As we saw in Part One, the ancient physical Jews, who were given the Old Covenant (ten commandments), were under many physical laws, including laws concerning animal sacrifice and several laws that pertained to being clean vs. unclean.
The clean vs. unclean laws were the ordinances that kept physical Jews separated from physical Gentiles. Everything about the Gentiles was deemed “unclean,” and association with that which was unclean would prevent the physical Jews from entering the temple until they did whatever was prescribed to make them clean again. And, as the covenant was at the temple, and true worship occurs where the covenant is (John 4:1-26), being unclean meant that worship was not possible.
And, as we’ve seen, Messiah Yahoshua’s earthly ministry set the stage for what were physical foreshadows in the scriptures being revealed later as their spiritual real substances. Remember in His Sermon on the Mount, He spoke of the difference between the physical and the spiritual when He compared murder (physical) to hatred (spiritual), and adultery (physical) to lust (spiritual). The physical law is an outside governing force, but the Holy Spirit governs internally, and that internal governance is manifested outwardly.
The spiritual always goes much deeper than merely the physical; and, with physical foreshadows, the real substance is always spiritual, not physical. The foreshadow is not the real substance, but a visual learning aid. And, as we saw in Part One, the spiritual real substance of “clean vs. unclean” is actually “light vs. darkness.” Throughout the New Testament, we’re warned about the darkness, and the fact that light and darkness have no fellowship (2 Corinthians 6:14).
So, who better to look to for clarification of the spiritual real substances than to Messiah Himself. Yahoshua pulled no punches with His words, and what He spoke is pure truth.
Now, let me step back for a moment before continuing, to address a sentiment I remember being used in christianity to deal with some of Messiah Yahoshua’s literal words. It was not unusual, when discussing difficult things that Messiah said, for a common caveat to be interjected into those things. It was something like this: “Well, yes, Christ did say that, but He didn’t really mean it like that.”
Oh really? How then are we to understand what Messiah said if His words are not actually trustworthy, and He said things that He didn’t actually mean in the way He said them? What is vital to grasp is the dynamic Messiah was pointing to regarding physical vs. spiritual, and that the physical (temporal) is not to be our focus. Those who are His true followers are to focus on the spiritual, and realize that the physical only presents foreshadows of what are spiritual real substances.
And, where did some of Messiah’s most difficult teachings hit? He spoke directly into the earthly relationships that cause most people to stumble, or to tacitly deny Him (for the sake of relationships)—physical family. One’s family members and closest friends often hold so high a value to us that, even though one might speak the truths of the Holy Spirit to those with whom he is not very close, he might not voice strongly those truths that could affect his close relationships, because those relationships are vastly more important to him than others are.
Messiah knew this tendency people have, and warned us that those relationships are most often the ones that cause us to temper our zeal for His truths, so as not to lose, or alter, those relationships. Yes, an occasional spiritual truth might enter the conversation, but then, as the unbeliever changes the subject, the weak believer will often just go along with the focus on earthly things, rather than fixing his heart and mind on Yah’s kingdom, because those of the darkness want nothing to do with the light. There is supposed to be a chasm between those of the light and those of darkness, but it’s often the believer who will blur that distinction so that relationships are not altered.
We see in the third chapter of Mark, Yahoshua’s earthly ministry had recently begun, and He was gaining followers who were intrigued by His teachings. He had just chosen His twelve disciples, and was performing public miracles. It can be assumed that the miracles themselves attracted many people who just wanted to check out the supernatural things that were occurring by His will.
And then, in Mark 3:21, we see that while Messiah was in the midst of the crowd that was following Him, His own family members, who had heard what He was doing, came and tried to seize Him to take Him away, because, they said, “He is out of His mind.” His own family members tried to hide their embarrassment over His teachings by claiming He had gone crazy.
