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Jesus was quoting an exhortation to the people of Jerusalem as a last ditch effort of God to reverse His impending judgment. Because of their willful sin and their turning away from God’s ancient path, they were going to be rejected.
Thus saith the Lord,
Stand ye in the ways, and see,
and ask for the old (ancient) paths,
where the good way is,
and walk therein,
and ye shall find rest for your souls.
~ Jeremiah 6:16
God still shows His redemptive, righteous love to us until the final day of justice.
For every believer in the gospel, this passage holds a solemn warning. There is even an example for us to look to: A believer, who was baptized, and followed the Apostles. He was given a similar warning to repent from his sins, make right his heart, and take the ancient path. Here is the story in its entirety:
“But when they (the citizens of Samaria) believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.“
Simon believed in Jesus, was baptized, and followed the Apostles; but he was on the road to perdition as Peter stated because his heart was not right with God. He had the root of bitterness (that defiles the soul), was a servant to sin, in a word, he was double-minded.
This warning applies to all who believe Jesus. This is why taking the right path is so utterly important to us.
Believer, stand in the way of God, look very carefully and circumspectly. Ask Him guide your feet to the old path if you are not already on it. He is faithful to lead us and keep us in righteousness and holiness for his name sake.
and make straight paths for our feet,
lest we that are lame be turned out of the way;
but let us rather be healed.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness (sanctification),
without which no man shall see the Lord:
looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you,
and thereby many be defiled;
~ Hebrews 12:13-15
I has become clear to me: Even if we believe and try to follow Jesus: If our heart is not right with God, if we harbor bitterness, if we cannot stop sinning, or if we doubt and are double-minded, we will perish. Listen to Jesus’ own words:
The Son of man shall send forth his angels,
and they shall gather out of his kingdom
all things that offend,
and them which do iniquity (continue sinning);
and shall cast them into a furnace of fire:
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
~ Matthew 13:41-42
We are called to walk in all the light we have been given. The Bible is a very big light. Our justification through faith is the switch to turn on this very big light.
Stand ye in the way and see . . .
As a Christian we have the ability to stand at the good path and see. This is not possible for the non-believer because they cannot perceive the things that are spiritually discerned.
But a natural man does not accept
the things of the Spirit of God,
for they are foolishness to him;
and he cannot understand them,
because they are spiritually discerned.
But he who is spiritual judges all things,
yet he himself is judged by no one.
which things we also speak,
not in words taught by human wisdom,
but in those taught by the Spirit,
combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
~ 1 Corinthians 2:14, 15, 13
The Holy Spirit teaches us how we should walk; for He is our teacher. The pathway of righteousness comes into view when we take His yoke upon us, submit to his rein, and walk in the direction He leads.
When we walk the way we ought, we learn of Him. We do this in obeying all of God’s commandments. This includes studying the Bible, hearing preaching, Praying fervently without ceasing, and not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.
Here is the patience of the saints:
here are they that keep the commandments of God,
and the faith of Jesus.
~ Revelation 14:12
We must keep the commandments of God and maintain our faith in Jesus if we are to be called saints of God. Simon had faith but was not keeping God’s commandments.
Take my yoke upon you
A yoke is naturally very heavy. My family recently visited the American Pioneer Museum in Minden, Nebraska. We saw some old yokes first hand. I am not even sure if most of us could lift one up much less place one on the shoulders of two oxen and firmly strap it around its neck.
The analogy of the yoke speaks loudly of three things:
First, once it is place upon us, God is supposed to have control so He can lead and direct our paths. We no longer choose when, where, or what we want to do, He does.
Secondly, whoever wears the yoke belongs to one who harnesses it. It is more than mere submission and consecration to His service. It goes much deeper . . . to the very core of our soul, nature, and disposition.
Thirdly, a yoke attaches to two oxen. We are not alone as Christians and must walk in unity and love with each other lest we fail the high calling of Christ.
What? know ye not
that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost
which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit,
which are God’s.
~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Now that we have a brief and basic introduction to the ancient path and why it is so important, we ask:
What is the ancient path?
What is the good way?
How can we walk therein?
How do we find rest for our soul?
What is the Ancient Path?
In all the passages of scripture, there is only one place that God describes everything as good including the way man walked. It is recorded first two chapters of the Bible.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. ~ Genesis 1:26-31.
Here God describes man and woman as very good. Not an inkling of imperfection existed although man’s knowledge was limited for it was finite and did not yet include the fruits of experience or disobedience.
Again . . .
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. ~ Genesis 2:15
There was no toil or harshness in God’s instructions to keep the garden, only goodness. It is kind of like the description of Jesus’ yoke except without the need to put it on. They were born with the natural obedience to God.
Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden during the cool of the day. He would talk to them, fellowship with them as friends, and it was all very good . . . until the ancient path that man walked with God became soiled with the sin of disobedience. ~ Genesis 3:8-9.
