Hungering and Thirsting
Cont., page 3
Here now, is where the rubber meets the road—proving ourselves before God and man. As it is written in Hebrews 12:1, we are to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and . . . run with endurance the race that is set before us.” This, of course, is the opposite of turning grace into licentiousness. What in fact is grace? Is it a freedom from responsibility? If one believes this, he lies to himself to his own loss. Hebrews 10:26-27 clearly warns, “For if we sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment.” It is absolute foolishness to think that upon believing in Yahshua, one can now freely sin with no accountability. To the contrary, He clearly stated, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).
In fact, for the believer, judgment is all the more relevant. One cannot and must not ignore the exhortation of Hebrews 12:5-8:
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
So what then is grace? Grace is one’s entrance into the kingdom of heaven, and with that entrance possessing His nature and relationship so as to turn from sin and pursue righteousness—becoming like Him. This very truth is set forth in Titus 2:11-15:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
So, how are you doing with grace? Is it leading you to sin, which is licentiousness; or is it leading you to walk in righteousness and godliness and obedience? If it is the former, then you do not know or understand or even possess the true grace of God.
The title of this writing is Hungering and Thirsting For Righteousness. This is taken from the words of Yahshua, who declared, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). How many people do you know who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness? There are those who hunger for religion, and those who hunger for a specific emotional religious experience. There are those who hunger and thirst for a name-it-and-claim-it blessing, or for religious notoriety. But who do you know who truly hungers and thirsts for righteousness, to the extent that they are not satisfied with anything else in this world? Think about what hungering and thirsting is really like. Have you ever been without food or water, and it was all you could think about and seek? Do you have this same prevailing and inexhaustible desire and quest for righteousness, where not only nothing else will satisfy you, but the world and standard religion are entirely repulsive?
Does your heart burn when you recall the words of Yahshua when He said, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33)? Is the kingdom of God and His righteousness first and foremost priority in your life, even over family, friends, fame, or fortune, over personal security, comfort, and convenience? Do you seek the kingdom to the extent that little else can hold your attention? Does your life reflect this pursuit in righteous life choices, so that, again, the world and religion are offensive? And even when you are doing natural things that require your labors and devotion, do you do them as unto Yahweh, as it is written, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23)?
Do you indeed look for, . . . long for, . . . and live for the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells, being diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless? If so, you might be worthy to be His bride.
In 1 John 3:3-10, John sets forth the clear distinction between true grace and lawlessness; whereby in the latter, one truly lives according to the devil. He begins in verse 3:
And everyone who has this hope [of Immanuel’s appearing] fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
What did this just say? Purifies himself? Given the corrupt state of society and the church today, this is the very thing that people need to and must give great attention to. And, this is precisely what Yahshua said. If your hand causes you to stumble, He said, YOU cut it off. If your foot causes you to stumble, YOU cut it off. If your eye causes you to stumble, YOU pluck it out. He then adds that salt is good, and we are to have salt in ourselves. And if we do not apply this salt, then we will be salted with fire (Mark 9:43-50). It is our choice. Correct our tendencies toward sin, or He will correct them, and with even greater consequences!
Continuing in 1 John 3, verses 4-6, we read:
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins . . . .
In other words, sinning is so offensive and egregious, that to practice it is wholly unacceptable. This truth is clearly evidenced in the very next contrasting bold statement:
. . . ; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
Think about this. No one who sins knows Yahshua. When we give our lives to Him, then sinning and worldliness, which is sin, are no longer an option. Continuing:
Little children, make sure no one deceives you [oh how so true today]; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
This is a wonderful statement! Again, to sin is far too offensive and unacceptable to do. Verse 10 concludes:
By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
What a bold and blunt statement! If anyone is not practicing righteousness, even if they make a verbal claim to being a believer, they are lying to themself and to others. In fact, by making that claim, they compound their guilt and penalty—by their personal behavior, and therein by causing others to stumble and sin as well.
Let us further address this matter of being of the devil. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, we read from the New American Standard (NAS):
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. Avoid such men as these.
Did you notice in the list “malicious gossips”? If you look at the Greek text, you see that the Greek word used there is the same word used in the passage above from 1 John 3 where it speaks of the “devil.” In both instances, this is the word “diabolos.” In fact, this word is translated “devil” thirty-four times, and is exclusively the word translated “devil.” So, let us restate this verse regarding the last days:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be . . . devils.
