Why divisions – Part 3: “To do thy will…”
(Updated February 14, 2016)
In Why Divisions – Part 1, the cause of divisions in the church is introduced, which is our carnal or old nature – that which is born of the flesh. Recall, for example, how it is written, the carnal mind is enmity (hostility, antagonism, animosity, hatred) against God.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh … For to be carnally minded is death … Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are after the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)
All who live by a carnal or earthy mindset are not rich toward God. Instead, their lives are marked by the destitutions of wars and fightings and not peace and true fellowship.
… if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:13-16)
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not; Ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war; yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)
Next, in Why Divisions – Part 2, how and why God uses divisions for establishing order in His kingdom is introduced. Of particular importance is the manner in which the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is observed. Briefly understood, divisions that result from the manner in which this precious ordinance is observed serve to reveal or manifest those who are approved of God as opposed to those who are not approved of Him.
For there must be also divisions among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together into one place, is it not to eat the Lord’s supper? (I Corinthians 11:19,20)
Those who keep the Lord’s Supper as ordained by Him are His true disciples. They no longer walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. These are Christ’s.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:24)
For if ye live after the flesh, unto sin, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live unto Christ. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)
On the other hand, those who deny the fullness of the gospel and stray from His ordinances will be cut off <separated> from among the people.
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:21,22)
The Sieve of Vanity
Now, in Why Divisions – Part 3, the line of division God has drawn between those who are approved of Him and those who are not approved of Him is introduced. Of necessity, this discussion highlights the limited time allotted for choosing which side of the line we will enter into eternity on. To begin we will look at the instrument the Lord has selected for separating those who are in Christ at His coming from the proud. It is called the sieve of vanity.
Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy; his lips are full of indignation and his tongue as a devouring fire; And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity; and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. (Isaiah 30:27,28)
The proud and all those who imagine vain things against the Lord and His Anointed (His Word) will get caught in this special sieve.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2:1-12)
On the other hand, the humble followers of the Good Shepherd – those who hear and obey His voice – will pass through safely.
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11)
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Ephesians 4:17-19)
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (I Timothy 6:11)
As the Lord passes peoples of the earth through the sieve of vanity, a great divide is being formed between those who hear and obey God’s voice and those who do not (cf. Matthew 25:32-47 with Luke 16:24-31). Those who feast upon the Lord’s words and do His will have eternal life abiding within themselves. On the other hand, those who do not receive and retain His words separate themselves from God by separating themselves from His Word.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. (Jude 1:17-19)
Accordingly, God’s word will judge everyone at the last day. That is to say, how each of us has dealt with the God’s Word (His Anointed) is how God will deal with us on an individual basis.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:46-48)
The precious gift of salvation is offered freely to all. Moreover, our Lord calls all people to partake of His goodness so they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. And this everyone may do if they are willing to feast upon Him as the Bread of Life, as the Word of Life.
He Shall Separate Them One From Another
Recall how Jesus tells us that when He comes again He will gather all nations before Him and will separate them as a shepherd divides sheep from goats.
When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory; And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth sheep from the goats; the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. (Matthew 25:32,33)
The dividing line our Lord will use to separate the peoples of the earth is between those who do His will and those who do not do His will. On His right hand He places those who hear His voice and do His will. These are His children:
And he <Jesus> stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! And he gave them charge concerning her, saying, I go my way, for my Father hath sent me. And whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:43,44)
What becomes of those who end up on His left? In the words of the Lord:
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:42-47)
We must make no mistake about this fact: God has designated this life as a time in which we are to choose between doing His will (i.e. to be righteous) and disobeying His word, either in neglect and/or open rebellion.
Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of body and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:7-13)
Thus, the time to do God’s will is now, in this lifetime.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and he shall appear the second time, without sin unto salvation unto them that look for him. (Hebrews 9:27,28)
For This is the Will of God, Even Your Sanctification
What exactly is God’s will for us? In the words of Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, God’s will is our sanctification, which we may only realize or experience in and through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God; that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter; because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (I Thessalonians 4:1-7)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God is. (Romans 12:1-2)
Those who are wise will hear and do according to His words, which convey His Father’s will.
Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works. And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock, and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:30-35)
Jesus calls us, therefore, to seek to do the will of our heavenly Father as He has done and will continue to do throughout all eternity.
Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me; In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God. (Hebrews 10:5-7)
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and said unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go yonder and pray. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then said he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing; but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. (Matthew 26:33-39)
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?) Some of them that stood there, when they heard him, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let him be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost. (Matthew 27:50-54)
Our calling in Christ is the same, that is, to submit our wills to the will of God in the same manner as the will of the Son of God was swallowed up in the will of the Father.
And now Abinadi said unto them, I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people; And because he dwelleth in flesh, he shall be called the Son of God: And having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son; the Father because he was conceived by the power of God: and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son: And they are one God, yea, the very eternal Father of heaven and of earth; And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people. And after all this, and after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth; Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father; And thus God breaketh the bands of death; having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men: Having ascended into heaven; having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion toward the children of men; Standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions; having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice. (Mosiah 8:28-37)
Through the words of the Lord and His servants we may therefore come to more fully understand why Jesus taught us to pray in a particular manner:
Therefore after this manner shall ye pray, saying, Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-11)
A Man After Mine Own Heart, Which Shall Fulfill All My Will
There are many examples in the scriptures of individuals who choose God’s will over their own will. Consider King David whom Paul affirmed was a man after God’s own heart. Paul went on to state that it was God who said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.
Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with a high arm brought he them out of it. And about the time for forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king; and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus; When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. (Acts 13:16-24)
Note how God did not say that David would not sin nor that he had not sinned. Rather, God had already concluded in His scriptures that all had sinned and fallen short of His glory. What God found unique in David was a person who would do all His will. Meaning, in his life David had done all that which God had asked of Him according to God’s plan for the salvation of His people. Again, this does not mean that David was without sin. God knew David needed Him as His Savior just as everyone else on the earth likewise needed a Savior. What David did that was special was that when God moved upon David’s life, David yielded to God and carried out God’s will. Each of us is called, therefore, to do the same. Will we? This is the question God is awaiting our answer to – and He expects an answer from each one in this lifetime.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live; that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. (Deuteronomy 30:19,20)
For each of us, David can provide specific encouragement as a role model. Although He had committed adultery and arranged a murder, when confronted by one of God’s servant, David became broken and repented of His sins and turned back to God, saying:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it; thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion; build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar. (Psalm 51)
Unlike those described in Jude 19 who do not valued God’s Spirit, here we see in David a sinner who forsakes his sins that he might retain the Spirit of God with himself. Here too we see a person who turned from his carnal nature and sought diligently to be cleansed of the Lord so he and His God might remain in a true and everlasting fellowship. How about you and me? We may do the same through Jesus Christ if we are willing.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 1:18-20)
As it was said of David, so then may it be said of us, that we too turned from our carnal natures and were transformed in Jesus Christ that we might fulfill all of God’s perfect will for us in our lives.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. (Philippians 2:12-16)