For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Serving without Sweat
To do His work, God does not need man’s efforts.
"They will enter my sanctuary, and they will come to my table to serve me, and they will keep my ordinances. And when they enter through the doors of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments; they shall not wear a thing of wool upon them, when they minister at the doors of the inner court and within the house. Linen turbans shall be upon their heads, and linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with things that make them sweat" (Ezek. 44: 16-18).
This is an ordinance for the priests of the Lord. In the New Covenant, we are all priests, we can all enter the sanctuary and minister to God. And this ordinance of the Lord says that the priests must enter dressed in linen garments; they shall not wear any woollen garments. And the reason why they shall not wear woollen clothes, according to verse 18, is so that the clothes do not make them sweat.
"They will not put on anything that makes them sweat." This means that God does not want sweat in His house. What does sweat mean? Sweating occurs when we make a great effort. Therefore, sweat represents human effort. If God does not want sweat in His home, it means that God does not want human effort in His home. Interesting, right?
Leviticus 19:19. «My statutes you will keep. You will not join your cattle with animals of another species; You will not sow your field with a mixture of seeds, and you will not wear garments with a mixture of threads. "
«Your field will not be sown with a mixture of seeds». Let's underline the word 'mix'. «... and you will not wear garments with a mixture of threads». Again, underline the word 'mix'. God does not want mixed linen and wool. God does not want a mixture of the divine with the human. Human effort in His house hinders the work of God.
God does not want us to do 50 percent and he will do the other 50 percent, or for us to do 10 percent and he will do 90 percent. He wants to do one hundred percent. We have a hard time understanding that growth in the Lord is for us to decrease so that the Lord may increase. The Lord wants to make room in us, so that he can do one hundred percent of the work.
You have read the letter to the Galatians. The Galatians were falling into this error. They had been justified by faith, they had been saved by faith; but now they believed that sanctification was by works. And Paul comes to tell them: 'No, sanctification is also by faith'. Everything is by faith, everything is the work of God.
The work of God is one hundred percent His. He does not need our help, he does not need our meddling. We simply need to prepare ourselves, open ourselves, allow the Lord to do his complete work. The work of God is perfect, the work of God is absolute; It is a finished work, it is an eternal work. Praise the Lord! May the Father open our eyes to see that we are observing a work that is already finished.
The purpose of God
Why does God not want our effort? To know the answer, we need to understand how we were created and what we were created for. In other words, we need to know God's purpose. And when we enter into God's purpose, we find that you and I were created to contain Christ and to express Christ, so that the life of Christ would be manifested through us.
Therefore, from the beginning, God never designed us so that we had to help God. From the beginning, he created us and designed us as a vessel to contain the life of Christ, and for that life to be manifested through us.
It is not, then, because we have sinned that we cannot offer anything acceptable to God. It is not only the sin - which has tainted all our actions - that makes all our actions hybrid or mixed, but there is a deeper reason: We were never created to help God, but rather to let Him be manifest through us.
God's plan was the following: Man was created tripartite, spirit, soul and body. Adam was created with human life. As the Scripture says, he was made a living soul. However, He was created for the tree of life. He was created with a kind of life - human life - but He was created for another kind of life - the life that was in the tree of life.
That is why, when he created Adam, he put him in the garden, and in the middle of the garden, God planted the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam left the creative hand of God with human life, but was created to access the life that was in the tree of life.
What life was that which was for Adam in the tree of life, if he had already been created with human life? The life of the tree of life is the life of Christ. And the purpose of God is that Adam, created with will, with intellect and with emotions, voluntarily agreed to eat of the tree of life. When Adam went to the centre of the garden, although there was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - which Adam was not to eat from - nonetheless, there was also the tree of life.
When Adam went to the centre of the garden, he was meant to eat from that tree. If Adam had done that, then the life of God, which is the life of Christ, would have entered his spirit, and in his spirit he would have had the life of Christ. Then, Adam could have, from that moment, expressed the life of the Lord. The life of Christ could begin to manifest itself through him; his soul would be in harmony with his spirit, and the soul, like a wife, would be the ideal helper of the spirit. The spirit would be like the husband, and the soul like the wife. And the soul, that had no sin, would have followed the spirit without resistance and without opposition. Man would then have been an expression of Christ. Man would not have been expressing himself, but the life of Christ in him.
Now, we all know that this did not happen. Unfortunately, Adam disobeyed. When he went to the centre of the garden, he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God said: 'May he not stretch out his hand now and also eat from the tree of life.' His spirit did not receive the life of God, and the drama was as follows: from that time on, his soul prevailed over his spirit.
Instead of being a servant, the soul became a queen; instead of being a wife, it became a husband, and began to live by itself. It became self-sufficient, autonomous, rebellious, over active. It strengthened its capabilities. The will became an iron will. The mind intellectualized everything. Our feelings became unbalanced, dragging us from side to side. The soul went astray, went out of its proper place, putting itself in a position for which it was never created.