There were other times when man walked with God but they are few:
Job: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. ~ Job 1:1
Noah: But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. ~ Genesis 6:8-10
Enoch: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. ~ Genesis 5:23-25
There are a few others and some we know little about except that they walked that ancient path with God. They abhorred evil, had righteous fear of God, found grace in God’s eyes, and were considered Perfect before the sight of God.
This leads to the second question,
What is the Good Way?
We can no longer can walk the ancient path of innocence and purity of Adam and Eve.
We can heed fully the call of redemption, through faith, and the work of entire sanctification.
This is the good way that restores us to a place pleasing in the sight of God that He considers perfect as noted here.
I am reminded by a verse in one of my favorite hymns,
He hath shewed thee,
what is good; and what the Lord requires of thee,
but to do justly,
and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God
~ Micah 6:8
We can have the mind of Christ:
Only conduct yourselves
in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,
so that whether I come and see you or remain absent,
I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit,
with one soul,
striving together for the faith of the gospel;
~ Philippians 1:27
Therefore, prepare your minds for action,
keep sober in spirit,
fix your hope completely on the grace
to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Peter 1:13
For who hath known the mind of the Lord,
that he may instruct him?
But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16
How do we walk Therein? Please refer to my last post about Paul’s prayer to the Romans.
If we through consecration and perseverance; by the working of faith without doubt ask God who is faithful to reveal it to us, He will show us the old path and enable us to walk in it.
We can not do this on our own or by our own works, nevertheless, we must strive (work) to enter into this rest.
For he that is entered into his rest,
he also hath ceased from his own works,
as God did from his.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, l
est any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful,
and sharper than any twoedged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder
of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
~ Hebrews 4:10-12
He can’t pierce our soul and change our thoughts and intents our our hearts if we are unwilling or living a life of compromise. Only those who labor and strive in Him will enter into His rest.
Paul was speaking to believers in this passage. He was telling them to strive or work to this end.
Be wary of double-mindedness. Here are some scripture that highlight what it is so dangerous.
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.
I hate those who are double-minded,
But I love Your law.
~ Psalms 119: 112-113
But he must ask in faith without any doubting,
for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea,
driven and tossed by the wind.
For that man ought not to expect
that he will receive anything from the Lord,
being a double-minded man,
unstable in all his ways.
~ James 1:6-7
Submit therefore to God.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners;
and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Be miserable and mourn and weep;
let your laughter be turned into mourning
and your joy to gloom.
~ James 4:7-9
I hope and pray it has become clear what is good and what the Lord desires of thee.
Jesus the rock, the firm foundation on which we stand enables us to not waver, doubt, or sin in a spirit of disobedience.
The old path is a path imprinted with God’s footprints of purity and holiness. It is also a path gently trod by those who humbly and contritely step through that narrow wicket gait and join those bound on the beautiful highway of holiness.
When hearts are filled with faith, obedience, purity, and the love of God, all manners of wickedness, sin, and deception have no part in our heart.
There is only the sweet, cleansing blood of Jesus purifying our walk on this holy path.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God,
and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
but we know that, when he shall appear,
we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself,
even as he (Jesus) is pure.
~1 John 3:2-3
We may not know what it will be like at the meeting of our Lord. But we do know that, if we are saints of God, one glorious day we will be like Him: standing at the foot of the throne with our first-born brother, The Son of God.
If we are obedient to the Work of the Holy Spirit, actively living out the teachings of scripture, we are purifying ourselves even as Jesus is pure according to 1 John.
It begs the question: How are we obedient unto purification? As you know the scriptures are filled with pictures, shadows of things to come, and abounding promises of God’s wonderful works.
Jesus said . . . that all things must be fulfilled,
which were written in the law of Moses,
and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Then opened he their understanding,
that they might understand the scriptures, . . .
And that repentance and remission of sins
should be preached in his name
among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
I send the promise of my Father upon you:
but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem,
until ye be endued with power from on high.
~ Luke 24:44, 45, 47, 49
We are to tarry in Jerusalem; the holy city, ordained by God, because Jesus has promised us power from on high.
Jerusalem and the time was real back then. But Jerusalem is also a picture of the city in our lives so to speak.
The things we do daily; what places and what activities we choose to participate in; how we interact with others; our spiritual neighborhood. And especially, what we choose to bring home from the market places.
In the midst of Jerusalem there is a temple. That temple is you. The Holy Spirit will not come and dwell among us if our temple is defiled by sin and disobedience.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God,
him shall God destroy;
for the temple of God is holy,
which temple ye are.
~ 1 Corinthians 3:17
We may allow wickedness into our temple without realizing it. This can happen in a myriad of ways. I say be careful, very careful what you put before your eyes . . .
