Individuality and Personality
Completing the Perfect Life
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 23 November 2002
Click here to read Part 4
As a scientist I have worked in laboratories. The first was as a laboratory technician working on the Foot and Mouth Virus that cattle are frequently plagued by. Then I finally worked in a laboratory at Oxford University preparing my thesis. It was that experience more than anything else that persuaded me I was not cut out for life as a Biochemist and which saw me first become an educator and then a minister.
And yet life itself is like a laboratory. A laboratory is a place where things are prepared. I remember working in the Botany Department lab at Oxford. It was pretty dull work. I spent an entire year studying one enzyme in one particular plant that was responsible for helping plants prepare themselves when they get damaged. There were lots of other people working on this enzyme writing complicated essays on their discoveries. I still have that thesis somewhere but even if I found it I guarantee you wouldn't want to read it. It's title - something like Studies on Phenyl-alanine Ammonia Lyase in Beta Vulgaris Leaf Discs - would be enough to send you to sleep. I cringe every time I think about it. And yet it's such painstaking work done by many people over many years that has led to great advances in medicine, agriculture, and other areas of science. Crushingly boring though such work may seem to be, it is important.
Life is like a laboratory, and change is often slow and imperceptible. It can seem crushingly boring at times. And yet it is important. For the last four weeks we have been discussing the human personality and last week we took a close look at the human heart. I think you will agree the picture the Bible paints of us is not altogether a happy one. And yet the heart is what is the core of 'you' and 'I'. The heart never dies - it is as immortal as Yahweh Himself and indeed the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) who proceeds from Him to us. Our memory doesn't die either. Our bodily machine dies, and the manifestation of our heart and life which lie in the body die, but the heart never dies.
The things which we use with our bodies are prepared in our hearts. Yah'shua (Jesus) said: "From within, out of a person's heart, come forth wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, arrogance, foolishness. All these wicked things come from within, and they make a person unclean" (Mark 7:21-22, JNT). These are staggering words, and they spring from the lips of the Master concerning the human heart. They are not the shrewd guesses of a scientist, or the simple imitations of an apostle, but are the revelation of El Elyon - God Almighty - through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Look at them and see whether they do not awaken resentment in you unless you have received the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). This means that no crime has ever been committed by a human being that every human being is not capable of committing. How many people believe that? "It's absurd, morbid nonsense," they say. "We are all basically good." That, alas, is the same as saying that Yah'shua (Jesus) didn't know what He was talking about. Today people are willingly and eagerly embracing Christian Science, Buddhism, New Ageism, Hinduism, and other religions which teach that there is no such thing as sin, or suffering, or spiritual death, and claiming it is all fantasy. As a result 'Christians' and others are preaching a gospel of temperament - "Cheer up and look on the bright side of things," we are told by them. But how can a man look on the bright side of things when the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) has shown him the possibilities of hell within? The majority of us are shockingly ignorant about ourselves simply because we will not allow Yahweh to reveal the enormous dangers that lie hidden in the centre of our spirit. Yah'shua (Jesus) taught that dangers never come from outside, but from within. If we will accept Yah'shua's (Jesus') verdict and fully receive the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), we need never know in conscious life that what He says about the human heart is true, because He will re-relate the heart from within.
Yah'shua (Jesus) has commanded us to be perfect: "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt.5:48, NKJV). And how many people do you know who resent that commandment? Have you ever resented it? Might you resent it now? And if you do, why do you resent it? It is because - quite simply - to become perfect you have to give full sovereignty of your life to Yahweh. That's why people don't like this scripture, or any of the others that say the same thing. They would rather say that we are always going to be imperfect so that they can continue sinning and retaining a measure of independence over their own lives. That's the truth, isn't it? The natural man - our natural heart - does not want to be perfect! It likes to sin because it means independence. And what a lunatic philosophy it is - what person in their right mind wants the freedom to destroy themselves? But that's the whole point - we're not in our right minds. So long as we have the mind of the flesh, we have the mind of Beelzebub. We have the mind of Satan, the father of lies.
