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Obedience is the
True Test of Faith
Spiritual leaders, regardless of how great and highly esteemed, are as dependent upon pleasing Yahweh, and need His forgiveness of sin for salvation as much as the lowliest babe in the word.
The entry of Joshua and Caleb into the Promised Land while Moses and the rest of Israel were barred must have importance for understanding the New Covenant relationship with Yahweh. But what is it?
We are told that not one individual who had disobeyed Yahweh and put Him to the test during the wandering in the wilderness entered the Promised Land, but Caleb was permitted to enter because he had a different spirit and followed Yahweh wholeheartedly, Numbers 14:22-24.
The spirit that the people were yielding to must have been the spirit of disobedience Paul refers to in Ephesians 2:2. The Spirit that Caleb faithfully followed must have been Yahweh's Holy Spirit, which He gives only to those who obey Him, Acts 5:32.
We are told that Joshua was one of the seventy elders chosen to assist Moses and that he had served Moses since his youth, Numbers 11:24-28. Joshua's service was of faithful obedience as he was chosen to assume leadership after Moses died.
We are also told that Joshua fought the Amalekites and overcame them with the sword, Exodus 17:10-13. The Amalekites are a type of the powers of darkness and forces of evil that New Covenant servants of Yahshua the Messiah are to overcome with the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:12 and 17.
Hence, the significance of Joshua and Caleb's entry into the Promised Land must be that of all those who are released from bondage to sin by baptism in Yahshua's Name - only individuals who faithfully follow and obey the Holy Spirit and overcome the world will receive the promise of life that is in the Messiah Yahshua, 2 Timothy 1:1.
Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it, Hebrews 4:1.
This verse shows up the lie of the lawless doctrines that teach that once a person receives Yahweh's Holy Spirit and grace, that person is assured entry into eternal life.
How can a person fall short? By quenching Yahweh's Holy Spirit and turning to follow the spirit of disobedience! Paul warned in 1 Cor. 10:11-12 NIV:
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!
Proof In Actions
People today ignore Paul's warning against idolatry and sexual immorality. They grumble and blame Yahweh for the adversities in life and they put Yahweh to the test because they lack understanding of His Word and don't really trust Him.
We are commanded to grow in knowledge and get understanding. The trouble is that people think they understand, but their actions show that they really don't.
They claim they believe and trust in Yahweh, but their actions show they don't know whom they believe and trust. They think they obey Yahweh and His Messiah, but their actions show they follow the spirit of disobedience.
True, Yahshua can forgive unwitting sin, but He says, "Woe to you blind guides! You strain out the gnats but swallow a camel," Matthew 23:16 and 24. Today's blind guides nitpick and argue over little things that seem right to them, but are blind to committing idolatry and putting Yahweh to the test.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside are full of greed and self-indulgence, Matthew 23:25.
Today, influential religious leaders teach lawless doctrines and make a show of what they believe is righteousness, but are blind to lusting after pleasures of the flesh and corruptible treasures of earth, Matthew 6:19-20. In doing so they sully the image of all who use the Bible in worship.
Today's blind guides and their blind followers do not understand that Yahshua is referring to them in Matthew 15:8 and 14. He says,
These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain: their teachings are but rules taught by men. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.
It is true! We do not earn eternal life by obedience to the law. But even a babe in the Word with a sincere desire to worship in spirit and truth can come to understand that disobedience of the law, especially willful disobedience, can cause a fall from grace just as can efforts to earn salvation without the influence of Yahweh's Holy Spirit—grace. We are saved by grace, Ephesians 2:5, and if we fall from grace we are alienated from the Messiah, Galatians 5:4, and fall short of meeting Him in the resurrection and receiving the promise of eternal life.
Joshua and Caleb verify the conclusion that only those who believe, have faith and do OBEY will participate in the first resurrection.
True Repentance Necessary
Satan's efforts to cause people to fall from grace have deceived the whole world into idolatry and disobedience to Yahweh's laws. Malachi says the priest is the messenger of Yahweh and ought to preserve knowledge, but their teachings cause people to stumble at the "Torah," translated "law" in the King James Version (Mal. 2:7-8).
Blind teachers and their followers pay only lip service to Paul's warning to flee from idolatry, I Corinthians 10:14, and John's warning to keep free from idols, 1 John 5:21.
If the teachers understood Yahweh's Word, they would understand how idolatrous and hypocritically lawless their teachings are!