We may allow the enemy inside our home by streaming it through our computers, our smart phones, TV, etc., etc. or we may imbibe in a little compromise on our vacations, spending habits, or with the company we keep.
It is the disposition of our heart and eternal vigilance that can bring the Holy Spirit guiding us into the old path.
Its about the way we walk every day; where we set our feet, mind, heart, and soul every moment of the day and night.
How do we find rest for our soul?
This question I am not qualified to answer. So, I will let Jesus explain what the fruits of this rest bring. They are unattainable by man in his current state;
Also, is an excerpt from Love Enthroned by Daniel Steele, one of the great leaders of the Methodist church. He describes what he understands to be a brief explanation of entering into this rest for our soul . . .
And Jesus answered him,
The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel;
The Lord our God is one Lord:
and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,
and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these.
~ Mark 12:29-31
We need to have the capacity to obey this command in its entirety. I am convinced that it is all but impossible, except by a work of grace of God moving on our hearts removing any resistive nature or internal barrier that prevents us from being able to completely and wholly fulfill this holy command of love in heart and life.
That barrier is our sinful nature, our old man.
There is in many minds a doubt respecting the attainment of perfect purity before death. It is thought, so long as the soul and body are united, the flesh must in some degree taint the spirit. The inherent evil of matter is an old error of the Gnostics, borrowed from pagan philosophy, and early introduced into Christianity as a corrupting element. The Oriental philosophers taught that matter is uncreated and eternal, containing in it ineradicable evil; that the Creator, or Fashioner, did the best that he could with it when he shaped it into the human form; that he was not able, by any process of sublimation or refinement, to expel evil entirely from its nature, and that this inherent evil must continue to defile the soul immersed in it till death shall dissolve the loathed union. Then will the soul be in a condition to be purified, if it is curable, by drifting on rivers of fire till the stains are purged away. This is Platonism.
This is the origin of the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Protestantism has shaken off the fire-purgation, but has too extensively retained the death-purgatory. After seventeen hundred years Christianity has not wholly emancipated herself from this mischievous tenet of a heathen philosophy.
It is our purpose to show that there is no evil in matter or in spirit which the blood of Christ cannot cleanse, and that neither death nor penal fire, but the omnipotent Jesus, is the complete purifier of sin-stained souls, and that the only instrument he employs is the truth, and the only agent is the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier.
Our proofs will be wholly scriptural and experimental. The point to be demonstrated is this: Can Jesus save from all sin, actual and indwelling, long before death? The declaration of the angel to Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins,” does not explicitly declare when this salvation will be accomplished. But the implication is that he is to be a present Saviour, just as a physician advertising himself as a healer of cancers is understood to heal patients now, not in future years, nor a few hours before death. It is fortunate, yea, providential, that we have an inspired comment on this name by Zacharias when “filled with the Holy Ghost.” With prophetic vision he saw the immediate advent of Jesus, of whom his son John, then eight days old, was to be the forerunner.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David…. That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our (spiritual) enemies, might serve him without fear, (and hence with perfect love,) in holiness and righteousness before him, (not fulfilling any mere human standard,) ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIFE.”
The deliverance was to be spiritual, and not an emancipation from the Roman power; and the result, a glad and holy service, was to ensue in this life. No language could be used to express such an idea more clearly than this.
A still more explicit statement of the same great privilege of believers is found in St. Paul’s brief prayer in 1 Thess. 5:23. He had just been enjoining duties which none but those who are fully saved could possibly perform:
“Rejoice ever more. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.” John Wesley says, “I know no higher Christian perfection than this.” To enable them to obey these injunctions, and another just as difficult – “abstain from all appearance (every kind) of evil” — he offers this prayer: “But may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit, soul and body, be preserved entire without blame, in the coming of the Lord Jesus.”
So intent is the great Apostle on giving an adequate and explicit expression of his meaning, entire sanctification, that he uses a strong word found nowhere else in the New Testament — ὁλοτελής (holotelēs), wholly, rendered in the Vulgate per omnia — “in your collective powers and parts,” marking more emphatically than any ordinary New Testament word the thoroughness and pervasive nature of the holiness prayed for. Luther has very happily translated it “durch und durch,” through and through.
Then St. Paul has used another peculiar term, which is found in only one other place in the New Testament, in James 1:4, and gives it the position of an emphatic predicate: “May your spirit be preserved entire, your soul entire, and your body entire.” He ordinarily employs the word τέλειος, “perfect,” when he marks what has reached its proper end and maturity.
But wishing to express a quantitative, and not qualitative, meaning, he employs a term signifying “entire in all its parts,” “complete,” lacking nothing. Having in these strong and remarkable words indicated the thoroughness of the sanctification, Paul leaves us in no doubt as to the time, when he adds, “and preserve you without blame in the coming of the Lord Jesus.”
