Full text of renowned Bible teacher Derek Prince’s sermon: ‘Who Has Bewitched You? — The Only Basis for Righteousness’ (Part 2)
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Derek Prince – Bible Teacher
Tonight I’m going to preach on something that will require your full attention. I’m going to preach on one of the main themes of the New Testament, but it’s one on which, I imagine, some of you have never heard a message in all your church going.
I pointed out… well we’ll go back to Galatians 3:1 for a moment.
Galatians 3:1: ‘O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified?’ Some of the texts add other words but that’s not important.
I pointed out that there is a sinister force at work in the church of which the Satanic purpose is to obscure the cross, because once the cross is obscured, Satan can reassert his dominion over us. The only basis of our liberty and our victory is the cross.
Consequently it is a continuing major purpose of Satan to conceal from Christians what was accomplished at the cross. Yesterday we looked at all that Jesus obtained for us through the cross and I said, the cross is the only and all sufficient basis for the total provision of God for every area of our lives. We do not need any other basis, but the cross, and what’s provided through the cross is salvation in its fullest sense, total salvation for spirit soul and body, for time and for eternity.
WITCHCRAFT OBSCURES THE CROSS
Tonight we’re going to look at another fact about the cross which, in my opinion, is almost, I would say, is generally ignored by the professing Christian church to their great loss, and that is that the cross abolished the law as a means of achieving righteousness with God. Not merely the law but law.
I have to explain that in many places in the New Testament, in Romans, Galatians and elsewhere, where the most English versions say ‘The Law’, which would indicate the law of Moses, the Greek has not got the definite article, it’s ‘law’. It’s not merely the law of Moses, it’s law has been abolished by the death of Jesus as a means of achieving righteousness with God.
Now that sounds simple. Some of you say, well we always knew that but the matter of fact is, when you apply it the results are startling, they are very controversial. And I realize I’m in a church called ‘Grace Baptist Church’. I’ve just come from another church which was also called ‘Grace’ and I say this without any specific reference to ‘Grace Baptist Church’, but my comment is that most of the churches that talk about grace know nothing of it in experience. They are entrapped in legalism.
Now let’s look at some Scriptures and for every Scripture I give you, I could give you two more that I’m not giving. Let’s turn to Romans chapter 3 and verse 20.
Romans 3:20. Now let me just mention about this question of the word ‘the’. There is a big edition of the New American Standard Bible with marginal notes which in its text puts words in italics that were not in the original, and that version puts ‘the’ in italics everywhere it’s not in the original. If you want to check you can do it. It’s not the small version of the NASB, it’s a big one, it’s a very useful version, it’s got very excellent cross references and headings and it’s a real attempt to be accurate.
Romans 3:20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in God’s sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Now ‘the’ is not there in the original. Therefore by the deeds of law, no flesh will be justified, will achieve righteousness, in the sight of God. No flesh includes even Baptists because Baptists are flesh. It includes Lutherans, it includes Catholics, it includes black people, white people, Asians, Africans, it doesn’t matter. No flesh, no human person will ever achieve righteousness with God by keeping a law.
Have you accepted that? It’s a profound statement. Romans 7. Let me mention last October, I taught the first eighth chapters of Romans to a mainly Jewish congregation in Israel and I’ll tell you that took grace because even non-believing Jews are tremendously overawed, in a sense, by the law of Moses.
We parted friends but there was a real… it was a real test of everybody’s grace, actually I think I won them over. The biggest single problem for believers in Israel is the law, see. It’s a very difficult one to resolve, too.
All right. Romans 7:5-6: ‘For when we were in the flesh, (notice that), the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.’ That’s an amazing statement, isn’t it. The passions of sins which were by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
But now we have been delivered from the law. Who’s we? We is us, that’s right. We have been delivered from the law. Would you say that with me? We have been delivered from the law, having died to that by which we were held, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
Note just notice that phrase, now we have been delivered from the law.
And then one more Scripture in Romans chapter 10 verse 4…
Romans 10:4: ‘For Christ is the end of the law… I think that ‘the’ is not there either if I remember rightly.
“For Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Whether they’re Jews, or Gentiles, Catholics or Protestants, black or white, Russian or American or Chinese, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, do you believe in His atoning death? Then that is the end of the law for you… (now let’s be careful)… for righteousness.