He was obviously able to resist them, for we’re told that, after that, some scribes came to the crowd, and they actually accused Messiah of being possessed by Satan himself. And then, we’re told that His family tried again to get to Him. They were on the outskirts of the crowd, and some of the people told Messiah that His mother and brothers were outside the crowd, and were calling to Him.
Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of Yah, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35)
What is the will of His Father? Messiah answered that in John 6:40. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
Messiah Yahoshua was speaking a vital truth concerning those who are confirmed children of Yah—that the physical family is only a temporal representation of the real family of those who are of His household. Those who are born again are adopted into Yah’s family, and that is the eternal family of all who are spiritually adopted.
So, one’s focus is not to be his physical earthly family (with the exception of the believer’s spouse and their young children who are of their household—1 Corinthians 7:14), but his eternal spiritual family. We are shown throughout scripture that our highest care is to be for our fellow members of Yah’s family (Galatians 6:10, 1 Peter 2:17, Hebrews 13:1).
Remember, we are told that light has no fellowship with darkness. And, who are darkness? They are those who reject the true Gospel of Yahoshua, and who not only do not have the Holy Spirit, they have no interest in repenting of their unbelief (which includes belief in false teachings) to journey on the path to salvation. And, who would be the most difficult ones not to have fellowship with? Usually, that would be one’s physical family members.
But, it’s important to understand that this event wasn’t isolated or singular. Earthly family was not an uncommon theme of Messiah’s teachings, and those teachings always point to what the clean vs. unclean laws foreshadowed—light and darkness having no fellowship.
In Luke 9:57-61, we see a few people who thought they wanted to be followers of Messiah, most likely because His miracles were fascinating, so they thought they could personally benefit by being a part of His group and what He was doing.
As Messiah and His disciples were walking down a road, a man approached Him and said, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Yahoshua said to him,“The foxes have holes and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” His message here was that following Him is very difficult, for most people will want nothing to do with you. If you truly follow Him, you might even have a hard time finding a place to sleep (in other words, if you indeed follow Him seriously, even your own family members will not want you around them—not even to provide you a place to sleep).
Another person was nearby, and Messiah said to him, “Follow Me,” but the man replied, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” Messiah responded saying, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of Yah.”
Here, Messiah was speaking of the spiritual being vastly more important than the physical. The “dead” here are spiritually dead—they have never been given the Holy Spirit. He tells the man to let those who are spiritually dead tend to the physically dead, and for the man to lay aside his focus on earthly (temporal) things, and to follow Him.
There is also a correlation to be drawn here in the spiritual meaning shown by the law that prohibited the physical Jews from touching any dead body, and that touching a dead body would make someone unclean (Numbers 19:11). It’s the same principle of the spiritually alive maintaining a separation from the spiritually dead. It’s not about the physical, but the spiritual.
And, finally, another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at my home.” But Yahoshua said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of Yah.” In other words, those whose hearts and minds are focused on the things of this world cannot also be His followers, for His followers are to focus on the kingdom of Yah.
In Luke 12:49-53, Yahoshua explains how those who follow Him will be at odds with those of their own families, and that, rather than coming to bring peace, He came to divide. That division is actually between light and darkness—righteousness and unrighteousness.
“Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for from now on five members in one house [family] will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
How can one read Messiah’s words, and conclude that He didn’t really mean what He was saying? When one adds all of the admonitions concerning light having no fellowship with darkness, don’t Messiah’s words harmonize perfectly with that? Of course they do.
Let’s look at this from another perspective to help in understanding. All humans are born in a condition of unbelief—the singular condition caused by Adam’s sin. Elohim (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) said at creation, “Let US create man in OUR image,” and that is exactly how man was created—the union of soul (Father), body (Son), and spirit (Holy Spirit). That is the image of Elohim (God).
