I am on my way to Chincoteauge Island to celebrate my 50th birthday. Before I left I checked my directions. I got out a spiral-bound notebook and wrote down every instruction, the left and right turns and the miles that I would go in between each in order to reach my destination. You might be wondering - Doesn’t she own a GPS?? I do:) but I wanted to have a back-up just in case something happens to my phone or my reception along the way. I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going and how to get there.
As I’m driving (using voice dictation to “write” this blog), I decided to focus on using my written directions, sort of as a challenge. That’s how we used to get everywhere, right? Before we all had a GPS device, we had to look at paper maps to figure out our way and check them during the trip to make sure we were still on track. It required us to pay attention, plan ahead, and double check where we were going - all along the way.
As a side note, it sure was helpful back then to have someone along on the journey to read the directions and check the maps for you so you didn’t always have to pull over to look at them yourself. GPS sure has made traveling by ourselves easier, hasn’t it? Hmmm. Not really sure that’s a good thing!
Anyway, while I’m mulling over which is better - my written directions or the GPS, this thought came to me: Both the written Word and the spoken Word are valid and powerful! In fact, they both come from the same source. All Scripture is breathed of YHWH and useful for straightening, correcting, and guiding us on The Way. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The Breath (Ruach) and the Word all come from the mouth of YHWH.
Valid and Powerful
The GPS is like the Ruach. YHWH says in the book of Isaiah, “Whichever way you go whether you turn to the right or the left you’ll hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the Way, walk in it!’” (Isaiah 30:21)
Many other places in Scripture talk about the Way, the Commandments that were written by the hand of YHWH in stone. (See my previous blog post entitled The Way) It stands to reason that the written Word was first spoken by the Ruach centuries ago and written down for our benefit. That was a time when there were no GPSs. The Ruach was available but was not on every believer all the time.
We now have the amazing gift of the indwelling Ruach, given at Shavuot/Pentecost after Yahushua’s resurrection. Each one of us was given the Ruach, our GPS, for walking in the Way. This Ruach is the Ruach of YHWH, our Elohim! It is not some other Ruach and some other way. The Ruach is the same yesterday , today and forever - past, present, and future. The same Ruach that indwells each person that has placed their faith in Yahushua has that same Ruach that raised Him from the dead dwelling in them. This Ruach is the same Ruach that inspired every word written in the Scriptures. (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, Romans 8:11)
Remember, the Scriptures at the time when the Ruach was given (Acts 2) was the Torah, the prophets and the writings. That’s it. The gospels had not been written, the letters by the apostles had not been written, nor had the revelation of Yahushua through John on the island of Patoms been given. All of these writings are also valid and inspired by the same Ruach, the same “GPS”. They will never contradict the written Word. Never. How could they when the same Ruach inspired both?!
This can be clearly seen by the test for a true prophet found in the book of Deuteronomy. Here we see that it doesn’t matter if what the so-called prophet says comes true. What matters is if he is speaking in line with the written Word - the Commandments. If he is not, Scripture says he is not to be listened to and must be stoned. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
There is no other Way but the Way given by the Father, through the Ruach since the beginning of Creation. And Yahushua came as the Way, the Truth, and the Life - the Word in the flesh. (John 1:1-5)
The Same Way
We must recognize that the Way was established in the garden of Eden. And it was guarded. The same word, ‘shamar’, is used when we are told to guard the Commandments, which are the Way back to the Father.
You may be thinking, Isn’t Yahushua the Way? Yes, He is. And He kept the Commandments and guarded them His entire life. He showed the Way of keeping them and we are to keep the Commandments in the way He did, not following the doctrines of man nor the philosophies of any religion, be it Christian or Judaic. We are to keep/guard (shamar) the Commandments the way that Yahushua kept them and taught them to His disciples.
Since then, men have inserted, added, and taken away from the straight and narrow Way that has been laid out for us from the beginning to the end. The Way back to the Father, back to the tree of Life is spoke of in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 2:7, 22:2)
The times when the Ruach is leading us, like when we are listening to a GPS on a road trip, does make the trip seem a little smoother. We’re able to be a little more free and look around because we hear the voice alerting us ahead of time to turns coming up and possible traffic jams. However, sometimes we lose reception. It’s not because the Ruach has lost power or doesn’t know where we are. Sometimes we are not able to pick up the reception and must then go to the written Word because the same Ruach inspired and wrote it down for our benefit.
We can follow the written Word explicitly. Yet we all know that there are certain scriptures many people disagree on and even cross referencing to other scriptures can sometimes still leave room for differing opinions that can seem confusing.
There are translation issues as well. The original Scriptures were NOT written in English! There have been multiple translators and renditions since it was first written down, leading to multiple differences that can lead to different interpretations and understanding.