The Bible is so exact: As a means to achieving righteousness the death of Christ is the end of the law. It’s not the end of the law as a part of the word of God, it’s not the end of the law as a part of Israel’s history, or as a part of Israel’s culture or as a subject in which to meditate day and night. But it is the end of the law as a means to achieving righteousness with God.
Now when witchcraft obscured the cross for the Galatians, the result was that they went back to trying to achieve righteousness by law. You see that? It would never have happened if witchcraft hadn’t obscured the cross, you see?
And this is what Paul says to them in Galatians 4:9-11: ‘But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I’m afraid for you that I have bestowed labor on you in vain.’
He said, if you’re going back to legalism, I’ve wasted my time on you. What would he say to the churches of America today? It’s a question to ponder.
And then in Galatians 5:1-4: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
Now when Paul talks about a yoke of bondage what does he mean? Legalism, that’s right.
“Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing and I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.” In other words, you can’t just pick out one commandment of the law and say I’m going to keep that. If you start to keep any commandment you’re obligated to keep them all.
“You have become estranged from Christ, you who are attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace.” Now it doesn’t mean I think that they were lost souls, it means they were no longer living and walking in the grace of God.
Why? Because they were attempting to be justified by law.
Then Paul goes on to point out in Galatians that coming back under the law brings us under a curse.
Turn back to Galatians 3 for a moment and look with me in verses 10 through 14:
Galatians 3:10-13: ‘For as many as are of the works of the law, as those who are trying to achieve righteousness by keeping the law, are under the curse, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”
You understand? If you start keeping the law you’ve got to continue to keep it all, all the time, there’s no other option, and if you don’t keep it all the time you are what? Cursed, that’s right. Cursed is everyone who does not continue.
“But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident for the just shall live by faith. Yet the law is not of faith but the man who does them, (that’s keeps the commandments) shall live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”… We were asked tonight to picture the cross. If you can picture Jesus hanging on the cross you’re looking at a curse.
He bore the curse that we might be redeemed from the curse. But if we voluntarily go back to seeking righteousness by observing a law, we have come back under the curse.
Now you could say, well that applies to the Jews and it only applies to the law of Moses. That is not true. But let me give you one scripture that applies to everybody; Jeremiah 17 and verse 5…
Jeremiah 17:5: ‘Thus saith the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.”’ That’s the corresponding curse to the Galatian one.
When we begin to rely on our own efforts to keep the law, we’re trusting in man, we’re making flesh our arm, our heart departs from the Lord and we come under a curse. I would say that basically is the history of nearly every Christian denomination. Take the Methodists, without being offensive, they began in the grace of God but it wasn’t long before they began to rely on their rules and their regulations and their system and their heart departed from the Lord and the terrible decline in Methodism, and I’m not attacking Methodism, I say this because I’m a great admirer of John Wesley, but the terrible decline in Methodism, by which it’s become a stronghold of liberalism, is due to that one primary call, turning from the grace of God which is supernatural and coming back under law, and that will happen to any group that does it.
You see, let me emphasize this again: if you’re going to be made righteous by the law, you’ve got to keep the whole law all the time. You can’t keep it on Wednesday and omit it on Thursday, or you can’t keep some part of it all the time and not others, you’ve got to keep the whole law all the time.
James chapter 2 verses 10 and 11…
James 2:10-11: ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all or answerable for all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.’
If you stumble in any one point you are a breaker of the entire law. That’s totally logical.
See, I was a professor of logic and the thing that always impresses me about the Bible is, it’s totally logical, it never transgresses the rules of logic.
Let’s see also, just to prove this every way, see, what Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 4 verses 1 and 2:
Deuteronomy 4:1-2: “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of our fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD our God which I command you.”
Understand? The law is one single, complete system. You are not permitted to add to it, you are not permitted to take away from it. This very closely concerns orthodox Judaism because they’ve added endless commandments to the requirements of Moses, but Moses told them not to do it.
But let’s leave the Jews out because we’re not really concerned with them here.
Now I use the word legalism. This is usually used as a form of abuse of some other group, you know, they’re legalistic, we’re not, they are.
Well I don’t want to use it as a form of abuse, I want to define it and I’ll give you two definitions of legalism.
