Stop Hiding and Live Life
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday, 11 June 2005
Something rather remarkable has been happening in our household this last week as Yahweh has been confirming to us the two-or-three witness principle of revelation (Dt.19:15). It began with my wife who had an identical dream to her 10 year old cousin. The dream was about an issue of trust. Of course, both were amazed when they shared their respective dreams with each other and were, as a result, able to discuss and start resolving the issue in question. The long and short of the dream was that whenever someone goes against something a mother believes in, her daughter or son will instinctively defend his or her mother no matter whether what the mother believes is right or wrong. The dream illustrated the complexities of human nature and how very important it is that we have community so that we can all be mirrors for each other as we strive to work out our salvation in love and truth. It reminded us that in order to become images of Christ that we have to work hard to abandon false patterning in ourselves.
I want to begin today's sermon by drawing your attention to a passage of scripture which perhaps we tend to read a little abstractly. Let's take a look at that now:
"If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:9-11, NKJV).
"I have come that they may have life ....". Now ask anyone on the street what they mean by 'living life' and you are bound to get different answers. A common insult in America is to tell someone to "get a life" as though their behaviour was anti-living. This can be leveled at all kinds of people, including Christians preaching the Gospel. The life that Yah'shua (Jesus) is here speaking of is not, however soul-life but resurrection-life. There's a huge difference between the two. When someone says, for instance, that young people need to go out into the world and experience 'life', they are usually refering to 'soul-life' or 'psyche-life'. We seek for psyche-life in the absence of resurrection-life because it is the only way we can feel 'alive'. And it's one of the most common traps that unbelievers and believers fall into. So what's the difference?
A psyche- or soul-life is a life lived to fulfill the supposed needs of self. Everywhere you go you will find people defining their lives. They do this by deciding what things make them feel happy or safe and they then go and fill their lives with these things. This is called soul-life. It can be hobbies, friends, career, romance, both lawful and unlawful in terms of Yahweh's Torah. You can be morally living your soul-life or you can be immoral, but either way it's still soul-life. And Yah'shua (Jesus) gives us an interesting illustration. Here it is:
"Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17:32-33, NKJV).
Now when you hear people cite that scripture, they usually leave out the sentence, "Remember Lot's wife." Normally when that passage it cited, people are thinking about service or self-sacrifice. And there's no doubt that this is a part of the message that Yah'shua (Jesus) is trying to get across to His disciples. However there's more, and He wants us to understand His words in terms of the experience of Lot's wife.
We know very little about this lady other than at first she trusted her husband and left the doomed cities of the plains with him and their two daughters. And then, after they had left and were seeking safety from the destruction Yahweh was about to unleash on these evil places, she suddenly got an urge to look back, breaking the commandment given by the angel not to do so. Why did she look back? Was it to see the fireworks display? Why did Yah'shua (Jesus) link this event to losing one's life? It is because she suddenly missed the things of the world that she had left behind in Sodom and yearned for them. Her friends, extended family, way of life ... who knows what it is she missed, but whatever it was, her soul suddenly yearned for them. Leaving the city into the unknown upon the instruction of an angel was obviously not enough for her. Her faith was weak. And yet she had experienced miracles in her life. She had seen Yahweh's Messengers the day before turn those evil people blind who had wanted their angelic guests for their sexual pleasure. Perhaps she had been upset by her husband's ill-advised though culturally understandable solution to the threat of the Sodomites to rape their male guests when he offered his daughters in exchange. We don't know what her thinking was. We don't know what she felt. But what we do know is that she yearned back to her old way of life and was destroyed because of her lack of faith and disobedience.
"Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it". Whether her motives were altruistic or carnal is not as important as the fact that she chose to save her soul-life rather than abandon it to the destruction raining down on the condemned cities. The part of her soul that was unredeemed - the carnal, soul-nature, the Babylonian nature, if you like, overpowered her spiritual nature and she longed back to 'Babylon'. Now I am not saying she was an evil person. Somehow I very much doubt that. After all, she was married to a good man who had made a mistake in choosing to live in the cities under the lure of wealth instead of imitating Abraham who chose the simple life close to Yahweh. I am sure she was a typical, decent, ordinary person who wished no harm to anyone. So what was her weakness? Her weakness was that she was double-minded, and a double-minded man, as we know, is unstable in all his ways (Jas.1:8; 2 Pet.2:14), like the patriarch Reuben who was told in his patriarchal blessing that he was as "unstable as water" and because of this would never excel but remain mediocre, accomplishing little (Gen.49:4; cp. Prov.5:6).
"Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it". Lot's wife sought to save her soul - not her physical life (which would have been saved by following the spiritual path of following Lot out of Sodom and not looking back) but her soul-life - her psychic way of doing things.
Now earlier Yah'shua (Jesus) had explained in greater depth what He meant by these words. Let's remind ourselves of them:
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:23-26, NKJV).
