Accursed of God?

by David Neal

Deuteronomy 21:22-23, “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

To be hung on a tree was more than just a death sentence, but a humiliation and great shame. This one was said to be detestable, execrable (appalling, disgusting, deplorable, repulsive), wicked, malignant (evil) and wretched – accursed of God. To be accursed was to transgress the very will of God (to be separated from God). The violator was to be buried the same day that the land not be corrupted. When Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, he was told to utterly destroy the peoples (Deut 7:2, 24, 9:3), their writings (Num 33:52, Deut 18:9, 20:17-18) and their idols (Ex 34:13, Deut 7:5, 12:2-3, Josh 23:7). These people, through their actions, were wicked (accursed) before God and this was His judgement upon them (Gen 15:16 , Deut 9:4-5, 18:12 , 31:3). Israel was not to be as these peoples because they did all the things which were abominable to God (Lev 18:1-30, Deut 18:9-12). Joshua warned Israel before the first battle at Jericho that they were not to take any spoil from the city. Joshua 6:18, “And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.” These peoples and their land were accursed of God and appointed to utter destruction. After the victory at Jericho , Israel had a bit of difficulty defeating the city of Ai due to a transgressor of God’s will (troubler, 1 Chr 2:7) within their own ranks (Josh 7:1-26, 1 Chr 2:7). Once they defeated Ai, Joshua dealt with it’s king. Joshua 8:29, “And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.” When the five kings of the Amorites gathered together against Israel , they met a similar judgment. Joshua 10:26 , “And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.” This is the fate of those who have made themselves abominable to God – for they are accursed.

Israel went on to become more wicked than the nations whose land they possessed (2 Kg 21:9), because they transgressed God’s will by seeking their “own way” (Jer 32:30). They disregarded God’s commandments and sought after idols, and lived in the manner of the wicked peoples around them (Deut 31:16, 32:16-19, Ps 78:56-58, Josh 2:8-13, Jer 32:33-35). Israel even exceeded the wickedness of the peoples they dispossessed (2 Kg 21:9, 11)! God sent Judges (Jdg 2:18 -19) to deliver the people and later provided kings. Yet the people continually did evil in the sight of God, constantly provoking Him with their vanities (Jdg 10:6). The kings of Israel were a foreshadowing of “The King” that God would later send. The people were to be submitted and obedient to the king’s direction (Jdg 17:6, 21:25 ), and this was an object lesson (an allegory). God also sent prophets who spoke His Words. In all cases the messages of the prophets were for the people to turn from (forsake) their wickedness and rebellion (Jer 18:8, 2 Chr 7:14 ), and come back to God, who would have mercy1 (Is 55:7). Jeremiah 25:4-5, “And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever.” Turn ye, turn ye from “your” wicked ways – from your path (Ez 33:11). God said: Isaiah 65:2, “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good; after their own thoughts.” The Lord also said, “Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. They did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not (Is 66:3-4).” The Lord said they had a revolting and rebellious heart (Jer 5:23 ) and would not walk in the good path (Jer 6:16 ). God has been very consistent in His expectations of man from the beginning: Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” – to cleave to Him in obedience (Deut 13:4, Jer 7:23 )! This is the first great commandment (Mk 12:29 -30). The message is to surrender to God’s authority. God’s prophets were “not received2” and were mistreated (beaten, cast into prison) and killed (Mt 21:35 ). 2 Chronicles 36:16, “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” Jeremiah 25:7, “Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.” Drastic measures were taken by God to get Israel ’s attention (Jer 32:23). God said he would destroy His people because they turned not from “their ways” (Jer 15:7, 18:11 -12). God sent His four sore judgments of the sword, famine, pestilence and noisome beasts (Jer 15:2-3, Ez 5:8-12, 6:10 -14, 7:15 , 14:21 ). Those who survived were carried off into Babylonian exile (Jer 4:18 , 5:13 , 16:12 -13). This was intended to get Israel’s full attention. Jeremiah 2:35 , “Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.” Israel had not been able to see their iniquity or self seeking ways in anything they did (Jer 4:22 ). They were not submitted to God, but thought they were in “their way.” In Babylon, they would have frame of mind to ponder such things (see things as they are). Ezekiel 20:43-44, “And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel , saith the Lord GOD.” AND Ezekiel 20:35 -38, “And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt , so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels (those who rebelliously walk in their own way), and them that transgress against me (those who follow the devil’s lie): I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” Jeremiah 24:7, “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (also Ez 11:19 -20). Seventy years later, a remnant returned to the land of Israel and rebuilt the Temple and began to lay a religious foundation for serving God (Jer 25:11, 29:10).

In the ensuing years a tremendous religious system was developed, yet degenerated into a work of man (Mk 7:7, Rm 10:3). This system had form, but no heart, love or compassion (Mt 15:8). God had clearly established with Abraham (the very beginning of the nation of Israel ) that He was to be approached through faith. This meant that man would submit to Him in love, trust and obedience in all things. Man’s “way” (less than faith) again had fallen short of God’s expectations. God would now provide “His Way” (salvation) once and for all for those who would surrender their will and fully turn to Him with a whole heart. God sent His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) to take the brunt (burden) of His wrath toward man; to deliver the people from their iniquities (Mt 1:21, Jn 1:29, Acts 3:26, 1 Jn 3:5); and to lead them back to God (Rm 5:10-11, 1 Pt 3:18). Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Men were following their own paths which led to destruction (away from God). God’s creation of man had been rebellious and self-seeking since Eden . Man is persistently stiffnecked, obstinate, pertinacious, hardhearted, stubborn, impudent, contentious, and tenacious in his rejection of God’s authority and in seeking his “own will.” Man walks by his own sentiments (combination of feelings and opinions as a basis for action or judgment). The whole history of man supports this conclusion – there is no doubt. Particularly in God’s very personal dealings with Israel3, whom He chose for His own people (Deut 4:37 ). All of this rebellion goes back to the original lie of the devil that man accepted: which falsely proposed that you could transgress God’s will and seek your own way (be as gods) and not die (ye shall not surely die, Gen 3:4-5). Is it it wonder that God hates lies (Ps 101:7, Jer 9:3) and that “all liars go to hell” (Rev 21:8). This lie is now burned into man’s very nature! – the fallen nature. Even though man accepted the lie, he is not united with the devil in his rebellion. God placed a curse of enmity (hostility, hate) between man and the serpent (devil, Gen 3:15 ). The devil is man’s adversary; and as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pt 5:8). Satan appeals to man upon the basis of the rebellion (the trap he set, the lie); he lures man to seek his own lusts (his way or path, 2 Cor 4:4) which leads to bondage and death. To transgress God is to die. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (all offense resultant from the lie) and lead us back to God (Jn 10:4, 1 Pt 3:18 ). 1 John 3:8, “He that committeth sin (offence) is of the devil; for the devil sinneth (missed the mark, transgressed) from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works (the continuing rebellion) of the devil.” Jesus came to give us a new nature so that we can live righteously for God (Jn 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17 , Heb 10:16 ). Hebrews 8:10 , “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Jesus is righteous and everyone born of Him doeth righteousness (1 Jn 2:29 , 3:7). Adam had transgressed God’s will to seek his own way. Later, God chose the children of Israel for his own people and delivered them from bondage in Egypt . Through Moses, God made a covenant with the children of Israel and provided Ten Commandments written in stone (Ex 24:3-12). This covenant stated that Israel would obey God and keep His commandments (Word). Then, just like Adam, and true to their fallen nature, man again transgressed the will of God by breaking the covenant to seek their own ways (2 Kgs 18:12 ). God has continually reached out to man, and man has continually rebelled against a truly loving God. A most rebellious people!

