For the New Year: The Case For Going On Into the Promised Land

By A.W.Tozer |  January 2, 2018

" Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." (John 12:24) 
There is a relationship between death to self or the crucified life, and fruit.

THE CASE FOR GOING ON INTO THE PROMISED LAND
By A.W. Tozer

You can always test the quality of religious teaching by the enthusiastic reception it receives from unsaved men. If the natural man receives it enthusiastically, it is not of the Spirit of God. Paul says plainly that the natural man cannot know spiritual things. To him, spiritual things are plain foolishness (see 1 Cor. 2:14).

There is a type of religious teaching understood, received by and perfectly logical to the natural man. But thenatural man does not know that which is of the Spirit of God. He does not have the faculty to receive it. The natural man is of this world. He may be in perfect health and have an IQ of 180. He may be as handsome as a Greek statue or if a woman, a perfect example of fine womanhood. Or he might be a perfect example of the young American. The natural man, though he is in this state, is unblessed and out of grace.

Contrary to the natural man is the spiritual man. This is the Christian who is mature in his faith, led, taught and controlled by the Holy Spirit, and to whom the Spirit of God can speak.

Then there is the carnal man. The carnal man is the immature Christian.

He is no longer a natural man, for he has been renewed by the grace of God and is in a state of grace, but he is not spiritual. He is halfway in between the two. He has been regenerated but is not advancing in his spiritual life. He is not influenced or led by the Holy Spirit but rather is controlled by his  lower nature.

Of the three types, it is the spiritual man who is living the crucified life. He is indwelt, led, taught, influenced and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Old Testament Prototypes

The old Testament prototype of the natural man-those who are not in a state of grace-was Israel in Egypt. Four hundred years the Israelites had been in Egypt, and a major part of that time they had been in bondage to Pharaoh. Then came Moses who, through blood and atonement and power, led the children of Israel out of Egypt with the Red Sea closing between lsrael and Egypt. That corresponded to the new birth.

Regeneration, or rebirth, makes the natural man a Christian, which takes him out of nature and puts him in a state of grace. Israel came out of Egypt and went across the sea, and the sea closed behind them and the enemy died. Israel for the first time in 400 years was a free nation, redeemed by blood and by power. This is like the Christian who for all of his lifetime has been subject to bondages of various kinds-chains and shackles and manacles have been upon his spirit. Now, through the blood of the Lamb, the power of the Spirit, he of is brought out of Egypt, and the Red Sea closes after him. We used to sing the hymn I've Turned My Back upon the World by Elisha A Hoffman:

I've turned my back upon the world

With all its idle pleasures,

And set my heart on better things,

On higher, holier treasures;

No more its glitter and its glare,

And vanity shall blind me;

I've crossed the separating line,

And left the world behind me.

These words describe exactly what happened to Israel in the land of Canaan. It was God's benevolent intention that the natural man in bondage in Egypt should come out of Egypt and make an 11-day journey to the holy land offered to Abraham by God in covenant. The holy land-variously called the Promised Land, the land of promise, and Canaan-was to be the home-land of Israel.

Israel was not only to be out of Egypt but also to be in the holy land, their spiritual homeland. God brought them out so that He might bring them in. This point has been lost in our teaching today. God brings us out, not that we may be out, but that we may be brought in.

God saves a criminal not so that he might tell about it once a year for the next 40 years but so that he might become a saint. God takes him out of his bondage that He might lead that person into the Promised Land. And the farther in the man goes, the less he will have to say about where he used to be. It is not the mark of spirituality when I talk at length about what l used to be. Israel wanted to forget what she used to be and remembered only occasionally to thank God for her deliverance.

Today, we magnify what we used to be and write bo toteu the world about it. Paul said, “Those things ought not even be mentioned among the people of God" (see Eph.5:12).They are not even to be mentioned in conversation. God brought you out, but He does not leave you in limbo. He brought you out so that He might bring you in, and that was the will of God.