DEFINITIONS OF LEGALISM
Number one, legalism is attempting to achieve righteousness with God by keeping laws or rules, number one.
Number two, is imposing on people requirements to achieve righteousness with God which God has not imposed. You are not free to add to God’s demands. Now almost every professing Christian church has done that.
I have a real wonderful relationship with many Catholics but they have imposed endless commandments which God hasn’t imposed. Whoever said you have to go to mass every Sunday, where can you find God requiring that, or confession every Friday?
Now I’m not saying that to attack the Catholic church, I respect the Catholic church but I’m just simply pointing out to you that the whole church is riddled with legalism and I mean, I’m not saying… see every church has got its own set of rules. The Baptists have theirs, the Pentecostals have theirs, the Methodists have theirs, the Catholics have theirs and basically every group despises the other group because they’re keeping a different set of rules.
How did that come about? Now if I tell you it was due to witchcraft, you’d think I’m strange but it was. Witchcraft is the sinister deceiving force which has blinded the eyes of Christians to truth which is manifest. You don’t have to dig somewhere to find this, it’s on every other page of the Bible.
Now, I’m going to make a number of statements.
ONLY TWO RELIGIONS IN THE WORLD
As I understand the Bible and history, there are only two forms of religion in the world and they started right at the beginning of human history. One is the religion of Abel, the other is the religion of Cain.
Abel brought a propitiatory sacrifice with shed blood, acknowledging that he could not achieve righteousness by his own efforts.
Cain brought the best of the fruits of the soil but he ignored the fact that God had already cursed that soil, so he offered God the fruit of something that was under a curse.
What were the results? Brothers and sisters, I tell you this is relevant to our time. Abel’s religion produced a martyr, and Cain’s religion produced a murderer and if you trace the religion of works through the Bible and on into human history, it has produced a long succession of murderers.
Who were the ones that got Jesus put to death? Not the tax collectors or the prostitutes but who? The legalists, that’s right.
Who were the ones that have been responsible for burning people at the stake down through the centuries? Not the immoral people, not the ‘wicked’ people but the religious people.
Is that right? I was listening to a man talking the other day about his lawyer and he said, his lawyer told him this, if there’s one thing I stay out of, it’s church fights, he said, they’re the worst.
But if you’ve been through a church fight you know there’s nothing quite so mean and ugly as a Christian in the flesh. That right? And the world stands aloof and says, if that’s religion I don’t want any part of it.
Now, another Bible truth is, law and grace cannot mix, you’ve got to be in one or the other, you cannot be in both at the same time, it’s not difficult, it’s impossible.
Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Okay? Not, but. If you’re under grace, you’re not under law; if you’re under law, you’re not under grace. And if you’re under law sin will have dominion over you.
The only reason sin cannot have dominion over us is when we’re under grace, but if we’re under law, sin has dominion over us.
Galatians 2:21: “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
If we could achieve righteousness by keeping the law there was no need for Jesus to die. Now that is a terrible situation in which to find yourself, you are in fact saying to Jesus, you really didn’t need to die, all the agony that you went through was a waste of time.
See, I hope you can see how serious this issue is. I’d almost like to ask, but perhaps, may I ask… how many of you actually heard a thorough, systematic presentation of the difference between law and grace?
Well, that’s about maybe 20 people, see. No wonder the church is in darkness. I suggest to you, if you read the New Testament with an open mind, it’s one of the main themes of the whole New Testament. Who’s kept us from studying it, who’s blinded our eyes? What’s the force? Witchcraft, that’s right.
If you turn on in Galatians 4, we won’t read the passage but at the end of that chapter, Paul compares Abraham’s two wives to the two covenants: Hagar the Egyptian, who was a slave woman, corresponds to the covenant of the law, Sarah, who is a free woman, corresponds to the covenant in Jesus Christ, the covenant of grace.
And Paul points out, when Isaac arrived, Ishmael had to go, and the Scripture says, ‘cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.’ That is, law cannot coexist with grace, it has to be one or the other, that’s the issue.
Everybody like to have one foot in one camp, one foot in the other, God doesn’t permit it, He has eliminated it.