What this means, very simply, is this: losing your soul-life means being prepared to give up those soulish things, including those things which are lawful, for the sake of the Kingdom. Your hobbies, interests, friends, and such like. Now most of us aren't interested in "gaining the whole world". We are not like those greedy businessmen who want to eat up one company after another and increase their wealth limitlessly. That is an extreme example. But whether you are a business tycoon living for the thrill of power and wealth, or a simple person who just wants one or two simple hobbies or interests to the exclusion of the Kingdom, the same problem remains: you are living for your soul-life, you're hiding from true life - the resurrection-life of Yah'shua (Jesus) which demands, as the condition for receiving it, that you sacrifice all your soul-ties to the world and live for Him according to Torah-truth.
What Yah'shua (Jesus) is telling you in these profound words of truth, is not that we should not have a soul-life - a life imbued with psychic life - but that if you consciously or unconsciously sets out to save it - preserve it, enhance it, then you will lose it, because you cannot seek to both preserve and enhance the soul-life and have the Gospel- or spiritual-life! You cannot go in two directions because that is what makes a soul double-minded and unstable. If you love your soul-life - that energy within you that you seek to use or enhance in order to find pleasure in the people and things around you - and seek to preserve it, unwilling to set it aside because you have used it as a refuge and a place to hide from Yahweh, then you will lose it. I guarantee it. You can't take it with you into the next life. The psychic life belongs to the physical body and when that dies, the psyche dies with it. Do you understand what I am saying? Yahweh gave you psychic life so that your spirit could live here in the physical world. And yes, He wants you to enjoy physical and psychic life too. Only there's one problem, and it's this: sin, carnality, and the fleshy-nature all reside in that physical-psychic body and is de facto an enemy of God. It contains the Adamic nature. "Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4, NKJV). And if you try to appease or fulfill it in any way by seeking to meet it's supposed needs and demands, it will lead you away from God even if your desires are not to harm anyone or anything. Sins of omission are no less evil than sins of commission.
The message of Yah'shua (Jesus) is clear and challenging: If you love your soul-life - your psychic-life - and seek to preserve it, with or without Christ (and please note that well), you will lose it. But if, on the other hand, you deliberately lose it by sacrificing it - giving it up - for Christ, the Gospel, the Kingdom, and the brethren, it will be preserved. And how will it be preserved. Because it will be caught up in the resurrection-life! The apostle John records the same thing but a little differently, so one presumes that Yah'shua (Jesus) taught this principle many, many times. This is what He said:
"He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:25, NKJV).
Please note that here Yah'shua (Jesus) says, "he who hates his life in this world". This is a strong word. You see, Lot's wife just didn't hate life in the world. The truth is she liked it. Part of her enjoyed it. And on her way out of the city of destruction she suddenly yearned for it and wanted to turn back. She didn't have to go back to the city to be destroyed - just desiring it idolatrously, just looking at it with yearning to be there with her friends, family and others, was enough to deal the fatal blow, and turn her into a pillar of salt - dead physically, and lifeless spiritually, frozen in time, no longer growing. The spirit of the world cancels out the spirit of God. You just can't have both of them. It has to be one or the other. And if you're facing that dilemma, the only solution is decisive action, an act of the will to turn away and not look back.
The test of the Christian life is a simple one. John tells us in one of His epistles: "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16-17, NKJV). The brethren here are the Bride of Christ, those serving in the Kingdom. We are not commanded to lay down our lives for the world for that would be a futile gesture that would cost us eternity. We are to sacrifice for Zion, and the inhabitants of Zion, not the world system. And when you do that, there is a very, very important consequence which really rubs up against the soul life, something that Paul understood perfectly well when he wrote to the Corinthians: "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved" (2 Cor.12:15-16, NKJV).
Now what did Paul mean by that - "the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved"? If you are loving in the resurrection-life of Yah'shua (Jesus) - and that means obeying His commandments, living Torah, becoming a peculiar and separate people, how is the world going to view you? Will it love you? Of course not. It will despise you. The more you love Yahweh, the less the world will love you, until it comes to hate you and openly persecutes you (Jn.15:20). You know that. You know what Yah'shua (Jesus) taught, and you know also that He said that our worst enemies would be those in our own families, who demand our soul-love to the exclusion of resurrection-love because they do not love the Lord of the Resurrection (Mt.7:6; 10:36). So what will you do? Will you allow yourselves to be torn between the two? If you are, and chose to love the unsaved with soul-love, then you will lose the Master. I guarantee it. Paul knew it. For the more he loved the brethren - the Messianic Community - the less the double-minded and those of the world loved him. And we all know how he and the other apostles ended their lives.
This is the price of resurrection-life. This, as I said last week, is building your life on a "solid Christian foundation". And if you believe anything else, you are not only deceiving yourselves and those who are under your charge, but you are gambling with the eternities.
