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And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Genesis 17:15~19)
If So, I too . . .
Many people say that spiritual life is very difficult. There are many people who handle computers well or play the piano with expertise, but I have never met anyone among Christians who say they are confident in their spiritual lives. Why is that so? As I read the Bible, I thought about how the men of God, such as Abraham, David, Paul, and Peter became men of faith. When we look carefully into their lives, we see that they were not people of faith to begin with. Abraham, also, was a tremendously faithless man, as were Noah, Moses, and David. That was how they all were. The Bible records in detail how they lived ordinary lives but one day became people of faith. When I read the Bible, the stories of Noah becoming drunk and naked, Abraham lying and saying that his wife was his sister, Abraham taking a handmaid and having a son with her, David taking Uriah’s wife and sleeping with her, and many other such stories were very encouraging. I always thought that I did not live my spiritual life well because I was lacking and weak. But as I saw the flaws of Abraham, Noah, and David, I came to know that they were no different from me, and I felt that I, too, then can live a life of faith. In the book of Mark, the disciples hear from some women that met Jesus after He resurrected. However, no one believed those words. I was curious as to why this was because Jesus had often said while He was alive that He would be crucified and resurrect after three days. So then, when they saw Jesus being crucified, the disciples should have thought, “Jesus said that He was going to die, and so He is. He also said that He will resurrect in three days, so He will.” Yet, none of the disciples believed the words of those who saw the resurrection. Thomas later says, “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” I feel that even we would not have felt that way, and that the disciples were truly despairing people. But it is so amazing how they could change into such powerful servants and men of faith. I always lived blaming myself. “What is wrong with me? Why am I so weak-willed? Why do I not have any faith and am so bad at living spiritual life? Why do I keep falling into sin and making mistakes?” As I saw myself, I often thought, “I cannot live a spiritual life.” However, as I read the Bible, I discovered that the men of God were not perfect or brilliant people but were all the same filthy, sinful, lacking, weak, and pitiful human beings like I was. As I discovered that, I was not so different from Abraham or Jesus’ disciples. I thought, “Then all a person like me has to do is properly learn spiritual life!”
Man, Who Is Dirty by Nature
When we look at the steps taken by the people of faith in the Bible, their blemishes are not hidden but are recorded in detail just as they are. Seeing those things, I gained hope in my heart, and I became curious to learn how they, who were so evil and pitiful, became people of faith. Then I looked through the Bible and, person by person, the process was precisely shown. When I read about the life of David, I envied him because he was bold, manly, and a man of faith while I am narrow-minded and vulgar. But one day, I saw the David who committed adultery with Uriah’s wife. And when he saw that she was pregnant, he wanted to hide it. Then he called her husband from the battle and said, “Go and sleep at your home tonight.” He was doing this so that when the child would be born later, it would seem as if that was how the child was conceived. However, when Uriah did not go home, David made Uriah drunk to get him to go home, but that did not work either. Then David has Uriah killed on the battlefield. We can see that this David is not the bold, broad-hearted David, but a narrow-minded, low, and ruthless human being. “Ah, that was the kind of man David originally was. He was bold and broad-hearted through receiving the heart of God. His real image is that he was a low, vulgar, narrow-minded, and dirty human being!” I could clearly see David’s true image.
Then how was David able to obtain faith? How was Noah, Abraham, Paul, or Peter able to obtain such faith? They all have something in common in their lives, and it was the fact that they all had a turning point. The scriptures I am talking about today are talking precisely about that.
Abraham followed the Word of God, left his kindred, his country, his father’s home, and went to the land of Canaan that God directed him to. But when a famine hit the land, he followed his own thoughts rather than the Word of God and went to Egypt. On his way there, he saw how beautiful his wife was. He felt that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take his wife. So rather than seeking guidance from God, he used a humanistic method, telling his wife, Sarah, “Say that you are my sister.” In addition, when he did not have a child after 10 years had passed since he received the promise of God that he would have a son, he thought, “I guess God is not giving me a son. I would then rather listen to my wife and take her handmaid in order to have a son.” He lived relying on his own thoughts rather than relying on the guidance or the promise of God. But God appeared unto Abraham when he was 99 years old. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram; but thy name shall be Abraham: for a father of many nations have I made thee. (Genesis 17:5) And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. (Genesis 17:15~16) What God was saying was so different from Abraham’s thoughts. Abraham thinks that since he is 99 years old and Sarah is 90 years old and it has ceased to be with her after the manner of women, she cannot have a child. However, God says that he can have a child. Here, these two thoughts collide against one another. It was so definite to Abraham that he could not have a son, and therefore, he could not accept the Word of God. Think about it. Abraham was old, Sarah was old and it had ceased to be with her after the manner of women. She had no strength to conceive a child. However, God spoke: “Not so. Your wife, Sarah, shall surely have a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.” Now Abraham was confronted with the problem of deciding whether to accept the Word of God or proceed with his own thoughts. We, too, need to think about this. I lived believing in myself before I started living the life of faith. I thought that if I tried, I could do it. I thought if I tried to keep the law, I could, and that I could live spiritual life as well if I tried. But as a result of my zealous efforts, I came to realize that it cannot be done through my determination, and that there were wrong aspects about my decisions. As I came to discover that I could not be trusted, little by little, I began to feel regretful towards myself. Before this happened, I had completely believed in myself and simply went forward according to what I thought. But as I came to have a heart of regret and despair, I was able to accept the Lord into my heart. There are no problems when the heart of God and my heart are the same. It is a problem when they are different. In such times, I used to live following after my thoughts. But one day, I came to know that I was a pitiful, low, and evil human being. I was then able to distrust myself when the Word of God collided against my thoughts, and the Word of God was able to enter me.
