Following God Into the Wilderness




The central message of this book is that God is a discerner of the heart of man. Religious man (those who seek God “their” way, apart from His Spirit) would have you believe that right standing before God is procured through some means other than genuine faith (perhaps “their” version of faith - redefined); such as through (or combinations of) circumcision, baptism, repeating a “sinner’s prayer,” church attendance, belonging to their group (denomination), adhering to “their” doctrines or traditions, rituals, protocol, celebrations, holy days, etc. The flesh relates to tangible things, but faith is intangible and requires trust in God. Many want to perform one of the aforementioned religious ceremonies or incantations (entreaty, chant, prayer) such as a baptism or repeated sinner’s prayer (these would be but a starting point for faith if done sincerely) so as to be instantaneously, irrevocable (unalterable, unchangeable, permanent), and eternally secure. They want to just say Lord, Lord with no real (other) godly expectations required of them (Mt 7:21 -23, Lk 6:46 ). In other words, their primary concern is more for their (self) eternal well being and not so much loving surrender to God’s eternal will which must be realized starting with their current earthly existence. What you must have is the baptism Christ brought (Mt 3:11 ) – the baptism of the Holy Ghost (given to those who obey, Acts 5:32 ). God will not be looking at membership roles at religious institutions on the great Day of Judgment – the Lord will be looking at hearts, and they will tell the tale. Oh, does not the God of all creation know? No doubt its all stored up and recorded by a myriad of angels. Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings (also Jer 20:12 ).” For God is a discerner (one who knows and judges and has the power of distinguishing) of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12 ). God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). The Lord will discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not (Mal 3:18 ). With the heart a man believeth unto righteousness (Rm 10:10 ). Serving is a daily heart of devotion and obedience to God’s will (Word) and is not a religious veneer. Its like this: Matthew 12:35 , “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things (also Mt 15:18 -20).” What we put in our heart proceeds back out again. Guard your heart! Jesus addressed the point of religious motives in Matthew Chapter Six when He said some give to be seen and receive glory from men (toot a trumpet, Mt 6:1-4); some pray to be seen of men (to be heard and heap praise to themselves, Mt 6:5-7); some fast to be seen of men (to elicit praise and notice for themselves, Mt 6:16-18). Their motivation was self-centered with fleshly intent. All their works were to be seen of men (for benefit of self, Mt 23:5). Christ said to pray, give, and fast in secret – love between you and God (no benefit to self, Mt 6:4, 6, 17-18). What is foreign to man’s reasoning (not understood) is that the creation is to seek (yield to; be governed by) the will of the Creator. This is what is meant by the term “fear God” (Lev 25:17, Deut 6:2, 13, 8:6, 10:12, 20, 13:4, 17:19, 28:58, 31:12, Josh 4:24, 24:14, 1 Sam 12:14, 2 Kgs 17:39, Ps 2:11, 19:9, 25:14, 33:8, 18, 40:3, 67:7, 103:17, 115:13, Pv 1:7, 2:5, 3:7, 8:13, 9:10, 15:33, 16:6, Eccl 3:14, 8:12, 12:13, Lk 1:50, Rm 3:18, Rev 14:7, 19:5). Psalms 33:18-19, “Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” The ability to determine your own course (will, path, way, desire) is a Divine (appropriated to God; Pertaining to the true God; as the divine nature; divine perfections) characteristic or attribute. Fallen man has sought his own will (as a god) and has been in rebellion to the will of his Creator. Man seeks to usurp that which is only pertaining to God and seek his “own” way. Until you can understand this and totally surrender your will to God, you are hopelessly lost and a transgressor in God’s creation – rebellious and without mercy. By no means will the guilty (impenitent, froward) be cleared (Ex 34:7, Num 14:18 ). There are two types of hearts – the froward and contrite. One will live their life either of these ways – religious or not. Those who are froward in heart are not willing to yield or comply with what is required; unyielding; ungovernable; false; deceitful; refractory (obstinate in opposition or disobedience; unyielding, unmanageable; sullen); disobedient; perverse; peevish (apt to mutter and complain; discontent); as a froward child (Ps 101:4). These are SELF-willed! Romans 2:8-9, “But unto them that are contentious (headstrong, froward, to quarrel with the truth and resist the truth), and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.” The froward have no real faith, although they may consider that they do (Deut 32:20). They would much rather justifiy their darkness than come to the light. They walk after their own lusts (will, purposes, desires, way, path, Jude 1:16 , 18, 2 Pt 2:10 ). Scriptures define those following the lusts in their heart or flesh as being unclean (Rm 1:24 , 2 Pt 2:10 , 2 Cor 6:17 -18). They will defend the flesh and the lusts thereof. These live in the flesh to the lusts of men and are disobedient to the will of God (1 Pt 4:2). If they cannot defend their actions, then they will shift blame to something or someone other than self. These have impenitent hearts (opposite of contrite) which do not repent of sin (maybe justify sin) and are hardened (to their own will). To them there may never be a true right and wrong (black and white), but rather interpretations, figuratives, symbolisms, opinions, sentiments and viewpoints (shades of gray). Titus 1:15 , “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” A literal right or wrong may be interpreted strictly by what they want to do or how they are living their life. These are obstinate/tenacious (stubbornly adhering to an opinion or course of action - persistently); pertinacious (holding or adhering to any opinion, purpose or design with obstinacy; obstinate; perversely resolute or persistent; as pertinacious in opinion, resolute and firm in self opinion); stiff-necked (contumacious - obstinate; perverse; stubborn; inflexible; unyielding; disobedient); hard-hearted (to confirm in wickedness, opposition or enmity; to make obdurate; to make obstinate, unyielding or refractory); sottish (dull with respect to intemperance, lacking restraint or self control); and impudent (shameless, lacking modesty). Intemperance is the want (lack) of moderation or due restraint (gratification). To be obdurate is to be persistent in sin (i.e. filling one’s heart with evil – TV or other conduct that opposes God; justifying your evil; compromising) or impenitence – the heart is stubborn, unyielding, inflexible and hardened. To top it all off, they are totally blinded (deceived) to their own nature. The blindness is the result of being led by the flesh rather than the Holy Spirit. Living in darkness is to be blind to all that is around you (yet supposing that you see). The froward in heart is mostly ignorant to God’s Word. They follow their sentiment (opinion mixed with strong emotions) and intuition (man’s perception of the truth of things). However, they equate their reasoning with being in God’s will – how could it not be? This is a disregard of God’s will, but they do not see it that way. They are profane (irreverence for God by doing that which opposes Him; bring reproach; corrupted, not pure). The disregard of God’s will might be thought of as when one is confronted with God’s truth, they do not feel, for whatever reason, that they should have to strictly comply. Psalms 10:13 , “Wherefore doth the wicked contemn (to slight, to neglect as unworthy of regard) God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.” There will always be some sort of compromise when God’s will restricts the flesh and the flesh will always emerge as the victor. They will always exalt their opinion or that of another (man) over the Word of God. These are actually conveying that their way is superior, more important and worthy of adherence (devotion, obedience, observance, loyalty, faithfulness). They will not receive God’s Word and set their heart as an adament (impenetrable, extreme hardness) stone (Zech 7:12 ). Jesus said: man shall live by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God – radical and fanatical, huh? The froward will not see things exactly this way as their opinions of things weigh in. Those not living by God’s Words are certainly not “following” Christ. Many savourest (partake of the nature of God) not the things that be of God, but those that be of men (rather, they partake of the fallen nature of man, Mt 16:23 ). These do not so much think in terms of “Thy will be done” as they think “my will be done.” In their reasoning, God’s will shall equate to “my will” (ye shall be as gods, Gen 3:5). Fallen man’s mind (reasoning, wisdom, logic) is corrupted (Ez 28:17)! They do always err in their heart and do not “know” God’s ways (Heb 3:10 )! Blessed are they who actually do His commandments – to them is life. ( Rev 22:14 ). Those who follow the Holy Spirit will be led to conform to the will of God (not to continue to justify their will and darkness, Gal 5:16 ). Those led by the Spirit are no longer led by man! A froward heart is anti-Christ (against) because it continues in those things which oppose Jesus’ purposes. He is self-willed and thereby continues to transgress God’s authority and thus remains in rebellion. This is the nature of Satan and is the fruit of his works in man. This is the nature (works) that Christ came to destroy (1 Jn 3:8). There are many in the religious world that are just plain hypocitical (insincere, opposite of pure in heart). Hypocrisy is feigning (pretend, counterfeit) to be what one is not – assuming a false appearance of piety and virtue (false pretence, façade, thin covering, pretentious, etc.). These are ostentatious (outward show with no inward substance, appearance only) and have a vain show intended to invite praise or flattery. God will expose the hypocritical through situations that deny the flesh (require sacrifice or obedience). Jesus said: Matthew 23:28 , “Even so ye (talking to religious men) also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Christ often pointed out the hypocrisy of the religious in His day (Mk 12:38 -40). You can certainly be a most religious man and not “know” God at all (Mt 11:27 , Lk 10:22 , Jn 7:17 , 28, 8:19 , 55, 1 Jn 3:1); disregard the scriptures (not understand or live them, Mk 12:24 ); or have God’s love in you (Jn 5:42 ). The opposite of hypocrisy is genuiness and sincerity and this is what God desires in us. God is not looking for the proud (arrogant, conceited, pompous, self righteous, pretentious), ingenious (clever, resourceful, inventive), feigned (artificial, contrived, pretend), and self-sufficient (independent, autonomous, self-reliant). God is looking for the sincere (genuine, honest, truthful, heartfelt), humble (modest, unassuming, meek), broken and submissive (obedient, compliant, subservient) – those poor in spirit. Therefore, the froward in heart live for self (their authority) and are thus in unbelief toward God (His authority and just rule). Romans 8:13-14, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body (die to the flesh), ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The Spirit leads us into the wilderness to tear down those “high places” the flesh has raised up and teaches surrender to and reliance upon God. John the Baptist and Jesus (who had no sin) were led of the Spirit and both spent time in the wilderness triumphing over the flesh through the Spirit (Is 40:3, Mt 3:1, 3, 4:1, 11:7, Mk 1:3-4, 12-13, Lk 3:2, 4, 4:1, 7:24, Jn 1:23). We learn to live by faith and not the flesh. Our righteousness is found in faith toward God (His truth). Romans 1:18 , “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”