Jesus (God) became flesh and dwelt among us (Emmanuel, God with us, Mt 1:23) and was full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14 ). Jesus came absolutely doing the will of the Father (Jn 6:38 , 8:50 , Heb 10:7). Christ surrendered totally to the Father’s purposes in all things and thus lived a perfect life (well pleasing to God, Mt 3:17 ) without transgression (sin, iniquity) or rebellion (Jn 8:46 , Heb 4:15 , 1 Pt 2:22 ). Jesus, as a man, lived the only perfect life upon the earth. Jesus did the opposite of Adam in that He totally submitted to God rather than seek His own way. The devil tried to tempt Jesus with “the lie:” Luke 4:5-7, “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” Satan was asking Jesus to choose His “own way” and seek the desires of the flesh. This would be submission to the devil’s way (self seeking, independence from God, the lie) – and to become a part of the rebellion. This would give Satan the worship he desires and would literally make God his servant (Is 14:13 -14). Consider Jesus’ response: Luke 4:8, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Jesus was submitted to God and His purposes; He lived by God’s every Word (Lk 4:4) – God’s way. Christ demonstrated the love of God in that He healed, delivered, served, fed, gave, ministered, taught, loved, cared, prayed for, defended, suffered, forgave, and sacrificed. Jesus had great compassion on them who are out of the “way” and sought that which was lost (the lost sheep, Heb 5:2). Jesus came speaking God’s Word and spoke with authority and power – “never a man spake like this man” (Mt 7:29 , Lk 4:32 , 36, Jn 7:46 ). Christ’s Words were confirmed by the works of God that He performed (the miracles – healings, deliverances, raising of the dead) All were amazed4 – “we never saw it on this fashion” (Mt 12:23 , Mk 1:27 , 2:12 , 6:51 , 9:15 , Lk 4:36 )! Even so, the people were full of unbelief. Jesus said: John 14:11 , “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” Christ was meek (like Moses, Num 12:3): Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Jesus was a righteous compassionate servant to the people – He did all things well (Mk 7:37 , Is 42:21)! Christ taught of unselfish love, even toward one’s enemy (Mt 5:38 -48). Jesus came with outstretched arms for whosoever would receive Him. John 7:37-38, “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 (Holy Spirit).” John 12:37 , “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him.”

Jesus didn’t come to the heathen and the wicked who sought after idols. He came to God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel . These were a people that identified with God and said they loved and served Him. They had built a huge religious system to meet that end. Their lives centered around “their” worship of God. These were very “religious” people! So how did these very “religious” God fearing people receive Christ (God with us), who came with such love? They didn’t. Christ came unto His own (nation of Israel ) and His own received Him not (Jn 1:11 ). Jesus was rejected by them from the very beginning! How could this be? This people had been looking for the Christ as foretold in scriptures – with great anticipation. Jesus didn’t come in the way “they” expected (man’s way5). He didn’t come speaking the words “they” wanted to hear (man’s ideals) – Christ offended their flesh (that which opposes God’s purposes). Jesus came with a purpose “they” didn’t understand or relate to. Jesus came to reconcile man back to God, but they didn’t see the need. This very religious people who claimed to be God’s people, didn’t KNOW (understand, grasp, appreciate, comprehend, relate to) God (Jer 4:22 , Mt 11:27 , Lk 10:22 , 1 Jn 3:1). Because they did not KNOW God, they did not know what to look for in Christ (Jn 1:10 , 7:28 -29, 8:19 , 15:21 , 16:3). Because they were not submitted to God, they could not yield to Christ (Jn 5:38 , 40, Rm 10:3). Christ told them if you have seen Me, then you have seen the Father (Jn 10:30 , 12:44 -45, Jn 14:9). Jesus spoke of God (the Father6) always everywhere He went. Jesus said He came for the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 10: 6, 15:24 ). How offensive (insulting), they were serving God “their way,” and didn’t consider themselves lost. Many reading this paper are the same way. Many religious men today who claim to serve Christ do not really KNOW Him or grasp why Jesus came. Because they do not know Him, they cannot be truly submitted to Him. Jesus didn’t come to endorse “their way,” but rather to provide “God’s way” – which God has consistently stated since the beginning (love, honor, trust and obey Him). Jesus came to forge (walk by example) the path back to God for those who would “follow.”

The religious leaders were very envious, jealous, and spiteful concerning Jesus. Christ had the attention and respect of the people which they thought should be theirs alone. Jesus was a light (spoke truth) shining upon their darkness (revealed hypocrisy). Jesus corrected, but fools do not receive correction (Pv 1:7, 15:10 , 16:22 ) – only the wise (Pv 1:5, 9:8-9). They ridiculed, accused, sought to kill, misrepresented, demeaned, spied upon, questioned, tried to trick, rejected, wanted to apprehend, and generally opposed Jesus at every instance. Jesus had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in His mouth (Is 53:9). Psalm 35:21, “Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.” Jesus endured their mischief while going about to do the will of God (Lk 11:28 ). Psalms 69:7, “Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.” Jesus didn’t observe “their” traditions (Mt 15:2, Mk 7:5) or obey “their” interpretation of the law (Sabbath, Jn 9:16 ). In short, Jesus didn’t conform to their way – their very “religious way.” But how could He? Their way was not God’s way – they didn’t know Him. These men were livid (furious, enraged) about Jesus healing on the Sabbath (not observing it according to “their” derived heartless rules, Jn 5:18 , 9:16 ), but were hypocritical about not perceiving their own violations (thoughts and actions) of murder, hatred, false witness, and covetousness. They were all about form (methods) and protocol (procedure, rules,  etiquette), but were estranged (alienated, separated) from God (Mt Chap 6). All religious men (throughout the ages) are so protective of “their” doctrines and “their” statements of faith – just consider all the religious denominations today and how they came about. One can be right (correct), yet so totally wrong – the blind will not understand this statement, it’s a heart thing! Much of what Jesus addressed concerned “intent.” The religious leaders said Jesus was a sinner (Jn 9:24 ). These learned religious men even came to the astounding conclusion that God’s own Son was serving Beelzebub (devil) and was mad/crazy (Mt 12:24 , Jn 10:20 ). Jesus was actually the only one not serving the devil (i.e. the lie). Man always judges God incorrectly through the eyes of flesh. They equated the Holy Spirit to the devil – woe! Christ had told them to not judge according to the appearance, but to do righteous judgment (Jn 7:24 ). Psalm 69:4, “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.” Therefore, they determined that for their sakes, and the nations’, that Jesus had to die. John 11:48-53, “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” The religious leaders convinced the people and then apprehended Jesus. One of Jesus’ own friends betrayed Him (with a kiss, Lk 22:48 ) and aided in His capture (Mk 14:10 ). Psalm 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” His disciples then fled (Mt 26:56, Mk 14:50 , Jn 16:32 ) for their lives leaving Jesus to face the wrath of “religious” and rebellious man. Later, one of Jesus’ closest friends denied Him for a third time in a burst of cursing (Mt 26:74).

