THE NO-BOUNDARIES GOSPEL
BY: LARRY HODGES
“For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman…” – I Corinthians 7:22
Most of us have something of a law history in our experience with the Lord. We have, in one way or another, come into contact with the idea that there is a “New Testament Sinai.” That is, we have been led to believe that we must perform in a particular way or along certain rigid lines in order for God to continue loving us, and that simply is not the truth. That is “performance-based theology” and is contradictory to the idea of grace.
God, since Calvary, does not love us because of what we do or don’t do. That is law. We are accepted in the Beloved, that is, in Christ Jesus. The truth is, there is nothing you can do which will cause God to love you, because He already does. Also, there is nothing you can do that will cause God to stop loving you, because His love toward you finds its origin in Christ Jesus and is eternal.
Does that mean that we are then permitted to do whatever our flesh might desire to do? Shall we therefore sin in order that grace may abound toward us? The Holy Ghost-inspired answer to this question is a resounding, “God forbid!”
It is certainly profitable to keep in mind that the apostle Paul, the great champion of grace and antagonist of the law, made it abundantly clear that if we are under law we are fallen from grace. Yet this same man spoke much about “holiness without which no man shall see God,” about “perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” about “putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” about “being established in [our] hearts unblameable in holiness before God.” Paul was able to speak thus often and bring much encouragement to the saints without seeming to give their lust a free pass to sin. The real gospel, ministered in the Spirit, does the same thing.
A no-boundaries gospel is a gospel which declares the above truth but fails to point out the limits prescribed by such an eternal love. Does God’s love have boundaries beyond which it will not go? That seems a fair question and one which must be answered if we are to obtain from our walk with Christ what God has purposed that we obtain. It is just here that strange dichotomies and seeming contradictions come into play. In the kingdom of God everything seems to work in contradiction to the normal law of physics.
For instance, up is down. If you wish to be exalted, you must be abased. If you exalt yourself, you will be abased. If you wish to be rich, you must become poor, and I say that knowing the firestorm it arouses among those who subscribe to the false doctrine of “Prosperity Teaching.” If you would be wise, you must be willing to become a fool for Christ. And if you would be truly free, you must, believe it or not, become an abject slave to Christ. His overcomers are all love-slaves to Him.
There is a great danger which promises much hurt to those hearing that “you can do nothing that will cause God to stop loving you,” who do not also hear the qualifying statement, “but you can do things which will automatically bring a separation in spirit between you and God.” That does not mean that He in any sense ceases to love you. It means that you have simply placed yourself outside the boundaries where His loving you can still be freely enjoyed by you.
Just as the soul is thought to be the seat of the intellect, the will and the emotions (the place where they find their origin and expression), the spirit of man is the seat or place of origin and expression of the intuition and conscience. The peculiar thing about the conscience is that the unenlightened conscience will testify against the man who eats beef. It will tell him that it is wrong.
The unenlightened conscience is not infallible. But the conscience of a born-again, Holy Ghost-filled man is an enlightened conscience and that conscience is infallibly aligned with the mind of the Spirit. It will automatically and infallibly bear witness against whatever is not according to the heart and mind of the Spirit. That’s one reason there is no excuse for sexual sins that the Bible is not explicit about and at what point at the table we have stepped over the threshold of moderation into gluttony.
Does this mean that when we eat too much that we are out of fellowship with God? If it did, we’d all be in trouble, wouldn’t we? No, it means that our conscience bears witness against our intemperance and lack of self-discipline. There are some among those who see the “kingdom message” who see even self-discipline as law and want nothing to do with it. I like the words to a song that Charlotte and Bob Torango sing. It’s called, “I’m Free But I’m Not Loose.” And that’s exactly the point. We are free but we are not loose to do whatever our flesh might suggest. We are not under law, and yet we are not without law to Christ. “To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ)…” – I Corinthian 9:21
In other words Paul was not under the Mosaic Law, but was under a law of Spirit to Christ. One can keep the Law of Moses to the very letter and yet at the same time break the same law in spirit and be guiltless under Moses, but God never intended that the letter of the law be the thing of primary observance. It is the spirit of the law that we are to observe, and we who are included under the New Covenant are not exempt from the spirit of the law. Jesus stayed in hot water with the Pharisees, the keepers of the letter, by keeping the spirit of the law. And what is the “spirit of the law?” LOVE! Walk in love and you will fulfill all the law, even the Law of Moses. Walk in the flesh in any area and you have broken it, even though you might have kept the letter.