Look also for a moment in Romans 8:14 and stay in Galatians because you’re going to have to turn there. Romans 8:14, one of the crucial verses of Romans:
Romans 8:14: ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.’ Now the word sons means mature sons. You become a little baby by being born of the Spirit of God but you grow to maturity by being led by the Spirit of God and only those Christians come to maturity who are regularly led by the Spirit of God. That’s why we have so many retarded Christians because nobody has ever taught them how to be led by the Spirit.
How many of you have heard a systematic sermon on how to be led by the Spirit? Well that’s a bit better but it’s less than half, you understand.
Now, I’m only doing this because my eyes have been opened to see the terrible condition of the church, and I tell you honestly, I shed tears over it, I’m not attacking anybody.
All right. So how do you become a mature son of God? By being regularly led by the Spirit of God. It’s a continuing present tense. But
Galatians 5:18 says: What does it say? ‘But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.’ Okay. So in order to become a mature son of God you have to be led by the Spirit but if you want to be led by the Spirit you cannot be under the law. In other words, under the law you cannot achieve spiritual maturity.
Paul said, the law was simply the senior slave that brought us to the teacher. The law is not the teacher, the job of the law was what they call… the Greek word is pedagogue, the one who led the son of the wealthy family to the tutor, but the pedagogue didn’t teach the son, he just took him to the tutor, see, that’s what the law did. Didn’t teach us, just took us to the Teacher, that’s Christ and the Holy Spirit.
All right. Now, if I were just to say what I’ve said now I could leave you in a real difficult situation because law and rules have a place in life.
THE PLACE OF LAW
Please understand clearly, I’m not saying there’s no place for law or for rules. Just to take one example. If we had no traffic laws we’d be in a state of perpetual chaos, you understand.
What we need to find is, what is the place of laws in the life of a Christian, and this is, what I’m offering you as my understanding of it. We do not achieve righteousness by keeping any law.
Ephesians 2:8-10, which is familiar to all of us, I’m sure: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anybody should boast.”
So we are saved by grace, we achieve righteousness by grace, not by works, and if we try to achieve it by works, God does not accept us.
And incidentally, Paul says, what motivation is ruled out? Not of works lest anybody should boast.
The actual secret motive of humanity for trying to achieve righteousness by works is pride. And you’ll find that all religions of works appeal to human pride. You take Islam, which is totally a religion of works. I think they’re some of the proudest people on earth, they are absolutely convinced that they are right and nobody else is right.
And let me tell you, if you ever meet any group that says, we are the ones who are right, if you want to be right you must join us, you can be sure of one thing, if you join them you’re wrong. That attitude is totally contrary to the Spirit of Christ.
But if we have been made righteous by faith, we will receive the grace to observe the laws which are appropriate in our lives, you understand? How many of you know it needs grace to observe the speed limits and how many of you don’t have the grace, don’t put your hands up.
I believe speed limits should be observed by all Christians. We’re told to be obedient to every law of the ruling authorities, they’re made for our best interests.
But setting that aside, whatever laws are appropriate, once we’ve been made righteous by faith the grace is available to keep those laws but we never achieve righteousness by keeping law. Does that sink in, can you see the difference?
Now, there are, there are many, many commandments in the New Testament, I think the epistle of James has got more than 60 things you’re told to do or not to do, but the way we do them is different. You know what I’m saying.
Let’s take one example from, let’s take first Peter, chapter 1. Well I think we’ll wait for that, I’m coming to that at the end, excuse me.
Our observance of God’s requirements as Christians is progressive. You see that? How many of you would agree for instance that if you were a Christian 10 years ago you did a lot of things you wouldn’t be doing today because you know better, you have gained better control over your tongue we hope, you have better control over your emotions. There’s a whole lot of areas where you’ve progressed, that’s right, that’s part of Christianity.
See, if you come under the law of Moses you’ve got to start keeping the whole thing right from the first moment but in coming in faith to Jesus your righteousness is progressive.
Let’s look for instance in Philippians chapter 1 for a moment, verses 9, 10 and 11:
Philippians 1:9-11: ‘And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent or the things that are different, or you may learn to distinguish between things that differ, that you may be sincere without offense till the day of Christ being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.’
You understand, it’s an increasing love, it’s an increasing knowledge, it’s an increasing sensitivity to the will of God and to the requirements of God. You don’t do it all right the day you have become born again. How many of you would agree to that? Yeah, all right.