The Ruach clarifies His Word for us. He empowers us to understand His written Word. He does not change His written Word. The Word says, “I am YHWH, I do not change.” He is not like man that can lie. (Malachi 3:16, Numbers 23:19)
The “new” Covenant as we hear it called, is not a new Way to the Father. There has always been one Way and Yahushua has always been that Way. He was the Word at the beginning, He lived as the living Word, and He is the Word. (John 1:1-2) When we see Him return on a white horse, His Name is called: The Word of YHWH. (Revelation 19:13)
The “new” Covenant that He established in His blood is the same Way. This Covenant was not “new” in the sense that it was something different, but “new” in that it was made new (or re-newed) in His blood, not the blood of animals. In other words, He died once to pay the penalty for us breaking the Commandments. He didn’t then do away with the Commandments or the Covenant. He empowered us by His Ruach to live it just like He did. (Hebrews 9 & 10)
Out of the Way
He gives each of us the Ruach to discern how to walk in this Way, His Word, so we won’t be led astray by vain teachings and religious babbling, and so that we will be aware of false prophets coming like ravenous wolves to devour the flock. (Matthew 7:14-15)
The adversary has been at work since the beginning to deceive YHWH’s elect, His children, telling them that the Way that YHWH commanded them to walk and the statutes He gave them to keep/guard (shamar), are worthless and should not be heeded. Sounds familiar? Doesn’t that sound a lot like the doctrine being taught in the Christian “church” that His “Law” is done away with and no longer necessary for Life? But that is the doctrine of demons, of the deceiver and the accuser. (1 Timothy 4:1)
We must be careful not to allow any teacher, “prophet”, or “pastor” lead us out of the Way, for there is only one Way.
And they shall be my people, and I shall be their Elohim. And I shall give them one heart and one Way, to revere Me all the days, for the good of them and their children after them. And I shall make an everlasting Covenant with them, that I do not turn back from doing good to them, And I shall put My reverence in their hearts so as not to turn aside from Me. Jeremiah 32:38-40
The Way has been established from the beginning and Yahushua died to pay the penalty for us breaking the Commandments. He has wiped away all transgression that we could have died for, and thus removed the curse that followed the breaking of the Covenant. And now, by His Ruach, He has empowered us to walk in His Covenant, keep His Statutes and Laws, and live!
Jeremiah 31 says this “new” Covenant will be those same Words written on our hearts instead of on stone. The Words have not changed. Where they are written has changed. They’re still inscribed in the shamayim (the heavenlies) and still on 2 tablets of stone somewhere.
Hopefully our hearts aren’t like hearts of stone but are soft hearts of flesh on which the Father has written those very Words. He says that He will cause us to walk in His Ways (Ezekial 36:17). Would He ever cause us to walk contrary to His Ways? No. He is the Way , the Truth, and the Life and no man comes to the Father except through Yahushua - His Way.
Let us lean upon the written Word and His Voice, the Ruach of YHWH. The voice spoke on the mountain of Sinai before the Word was written down. The Israelites heard and declared that they would do all that YHWH said to do. (Exodus 19:8 & 24:3) Through Mosheh, the entire Torah (Law) was written down for them.
Abraham came before Mosheh and Genesis 26:5 says he “obeyed My Voice and guarded My Charge: My Commands, My Laws, and My Torot.” We should also do as Abraham if we are his children - listening to and heeding the Voice of Elohim as well as the written Word. They are from same Ruach, the same Elohim, the same Way.
We are not to listen to any voice that contradicts the written Word of YHWH! That voice is the voice of a false prophet and is sent by the adversary to lead you and me astray, just as ha’satan did in the garden and led Adam and Eve away from the Way to the tree of Life.
Yahushua came to pay the penalty and reestablish that Way, marking it out for us so that we can walk in it. We will return to the Tree of Life as stated in the book of Revelation:
In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of Life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And no longer shall there be any curse, and the throne of YHWH and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. And they shall see His face, and His Name be upon their foreheads.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruah says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I shall give to eat from the tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of Elohim.
Get in the Car and Drive!
I am still on my way to Chincoteaue for my birthday trip. I have my written directions and spoken word, the GPS, to guide me. I am confident that I know the way, and that gives me great assurance that I will arrive at my destination. I still must get in the car and drive, fill it with gas, pay attention, and drive safely. It’s possible that I could get a flat tire along the way or even experience an accident. There could be delays or detours, but the Way remains.
I still have to actually drive from point A to point B in order to reach my destination. (See blog about Discipleship). Just because I know the Way and have the GPS set up in my car does not mean I will arrive unless I get in the car and drive. That is not a works-based salvation. My driving is simply following the directions to arrive at a destination that already exists.
If I don’t get in the car and drive, do the work, I will never leave my house and never arrive where I’m going. I might even know the way. But Scripture calls us to “shema” (Deut. 6:4-9) which means ‘to hear AND do’. We must hear the voice of the Ruach and read the written Word. We must believe what we hear and read, and we must DO it in order to receive the eternal reward of our salvation. That is the journey of life and that is the Way we must travel.
I’m not a huge fan of the cruise control feature. I really like driving my car! I like feeling the road and the turns, adjusting my speed as needed. However, I have gotten a couple of speeding tickets traveling through Kansas before because I didn’t realize I was driving well above the speed limit! Times like those, it would’ve been a good idea to have had my cruise control set on the correct speed.
Along my journey today, I am using my cruise control. And I’m pondering this concept of the written Word and the spoken Word being our guide, the Way to our destination. I got to thinking, are we guaranteed a safe arrival? What if we follow the written directions perfectly as well as the verbal cues of the GPS, the Ruach. Does that mean we will never have an accident? Never hit a pothole? Never encounter road construction or possibly even be injured along the way? Does Scripture promise that if we walk perfectly none of these things will happen to us?
I think most of us would jump in and say, “No that’s just not reality.” But Scripture actually does say IF you walk in these ways, I will put NONE of the diseases of the Egyptians on you. (Exodus 15:26, Deuteronomy 7:15) WOW. That sounds to me like what we’re talking about here.
I noticed that I had set my cruise control to about 4 miles over the speed limit thinking that was a very reasonable range to avoid a speeding ticket. Perhaps you’ve heard this rhyme referring to miles per hour over the speed limit: Under nine, you’re fine. Over nine, you’re mine!
I have friends who are police officers and they tell me that they can actually give you at ticket for 1 mile over the speed limit, though they rarely do. They recognize that sometimes the road makes us speed up a little or slow down, and thus there is a little breathing room, a range of grace so to speak. Does that mean that we should just assume that we can always travel above the speed limit and be exempt from the law?
What if we did decide to go on a road trip and follow all the written and verbal instructions perfectly? I wondered how it would change my trip. So I decided to try it.
My Driving Experiment
While I don’t love cruise control, it does help me to stay on track, and so I’ve decided that for the remainder of my trip I will no longer set it above the speed limit. And when it’s not feasible to use the cruise control, I’m going to pay close attention to my speed and be diligent to not exceed the limit. It is a limit after all, isn’t it? The signs don’t say “speed suggestion.” They say “speed limit”. In other words, don’t go any faster than THIS! Yet we want to go faster. We want to arrive where we’re going sooner. Is that not what it really boils down to - What WE want?
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Yahushua prayed, “Not My will, but Yours be done, Father.” Did He ever “go over the speed limit” so to speak - bend or break the rules? Or did He actually show us how to live them perfectly? Did He do that so we don’t have to? Or to show us the Way to do it?
Can you imagine Yahushua saying, “OK, I kept all the laws perfectly, so now you can live a lawless life! You are free from all limits and guidelines. Knock yourself out! Have a nice ride!”
Does the Scripture really mean what it says where it is written, “Be perfect because I am perfect?” The word translated as “perfect” is the Hebrew word “tamim” which more accurately means “complete”. It doesn’t mean you never fail, it means that you have all the directions and are fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17, Hebrews 13:21) and that you are employing all of that to actually hear and do the Commandments. Tamim. Perfect. Complete.
And let endurance have a perfect work, so that you be perfect and complete, lacking in naught. James 1:4
I’m going to try to drive “perfectly” for the rest of the way. I might be able to argue myself out of most tickets. Although the last time I got pulled over for speeding I had to pay the full fine. I couldn’t deny that I had broken the speed limit - the law - and I justly deserved my punishment.
Many people might be saying, “What about Yahushua? Doesn’t He forgive us of all sin, and isn’t He the only Way?” YES and YES! He does and is both of those things.
We often hear cries of “Grace, Grace, Grace” when confronted with this concept of keeping the Law. But grace isn’t room to do wrong. It’s room to miss the mark when trying to do right. (We will get back to that power packed picture a little further on in this post.)
Yes, Your Honor
Let’s look at it this way: Imagine you had a whole bunch of past speeding tickets. (Keep in mind, I’m not trying to be a “driving Nazi”! I’m using “speeding” as a living metaphor to breaking Torah.) You go to court and all of your tickets are piled up in front of the judge. He looks at them and says, “You’re guilty. This is what you have to pay in order to keep driving.” Or he might even suspend your license!
Yahushua would be like a man that steps up and cancels those debts, but he would need to have a legal right to do so. He cannot break the law either. That would be like if that man stepped up and said, “You know what? I have an idea! Let’s just tear all these up.”
While there are unjust judges in this world, Scripture says that YHWH is a righteous judge. (Psalm 7:11, 9:8) He is perfectly just and there is no shadow of turning in Him. (James 1:17) Yahushua certainly would not go against or break His Father’s, the just Judge’s, righteous Law, would He? He cannot just simply cancel our debts without a reason. But He could pay them for us.
So now imagine that court room scene again. A man stands up and says, “I’ll pay the fines.” Wouldn’t you be blown away and so excited!? However, what if there was also a jail sentence that went along with the fines? What if you committed a crime that deserved a death sentence? What if that same man said He would serve your time or pay your death penalty? That’s what Yahsuhua did.
Now would it stand to reason that after He did that, He would say to you, “Continue in the way you’re driving and don’t worry about the speed limit anymore. I’ve already paid for all your tickets.” Nope. He paid for our past tickets, our sins. In fact, when Yahushua healed people He often said to them, “Go and sin no more.” (John 5:14-15, 8:11)
Go and Sin No More
When He forgave the woman supposedly caught in adultery, He said, “Go and sin no more.” She was being judged, whether rightly or wrongly, and He judicially canceled her penalty by using the Law. Torah states clearly that for the death penalty to be enacted, the eyewitnesses are to be the first to throw a stone. So He said to those seeking the death penalty for this woman, “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.” (John 8:7)
He was speaking in accordance with the Law, basically saying, “Would the eyewitnesses please step forward and throw the first stone.” Apparently, there either were no eyewitnesses, or because of what He said (“He who is without sin, cast the first stone”), the eyewitnesses weren’t innocent in the matter. He was qualifying His statement, clarifying the Law. He was essentially saying, “Hey you eyewitnesses. If you have not sinned also in this matter, then go ahead and stone her.”
They knew the law. And they knew they were not innocent. It’s not clear whether the woman was free from guilt in this matter, but the eyewitnesses clearly were not.
Maybe they had set her up to test Yahushua? Maybe they were the ones involved in this adulterous affair? Maybe they were also committing adultery or other acts of breaking Torah? Either way, they were not without sin and so they did not cast the first stone.
Yahushua righteously and judicially threw her case out of court, and then looked at the woman and asked her where her accusers were. In other words, He wanted to get her testimony that they were gone and thus confirm that there were no eyewitnesses to her alleged sin. She confirmed the fact and so He said, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11) In other words - “Your case is dismissed. Now go and don’t do it again!”
He was not justifying her sin. Nor was he “freeing” her to now go and sin without any future consequence. He was not cancelling adultery as a sin. He was cancelling her penalty for breaking the law, or being accused of breaking the law, by using that very Law. And He let her know with all sincerity that she was not to sin anymore.
He says the same thing to us - now go and “drive the speed limit”! Hear my Word and DO IT. Follow the lead of the Ruach ha’Qodesh, your GPS, and follow my Written Word as well as my example. Follow Me. WOW. Could it be any clearer? (Matthew 28:20, Deuteronomy 12:32, 1 Peter 2:21-25)
What Did He Do?
He did not forgive our sins in his death, resurrect to life, and then say, “Now you’re free to do whatever you want and break the Law and all consequences are gone.” He says, “Your deserved consequence of death has been paid. Now don’t keep sinning. Live righteously.” (Romans 6, 1 John 3:6, 5:18)
He does know that in our efforts to live righteously, we will at times fall down. Proverbs 24:16 says a righteous man falls seven times, but then gets back up. We do fall sometimes, but the key is getting back up, straightening our aim, and trying again. That is the living definition of repentance which leads to salvation. (Luke 3:8, Acts 8:22, Matthew 4:17)
We are not to sin willfully. There never was a sacrifice for willful sin in the written Word. (Leviticus 4 &5, Numbers 15:22-31, Hebrews 10:26) So why do we think Yahushua’s blood should now cover our willful sins? He said at His death, “Father forgive them FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO. (Luke 23:34) They know NOT. He did not say, “Father forgive them for they know they are sinning and I just don’t want them to get in trouble for it.” He said THEY KNOW NOT. That’s pretty telling right there, isn’t it?!
Paul wrote in the letter of Hebrews that if we continue to sin after being redeemed, there is no more sacrifice for that sin. That sure sounds like a “works-based salvation!” But where did that term - ‘works-based salvation’ - actually come from? It has been constructed from the letters of Paul saying we are saved by faith and not by works. (Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:28, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:9) But faith does not exclude works. Fatih is evidenced BY our works, as James says, “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18)
So clearly there is a difference here between being saved BY works, and being saved by a faith in Yahushua that is made certain BY our works.
Faith is works put into action. If we don’t have faith, we will continue to do whatever we want. We will continue to sin. Paul states that by no means does grace mean we should continue to sin, “God (Elohim) forbid!” (Romans 6:1-2)
John states in his letters that sin it the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4-6) and that he who loves Yahushua sins not. (1 John 5:18) That is how we tell the difference between the children of the enemy and the children of YHWH - Those that sin not. (1 John 3:10)
Thank you YHWH for Your grace, through Yahushua our Messiah, who forgives us of our sin! May we not trample that grace underfoot by intentionally sinning because “we want to.” That’s really what it boils down to. The only explanation for willful sin is because we want to and we believe we’re “free” to do what we want.
Unknowing sin stems from ignorance and love covers a multitude of sin. (1 Peter 4:8) If we truly repent from our sin, once it has been made known to us, there is complete forgiveness. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we can willfully sin knowing or thinking that we can just turn around and repent for it after the fact. That is heresy and blasphemy.
When we choose to sin willfully, knowing it is a sin, we are choosing to break the Law, “the speed limit” in our driving metaphor. If we get a ticket, we deserve it, and we will most likely have to pay the full penalty. IF we repent, we are able to recover and are given another chance to not do it again! We are not given license or “freedom” to keep speeding! To continue in sin.
This may seem like a fine line to some, but to me it is a massive cavern between what is good and what is evil, what is clean and what is unclean. We are the priesthood of YHWH and as priests, we are supposed to discern between what is good and evil, what is clean and unclean. (Leviticus 10:10, Ezekiel 22:26, 44:23, 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Corinthians 6:17) We are not to sin, nor teach others to do so. (Matthew 5:19)
Let me briefly revisit the topic of the cruise control before continuing on our little road trip! I just noticed with my cruise set on 55, that my speed sometimes drops slightly below and sometimes ebbs just slightly above that speed. I have set my cruise control. This reminds me of all the Scriptures that instruct us to “set” our mind, heart, and actions. (Colossians 3:2, Psalm 119:30, Isaiah 26:3, 50:7, Philippians 2:5, 4:8, Romans 12:1-2, 8:5-6, 1 Peter 1:13, Hebrews 8:10)
In fact, there is nothing more convincing of this than just reading the entirety of Psalm 119 in one sitting. I highly recommend it!
We are to set our cruise control, so to speak, like David did, on the Word of YHWH - written and spoken. Yes, the hills and valleys of life will cause slight increases and decreases. If I try to control all of those minute fluctuations, that might lead me to live an unhealthy fear-based faith, and may even legitimately be considered true “legalism”. (I strongly dislike that term by the way because it implies that keeping the Law is wrong, and in opposition to salvation, when the true opposite of legalism is breaking the Law and still expecting the free gift of salvation. That’s wrong.)
I suppose I could set my cruise control for 50 miles an hour and that way I would be pretty sure I would never exceed the limit of 55. That would be one way. And I’ll consider that. But I also recognize that when we set our mind and our ways on His Way, we affirm that we are not in control, nor is it our flesh that empowers us but it is His Ruach ha’Qodesh that gives us the power to hear and do. (Luke 24:49) We truly are unable, not because the speed limit is too difficult. Scripture says that the Law/Torah is not too hard (Deuteronomy 30:11, 1 John 5:3). It is false leaders who have tried to make things too difficult.
Keeping the “speed limit” really is quite simple. By setting my cruise control, I’m sure to never go much above or much below. And so, as I think of it, it probably would be wise to set it just slightly under the limit to make sure that I’m always within the safe boundaries of the determined law for me.
I suppose that’s what Yahushua intended when He said, “You have heard of old (the written Word) do not murder, and do not commit adultery. But I say (spoken Word) do not hate in your heart or lust with your eye.” (Matthew 5:17-48) In other words, perhaps He is saying, “Set your cruise control under the limit so you won’t risk going over it! If you push that limit you will end up ‘speeding’ and you will deserve the ticket.” It seems He was teaching a fail-proof way to uphold the Commandments!
He certainly did not cancel the commandments not to murder or not to commit adultery. Nor did he lessen the requirement. He actually strengthened them and showed us that if we are so diligent with the details of our “driving” on our life journey, then we are assured we will not commit those sins! Maybe this is exactly what we were looking for - the assurance that if we walk in His Ways, we will never stumble and fall.
Peter actually said this, didn’t he, in the beginning of his 2nd letter? He said, “IF you do these things, in increasing measure, you will never stumble and you will receive a richly supplied entrance into the everlasting reign of our Saviour Yahusha ha’Mashiah.” (2 Peter 1: 1-11)
So there’s our answer: If we keep learning and keep growing, like Peter admonishes, we will be protected and we will not fall and we WILL arrive at our destination, not only safely but with a major wedding party waiting for us!
Give yourself a great gift and read all of 2 Peter chapter 1
Every promise of YHWH is contingent on our obedience.
I’m challenged by that. From my studies thus far in Scripture, I’ve yet to see one promise from YHWH that is not contingent on at least one simple call to obedience. I will continue to look diligently into the Scripture to ascertain whether that is true or false in all cases. May I suggest you do the same?
Every promise that I can think of at this time, has an “IF…Then…” clause attached to it. (Sometimes written out and other times clearly implied.) IF you will obey, THEN… IF you will seek me with all your heart, THEN you will find me. IF you pray in My Name, THEN I will hear you! (2 Chronicles 7:14 & 19, 15:2, 30:9, Matthew 17:20 & 19:17, Mark 11:25-26, 1 John 1:5-10 & 2:1-6, John 8:31, 9:31, 14:23, 15:7-14, James 4:8, Romans 8:13, 11:21-22, Exodus 15:26, 19:5, 23:20-22, Deuteronomy 4:29-31, 6:5,24-25, 7:12-13, 8:19-20, 15:4-6, 19:9, all of chapter 28, 30:6-10, Joshua 24:20, 1 Samuel 7:3, 12:14-15, 28:7-9, Palm 89:30-32, Isaiah 1:19-20, 48:18, 58:6-14, Jeremiah 4:1, 7:5-7, 12:16-17, 17:24-27, Zechariah 3:7, Malachi 2:2 - Just to name a few!)
I cannot think of one scripture verse that says, even if you keep sinning, you will still…. Or even if you do not obey, I will still bless you.
I am reminded of certain scriptures that talk about YHWH blessing and caring for the children of Yasharel for His Name sake, and/or for the Covenant He had with their fathers - Abraham, Yitsaq, and Ya’acob. Even when THEY didn’t deserve it. (Ezekiel 26:32, 36:22-32, Isaiah 48:9-18) The grace and mercy shown by YHWW in those instances is clearly in hopes that they will turn and repent and live like their fathers lived. If you read the context of these scriptures, there’s always a call to repentance, which means to turn and get right. In other words, to stop sinning.
So there does appear to be a “grace period”, so to speak, intended to lead one to repentance. “It’s Your kindness that leads us to….what? Repentance. (Romans 2:3-4) Paul doesn’t say, “It is His kindness that overlooks our sin and does not require us to walk in obedience anymore.” No. His kindness, His grace, leads us away from sin and to repentance. Let us be found perfect - “tamim” - complete, and let us repent whenever our sin is revealed to us.
May we desire to be perfect/complete because He is perfect, not because we can earn anything by being “perfect.” He is perfect and complete, and has given us the complete Way to walk. Let us dare to be like Him.
If I do everything right, I am not self-righteous. I am obedient. And Yes, He does see my heart. He sees when I WANT to do right and when I just want what I want. May we have a heart to please Him, to walk in all His Ways, and to say as Yahushua said, “Your will, not mine be done.”
Here it is my 50th birthday week and I am driving like a granny:) under the speed limit! Isn’t it interesting that typically “old” people drive slow? We’ve just assumed that they’re not as capable of driving fast anymore. But maybe they’re just older and wiser and they’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to push the limit.
I don’t mind driving like a granny! It’s quite peaceful actually. Not that 50 is old:) but it IS getting older, and hopefully it means getting wiser too.
Another interesting observation. I have passed several police cars during my drive - some of them on the side of the road, having pulled over someone else, who was probably speeding and others waiting to catch a speeding lawbreaker.
I noticed I never once had that all too familiar reaction I’ve had in the past when seeing a police car - the slight jump in adrenaline as I quickly step on the brake and look down to check my speed. I just happily cruised by every police car with a smile on my face, knowing that I was well within the limit of the law.
I actually felt like waving and honking, giving the police officers a “thumbs up” as I passed. (I didn’t do that, by the way. I figured that might’ve gotten me pulled over just out of suspicious curiosity!)
It made me think about the many people having these kinds of discussions about the law and whether we are “required” to keep it. I’ve often heard the argument against “keeping the Law” being that it is fear and punishment based, and we don’t serve YHWH out of fear. However, I have felt more fear of punishment when I wasn’t keeping the law, i.e. speeding, than I do right now, knowing that I am well within the limits of the law. I actually feel NO fear of punishment whatsoever!
IF you love Me, you shall guard My Commands. John 14:15
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear holds punishment, and he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
I have a peaceful confidence and a friendly relationship, at least in my mind, with every officer that I have passed. They actually seem a lot more like my friends and allies than my enemies!
Isn’t that interesting? The very thing we think keeping the law will do - make us fearful of punishment - actually does away with fear. In fact, keeping the law brings a joyful confidence and peace that I wasn’t expecting. And I’m slowing down, taking in the sights, enjoying my journey, and feeling quite safe as I drive past my buddies, the police officers, all along the way.
Don’t Take This TOO Far!
Please don’t take this blog out of context. It’s not a blog about driving. Go whatever speed you want. Go above the speed limit or go below it if you want. Keep the speed limit just because you don’t want to get punished. Try to get away with the fastest speed whenever you can if that’s the way you want to drive. Who am I to tell you what to do?!
I’m just using this living example of my road trip to glean more about the written and spoken Word of YHWH. And I’ve decided to practice it and see how it works! It’s pretty amazing! I’d say I’m learning a lot. A lot things I didn’t even know I would learn, for in the doing is the learning! That’s what I always say.
It’s pretty awesome. Just by practicing a simple law of the land and keeping the speed limit I have learned something of great value in the Kingdom of YHWH.
Perhaps my paragraph stating “do whatever you want. Keep the law if you want, yada yada…” caused you to say to yourself, “Well I don’t have that freedom! I have to obey the law!” Isn’t it interesting that many people are more convinced about keeping the law of the land than the Law of Elohim? I suppose many people will do it just because they don’t want the ticket, cursing under their breath the whole time. That can’t be a heart after YHWH’s own heart, like David had! That cannot be the kind of heart YHWH would want us to have in keeping His Law.
Many of the Pharisees (the predecessors of the modern day religion of Judaism) were probably keeping the letter of the Law and in essence cursing it under their breath. Or perhaps even breaking it by adding their own laws, taking away some of YHWH’s commands, and justifying their sin by their man-made doctrine. The modern day religion of Christianity has done the same thing.
Yahushua said that whoever loves Him keeps His Commands. (John 14:15) Love is intrinsically connected to the Commandments. “If you love Me, you will obey my Commands.” Love and keeping His Commandments go hand-in-hand - Not fear of punishment. LOVE drives out fear, and there is no fear in love.
So if I’m walking in fear, I’m probably not waking in perfect (complete) love which means I’m probably not keeping the Commandments. If I’m keeping the Commandments, I am walking in perfect (complete) love, and I will not be afraid. Perfect love casts out all fear. There’s that word “perfect” again, which we will do well to remember means “complete”, not lacking part of His precious Word.
The Ideal Speed
I don’t want to take this metaphor too far, as I certainly don’t care as much about driving as I do about walking in the Way of YHWH. However, I drive pretty much every day, so it is a great metaphor! Though most metaphors break down at some point.
I thought about a way that this metaphor could really “hit the mark” which, by the way, is the opposite of the meaning of the word “sin” - literally “to miss the mark.” Conversely, righteousness is hitting the mark.
As I was setting my GPS, I was watching the speedometer, and as it came close to the speed limit I hit the “set” button and said to myself, “I hit the mark!” Now imagine if the speed limit wasn’t a limit but was an ideal. What if the signs on the side of the road said, “Here is the ideal “perfect” speed.” Would we try to hit that perfect speed - the mark - rather than just trying to stay below a limit? Don’t you think that idea better fits with this whole concept and metaphor?
We don’t want to just stay under the limit in life. We truly want to hit the mark and live a righteous life. And we truly don’t want to miss the mark as that is what sin is.
The Laws of YHWH could be likened to an ideal speed sign on the side of the road, letting us know the “perfect” or ideal speed to travel. I believe that’s the intent behind the speed limit sign anyway - they’re letting us know what is a safe speed on that particular road. That’s why it really isn’t safe to go too far below that speed just as it isn’t safe to go too far above it. It really is much more about an ideal or safe speed to travel that particular road.
I believe I may have hit the “perfect” metaphor to depict what the Law (Torah) of YHWH is telling us - the ideal bull’s-eye on the target, if you will. It doesn’t mean we will always hit the bull’s-eye, but we’re always trying to, right? Why would we be aiming in the opposite direction of the target, if we knew where it was? That would make no sense.
I promised I would get back to my statement that grace isn’t room to do wrong, but room to miss the mark when trying to do right. So as we come to the end of this road (had to keep the metaphor coming!) let me describe a picture I saw in my mind as YHWH imparted to me that statement about grace.
Picture this - you’re at a summer camp for middle schoolers. I know right?! Ok - it’s time for their archery lesson. You’ve got all the kiddos lined up to shoot their arrows at a particular target. The amazingly tolerant and graceful camp counselor instructs each one of the children in turn how to hold the bow and arrow, how to stand and align with the target, and how to shoot in the right direction - toward the bull’s-eye.
Each of these campers makes their attempt with varied results. Some have done this before and so are a bit more confident than the others. Some have an unusual knack for the sport and do better than most first-timers. Others not so much. And though they sincerely try and re-try, they continue to miss the mark.
Like our graceful camp counselor, Yahushua demonstrates how to perfectly aim, shoot, and hit the mark. And likewise, the Ruah teaches and instructs (through the written and spoken Word) each camper, giving individualized instruction to help that particular youngster correct their form and get closer to hitting the mark. The patience demonstrated is mind-blowing!
Now imagine you’ve got that one reckless middle-schooler running around shooting random trees and terrifying the other campers. The counselors attempt to corral him, instruct him, gently lead him back into line, but to no avail. He seems simply to be intent on doing what he wants, how he wants.
At some point that naughty camper has to be removed for the well-being of the whole group. Perhaps he will be allowed another chance tomorrow and the next day. Or perhaps he will be taken to the Camp Director for a “talkin’ to” or even sent home if he continues in his rebellious ways.
Grace is room to miss the mark when trying to hit it, not room to do whatever you want with no consequences.
The Straight Ones
Aiming for and casting ourselves in the correct direction. That to me is what it means to be “Yasharel” - literally translated “the straight ones of Elohim.” When we become aware that we are going the wrong way and driving our car, or shooting our arrows, in a direction other than the direction of perfection, it is time to repent.
The word translated as “repentance” - “t’shuvah” - is also an archery term and it it means to turn, align ourselves and shoot in the correct direction - YHWH’s Word. Once we recognize that we’re shooting the wrong way and we see where the target is, we align ourselves and put all our effort and direction, like an arrow, straight towards the center of that target. Bullseye! The ideal way to travel the road to Life!
Wherever you are along the way, may all your travels be safe and straight.
EPILOGUE: I’m on my drive home now and everything is going swimmingly well. I had decided when I left to use my GPS this time as my mind is full and swirling from a wonderful adventurous vacation and I didn’t feel I could navigate the written details as clearly as I did on my way to my vacation. It’s been lovely using the GPS as there were several detours I needed to take due to weather and traffic. I have been very grateful to have the inside info from “someone” who knew what the road ahead looked like and had my best interest in mind. All I had to do was choose to heed the verbal instructions.
However, I didn’t realize that my volume got turned down at some point. As I was cruising along a particular highway, I noticed that my next exit was exit 61. Though I was paying attention, I didn’t realize I was apparently waiting for the verbal cue to tell me when to turn and I zoomed right past exit 61, putting me on a 15 mile detour - a major U-turn!
It made me realize that while the GPS directions (aka the Ruach ha’Qodesh) is a wonderful way to travel, we still must heed the written Word. No matter how good and comfortable it is to listen to the Ruach, the written Word remains valid and powerful, and it never changes. The Ruach is always flowing with the written Word, never replacing it or contradicting it.
Sometimes we become so comfortable with the guidance of the Ruach that we almost get lulled into a sort of complacency on our spiritual journey, and end up on a major spiritual detour.
Yes there is grace for our journey. But we must remember that like my husband awaiting my soon return, our Groom is waiting for us at the end of the road with a marriage supper and we really don’t want to be late!
(A FEW MINUTES LATER…)
You will probably never believe this, but while I was speaking those last words, my GPS went out! Apparently my cord for the phone charger wasn’t working and my phone wasn’t charging. Good thing I knew to get off at exit 61! Bad news was that’s all I knew! I hadn’t written down any further instructions, so without my GPS, and no written Word, I was clueless as to where to go next.
I just pulled into a gas station and switched out charger cords, waiting now for my phone to recharge enough to turn back on….
After the phone turned on, I then got out a notebook and pen and wrote down ALL the remaining directions before I proceeded back to the route. I am still using my GPS, but right next to me is a notepad with all the written directions just in case I lose signal with the GPS (aka the Ruach) again. I’ll never travel without my written Word handy again!
What an amazing end, or near end, to my journey! Apparently I’m about 3 hours away from home and I feel well equipped with both the written and spoken Word close at hand, both equally valid and equally powerful.
I am armed and ready to complete my journey and meet my wonderful Groom who is waiting expectantly for me, ready to sit down and enjoy a long-awaited dinner together after 10 days apart. It will be joyful reunion I am certain, and we will both have many wonderful lessons to share with each other. How grateful I am to be on this journey with a husband who loves both the written and spoken Word as much as I do!
Like my amazing husband, I so love the Man who paid my debt, served my jail sentence and died my death penalty that I will do absolutely everything in my power to live according to the Way that He has called me to go, listening to and doing His divine written and spoken Word. Why would I want to go and live any other way?! Where else would I go? He alone has the Words of Life eternal! (John 6:68)