A Day to Be Remembered
(From the Book "The Saving Life of Christ"  by Ian Thomas)


     It is truly a blessing to enter the promised land. "There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you...shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you." (Deut. 12: 7) God's continuous presence is experienced in His promised Sabbath-rest.

     In the land, everyone has sacrificed their self-life to be an instrument of the Lord's life and work. And by taking this path of the cross, these children of God are enabled to enter into the good, pleasing and perfect will of their Father. (Rom. 12: 1-2) Everything you do will be a sheer delight! The whole of your activity under the control and power of the Holy Spirit will be bathed in joy!
     "You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit..." (Deut. 12: 8) That is what they were doing in the wilderness! Every one of God's called out people were still doing whatever was right in their own eyes. There was no sense of the absolute sovereignty of God - His absolute right to control their every step in life. Remember, man was never given the right to direct his own life as an independent god. "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps." (Jer. 10: 23)

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph. 2: 10)

     The flesh-life is still alive and active in the desert wilderness. And so the people continued to do what was right in their own eyes. Even though this conduct was controlled by their own sincere beliefs, and even though it often included a service and worship to God, this life continued to be prompted by the carnal nature, which inevitably promotes its own plans to gain its own praise and glory.

     We can easily recognize this carnal nature because it will continue to be "worried and upset about many things." (Luke 10: 41) When we are living by human effort, according to our own will, the flesh will have much to become worried and upset about. Even God interferes with the plans of the flesh.

     A man living by his own strength in the wilderness, even though prompted by sincere motives to serve God, is subject to certain patterns of conduct that rise up from the fallen flesh-life. As long as you remain a self-seeker and feed your fleshly lusts {desires} and your pride, the devil will continue to influence your life.

     For example, James describes "envy" and "self-seeking" as common traits that will rise out of Satan's work in this world. It comes from the "spirit of the world" (1 Cor. 2: 12) - "This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual{not spiritual}, demonic {of the devil}. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there." (James 3: 15-16) All self-righteous anger, bitterness and fighting flows out of this active work of the flesh, whether it's between nations, among families or in the church.

     So, if your eyes are still enviously looking at what others are doing; or if your life is still centered around your own ambitions, including how you will serve the Lord; or if you still find yourself worried and upset about things, including when someone or something interferes with your plans - then you can know that you are still living under the control of the flesh-life in the desert wilderness. There will be no rest for your soul while you continue to live by human effort, as you see fit, in the desert wilderness.

     In contrast, a man who has entered the promised Sabbath-rest of God through a supernatural circumcision of the flesh-life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and has thereby begun to participate with Christ in His divine nature, is set free from the power of Satan. The spiritual Christian receives "the mind of Christ." (1 Cor. 2: 16) The Lord, who becomes our life, provides us with His own humble and submissive nature.

     God has the power to provide His dependent children with a supernatural rest from the spiritual enemies that normally defeat our spiritual life. While the attacks may still come from the world, their arrows cannot enter the soul of a Christian who is living in the Sabbath-rest of God.

     "They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord...with all their heart and soul...All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side." ( 2 Chron. 15: 12-15 Emphasis added)

     Christ, who has already gained the victory over the flesh and the devil, fills His disciples with His divine life when they have truly given up their self-sufficiency and submitted themselves to live under His control and power. When they seek to be filled with Christ's Spirit with all their heart and soul, in due time they will be clothed with power from on high. These Spirit-filled Christians have truly died to self and entered into a wisdom that is from another world.

     "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle {considerate}, willing to yield {submissive}, full of mercy and good fruits {of the Spirit}, without partiality and without hypocrisy {sincere}". (James 3: 17)

     Furthermore, all work that is done for the Lord in the flesh will drain energy rather than provide that sheer joy that God has planned for His redeemed people when they are walking under the control and power of His Spirit. When we have been lifted out of the carnal life and into Christ's spiritual life, the all-surpassing power of God begins to flow through our soul. (2 Cor. 4: 7)

     If you are still living by the efforts of the flesh and are therefore experiencing the dryness of the arid wilderness, "you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the Lord your God is giving you." (Deut. 12: 9)

     "There remains therefore a rest for the {regenerate} people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his {own fleshly} work..."(Heb. 4: 9-10)

     What have you been doing since your redemption began? Are you still doing what is right in your own eyes? Do you still claim the right to choose your own career? You do not have that right! Do you still claim the right to choose the wife or husband you will marry? You do not have that right! Do you still claim the right to use your time as you please? You do not have that right! Do you still claim the right to spend your money as you please? You do not have that right! Do you still claim the right to serve God as you please? You do not have that right! The only Christians who are still claiming these rights will also recognize how they are still living in a dry and arid land - the desert wilderness!

     There is only one way out of the desert. "If anyone desires to come after Me {into a union with the divine nature}, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me {through a death to the flesh-life}. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." (Luke 9: 23-24)

     The moment an individual gives the Holy Spirit the right to re-establish the sovereignty of Jesus Christ within their soul, they do not even have the right to work for the Lord according to what is right in their own eyes. The children of God must completely die to self-will and depend on the Spirit of the Lord to lead them into His life and work.

