Binding God with Our Traditions

Well, dear saints, I have to apologize for not posting anything new for a couple of months. We had an unfinished home on 20 acres that we started back in mid 2009 that I had to complete and put on the market. It was designed like a hunting lodge, rustic with a vaulted ceiling, three bedrooms and one and a half baths. Anyhow, it has now sold and I can get back to putting my head and heart on things eternal, once again.

I recently had a series of communications with a brother by email in which he ended up criticizing me for not going back into the institutional churches of men and trying to fix them after God told me to leave them once and for all and seek Him alone.

This came yesterday in a very timely way in my email devotional from T. Austin-Sparks. God once again verified to me that I heard His voice and that He has me right where He wants me, seeking that city whose builder and maker is God which has its foundations built on Jesus Christ alone.

Don’t say that the things which God has made clean are impure. (Acts 10:15 GW)

“Who was I that I could withstand God?” Now what we have here is that, over against the sovereignty of the Spirit, was the fixed tradition of Peter in the one case, and the same in the case of those at Jerusalem who “contended with him” for doing what he did. On a later occasion Peter fell into the same old traditional snare and Paul had to contend with him very strongly about it. The point is that the Lord was making for spiritual increase, but an obstacle encountered was this unpreparedness to leave room for the sovereignty of the Spirit. If a child or servant of God in his or her secret walk and history with God is led to move in a way that is not according to the recognized and established system, but new and different, and seemingly in violation of all the accepted and fixed conventions or associations, there is all too often a repetition of what took place in Jerusalem; a suspicion, a contention, and an opposition.

Now, dear friends, look here: we have got to take ourselves honestly in hand over this or we may be found to be “withstanding God” and “limiting the Holy One.” Read the Gospels and the Acts again, and ask the question as you proceed, “How can this, and that, and that be interpreted or construed as doing violence to an accepted and long established Divine order?” You will not get far before you are in the company of those who opposed Christ at every step, and of the Judaizers who pursued Paul across the world with the one object of making his ministry impossible. They were very jealous and zealous for the divinely established order – as they believed it to be. Do you not recognize that every movement of God down the ages has been in conflict with something that men believed to be the Divine order, and those concerned have been regarded as doing the Devil’s work? It was so with Christ, and it was so with the apostles. It has been so again and again when God has moved to enlarge His people by ignoring their fixed framework of custom. It is so easy to use thoughtless and misapplied slogans, or apply fragments of Scripture wrongly (such as, “By their fruits ye shall know them”). Very often such damaging dagger-thrusts are only because of a failure to give the Lord room and right to take some of His children by a way that is new, unusual, or very strange…. So we see that for all enlargement and increase we must leave room for God to do new things, strange things, things that we cannot understand for the moment. We only put ourselves outside of His intention to enlarge spiritually if we bind Him to our own fixed judgments.


By T. Austin-Sparks from: Hindrances to Fullness of Life 

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27 comments on “Binding God with Our Traditions

  1. Vicky Lindsay says:

    Thank you Michael! This is really good. It came at a really good time. Showing it to my husband. He thinks I’m off my rocker because we do not personally know or see around us any christians who live Biblically, yet I am choosing to. I’m telling him I cannot go on fabulous trips and cruising to far off corners of the world and I can no longer join him being friends with the world. His friends are worldly people and I’ve gone along with it/them and can no longer. Blessings and thanks again! Vicky

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    • Vicky, keep praying for your husband that He might come into an intimate relationship with the Lord. The flesh seeks to be in control and manifest in many ways. Don’t let your stand against the world in your husband become an act of fleshly rebellion. God can’t bless that, either.

      David wrote,

      “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate you? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies.”

