Separate from the World, Joined to Christ
I want to begin by quoting a scripture, and I’d like you to hang onto this quote, and think about it as we go through this study this morning. This is from Psalm 116, verses 9 & 10; “I will walk before Jehovah, in the land of the living. I have believed, therefore I have spoken.” There’s a little more to verse 10, but this is the part I want us to focus on; “I will walk before Jehovah, in the land of the living.. (not of the dead, but of the living) ..I have believed, therefore I have spoken.”
Romans chapter 1, and verse 1, says; “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” The apostle Paul, was called by God. In Acts 9, verse 15, God says; “..For he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel.”
Paul was separated unto the gospel, and separated unto God. But what was Paul separated from? Paul said that he was a Hebrew, and a Pharisee. As a matter of fact, he said in Philippians 3, verse 5, that he was “a Hebrew of Hebrews, and a Pharisee”, AND he said; “as concerning the righteousness which is in the law”, he was blameless.
But he became separated from all of that. He wasn’t separated from actually being a Hebrew, but he was separated from the pride of it. And he was certainly separated from being a Pharisee. And he was certainly separated from the law of Moses, which he had taken so much pride in.
Paul said in verse 8, of Philippians 3; “..For I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as rubbish (or trash, and garbage) that I may gain Christ.” So then, Paul had become separated from just about everything, but he became joined to something much better. He became joined, or “yoked” as the scriptures say, to Christ.
What are you willing to separate yourself from, so that you can be completely joined to Christ? “Yoked” to Christ, in order to be able to “walk” with Christ. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me.” Jesus said, in Mathew 11:29. Join yourself to Christ, and learn. Learn what you must be separated from, and learn what you must be joined to.
If you’re going to be joined to Christ, and “walk” with Him, then you’ve surely, got to be joined to the things that He was joined to, and the things that He tells us to be joined to. Can you think of something that Jesus was “joined to”? I’m thinking of something that He was “joined to” so closely, that it was a virtual part of Him. What is it? It’s the word of God.
“In the beginning was the word, and the word was God, and the word was GOD!” (John 1, verse 1) And verse 14 says; “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word of God, in the flesh, right there, walking among the people. You and I probably appreciate the time period that we live in right now, with all the comforts and conveniences we have; but can you imagine living at the time when the word of God was literally “among us” “in the flesh”?
Well, we may not have that blessing, but we’ve got the next best thing. We’ve got this blessing, we’ve got the literal word of God, written down for us, so that we can hold it in our hands, and we can hold it in our heart. And those words may not be able to literally walk with us, but they sure can talk to us, at any time and in any place!
Jesus was so “joined” to the word of God, that it was “who He was”. How closely are you “joined” to the word of God? You know, it’s all up to you. How closely do you want to be joined to it? The people of Israel were told, that God’s words, “shall be upon your heart”, Deuteronomy 6, verse 6. And they were told, to “teach them diligently to your children”, and to “talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Verse 7)
And they were told, that they should “bind them, for a sign upon your hand”, and that the word of God should be “for frontlets between your eyes”. (Verse 8)
Back in the old testament, the word of God was called, the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law. (Deuteronomy 6, verse 1) And it’s no different today; the word of God is all those things to us. It’s God’s commandments to us, telling us how to live. the word of God is a law; It’s a set of statutes and ordinances, which we must follow. But God wants His word to be so much more to us than just a set of rules. God wants His word to be who we are, just like the word was literally, “who Jesus was”. Jesus was the Word of God, in the flesh.
When verse 8 says; “you shall bind them, for a sign, upon your hand”, that’s a figurative way of saying, that we should be so closely tied, to the word of God, and it should be so much of who you are, that it would be as if you had signs painted on our hands, for everyone to see! I’m a Christian! The word of God is who I am!