Man interrogated, but Jesus sat silent (Mk 15:3, 27:13-14). Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” There was no need to protest, Christ had committed Himself to the will of the Father (Mt 6:10 , Jn 18:11 ) – Thy will be done (Mt 26:42)! Jesus was mocked, smote (hit), spat upon, buffeted and bruised. Isaiah 50:6, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Jesus stood bearing our iniquities and made intercession for the transgressors so as to justify many (Is 53:11-12). Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin (Is 53:10). A mock trial was held complete with false witnesses. Psalms 35:11, “False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.” Jesus was then led away to the Gentile (Roman) governor for more of the same (scourged, beaten, reviled). 1 Peter 2:23, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” Religious man vehemently accused him and demanded the penalty of death (Lk 23:9). Jesus (God) would not yield (conform to man) to “their way” and He had to be done away with. Oh what the devil’s lie has wrought in man. The Gentile (non religious) leader found no fault (Lk 23:4, Jn 18:38 , 19:4) and realized the leaders had offered Christ up out of envy (Mt 27:18, Mk 15:10 ). The govenor offered to release Jesus, but the leaders and people chose rather a convicted criminal (murderer, Mk 15:11 ). When asked what to do about Jesus, the people cried, “crucify Him” (Mk 15:12 -13) – but what evil hath He done? – “crucify Him” (Mk 15:14 , Lk 27:20-23); Shall I release Jesus? – “Away with this man” (Lk 23:18 ). To say, “away with this man” was a total rejection of the man, His message and all he stood for. Jesus was given over to the will of the people (Jn 19:6) – the very religious people. Jesus had been humiliated, betrayed, deserted, blasphemed, beaten without mercy, mocked, spat upon, reviled, and falsely accused. Psalm 69:20, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” Can we comprehend such isolation and rejection? What day was this? This was the day of preparation for the Passover (a very Holy Day, Jn 19:14 ). This was the day when the passover lamb was to be killed (Lk 22:7). All the symbolism of the passover (foreshadowing) pointed to this one event (to be fulfilled in Christ) and these learned (2 Tim 3:7) religious men were to blind to see it – they were about to kill the “lamb of God” (Rev 5:6, 12, 13:8). Through all of this, Jesus did not become embittered or have unforgiveness toward them (1 Pt 3:18 ). If He had (such as animosity, resentment, dislike) it would have quenched His love and been accounted as iniquity. Jesus, the perfect unblemished lamb of God, was about to be slain. Jesus represented God’s love and the best of man. Psalm 35:12, “They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.” Jesus had done all things well. John 15:25 , “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.”

Religious man took Jesus, the very Son of God, and hung Him on a tree. The most righteous man to ever live was considered by rebellious man to be “accursed of God.” They didn’t have God’s Spirit – for no man by the Spirit can call Jesus accursed (1 Cor 12:3) – particularly through one’s actions (hanging Him on a tree). This went beyond killing; this was humiliating and shameful, and was man’s rebellious statement (however unjustifiably ignorant they may have been) in rejecting the message (Christ spoke7 God’s Words) of God as vile and the works (Christ did Father’s works8 of love and compassion) as demonic (Lk 11:15 , Jn 9:16 ). Jesus was the very image9 of God (2 Cor 4:4, Heb 1:3). Man had rejected the prophets and now the Son (Mt 21:33 -39, 1 Thess 2:15 ). In all cases, the men doing this claimed to be servants of God! Psalms 22:6, 13, 17-18, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Matthew 27:39-44, “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” They were inasmuch saying, Jesus is accursed, accursed! – look at Him hang. This is rebellious man’s justice and judgment – man’s mercy! This is the heart and nature of man. The blood continued to flow down Christ’s broken body, but the mockers continued to belittle Him. Psalms 71:11, “Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.” They were inasmuch saying God has abandoned the accursed man hanging on the tree. Psalms 22:7-8, “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” “Away with such a man,” they said. This was man’s justice concerning God’s visitation (Jer 5:4). However, what was God’s purpose in allowing His Son die? God’s intent was far more noble than man’s. Jesus had actually laid His life down willingly to provide an atonement for the transgressions of all mankind (Jn 10:15 , 17-18, Gal 1:4, 1 Jn 3:16 , 4:10 ). John 10:11 , “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” – the lost sheep (Jer 50:6, Mt 15:24 , Lk 19:10 )! Man (Adam) had transgressed God’s will in Eden and took on the nature of Satan which is rebellion (seeking one’s own way). This nature is what has been discussed over and over in this study. God was making “the way” (final and complete) for sincere men to come back under His authority and partake of His nature – to be free of “the lie.” Can you believe that God would offer such hope to such a rebellious creation? 1 John 4:9-10, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (the act of appeasing wrath) for our sins.” To reconcile, the corrupt foundation of man’s wicked nature had to be destroyed. Man had committed a grievous transgression and this could not be overlooked nor summarily dismissed (set aside). Jesus was providing amends for the wrong committed such that reconciliation could be possible. Jesus was going to stand in our (your) place for all our iniquities and transgressions. Jesus was going to face the Father’s wrath and make reparation (Ps 85:10). 2 Corinthians 5:21,  “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus, who was perfect, paid a price that imperfect man could not pay. Christ, who was sinless, took upon Himself all the sin of the world (the transgression, rebellion). Therefore, while hanging upon a tree, while bearing man’s sin, Jesus was truly accursed of God. At that moment, He represented (on the cross) all the worst of mankind – all man’s transgressions resultant from “the devil’s lie.” Isaiah 53:3-5, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (restored to God).” After all the love and compassion Jesus had given in His earthly walk, in death He gave even more. 1 Peter 2:24 , “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (restored).” Jesus hung on the cross with His blood flowing freely from His face, back, hands and feet. Matthew 27:46, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The accursed man (for our sakes) hanging on the tree was even forsaken (for a moment) by God Himself. Isaiah 54:7-8, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” Jesus’ (and thus the Father’s) love goes far beyond our understanding. He did this for the very one’s who hung Him on the tree (all of us, we are all guilty, Rm 3:10 ). Even for the one’s who were still mocking and reviling Him as He hung in agony (Rm 5:6-8). Jesus forgave these men while He hung upon the cross (Lk 23:34 ) – true to nature, man was seeking his way and didn’t know (comprehend) what he was doing. Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for all men (Jew and Gentile) to be reconciled with God. Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Jesus took “our curse” and put it to death with Himself upon the tree (accursed). Now we must come out from under the nature of the devil’s lie: Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ (my old nature): nevertheless I live (the new nature God has given me); yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Our lives must be surrendered to Christ! We must renounce our self seeking ways and surrender to Jesus. Luke 23:46 , “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” Christ had totally committed Himself to the Father during His earthly walk. Jesus now trust His Spirit into the care of the Father (Job 13:15 , Ps 16:10 , 31:5), knowing the Father would redeem Him from the grave (Ps 49:15). Upon His death they rushed Jesus to the grave (the accursed shall not remain all night upon a tree, Deut 21:23 ) because it was the preparation, the day before the Sabbath (a High Day) and the body could not remain upon the cross (Mk 15:42 -46, Lk 23:54 -56, Jn 19:31 ). The grave could not hold such a righteous one as Christ (Rm 6:9). Not only did death have no power over Jesus spiritually, but also physically. Jesus rose from the grave in His flesh (Jesus’ physical body, Jn 20:20 -27, 1 Jn 4:2-3) – for Christ’s flesh saw no corruption (Acts 2:31 ). Jesus rose physically and spiritually! Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of God (Heb 12:2). One day His followers will be raised like Him (Job 19:26 ). He rose in great victory and returned to God (Eph 1:19 -23, Php 2:9-11). The religious leaders were later told: Acts 5:30 , “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”