You see, the carnal soul who is basically 'decent' but who abandons the spiritual life and the Kingdom, finds substitutes. He finds his comfort in sacrificing, not for his brethren, but for the world, whether his own unsaved family members or his friends. He finds safety in doing all that Yah'shua (Jesus) commands us to do for the brethren - the saved - for those who are not. That way the soul-life comforts itself by claiming it is being 'spiritual'. It isn't. It is loving the world, not Yah'shua (Jesus), and it is not bringing the Word of Life to these unsaved souls either, because no matter how much we love them with soul-life, they remain in their sins and headed towards destruction. The only way to save them is to abandon the soul-life for the Kingdom and allow Yah'shua (Jesus) to catch it up in the resurrection-life.
So just who is going to heaven? Just who possesses this resurrection-life? John tells us in the Book of Revelation: "And they overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Rev 12:10-12, NKJV). Now these lives they did not love to the death were not just their physical lives but their psychic lives too - the things they wanted in life to be happy and safe.
On Monday morning my wife and I dreamed dreams about the same thing. My wife dreamed about two people we know and love very well. Both had bought ships and were owning them. These ships were their soul-lives, the vessels that take them through life in which they feel safe and secure. They represent the ways these two people have become set in, precisely defined by what they believe will preserve their lives. One of them had sails and on the top sales were formed into scary teeth shapes to scare anyone who got too close, who might disturb this illusion of security. I have seen this woman in visions - I have seen the demons swarming around her head like flies, whispering and sometimes shouting lies into her ears to keep her bound. Two contrary natures were at war with her. Both of these women live in a city which Yahweh says will be destroyed by fire, like Sodom and Gomorra were. Both are women like Lot's wife who turned back and sought safety in the familiarity of the carnal womb. Both are women we care very deeply for and want to see safe and delivered in Christ.
A week ago I was talking with one of my adopted daughters who is currently abroad and we were praying together. She has had a terrible life of abuse, pain, torture, loneliness and unhappiness owing to the fact she was raised in a devil-worshipping cult. The plans for her final escape kept going wrong, as we discovered, because of this pesky soul-life which wished to remain independent. I know, I have been there. We have all been there. And we are all seeking to crucify it. As we were praying as to what she should now do, Yahweh spoke to her. And this is what she said he told her: "He wants me to learn how to live ... really live. To come out of hiding and connect to life. Geesh ... nothing like asking the impossible!" I had to smile when I heard this, not because I was insensitive to her struggles and pains, but because this is a message to all of us who may be hiding in the soul-life. Yahweh does not want us to be shadows but living abundantly. Remember what He said? Well, Paul said the same thing to Titus: "(Christ) saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), whom He poured out on us abundantly through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) our Saviour" (Titus 3:5-6, NKJV). Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep" (John 10:10-13, NKJV).
So what does the hireling care about? Himself - his soul-life. And when the going gets tough, he runs and abandons those he has responsibility for. What must he do? Repent - change direction. He must stop the picky, petty, annoying carnal life, and stop hiding in the ship of his own soul. He must come out of himself and live life - the resurrection-life! He must stop defending himself and start defending the truth he is aligning himself to, and return to the sheepfold. He must stop sacrificing for the world and sacrifice for the brethren. In short, he must return home. He must return to Yahweh. And he can do that like Zion returning to her Lord, full of gladness and praise, or he can do it like the first wife of David, who despised her husband because he praised Yahweh in a way that that she thought was 'inappropriate'. Yet who of the two had life? And who had it abundantly? Mikal died a bitter and lonely woman because she despised the things of Yahweh and chose instead her own soul-life.
The second woman my wife dreamed about explained to her that she did not like blue skies and warm sun but preferred a layer of clouds that would protect her from the extreme brightness and heat. The bright light of truth upsets the soul-life with its illusiory comfort and protection. My wife reacted with sadness and irritation, and passionately wished that she and others we know would start living life so that we could all have communion in Yah'shua (Jesus). For what communion is there in soul-life? There is none because there cannot be any, since no two soul-lives are the same, and soul-life is spiritual death. How different this is in Christ, for as death is swallowed up in victory in Christ, so is the deadliness of soul-life in the resurrection life of Yah'shua (Jesus).
True life is resurrection-life. And resurrection-life is life abundant, ever changing, ever growing, but above all, living - living for Yah'shua (Jesus) and living for the brethren. You will find no other definition of life in the Bible. When we do this, our soul-life is caught up and our psyche becomes alive and vital. When we do this, living for the King and the Kingdom, united with our spouses, our children, and our brethren in this great and noble task, we receive not only abundantly but a fullness. Do I understand those who are hiding? Very much so. I have been there. I have seen its futility. Please don't hide. Come on out. Dare to live in the Messiah. Dare to unite with His people. Dare to be happy - truly happy. Amen.
This page was created on 6 June 2005
Last updated on 6 June 2005
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