Because of Adam’s sin, all humans are born into the sinful condition of unbelief—or, a dead spirit (Romans 5:12). Thus, being spiritually dead, all humans are fleshly creatures—fueled only by their flesh (body and soul). When one is born again, it is not physical, but spiritual. The person who believes in Messiah Yahoshua (repents of the singular condition of unbelief) and endures in belief (confessing Messiah before others), will, after a time of testing, be given the Holy Spirit, who resurrects the dead spirit in man to newness of life (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The person whose spirit has been raised from spiritual death then has two competing natures—the spirit and the flesh (Romans 7:15-25). The person who does not have the Holy Spirit has but one nature—the flesh.
Also, we are told that those who are given the Holy Spirit are adopted into Yah’s family as His children (John 1:12, Romans 8:14). Now, what did we see above concerning the physical and the spiritual? Messiah Yahoshua was clearly differentiating between what was physical and what is spiritual in many of His teachings, like in His Sermon on the Mount. And, the physical is temporal and fleshly, while the spiritual is eternal and godly.
But, think about this—how does a person who has been made a spiritual being (by virtue of his spirit being resurrected to new life) relate to another person who is spiritually dead? It is not possible, apart from the Holy Spirit drawing the one in darkness. But, when one plainly rejects the truths of the Holy Spirit that have been presented to him, that person remains nothing but a fleshly creature—fueled completely by the flesh, as there is no spirit living in him.
What did Messiah say about those with whom the true Gospel is shared, but who reject it? “Whoever doesn’t receive you or hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14). He didn’t say that the believer is to cultivate or maintain close relationships with those people. Remember, it is not man who draws unbelievers to the Father, but the Holy Spirit. Thus, such people are not rejecting only you, they are rejecting the Holy Spirit, which is a much more serious matter.
People who have been given the Holy Spirit are told to focus their attention on things that are eternal (spiritual), but the fleshly person focuses on nothing but the things of this world. The flesh always works in concert with the world and the devil—so, the person whose spirit is dead is led by his flesh, which is controlled by the world and the devil.
How can the two have anything in common, OTHER THAN WHAT IS FLESHLY? And, what are believers told to do concerning their flesh? They are to deny their flesh, and feed their spirit. Such feeding cannot be possible when one’s focus, or affections, are toward that which is controlled by the flesh, the world, and the devil. It cannot be done.
That is why Messiah said that His followers are indeed IN the world, but that they should not be OF the world. How, then, can someone have a focus on those who are of the world, and not also point his affections to the temporal things of this world?
So, the clean vs. unclean portion of the written law of Moses was a physical foreshadow of light vs. darkness. The physical Jews were forbidden from associating with physical Gentiles. They were able to do business with them, but they couldn’t eat meals with them, or fellowship with them in any way. That was the foreshadow, but the spiritual is the real substance.
It is our duty, as those who are led by the Holy Spirit, to keep ourselves free from the encumbrances of the world, for if we focus our attentions and affections on the world (and those of it), we are diverting our minds and hearts away from the light and our duty to our Father, which is to labor consistently to advance the kingdom of Yah.
Again, the clean vs. unclean laws applied to the physical—so the physical Jews could not associate (fellowship) with physical Gentiles. But, in Messiah, there is neither physical Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28-29). The real substance is spiritual, not physical. We are not told that we cannot have physical contact with those of the world, but that our affections are to be set upon things that are eternal.
The focus of our attention is not to be on the things of the world that concern those of the world. Our communication with those of the world is not to be on fleshly things (and, what else do they have?). Our focus with them is always to be on the eternal kingdom of Yah. And, sadly, what most often will occur when someone with the Holy Spirit focuses only on the kingdom of Yah, is that the one who is in darkness will typically just dispense with any desire to spend time with the one who is of Yah’s kingdom.
Now, does that mean that such people will just give up? Often, no, especially if they are close physical relatives. As they are controlled by the flesh (the world and the devil), they will often do everything in their power to divert the believer’s focus away from spiritual truth, and onto the things of this world. The more they can successfully accomplish the diversion, the greater Satan’s victory. They might not even understand what they are doing, or why, but rest assured, Satan knows exactly how to tempt the flesh of believers—and he very often uses his children (the children of darkness) to accomplish that.