      But he did not end his thought here. He went one to pray,

      “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
      (Psa 139:21-24 KJ2000)

      Love in the Son,
      Michael

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  2. John D says:

    Thanks for sharing this brother. I needed this this hour cause it seems I’m actually running against the wind. And of late, the people I adore are started saying something like “you are hearing a demon”. Little wonder, when people act differently from what’s norm in the “tradition of the elders” or “from what they called Divine order”, the only answer or rational conclusion is “that can’t be God!”. While leaving religious denomination then, I was told the same and again, I’m hearing that again. “The complacent of men has caused them to ridged God into their boxes”

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    • John, I am so happy that the Lord used this to encourage you, my brother! I have to ask, “Does God follow ‘divine order’?” Does God build Himself a box to confine Himself in while men parade around the outside of it and lay claim to it? Not hardly! God has always go against the religious norm and our preconceived ideas of what He should be doing. Cain and his children went forth without His direction and built cities and named them after themselves, but Enoch walked with God and he left no mark on this earth that he was ever here! Abraham left all to pursue God and left no city. He only bought a plot of ground to bury Sarah on and that was it! Jesus left no mark, no great buildings, no evangelical organizations, etc., but He DID leave a city not built with the hands of men, a body of living spiritual members that answered to Him as its Head. God’s ways are not men’s ways and His thoughts are not their thoughts. He refuses to be put in our theological boxes. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing and He and the disciples were constantly breaking the laws and traditions of the Jews as they obeyed the Father. We must walk by the leading of the Spirit and not by the letter of the Bible if we are to please God. Is this dangerous? Yes it can be if we try to do it in the flesh. Remember, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for THEY shall see God.” Lord, purify us IN Christ and keep us there. Amen.

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  3. Pamela says:

    Yes, for it remains that,

    “Unless the LORD builds the Church, the builders labor in vain to fix it.” (paraph. Psalm 127:1)

    Bless you Michael. It’s nice to have you back!

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    • Pamela, Thanks for your comment. Jesus also said, “Every plant my father has not planted shall be rooted up.” God can not and will not bless our Ishmaels. He only sees Isaac, the son of HIS promise. I for one will never help build another man’s system or institution. ENOUGH!

      Bless you, too, Pamela. It is nice to be free of that burden and back to writing and fellowshipping with His saints again.

      Like

  4. Mark W says:

    Going back to church for me would be like going back to Sodom after the angle escorted me out!

    Like

    • Me too, Mark. But we know that not all have gone outside the camp. Sodom is a good choice or words for what we see today and gives scope to what Jesus was warning the church would be like in the last days, “As it was in the days of Lot, so it shall be in the coming of the Son of Man…”

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  5. Carina says:

    Yep… And it’s so easy to be misinterpreted… As soon as you begin to say a word against the golden calves of religion, people scream, “Rebellion!” You want to edify and people don’t understand that in order to plant and build, first we need to tear down and demolish the old system… Old wineskins can’t receive the new wine.

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    • Well said, Carina. From that system we hear, “Who is YOUR pastor.” Yet even David figured out that the high priest in Jerusalem nor any other priest was his shepherd when he wrote, “The LORD is my Shepherd…” We also hear them say, “Who is YOUR covering?” Yet, Paul wrote, “The Head of every man is Christ…” Then we hear, “You need to submit to church authority.” Yet, we read about mutual submission, not some one way top down authoritarian structure patterned after the world, “Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” (1Pe 5:5-6 KJ2000). We submit to one another as much as that member is IN Christ. Even Paul said, “Follow me even as I follow Christ.” Submission is not given to someone simply because they have a title, degree, or paid position in the church. Christ is always the Head in every case that we must submit too.

      Jesus said to the disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that does serve.
      (Luk 22:25-26 KJ2000) He couldn’t have made it any plainer than that.

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  6. gianna says:

    thers def those who think that we are to take from God and give to th world…th same thought drives political evangelism u know? th NT church was drawn to Christ, gathered together…and didnt find themselves catering to th world and tryna improve wickedness… but knowin Christ in truth makes me just wanna knonw Him and He turns me away from all that isnt Him, u know? maybe its offensive to ppl that we are actually a body, and actually a family, and that Christ has drawn us outta th world to Himself…

    i mean if u read th begets in th OT, usee adam buidling his life and his socieitys and his ways and his name…but then th Lord draws His outta every place where adam is built up and those who are God’s are brought out…and we are not sent back in to clean up wickedness and not sent back to continue on with th world in its ways…

    we are brought out of darkness into His light…i am what i am by th grace of God–th God who loves–th God who dont take instruction from adam and yet who continues to reconcile th world back to Him…

    those who dont know Him intimately dont really know Him at all…and so He is a law and a ritual and a book and soemthings man can handle and administer…but those who know th Lord, who find the only life they have in Him, have no more ideas about reforming th thangs of wickedness and have only such a great desire that all should know Him who is worthy…