Through what period of time is the preservation to extend? Till the second advent of Christ. This period covers the lifetime of these Thessalonians, and the space between their death and resurrection. To say that the prayer refers to the latter period is to involve St. Paul in the papal heresy of praying for the dead.
Therefore the preservation which is to follow the entire sanctification can refer only to the present life up to the hour of death. So plainly is this true, that no polemical writer has ventured to twist this passage into any other meaning.
The entire sanctification here supplicated is not only in this life, but the peculiar phraseology of the prayer implies that it is an instantaneous work. To the objection that the verb ἁγιάσαι, sanctify, can here only be understood of the gradual spread of the principle of holiness implanted in regeneration; even Olshausen insists that the emphasis laid on the “very God,” or “the God of peace himself,” “shows that something new is to follow,” some vigorous interposition of the omnipotent arm of the Sanctifier. Besides this, the verb is in the aorist tense, denoting a single momentary act.
Before taking our leave of this wonderful Scripture we call attention to the fact, that it effectually refutes the Gnostic error respecting the inherent evil of matter. In the enumeration of the constituent elements of man which are to be sanctified wholly, and preserved each entire, we find “body,” σῶμα (soma), which is wholly material.
St. Paul knew of nothing in man which was incapable of receiving the efficacy of the cleansing blood of Christ. And lest there should be any room for cavil, he specifies the ψυχή (phuxa), the lower or animal “soul,” in which inhere those passions and desires possessed by man in common with the brutes.
This border land between pure spirit on one side and gross matter on the other, lies open to the great Purifier as well as the higher element of spirit, πνεῦμα (pneuma), the designed receptacle or temple for the abode of God in man.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews the Apostle’s closet door gets ajar again, and we hear these words breathed into the ear of God — so much like those just quoted as to indicate the same pleader:
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, that great Shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work to do his will.”
This must be before death, for good works must be in time. To be perfect in them is to exclude every evil work, that is, all sin.
Every Scripture in which we are exhorted to bring forth those virtues and graces called the fruit of the Spirit, must refer to this life. If these are required in perfection, as they certainly are, they must exclude their opposites. Perfect love supposes the extirpation of every antagonistic affection; perfect meekness, all unholy anger; and thus with all the other graces.
We argue again, that entire holiness is attainable in this life, because all the commands to be holy must refer to the present. Grammarians tell us that all imperatives are in the present tense. If they cover the future they include the indivisible now. “Be ye holy,” plainly requires present holiness. “Be ye perfect,” enjoins perfection today. “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart,” is a command enforcing perfect love today, if it means anything.
The promises of sanctifying grace are available to believers now, or they are worthless. For true faith can be exercised for spiritual grace for ourselves only as it rests on the promise which includes the present moment. “Knowing this, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
This promise of the destruction of sin begins now, and is followed by a glorious henceforth of emancipation this side of death. Let the reader study the following promises, and observe how manifestly they imply present fulfillment: Isa. 1:18, 25; Titus 2:14; 1 John 1:9; 4:16-18. Let him also remember that every command to be holy covers the present, and contains an implied promise of the aid of the Sanctifier.
It remains to examine one Scripture in which it is asserted that our evangelical perfection is in express terms deferred to some future time, namely, 1 Peter 5:10: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
Some tell us that the adverbial clause, “after ye have suffered a while,” modifies the following verb, “perfect.” Let us read it this way, and we will find that the poor souls for whom Peter prays cannot claim to be “stablished” now, nor strengthened now, nor settled now; but they must be tossed about in weakness and instability till after they have “suffered awhile.”
This is certainly contrary to the uniform promise of God to help in time of need. We need the most help when we suffer. Then again, the soul deserted of God for a while is anxious to know the length of this indefinite “a while.” How long a time must elapse before I can claim by faith the strengthening grace here supplicated?
It is evident that the four verbs “perfect,” “stablish,” “strengthen,” and “settle,” are all in the same grammatical construction. If we must wait a while to be perfected, we must also wait in suffering to be strengthened. But now suppose that, with the best biblical scholar of the century, Dean Alford, we attach the adverbial clause to the verb “hath called,” what will be the rendering then? “But the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory (heaven, not now, but) when ye have suffered a little while, himself perfect you (now, ) stablish,” etc.
This rendering is simple and clear. It obviates all the difficulties of the other rendering, and makes God a present help in our extremity. The sufferings must be passed before the glory can be entered. They are the condition of the reward. This is all that St. Peter intended by the clause in dispute. As God is ready to pardon now every sinner on the earth who comes in penitence and faith in Jesus, so is this Almighty Saviour able and willing, at the present moment, to cleanse and endow with the fullness of the Holy Spirit every believer who honors Christ by a trust in his promise of the abiding Comforter. So intense is his abhorrence of sin that he longs to wipe out the last spot that defiles humanity.