Now many will blame the Jews for the death of Christ. We must look far deeper than that; and will actually find something very frightening (alarming, worrisome) for all of us to consider (ponder thoughtfully, 1 John 4:9-10). Israel did worship the One True God and were a chosen people of Him. They were also very representative of all who worshipped the One True God throughout history and especially including today. The Jews had God’s Word (Moses and the prophets) and a covenant with God; the Temple; synagogues (i.e. churches); rules of membership (Jn 9:22); denominations/divisions (Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, Zealots, Herodians); priests, elders, chief rulers (i.e. pastors); held titles and positions of authority (Lk 5:17, Acts 5:34); wore religious garments and performed ceremonies; had gatherings for prayer (Acts 3:1); fasted; had well established doctrines and scriptures studies; had traditions; celebrated holy days (holidays); sang hymns (Mk 14:26); had religious schools (Seminaries, Acts 22:3); performed lots of religious good works; and they evangelized, contended for their faith and appeared righteous on the outside (Acts 22:3). They religiously served God and said they loved Him. These were very religious people. They probably had a dedication and zeal not even rivaled today. Saul (known as Paul) was a perfect example. He was consumed (zealous) in the service of God (Acts 22:3, 26:5, Gal 1:14 , Php 3:5-6). Later he counted all his religiosity (ways of man, learning) as dung compared to the true knowledge of Christ (Php 3:3-11). Paul wanted to be found conformable to Christ’s death (dying to the old nature, Php 3:10 ). How could men who memorized whole books of the Old Testament; who meticulously studied to the letter each scripture; who earned doctorate degrees in religious learning; who structured their lives around religious service; who heard Christ’s gracious Words (teachings/doctrines) and witnessed His incredible miracles (Jn 12:37); have been so naïve and so completely wrong? This is the key: Romans 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness (they thought they knew Him), and going about to establish their own righteousness (seek God their own way), have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God (surrendered to God’s way).” They sought God “man’s way” and not “God’s way!” They belied (falsley represented by word and action) God’s way. This is so significant, please do not disregard this as trivial. Jesus said, “Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They flattered God with their tongues, but their hearts were far away (Ps 78:36-37). They said they had God’s law, but rejected the Lord’s Word by not walking in it (Jer 8:8-9). This applies to most modern “Christian” churches today! Does this seem preposterous? Many churches today are very much the same as the Jews -we just read about the similarities. Let us understand why. We discussed earlier how Jesus also came to deliver us from our sins and lead us back to God. Jesus once told a group of men who believed on Him, that He would set them free from their sins (Jn 8:31 -59). They didn’t see their need for the deliverance (Jn 8:33 ). So, Jesus then further told them: John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” This sounds like a harsh statement. What Jesus was telling them was that they still had the nature of the devil. Satan’s lie was still in their heart – the lie was that you could transgress God’s will and seek your own will (be as gods) and not die (ye shall not surely die, Gen 3:4-5). The devil’s lie kills (he is a murderer) and sends to hell (eternally separates from God). When the devil spoke the original lie, he was convincing Eve to do as he had done (speaks of his own) – the devil had transgressed God’s authority (Is 14:13 -15, Ez 28:2, 31:10). When the devil now speaks lies to man, he is convincing man to seek his own (through one’s lusts) as he had done (speaks of his own). This is opposite of God’s will (in rebellion). The men that Jesus was talking to were not submitted to God (in love and obedience), but rather Satan – this is what Christ was saying. They were following the flesh10 (it’s desires) and producing iniquity. Yet, they didn’t see the need to stop (love the darkness). So many are doing the same today and are also professing Christ (just like these men). When confronted with their love of darkness (Jn 3:19 ), these men did not repent, but started calling Jesus names (Jn 8:48 ) and then sought stones to kill Him (Jn 8:59 ). Religious men today do the same inasmuch as they refuse to repent and forsake their darkness – but love Jesus. The truth is that God’s will must reign over us completely at all times and in all situations. This is not just some religious observance and a pledge to try and do better. We are talking about submitting all your life to God and then obeying Him (with willingness of heart) as the Lord directs your actions. Our life in Christ is only found by dying to this old nature – the nature of “the lie.” This is why Christ said: Matthew 16:24-25, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me11. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.12” This means that he who is self seeking and follows his own way shall die, but he who dies to self and submits to God’s way (for Christ’s sake) shall live. More simply put: Live for self and die; die to self and live. Mark 8:36 -37, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Jesus said, “Come follow me (Jn 12:26 ).” This means to walk as he walked13 – totally conforming to the Father’s will. When you walk as Jesus walked you will also be confronted by rebellious man and will learn to truly relate to Christ (and appreciate). Where did Jesus go? Back to God. Jesus “went before” and now those who trust in Him follow (Jn 10:4). Jesus had killed that old nature (our transgressions, the devil’s lie) on the cross; the old nature that lives for self. If that old man is not crucified in us, then we are not Christ’s. Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Most do not consider seeking their own way as being sinful or wrong – that’s part of the deception. Another way of saying “seeking your will/way” is to say: “seek after the imaginations of your own heart14” or “do what is right in your own eyes.15” The cross is the power of God to them that are saved (1 Cor 1:18 ). We no longer walk in the old rebellious nature – its dead on the cross. Jesus came to restore (Ps 23:3); but what? The relationship between God and man. How did the relationship once exist? God the creator, reigned supremely, and man the creation submitted and obeyed His every Word. How will things exist? Those that are Christ’s shall be gathered unto Him (1 Cor 15:23 ). Jesus will then put down all rule and authority, placing all under His feet; including death (1 Cor 15:24 , 25). When all is subdued unto Jesus, Christ Himself will be subject to the Father, that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:24, 28). All things shall be restored to God as prior to the fall of man (Adam, obeying “the lie”) and the fall of Lucifer. Satan and his rebellious children (angels and man) will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. But where will you be in all this, dear reader? Its not so much which path you choose (mental agreement), but which path your life’s actions (deeds) reveal. God’s mercy and grace does not extend to continued willful transgression (sin and iniquity) resulting from rebellion (walking in your own way), regardless of your identification with God. You either forsake and yield or you don’t.