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    • Gianna,
      You wrote many good thoughts and revelations the LORD has given you, here. For instance the word in the NT translated “world” kosmos, was used by Jesus when He said, “The prince of this world is come and he has found nothing in me.” “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” “My kingdom is NOT of this world…” We are literally called IN Christ to be other-worldly. We are called to be in this world but not OF it. The church systems of men today try so hard to appeal to the “lost” by be as much like them as they can. There is not standard of what it means to abide IN Christ put before the world that they might see the difference and have a choice to make.

      You wrote of intimately knowing the Son. The word translated “know” in the Greek, gnosis, speaks not only of head knowledge, but also an intimate relationship with that which is known. We in the west think that if we sit in a classroom or read a book we can come to “know” all about something and they will even award us with a degree. You can “know” about lightening by reading about, studying it and watching a lightening storm, but until you have been struck by lightening, you do not have an intimate knowledge and relationship with it! This is what God is after. Like Paul, He wants us to pursue the Son until we are knocked off our high horse and ask that probing question as he did, “Who are you, Lord?!!!,” and we KEEP asking Him for a greater revelation of who He is! Paul knew about Jesus before that day, but after that he KNEW Him in such a way that it put him on an endless quest. He saw all his Bible knowledge, his book learning of the law and the traditions of the elders, his Jewishness, and everything else he once laid claim to became so much dung from that time on. He set a new coarse to know Jesus Christ better and join in with Him in the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering and even be conformed to His death.

      Too many of us think we have arrived just because we no longer meet in church buildings and have settled for just meeting in homes. We are still sitting with blind eyes on our butts on the Damascus road if we remain there in our pursuit of Jesus Christ. Too often we find ourselves building our own little pyramid still in the shadow of the Great Pyramid, straining to build something after the wrong model, because we have ceased to ask, “Who are you, Lord?”

      Thanks for sharing your revelations in Christ with us, dear sister.

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  7. Hosea Fwangmun says:

    Thanks for sharing Michael, personally I’ve learnt by experience that the difficult thing to do is TO JUST BE A CHRISTIAN without the unnecessary additions and subtractions of the system which men have tried to package it by giving it some phony name like – the Church, Divine order/pattern, this Path, Bible believing church etc…All these are designed to heap a truck load of guilt, accusations and condemnation to that pilgrim who will dare stand toll above the system to keep his face straight to Jerusalem as a flint…the Church system today have been design to fulfill the scripture that said “…a time will come when those who persecute you will think they are doing God a service”. As for me, to even contemplate going back to the IC (whether undenominational, House Church system, Christian cult group or the mainland denomination etc) will be like committing a spiritual suicide! The problem always arise when they want to tie you with the membership bait, but I am NOW content with being a member of the Body of Christ and not a man-made org.

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    • Hosea, well said! We are already members one of another in HIS body with Christ as our only Head and don’t need letters of comendation or membership in men’s organizations. I have found that the more a church claims to be a Bible preaching church or “orthodox”, the blinder they are to these basic simple facts of what the body of Christ is! Yes, to join ourselves to any systematized religious group is spiritual suicide. We must find Jesus Christ as our sufficiency and nothing else. Paul put it well when he wrote…

      Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Since you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ toward God: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.
      (2Co 3:1-6 KJ2000)

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  8. Patricia W. Orr says:

    Bro. Michael, it is good to fellowship with you by way of your writings.
    Your post brings me back to the call to Abraham to leave his country,etc. Later we learn that he looked for a city whose builder and maker is God. We also learn that he will not receive it, until he receives it along with us. This gives more background for me as I read in Revelation ” to come out of her, my people”. I pray that we the people of God are not looking for that city in all the wrong places.

