Holi Spirit bin sutim bel bilong me.
(The Holy Spirit has been shooting my belly [i.e. heart].)
Since beginning our E2 language and culture learning, we have had the great privilege of joining our national employees as they work through the Foundations teaching of the Gospel. They have heard it before but this time our emphasis, rather than looking forward and building up to the events on the cross and of the resurrection, we now look back to the completed work of salvation through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and build further on their understanding of this God some of them have come to believe it.
There are many works-oriented belief systems around us. We, as humankind, would always prefer to do ourselves than to think ourselves dependent and unable to do anything. We’d rather do than just be. But to be is exactly what is being asked of us by God. “It is not by works lest any many should boast.” (Eph. 2:9) And “for without Me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5).
This past week someone asked the question that is on nearly every heart: How does God view the believer who goes back to sin? It has been wonderful watching 3 of our church planters and a national pastor expound on the Israelite’s wilderness tabernacle as a picture of Christ, emphasizing with two jars–one with clear water, one with black water, the work of Christ Jesus in us.
When someone comes to Jesus confessing that they are not enough to clean inside their heart themselves, Jesus takes the black water jar out and puts in a clean, clear water jar. This change was done by Jesus who never changes. He will never take back His salvation. He will not say, “Yeah, well, you’re getting on my nerves. You just keep messing up so I think I’m just done covering your sins.” NOGAT! (No got!) The change that Jesus works is for “oltaim oltaim” (forever). Jesus never walks away from us.
But we, on the other hand, do walk away from Him. Sin is putting my back to Him and saying, “You know what…I like this over here better. What You’ve done for me just isn’t enough.” Sin colors black all over the outside of that jar that is inside of us. Does that make us not clean inside? No! Jesus cleaned us inside once and for all. This black is on the outside, that’s all. The body we still live in still wants to sin and we do. But this will never remove the clean that Jesus put inside of us. It will, however, block the clean from showing through. It will hide the name of Jesus in us.
In the same vein as this teaching, I have been reading James 1:21-22 and rereading it. Just before this passage it says that God is “the Father of lights in whom there is no shadow of turning”. God is full light and no shadow at all resides anywhere within Him. He is perfectly without sin or wrongdoing and will never, ever change.
Our recent conference speaker illustrated this by holding up a book in front of the projector light. Being a big, thick book it of course blocked the light so that some of the projected picture and light could not be seen. He then put the book down and held up instead a single sheet of white paper. The paper blocked the light every bit as much as the book! In this same way, sin is a block to the light of Jesus that shines out of me. I putting covering the name of Jesus with junk.
Then coming down to verses 21-22 it says, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and ALL THAT REMAINS OF WICKEDNESS…”. The first part “all filthiness” is the sin, the black water jar that is inside of us all at birth. Jesus takes all of our filthiness, puts it on Himself and puts His own perfect righteousness on us, giving us the clean, clear water jar inside of us instead. This is salvation.
The second part, “all that remains of wickedness” is the sin nature that still remains in our body. Jesus calls us many times throughout the Bible to “Be ye holy as I am holy”. What is this? Do we need the jars exchanged again? No! That is clean forever more in the sight of God. No, what we need is to come back to Jesus and admit that we walked away and got the outside of our jar dirty again. He will clean the outside again so that His full light shines through, nothing remaining to block it. This is what “all that remains of wickedness” is refering to…LET IT GO!
Lastly, there are people that sound like and look like believers who turn their back to God and go to sin. Does this mean that they will not go to heaven or that they do not have a clear water jar inside? Perhaps. Perhaps they only did and said good sounding things and their jar is unchanged from the black water jar that all are born with. OR perhaps they have a clear jar but for whatever reason have turned their back on God and are hiding the light that resides inside them. Pastor Joel illustrated this by having the jar on a string under a white shirt. Can you tell what kind of a heart is inside of him? No. God sees the heart and knows. But you and I can’t always determine whether they are clean and hiding it or never cleaned at all. This is a hard thing no matter who you are or where you live.
But our responsibility is the condition of our own jar and to help our brothers and sisters who belong to Jesus recognize and walk in the light, keeping the outside of our jars clean and free from “all that remains of wickedness.”
This has been such a heavy and beautiful time in the teaching. As one teacher keeps saying, “Dispela no liklik samting! Dispela bikpela samting tru!” (This is no small thing! This is something truly big!) Friends of mine that have been struggling are gripping hard onto truth and I rejoice to see how deeply they are thinking about all of this!
But this teaching is not without its effect on me. Strangely enough, I find it more convicting at times in Tok Pisin than in English. The plainness of the language just hits straight and I am convicted. The illustrations given and the scriptures read making it so plain before me. Holiness has been an area God has been putting His finger on in my life this year. I have been asking much the same question as my PNG brother asked. Really?! But you’re a MISSIONARY!!! Yes, but just like my brothers and sisters, we here are still in a journey of growing up and growing deeper. It is God who works His will in each heart and we are so humbled that He would continue to teach us His truths.