     Here was a redeemed people. They had been brought out of Egypt {a type of the world} and were on their way to the "land of promise," but their thoughts, their ambitions, their appetites, were still being fed by an old way of life in a world they were supposed to leave behind. "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic." (Num. 11: 5) They remained enslaved to the memories of the old worldly pleasures of the flesh from which they had been redeemed!

     With what does your mind busy itself? What are your ambitions? Where are your appetites? Have you been weaned from the things of the world {including its people, events, concerns, ambitions and activities} and the {self-sufficient and independent} ways of the world? Do not forget, it was Jesus Christ who said that everyone who is looking back at the fleshly ways of this world will never be fit for service in the undivided kingdom of God. (Luke 9: 62) And He also said, "Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." (Luke 17: 32)

     James describes this love affair with the ways of the world as spiritual adultery - "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity {hatred or animosity} with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4: 4 Emphasis added)

     Christians today are continually praying for God to give them the temporal things they have set their eyes on in this world. They honestly think their happiness is dependent on their temporal circumstances. There is an assumption that if only they had the right spouse, or home, or job, or reputation, or ministry, you name it, surely they would find fulfillment. They never seem to learn how everyone who drinks of this temporal water will be thirsty again.
     Only those who turn wholly to Christ and seek out the Living Waters of His divine nature will be filled with the firstfruits of His eternal life. They are the only ones who will "never thirst" again. (John 4: 13-14)

     The people of the wilderness knew nothing of the absolute sovereignty of God's will. Even though God had given them such unrelenting evidence of His willingness to provide for their basic needs with the daily manna, they never acted as though His ways mattered. And even after receiving such lavish promises of a land to be possessed, they continued to feed their mind with thoughts about the world they had left behind. 

      So what did this willful people have to say to the men who were attempting to lead them into the promised land of true righteousness and holiness? (Eph. 4: 22-24) "They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, 'You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them.'" (Num. 16: 3) Even while their flesh-life was alive and active, they claimed to be living in the presence of the Lord. In their own estimation they were holy - "every one of them"! How holy? Holy enough!

     How holy can you be when your life is still being directed by your own self-will? Holy enough? Can a carnal nature be holy? Remember, the flesh-life cannot go into the presence of the Lord. "Make every be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Heb. 12: 14)

     Today, believers have an opportunity to participate with Christ in His divine nature, but they think they are already holy enough! God's "called out" people are still making the same serious error in judgment that Israel of old once made.

     For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud {of the Holy Spirit}...They all ate the same spiritual food {that every Christian receives in the desert testing period}...for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things {desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and the self-sufficient ways of the world} as they did...We should not test the Lord...And do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall. (1 Cor. 10: 1-12)

     "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you...Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from every-thing that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Cor. 6: 17; 7: 1)

     While feeding on the ways of the world and grumbling about God's requirements for being holy to Him {set apart for His exclusive use}, can you honestly call yourself a Spirit-filled child of God? Maybe you have recognized the witness of God's Spirit through His supernatural work of spiritual regeneration. Maybe you still have some hunger and thirst to be like Jesus, yet you remain perfectly content to live out a self-directed life in the flesh - which by its very existence is a life that renounces and repudiates the lordship of Jesus Christ. You will never be raised up into a participation with Christ in His divine nature while you continue to follow the worldly course of self-sufficiency and self-will.

     Jesus said, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." (Luke 13: 24) The effort we must exert is directed toward putting off our heart idols and the self-willed way of life.

     "Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt. 7: 14)

     The "many" have always thought it would be easy to enter into the kingdom-life of God. But the gospel describes how the old flesh-life will resist giving up its own will and its rights. The fallen nature wants to be its own god and claim its own possessions. This is why Jesus emphasized the need for pressing forward, and even doing violence to our flesh-life if we want to have the undivided kingdom of God established within our heart. (Matt. 5: 29-30; 11: 12; Luke 16: 16) "For many are called {out from the ways of the world}, but few are chosen {to enter the land [life] of abundant fruitfulness}." (Matt. 22: 14)

     It may well be that as you began to read this book you were firmly convinced that you were holy enough - still ready to resist the idea of being anything other than what you have already become while still living under a bondage to the sinful {self-willed} nature. But do not miss the purpose for which this message comes to you; for full redemption is "a day to be remembered" in a "land to be possessed."

     We will only receive the "mark" and "seal" of Christ's divine nature after we have entered the promised land. Only after the natural flow of the flesh-life has been "cut off" at our own miraculous Jordan River crossing through a circumcision of the heart, by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit, are we truly able to participate in the full benefits of Christ's life.

     The Lord now has the authority and the power to make each of His disciples holy by providing them with an "undivided", (Ezk. 11: 19) or "purified" (Acts 15: 8-9) heart. This supernatural heart-purity is truly a glorious blessing: "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God {as an indwelling nature of Christ's self-sacrificing love}." (Matt. 5: 8)

     "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for thosewho love Him. But God has revealed them to us {spiritualChristians who have truly entered into a participation withChrist in His divine nature} through His Spirit." (1 Cor. 2: 9-10)