    Looking unto Jesus,

    Patricia Orr

    Patricia Orr

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    • Pat,
      So good to hear from you again. Your words and thoughts added even more to the vision to which we are called, “outside the camp.” Yes, with God’s call it is always first leaving and then pursuing and receiving His will. We will find that as we follow Him He will call us forth and there will be many “leavings” along this path. So many Christians today are NOT pilgrims and strangers upon this earth. They are settlers and campers. They seek a city here on this earth built and made by men. This is what Lot did when he settled into Sodom while Abraham moved on to follow the call of the Spirit, looking for that eternal city, not some temporal one. With this in mind, it gives SCOPE to the warning of Jesus, “As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the coming of the Son of Man.” Lot settled for a nice grassy plain and the easy living in the adjacent city, but Abraham listened to the Spirit and kept following the voice and headed for higher ground. The majority in Lot’s day settled for the easy way, the secure way, the corrupted way, but the minority, those who were with Abraham, sought that City whose Builder and Maker was God WHICH HAD FOUNDATIONS laid IN and by Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor 3:11). Remember, Jesus did not say, “Lot saw my day and he rejoiced,” but rather “Abraham saw my day and he rejoiced.” Abraham in his searching saw Melchizedek, the priest of Salem who had no beginning or end of days and WE are called into this same exact priesthood with Christ as a kingdom of priests, not into a kingdom made by men that has a exclusive “five-fold” priest cast ruling over it. May we all keep knocking, keep seeking and keep asking as we pursue our high callings in Christ Jesus.

      And Moses took a tent, and pitched it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one who sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of meeting, which was outside the camp.

      (Exo 33:7 KJ2000)

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  9. Ken Burgess says:

    Michael, welcome back dear brother. It’s good to see you haven’t forgotten how to dive right into the deep end of the pool. We do not have time to stick out toe in to check the temperature.
    We are already in HIM so getting out is not an option. Paul said in Acts 17:28 “For in HIM we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also HIS offspring.”
    As you know we are very close to our children and grands. We just love spending time with them. We hate to see them leave to go home. So it is with spending time, fellowshipping with Jesus. We don’t want to go home. We don’t want him to leave, so we don’t and HE don’t. The neat thing is, we don’t have to wait till Sunday, or Wednesday or any other designated time to spend time with HIM in some man made structure that some have erroneously called, “Gods’ house.”

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    • Ken, thanks for the welcome. I love that quote from Paul in Acts. “IN Him we live and move and have our being…” I have pondered it often. First we who are Christ’s are IN Him. Salvation is belief INTO Him (the proper translation of John 3:16) and from then on we abide IN Him as the branch abides IN the Vine and gets its life sustenance from that Vine alone. I also thought it interesting that Paul did not say we have our BEINGS (plural) in Him, but BEING (singular). In Christ there is a singular being in which there is no longer any male nor female, Jew or Gentile, bond nor free, but rather a NEW creation in which He is All in all.

      The question is do we who claim to be saved live this way with Christ as our Head in a body where we are truly members of Him and of one another in ONE mind, ONE heart and in ONE accord? When we look around and see the “church” today represented not by unity IN Christ, but rather consisting of 43,000 separate Christian denominations and sects, one has to wonder how we dare to call ourselves Christian (Christ ones).

      The true New Covenant consists of a compete human makeover. One who has believed INTO Christ has been given a NEW heart, a NEW spirit and a NEW mind with the will of God written upon their hearts. Their motivation comes from within and is not one of obeying laws and regulations written in creeds and rule books, wearing a religious straight jacket to hold their old human natures in check. We are truly made into a NEW creation and live in the freedom of the Spirit like the wind. One brother said that the opposite of the wind is not calm, but bricks! Bricks represent containment and institutions that defy the freedom that is ours in the Spirit. God never commanded Israel to build Him a house, but rather the tabernacle was designed as a tent, free to be moved with the people of God following it (See 1 Ch. 17:1-14). It is the Son of God (also known to the Jews as the Son of David) who has built the house of God, not of cedar and stones, but of living stones with hearts after Him alone. With all this in mind, how can we go someplace to “church”? We ARE the church, the ekklesia of God and where two or three of us gather, Jesus is there in or midst. All these traditions of men in what calls itself the church have made a mockery of what Jesus set out to establish 2000 years ago and we owe that system nothing as HIS people.

