Perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God

April 2020

 

Dear Brethren:


           Warmest greetings to God’s peculiar treasure in Christ. This will be a meat-in-due-season letter for the Days of Unleavened Bread.


           The Days of Unleavened Bread point us to the high goal which we strive for in our
approach to God’s Law. God’s Law is a perfect law. “The law of the [Eternal] is perfect,
converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7). The Eternal is also a true and righteous judge (2 Timothy
4:8). Those are two of the most crucial factors, but there is still a third dimension to making
this work. We must ask God to help our wills to be in tune with His will by coming under
His government. We must obey His commands to honor and observe the Days of
Unleavened Bread as He commanded. In short, we must “[Become] ye therefore perfect [by
keeping God’s Law], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect [in law-abiding love]”
(Matthew 5:48).


           Today’s justice system is a farce. It is a demonic play in which the plot depends upon
situation rather than righteous character. It is a silly ship of fools; a mockery; a ridiculous
sham. Today’s justice system is overburdened, drowning in paperwork, prey to courtroom
theatrics and politics and prone to corruption, hostile to common sense, rendered ineffectual
by a growing mountain of picky technicalities!


           Jeremiah said that it is impossible for man to guide his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23),
let alone legislate justice for a society that is caught up in the concepts of their own minds.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in our legal justice system. In contrast to mankind’s
justice system, God’s Law and administration are incorruptible, just and perfect. This creates
a yearning in all of us for the return of Jesus Christ. Is it not time for God’s true system of
justice to be set up?


           “Become you perfect” is why God ordained these Days of Unleavened Bread. “Let
us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh [the works of the flesh—Galatians
5:19–21] and spirit [our unholy thoughts and inward imaginations], perfecting holiness
[aiming at sinless perfection] in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).


           To be in the proper fear of God is to have a wholesome dread of displeasing Him and
to abhor whatever might provoke that displeasure and cause Him to give us over to strong
delusion. To be in the proper fear of God is to be in obedience to His Law and the proper
keeping of His Holy Days.


           In Leviticus 23, God outlines His appointed Feasts. Here we find the commanded Holy Days
of the Eternal God. Rehearsing these Holy Days annually reinforces our understanding of
God’s Master Plan of salvation. As we know, they are to be honored and observed as statutes
forever in all our dwellings throughout all our generations. The weekly Sabbath, Passover,
the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost (to be observed on Monday), Feast of Trumpets,
Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day are all commanded
assemblies to be observed.


           When properly understood and revealed to us by God, each Holy Day impresses upon
us a crucial and imperative key to understand how we are to become born children of the
Family Kingdom of God. Before we can enter Sonship into the God Family, we must
thoroughly understand God’s laws and the penalties for violating them. The Days of
Unleavened Bread teach us directly about the Law of God. Mr. Herbert Armstrong taught
that the Passover pictures the acceptance of Christ’s blood for the remission of past sins. The
seven Days of Unleavened Bread following Passover picture to us the complete putting away
of sin and the keeping of the commandments after past sins are forgiven.


           Our strength alone to keep God’s Law is insufficient. We cannot keep the
commandments of God on our own power of will and strength. But Christ in us—in the form
of revealed doctrine—can keep them. We must rely on Christ to live in us as He was
originally revealed. The Law of God reveals to us His nature, mind and character. The Law
of God reveals the righteous character we are to build in our lives to make us ready for
Sonship in the God Family. Christ taught, “but if thou wilt enter into life [into the God
Family] keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). If we are to enjoy a future eternal life
in God’s Family, we must obey God’s Law! God’s Law will be the system of justice in God’s
future government. This holy festival, the Days of Unleavened Bread, observed for a
complete seven days, teaches us that we should strive for perfection in obedience to the Law
of God.


           Let us notice the command to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Exodus 12:


Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away
leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first
day until the seventh day, that soul [person] shall be cut off [put away] from
Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the
seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall
be done in them, save [except] that which every man must eat, that only may
be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this
selfsame day have I brought your armies [hosts] out of the land of Egypt:
therefore, shall ye observe this day in [throughout] your generations by an
ordinance [an authoritative order] for ever (Exodus 12:15–17).


           Let us sum up the clearly-defined commands given here. First, all leavening is to be
put out of our homes for seven days. Second, unleavened bread is to be eaten for seven days.
Third, holy assemblies are called together only on the first and last days—kept as Sabbaths
in which no servile work is performed. Notice there is absolutely no command that holy
convocations or assemblies are required on all seven days of the feast. This is God’s clearly-stated law or statute concerning this particular holy festival. We are told when to keep
it—there is a God-ordained time to keep two separate holy convocations, as God’s people,
to receive teaching from God’s ministry about the meaning of these days. On these Holy
Days it is forbidden to continue in regular work because God wants your time and your mind
on these days. An offering is also to be taken on only the first commanded assembly of these
days (Deuteronomy 16:17).