If you are going to be perfect, the first stage is wanting to be perfect. If you have no desire to be perfect then I guarantee you never will be. Yah'shua (Jesus) said to the rich young ruler who had a problem with money: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matt.9:21, NKJV). If we want to be perfect, we have to follow the Master. Following the Master means the path to perfection. And those who do not want to be perfect are in truth not following the Master but their own lusts. What was Yah'shua's (Jesus') great High Priestly prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane? It was that "they (the disciples) may be made perfect in one" (John 17:23, NKJV). Perfection in oneness. Perfection in echad. Salvation together as a Body in Christ. That is perfection. Paul reminded his readers at Galatia that perfection in the Ruach (Spirit) was the goal when he asked: "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal.3:3, NKJV).
Today I want to talk about perfection, for this is the goal that all true New Covenant Christians are heading towards, and why we never stand still. I think we all agree that the attainment of perfection cannot, and does not, take place overnight or even necessarily even in this lifetime. At the same time we must not use this as an excuse not to live the perfect life, and it is this I primarily want to talk about now. Perfection means perfect attainment in everything, just as Yah'shua (Jesus) did, except He never stumbled into sin once. Perfect life means the perfect adjustment of all our relationships to Yahweh, nothing out of joint, everything rightly related. Then we can begin to live the perfect life, and then we can begin to attain perfection.
A child is a perfect human being, and so is an adult man. So what's the difference? The one is not yet grown and matured, and the other is. Paul puts the two perfections very clearly to the Philippians:
"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus (Messiah Yah'shua) has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God (Eloah) in Christ Jesus (Messiah Yah'shua). Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God (Eloah) will reveal even this to you" (Phil.3:12-15, NKJV).
When you are sanctified you have become perfectly adjusted to Yahweh, but also remember that in all likelihood you have attained to nothing yet. The whole of our inner life may be right and undeserving of censure, but next comes the challenge - the part we must do: we must now begin to attain perfection in our bodily life and prove in our relationship with others that we are perfectly adjusted to Him.
The heart is a big thing, is it not? For within it we find the Law of Nature, the Law of Grace, the Seat of Conscience, and the Seat of Belief and Disbelief. Conscience is the 'eye of the soul', that marvellous recorder; and the orbit of conscience is the heart. Paul says: "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Heb.10:22, NKJV). Yahweh puts the Law of Grace where the Law of Nature works, in other words, in the heart. Should we not praise Yahweh for His sovereign grace which can alter the mainspring of life? Yes we should!
Unfortunately, the heart is also the seat of belief and unbelief. "Beware, brethren," said Paul, "lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Eloah)" (Heb.3:12, NKJV). Now here an important distinction is made perfectly clear - the heart must never be agnostic, but the head, if you like, may be. Every Christian is, I suggest, an avowed agnostic. Have you ever thought of that? How do I know God? All I know of God I have accepted as a revelation, I did not find it out by my head, did I? "Would you find out Eloah (God) by searching, or search out the end of the Almighty?" (Job 11:7, ISRV), we read in Job. Next time you meet some agnostic friend, say something like that to him and see if it does not alter the problem for him. We have to keep our minds open about a great many things. The reason people disbelieve God is not because they do not understand with their heads - we understand very few things with our heads - but because they have turned their hearts in another direction. Why was Yah'shua (Jesus) so stern about disbelief? Because disbelief never springs from the head but from the wrong direction of the heart. Can I, therefore, have the evil heart of unbelief taken out and a heart of belief put in? YES! Yes you can! Because Yahweh says so in the Book of Ezekiel:
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit (Ruach) within you and cause you to walk in My statutes (laws, Torah), and you will keep My judgements and do them" (Ezek.36:26-27, NKJV).
Notice that there is no legalistic observance of Torah here. True observance of Torah comes from a right heart. And so the question remains: Can I have an impure, defiled heart made pure, so pure that it is pure in Yahweh's sight? The answer is 'Yes' because it is written: "the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus) His Son cleanses us from all our sins" (1 Jn.1:7). Can I be filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) until every nook and cranny of my heart is under the control of Yahweh? Again the answer is 'Yes!' For it is written: "He that comes after me is mightier than I ... He will immerse you with the fire of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), whose winnowing fork is in His hand, that He may clean ('thoroughly purge', KJV) His threshing floor" (Mt.3:11-12, HRV).