After God brought Israel out of Egypt, He showed them, after an 11-day march, the Promised Land. The enemy could have been driven out, and they could have had the holy land of promise God had given to them centuries before. They would not be stealing it. They would be occupying it as their proper possession. God, who owned it, had given it to Abraham and his seed after him. Abraham's seed had been driven out and into Egypt. God was now bringing Israel back to put them in the land. They were not to be usurpers-not to take the land- but to occupy the land, which was properly theirs by a gift of the one who owned it: God.

Metaphorically, God brought the Israelites out of sin so that He might bring them into the spiritual life. The Israelites' march was a God-blessed, God-hovered-over and Shekinah-enlightened journey straight through to the Holy Land. When they arrived in the land of promise from which Abraham had come centuries before, they were to be spiritual men.

They represent an Old Testament prototype of the spiritual man.

The Natural Man

If you are a natural man, no matter how learned, how talented, how handsome or how desirable you are, you not know a thing about God and you do not know a thing about the spiritual life. You do not have the faculties to know it.

If a man who is stone seaf sits reading while a Mozart  Symphony is playing, you would not blame him because he would rather read than listen to the music. He does not have the ability to enjoy the music. The ability you have in you to listen to the symphony is dead in him.

Or if you were in an art gallery looking at paintings and there was a man completely blind sitting on the bench, you would not say, "Why is that Philistine just sitting there? Why doesn't he get up and look at the paintings?" He does not have the ability to look at paintings. The ability you have to look at paintings is dead in him.

No matter who you are or how learned or religious you are, if you have not been regenerated, renewed, made over, brought to the light by the quickening of the Holy Spirit, you cannot know God. You cannot know spiritual things at all; you can only know the history of spiritual things. Any enthusiasm you have for religion is but an illusion.

The Spiritual Man

Paul says that we Christians who are quickened to life-who are God's children, who are not in the state of nature anymore but in a state of grace-but who continue without progress year after year, wander spiritually instead of moving straight ahead.

Sometimes we may get a little closer to Egypt than to the Holy Land, then we again get a little closer to the Holy Land; then back to Egypt. So we swing on our pendulum, back and forth, occasionally looking over the sea and remembering that we used to be slaves.

Then we go to a prayer meeting or some revival, put out our arms, and we move so close to the Holy Land that we can almost touch it. But we are not going to either place. We are not going back into the world, and we are not going to push on into the spiritual life. So back and forth we go, swinging between the old world we came from and the new world where we ought to be.  

To continue without progress year after year is to develop a sort of chronic heart disease. Your heart becomes harder and harder as time passes. The best time to plunge into the deeper spiritual life is when you are a young Christian and have enthusiasm and can form deep-seated habits.

If I were to try to learn Japanese at my age it would almost be hopeless.

I could learn to read and write it. But I could never speak it well enough to be understood, because I have been around too long and my tongue and lips and palate have been too used to only having to form English words. All the little twists turns and slurs of the English tongue fit my mouth. The older

I get, the harder it is for me to learn a new language. However, a young

person can pick it up and rattle it off in no time flat. The younger you are, the easier it is to learn and speak a new language because over time, habits have a tendency to harden you.

The Carnal Man

Now, what about the carnal man? The carnal man is the immature Christian who does not go on or advance. He is slowed in His spiritual development and is not influenced or controlled by the Holy Spirit but rather by his lower nature.

When Israel came to Kadesh-Barnea after marching a little while in the direction of the Promised Land, they stopped (see Num. 13-14). Moses said to them, in effect, "We're about to enter into the land that has been the object of your hope since God brought you out of Egypt.”

Israel responded, "We're a little afraid. So send up 12 men on the land."

So Moses sent 12 men to examine the land to spy and report back to determine whether they could take it or not. When the spies came back, all of them reported that it was an exceedingly good land. There was water there. To people in that country, water amounted to riches untold. It was more valuable than silver and gold and diamonds. So to report that this was an exceedingly good land in which there was much water was equivalent to saying that it was a sort of paradise.