The boundary of love is the boundary of our freedom in Christ. In one sense there truly are no boundaries in Christ, but in another, there certainly are. One of the boundaries of grace is the law, for grace works by love. Grace stops where law begins. Those boundaries are seen only in spirit. There are things we simply cannot do in the Spirit of Christ, because we find that when we do certain things we are no longer in the Spirit of Christ. But it doesn’t mean that if we do those things, God stops loving us. It means that we are no longer able to derive the joy and peace we had enjoyed prior to that.
Two men can commit the same actions and only one of them break God’s law. What determines that is which of them is walking in the Spirit and which of them is walking in his own will and mind. The law I here speak of is not to be found written down anywhere other than in your own heart. Moses’ law was written on tables of stone and left the heart of man unchanged and unable to comply with it. The law of the Spirit is written in the fleshly table of our heart, and it is written with the point of a diamond–the Holy Spirit. It completely changes the heart in which it is written from one of “my will, not Thine be done,” to “not my will but Thine be done.”
If we are in bondage, it will usually be a bondage in our minds. It will exist there if nowhere else. Most of man’s problems, if not all, are found and defeated in the mind of man. The mind is the great battleground, the true locality of Armageddon, and our own personal battle of Armageddon will be fought and won right there rather than in Israel. Some believe that if there is a spiritual application where a particular truth is concerned that it does away with the natural application. I do not subscribe to that notion. I do not therefore believe that there may not also be a great battle fought at a place in Israel in some future day.
What caused the fall of Adam in the first place was a desire to act independently of God and to decide for himself. That desire seems burned into man and is innate in him. It is self-will and must in its entirety go. Every one of God’s virgin sons found in the 14th chapter of Revelation will have a heart cry which says, “Not my will but Thine be done.” Without this heart, ONE IS NOT A COMPLETED SON OF GOD.
The soul of man is not evil. It simply does not have a right understanding of spiritual things and is therefore misdirected in its efforts. No sooner will our soul give its final acquiescence and agree to become one with the understanding of the spirit than the redemption of the body shall take place. This is the marriage of the soul and spirit.
It is in man’s spirit that God communicates with man, not his soul. That’s why the first thing God does when He finds us, is to make alive our spirit which was dead in sins and trespasses. God speaks to man’s spirit and then the spirit drops it down into the soul where intellect (understanding) resides and the soul receives understanding (from the spirit). But the soul would like to receive understanding from the reasoning mind, man’s intellect, the tree of knowledge.
The picture of a soul partaking of the reasoning mind of man rather than true revelation of and by the spirit is a picture of Eve reaching for the fruit of knowledge (she reached for an answer to the Serpent’s question; she reached for knowledge [it was the first question that had ever been asked]), and when she came up with an answer to the question, she had partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and had, at the same time, roused within herself the carnal mind-death. To be carnally-minded is death.
Just as Eve left her place of protection and safety in Adam and acted on her own, the soul wants to do the same thing. The feminine soul must be brought back to its rightful place of complete and absolute submission to the masculine spirit. As I said before, as soon as the soul returns to its rightful place of submission to the spirit of man, the body of man, which is nothing more than a servant, will follow her and know full and complete redemption as spirit, soul and body become again one.
