Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NKJ)
33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34 “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
These two verses present one of the most significant universal truths of the Scriptures. God has chosen to make a New Covenant with Israel and with the Gentiles, those grafted to the family of His chosen people. God has revealed Himself to every man and woman. You either know Him or you know of Him. The word “know” is used in the same sense as “a man knew a woman:” that is, it depicts intimacy in a way that differentiates itself from “being an acquaintance” in a very significant way. Therefore, in another topic we have discussed the unforgivable sin as that sin which manifests itself as adultery, the single reason offered by the Scriptures as a rationale for divorce. To “know” God and then to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (to seek a relationship with the god of the flesh and to turn your back on your first love) is a sin of unparalleled magnitude, just as adultery is the most heinous sin one can commit against his or her chosen one.
You know you are obeying His laws or you know you are not. What we call a “conscience” is in fact revealed truth. God has placed His law in your mind and written it upon your heart. You will be without excuse if you say you did not know these facts to be true. I think people have it slightly wrong when they speak of the “God shaped vacuum” that needs to be filled for man to be “complete.” There is no vacuum “to be filled.” It has been filled and you, if you are not intimate with God, are turning away from the Light that is within you.
A good friend who had committed adultery and who had chosen to leave his wife and family to marry the woman, said to me “You are the last person I wanted to have to tell about what I have chosen to do” or words to that effect. My witness to this person had been so persistent that I suppose that he thought, I would regard his sin as being worse than others might regard it. He may have been right but understand this. Your true friend is Jesus Christ, the truth in you and your offense is against God. If you think it is hard to tell a friend of your adultery how hard will it be to stand before God and explain it away?
Now, let’s examine the Scriptures for more detail. Paul, a converted Jew, says that the gospel has been preached to every creature.
Colossians 1:21-23 (NKJ)
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight–
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Romans 2:14-16 (NKJ)
14 …(for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
Paul states that the hope of the gospel “was” preached to every creature under heaven and that the law is written in their hearts. This proclamation is of great importance. It essentially means that you and every creature everywhere has been “preached” the gospel. Paul made the same point earlier but here he also adds a “consequence.” Those who ignore the truth “in them” and the truth evident in creation are without excuse. It says, they will experience the wrath of God. Listen…
Romans 1:18-21 (NKJ)
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Doesn’t the truth revealed here simply scream at you? Do you want to experience the wrath of God? Read verse 21 again and again and if it applies to you, do something! Has Satan so deceived you that your heart is darkened? You do not have to yield to the weakness of the flesh and suffer eternal separation from God and all those you have ever known. Choice, it is always about choice.
Here the half brother of Jesus (same mother) declares the word has been “implanted.”
James 1:21 (NKJ)
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
The writer of Hebrews then quotes Jeremiah, reminding Israel that the Messiah has provided them with a New Covenant, one not based upon the Law, but upon grace and mercy and the implanted word. I realize we quoted Jeremiah earlier but I want you to see that the New Testament and the Old Testament are to be studied in tandem. They cast light on each other. Listen again to this Old Testament and New Testament fundamental truth.
Hebrews 8:10-11 (NKJ)
10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
11 “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
This restates what James said. Every Jew and Gentile has heard the gospel.
I am sure you agree that no one you have ever met has obeyed the whole law. Therefore, everyone has been disobedient. Our disobedience needs to be forgiven if we are to enter into God’s presence and His “rest.” Jesus is the means by which we enter into God’s rest. His sacrifice covered our sins. We know that there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). We can not “earn” salvation. It is a gift, given by the grace of God. If one wants the “gift,” one must simply believe that the promised Messiah died in their place, separating their sin from them.
Belief will lead to obedience, not because we are “more worthy,” but because God will empower us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, to love and to obey. We will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a great and pivotal gift of God, be able to lay aside the burden of the “flesh” and appropriate the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. We become “born again.” We shed the burden of the flesh and put on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. That is why the Messiah came. He came to redeem us from the grasp of sin. We no longer have to “serve sin” but instead can “serve God.”
Your sins are forgiven, you are presented blameless before the Father and what did you have to do? Simply believe and enter into His rest. The battle between good and evil, at least in terms of your life, can be finished. The victory, if you attain it, belongs to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and you simply partake, being strengthened moment by moment by the Holy Spirit in you. Sanctification will come as obedience replaces sin. The Lord “sanctifies” and you, as you trust in Him, will become one of those who “are being sanctified,” meaning you will enabled, by the power of the Holy Spirit in you, to be more and more like Jesus, your sinless Redeemer and Advocate.
Hebrews 2:11 (NKJ)
11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
When you hear those who love the Lord refer to each other as “brother and sister,” know that it is the Lord who calls you brethren, as well.
You will not be able to resist evil, in and of yourself. The power of sin far exceeds your personal ability to resist. Temptation will come to you like a flood, daily. Whether you sin in your heart or by deed, the result is the same. Sin disconnects you from God but the righteousness of Jesus, not only reconnects you, but the sins that you have committed and will commit are separated as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered against you again. Interestingly, God used the words “east from the west” rather than “north from the south.” If one heads north you will eventually be heading south but if you head east, you will never be heading west. A separation to infinity; that is how far your sins will be separated from you.
Do you think then, that we can confess our faith in Jesus Christ and go on sinning? Yes, of course we can, and our test of the boundaries of God’s mercy will be dealt with in time. It sort of feels wrong to say that our level of obedience leads to different rewards, given the fact that it is the Holy Spirit within us that facilitates our service to Him, but that is what the Scriptures teach. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews had to say to what I will refer to as juvenile followers of the Lord.
Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJ)
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The words, by reason of use, should help you understand that “babes” remain babes if they do not exercise their senses and partake of the Word of Righteousness.
You are not the only person that wrestles with the question of your flesh warring against the Holy Spirit, the truth that is written on your heart. Listen to the teachings of Paul.
Romans 6:21-23 (NKJ)
21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 7:15-25 (NKJ)
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God– through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
There are two key concepts regarding our continuing struggle with sin that are taught in Scripture. First, since Jesus went to the cross and bore your sins and mine, would you, after cleansing and forgiveness, sin again, expecting Jesus to return to the cross, again and again? The scriptures make “knowing Him” and then falling away, in a conscious, declared manner, a very risky proposition. God can and will forgive us for a multitude of sins but if we sin intentionally, after redemption, we have a serious problem. Listen.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (NKJ)
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
Second, since we remain “in the flesh” though bathed in the Holy Spirit, temptation will still be before us constantly. Listen.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJ)
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
That is a verse you should memorize. You can sum all this up in two words. Repent and obey. But listen to what the scriptures say about the reward God has in store for the heart of a repentant soul.
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJ)
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When you read the verse above, “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21 NKJ), did that verse not strike a responsive chord with you? First you know how miserable sin has made you feel and second, the end of those things is death. Reread Romans 8:38-39 until the truth sinks in. God has not only revealed Himself to you but nothing, except for your “informed” withdrawal, can separate you from His love.