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  10. Hi Michael,
    Also welcome back.
    As fellow ‘hermits’ we know we have also been called to this wilderness way. We also know that it will probably not be forever because traditionally those who are called out are often called back in at some stage, but as vastly changed people. The wilderness experience is precious and life changing. There are so many people who have had this apart time, Jesus included, and it changes us in a way that being around lots of people all the time does not.
    Being lead by the Spirit is often going to upset those who do not know what it is like. Their very questions demonstrate a total lack of knowledge of the experience.
    Bless you brother. We are still waiting to see if God is going to use our property or take us somewhere else but in the mean time are resting in Him and knowing He is totally in charge.

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    • Sandra,
      Thanks for writing. Your words were a blessing. You are right about the wilderness being a place where God teaches us things that can not be learned in the crowd. He dresses us down to nothing and even goes after our most cherished beliefs and possessions until only Jesus means anything to us. Yes, we may not always be in the wilderness. God might take us back into the fray. It is interesting that for prophets of old, John the Baptist, Paul and Jesus, going back to Jerusalem meant it was time to die. Yet, we as they were, must live by the Spirit and obey and “love not our lives even unto death.”

      But I must be on my way today, tomorrow, and the next day, for it’s not possible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones to death those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you didn’t want to! Look! Your house is left to you deserted. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘How blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Luk 13:33-35 ISV)

      Bless you, too. We had a house we built on 20 acres in the woods and finally sold it. We live in town and have burned our bridge of a place to “escape” to. Its all part of following Him, experiencing the fellowship of His sufferings and being conformed unto His death.

      Michael

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      • Thanks for your kind words Michael. I completely agree about the wilderness being a place of total stripping away of everything except Jesus.  We have had a sense of transitioning for the past few years and now a sense of an immanent change.  Going back to the world to die?  Interesting thought, but I’m sure God knows what He is doing and as you say, following where He leads is all that matters

        I know for me these last few months, after the long long journey of letting go, have given me a peace I never knew before and a rock solid trust in Jesus.  I don’t even have contingency plans anymore.  What’s the point?  A useless waste of time and energy!  God is God and will do what He will do and will let us know when we need to know just what that is.

        Prayers for you new life.

        Traditionally the hermits came back to a time of re-engagement with the world and a time of immense fruitfulness. 

        Bless you

        Sandra

         

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      • Sandra,

        Yes, fruitfulness. I agree. Paul’s greatest fruit might be from his letters and they were written during Roman imprisonment before his death. Jesus’ greatest teachings were from that final week in which He had gone back to Jerusalem to die. There is a theme here all through the Bible.

        “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” (Joh 12:24 KJ2000)

        Bless you as you follow Him,

        Michael

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    • mark W says:

      Dear Hermit, I don’t look at this experience as a temporary thing, I look at it as being released from the miry slough spoken about in Pilgrims Progress. The Church as I see it is filled with mostly the non-elect and those who have chosen this world or the broad way. The thought of “going back in” is like going back to the World, back to death. The Church has a different Christ that is mostly embodied in the clergy and that falls way short. I like what you said about not having a contingency plan, that really hit me in a good way.

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  11. Dear Mark. The experience of being an extreme hermit (1,000 acres in the middle of a National Park, nearest neighbours 14 kms away) is what I was referring to when I said this part of the hermit experience seems to be coming to an end. However, once a hermit, always a hermit in our hearts and we will be able to be among people more without losing that sense of being alone with God.
    When God leads us to, we have visited the IC and found many, many precious people there who love God and are loved by Him.
    However, I can’t see us ever being involved with all that carry on again. The word He gave us 22 years ago was “Come out from among her, touch not the unclean thing’.
    Bless you.

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    • mark W says:

      Sorry, I thought you meant a hermit from the beast church, mia culpa. BTW, the Father has never lead me to visit the IC in 10 years, may be in another 10 years I don’t see that happening.

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      • Ken Burgess says:

        HMMM, it looks to me like you and Mark got caught up in, “hermitneutics”..jus a thought, weird but a thought nonetheless. Blessings brothers. Ken

        Like

  12. Hermitneutics! Very clever Ken!
    And Mark, we never know where or when God is going to call us to do anything at all!
    I think for us the experience of being around the religious system again briefly really reinforced our knowing we were on the right track by not being around it. However, as I said, we met some precious people and found many of them were also wondering about the validity of the system. Bless you in your walk

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