The salvation of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) works first at the centre, not at the circumference. No one is capable of thinking about being born, or how they will live when they are born, until they are born. We have to be born into this world first before we can think about it. Yah'shua (Jesus) said: "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again'" (John 3:7, NKJV) - 'you must be born into a new world first, and if you want to know My doctrine, do My will' (Jn.7:16-17). A right relation to Yahweh first is essential. How are we going to have a right heart relationship to Yahweh? By accepting His Ruach (Spirit), and then he will bring us where we can understand how Yahweh's grace works. And if any man or woman receives the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), he will discover She will lead him into all truth. Then, thus equipped, we can obey Torah with joy and imitate the lives of the apostles, as the first Christians did. Says Paul to Timothy: "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, (and) afflictions ..." (2 Tim.3:10-11, NKJV). And so we have the triple witness - the Ruach (Spirit), the Word (Torah) and the living apostles who are the exemplars living these things.
Perhaps you think we are now finished with the heart but so far we have only entered two of the chambers of the temple: the Inner (or Courtyard) and the Inmost (the 'Holy Place'). There still remains the Innermost chamber of our hearts, the 'Holy of Holies' of the temple.
The inspiration of Yahweh may dwell in the innermost reaches of my heart, "but", says Paul, "thanks be to Eloah (God) who put this care for you in the heart of Titus" (2 Cor.8:16, HRV). You may be surprised at the almost casualness of this passage. The inspiration for benevolence and philanthropy springs from Yahweh, and Yahweh's Book (the Bible) has some stern revelations to make about philanthropy and benevolence, because it reveals that that they may spring from a totally wrong motive. The inspiration of Yahweh does not patch up my natural virtues. Rather, He remakes the whole of my being until we find that 'every virtue we possess is His alone'. Yahweh does not come in and patch up our good works; He puts in the Ruach (Spirit) that was characteristic of Yah'shua (Jesus). It is His patience, His love, and His tenderness and gentleness that are exhibited through us. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood," said Yah'shua (Jesus), "abides in Me, and I in him" (John 6:56, NKJV). When Yahweh alters a man's heart and plants His Ruach (Spirit) within, his actions have the inspiration of God behind them; if they have not, then (hold on to your chairs), they may have the inspiration of Satan. For it is also written: "And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him" (John 13:2, NKJV).
What does Paul mean when he says: "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph.3:17, KJV)? What an unspeakable wonder - the indwelling of Christ! This figure of the indwelling Christ is very remarkable, for we are made part of the mystical Body of Christ that Christ may indwell us. The New Testament gives us three pictures of Yah'shua (Jesus): first, the historic Yah'shua (Jesus); second, Elohim (God) incarnate; and third, the mystical body of Christ, which is being made up now of sanctified believers. By the sovereign work of Yahweh and the indwelling of Yah'shua (Jesus), we can show through our lives - through our bodily relationships - the very same characteristics that were seen in the Messiah when He was on the earth, so that men and women may take knowledge of us that we too have been with Yah'shua (Jesus), and, as He Himself said, that 'men seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven'.
The thought is unspeakably full of glory, that the Elohim (God) can come into my heart through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and fill it so full that the life of Elohim will manifest itself all through this body which used to manifest exactly the opposite. If I am willing and determined to keep in the light of Torah and obey the Ruach (Spirit), then the characteristics of the indwelling Christ will manifest themselves.
How do we explain or describe the indwelling of the Ruach (Spirit)? The spirit and body of the man Yah'shua (Jesus) were kept in perfect oneness with Yahweh the Father by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), much as a dutiful mother keeps her son in perfect unity with his father by teaching him his father's rules. Study the life of Yah'shua (Jesus) and you will see that His vertical upward relationship with Yahweh, that is, His prayer life, was always right. His horizontal relationship with men was likewise always right, and his downward looking at sin and the devil and hell was always right too. He did not ignore any of these facts, as a great many people are doing today, and His Spirit energising our spirit will produce in us the same characteristics and lift us by His marvellous Atonement into the same at-one-ment with Yahweh. "That they may be one, even as We are one" - not by some Hindu-, Buddhist- or occultic-like absorption, but by identification. This is not the teaching which is prevalent nowadays, that we are to be absorbed into one great, infinite Being. Not remotely. We are to be made one in identity with Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and have a disposition like His. Consequently, we are only interested in the things in which He is interested, and we cannot be appealed to on any other line.