Therefore, God does not want our effort in his house. God wants the original plan. The spirit of man vivified with the divine life and expressing itself through a docile soul, a soul that is a servant of the spirit, a soul that does not resist God, that can follow in a sensitive way what the life of Christ wants to express.
But since the day Adam fell, man expresses himself. What comes out of us is not the expression of Christ; it is the expression of ourselves. The things of man have been introduced into His house, and there is a mixture in the house of God. On the one hand, there is what is of Christ, which sometimes flows, which sometimes manifests itself; but there is still very much of us, of man, in the house of God.
The activism of the soul
But not only do we have a soul out of place, in a position for which it was never created, but this hyper activity that the soul has, this autonomy that it exercises, this strength with which it wants to develop itself, in the end produces fatigue, sweat, it means that we have a worn out soul, which when it sweats to please God, to serve God, has no joy, no rest. On the contrary, human effort brings with it complaining, discouragement, frustration, depression, dissatisfaction.
How many of us here are tired, how many of us here are exhausted, frustrated, discouraged! God does not want sweat in his house. God wants his service, his service to him, to be done with joy, be done with peace, be done with rest and with joy. We need the rest of the Lord, we need to quiet our soul, and let the Lord work through us.
Let's read in Isaiah 57:10. "In the multitude of your ways you got tired, but you did not say: it is hopeless; You found new strength in your hand, therefore, you were not discouraged ». This is the situation of our soul. In many ways, seeking to participate, seeking fulfilment, seeking to collaborate, seeking to help God.
In other words, our own ways tire us out, but not to the point of saying: 'There is no more hope'. Our soul regains strength, is filled with hope again, is not discouraged, and carries on. And we get tired again, and we get frustrated again, but not to the point of saying: 'There is no remedy', but we find energy again, and we stop being discouraged. That is not what the Lord wants. The Lord wants us to reach the point of total surrender.
Verse 20 says: "But the wicked are like the stormy sea, which cannot stand still." This is the soul of man, like the stormy sea, which cannot stand still. And verse 21 says: "There is no peace, said my God, for the ungodly."
Rest for the soul
Jeremiah 6:16. "Thus says the Lord: Stand on the roads, and look, and ask for the old paths, what is the good way, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your soul." «Stand on the roads ...». The word roads is in the plural. Isaiah had said: "In the multitude of your ways you got tired." That is the problem of the soul: it travels along a multitude of paths. And the prophet Jeremiah says: "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is ...". The word ‘way’ is in the singular.
There are not many ways, there is only one way, the good way. And the prophet says that when you find it, walk in it, "... and you will find rest for your soul."
When we look at the fulfilment of this in the New Testament, Matthew 11: 28-30, we read: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, that I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls; For my yoke it is easy, and my burden light".
Is there anyone here who is weary and oppressed? "Come to me," says Christ, "you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." How does the Lord make us rest? "Take my yoke upon you ..." That is, that our soul returns to the original position, where it stops being self-sufficient, stops being autonomous. Our soul surrenders itself again to the spirit. The yoke of Christ upon us is his spirit.
And the Lord says: «... and learn from me, that I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls ». He took the quotation from Jeremiah chapter 6. Therefore, according to the Lord himself, who is the good way? He himself was the good way. Christ is the good way. And carrying his yoke, we find rest for our soul, because Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden light.
We find rest and relief, we regain joy and happiness, the sweat disappears, when we are yoked together with Christ, when we learn to walk with him, when we let him go before us, when we allow him to do one hundred percent, when we become less so that he can grow, so that he can fill all things in His house, so that we may become his servants again, and be docile and sensitive to his Spirit.
And finally, 2nd Timothy 2: 1. "So, my son, strive in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Here it seems that there is a contradiction. Paul tells Timothy: "Strive." What should we do? Should we strive or should we not strive? If we look closely, Paul tells Timothy: "Strive in grace." And this is a paradox, because grace is the opposite of works. So, the verb "strive" seems to be unrelated to grace. And Paul tells Timothy: "Strive ...", but "... in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
To paraphrase this text, it would be more or less like this: «Strive to do nothing; strive for God to do everything ». And why does it take effort not to do anything? Because our soul is always ready to do something, our soul is always willing to take the initiative; our soul cannot be still.
What is our biggest problem when praying? That we have a soul that cannot be still or silent. It is like that. As soon as we want to be in the presence of God, we sense and experience that our soul is active, full of ideas, full of good intentions. And when we just try to be still, we discover that we can't. We need to make an effort to do nothing, because our natural tendency is always to do something.
So this text does not contradict what we have said, but it is a paradox. Be strong in not doing anything yourself; strive to make sure that God does everything. God is powerful enough to do one hundred percent, and He wants to do it through you, without sweat, without fatigue, without complaints, without frustration, without discouragement, but with joy, with contentedness, and in the rest of the Lord. Amen.
Synthesis of a message given in Sao Bento do Sul, Brazil.