Bible Study, Biblical Hebrew, Christ in Me, Christian Life, Evil, Holy Spirit, Indwelling Spirit, Isaiah 45:7, Outside the Camp, Unity
Hello and welcome-or welcome back-to Renaissance Woman!
I almost didn’t post this week. Last week was fraught with difficulty and I wasn’t able to complete the studying I had laid out as thoroughly as I would have liked. Perhaps I will have done by next week. I was going to skip a week but then I came across a quote in a book by Don Keathley and, since it did relate to my current study of Isaiah 45:7, I am going to both share it and expand on it.
The quote is: “You are relieved of judging anything and anybody at any time as good or evil. Be still and simply respond to the voice within. Be as Jesus is only say what you hear the Father say and only do what He shows you He is doing.”1
There is such an incredible freedom in no longer eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil but eating from the Tree of Life that is Jesus Himself. What liberty I have in the Spirit! I no longer do what seems good in my own eyes nor do I determine what others do to me as good or evil. I am learning to think in terms of “life and not-life”. This doesn’t mean I live in some sort of imagined Holy Spirit ivory tower where, whenever evil things happen to me, I pretend they are NOT happening because “God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.”2 All due respect to Robert Browning but I don’t know of anyone who can look around right now and say a statement like that has any truth to it. Neither was this statement true closer to home. All is NOT right in my world. Last week was difficult both emotionally and spiritually. I had to deal with difficult people and I am fairly certain those same people thought it difficult to deal with me.
One answer is, while I am no longer eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, many others still are. They are both determining for themselves what is good and evil and then judging my behavior according to those standards: I am not doing what they say is “good” therefore I am evil. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself. And, perhaps you are like me: a people pleaser. I don’t want people to be mad at me and neither do I want people to dislike me. But, when I began eating from the Tree of Life and fixing my eyes solely on Jesus, this new lifestyle meant that I truly did only those things I saw the Father doing. There is a quote I’ve seen floating around and I do not know who to attribute it to. The quote is “It might look like I’m doing nothing but on a cellular level I’m really quite busy.” In order to only do those things I saw the Father doing, I had to know what the Father was doing. In order to know what the Father was doing, I had to live as a sheep that knew only my Shepherd’s voice and, in order to do that, I needed the Holy Spirit to teach me how to know that Voice in the midst of countless others.
There is an interesting piece of scripture. It’s one tiny sentence but there is limitless treasure to be mined from it. It’s Exodus 33:11: “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” Isn’t that amazing?! Here are two entirely different relationships two men had to the Lord. The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend and that is wonderful. Joshua however, did not depart from the tabernacle so he stayed immersed in the Lord’s presence.
I wonder how many times members of the camp grumbled against Joshua. No doubt there was plenty to do and Moses was just one man. And, there was no denying he was getting old and that lazy servant of his was young and able bodied but was he out helping Moses? Noooo. Joshua was not departing from the tabernacle and what could he possibly be doing in there that was more important than meeting the immediate needs of the camp?
It did not look like Joshua was doing very much from those outside, but on a spiritual level, both he and the Lord were very busy. Joshua was being prepared for a unique position within the people of God and so are you and I my fellow believer. It might not look like we’re doing very much, but on a Spiritual level, both we and the Lord are very busy. I’ve written about it before but the Hebrew word for wait as in “wait on the Lord” (Ps. 27:14) or “they that wait upon the Lord” (Is. 40:31) is qavah (H6960) and means “to bind together”. It might look like we are doing nothing, but this waiting on the Lord is anything but passive.
And yet, we have an adversary who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). That Serpent of old is revealed as a dragon who “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). How can we be certain we are not being deceived? I encourage you to take some time and check out how many times the words “in Christ” are used in the New Testament. We can trust that our God WANTS us to know Him and isn’t looking to pull a fast one on us. The apostle Peter quoting Isaiah writes, “’Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame’(Is. 28:16)” (1 Peter 2:6). We have the absolute trustworthiness of our God revealed in Jesus. Trust in Him and we will not be put to shame. By no means!