They found grapes so large that it took two men to carry one branch between them. They found dates, which would have been our equivalent of sugar, candy, preserves, marmalade jelly and sodas. Everybody has his sweet tooth, and they had their dates. Figs and dates were probably the sweetest part of their diet. And there were pomegranates. Pomegranates are berries but are near enough to citrus fruit to have been classified as it. They are literally packed with vitamins. They would be well worth having.

Then there was milk and honey. When the Bible says "a land flowing with milk and honey," this is not careless language (Exod. 3:8). There were a great many bees in the land. There was so much honey that the trees could not hold it all, so it literally dripped down on great rocks. And there was abundant milk from sheep and goats. This land was so different from Egypt, the land they had come from only a little while before.

Now, after 10 of these 12 men came back and reported what e country was like, they nevertheless said, "We advise you not to go up into the land because although it is an exceedingly good land with lots of water, grapes, figs, pomegranates, milk and honey, the people are large and strong. There are giants there and their cities are great and walled up to heaven.

A land with brooks of water, grapes, figs, pomegranates, milk and honey does not sound to me as if it were being eaten up by ts giant inhabitants. Besides that, the spies had not stayed long enough to watch the inhabitants eat up anything. The 10 men were simply frightened an filled with unbelief and advised against going on. "Let's stay here in the wilderness," was their advice. "We're free of Egypt, thank God, and are not slaves anymore. We are in the wilderness, and while it isn't the best, we will settle for it rather than go up against those giants in that wonderful promised homeland.”

Then Caleb and Joshua stepped to the head of the line and  said to Moses, "We are ready to go in. Pay no attention to these pessimists. We can easily take the land, and there will be bread for us. The land belongs to us, our father's God gave it us- gave it to Abraham, our  father-and it's ours. Let's go take it.”

Caleb and Joshua told of the rich advantages in the land and were unwilling to allow the large strong giants in the cities to keep them out.

All the teaching today about the Church being the perfect democracy and about how there should be no leaders is plain poppycock with nothing in the Old or New Testament to support it. Twelve leaders were sent to spy out the land, and the people were more or less dependent on what those leaders said. Just as you and I are similarly dependent in this democracy upon our leaders in Washington to a large extent. And in the Church of Christ, it is the same.

The people heard the unfavorable report of the 10 men that is, the majority report. Caleb and Joshua gave the minority report, but they were only two. The people wept and fell down in front of their tent doors, wishing they had not come out Egypt. They complained to Moses and said, "Would to God we were back in Egypt.”

All the Israelites could see was walled cities and giants. They could not see grapes or goats with their great utters dripping with milk or trees drooling sweet honey down the grass.They could not see the rolling grasslands and the brooks and rivers. All they could see were the giants land. They forgot that God said, "Go up and I'll give it to you.” So they said,“You’ll kill our poor women. You'll kill our children.”

This is always the unspiritual man's argument: "I've got to think about my family. I've got a family after all, brother, and God wants us to be wise, and I can't push this too far. I can't be come too spiritual because I've got to think about my family. I can't subject my wife and children to difficulties. I can't lay burdens on them."

Had these Israelites only believed, they could have taken all  their wives and families into the Holy Land within a few hours. They would have had all that land. Instead, for 40 years, they wandered in the desert. They had been so afraid that those wives and children were going to be killed if they went into that land that they ended up walking for 40 years, wandering round tent. and round and round in the desert. Now swinging back near to Egypt where they had been, now a wide swing close to the Promised Land where they should be. Back again to Egypt where they were not, then around again, then by the loop again near to where they ought to be.

They wandered for 40 years until those children were grown to middle age and those women were dead. Forty years of it be cause the men had whimpered and said, "We can't go. It would cost us too much. We can't mistreat our families. We have to be with our families on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights and all during the missionary convention. We have to be with our families. We can't take a chance of our children becoming juvenile delinquents.”