The author once heard two individuals discussing a movie they had seen. The one said it was a really great movie except for all the bad language. The other quickly agreed and added that she really didn’t understand why they had to put such language in it. The reason is because the devil cannot fully tell the truth without interjecting a lie, nor produce anything of virtue without inserting evil – its his nature. Satan’s nature is opposite of God’s nature – he is in total rebellion. Those that have the nature of their father, the devil, cannot produce anything of merit without interjecting some wickedness into it. This is intentional because the world’s media are trying to conform you to an image (that of the world which is that of Satan). When you place such evil in your heart, it will most definitely proceed out of your heart later. The question we should ponder is which is the greater evil, those who place wickedness in their movies (this is to be expected, they have an established record) or those who know better (and recognize it), but watch it anyway? What is to be said of someone who feels a conviction of wrong, yet intentionally, of their own freewill, places themselves in front of it? This is another characteristic of the froward in heart – they are not prudent (avoids wicked situations). A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself (Pv 22:3). The wicked will not depart from evil (Pv 3:7). Those who fear  the Lord hate evil, pride, arrogancy, and the evil way (Pv 8:13 ). The froward just accepts the evil as the way things are and jumps in headlong. So the movie has bad language, oh well, it shall not hinder me (but I will complain to soothe the conviction of my heart). We are to hate evil, love good, and establish judgment - the spirit of wisdom and prudence, enabling a person to discern right and wrong, good and evil (Hos 5:15).

The contrite of heart are those who are brokenhearted over sin; and are deeply affected with grief and sorrow for offending God – penitent. This is expressed as brokenness before the Lord – “poor in spirit (Mt 5:3).” The Lord says of these: “but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Is 66:2). Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Psalms 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” To be poor in spirit would be to humbly recognize your inabilities and limitations and your great need for God and perpetual dependence upon the Lord. To be poor in Spirit is a constant attitude of need and reliance upon God rather than man or self (flesh). This is to live by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. This is a life of self examination and yielding to the working of God in you (Php 2:13 ). These realize they have transgressed the will of God (having followed the devil’s lie, Gen 3:4-5) and the truth of God’s declaration, “Thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17, Ez 33:14). Having realized their just condemnation, they sincerely cry out for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Psalms 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” AND Psalms 51:2-4, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” Shifting blame or justifying is not an acknowledgement of sin or recognition of personal fault – this is a failure to come to terms with your own iniquity. Until one admits guilt, there can be no mercy or forgiveness. Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear Him (have faith) and hope in His mercy (Ps 147:11, Heb 10:38 ). You must sincerely ask the Lord: Psalms 26:2, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Then you must be willing to confront and change what we find (are shown) – if not, then what's the point? Those who mourn realize the sinfulness of their lives and have deep regret and godly sorrow for past thoughts and deeds (Ps 32:5, 2 Cor 7:10 ). To mourn is to see the shame of thy nakedness (sinfulness) and to cry out for the covering that only Christ can provide. Mercy is granted to those who love the Lord and keep His commandments (Ex 20:6). The Lord says: Ezekiel 33:11, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Oh rebellious man: Isaiah 55:6-7, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Ezekiel 33:14-15, 19, “Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die (as per Gen 2:17); if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.” We must mourn over our transgressions against the righteous God. This is to mourn after the sin itself and state of your heart and not just the consequence or penalty such as being caught or the ultimate penalty of eternal hell and damnation. They think on their ways and turn their feet unto God (Ps 119:59). The primary concern is that you have sinned against the loving God causing a separation. You realize if uncorrected that your separation from God will be eternal. You see that sin was such displeasure with the Holy Righteous God that rather than excuse it or overlook it, He sent His only begotten son to be the sacrifice for your sins to make atonement. You must realize that your way has been a failure and that your only hope is to turn to God – He is where the comfort is.  Psalms 126:5, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” You realize that you must die to yourself and start living a life that conforms to God’s will and that only Jesus Christ can make this happen. You must be filled with the Holy Ghost! You’re no longer self-centered, but God-centered. The contrite in heart are also pure in heart – they are sincere and genuine in their surrender to God (Ps 24:3-4) – and their life reflects it. The pure in heart will see God (Mt 5:8). The only way you will ever truly be pure in heart is to walk as Jesus walked as led by His Spirit. This is a process whereby the Spirit tears down the things of the flesh and conforms one to the image of Christ. You truly identify with Jesus as you partake of His nature – as lived out. No one approaches unto God with ulterior motives (usually self motivated). The Lord says: Psalms 18:26 , “With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.”