But still, “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) so how can we be really really sure the voice we are hearing is truly the voice of our Great Shepherd the Lord Jesus Christ? I am not going to share the process through which I have come to know the guidance of the Holy Spirit and discern the voice of Jesus Christ and the will of the Father. Take any ten believers and you’ll find ten different workings of the Spirit. There are a few things I think are universal experiences though and the first is follow your peace. The peace of Jesus Christ rules in our hearts and we can’t go wrong following our peace. That doesn’t mean the things we are given to do are easy or even always that pleasant but 100% of the time I’ve had a deep calm peace about doing them.
This is in contrast to the uncomfortable stressed out feeling that comes directly on the heels of being shown what to do by the Spirit. I can tell you my experience has been that the tactics of the enemy have not changed since that first “Hath God said” the Serpent uttered to Eve. Again, 100% of the time, the call to disobedience has boiled down to “Hath God said…?” Not always in those exact words but that I have found that same hiss of the Serpent under every argument against doing what I know I see the Father doing. There are also the guilt words, as my mother calls them, of “should”, “ought”, and “must”. Whenever someone comes at me using those three words, I cling ever tighter to the cornerstone that is Jesus and listen for His voice.
One last thing: strong emotion does not necessarily equate to a moving of the Holy Spirit. I was privileged to have an experience with my family in the last few weeks. We participated in a supposedly ‘spirit-filled’ situation and there was no denying we laughed and cried. There was overwhelming emotion and, when the experience was over, we wanted to have it all over again. However, in the following days, I began to realize that strong emotion was all it was. There was no answering from the Holy Spirit deep within my spirit. I kept that realization to myself until my mother mentioned she too thought the experience was all emotion. Does that mean it’s bad and no one should have participated? Of course not! I believe Romans 8:28 is true and God works in all things for the good to those who love Him. What I am saying is test everything and just because a group of people are insisting something is Spirit-filled doesn’t mean it is.
This might mean you feel like the only person seeing something different from the rest of the group. There is a perceived safety in numbers: if they are seeing/saying/doing it, then it must mean I am safe if I also see/say/do it. No. There is such freedom in Jesus Christ and the fruit of the Spirit is a very real way of life. The joy of the Lord is alive in us through the Holy Spirit and, while it is our strength, it should not be confused with happiness. Hebrews 13:12-13 states, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
When the Spirit opens our eyes to the hope of our calling in Christ Jesus and the richness of His inheritance in us, there is no unseeing it. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light and, once we taste the reality, there is no falling for the counterfeit. It is painful to see what someone else does not see and to be written off as deceived or worse, evil. It is sometimes lonely outside the camp because we don’t always see the others also outside the camp.
It is not possible to be alone here. I have another quibble with the great Robert Browning. Our God is only in His heaven in the sense that “He is before all things and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). I came across an exhilarating passage while conducting my study on “evil” and it’s found in Jeremiah 23:23-24: “’Am I a God near at hand,’ says the Lord, ‘and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places so I shall not see him?’ says the Lord; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord.”
Our safety is not in what a great number of people believe is true, our safety is Jesus Himself. He is at hand. He is not up or over or afar off. It is true that he is before us and around us and behind us and with us. Best of all, He is IN us. Do not be deceived away from this great truth: the being of God cannot be separated and so, because the Holy Spirit lives in us, so does the Lord Jesus Christ. Because He is in the Father and the Father in Him, the Father is also in us. We can know and do only what the Father is doing. Oftentimes, what the Father is doing is not at all what others would have us do. Don’t worry if your holding fast to the cornerstone does require you coming outside the camp. I’ll see you here.
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
- Keathley, Don, Hell’s Illusion: Exposing the Myth of Hell, 2022
- 718. Pippa’s Song. Robert Browning. The Oxford Book of English Verse (bartleby.com)
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