But now here’s the vital thing that most Christians have not grasped. Even when you’re not doing the right thing, as long as you’re not deliberately rebelling, your faith is counted to you for righteousness.
Okay? What a relief. Let’s look in Romans 4 for a moment… Romans chapter 4 verses 4 and 5, this is based on the example of Abraham:
Romans 4: 4-5: “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.” In other words, if you keep all the law all the time you don’t need God’s grace, you’ve achieved righteousness. But to him who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness…”
So if you want to be justified, what’s the first thing you have to do? Stop working. To him who does not work. Okay? Stop trying to earn it because you can’t. Believe your faith is counted for righteousness. From then on you may struggle, you may stumble, you may fall, but as long as your heart’s attitude is right, God is reckoning your faith to you as righteousness all the time.
What a relief! What a release from condemnation. What impressed me one time was when I saw that at the Last Supper, Jesus said to Peter, “Before this night is out, you’re going to deny Me three times.” And then He said, “But I’ve prayed for you.” He didn’t say, I’ve prayed for you that you won’t deny Me… He said, I’ve prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. Because as long as you continue believing, that’s it; you understand?
I can almost feel burdens lifting from some people. Just keep believing, don’t cast away your faith. You keep believing, God will straighten you up.
It’s a remarkable thing about Abraham. It was in Genesis 15 that his faith was counted him for righteousness. After that, he did some very reprehensible things. He let his wife be taken into a gentile harem and was willing to actually trade her off for his own life which was not admirable behavior. God didn’t endorse his behavior but his faith was still counted to him for righteousness.
You see what I’m saying? You can’t earn righteousness, you just have to have it reckoned to you.
All right. Now, I’ve analyzed, I’ve given careful consideration to this issue for years, I think, because of my philosophic background, the minute I started to read the New Testament as a believer, I saw, this is a major issue and I struggled with it more or less on my own, because I haven’t had anyone to turn to. I’ve never found anybody who could unfold this to me, I’ve had to work it out for myself and no doubt there’s a lot more to learn.
MOTIVATION OF LEGALISM: DESIRE TO BE INDEPENDENT OF GOD
Now the real error of legalism is the desire to be independent of God, see, that’s the root. You see the initial fall was motivated not by a desire to do the wrong thing but by a very worthy desire. Satan said, ‘You will be like God.’
Well what’s wrong with being like God, what was the error? They were going to do it without depending on God and something was born into Adam’s race which has been reproduced in every child of God ever since, we’d rather be independent of God, it doesn’t suit us to have to depend on God.
And I’ll think you find if you have struggles in your life that’ll be one of the major basic struggles, is learning to depend on the Holy Spirit every moment.
When I was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit, as long as I didn’t go to church I did pretty well. Now you may not understand that but I was a soldier in the desert, I couldn’t go to church. For three years I lived by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, I had nothing else.
Then I started going to church and I got involved in all this legalism but there was something in me that did appeal to. I mean, in fact it was pride but in those days I would have to say, for me the Holy Spirit was like an emergency vehicle. When I was in real trouble I turned to the Holy Spirit, you understand? But generally speaking, I made my own decisions, I’d plan my own life, I found my own answers.
I was tied to the Bible, so in a way I was safe, but I have found it extremely difficult to come to the place where I’m dependent on the Holy Spirit moment by moment, but there is no other place in the Christian life: As many as are regularly, continually being led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God.
What most of us do is, if it’s a major problem we say, oh God I need You. If it’s a minor problem you say, I think I can handle this myself, you know. The thing is, you don’t really know which are major and which are minor problems. As you may handle a minor problem yourself make a mess of it and discover it was a major problem after all.
Now the desire to be independent of God is the root of all sin. It’s not the desire to do wrong, it’s this Adamic root of independence. And I’ll tell you something and this I know from the daughters I raised. It is projected onto our young people systematically in the schools and in the culture of this day.
You are a freak if you don’t do your own thing. Don’t be dependent on anybody. The whole breakdown of family life is really due to this root of independence.
My friend Charles Simpson says, when you’ve said independent Baptist you said the same thing twice. Now he’s a Baptist, you understand, I don’t say things like that.
Let’s look in Romans 7 again. We’re going to come to Romans 7 several times in this study tonight. Romans 7, verse 5 and then verse 7 and 8….