           During this holy festival, God directs us to remove all leavened products from our
homes. We eat unleavened bread throughout the week to remind us of the haste with which
Israel fled Egypt.


Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the [Eternal] thy God:
for in the month of Abib [on the 15th] the [Eternal] thy God brought thee forth
out of Egypt by night. Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover [lamb] unto
the [Eternal] thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the
[Eternal] shall choose to place his name there. Thou shalt eat no leavened
bread with it [the Passover lamb]; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread
therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of
Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day [the 15th] when thou
camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life (Deuteronomy
16:1–3).


           God gives us these physical practices to help us grow in our understanding of the
spiritual significance of the days. Learning to obey the Law of God builds godly perfection
in our lives. The called of God are very familiar with the use of analogy, parables and
symbolisms in the Bible to convey a message from God. Scriptures regarding the Days of
Unleavened Bread serve as examples of these teaching techniques of God.


           The people of ancient Israel were taught the principle of deliverance from this society
and its laws as they fled from Egypt. It is a good idea to read the book of Exodus before the
Days of Unleavened Bread. Not only is the story of Israel’s journey out of Egypt recorded
there, but the Law of God is also expounded directly in this book. The symbolism of Israel’s
perilous exodus from slavery to the Promised Land was not only used to teach them, but it
is meant to benefit us today as we comprehend the spiritual lessons of their pilgrimage.


           In Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, we see a connection between Egypt and sin.
Revelation 11:8 also likens Egypt to sin. Following the analogy of Israel’s deliverance by
God’s intervention, we also make our exodus by miraculous intervention. Pharaoh can be
equated to Satan. Immediately as the Israelites embarked en route to escape Egypt, they were
chased by Pharaoh. So, too, for us today: the moment we forsake our sinful ways, Satan is
hot on our heels trying to tempt us back into disobedience to God’s Way of Life (1 Peter 5:8).
He is a no-law deceiver; he constantly connives to bring us back into the slavery of sin
(Romans 6:16). His goal is to prevent us from becoming perfect like our Father and thus
keep us out of God’s Family.


           Just as the Israelites were miserable under conditions of slavery in Egypt, so have we
suffered under the influence of Satan’s world—a world of misery, disillusionment,
discouragement and frustration. Satan’s way is contrary to that of our promised land—the
Kingdom of God. So, one lesson we learn is that we are on a journey away from the captivity
of Satan and his system. The Israelites encountered a multitude of obstacles on their exodus,
as do we. God tested ancient Israel to determine their commitment to His Law. He knew
they would not live up to this test because they lacked His Holy Spirit.


O that there were such an heart [a nature or Spirit] in them, that they would
fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with
them, and with their children forever (Deuteronomy 5:29).


           God knew ancient Israel could not obey His spiritual Law regardless of their intent
or promise. Ancient Israel was never offered God’s Holy Spirit. They were given God’s
laws, but, as a nation, they were purposely denied access to God’s Holy Spirit. God gave
proof, through Israel as His example, that without God’s Holy Spirit, humanity is helpless.
The ancient nation of Israel knew about God and could appeal to Him, but without His Holy
Spirit in them, the Israelites could not have the law-abiding love of God in them and they
consequently could not perfect holiness in the fear of God. The fear of God is always
equated, identified and coupled with obedience. They go hand in hand. You can tell the
people who sincerely fear God. They are implicitly, absolutely and whole-heartedly devoted
to obedience to God as He was originally revealed.


           Israel’s examples of failure are for us today so that we do not have to pay the price that
they did.


Now all these things [the failures of ancient Israel] happened unto them for
ensamples: and they are written [aforetime] for our admonition [our
instruction], upon whom the ends of the world [the consummation of the age]
are come (1 Corinthians 10:11).


           Along our journey, our departure from Egypt, which is a symbol for sin, we are tested
by God as He proves our hearts.


For whom the [Eternal] loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom
he receiveth [or calls]. If ye endure chastening [sore trials and experiences],
God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father
chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement [corrective guidance
through sore trials and experiences], whereof all are partakers, then are ye
bastards [illegitimate], and not [begotten] sons (Hebrews 12:6–8).