And, make no mistake—that is Satan’s goal with every believer—to divert attention away from laboring for the kingdom, and toward the temporal things of this world. Maybe that’s why Messiah Yahoshua said, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:24). Just like what He told those who claimed they wanted to be His followers, but He saw right away that their affections for the things of this world would keep them from focusing on His Father’s kingdom.
We should always strive to do what He taught, and to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who will continually nudge us toward denying our flesh and feeding our spirit. That cannot be done if our treasure is in earthly things and people instead of our treasure being in the eternal kingdom of Yah (Matthew 6:19-20) and His family.
It is clearly no mistake that Messiah Yahoshua focused often on two major things that keep people from truly following Him—the love of money, and earthly relationships. Satan fully understands this about people, which is why Messiah warned us so much about those two things. With those of the world, whether we have had close relationships with them or not, our focus should always be on the eternal kingdom, and not on the things of this world.
Let me reiterate: Satan always knows PRECISELY how to tempt a person’s flesh, and he will often use family and close friends to accomplish that. Remember, he often masquerades as an angel of light, and he will tempt people with what the world sees as good. But, what is good to those of the darkness is vastly different from what is spiritual truth. That is why there can be no fellowship between the two. Such fellowship always works toward dimming the light so that relationships with the darkness can be maintained.
Focusing on being the light will either draw those of the darkness TO the light, or the light will repel them, as those who do not have the Holy Spirit love the darkness more than the light (John 3:19). Messiah’s bride should be focused always on the coming of the Bridegroom, and on sharing His true Gospel with the world—including one’s closest family and friends. And, if there is no interest in the light, we must be prepared to continue standing in and for it, and not dim the light to make those of the darkness more comfortable.
Now, it is not uncommon for people to see the truth, and even agree with it, but then decide that it doesn’t actually apply to them, or that Yah just provides some sort of loophole in that person’s particular circumstances (the “He understands” argument as justification for one to reject or ignore what He has clearly said). But, that’s just the flesh and its desire to be fed by fleshly things. Yah’s children are called to a higher standard, and there are no “work-arounds” where spiritual truth is concerned. Truth is truth—and, it is not altered by one’s circumstances.
James 4:4 tells us exactly how Yah views those who focus their affections on the world and those who are of the world. “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Seems plain and simple, does it not? Focusing one’s attention and affections on those who are of the world puts one at odds with Yah—in fact, scripture says it sets up enmity between Yah and those who do it. And yet, we often believe that we are the exception, and that Yah just understands our singular situation—that He certainly would never expect ME to alter MY close earthly relationships with those who are of the darkness. He doesn’t actually expect me to divert my affections away from those of the world and direct it toward His kingdom. But, that’s exactly what His scriptures tell us we are to do!
And, if you have not yet received confirmation from the Holy Spirit that you have been given the covenant, check your affections, for they are the things that will often prevent one from actually being adopted by the Father (see: rich young ruler—Mark 10:17-27). Yahoshua always knows what will keep someone from truly following Him, and the love of money and earthly relationships are two of most common hindrances. Trust me, Satan also knows exactly what earthly things will most successfully tempt us away from our focus on Yah’s kingdom, and that’s what prevents us from truly following Messiah Yahoshua in our practical lives.
Just as violating the clean vs. unclean laws made one unable to enter the temple, which meant that worship was not possible for the one who had been made unclean, the same is true of those of the light who fellowship with those of the darkness—true worship of the Father is not possible. Again, James 4:4 tells us why.
Let us all focus our attention on advancing Yah’s kingdom on this earth, and lay up all of our treasures in heaven. And, yes, it is far harder than it sounds. That’s what striving to further the kingdom is all about.
For more information: Is Salvation Hard to Receive?