Romans 7:5: ‘For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.’
How many problems are caused in the church by selfish ambition, to take only one? How many ministers are motivated by selfish ambition? How many of us in service for God are motivated by selfish ambition? And it tears the church apart.
The root is not changing our theology, the root is dealing with the flesh, and I’m going to explain that to the best of my ability tomorrow morning, so I’m not going to go there now.
All right. What’s the alternative?
ALTERNATIVE: UNION WITH THE RESURRECTED CHRIST
Well let me give you my little example. I meant to give it earlier. The difference between law and grace, or the works of the law and being led by the Spirit, is like two different ways of making a journey. You’ve got to start from point A, you’ve got to get to point Z. You’re offered two ways. One is a map, the other is a personal guide. The map is the law, the personal guide is the Holy Spirit.
Now because of this thing in us that doesn’t want to depend on God, we say, give me the map, I’m smart, I could read a map, I can find my way. This is my little picture and a lot of it is taken from my own life, some from other people.
So the sun is shining, the highway is clear and you set out and say, well this is easy. But about 48 hours later there’s a storm, it’s totally dark, you’re lost in a forest on the verge of a cliff and you don’t know whether you’re facing north, south, east or west.
So in a pathetic voice you say, help, and a little, gentle voice which is the Holy Spirit says, can I help you?
And you say, oh Holy Spirit I need You; You’ve come just in time.
He says, ‘Give Me your hand, and I’ll lead you.’ And so He leads you out of the forest and onto the highway and after a while the sun rises and the birds are singing, and you can see the way and you say to yourself, you know I was pretty dumb to get so nervous, I could have gone out of that place by myself, I really think I can do it by the map.
And while you’re saying that the Holy Spirit has disappeared, He just isn’t there anymore. So you go out again and 48 hours later you’re in a bog and every step you take you sink a little deeper, and you know, you don’t have to sink much more and you’ll never get out. ‘Help!’
Holy Spirit says, can I help you?
Yes, You’ve come just in time, how I need You! Give Me your hand. He lifts you up, leads you out, sets you on the way.
Well then you say to the Holy Spirit… you know Holy Spirit, maybe You’d like to use the map.
And He says, well thank you but I know the way, I don’t need the map. Besides He says, as a matter of fact, I’m the one who made the map.
Now, He said, if you’ll stay with Me, I can tell you a whole lot about the map but don’t rely on the map. Okay?
See the little parable? How many of you’ve been in the bog? Generally speaking, I say to myself, how often does this have to happen before I learn that I cannot depend on myself, my cleverness, my righteousness, my experience. There’s only one person I can rely on, that’s the Holy Spirit and He’s so willing to be relied on, He never refuses when we see our need of Him.
All right. Now briefly I want to bring this to a positive conclusion. We are not made righteous by the keeping of law, we cannot find the way with the map.
What is the alternative? And I want to turn again to Romans chapter 7 and I want to suggest to you the alternative. I’m going to speak to you what I believe is the greatest ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and I have to tell you, I’ve never heard it preached in the charismatic movement and I mean I get around a lot, I mean, I’m in all sorts of circles.
Yes we read Romans chapter 7 verse 4, just to give you the text:
Romans 7:4: ‘Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead that we should bear fruit to God.’
Now if you look at the first six or seven verses of Romans chapter 7 you find Paul is using an analogy of marriage and it’s very important to follow it carefully, he says, now: If a woman is married to a man, she’s bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. So if, while her husband remains alive, she marries another man she will be called an adulteress.
Now in case I’m offending anybody or hurting anybody’s feelings, I don’t believe that applies in the situation where the husband is an adulterer because under the law of Moses the penalty was death, so he would never stay alive, you understand? That’s because I know there must be divorcees here and I just don’t want to say something that will bring you under condemnation. There’s a whole chapter on this, incidentally in my new book.
But now having cleared that obstacle out of the way: As long as the man remains alive the woman is not free to marry another man, if she does, she’ll be called an adulteress. But Paul says, if the husband dies, then she’s free to be married to another man and she won’t be called an adulteress.