           Yet, we should not be discouraged:


There hath no temptation taken you [no sore trial overtaken you] but such as
is common to man [God’s called]: but God is faithful [to His Word], who will
not suffer you to be tempted [or tried] above that ye are able; but will with the
temptation [sore trial] also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear
[endure] it (1 Corinthians 10:13).


           God will not allow us to be tried beyond our capacity to endure. We can only escape
sore trials before they begin. Once they begin, then we must endure to learn their purpose.


           The primary lesson God was teaching ancient Israel, and is teaching us today, is to
rely on Him for deliverance (Exodus 14:14). We are not capable of delivering ourselves
from sin; we need the Word of God and His Holy Spirit. He will always provide a way for
us to endure our sore trials. God’s goal is to prove to us that He is our only hope. By coming
to this understanding, and yielding ourselves to Him and His Law completely, we enjoy the
benefits of coming under His justice system. Our promised land lies in our ability to see
beyond the present into the future Kingdom of God. But again, we must learn to live under
the Law of God. The Days of Unleavened Bread symbolize our exodus from sin and put us
in remembrance of our need to remove every act of disobedience to God’s Law from our
lives.


           Question: What is the secret to perfecting holiness in the fear of God? “For as he [a
man] thinketh in his heart [mind], so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Here God reveals a fundamental
law by which our minds work. All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the
direct result of his own thoughts. We are in essence the sum total of what our thoughts make
us. Our thoughts are the building blocks from which all our ideas, imaginations, habits and
ultimate character are formed.


           Paraphrasing from James Allen’s book, As a Man Thinketh: The mind guides our
footsteps as we progress along the pathway of life. Purity of mind leads inevitably to purity
of life. Man is made or unmade by himself, by his own thought process. In the armory of
thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself, or by the right choice and true
application of thought, he can ascend to divine perfection. Man is the maker of his character,
the moulder of his life and the builder of his destiny, if he will watch, control and alter his
thoughts, tracing their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon his life and circumstances,
linking cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, and utilizing his every
experience, even to the most trivial, everyday occurrence. The body is the servant of the
mind. If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. Keep your hand firmly upon the
helm of thought. Right thought is mastery.


           Even though this author is not called, and does not address the need for the Holy Spirit
to become converted, he accurately confirms Proverbs 23:7. Our actions are always preceded
by thoughts. Man has always followed after his own thoughts and beliefs. “I [the Eternal]
have spread out my hands all the day [pictures God beckoning Israel to respond to Him in
long-suffering patience] unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good,
after their own thoughts” (Isaiah 65:2). In the time of Israel’s judges, “every man did
whatever he thought was right” (Judges 21:25, Living Bible). In short, man reacts to and
performs the thoughts he believes in. It makes no difference whether the thought is right or
wrong. We are able to choose the thoughts we wish to believe in and act upon. And therein
lies the cause of every evil from which this world suffers!


           We in God’s Church, who have God’s Holy Spirit, are to be learning to judge properly
between right and wrong, and to choose the right. And that means learning to control our
thoughts, from which all our actions spring. David asked God to carefully examine and
know his thoughts. He realized that he was not fully aware or cognizant of all his iniquities
and wanted God to point them out to him so they could be dealt with effectively.


Search me, O God, and know my heart [mind]: try me [through sore trials,
experiences and circumstances], and know my thoughts: And see if there be
any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting [through proper
thought control] (Psalm 139:23).


           David wanted his thoughts to be in tune with God’s Word. We must never allow this
world’s satanic ways—via radio, television, the internet, movies, the printed media and the
voice of scholars—to be poured, unchallenged and un-refuted, into our minds. If we do, we
are sacrificing our minds to Satan, the Devil. Lot’s wife was affected greatly by the media
of her world. She became a pillar of salt as a warning to us that we must never allow the
media of this world or the voice of scholars to affect or influence our thinking. If we do, God
will surely give us over to strong delusion to believe lies.


           Question: How do we rid our minds of wrong reasoning?


1.        We must recognize our wrong thoughts. Our daunting task requires that we become
experts at recognizing and rejecting all that is not Godlike in our thinking. God’s
Word was inspired, designed and given to us to study and meditate upon for that
purpose. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart [mind], that I might not sin against thee”
(Psalm 119:11).


2.        Repent of wrong thinking. Once we recognize wrong thoughts, however they may be
revealed to us in our emotions, habits, or through God’s Word, we must
repent—meaning we must forsake wrong thoughts.


And when Simon [Magus] saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands
the Holy [Spirit] was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this
power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy [Spirit]. But
Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought
that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor
lot [portion] in this matter: for thy heart [mind] is not right in the sight of God.
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought
of thine heart [mind] may be forgiven thee (Acts 8:18–22).