The best way for a husband to save his family from delinquency is to show them an example of a man who loves God uncompromisingly. A man who seeks to be spiritual, even though it costs him his blood. A man who doesn't listen to the devil’s ruse: "You give more than you should to the Lord's work  already, and if you seek to become a spiritual man, you will harm your family.”

Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years by God's judgment. God said, “Doubtless ye shall not come into the land.” (Num. 14:30). Their fear of death and their doubts and complaining displeased God because the people brought “slander to the land" (Num. 14:36).

Every man who stands in the shadows and slanders the deeper spiritual life is slandering the sunshine. Every man who refuses to enter into the holy life is in the wilderness, slandering the homeland of the soul. For 40 years, Israel wandered aimlessly about. God was with them. He did not destroy them; rather, He let them die one at a time. Occasionally, He would punish them, but He did not destroy them as a nation.

Spiritual Failures

I refuse to be discouraged about anything, but it gives me a heavy heart to walk among Christians who have wandered for 40 long years in the wilderness, not going back to sin but not going on into the holy life. Wandering in an  aimless circle, sometimes a little warmer, sometimes a little colder, sometimes a little holier and sometimes very unholy, but never going on. Habits have been acquired and are hard to break, and it makes it almost certain that they will live and die spiritual failure. To me this is a terrible thing.

It is possible to be a Christian and yet be a failure. This is the same as Israel in the desert, wandering around.The Israelites were God’s people, protected and fed, but they were failures. They were not where God meant them to be. They compromised. They between halfway between where they used to be and  where they ought to be. And that describes many of the Lord's people. They live and die spiritual failures.

I’m glad God is good and kind. Failures can crawl into God's arms, relax and say, “Father, I made a mess of it I'm a spiritual failure. I haven't been out doing evil things exactly,but here I am, Father, and I'm old and ready to go and I'm  a failure.”

Our kind and gracious heavenly Father will not say to this person, "Depart from me I never knew you," because that person has believed and does believe in Jesus Christ. The individual has simply been a failure all of his life. He is ready for death and ready for heaven. I wonder if that is what Paul the man of God, meant when he said:”No other foundation can any man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort is. If any man's work abide which he hath built there- upon, he should receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved ; yet so as by fire.”
(1 Cor. 3:11-15)

I think that's what it means, all right. We ought to be the kind of Christian that cannot only save our souls but also save our lives. When Lot left Sodom, he had nothing but the garments on his back. Thank God, he got out. But how much better it would have been if he had said farewell at the gate and had camels loaded with his goods. He could have gone out with his head up, chin out, saying good riddance to old Sodom. How much better he could have could marched away from there with his family. And he settled in a new place, he could have had “an abundant entrance”.(see 2 Pet 1:1).

Thank God, you are going make it. But do you want to make it in the way you have been acting lately? Wandering, roaming aimlessly? When there is a place where Jesus will pour "the oil of gladness" on our heads, a place sweeter than any other in the entire world, the mercy seat (Ps.45:7;Heb. 1:9)?

It is the will of God that you should enter the holy of holies, live under the shadow of the mercy seat, and go out from there and always come back to be renewed and recharged and re-fed.

It is the will of God that you live by the mercy seat, living a separated, clean, holy, sacrificial life-a life of continual spiritual difference. Wouldn't that be better than the way you are doing it now?

We're Marching to Zion

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

 

Come, we that love the Lord,

And let our joys be known,

Join in a song with sweet accord,

Join in a song with sweet accord,

And thus surround the throne,

And thus surround the throne.

We're marching to Zion,

Beautiful, beautiful Zion

We're marching upward to Zion,

The beautiful city of God.

Let those refuse to sing

Who never knew our God

But children of the heavenly King,

But children of the heavenly King

May speak their joys abroad,


May speak their joys abroad.

 

(From the book The Crucified Life, by A.W.Tozer)

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