Now the application is this, he says, under the law or through the law you are married to your fleshly nature, and as long as your fleshly nature remained alive you weren’t free to marry any other, see? But he said, when Christ died on the cross, your fleshly nature was put to death in Him. Our old man was crucified with Him.
Consequently, if you can see that the fleshly nature has been put to death you are now free to marry another without being an adulteress. Who is the one to whom we now are free to be married? The resurrected Christ, see? Now I believe that union is through the Holy Spirit and I believe it’s a very real union, it’s not just a figure of speech, and I believe that is the highest ministry of the Holy Spirit, is to grant us that living marriage union with the resurrected Christ, and, according to the nature of your husband, if you’re a woman, will be the nature of the child that you’ll bring forth.
So if you’re married to the flesh you’ll produce what? The works of the flesh. But if you’re married to the resurrected Christ by the Holy Spirit, what will you produce? The fruit of the Spirit which is? Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, see?
Now what I want to point out to you, it’s not a question of how hard you try, it’s a question of whom you’re married to, see, which for most of you is quite contrary to much of what you’ve been brought up with, because most of you, frankly, have been left struggling to do it by your own effort. It’s not a question of effort, it’s a question of union, it’s not a question of struggling, it’s a question of yielding, see.
Just sit there and relax for a moment, just think that over, I don’t have to struggle, I have to yield.
Jesus said in John 15:5: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ What branch of a vine ever had to make an effort to bring forth fruit, see.
How does it bring forth fruit? By being united with the stalk of the vine, that’s the way it is. All our religious efforts can never produce anything but the works of the flesh.
What do we have to focus on? Being united to the vine. Who is the vine? It’s Jesus, that’s right.
Romans 6:13. We could look at that, that’s the same truth in another form: I prefer the Old King James, “Do not yield yourselves as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but yield yourselves to God as being alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.’
The key word there is yield. You can’t do it, all your efforts won’t produce it but if you’ll yield to Jesus, He will do it without any effort. I don’t mean to say that the Christian life is easy or doesn’t demand hard work but that comes out of being yielded to Jesus. If you make the effort without being yielded to Jesus, you’ll be frustrated.
What I’m hoping to do tonight is to get you with a different focus. Forget your little set of rules, focus on Jesus. Now He’s a very law-abiding person, so if you’re related to Him you’ll keep the law, the law that He wants you to keep, you understand?
But you won’t keep it by trying to keep it, you’ll keep it by letting Him keep it through you. There was an elderly lady somewhere who had a reputation for leading a real victorious life and some younger woman asked her: what’s your secret?
Well, she said, ‘When the devil knocks at the door, I just let Jesus answer.’ That’s saying it in a very simple way, see. You’re no match for the devil, Jesus is.
Now let’s talk about this union for a little bit longer. Well, let me first of all give you the example I was going to give you first, from first Peter chapter 1. I don’t want to give you the impression there are no commandments in the Christian life, there are many. It’s a question of how you respond to them.
1 Peter 1:15-16: ‘But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, (and now he’s quoting from Leviticus 11:44), “Be holy, for I am holy.”
So there is a commandment of the Old Testament reaffirmed in the New Testament but the difference is the way we respond. In the Old Testament to be holy, in the book of Leviticus you had to keep endless laws. I mean, you couldn’t defile yourself with a dead body, if you touched a leper, I mean, you have to read them, they’re intensely complicated.
So, if you’re in that situation, you think of all the laws, am I keeping this one, am I keeping that one, did I do that, have I forgotten that, so on.
But in the New Testament, it says in 1 Corinthians 1:30, that Jesus has been made unto us wisdom and righteousness and holiness and redemption. So how do I respond? I let Jesus be holy in me, I yield myself to the holiness of Jesus. I don’t have to think of 53 different rules, I have to yield, see.
Okay now, I want to give this a practical application and we’re going to end with worship, if God permits and sets His seal upon it.
I want to turn to a very startling picture in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. I often tell people that if you’ve never been shocked by the Bible you’ve never really read it, because it says some very shocking things.
1 Corinthians 6:16-17: ‘Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For “the two,” God says, “shall become one flesh.” All right. We all understand what that’s talking about. Immorality, fornication, being immorally, physically united with a prostitute.
Okay. Now in that context, listen to what Paul says next: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Now you can’t take it out of its context, he’s talking about a union which is just as real as the sexual union but it’s not a physical union, it’s a spiritual union, that’s what it is to be married to the one who’s risen from the dead.