Those who truly seek God have respect (to regard, to esteem as having real worth) unto His ways (Ps 119:15). They delight in God’s commandments and are upright in heart (Ps 119:35, 125:4). They seek Him with a whole heart and walk in His ways (Ps 119:2-3, also Ps 119:34, 69, 145). We must realize that: Proverbs 16:6, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.” Iniquity cannot be purged apart from the truth, otherwise one just continues in error. The desire to walk in the truth begats mercy. Truth and mercy are a powerful combination. The fear of the Lord is the desire to know and walk in His truth – to be obedient from the heart! When this is your mindset, you willingly depart from evil – wickedness becomes a great grief to you (a vexation). A true follower of Christ will have an ever decreasing self-life and an ever increasing God-centered (focused) life. John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This will become very evident (outwardly manifested) in your life – you will change considerably as you yield to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your life. Referring back to our opening discussion of television. One will no longer defend and justify known evil for selfish benefit (intent). One will not debate the merits of television or whether or not one’s salvation might rest on this one issue. One will simply depart from the evil because they love God more. The sincere and genuine will not have a heart to sit in front of and take pleasure in that which opposes his Lord. Your heart will take on the nature of your Lord as you walk as He walked. Your love of God will mean more to you than your defense of SELF.


Final Considerations

Are you a wise man or a fool? Hosea 14:9, “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” The Lord has made it very clear to the one who will follow Him: 1 Peter 4:2, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” God’s recorded history has revealed man to be rebellious to his Creator from the onset. Man transgressed God’s will and sought his way in the Garden of Eden. Man then totally corrupted his way upon the earth to the extent that God destroyed all life (except Noah and family) in a great flood. Man then sought his will in building a tower to reach heaven. God confounded the language and the peoples dispersed and formed nations. City-states (Sodom and Gomorrah) and nations then corrupted themselves in seeking their ways such that God destroyed them due to their wickedness. God built a nation through the faithfulness of one man, that became known as the children of Israel . They also transgressed God’s will and were a most rebellious people (unthankful, idolatrous, disobedient and full of unbelief). God sent judges, yet the people were continually rebellious (Jdg 2:19 ). God sent prophets, yet the people were continually rebellious (2 Kgs 17:13 -17). God sent kings, yet the people were continually rebellious. God sent His own Son, yet rebellious (and religious) man killed God’s Son. Man has always refused to yield his will (has sought his own way and has been rebellious) and submit to the authority and rule of God (consider Nehemiah Chapter Nine, Psalms Chapter Seventy Eight and One Hundred and Six). A small remnant throughout the ages have truly loved God and surrendered in faith, being obedient above self. Christ is coming back soon to face and destroy a most rebellious mankind – just as in the days of Noah (flood). Most cannot come to the realization that nothing has changed in this most religious world of today. The same self seeking and rebellion toward God is openly manifested. A truly wise man will learn from the multiple lessons of the past. 2 Timothy 2:19, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Psalms 1:1-6, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” – Similar to Jer 17:7-9.

Psalms 23:1-6, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

May the Lord Jesus grant you eyes to see the narrow path and His Spirit for the ability to walk thereon. I encourage you to go forth with a sincere and zealous heart that will only become stronger when faced with the reproaches, difficulties, suffering and tribulation that is sure to come. These things will only conform the genuine more to the image of their Lord as the flesh (that which opposes God) is torn down. Your strength is found in God and man is sure to disappoint. Perhaps your greatest obstacles will be those who come in the name of the Lord, but point you opposite of Him (Mt 24:5). Remember: If you do not “follow,” then you will not arrive.



All scripture used from the Authorized King James Bible

“Into the Wilderness,” copyright Oct. 17, 2004


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