“CHOOSE THIS DAY . . .”   21.03.19

“CHOOSE THIS DAY . . .”   21.03.19

References:

NIV Bible Commentary, Volume 2: NT, Zondervan, Barker & Kohlenberger, 1994.

Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVsgV-_4WQU&feature=youtu.be   Jason Upton, Youtube, published Published on Sep 13, 2011, from 2008 message.

Choosing who one will follow is an act of will; being able to live out that choice is a matter of the heart. Joshua said to his people: “choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh.24:15). He went on to instruct them to: “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel” (Josh.24:23).

Following Yeshua is a heart issue. A heart that makes itself right before the Lord is a repentant heart. A repentant heart can only come out of surrender, loyalty, and conviction. Although all are free to choose to follow Jesus/Yeshua and He will not turn anyone away, upon having made that choice, there are expectations and conditions. A choice to follow is a commitment to live in HIS WAYS, to WALK AS HE WALKED, not to do as one pleases.

David sinned, but he had that perfect heart that loved, and longed, to please the Lord, to be in right standing before Him; thus David quickly transitioned from sin to conviction and repentance: “But David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David prayed to Adonai, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done! But now, Adonai, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly”” (2 Sam.24:10). David sought the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in everything that he did, with the exception of that fateful interlude with Bathsheba. So David inquired of Adonai saying, “Shall I go and attack those Philistines?” Adonai said to David, “Go, attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah  .. . . . . . . Once again David inquired of Adonai, and Adonai answered him saying, “Arise! Go to Keilah, for I am going to deliver the Philistines into your hand.””(1 Sam.23:2,4).

After David’s sinful encounter with Bathsheba, and all that followed from it, having lost the child that she bore, David poured his heart out before the Lord: “blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight” (Ps.51:3-6). With the right heart, one will repent of sin, and reject that sin, not defend, making excuses and hang onto it. It is always a choice; but just as Joshua expounded to his people, upon having made the declaration (Josh.24:24) that they would follow their God, they would now be held accountable for that decision (Josh.24:26,27).

When Yeshua says “if your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body be thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body go into Gehenna”(Matt.5:29,30), He is basically teaching the same principle – i.e., following Him is a choice to live out what He has said, done, taught.  If you are going to follow Him, you will need to pluck out/get rid of/put to death whatever it is that gets in the way of your stated choice.

If it is a sincere choice, it is a matter of the heart; therefore, we should want to get rid of it all.  Zondervan (NIV Commentary, p.173) puts it this way: “radical means must be taken to remove whatever can prevent it (i.e., sin).. . . . Jesus is not demanding the literal excision of our bodily members; he is rather demanding the cessation of the sinful activities of these members. He is basically saying as Joshua: “Choose this day whom you will follow,” and if you choose to follow Me you will be held accountable.

When Yeshua/Jesus quotes from Isa.66:24: “where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched,’”(Mk.9:44), He is referring to what will be the fate of those who rebel against His teaching and continue in a lifestyle of sin: “It is better for you to enter life lame [without having experienced things which defile], rather than having two feet [rather than having done those things which defile], to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where ‘Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin [best not to see some things], pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye [without having seen those things which tempt, deceive, corrupt], rather than having two eyes [seeing everything there is to be seen], to be cast into hell fire [because of having been pulled into temptation by looking at things best not seen]” (Mk.9:45-48).  He is saying: deny your self (Lk.9:23); put your flesh to death; get rid of it.  Participation in what offends Him and defiles you gets in the way of your ability to truly follow Him; therefore, get rid of whatever gets in the way of following Him. Choose this day Whom you will follow . . . .