Thus, this association of the devil with the last days makes 1 John 3:3-10 all the more meaningful today. This practicing of sin that is of the devil is indeed MOST relevant and evident. And realize as well, he is indeed the deceiver and leads men into sin and compromise, just as he did so in the Garden. Once again, man justifies his sins, and even calls them good. This is MOST evident in society, and in the church. “God doesn’t care if I . . .,” is an oft-repeated excuse for sin and compromise and harlotry with the world.
In like manner to salting ourselves as Yahshua directed, Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-11 gives clear instruction that once again requires our own responsiveness and self-control, which again is the outcome or product of grace, and not licentiousness. And let us also note, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and as it is written, “against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Peter clearly set forth:
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence:
In your faith supply . . . . . . . . . . .
And in your moral excellence, . . .
And in your knowledge, . . . . . . .
And in your self-control, . . . . . . .
And in your perseverance, . . . . .
And in your godliness, . . . . . . . . .
And in your brotherly kindness, .
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
Applying all diligence, we are to supply each of these, by which the kingdom will be abundantly provided to us. Therefore, did you notice that to the most basic quality—faith—one is to add moral excellence. How much so is that quality overlooked, ignored, abandoned, and even ridiculed in the church and in society today? Look at the churches. Look at their worldliness, or divorce, or complete immodesty, or speech, or entertainment, or indulgences. They woefully lack moral excellence, and for this reason do not even have knowledge of the truth. Instead they teach dung—taking in the word of God, processing it with the flesh, and feeding it to the people. Their error is vast! And with the lack of true faith, moral excellence, and knowledge, they lack in the others as well, especially godliness! And the love they have is the same as the grace they have—leading to licentiousness! Yes, there are very limited and slight exceptions to this, but not enough to redeem the mass. But as individuals, we must be diligent to evidence each and all of these qualities.
Likewise, in 1 Peter 1:13-16, we find a most wonderful passage to live one’s life by every day, anticipating Immanuel’s return.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “Become holy, for I am holy.”
Each of us has to choose what we want. Will we keep sober in spirit and pursue righteousness and holy behavior, or will we join the masses and pursue the pleasures of the world? Will we keep sober in spirit and pursue righteousness and holy behavior, or will we dress and behave and talk like the world or simply out of our flesh? Will we keep sober in spirit and pursue righteousness and holy behavior, or will we adopt the immodesty and crudeness and carelessness of the world and the flesh? Will we keep sober in spirit and pursue righteousness and holy behavior, or will we seek the pursuits of the world and afford it to find place and entrance into our life? Will we keep sober in spirit and pursue righteousness and holy behavior, or will we abandon the order and ordained roles of the male and the female? Will we keep sober in spirit and pursue righteousness and holy behavior, or will we join the masses and frivolously squander the time allotted to us on things that are not everlasting, diluting and even nullifying righteousness? “Become holy, for I am holy,” says Yahweh!
Again from Peter, in 1 Peter 2:11-12, we read:
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the nations, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Peter would know about these fleshly lusts that wage war against the soul—which in itself is an absolutely incredible statement—for in the beginning he told Yahshua, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8)! But he did not remain in that low state, and in 1 Peter 1:22 exhorted, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart . . . .” Yes, again we are urged to purify our own souls—our mind, . . . our will, . . . and our emotions. WE, each of us, MUST win the war with fleshly lusts—not giving them any room for victory!
And worthy of being quoted gain here, from Ephesians 4:22-24 we read the like message:
. . . in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
In a highly revealing and profoundly prophetic statement for all mankind to come, but especially for the Bride, in Genesis 4:7 Yahweh declared to Cain:
“If you do well, you will be [lit.] lifted up. And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you; but, you must master it!”
Sin is indeed ever crouching at the door in our lives, and we must choose to master it. And with our obedience, as Yahweh offered to Cain, we “will be lifted up.” This is certainly the hope of and the promise to the Bride—even being lifted up into heaven. And the outcome for the Bride, stated in Revelation 19:7-8, is:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
Having put away the old self and mastering sin, the Bride purifies herself and is thereupon clothed in the righteous acts of the saints! Amen and amen for evermore!
Continue to page 4 of Hungering and Thirsting For Righteousness for MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM