MF Blume Jan. 7/96
By saying we must not seek the knowledge of good and evil I am not promoting the idea that we can be bad. Not at all. I am simply saying that the Bible teaches us that we become righteous not by works, but by BELIEVING.
Law is of works. Notice how Paul speaks of the Law as opposed to faith in regards to attaining righteousness:
Roma 4:13-16 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law [be] heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, [there is] no transgression. Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
Gala 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
There is righteousness which is of the Law and a righteousness which is by faith:
Phil 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
The righteousness which is of the Law is SELF righteousness. And we know that is not acceptable to God.
Faith is believing! And faith is our only avenue to righteousness and justification! The Law, which demanded works of a person, provided man with the knowledge of good and evil. It told man what was evil and what was good. After acquiring such knowledge, man was then expected to make himself righteous. This could not be done. Paul found that obedience to the Law could be carried out outwardly, but when the last commandment told Paul, "Thou shalt not covet...", and dealt with the inward desires of Paul, he found that he could not obey it.
The tenth commandment was thou shalt not covet.
Roma 7:7-12 What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin [was] dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me]. Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
And he knew that breaking one law would make him guilty of breaking it all!
Jame 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.
Notice, in the above references to Romans 7, that PAUL DIED when he attempted to live by the Law, or by the knowledge of good and evil. This is exactly what happened to Adam when he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gene 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The Law is the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Notice the abundance of the terms "good" and "evil" when speaking of Law:
Roma 7:12 Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and GOOD.
Roma 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] GOOD.
Roma 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no GOOD thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is GOOD I find not.
Roma 7:19 For the GOOD that I would I do not: but the EVIL which I would not, that I do.
Roma 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do GOOD, EVIL is present with me.
BELIEF and FAITH TAKES US IN
We enter the Rest by BELIEVING, and not working. We CEASE from a Christianity of works, and enter the true Christianity of FAITH. So many are barred out due to the fact that their concept of Christianity is no more than doing the good deed of attending church each week faithfully. Since such a concept revolves around the principle of works, God will not grant such a person blessings. We must take home what we learn in the circles of such a study as this, and APPLY its' principles and enjoy God's blessings.
This brings us back to the thought of entering Canaan.
Hebr 4:9-13 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
The Rest is entered not by works. We must BELIEVE. The word, "LABOUR" is mentioned immediately after saying we must cease from works in order to enter the rest. Why would the Word speak so contradictorily? There is no contradiction. The labour we must exert, according to verse 11, is the good fight of FAITH.
1Tim 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
There is a labour, but it is not a physical labour, but a labour of faith.
1The 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
In Hebrews 4, after speaking of entering the rest, we read that we must exert the labour of faith because the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword. It can divide the soul form the Spirit.
How does this reference to the Word give us reason to fight the fight of faith? Why does the writer talk about he Word of God all of a sudden? Is he changing subjects? No. (Please realize that the term "therefore" in He. 4:12 tells us that the words following it point back to the reason the words before it are true. This is basic grammar). We must fight the fight of faith, because Gods Word, which gives faith to us by our hearing of that Word, can divide.
The Fight of faith is productive. Why? It is the key to success because the WORD of God is powerful. When you speak of faith and believing, as the writer did before verse 12, the only thing in which we can have faith is THE WORD OF GOD.
Roma 10:17 So then FAITH [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the WORD of God.
And what was it that blockaded Israel from the Land when they were ready to enter into it?
The Jordan River.
What was it that caused that Jordan obstruction to be removed? (This helps us explain how faith in the Word removes all barriers that hinder us from entering the LAND of promises and blessings.
THE BARRIER REMOVED BY FAITH ALONE
In order to answer the last question mentioned above, understand that the priests carried the ark of the covenant and stepped into the waters. And that River which divided Israel from the Promised Land was, itself, divided!! And they crossed into the land.
This brings out a great truth! Upon the ark of the covenant was the blood of the sacrificed lamb of atonement. Forty times was the ark sprinkled by the High Priest offering the blood of atonement, for they were forty years in the wilderness and atonement was made once every year. They upheld that blood-stained ark! Never before had they done this for the reason of breaching a barrier. And - praise God! - the waters divided!