To say to someone, “God loves you right where you are,” is the truth. But to state that and just leave it there is to do them a grave injustice. To say to the homosexual, the prostitute, the liar, the thief, etc. that God loves you right where you are, is indeed the truth. But beloved, it must be borne in mind that God loved everyone who perished in the flood of Noah’s day but the fact that He loved them did not mitigate their predicament in which they were found. Even though there is no truer statement than, “God loves you right where you are,” it must also be stated in clear and unambiguous terms that if one wishes to enjoy a relationship with God, HE CANNOT STAY WHERE HE IS.
It is just at this juncture that the Church has committed its greatest offense against some of its own children. The Church has preached, “Come just as you are! Christ Jesus loves you just the way you are.” But no sooner does the sinner come to Christ “just as he is,” than he is told that in order to fellowship with this church he is going to have to shape up. But he is not told how to do it. Instead he is given a set of rules called “Articles of Faith” and these must be observed and adhered to. He can’t smoke, he can’t drink, and he must stop all cursing and immoral conduct.
Now, hear me. I do not mean to suggest in any way, shape or form that we should continue in any of these things upon coming to God. What I do mean to say is that the moment we stretch forth our hand in an attempt to reform ourselves, we are, there and then, summarily defeated. We are to fix our eye of faith upon Jesus Christ and His finished work at Calvary and with as clear an understanding as we are able to receive with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are to ignore those sins still clinging to us. Every attempt to fight against them in the strength of flesh will only strengthen them and bring us to failure after failure.
It is because this truth is largely ignored and not taught in the Church that there has been so much sin and so little power over it in the Church. We have known those who have waged holy war on sin for 30+ years without the conclusive signs of victory secured for them at Calvary. Not because it isn’t true, but because the truth of Christ’s dominion over the power of sin has not been faithfully shared with those needing it. Sin is not overcome by striving against it in the strength and determination of flesh. It is overcome by focusing on Jesus. By walking in a God-consciousness we become free of the consciousness of sin and from the power of sin.
There is a very fine line between walking free in the Spirit and walking in legalism and law. Legalism can be made to look so religious – at times even spiritual. But make no mistake about it, legalism is death and will eventually lead to limitation and restriction in your spiritual walk and often worse. It has to do with “how we hear.” Jesus said, “Take heed therefore how you hear…” – Luke 8:18 It never ceases to amaze me what some people hear from the same message, either spoken or written. I have written articles that everyone responded to in a very positive way.
Everyone, that is, except perhaps one. What that one heard is completely beyond me. How they got what they got from it is equally beyond me. And I am not alone in this experience. Other writers I have spoken to have shared the same experience. There is probably not a writer today who will not admit to such an experience.
We hear, it seems, according to our own mental condition, according to our own mind set. And you can’t convince these folk that you did not say what they think you said! That is why it is so very necessary to not leave hanging statements like “God loves the homosexual right where he is.” Or, “God loves the adulterer right where he is.” Sure God loves them, but God still hates sin today as much as He hated it in the days of Moses, and if we are going to have that relationship with God that His love promises to produce, we are going to have to do whatever is needed to separate ourselves from the sin He hates. To leave hanging the idea that God loves us right where we are without making clear that we cannot walk in darkness and with Him at the same time may seem unimportant and needless to most of us, but it is not unimportant in the hour of temptation.
God is holy and He is bringing forth a company of sons who are also holy as He is holy. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection…” – Revelation 20:6 That word (holy) is an interesting one. It comes to us from the Greek word, “hagios (hag’-ee-os); from hagos; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated): Thayer’s dictionary–KJV– (most) holy (one, thing), saint.”
I have heard men teach on the fact that all that was required of those at the time of the original Passover in Egypt was that they remain in the house and have blood over the door posts, and that much is true. But what is often left unsaid and unexplained is that those same people who had had the blood over their door posts in Egypt died in the wilderness! However, we are not so much concerned in this hour with the requirements of Passover or even with those of Pentecost.
We are concerned with the much higher standard of sonship… that we might attain to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. That standard is one. It is Christ Jesus! He is the Golden Reed by which all that goes into the true temple of God is measured. He is the Golden Shekel by which all that goes into the true temple of God is weighed. That Golden Reed and Golden Shekel is none other than Jesus Christ, the golden standard of God. The New Creation man!
There is a strange idea afloat among some of God’s choicest vessels, the idea that self-discipline is a kind of legalism. I must agree that it can become that if practiced in the wrong manner. As far as some are concerned, we should be able to go to the desert table and sate ourselves with cake, pie, ice cream and everything our soul wants.
Any time there is a desert table at a meeting we see this in action. It seems that self-discipline is thought to be law and legalism. If we are free, we are free to lay the reins of lust to the neck and not even think of controlling them. To fast in order to keep the body under control is another form of law and legalism, it is felt by some.
In fact, I have even heard some folk say, “What? You don’t eat sweets? (I do, but I do so in moderation and seek to keep it under the control of the Holy Spirit) Brother, that’s bondage! You need to be free!” They think it perfectly alright to be in bondage to the flesh, but they obviously think it terrible to be in bondage to the Spirit.
I was once listening to a conversation others were having about “clothesline preaching.” The conclusion they arrived at was that it doesn’t matter what one wears or how they may appear outwardly so long as their heart is right. They didn’t ask my opinion, so I didn’t offer it. But it seems to me, even though I frown on “clothesline preaching,” that if one’s heart is right before God it will doubtless affect what one wears and how they will appear before others.
And it has nothing to do with the teaching which holds that the women are to have long sleeves, long dresses, long hair and all that religious shamefacedness we see so much of in some groups.
How we look, how we sound and what we really are has everything to do with what is in our heart. While it is not possible to get holiness into one’s heart by way of wearing or not wearing certain things, if one’s heart has become the residence of holiness, you cannot hide it. It will appear in what you say, how you say it, what you wear and how you wear it. What we really are will be apparent to all men. It always has been. That’s why some are still so turned off by the hypocrisy so apparent in some factions of what calls itself, “The Church.”
I recently received a letter from a very precious brother whom I love dearly in the Lord and while what he said was true, it was a classic hanging statement which, if left unqualified and unexplained, was designed to offend and perhaps mislead some into getting the wrong idea about what he might have meant. We all do it from time to time. We are glad for the liberating message, which frees us from all allegiances to any religious groups. And some say that it doesn’t matter if you are New Age, Bhuddist, Hindu, or even a Christian, God looks at them as a finished product fully revealing His glory.
I, myself, have no allegiances to any religious groups and see no need for such and I also give myself to my Father and rest in the blood of Jesus. As to the rest of the above statement, I cannot agree with it. I do not believe that God sees every man through the blood of Jesus even though He does know the eventual outcome of each. Unless their name is entered into the Lamb’s book of life through being born again of the Spirit during this present lifetime, they must go into the lake of fire for the purging they might have obtained while in this life.
God saw the final outcome of everyone who drowned in the flood of Noah’s day, yet they still perished. I cannot say that because God sees the eventual salvation of each man finally taking place in some post-lake-of-fire day, that He therefore sees each of them now as fully revealing His glory.
I know that He sees the final redemption of each man as a present reality and I believe that is what our brother means, but I do not believe that he means to in any sense reassure the sinner and unredeemed that they are okay in their present condition. And to lump the Buddhist, the New Ager and the Hindu all together into one corrupt basket of hypocrisy along with the Christian, even though it is sometimes justified, only invites misunderstanding and suspicion.
It is commonly thought that the sin of homosexuality is somehow the very worst sin in which one can participate. Then, the other extreme is, “There is no difference between the homosexual and anyone else.” There is no argument that God loves homosexuals, but there is also no successful argument that God does not also hate homosexuality. God loves and saves the homosexual on the same basis that He saves anyone else. By His grace He changes them that they might walk in His character and likeness. He means to change each one of us.
