All scripture references are from the NASV unless otherwise noted.
In continuing to look at the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, we read the following:
Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. (Ge. 12:5-7)
I want you to notice that Abraham forsook all and invested all in leaving the familiar and traveling to the unknown, led by a faith that said there was rest for him waiting in a land called Canaan. In Abraham's hopeful journey, he came to the place of realization that the land wasn't his, but was inhabited by the Canaanite, a people stronger and more numerous than Abraham's camp. Many of you began a hopeful Christian life, only to discover that there was a law at work in your members; that sin was ever present with you; that you with your flesh could only serve the law of sin and death, and with all the promises of freedom from sin ringing in your ears, you fell to your knees in defeat, crying out, "Oh wretched man that I am!" You found the flesh and the old nature ruling. You believed you could possess Canaan, but alas, you found the Canaanite inhabiting the land.
Because so few have found the secrets of the Kingdom, the innovators have had to water down the gospel message, and their distorted and false gospel has been received as truth by multitudes. For those bound by besetting sin, the innovators have developed the Christian catch-phrase, "You needn't feel condemnation, for in God's eyes you are perfect, because when He sees you He sees the blood." The innovators have a God who can pardon, but alas, is unable to save. He can rescue from hell, but not from the sin that stokes hell's flames. And so, the innovators teach God's people to live happier more fulfilled lives while wandering in an endless desert, unable to enter into the promises found in scripture, forever tearing the scripture down to their level of experience. "Canaan will be yours when you die, but until then, the Canaanite inhabit the land."
I am earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints; the faith that says that God can save as well as pardon, and I am telling you that there is a rest for the people of God. Canaan can be yours. In his journey, Abraham discovered that "the Canaanite was then in the land" (Ge. 12:6). However, "the Lord appeared to Abraham and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land'" (Ge. 12:7). Has the Lord appeared to you? Have you had a revelation of God? There is no salvation apart from the person of Jesus Christ. Only in union with Christ can we find eternal life. Only in union with Christ can we find freedom from besetting sin (Rom. 6), and as God reveals Himself, with that revelation comes the promise, "I will give you the land."
With the modern false gospel, there are many who "come to Christ" without ever coming to the knowledge of their own sinfulness. I can tell you plainly that these conversions are false conversions, for "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law" (Rom. 7:7), and "the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ" (Gal. 3:24). To have the saving faith of our father Abraham, one must come to Moreh, just as Abraham did.
Many others, however, have come to Moreh, but have not come to Shechem. They have come under the yoke of the law, a yoke that no man can bear, but have never come under true grace and found an overcoming faith at the cross of Calvary. This is where we exchange our heavy yoke for His easy yoke and His burden that's light. "But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" (Gal. 3:25).
So we find these two groups of people hanging on to a powerless gospel. Both of these camps are slaves to sin and the flesh; the one "presenting their members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness" (Rom 6:19) while crying, "grace, grace", and the other, after hoping to find freedom from sin in Christ, find instead "the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, at work in the members of their body to bear fruit for death" (Rom. 7:5). The later are slaves to sin that they hate, cowering under the watchful eye of a judge who takes note of every failure, every sin.
I heard a man say that he was a preacher's kid, raised by a loving and godly father. He said his father was an excellent father and Christian example. Yet, he said that for most of his adult life, he has struggled with a concept of his Heavenly Father as a disappointed and angry God with a checklist in hand, recording every one of his sins. He felt that what he needed was a more accurate concept of God as a loving Father. This dear man is laboring under the yoke of the law. Listen to me brother or sister. What this man needs is what you need. He doesn't need a more accurate concept of God, his dad already provided him with that. What he needs and what you need is not a concept of God, but a revelation. Only the revelation of the cross of Calvary, and a revelation of the Father that makes a son (hyios) as we saw in a previous article, can free you from the condemnation of the law and truly bring you into grace; grace that is part of the inheritance that belongs to sons.
True grace, God's grace, is stronger than sin, and freedom from slavery to sin can only be found in slavery to Christ. There is a rest for the people of God. Canaan can be yours. "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life" (Rom. 6:22).
When you truly come into grace, it will free you, not only from condemnation, but from slavery to the sin that condemns. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death" (Rom. 8:1, 2).
If we sin willfully, we know that there is no sacrifice for sin, but a fearful expectation of judgment (Heb. 10:26, 27). That's why so many of you are under the load of condemnation: because your heart teaches you that the wages of sin is death. However, "sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Rom 6:14). When you truly come under grace, you will no longer sin willfully. You will no longer indulge secret sins. You will, by a supernatural work of grace, become the slaves of "obedience resulting in righteousness" (Rom. 6:16). Will you sin? Yes, you will sin, but when you do, you will have an advocate with the Father to whom you can turn with confidence rather than hiding in shame (1 Jo. 2:1). I heard of a man who, when he failed and sinned, would tell God, "Next time take better care of me. You know that without you, that's all I can do." This man had found grace. This man had found the revelation of the cross that breaks the power of sin in a life, and he had found a power over sin that was greater than his own strength.
I remember before I came into this grace of which I write, there were sins that I avoided only because I feared God's judgment. However, if God had told me that He would allow me to indulge in such sins without consequence or cost to me or to those whom I loved, and that he would allow it without it angering or grieving Him, I would gladly have indulged. Why? Because: with my flesh I was serving the law of sin. However, now, were He to make the same offer (which He would never do, of course), I would decline because I no longer love those sins deep in my heart. He has broken their power over me. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death. I have found rest because the war is over. I'm no longer struggling to serve God in order to avoid his wrath while all the while longing for forbidden fruit. He is now my great joy and delight and I serve Him because I love Him and long for Him. If you want to know if you have truly come into grace and have been saved from sin, all you have to do is consider whether you still desire it deep in your heart.
God told Moses that He would drive out the Canaanites from before him. However, God said, "I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land" (Ex. 23:29, 30). God will drive out the old nature, not all at once, but a little at a time, lest pride or a lack of compassion take over. However, the chains of slavery to besetting sin will instantly and forever be broken for you at Shechem when you exchange the heavy yoke of the law for the cross of Christ. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death" (Rom. 8:2).
There is a rest for the people of God. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest (Heb. 4:9, 11). Canaan can be yours. How? I've already given the secrets in previous articles, but now you must find the experience for yourself. You must now follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham.The True Gospel Series