The next quality of the soul walking in the perfecting life is shalom or peace. Paul said: "Let the peace of God (Eloah) rule in your hearts" (Col.3:14, KJV). Notice that this is the peace of God, not peace with God! Of course there is being at peace with God too, but that isn't what I mean - that is a different peace. Yah'shua (Jesus) said: "My peace I leave with you, not as the world gives" (John 14:27, NKJV"). What that means is that the shalom or peace that characterised Yah'shua (Jesus) is to also characterise His saints. "The love of God (Eloah) has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Ruach haQodesh)" (Rom.5:5, NKJV) - not the captivity to love Yahweh, but the very love of Yahweh itself. That is what Paul means by those words with which we are so familiar: "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Gal.2:20, KJV). This is not faith in Yah'shua (Jesus) but "the faith of the Son of God", i.e. the faith that was in Yah'shua (Jesus) is in me. I become identified with Yah'shua (Jesus) to such an extent that you cannot detect a different spring of life, because there isn't one! It is no longer the old disposition that rules me, says Paul, but the disposition that is in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). And I tell you this: if you do not have the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) you will think that the Apostle is straining language beyond its limit in his effort to express what the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) does. And what does the Ruach (Spirit) do? She alters the ruling disposition of the soul, and as a result a man or woman shows himself entirely changed.
And finally, we come to the last of the characteristics of a changed disposition - we become what is called the 'abode of light'. One in whom the old disposition has gone becomes "a light that shines in a dark place" (2 Pet.1:19, HRV). And what kind of light is that? James says of Yahweh that He is "the Father of lights, with whom there is not any variableness, not even a shadow of change" (Jas.1:17, HRV), a light that has nothing to hide. That is the characteristic of the Elohim (God), and Paul counsels us to "walk as children of light" (Eph.5:8, KJV). John says that "if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ (Yah'shua the Messiah) His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7, NKJV). That is a description of the wonderful communion we enjoy in His light - the light of truth. Natural affinity does not count here at all. Indeed, so-called 'personality differences' entirely evaporate in it when those who possess it are walking in it, and they are spontaneously one. Watch as a person becomes progressively filled with the Ruach (Spirit) develops this 'communion of the saints'. It is a great miracle. We develop an affinity of fellowship with people for whom we have no natural affinity at all. We have fellowship with everyone who dwells in this light no matter who they are, or to what nation they belong, or what upbringing they have, or anything else. And that is because such people are not only immersed in the same life force, the same love, the same connectiveness, but they are also walking in the same rule of faith - the same Torah, obeying the same commandments, observing the same festivals, doing the same things at the appointed times of Yahweh. Such people become a nation and a culture all on their own - a society of common identity and purpose. And that we call the Kingdom of God - Zion - the gathering of Yahweh's own. That is what the New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh) is all about and that is the message that I am bringing you today. This is the air that I, and my brethren and sisters, breathe, the life we live for; and for us, nothing else really matters. It is the alpha and omega of our being, and the cause of our great joy and shalom. This we invite you to come to, most earnestly, and with love. The investment will cost you everything you have but return you an endless dividend.
May Yahweh's countenance shine upon you and bless you and lead you to embrace the fullness of His Light. Invite him to remove the natural man or woman completely and plant within you His glorious image. Amen.
- Oswald Chambers, Biblical Psychology (Marshall, Morgan & Scott, London, 1962).
- James S. Trimm, Hebraic-Roots Version of the New Testament (Hurst, Texas, 2001)
- The Scriptures (Institute for Scripture Research, Northriding, South Africa, 1998)
- David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament (Clarksville, Maryland, 1989)
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Last updated on 29 October 2002
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