Now, it’s not our body that’s united to the Lord at this time. I believe, one day after the marriage supper, let’s not go into that but I think there’s a lot going to happen then. It’s not our soul that’s united to the Lord, it’s our spirit. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.
Your soul has theology and it’s probably overburdened with it, your spirit knows God, you see. The spirit is the God in-breathed part of man. That’s what brought man into being in the first place in the garden… the Lord breathed into his nostrils the breath of the spirit of life and that part of man never finds rest until it’s reunited with God.
You can try all the pleasures of the world, all the excitements, all the intellectual stimuli, but your spirit is not interested in intellectual stimuli or theology or philosophy, your spirit just wants God and it’s your spirit that can be united with God, just as really as the body of a man can be united with the body of a prostitute, see. Never separate those two verses. They’re totally different but the analogy is exact.
Now, HOW CAN WE ACHIEVE THIS UNION WITH THE LORD? I believe there’s one simple, basic answer and it is by worship. I believe worship is actually uniting your spirit with the Lord. We have to distinguish between thanksgiving, praise and worship.
Thanksgiving and praise are very right. We need to come into God’s gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, that’s the means of access to God. Otherwise we just stand outside the wall and cry, help. We have no access, because God calls His walls salvation and all the gates are praise. There is no way through the wall except by the gate of praise.
But once we’re there that’s not the ultimate, the ultimate is worship. And worship is primarily not an utterance, it’s an attitude. In the original languages every word that’s used for worship describes an attitude of the body. I don’t mean that there can be no utterance but it’s not the essence of it.
When Isaiah saw the Lord on His throne high and lifted up, in Isaiah chapter 6, we have the beautiful pictures of praise and worship. They said, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. That’s an utterance but they had six wings, with two wings they covered their face, with two they covered their feet and with two they flew. That’s worship and service.
Service is flying, worship is covering up. They used four wings for worship, two for service, you understand? That’s the correct proportion.
Let me tell you for a moment, you’re wonderfully attentive now, I feel the anointing of the Spirit on this meeting and I think I can go just a step further, Psalm 95, you see that’s what it means to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I’m not holding myself up as an example but at this point, if we’re going to get what God has for us here tonight we are all going to have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, primarily me, pray for me that I may be.
Psalm 95 is the progression:
‘Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.’ That’s loud boisterous praise which very much has its place but it’s not the termination.
‘For the Lord is the great God and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth, the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it and His hands formed the dry land.’
Now we come to worship: ‘Oh come, let us worship and bow down.’ Notice, it’s an attitude. So many times we sing, I bow down, and most of us don’t do it, you know, we miss something. Ruth and I, generally speaking, make a practice, if it says we bow down, we bow down, if it says let’s kneel down, we kneel down.
We evangelicals and Pentecostals don’t kneel nearly enough. Sometimes I think the Episcopalians overdo it but I mean our error is on the opposite side.
Oh come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God.
How do you demonstrate that He’s your God, by what? By worship, that’s right.
Worship is the sole prerogative of God. Whom you worship is your God. If you worship money it’s your God. But if you have the true God, your acknowledgment of Him is worshiping Him. We worship Him because He is our God.
Worshiping Him demonstrates He is our God. Then it says, ‘For we are the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hand.’
Now, it’s a strange thing but if you look in the text, verse 7 starts with the first part of the sentence that’s in the next verse, but it’s very appropriate because it says: ‘Today if you will hear His voice.’ When is the really safe time to hear the voice of the Lord? When you worship, that’s right. I mean we get utterances and prophecies and so on which are fine but I always check them out carefully. Is that really the Lord that’s speaking.
But when something comes to me when I’m worshiping I still check it out but I am disposed to believe it’s from God, because that’s when you really hear His voice, it’s when you’re worshiping.
For Further Reading:
- Preparing for Hard Times: David Wilkerson (Transcript)
- The Healing of the Troubled Mind: David Wilkerson (Transcript)
- Priscilla Shirer: You’re Right Where You Need to Be (Transcript)
- R.C. Sproul: What Is Evil & Where Did It Come From? (Transcript)
- Israel, Hamas, and End Times: Gary Hamrick (Transcript)