We often hear the argument that, “Jesus fellowshipped with prostitutes and publicans!” We also hear much of the oft-quoted verse, “Neither do I condemn thee,” spoken by Jesus to the woman taken in adultery. Both are true, in so far as they go, but each are what I call, a hanging statement. They don’t go far enough. For even though Jesus did have very close relationships with some who had been prostitutes, He never left one of them in that condition, and the part of the verse that is usually left out – as to the woman taken in adultery (have you ever wondered how the woman was caught in the act of adultery, but not the man?) is that He also was quite distinct in telling her, “Go and sin no more.” There is no doubt in my mind that God intensely loves the homosexual, but neither is there a shred of doubt in my mind that He hates the sin in which they are involved and means to deliver them from it sooner or later.
The Church has fallen down on the job in the sense that it has not been able to find grace to really love the homosexual while hating the sin and it has been apparent. We have not afforded men the time needed for God to work in them the grace to lay aside their besetting sin. That is so hypocritical. Knowing what it has taken for us, and continues to take for us, we have sought to pass ourselves off as some kind of super-spiritual hybrid, and in the process have wounded, maimed and even killed our own brethren. We have sought to impose law in the place of God’s grace (the only real remedy for sin), and have thereby brought forth death in some instances.
While in one sense there are no boundaries to God’s love nor any limit to its reach and tolerance, in another sense there are boundaries beyond which we are not permitted but beyond which God will yet go for that upon which His great heart is set. If it were not so I would not know God today. He came into hell, found me in a wretched, putrid condition of sinful squalor and made me free. He took me from the dunghill of sin and literally set me among princes. Oh, “it wonders me wonderful.”
When the full story of redemption love is fully told and fully understood, there will not be a dry eye or one left standing among us. We shall all be flat on our faces in utter and absolute awe and gratitude toward this completely inexpressible display of LOVE! When it is revealed and understood by God’s creation, and the extent to which Love has gone has been fully understood, that will cause every knee and every heart to bow in complete and utter adoration of Him. What a day we have to look forward to! What a God is our God! It cannot be expressed in human terms, there is no possible way to a adequately describe this God of ours outside of writing in tongues.
Thus, He demands that we give up all that we might find our all in Him. We must be brought to the place where we are willing to have nothing, to be nothing that we might have our all in Him. We are on our way toward nothing and yet everything. Oh, that God might give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand, that we might really partake of the good of the land He holds out to us. That land, that inheritance is nothing short of Himself.
Has He brought you to Himself and yet you find some vestiges of sin still clinging to you? Do you find that you still do that which you would not and that you don’t do that which you would? The escape from the dilemma of the human condition is to cease to strive against it in your own strength and determination and begin to simply rest (even in the sin) in the work of Calvary and in Jesus Christ. The escape from the power of sin is to ignore it as you focus upon Christ Jesus, for in Him THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CONDEMNATION.
Did He die for you because He thought you could stop sinning on your own? Did He die for you because He thought you were such a wonderful and maybe even special person? Of course not. He died for you because He knew you and the end from the beginning. He knew that love never fails, and He knew that you needed to be delivered from the clutches of sin’s power.
Beloved, His first thought toward you was two things. 1. It was good. 2. It was eternal. What He has thought to do, He will perform. He will present you unblameable before the Father. You are not responsible for His work in you. It is God that worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Even were you able to straighten yourself up and present yourself perfect, He would not accept it. If He will not accept a better, upgraded version of you or me, why should we try so hard “to be better?” God is after the New Creation man found only in Christ Jesus. The only thing left to those finally realizing this is to stop all the trying and simply rest in His work.
Finally, one last thought to take with you:
“Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in its beloved.” Author Unknown
NO-BOUNDARIES GOSPEL, THE [Larry Hodges] 1