           Simon Magus thought he could buy God’s Holy Spirit. That is how ungodly his
thinking was. Simon Magus, like Elisha’s servant, Gehazi (2 Kings 5:20–27), sought to use
God’s miraculous gift for his own benefit. Many of God’s apostate ministers have thought
to do the same thing—to draw for themselves a following. “Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the [Eternal]” (Isaiah 55:7).
Repent and change your thinking.


           There was widespread dishonesty and perversion of justice among the Israelites.
Wrong thoughts controlled every area of their lives.


Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their
thoughts are thoughts of iniquity [lawlessness]; wasting and destruction are in
their paths (Isaiah 59:7).


           What was true of ancient Israel is also true of the entire human race. It is a global
problem! God wants us to avoid the things that the Eternal hates.


And let none of you imagine [think] evil in your hearts [minds] against his
neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the
[Eternal] (Zechariah 8:17).


O Jerusalem, wash thine heart [your thoughts (#3820, Strong’s Concordance)]
from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain
[wicked] thoughts lodge within thee (Jeremiah 4:14)?


           Repent!


3.        Replace your sinful thoughts with God’s righteous thoughts. Mr. Armstrong said: To
remove air from a glass we can fill it with water. To remove sinful thoughts from our
minds we must fill them with righteous thinking according to God’s Law. David
knew the importance of filling his mind with the Word and Law of God.


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).


Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight
(Psalm 119:35).


O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day (Psalm 119:97).


           God delivered a solemn charge to Joshua concerning the daunting task ahead of him.


This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but thou shalt
meditate therein day and night [in a reflective, thoughtful way], that thou
mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein [Why? So you can
perfect holiness in the fear of the Eternal.]: for then thou shalt make thy way
prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success (Joshua 1:8).


           Once we recognize, repent, and then replace our sinful thoughts, the battle is still not
over. Satan, self and society will strive to interject wrong thoughts back into our minds. So,
then we must:


4.        Submit ourselves to God and resist sinful thoughts when they return. Then repeat
points one, two and three. Submit yourselves therefore to God. This involves putting
on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11–18) and coming under obedience to the
truth of God’s Word as it was originally revealed to us.


Resist the devil [push back against evil thoughts], and he will flee from you
(James 4:7).


Put on the whole armour of God [the Lord Jesus Christ], that ye may be able
to stand against the wiles [trickery, tactics and schemes] of the devil
(Ephesians 6:11).


           Thought, allied fearlessly to purpose, becomes our creative force for perfecting
holiness in the fear of God. We are the ones in command of our minds. God has given us
the power of choice, and we must choose. Our judgment period—involving our long-term
conversion process—began when we made our baptismal covenant. It requires continuous,
thoughtful effort. It is a process of “bringing into captivity [enslavement] every thought to
the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


           We have a daunting task before us. By right choice and active application of Christ-like thinking, we can perfect holiness in the fear of God. Perfecting holiness in the fear of
God
is based upon the sum of our righteous thoughts according to God’s Law. We are here
to work at developing a Godlike mind that He can use to develop other minds to think like
Him. Our objective in the world tomorrow is to help fashion others after God and His
thinking.


           The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us to actively search out and destroy all evil
thoughts of spiritual leaven in our lives. The Days of Unleavened Bread point us to the high
goal we strive for in our approach to God’s Law. True justice can only be accomplished
through a perfect system. God’s Law is a perfect Law (James 1:25).


Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good
(Romans 7:12).


           Paraphrasing James Allen once again: Too many mortals strive to improve only their
worldly position—and too few seek spiritual betterment—through that Great Law which is
absolutely just, and which cannot, therefore, give good for evil, evil for good. A noble and
Godlike character is not a thing of favour or chance, but is the natural result of continued
effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts.


           Righteousness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of
long and patient effort in putting away wrong thoughts. God wants us to stop self-generating
our own trials and difficulties by how we think. God wants us to make no provisions for the
flesh, to think evil thoughts.


But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ [in the form of revealed doctrine], and
make not provision for the flesh [to think evil thoughts], to fulfil the lusts
thereof (Romans 13:14).


           We have a daunting task before us—to put on the Lord Jesus Christ as He was
originally revealed. The way you visualize Jesus Christ in your mind determines what you
will strive to achieve. May you all have a very rich and rewarding Holy Day season by
putting on the Lord Jesus Christ—perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Your laborer and servant in Christ,
Robert J. Litz


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