Verse 8 also says that the word should be “for frontlets between your eyes”. Some versions use the word “frontals”, and some more modern versions say; “a band across your forehead”. A “frontal” or a “frontlet” is simply an old fashioned word for a band, and in this case, it would be a headband. But the point is, that the word of God should be such a part of who you are, that it should be as if you’ve got the word of God, written across your forehead.
Do you remember, when Jesus was criticizing the scribes and Pharisees, in Mathew chapter 23, as He did so often, because they were such hypocrites. But in verse 5, Jesus said; “But all their works, they do to be seen of men..” (Their pride is what controlled them. Their pride was “who they were”. And Jesus said; “..For they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments..”
The word “phylacteries” in that verse, refers to little containers, probably made of leather, and either in the shape of a little box, or maybe a cylindrical shape. But it was a container, in which the scribes and the Pharisees would keep strips of parchment or leather, that had scriptures inscribed on them.
There were even specific scriptures that were written on those strips, and kept in those containers, those “phylacteries”. And one of those scriptures written, was the passage that we just read from Deuteronomy 6, verses 4 thru 9. And another was verses 13 thru 21, which begins with these words; “Thuo shalt fear Jehovah thy God, and Him thou shalt serve, and shalt swear by His name.”
Another passage is Exodus 13:1 thru 10. That passage begins with this command in verse 2; “..Sanctify unto Me, all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb, among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; It is Mine.”
And verse 3 says; ..Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; For by the For by the strength of His hand, Jehovah brought you out from this place.”
And listen to verse 9; “And it shall be for a sign unto thee, upon thy hand. And for a memorial between thy eyes, that the law of Jehovah may be in thy mouth; For with a strong hand, hath Jehovah brought thee out of Egypt.”
Is it any wonder why the Jews wrote these scriptures on strips of parchment and leather, and fashioned those “phylacteries”, those containers, to hold them?
Here’s a description of those containers, and how the Jews used them.. “Phylacteries were small leather cases, containing four key passages of scripture; Exodus 13: 1 thru 10, Exodus 13:11 thru 16, Deuteronomy 6:4 thru 9, and Deuteronomy 6:13 thru 21. Strapped to the inside of the left arm, between the shoulder and the elbow, they were made to “rest over the heart”, during prayer. They were also strapped to the wrist, and to the forehead, to signify how the word of God should regulate all behavior and thought.”
Isn’t that interesting to learn about those customs that developed? And here’s another little tidbit of information; A “phylactery” was also considered to be an “amulet”. And an “amulet” is basically, a good-luck charm. Another description says; “It was affixed to the left upper arm, or the forehead of men at the morning prayer, and regarded as protection against evil spirits.”
The original meaning of the root word, that “phylactery” comes from, means.. “to guard and protect”. It commonly referred to an outpost, or a fortification where a guard was posted. And so the Jews felt that they were protected from evil, by wearing those containers, filled with those four key passages of scripture.
But here’s the problem.. Jesus said; “But all their works, they do to be seen of men. For they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments..” They made their phylacteries so big and obvious, that no one could miss the fact that they were wearing them. “Look at me! Look at how religious I am!”
And they “enlarged the boarders of their garments.” That’s another place where they would have scriptures written. On the bottom of their robes, and at the end of the sleeves, they’d have wide boarders with various scriptures written, to show everyone how religious they were. “Hypocrites!” That’s what Jesus said!
It’s not our clothes that make us “religious”. You don’t wear your religion on the outside. You wear it on the inside. God said; “I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their hearts, will I write it.” (Jeremiah 31, verse 33) Did Jesus wear the word “on His sleeve”? No, He lived it, in His spirit, because that’s who Jesus was, the word of God.
How often did Jesus speak the word of God? As I read the new testament accounts of the life of Jesus, it seems like He never stopped speaking the words of God! Do you ever read in the bible about Jesus simply being engaged in idle chat? “How ya doin’ today? How’s it goin’? How bout that weather we’ve been having? I don’t read that kind of thing. It seems like there was only one thing on the mind of Christ, at all times. And that was speaking the word of God, and telling people about the kingdom, and about salvation.
