God has called each of us to an exodus adventure, a life-long journey out of our Egypts of sin to the promised land of God’s Kingdom. However, rather than leaving their Egypts, many people are being deceived into believing that as long as they believe in “Jesus’ death and resurrection,” that they will inherit the Kingdom without having to leave their Egypt or make this life-long journey. But consider the question, “If Israel had believed God’s promise that the Promise Land was theirs, but they never left Egypt, would Israel have ever acquired the land?”
WE MUST DO MORE THAN BELIEVE – WE MUST LEAVE
Just as the ancient Israelites had to do more than “just believe” to acquire the Promised Land, so must we today. Simply believing that Yeshua (Jesus) died to set us free is not enough, we must also act on that belief by leaving our Egypts, our old life of sin, behind. We cannot stay in Egypt, in our life of sin, and think that God is okay with that. He’s not! God is holy, and the Bible is quite clear that “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrew 12:14). Obviously, then, “without holiness, no man shall” make it to heaven either, since how do you plan to be in heaven without seeing “the Lord”?
BELIEF, BY ITSELF, IS NOT ENOUGH
In the epistle of James, he makes it quite clear that “faith, if it has not works, is dead being alone” (James 2:17). We must act on that faith and do something with it. By repenting of our sins and leaving our Egypts behind – by burning any bridge back to those particular sins – we are then acting on our faith, and our faith then comes alive, but then we cannot stop there, we must continue on in the journey.
For example, there are many people who sit in church week after week, listening to sermons, being emotionally moved, but then they leave the church thinking that they have a living faith when, in reality, their faith is still dead. Why? Because they’ve been emotionally moved, but that’s as far as they’ve taken it. They have not gone home and put flesh on the Word of God by doing what the Lord instructs in His Word. You see, faith that does not result in obedience to Scripture is “a dead faith.” Just as James writes,
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)
BUT WHAT ABOUT “GRACE”?
Now there are those who will accuse me of teaching legalism; however, these people have a distorted view of “grace.” Their view of “grace” is God doing everything and them doing nothing, but this isn’t “grace;” in fact, it’s not even a relationship. I’ve not seen any relationship flourish where one person does everything and the other person does nothing. If even a human relationship cannot grow and develop where one person does it all, then why do we think our relationship with God is going to flourish if we expect Him to do it all?
These Christians who teach that “grace” is God doing everything and we are not to do anything have a distorted view of “grace.” Their definition of “grace” is based on their own religious interpretation, and they are not viewing it from the context of Kingdom. The thing that distinguishes a king from a president is that a king owns everything and everyone that is part of his kingdom. So if the king owns EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in His kingdom, including everything they dream about, plan, make, produce, etc., then what can you possibly give to a king to acquire citizenship that he does not own already? Obviously, then, anything that the king does for you would be an act of his favor or “grace.”
Therefore, God clothing Adam and Eve in skins was an act of grace; taking Enoch to heaven was an act of grace; telling Noah about the flood and giving him instructions about how to build the ark was an act of grace; blessing Abraham and Sarah with Isaac was an act of grace; changing Jacob’s name to “Israel” was an act of grace; and raising Joseph to a position of prominence in Egypt was an act of grace; leading all of the people out of Egypt was an act of grace; and giving His people His commandments, laws, judgments and statutes was also an act of grace. In fact, everything that God has done, is doing, and will do has been, is, and will be an act of His grace. Consequently, then, this idea that “grace” and “God’s law” are in opposition to one another is a false man-made dichotomy, and it’s not at all Scriptural.
WE HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY IN THIS JOURNEY
Just as Israel had a role to play in their journey, we have a role to play in it as well. Israel had to leave Egypt and cross the Red Sea before they were actually free, so we must leave our lives of sin and be baptized in water before we are actually free. Once baptized, then we must proceed ahead, following Yeshua (Jesus), the greater Moses, to the promised land of His Kingdom. But without repentance, which includes water baptism, there is no forgiveness of sin.
But while on the journey, Paul teaches us that we need to sanctify ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul begins by quoting Exodus 25:8,
I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Then he quotes Isaiah 52:11,
Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the LORD.
He then says,
“And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
This verse is a combination of 2 Samuel 7:14; I Chronicles 17:13; Isaiah 43:6; and Hosea 1:10. All three of these was to build up to his following point:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
PAUL’S OUTLINE OF THE ROAD TO HOLINESS
As believers, we do have a role to play. We are to live as sanctified, holy people. God is holy, and He expects His people to imitate Him and be holy as well.
STAGE 1: OBEDIENCE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS
In Romans 6, he gives us a general outline of this process. The first part of the process is the beginning:
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness. (Romans 6:16)
Notice the contrasts in processes: sin results in death or obedience results in righteousness. We have a daily choice that we are to make. Paul then writes,
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching in which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)
STAGE 2: RIGHTEOUSNESS TO HOLINESS
Notice that by accepting the gospel, we go from being “slaves of sin” to being “slaves to righteousness.” Paul then builds on this idea in the next verse and presents us with the next phase of this process:
I am speaking in human terms because of the infirmity [weakness] of your flesh: For as you have yielded your members [of your body] as servant [or slaves] to uncleanness and to iniquity [or sin] unto iniquityl even so now present your members servants [or slaves] to righteousness unto holiness. (Romans 6:19)
So if obedience leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to holiness, then it is only only by using living obedient, righteous lives, in and through the power of the Spirit, can we hope to attain holiness. Paul then comments on their lives before they began this journey:
For when you were servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. (Romans 6:29-21)
Paul reiterates the shame and guilt that we feel by living by the flesh or sin, but the only thing that type of lifestyle brings is death.
STAGE 3: HOLINESS TO EVERLASTING LIFE
But then in the following verse, he takes to the last stage of the process.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)
When we accept Messiah as our Lord and Savior, and we receive the Holy Spirit, then we are able to live obedient, righteous lives before God, and thereby be freed from the power and control of sin, thus becoming servants to God. And the fruit, therefore, of living a holy life is everlasting life.
Most Christians hop to the next verse, which is a summary statement of these various processes,, and they ignore these processes that have been outlined by Paul here. The next verse states:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:23)
And by jumping over the process and only pointing out the summary statement, many Christians end up misrepresenting Paul and his teachings. This is only one such example.
But salvation is not an instantaneous event, but a process. Just as the ancient Israelites and the “mixed multitude” of Gentiles who went out with them (Exodus 12:38) had to leave Egypt to get to the Promised Land, a journey which took many years, so we must leave our Egypts of sin to get to the “Promised Land” of God’s Kingdom, and like their journey, our journey is also one that will take many years.
The question, though, we must consider is, “Am I still in my Egypt of sin, or have I left my Egypt behind? And if I have left it, am I still continuing on the journey, or have I stopped to pitch my tent somewhere?”
As we observe Passover this week, may we all have left our Egypts of sin behind, cross the waters of baptism, and still be on our journey to God’s ultimate Promised Land, His Kingdom.