The religious system of today is much like (if not exactly) the one in place when Jesus came; the one that killed Jesus and hung Him on a tree. This is largely a system ruled by man (controlled) through his institutions. Man seeks God, man’s way through his buildings (facilities, complexes); his doctrines; his traditions; his religious works; his music (contemporary rock and roll); his salvation formulas (quick repeated prayers); his wisdom; and on and on. Again, Jesus said: Mark 7:7, “Howbeit in vain (ineffective, worthless, no significant value, empty, hollow, lacking) do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They also make void the Word of God through the traditions they observe. Jesus said: Mark 7:13 , “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” But they have good works, they prophesy and do things in Jesus’ name! Does Jesus know them (consider – Mt 7:22 -23)? All works (religious or not) that are resultant from “man’s way” are as filthy rags (Is 64:6) – unacceptable (2 Tim 1:9). God says that no flesh will glory in His presence (1 Cor 1:29 ). You will not glory in those things done in your own way. God will not accept you on “your” merits (religious or not). Jesus turned the religious world upside down – the same is true for today. Christ (as a man) lived in total devotion and surrender to God and had a close personal relationship (as did to Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Daniel and David). Religious man had pomp (showiness, display), learning (fleshly knowledge) and ceremony (ritual, observance, formal procedure), but didn’t know God. Their fear of God was taught by the precept of men (Is 29:13). They were rebellious children whose covering was not the Spirit of God (Is 30:1). Most of the Jewish people rebelled against God and sought their own way; yet they insisted they were serving (living for) God (and were called by His name) – and representing Him, being in His will. They had all the religious trappings to prove it. Many modern “Christians” also rebel against God in seeking their own way; yet insists they belong to Jesus (called by His name) – are representing Him and are in Christ’s will. They also have all the religious trappings to prove it (such a religious world). There is no difference between the two! May God give you eyes to see. Is it man’s way or God’s way? A question of eternal significance. Jesus did not come to justify man to continue seeking his own will (or way, 1 Pt 1:14 ). Christ does not justify you to continue in Satan’s lie (rebellion against God). Christ didn’t die to give you forgiveness to be used as a covering for evil. Forgiveness has no meaning unless that which is forgiven is forsaken. Christ does not become your personal minister of sin (Gal 2:17 , 1 Cor 15:34 ). Jesus didn’t do all this so you could say a quick little repeated prayer and go about your life – maybe being a bit religious (superficially). Many have an appearance of godliness, a religiosity, but live in the manner of the wicked peoples around them. Those religious ones that live in the flesh can best be described as: 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” The power is the cross, and the flesh must die on it. Your old way is accursed, hanging on a tree. Jesus gave all so that you could follow Him on the narrow path to God. If the old isn’t dead and hanging on a tree, then you are alive and living “your way” and are not following. To follow Christ is to become like Him and conform to His nature. You become a partaker of Christ’s nature (His holiness, Heb 12:10) as you escape the corruption that is in the world through lust and as you enter into Jesus’ sufferings (1 Pt 4:13, 2 Pt 1:4). When you no longer follow the flesh (and it’s lusts), you become opposed to all who do – you’re a reproach to them.

Cast all the religious stuff aside for the moment – it’s mostly man made anyway. Forget about the local religious franchise (of some denomination) for the time being. I am talking to you, oh religious man – the one who needs no deliverance. Jesus came to deliver you from the iniquity and rebellion that has existed in man since “the lie” in Eden . Christ came to mercifully pull you from the darkness (and resultant damnation, eternal separation from God) into His wonderful light – but you must follow (Jn 8:12 ). Jesus did not come to make you religious. This means your heart and way must change. This change on the inside will certainly manifest on the outside. This is a change that transforms your whole life. It is pronounced (obvious, prominent, evident) and visible in all you do – at home, work, in the car, night, day, whenever and wherever. Practically speaking, how is this done? – after all, the devil is often in the details. You seek God with all your heart. When you realize your iniquities and rebellion against a truly righteous God, then you fall on your face and repent. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation (2 Cor 7:10 ). To fully repent, you must forsake. You totally forsake your way and your iniquities. You lay your life down and all of it’s self seeking rebellious ways. You must see yourself as God sees you: despicable, loathsome, shameful, sinful and lost – with nothing of any real eternal value to offer (no desirable fruit, Jn 15:1-8). You cry out to God to save your miserable soul. If you are not for real, truly sincere, and honest, then expect no change. For the genuine, you are now approaching a state of heart that God can do something with. God says: Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 adds that you are to humble yourself, pray, seek God’s face, turn from your wickedness (requires action), and then God will hear. When you place yourself (permanently) in the right frame of heart things will begin to change. Cry out, Cry out to Him: John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This means that no one will enter by way of their own path (religious or not). What you think, your opinion or sentiment, or what everybody else does doesn’t matter – this must die on the cross (this is rebellion). Having laid down your life and placed your full trust (life) in Christ, and then casting away all your transgressions (Ez 18:31 ), then you become “born again” (Jn 3:3-6). This, only God can do – not by the will of man (Jn 1:12 -13). 2 Corinthians 5:17 , “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” AND Ephesians 4:24 , “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Having repented, ask Jesus to fill you with His Spirit – to give the gift of His Spirit to dwell in you (Mt 3:11, Acts 2:38, 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19). The Holy Spirit16 leads, guides and teaches. If you do not have the Spirit, then you are none of His (Rm 8:9, 1 Jn 4:13 ). We are to: Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Jesus is the strait gate we enter through (Jn 10:7-9). Having entered the gate, you must now walk the narrow path that leads to God. Remember Jesus “went before” and now we follow (Jn 10:4). Notice that few will find this way. This includes religious man. After all most men in the world are religious in some way or another. Remember the Jews; they were probably the most religious people on the earth – but they killed God’s Son. Jesus said: Luke 13:24 , “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” They just won’t do it God’s way. They will cling to their way; perhaps becoming religious and doing it man’s way. They may attend church every time the door opens, but the same old rebellion will exist with a godly façade (pretense, outward show). Just like the Jews did. Here is the problem: John 3:19 , “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” They really like determining their own path regardless of the resulting iniquity. Your way or man’s way is the broad path that leadeth to destruction. Like the men Jesus talked to (Jn 8:31 -59), they don’t want the deliverance – there’s no need. They’ll just attribute their behavior to being covered under God’s grace (which they basically define as God looking the other way). Please understand this: He who transgresses God’s will shall be judged an offender. God’s original promise holds – thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17 ). Read Ezekiel Chapter Eighteen for understanding (if the righteous turn from their righteousness they shall die). King Saul sought his own way. Twice, he disobeyed God thinking his way would suffice. He tried to make his way godly by offering some sacrifices (perform some religious observances). God said that obedience was superior to sacrifices (religious observances, 1 Sam 15:22). Saul was further instructed that his stubbornness in doing things his way and his rebellion in not following God’s way was as witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry (1 Sam 15:23 ). God’s Spirit departed from Saul (he was lost, 1 Sam 16:14 ). King Saul later died for his transgressions (1 Chr 10:13 ). The Lord then sought a man who would obey Him from the heart (1 Sam 13:14 ). It shall be no different with all those who seek their own way; refusing God’s will. God’s Spirit will depart from them to seek those who will obey. If you are one of the few who have sincerely entered the gate, let us continue onward. This is where a life of enduring17 faith begins all the way until the end of the path (Mt 10:22 ). Remember, you are a new creature, the old things (your way) has passed away (1 Pt 1:14 ). The narrow path is arduous and rugged – by design. With much tribulation, we enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22 , 2 Cor 12:10 ). You must be led of the Spirit with your devotion upon Christ (Rm 8:14, Jn 10:4-5, Php 1:29-30). We are talking about a lifetime journey of dedication here. 1 Peter 1:9, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” You walk this path by faith (in the Spirit), and this bypasses the flesh. Remember, you’re following – so don’t try and forge the path (your way). Those being led (humbly following) do not set the coarse or what happens along the way. Your job is to surrender and obey God’s direction at all times and in all things (Heb 5:9). Not only are you following Christ, but God is working in you (Php 2:13 ) to conform18 you to Jesus’ image along the way. Jesus came before, lived the perfect example, and now you must conform to it. This produces the fruit that God desires in you (Jn 15:2-8). Romans 6:22, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Without holiness no one will see God (Heb 12:14 ). All along this path you will experience the same things that Christ experienced (Jn 15:18 ). Jesus is the first born of many brethren (those who will follow, 1 Cor 15:20 , Col 1:18 ). Romans 8:29 , “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate (God’s plan for how we would approach Him) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Brethren are those who resemble one another (in nature/heart) so you must be Christ like ( Col 3:10 ). In this walk of faith, you will begin to truly relate to Jesus and a wonderful relationship will develop. 1 Peter 2:21 , “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” The key to this relationship is your obedience (Jn 14:20 -21, 23, 1 Jn 2:3-4, 3:24 ). Remember, Jesus went before you and also learned obedience (Heb 5:8-9, Jn 15:10 ). This path will not be easy: 1 Peter 4:1-2, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” As the love grows, you will find yourself willing to suffer reproach for your beloved and maybe even lay down your life (if need be, Rev 2:10, 12:11). You move forward steadily regardless of the difficulties (2 Cor 4:8-9). You’re no longer traversing (navigating) your own way, through your lusts; because you have yielded to God’s way. On this path, you live one day at a time. The future may seem impossible at times, but the next day is manageable in Christ (empowered by the Spirit, Lk 24:49). Matthew 6:34 , “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Through this path’s journey you learn submission and obedience to God so that when you get to the end we are ready to spend eternity with Him – under His authority (having none of our own). This path will tear down all that is of self – thus it is difficult for the flesh (self). There once was a man named Enoch who followed God with all his heart. One day he caught up to God and walked with Him and God took him on home to be with Himself (Gen 5:21 -24). Enoch had attained to what God desired in him and was ready to dwell with God eternally. Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Let us give God all (our whole life) that we may obtain (1 Cor 9:24 ) – that we may be accounted worthy to obtain that world (Lk 20:35 , Php 3:11 , 2 Thess 1:11 -12). 1 Peter 1:9, “Receiving the end of your faith (end of the path), even the salvation of your souls.”