Here is the explanation of the lesson. Jesus' blood was shed for our justification. Many know this in their minds, but they do not apply it spiritually, and they often continue trying to do good to attain the pleasure of God which they already possess. Jesus' work in shedding the only acceptable blood sacrifice possible, and all believers have that acceptability since they have believed in Him for salvation, is relied upon as our only hope of receiving God's blessings by upholding it in faith. We are, in effect, showing God that we are depending on the virtue of Christ's blood for access into His blessings.
Although we already have full access, we, as it were, ruin the very chances we currently possess for entering the land. We throw our opportunity away! How? When we desire to receive promises from God, such as healing and blessing, we often become discouraged by wrongly thinking that we are not "good enough" for them. This barrier of inferiority threatens us from receiving these promises. And it results from lack of education in the Word. It results from lack of WISDOM. The dilemma is similar to Israel looking over into Canaan and its milk and honey, but remaining blocked by the swelling Jordan after God said the land was their's.
Many saints do not fully understand that the Promises of God are for those who will BELIEVE Him for them. We must not look to our good works to carry us over the Jordan. Jordan will remain as threatening as ever, and undaunted as we exert fleshly works to breach it. We must instead look to the work which God accomplished for us through Christ on the cross. Have faith - don't work for it. Look to the blood of Jesus, since the blood is the proof that Jesus' acceptable sacrifice was made. By looking to the blood we are saying that we must trust in the death of Christ. Uphold faith in the blood, in His sacrifice, and not in our works. Upholding such faith is foreshadowed by upholding the ark with the blood on the mercy seat of the ark.
BECAUSE THE WORD IS POWERFUL
How, though, does this have anything to do with the WORD being sharper than any sword?
Why does Hebrews speak about the Word of God being alive, or quick, and more powerful than any sword, after speaking about the Rest we must enter?
The answer lies in the fact that the WORD of God teaches us about the death of Christ as freeing us from sin and also making us righteous.
Look at the believer's plight today as illustrated by the Israelites who were given the Land of Canaan upon their exit from Egypt. The land was their's. God gave it to them. They simply had to walk ahead and step onto the land.
The distance between Egypt and Canaan, though, consisted of wilderness territory. And before they could enter the land, they had to walk through that desert.
Likewise, all the blessings of God are our's since we first were saved out of the world, but our lack of understanding the things of faith distances us from holding these promises. The lack of WISDOM bars us from the blessings. We must LEARN how to use faith. The more we learn, the further we progress, as it were, through the wilderness.
We are already good enough to receive God's promises through the virtue of Jesus' blood. That blood was presented to the Father as adequate payment for the penalty of our sins. When the father saw it, he deemed us forgiven. If, however, we do not know that, and endeavour to MAKE ourselves better through good works in order to be worthy to receive these blessings, God then refuses to grant us His blessings since we are relying upon an inadequate means for those blessings. He will not grant anything to anybody who works for it, since that work will give grounds for the person to glory in self should one thereby receive of God. Although we are made righteous by the Blood of Christ, we ruin the opportunity for ourselves through the avenue of thinking that works will impress God enough to bless us. Such blessings we seek are simply of the nature of that which is inaccessible unless one exerts faith to obtain and experience them.
If we, then, uphold the blood, by obedience to the WORD, which teaches about that justifying blood of Jesus, God will honour us and divide the Jordan barrier in order that we might take possession of the promises. Nothing will hinder us from God's blessings. Entering the Promised land depicts taking possession of the PROMISES.
The WORD is quick and powerful! On the other hand, works are inadequate. They can never be good enough to breach any barrier. (Remember that the context of Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 is entering the Rest as Israel was to enter Canaan). But the WORD is powerful. It CAN divide. And we must therefore BELIEVE, if it is the WORD that has the power, for you can only BELIEVE one's WORD given to one.
Its not WORKS, but it is WORD. The WORD divides so powerfully that the actual goal of seeing our souls separated from our spirits is accomplished by the Word.
And this raises more questions. What does it mean to divide our souls from our spirits? For one thing, we recognize in this verse that the soul is not one and the same as the spirit. These are distinctly two elements within man. And another evident truth is that it has something to do with entering our rest.