“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:30
None of us can escape the moments of choice between the LORD and ourselves, …between His Word and spiritualized unscriptural traditions. The stakes have never been higher. Even though the LORD expects us to count the cost before we follow Him, why should this “counting of the cost” become an endless preoccupation that doesn’t reach the peak of defying all that undermines Christ and His cross?
We love ourselves.
We have not yet touched the raw faith of the elders, who obtained a good report and gained the promise, because of how sold out they were to the Man of calvary (Hebrews 11:2, 6:12). “…and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11). When is God going to have sons and daughters that will not put their interests before His own purpose? We are dealing with an adversary that cannot be silenced with an undecisive life. A life that is neither here nor there! A life that has not “sold all he has” to follow Jesus. A life that continues to hesitate on pleasing God while the enemy proceeds to have a field day among us.
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, NOW is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:10-11 (Emphasis mine)
There is no doubt that an unquestionable victory has been held out to us from Heaven. That old serpent, who has now become a dragon, has been cast down. But as legitimate as this victory is, it doesn’t translate to our personal experience until we have appropriated it by:
1. the blood of the Lamb
2. the word of our testimony and
3. the loss of self-love
“And they overcame him…”
Why will the Holy Spirit use this expression after a clear victory has been handed over to the hands of God’s children? It is to show that without coming under the clearly detailed parameters of the aforementioned victory, we cannot deal with the enemy and live in victory over his works. We have to make our own that which has been gained for us by the LORD. We have to overcome the serpent in our own lives and within the province of our own experience. And we cannot do this, if we are not on the LORD’s side!
“…by the blood of the Lamb…”
This is pointing to the cross. The blood was shed on the cross. The cross represents death, the death of all that does not originate from Heaven. Particularly, the blood speaks of the fact of our forgiveness, yet extensively the blood speaks of our death when Christ died, and conclusively, it speaks of an instant exchange of life. As we died when Christ died, the LIFE of Jesus became our lives both instantly and subsequently. That is the first instrument/ticket of victory we have against the devil.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (which is His death) shall many be made righteous. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal LIFE by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:19, 21 (emphasis mine)
“…and by the word of their testimony…”
This testimony is the evidence of the cross at work in the Christian. A Christianity that lacks evidence is powerless. This evidence speaks of the concrete triumph of the cross experienced in real life, real time situations. A testimony is a witness. The word of testimony is the regular supply of proof to both mortals and immortals that Christ is indeed at work in this life and there is no space for the enemy.
Please note, that the cross is a principle of life. There was already a “cross” to carry daily before Jesus had to die physically on the cross. Please compare the following scriptures:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” John 6:38
“For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” Romans 15:3
cf: John 5:30, Psalm 40:7-8, Matthew 26:39-42, John 4:34
Therefore, the cross, as a principle of life, is the ascendancy of Christ in a life. It is the “crossing out” of my self-will by the Divine Counsel. It is the way of life that totally defies the world system (the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life). When the cross is at work, your life bears the reality and testimony of the victory of Christ to men, angels and demons. Until the cross is evident in your life, you don’t really have a testimony. Whereas it is good to thank God for everything, it will be better to withhold your public testimony until you allow the cross to work and produce a testimony that truly glorifies God.
The loss of self-love
This is a very subtle thing that can manage to remain in a Christian, even after gaining considerable understanding of the victory of Christ on his behalf and having a commensurate testimony of life based on the same victory. The love of self. Oh LORD, deliver us from every leftover of self that doesn’t allow Christ to shine through as He intends to. The LORD has faithfully provided daily trials and circumstances to deal with this self. These are opportunities to “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth…” (Colossians 3:5).
The word “mortify” is to “put to death”. The instrument for putting to death is the cross. Self loves to retain certain preferences that denies the LORD His full control over us. In fact, it is this “self” that makes God’s people to be so divided along the lines of doctrines, race, denominations and administration. Self loves to have a distinctive that sets it apart from others, even when those others are fellow brethren in Christ. If every Christian (and Christian leader) will accept the full counsel of God, which is revealed in the entirety of the Holy Scriptures, there will be no reason for the division we see today.
And if there remains any differences, they will be the minimal differences that we can all live with…they will be unavoidable differences of how Christ expresses Himself through us all, since no man’s life is the standard way for Christ to express Himself. These, no doubt, will be the differences that results from “…’diversities of operations’, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (1 Corinthians 12:6).
Knowing Christ and Experiencing the Church
To be on the LORD’s side places some New Testament imperatives on us. We will seek to:
1. Know Him more personally and
2. Experience + express Him corporately with other Christians.
Knowing Him personally is the key to the Christian life. Since Christ is the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11), He must be first and foremost in our reasonings and affections. We must touch Him directly. To be a branch on the Vine is to have a direct link to Jesus (John 15:1-5). We must know Him. The omission in this area is what makes many Christians to easily fall into the doctrinal groupings that men impose on them. It is so unfortunate that not knowing Jesus personally easily makes these group of believers to even spiritualize the errors of men that is camouflaged as a leading of the spirit.
Why is this so? Christ is not yet distinctly experienced in their hearts, as to know and be clear about the counsel of God in His Word, and to take a stand based on it, with all meekness, grace and gravity. You will think such disciples of Jesus will be disorderly as to want to walk alone or overstep their boundaries. No! It is this same person that loves Jesus and knows Him to the point of following His Word, that will now submit to a fellowship of believers, to know Jesus corporately, regardless of the weakness or traditions of the believers.
“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” Hebrews 2:11-12
Now, this does not mean that until we fellowship with Christians in established traditions or denominations, we have not experienced the corporate Christ. The Church is formed any time believers anywhere meets to fellowship together. And if a disciple of Jesus regularly fellowships with fellow Christians in a locality, he is already experiencing Christ corporately. This is no less the Church than those who have been humanly grouped into sects and denominations.
The implications of taking a clear stand for Jesus
“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.”
Finally, when Moses made the call to the children of Israel, saying “Who is on the LORD’s side?” It was a call to make a separation. I believe the LORD is making a separation today. It is not a separation of starting another denomination or group or sect. While the Levites (who were the only ones that answered the call) were still Israelites, they immediately took on an assignment to the entire nation of Israel.
“And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.”
In the same way, those who respond to the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, will put on their swords by their sides and go from gate to gate (that is like saying from group to group) throughout the camp of God’s people on earth, and slay every man his brother, companion and neighbour. These are not the days for you to keep quiet on what the Word of God actually says. When we meet with fellow Christians, we must meet them with the Word of God, not a particular doctrine known with a particular congregation. If you will carry this sword (God’s full counsel), you will be able to “slay” your brother, your companion, and your neighbour.
Your own family will come under the impact of this sword, as well as, your fellow brother with whom you fellowship in the same group. Even your neighbour, who is a fellow brother in Christ, but does not see eye to eye with you because of denominational differences, will be a “casualty” positively. Whereas, the 3000 fell and died physically during the time of Moses (who represents the law), we will have a “3000” that will experience the death of identification with Christ because of the Man of Calvary (who represents Grace and Truth).
The mandate of the LORD for this hour is to put on the whole armour of God, and draw your sword, which is the undiluted/undenominationalized Word of God and go from gate to gate, without fear or favour, and cut deeply into your fellow brother, until they lose that self-love that weakens their devotion to Christ (and commitment to the entire body of Christ) so that they become a true disciple of Jesus.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotation is from the King James Version.
Picture Credit: H.B. Charles Jr.