Specifically speaking, you must begin to know God by reading His Word. The Holy Spirit and the Word will always be in agreement (2 Thess 2:13 ). Jesus is the Word (Jn 1:1-2, Rev 19:13 ) and the Spirit is truth (1 Jn 5:6). When you read the Bible, the Spirit will unfold the meaning (true application) of God’s Word for those who sincerely desire to walk in it (Jn 14:26 , 16:13 -15, 1 Jn 2:27 , 2 Tim 3:15 -16). As you read, the Spirit will convict your heart concerning sinful (wicked, evil, wrongful) areas of your life. You must be faithful to obey the Lord’s leading and repent if necessary, and forsake the evil. Do not justify the wickedness. There is no forgiveness in denial. There is no forgiveness in shifting blame. The flesh will not like the notion of forsaking anything. Most strongholds (wrongful areas of your life that are hard to let go) are there because they are based upon desires (lusts) of the flesh. The flesh will defend the strongholds. Remember, faith denies the flesh its control. The flesh operates with human reasoning and feeling while utilizing the five senses (touch, taste, smell, see, hear, Eph 2:3). Faith does not walk by sight (human ability or perception, 2 Cor 5:7). The things the flesh seeks (sees) are temporal and passing; the things that are known (unfolded, revealed) through faith are eternal (2 Cor 4:18 ). Faith requires total trust and reliance on that which is beyond self (God alone) – by faith we stand (2 Cor 1:24 ). 1 Peter 1:5, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” To be strong in faith is to be weak in the flesh (and vice versa, 2 Cor 12:9). God moves upon us through our faith (walk of obedience in love). Our strength of faith is in our weakness in the flesh (2 Cor 12:9). This makes no sense to one living in the flesh. We must walk in the Spirit that we do not perform the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:16). The flesh lusteth against the Spirit; and the Spirit against the flesh – they are contrary (opposed) to one another (Gal 5:17 ). Strongholds must be pulled down through the forsaking of evil (obedience to God’s Word). Your faith becomes stronger and stronger as you forsake the evil. When you first begin to read God’s Word, you may be easily distracted and find you are drifting and not comprehending all that you read. This is because your flesh is strong and your spirit is weak. This will change in time with your persistance and obedience. There is also a spiritual blindness19 present that you do not realize is there (Is 44:18). Isaiah 44:18, “They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.” They have eyes and think they see, but perceive not the truth; they have ears and think they hear, but do not understand.” When you begin to obey God, and walk the walk, the blindness will start to lift. This is a gradual process relational (relative to) to your submission and obedience. God does not cast His pearls (precious truths) before swine (Mt 7:6) because they will trample them. As a servant shows himself faithful, he will be given more (Mt 25:14-30). Matthew 13:12,  “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Those who have, gain more; those who have not, do not retain any. The more we surrender, obey and seek God, the closer the relationship (Mk 4:8, 25:14-30). Your actions are what count (1 Sam 2:3). When God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, the Lord was looking at Abraham’s actions and not for his mental agreement (Gen 22:1-13). Words are easy and require no sacrifice. Actions speak louder in that they bring forth sacrifice and reveal the true intent of the heart. Sacrifice always denies the flesh (deny self, Mk 8:34 ). Abraham was totally surrendered to God, because through his actions, he was willing to sacrifice his only begotten son (give up something precious) to obey God (Heb 11:17 -19). Abraham was not required to complete the action (Gen 22:11 -12), however God did sacrifice His only begotten Son for Abraham’s descendants (ponder that). Abraham’s sons (descendants) offered up God’s Son in disobedience to the Lord, to seek their way. Therefore we can conclude: Abraham obeys; offers son in faith; faith saves son. Abraham’s sons disobey; offer God’s Son in unbelief; unbelief kills Son (having taken upon Himself man’s sins). Faith will save us and unbelief will surely cause us to perish. Unbelief is not embracing God’s way in submission and obedience. Unbelief is rejection of Christ’s gospel by actually not living it – applying it (even if you mentally agree with the gospel). God must now be the priority (focus) of your life, so reading His Word and praying are to be given special attention (1 Thess 5:17, 2 Tim 3:16). You cannot truly seek God as long as you fill your heart with those things that oppose Him; and not only oppose, but also distract your focus from Him. You cannot serve two masters – self and God (Mt 6:24 , Lk 16:13 ). God will have no gods before Him (including you, Ex 20:3). Therefore, the television20, radio, magazines and newspapers have got to go. These all oppose God through their messages. The messages center on man and man’s way (seeking the things of the world) – the ongoing rebellion. No doubt, the flesh is extremely uncomfortable with these types of sacrifices. This is simply applying God’s Word to your daily life. You must guard your heart (what goes therein, Mt 18:9) and must abstain, abhor, eschew, refrain, depart, hate, cease, reprove and cleanse yourself from all evil21. You will either retain these things and seek “man’s way” or forsake them and seek “God’s way.” 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” The high things are anything that would come before God in your life. Our every thought must be to obey Jesus. However, the television, radio, newspapers and magazines try and take your thoughts captive to the obedience of man (things or ways of). They convey an opposing (hostile, enmity) message and compete for your heart, which must belong to God alone (flesh verses Spirit). These things hold your attention (by design) and place your thoughts on things of the flesh which are contrary (imaginations) to God. These communication medias try to conform you to the image of man (man’s ways) – hold your thoughts captive. This is where most people’s time and attention will be spent – held captive (captivated that is). These things must be hung on the tree (they are accursed). 1 Peter 4:2, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” AND 2 Corinthians 5:15 , “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” If we live in the Spirit, then let us walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25 ). These very specific examples have been included for a couple of reasons. The first is because these are great (tremendous) hindrances (impediments, barriers, obstacles) in following God (idols set before Him) and it is just not possible to yield to God and yet allow for continued evil in your life. Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” When you sincerely (honestly, truthfully, genuinely) read and meditate upon God’s Word, there is no doubt you will have to agree with this assessment (2 Cor 7:1). The second reason is that most people abstractly agree (in word, but not action) with the Word of God, but are totally blind in actually applying it and living it. Everything sounds so nice conceptually as long as nothing is required. Well, much is required, but we have Christ’s Holy Spirit. These examples are very revealing as to how one actually lives the Word – to start walking down the narrow path; and they are shocking to the flesh. The next thing you must learn is not to justify the evil (Pv 28:13). Don’t start conjuring up perceived positive (pros) aspects of the television, radio, newspapers, or whatever. These things are fleshly, worldly and totally oppose God. Galatians 5:24 , “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Don’t justify the flesh, you will only oppose the Spirit and the blindness will remain. Do not quench (put out, exstinguish, douse, stifle, smother) or grieve the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19 , Eph 4:30 ). You will understand regarding the blindness if you continue in the Word, and follow in obedience (the blindness will lift). Justifying the wickedness is simply justifying “your way” above “God’s way” and man has done this since the beginning. Do not assume that somehow you are wiser and will teach God. Job 21:22, “Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.” God judges those who put their ways above His (are high). Your own heart will convict you of these things (television, etc.) if you genuinely seek God. Your “ways” (Is 26:7) will be judged by Jesus’ Word one day (Jn 12:48). May your “ways” conform to “God’s way” in the person of Jesus. There are many things to be overcome on your walk of faith down this narrow path (following in Christ steps) that leads to God. The path is just too narrow for your sentiments and opinions. These will be like a blind man dragging a hundred pound weight along a narrow crevice. Many will say, “If I give up these worldly things I will be hated – even by my own family.” John 15:18, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” But I will be a reproach! Your starting to understand. The path is arduous and not built for the flesh – few enter in. Jesus said: Matthew 10:35-37, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Families will be at odds because some will be seeking the flesh (their way) and some will be seeking the Spirit (God’s way). This will naturally cause division – it did between God and man! Notice what Jesus says though (despite the fact): Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Nothing can be placed above God – this is total surrender. Jesus said those who do the will of God are His family (Mt 12:48-50). Whose family will we choose? Isaac’s sons had a parting of the ways. Esau chose the flesh (self) and Jacob the Promise (faith). What did God say about this: Romans 9:13, “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” God loves those who walk in faith, but not the self seeking. Are you starting to see why not many religious men (both today and the Jews of old) are truly “following” on the narrow path? To grasp and retain darkness is to love the flesh, world (1 Jn 2:15-17), and man’s way. This is a denial of God, just like Adam did. God says as a result of this, “thou shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). Oh the religious throw Jesus’ name around a lot, do good works, and have built quite a system; but are they following? Perhaps leading? Perhaps conforming God to man’s image? Perhaps changing the meaning of Christ’s Words (2 Cor 2:17, Gal 1:7)? Who would truly give up all the things (of the world) that we have been considering or would suffer such reproach? The answer is: a dead man. One who has truly died to that old man – crucified with Christ. The accursed old man (self, the one who transgresses God’s will) is dead and gone – hung on a tree. This one’s trespasses are no longer imputed to him (2 Cor 5:19). The “new life” now lived is only found by abiding in Christ (Jn 15:1-15). Apart from Christ you can do nothing (Jn 15:5) – Is that blunt enough? 2 Corinthians 4:11, “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” Jesus is your next breath, your next heartbeat ( Col 3:4). Jesus said: John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. Jesus (the man) abided in God and now He is asking you to do the same. The first command is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength – totally encompassing (Mk 12:30). The second is love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:31). Jesus goeth before, and we follow (Jn 10:4). Jesus is there to provide for the passage (voyage, travel): Psalms 23:1-6, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want (have need). He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Can you now see how precious this Psalm is? This only has meaning when you are truly following Jesus in true faith. Otherwise its your self-sufficiency, resourcefulness, independence, pride, self seeking, and fortitude (resilience, stamina, determination, strength, endurance) that enables you to navigate your own path (ye shall be as gods, Gen 3:5). A follower of Christ places his sufficiency (capability) in God (2 Cor 3:5).

Having considered the things written herein, many will seek an easier way. There will be a multitude (many) of voices pulling you to that easier way (away from God) – onto the broad path (Mt 7:13). Be assured, that any other way will either be “your way” or another man’s way – based upon the devil’s lie (ye shall not surely die, 2 Tim 4:3-4). 1 John 2:4, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments (heart, mind, soul, strength), is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” The one who does not abide in the truth, abides in “the lie” and deceives himself thinking he can transgress the commandments (Christ’s gospel, the two great commandments) and live. The devil’s lie was proven wrong by the reality of death. Satan said you wouldn’t die, but now you do. The devil is the father of all lies. Abiding in God’s truth sets you free: John 8:32 , “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Do you want the deliverance? The Word of the Lord is a reproach to many (Jer 6:10) – they have no delight in it. The love of Christ does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (1 Cor 13:6).” A wise man will read this truth (God’s Word) over and over and put it in his heart. A diligent (attentive) man will find that pearl of great price and give all to obtain it (all he is, Mt 13:46). Many are religiously doing what is right in their own eyes. The Jews of old fit into this category. They didn’t receive Jesus (grasp and live what He said), what about you? Proverbs 21:2, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” Putting a religious context on the things “you do” does not justify you in the sight of God. Putting Jesus’ name on “your way” does not justify you before God. The cross (dying to self, Col 3:1-11, Gal 2:20 ) is foolishness to them (1 Cor 1:18 , 2:14 ) that are perishing. The Jews did not think they were perishing even as they went about hanging a most extraordinary (astonishing, wonderful, totally unique) man on a tree. They mocked, belittled and joked about it. Do you do the same with the way you live your life? Do you live in a way opposed to God’s truth and make a mock of sin (Ps 14:9)? Do you know God’s truth? The religious man of today certainly wouldn’t entertain the notion that he might be perishing while sitting on a church pew. Chances are likely that if Christ came in their midst, He would be overthrowing tables (worldly things) in their sacred buildings (monuments to self) and would probably be thrust out and led to the brow of the hill to be cast down headlong (Mk 11:15, Lk 4:29). There is no doubt that there is many a religious man who loves Christ – that is, a Christ of their own making, conformed to their “image” of what they want him to be, led by a spirit, who endorses their way, and approves of their gospel (another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel – 2 Cor 11:4). If any preach another gospel, let them be accursed (Gal 1:8-9). There is also no doubt that these religious ones will be popular in the world (Jn 15:19, 2 Tim 3:12) and have great numbers of followers (they possess and control) and all the religious trappings. Consider strongly Oh religious man, what the Lord doth require. Do you really imagine that God will be impressed by your religiosity and all the glory thereof? Matthew 15:13, “But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Jesus told the very religious Jews: Matthew 5:20, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” That is not all that Christ had to say: Jesus further said to these religious men: John 5:42, “But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.” God showed His love through sacrifice (gave His Son, Jn 3:16 , 1 Jn 4:9). What have you sacrificed to obey God’s will? Jesus had a special message for the esteemed and very religiously learned leaders: Matthew 23:33, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Oh religious man consider what has been said. God is longsuffering toward that fruitless tree, but there does come the day of the axe and fire (Lk 13:6-9). 1 Corinthians 15:34, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Ephesians 5:14 , “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead (your way), and Christ shall give thee light.” Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity (2 Tim 2:19 ). Incredibly precious things have been revealed in this study. Perhaps the most profound this author has ever completed (as placed upon his heart by God). Will you be wise or foolish with the knowledge you now possess?

One final consideration concerns what Jesus told a religious gathering: Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Saying unto Christ, Lord, Lord is the equivalent to the (often superficially) repeated sinner’s prayer type formula that is so incredibly widespread these days (Heb 4:2). Instant salvation and no faith required. Jesus specifically says that this will not secure you a place in heaven (just saying Lord, Lord). Many will say Lord, Lord; these folks believed they had a relationship with Christ. They will be clearly taken by surprise when Jesus does not know them (totally deceived, yet very hard to convince). Perhaps they had a one way relationship – “theirs.” How could they have been so misled (by pastors who wouldn’t offend the flesh with the truth). These people also used Christ’s name to give messages and performed deliverances and this suggest more than a casual association. These “many” people performed lots of religious works in “Jesus’ name.” Perhaps they attended church every time the door opened? Perhaps they taught Sunday school and were in the choir? Maybe some were pastors? Look what Jesus says, “ye that work iniquity.” Perhaps they needed no deliverance? Maybe they were good righteous Christians (on the outside) one or two days of the week, but lived a bit self seeking through the rest of the week? Perhaps they pushed (overly applied) their definition of God’s grace a bit too far about sin in their lives (Heb 10:29 )? You must beware lest you should come short of God’s promises (Heb 4:1, 2 Pt 3:17). Obviously once they were saved (by their methods) they were not always saved (read the verse again and think). They were very religious people, but Christ did not know them –  and cast them away. Depart, depart from Me, ye that love your darkness? Depart, ye that misuse My name for your devotion to self. Look at who Jesus says does enter the kingdom of heaven, “he that doeth the will of my Father.” This paper has attempted to describe what this means. Ephesians 5:17, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” You are to totally and lovingly surrender your whole life (with a willing mind and perfect heart, 1 Chr 28:9, 29:9) to the Lord Jesus in obedience (every day). You must be filled with the Holy Ghost and be led to conform to Christ’s image. You walk as Jesus walked when you follow in His steps and you partake of His fellowship. You’re not earning anything; you’re following (in righteousness). God is transforming you through your obedience to Him. 1 John 2:17, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof (ways of man): but he that doeth the will of God (God’s way) abideth for ever.” He that has an ear, listen to what the Spirit is saying. May God’s mercy guide you to follow in His will (Php 3:12 ).

 

1 God is merciful – Num 14:18 , Ps 86:5, 15, 103:11-12, 112:1

2 The prophets were not received – 2 Kg 17:13-15, Neh 9:26, 30, Jer 2:30, 25:4-5, 26:5, 12-13, 29:19, 35:15, 44:4, Zech 1:4, 2 Chr 36:16,  Neh 9:26, Ez 20:8, Dan 9:10, Zech 1:4, Amos 2:12, Acts 7:52

3 Stiffnecked, impudent, hardhearted – Ex 32:9, 33:3, 5, 34:9, Deut 9:6, 13, 9:7, 24, 10:16, 31:27, 2 Chr 30:8, Ez 2:4, 3:7, Acts 7:51

4The people were amazed – Mt 12:23, Mk 1:27, 2:12, 6:51, 9:15, 10:32, Lk 4:36, 5:26, 9:43

5 Man’s way – Pv 12:15, 16:2, 21:2, 30:12, Is 5:21

6 Jesus told of the Father – Mt 11:27, Lk 10:22, Jn 1:18, 3:35, 5:19-20, 23-24, 30, 37, 7:28-29, 8:19, 27-29, 10:15, 32, 37-38, 12:49-50, 14:9-13, 31, 16:25-28, 17:21, 25

7 Jesus spoke God’s Words – Deut 18:18, Jn 3:34 , 7:16 -17, 8:28 , 38, 12:49 -50, 14:10 -11

8 Performing the Father’s works – Lk 2:49, Jn 5:17 , 36, 9:4, 14:10 -11, 31, 17:4-5

9 Jesus is the image of God – Jn 12:45, 14:9, Col 1:15, 2:9

10 The flesh – Rm 7:5, 8:1-13, 13:14, 1 Cor 15:50, 2 Cor 7:1, Gal 5:16-17, 24, 6:8, Eph 2:3, Php 3:3, 1 Pt 4:2, 6, 1 Jn 2:16

11 Taking up cross and following – Mt 10:38 , 16:24 , Mk 8:34 , 10:21 , Lk 9:23, 14:27

12 Live for self and die; die to self and live – Mt 10:39 , 16:25 , Mk 8:35 , Lk 9:24 , 17:33 , Jn 12:25 , Rm 8:13 , 2 Cor 5:15 , Gal 2:20 , Eph 4:24 , Col 3:2-3

13 Walk as He walked – Ps 119:3, 128:1, Hos 14:9, Col 2:6, 1 Jn 2:6, 2 Jn 1:6

14 Seeking the imaginations of your own heart – Gen 6:5, Deut 29:19, Pv 6:18, Jer 3:17, 9:14, 11:8, 13:10, 16:12, 18:12, 23:17, Rm 1:21

15 Doing what is right in your own eyes – Deut 12:8, Jdj 17:6, 21:25, Ps 36:2, Pv 3:7, 12:15, 16:2, 21:2, 30:12, Is 5:21

16 Holy Spirit – Jn 14:26, 16:7-8, 13-15, 1 Jn 2:27

17 Enduring faith – Mt 10:22 , 24:13, Mk 13:13, Heb 3:6, 14, 2 Tim 2:3

18 Conforming to Christ’s image – Lk 6:40, Rm 8:28-29, 2 Cor 3:18 , 4:10 -11, Gal 3:27 , Eph 4:13 , 15, Col 1:20 , 3:10 , Heb 13:21

19 Spiritual blindness –Is 6:10, Mt 13:14-15, Mk 4:11-12; To be born again is to see and hear – Mt 11:15, 13:6, 9, 43, Mk 4:9, 12, 18, 20, 23, 33, 7:16, 37, 9:7, Lk 7:22, 8:8, 9:35, 10:24, 11:28, 14:35

20 Television – Deut 7:26, Ps 5:4, 101:3, 119:97, 101, 141:4, Ez 8:9-10, Mt 5:27-30, Mk 9:47-48, Lk 11:34-36, Rm 1:18, 8:5-8, 13:14, 2 Cor 6:17, 7:1, 10:5, Gal 5:24, Php 4:8, 1 Tim 4:1, 5:22, 2 Tim 3:4, 2 Thess 2:12

21 Avoid evil – Eph 5:11, 1 Pt 3:11, 1 Thess 5:22, Rm 12:9, Ps 37:27, 97:10, 119:101, Pv 3:7, 8:13, 14:16, 16:17, Is 1:16, Amos 5:15, 2 Cor 7:1  

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