How often do we speak the word of God? And how often do we tell people about the kingdom? How often do we tell people about salvation? We speak about it on Sunday, at the worship assembly. And we speak about it in our bible studies. But do we speak it anywhere else? Or doesn’t it interest us enough, to be talking about it in our daily lives? I truly hope that the word of God interests you SO much, that you can’t help but talk about it! Remember our opening scripture? “I have believed, therefore I have spoken.”
The prophets were people who spoke the words of God, weren’t they? That’s what a prophet was; A spokesperson, for God. The prophets were God’s “mouthpiece”. Do you know what the apostle Paul called himself, and others who spoke the word of God? He said in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 20; “We are ambassadors therefore, on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating, by us. We beseech you, on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God!”
Are you am ambassador, on behalf of Christ? How often do you go around speaking the words of God? How often do you act as God’s spokesperson? Think about that word “prophet” again. The Hebrew word for prophet, is naw-bee’. And it comes from a verb meaning.. to bubble forth, like a fountain, or a natural spring, that “bubbles forth” water out of the earth.
And so a prophet of God, was “bubbling forth”, the word of God. You know, the prophet Jeremiah was contemplating one time, NOT bubbling forth the word of God! And he wrote, in Jeremiah 20, verse 9; “And if I say, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name, then there is in my heart, as it were, as burning fire, shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I cannot contain!”
If Jeremiah went to long without speaking the word of God, it would get to where he couldn’t even hold it on any longer. “I am weary of forbearing”, he said. It’s like a fire, that’s shut up inside of me, and it has to get out!
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that, that’s how we need to be! If you’ve got the word of God inside of you, you ought to feel the need to get it out so that everyone can hear it.
Jesus said; “My meat (in other words, that which sustains Me) is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34) And it was God’s will, and God’s work, that Jesus should be speaking the word, constantly. So then what else WOULD Jesus talk about, except the very thing that sustains Him?
What sustains us? Jesus tells us, that “man doesn’t live by bread alone..” (Mathew 4, verse 4) What else DO we live by, Jesus? “..By every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” But I have my doubts, about whether the words that come out of God’s mouth, will actually sustain us, if those same words don’t come out of OUR mouths.
It’s just like what Jesus said in John 6:63; “It is the Spirit that giveth life.. the words that I have spoken to you, are Spirit, and are life.” But it won’t matter, that the words of God have the power to give life, if we don’t take those words to ourselves, and put them within us, and live by them! And so in like manner, the words that proceed out of the mouth of God, won’t sustain us, if those words don’t also proceed out of our mouths.
The apostle Paul wrote, in 2 Timothy 2, verse 2; “And the things that you have heard from me, among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men (faithful people, the word “men” simply means.. a human being) who will be able to teach others also.” It’s faithful people, who will be able to teach others also. Because it’s only faithful people, who are willing to speak those words every day, and every where.
We need to be so “joined”, to God, and to Christ, and to His word, that it’s “who we are”. And we need to be so separated from the world, that everyone around us knows, that were not a part of it. We shouldn’t have to literally wear a sign. But rather, the life that we live, should be all the sign that’s needed.
The law of God needs to be inside of us; It needs to be written on our hearts. We need to teach it diligently to our children. We need to talk about it when we lay down, and when we rise up, and every time in between. It needs to be banded around our arms and our hands, so that everything we do is according to God’s word; And it needs to be banded around our forehead, so that every thought, is according to God’s word.
It needs to be what sustains us, because in reality, it is what sustains us!
Faith and obedience, that’s all it takes..
Hear the word of God; Believe that Jesus is the Christ; Confess that fact, and that faith; Repent of your sins; Be baptized for the forgiveness of those sins; And continue faithful, even unto death, and you’ll be given the crown of life. The invitation is yours.