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Shavua Tov

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  • Daniel Botkin

Walking in the Truth or Sitting in the Truth: Which Are You Doing?


There are many things I enjoy in life. As a father, I agree with what John wrote when he said: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).

My greatest joy, like John’s, is to hear that my children walk in truth -- not only my biological children, but also my spiritual children, those people I have helped disciple over the years.

The converse is equally true. I have no greater grief than to hear that my children walk in error.

We can present Biblical truth but we cannot force people to walk in the truth we present. Each individual makes his own decision to either walk in the truth or continue walking in error.

Those who desire to walk in truth need to be taught. There are lots of things humans do that require no teaching of “how to do it.” People do not need to be taught how to breathe, or how to blink their eyes, or how to digest food and eliminate waste. People do these things instinctively.

There are some things people do instinctively, without teaching. However, obeying the commandments of God is something that people do not do instinctively. People need to be taught what the commandments of God are, and they need to be taught how to obey them. Many of God’s commandments are self-explanatory, but some of them need to be explained.

God’s people also need to be encouraged and warned. Encouragement to obey comes through the promises of blessings for obedience. Warnings to not disobey come through the promises of curses for disobedience.

Deuteronomy is filled with instruction, encouragement, and warnings. Deuteronomy is Moses’ “farewell address” to the new generation of Israelites who were about to go into the Promised Land at the end of the forty years in the wilderness.

The first five verses of Deuteronomy are an introduction, then Moses’ actual words to the people begin in verse 6:

“The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount. Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites....”

Right there in that statement is a lesson for us. Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai, where the Torah was given. The Amorites is another name for the Canaanites, the enemies of God that needed to be exterminated from the Promised Land.

Ye have dwelt long enough at Mount Horeb. In-depth Torah study is important and has its place. However, there comes a time when God says, “Ye have dwelt here long enough doing nothing more than having discussions of the weekly Torah portions. It’s time to take your journey and go to the mount of the Amorites. It’s time to move forward and defeat the enemy.”

Of course we still continue to study the Torah. That is a lifetime pursuit. But we are not called to forever sit and study the Torah and not go forward to defeat the enemy. When the LORD said “Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount,” the word translated “dwelt” is shevet, which often simply means “sit.” If I may borrow a Hebrew linguistic structure from Ecclesiastes chapter three, There is a time to sit, and a time to walk. The time to walk is now. The direction we are to walk is toward the enemies of God, for the purpose of defeating them and driving them out and establishing God’s authority.

The Apostle John did not write “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children sit in truth.” He wrote “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

As a father, I am not satisfied to just see my children sitting in truth. And neither is our heavenly Father satisfied to just see His children sitting in truth. He wants us to walk in truth, to go forward and move beyond just having all-day (or all-night) midrash sessions discussing the minutiae of the Torah. Truth is meant to be walked in, and it is meant to be shared with those who are in darkness.

The new generation that Moses was sending to go against the Amorites still needed teaching to prepare them for the battles that lay ahead. In Deuteronomy 4:1 Moses said to them, “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.”

In the same way that this generation going into the Promised Land needed teaching, so any generation that wants to go into their spiritual Promised Land and claim their inheritance needs teaching.

There are many hyper-independent people in the Messianic Movement who think they have no need of teachers. Their favorite verse is 1 John 2:27, which says “ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.”

“See?” the hyper-independent man says. “It says we have no need of teachers. I can just study the Bible by myself, and the Holy Spirit will teach me everything I need to know. I don’t need some man to teach me!”

Contrast this attitude with that of the humble Ethiopian eunuch who, when asked by Philip if he understood the passage of Scripture he was reading, answered, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:31).

We all need help and guidance as we learn how to study the Scriptures, how to pray and praise the Lord, and how to serve the Lord and do the work of the ministry. Even the hyper-independent individual, who thinks he is not being taught by any man, is in fact almost certainly being taught by men. If he uses a Strong’s Concordance, or Hebrew and Greek lexicons, or any other extra-Biblical books as aids to help him understand the Scriptures, he is being taught by the men who wrote those books. If he looks up information on the internet, he is being taught by the men who posted that information. Even if he uses no extra-Biblical books and reads nothing but the Bible, he is being taught by the men who translated the Bible into English. Unless a man knows Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic and Koine Greek fluently enough to read the Scriptures in their original languages, with no help from any English translations or lexicons, he is in fact being taught by men.

When John wrote “ye need not that any man teach you,” he did not mean there is no need for teachers in the Body. The same Bible that says “ye have no need that any man teach you” also says “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers” (1 Cor. 12:28). The Bible also says that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah” (Eph. 4:11-13).

The Body of Messiah has not yet come into the unity of the faith nor to a deep enough knowledge of the Son of God that produces a perfect corporate man that has reached the measure of the stature of Messiah. Until the Body reaches this level of maturity, there will be a need for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

When John wrote “ye need not that any man teach you,” the context shows that he was simply pointing out that we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to understand what the teachers are teaching. When a teacher is presenting truth to you, it is not really the teacher who gives you understanding of that truth; it is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that gives you the understanding.

The teacher is merely a conduit to transmit the truth to you. It is the anointing of the Spirit on the teacher and on you that makes the teaching ring true as it bears witness to your spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that takes the information you have heard and makes it understandable to you.

Without the anointing, you will not really learn what is being taught, even if you are hearing a good teacher. You can have the most excellent Bible teacher in the world speak to you, and you can still miss the point, no matter how eloquently and clearly the information is presented. Even if the teacher has a powerful anointing of the Spirit, if you do not have the anointing to process the information, you will not really understand.

The proof of this can be seen in the Gospels. Yeshua was anointed more than anyone else. The Bible says of Him, “God even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Heb. 1:9) and “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him” (John 3:34). Yet in spite of this immeasurable anointing on Yeshua, His words often fell on deaf ears, because the people were listening with their fleshly carnal ears, not with their spiritual ears. Understanding does not come to people unless the Spirit quickens the words.

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

We all need teaching because we are all learning. However, we must remember that the purpose of our learning is not just for the sake of accumulating a bunch of head knowledge that does not produce good works. We do not want to be among those whom Paul described as “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Part of the knowledge of the truth is the knowledge that truth is something we are expected to walk in, not something we are expected to just sit in.

A Bible verse that blessed me when I was a new believer was Proverbs 4:18. After warning the reader to avoid the path of the wicked, this verse says: “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

Even though I was a new believer, I immediately understood from this verse that God gives more and more spiritual light to those who faithfully walk in the light He has already given them. Even though the word “walk” does not appear in this verse, I also understood that receiving increasingly brighter light requires walking, because I knew that a path exists for the purpose of walking. I understood that I could not just idly sit in the light that I had. If I wanted ever-increasingly brighter light, I needed to go forward.

I purposed in my heart that day that I would do my best to walk in the light the Lord gave me, with the expectation that He would cause His light to shine more and more brightly unto the perfect day. That was around 47 years ago. There are still lots of things I do not understand, but that’s okay. The Lord shines His light on the things that I need to understand at the time I need to understand them. And He will do the same for you if you start walking in the light. Walk on!


| DB


Image: Psalm 5 by Daniel Botkin from his Psurrealistic Psalms Pseries. See this and all of Daniel’s art pieces on his art website, DanielBotkin.com.

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