Paul comes at it with instructions to “Therefore, put to death what is earthly in you—sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed—for that is idolatry. Because of such things God’s wrath is coming upon the sons of disobedience. At one time you also walked in these ways, when you used to live in these ways. But now, set them all aside—anger, rage, malice, slander, and foul language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another. After all, you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self that is being renewed in knowledge, according to the image of the One who created him” (Col.3:5-10). Once again, the bottom line is: get rid of it!  Make a decision, and stick to it; walk in it; live it out. There are no acceptable excuses, for I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting in Ben-Elohim—who loved me and gave Himself up for me”(Gal.2:19,20); these words apply to each one who has given their lives to Yeshua as Saviour and Lord. “Now those who belong to Messiah have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Ruach, let us also walk by the Ruach/Holy Spirit” (Gal.5:24,25). It takes a convicted, and repentant heart to put to death the parts of self that sin. It requires the heart to be truly disgusted and repelled by those activities, behaviours, habits, or failures. We must make a choice to live out those words by applying them to all aspects of our lives. And we will be held accountable, for “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom.14:10-12). And Jesus/Yeshua says  “I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matt.12:36); so make a choice, and stick to it.

Yeshua addresses the lust of the eyes when He says: “If your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be thrown into Gehenna” (Mk.9:47), and when in Matt. 5:28, He says “But I tell you that everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the boasting of life—is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desire, but the one who does the will of God abides forever”(I John 2:15-17). What He is saying is that there are some things that, if when we see them, they will tempt us to sin, it would be better for us to avoid looking at (does this strike a chord?), including such things as pornography, entertainment with scantily clad and/or suggestive, provocative sensual attire, and sexual overtures. He’s saying, “If looking is going to provoke sin, STOP IT/DON’T GO THERE!”  If pornograph, fantasizing, etc., it going to incite lust and perversion and interfere with following Him, confess, repent, and get rid of them! For the women out there, please realize that dressing in provocative, suggestive attire, which entices and stimulates the lust of the flesh from your counterparts is equally offensive to God, and simply represents the other side of the coin. Whether you are the one looking or the one inviting the lusting look, you are equally in need of conviction and repentance.

James also cautions against entertaining sin by allowing the imagination to flirt with the idea, allowing temptation to take hold, because once it does, it gives birth to the behaviour, of which the end result is sin, which leads to death: “But each one is tempted when he is dragged away and enticed by his own desire. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is full grown, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters”(James 1:14-16). This speaks to the process of first entertaining in one’s mind, then rationalizing/justifying wrong/evil behaviour to fool oneself into believing it’s okay, a common form of denial, and making excuses for one’s behaviour. Look, imagine (fantasize) >  open doors to temptation > act on it > look for ways to justify/make excuses – a sure formula for a fall. This is exactly what the world is full of; and this is exactly what Yeshua is warning His followers about when He says “if your eye causes you to sin.”   

God has given us His Holy Spirit, and one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Gal.5:23), by which there is choice to exercise one’s will and not allow sin to take root. Before the Holy Spirit was freely given, Job exercised his will in this regard: “I made a covenant with my eyes

not to pay attention to a virgin”(Job 31:1). “For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah a light, and corrective discipline the way of life, keeping you from the immoral woman, from a wayward wife’s smooth tongue. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyelids” (Prov.6:23-25). Clearly there is responsibility on our side of the fence. Clearly there is a choice. If Job was able to choose rightly, before the Holy Spirit was given to empower us, how much more should present-day believers be held accountable?

The societal focus on sex appeal does not fit into the believers’ frame of reference (ref. I John 2:15-17). Notice how the previous Words Yeshua spoke uphold the Words of Torah. The Old Covenant is still with us. The New Covenant is an addendum; Yeshua did not negate, abandon, or replace it. Instead, He reinforced it, supplemented it,  and demonstrated how to live it out. Now it is our responsibility to walk it out. “But this I have against you, that you have forsaken your first love. Remember then from where you have fallen. Repent and do the deeds you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your menorah from its place—unless you repent” (Rev.2:4,5).

Following Yeshua Ha-Mashiach includes ALL of Scripture; following Yeshua Ha-Mashiach is a heart issue. A great summary in this video clip message from Jason Upton (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVsgV-_4WQU&feature=youtu.be) captures it well, when he says  “It’s Not a Better Me; It’s No Longer Me.”  It is time for God’s people to walk in repentance, get their hearts right, and follow Him. It is time to get serious about the commitment made. Choose this day Whom you will follow, and WALK/LIVE ACCORDINGLY.

© 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.

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