Yahweh is merciful. Therefore, the blind sheep and even blind teachers, who are spiritually dead and followers of the spirit of disobedience (Eph. 2:1-2), can open their eyes to see and their ears to hear, John 12:40. They can turn to be saved.
Those who are sincere in their repentance and turn away from continuing in sin (Rom. 6:1-2) will have their sins forgiven. They can be given Yahweh's grace, fed on pure spiritual milk, 1 Peter 2:2, and be shown the small gate and narrow way that leads to life, Matthew 7:14.
People who walk (live) in the narrow way of Spirit and Truth are not without hope if they stumble in their walk. Paul, in 1 Timothy 1:1 and 14, tells us Yahshua the Messiah is our hope. Paul says grace—the influence of Yahweh's Holy Spirit—is poured out abundantly along with faith and love in Messiah Yahshua.
It is Yahweh who keeps us from falling, Jude 24, and 2 Peter 1:4-7 tells us what we must do to participate in the divine nature and never fall. His Spirit fills us with wisdom and understanding and strengthens us to bear fruit in every good work, Colossians 1:9-11. It is possible to stumble and not fall beyond recovery, Romans 11:11.
Yahweh's called-out ones who stumble in the way, are instructed to call upon the Master Yahshua with a pure heart, 2 Timothy 2:22. They must then resist the devil and humble themselves. Yahweh's promise is that if we do this, the Master will lift us up, James 4:7-10.
He has set His called-out ones as watchmen over the house of Israel, Ezekiel 3:17. He requires them to bear witness to the world (Acts 22:15) by living righteously (1 Pet. 2:24). He also gives them the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.
Brethren are to love one another deeply, from the heart, 1 Peter 1:22. That means to be compassionately concerned about one another's welfare. If one is seen to be straying unwittingly from the narrow way, the person is to be warned about the error and gently turned back to the way of righteousness.
Brother to Brother
Yahweh's warning in Ezekiel 33 is as applicable in the New Covenant as in the Old:
When I say to the wicked, “O wicked man, you will surely die,” and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sins, but you will have saved yourself, verses 8-9.
The warning in verses 18 and 19 is also applicable in the New as in the Old Covenant:
If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right he will live by doing so.
A righteous person walking in the narrow way becomes a wicked person in Yahweh's eyes if the warning of a spiritual person is rebuffed and the person continues in lawlessness. We are to obey Yahweh rather than men.
To be righteous in His eyes requires study of His Word in order to rightly handle it. A person who turns away from the ways of the world must be able to discern whether or not warnings of error come from the Spirit of truth or spirit of disobedience.
Faith Plus Obedience
The spirit of disobedience often points to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews and reminds us that Abraham and Moses died in faith not having received the promise; but Yahshua's sacrifice and their faith makes them whole and they will receive the promise in the resurrection.
This, they say, proves that all Yahweh requires in the New Covenant is that people believe and have faith in His Son.
What they say proves they don't understand the implication of being told that Abraham obeyed Yahweh's law, Genesis 26:5.
Nor do they understand the implication of being told that Moses did not enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed Yahweh. Moses was commanded to strike the rock with his rod once, Exodus 17:6, but instead he chastized the people and struck the rock twice, Numbers 20:8-12.
Neither Abraham nor Moses was perfect in obedience, but their acts of disobedience could not have been acts of deliberate defiance of Yahweh's will. If they had been, Yahshua's sacrifice would not cover their sins, Hebrews 10:26, and their faith, even in Yahweh, would have been in vain.
People who really love Yahweh will strive for perfect obedience not because they want to earn eternal life, but because they desire to please Him and obey Him as a loving Father. They will not become fearful when they stumble because they believe in Yahshua and know the Spirit will not let them fall beyond recovery.
They will not waver when the spirit of disobedience puts their faith (trust) to the test because they believe Yahweh will not allow Satan to tempt them beyond their ability to bear it and will provide a way of escape or to stand up to it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.
People who really love Yahweh from the heart will open their ears to hear what His Spirit says to them and their minds to understand what they hear. When they understand what is right to do they will do it because refusing to obey is deliberate sin that blasphemes the Spirit of grace and rejects Yahshua's
sacrifice for sin, James 4:17 and Hebrews 10:29.
People who really love Yahweh from the heart will open their eyes to see which way the Spirit of truth and grace is going and they will not need to be pushed, bribed or frightened into following wherever it leads.
-Elder Ralph Henrie
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