Something that Happens Where There Is the Works of God
God said, “Your wife, Sarah, will surely have a son, and you shall call his name Isaac,” and Abraham thought, “It is impossible to have a child because I am too old and my wife is too old.” Here, these two thoughts strongly collide against one another. At this moment, a person who believes in himself will exert his own thoughts until the end, and he will follow his own thoughts rather than follow the Word of God. But the people who saw how they have made mistakes and how they have sinned lose strength in their heart and receive the Word of God. When Abraham was able to accept the Word of God, and when his heart to believe in himself was changed, then his thoughts and his judgment crumbled down as he heard the Word of God. He had moved from his thoughts to the thoughts of God. Noah had first put all expectations for his life on earth. However, one day God appeared to Noah and said, “I will judge the world with water, so go and make an ark.” Upon hearing these words, Noah’s heart moved. Everything on earth was already dead, and only the things that were inside the ark lived. Noah not only moved his heart into the ark, but moved everything of his into the ark as well, and he did not leave a single thing on this earth. Likewise, we need to move our thoughts from the world of our heart to the world of the Word of God. For people who so surely believe in themselves, this is impossible, but when you experience and measure yourself, you see that you are someone not worthy of being believed. When you realize that your heart is filthy, dirty, and deceitful, then you can deny yourself and accept the Word of God. Afterwards, regardless of how correct your thoughts appear to be, you will accept the Word of God to be correct. This is so with all the stories of the Bible. When the wedding at Cana of Galilee ran out of wine in John chapter 2, Jesus told the servants of that house to fill the water pots to the brim with water. When the water pots were filled, He said, “Draw out now, and serve unto the governor of the feast.” The servants could not understand this. “This is water. How can we serve this?” They cannot do this work when they have their own thoughts. But the servants denied their thoughts and accepted the words of Jesus. At that moment, the servants were able to experience the miracle of the water turning into wine. There is something that happens in all places where the works of God appear. It is your thoughts being denied and you accepting the Word of God.
The Two Attitudes in Receiving the Word
Although they open and read the Bible, people who believe in their own thoughts understand the Bible through their own thoughts, and thus, the meanings they gain are completely different from the Bible. On the other hand, people who have emptied themselves accept the Word as it is, and the words become graceful. Who does not know the fact that Jesus was crucified to forgive our sins? Everyone knows this. But although people know, those who have their own thoughts say, “It is true Jesus died on the cross for my sins, but I am a sinner because I have sinned.” They add their own thoughts and that is the conclusion they arrive at. Such people continue to suffer in sin, but the people who completely throw their thoughts away and simply accept the Word of God are completely different. “I remember the sins I committed, and I do feel guilty. Nevertheless, I am righteous because the Word of God says that my sins are washed away and that I have been made righteous.” A certain man told his two sons that he would buy both of them a car. The older son, upon hearing this, thought, “Why is my father saying that? I know he can’t afford it. He is only saying that to make me feel good.” If that is how he believes, then there is no car in his heart. The second son told his friends, “Hey, I am getting a car. Let’s go on a trip together.” In his heart, he has a car already. Although the father said the same thing, the younger son, who accepted the words of his father exactly as they were, is completely different from the older son, who added his own thoughts. God recorded in the Bible that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, and He forgave all of our sins. And He has called us righteous, holy, and clean. He said He does not remember our sins any more. If we accept these words as they are, we do not have sins. We are righteous and holy. But if you add your own thoughts to them, you will only say, “That’s what the Bible says, but how could I so arrogantly say that I am righteous and holy? I have many sins. I have to wash my sins away.”
Simply Accept by Faith
Noah, Abraham, David, and the other men of faith were humans exactly like us. They, too, wanted to eat when they were hungry; wanted to drink when they were thirsty; and wanted to enjoy themselves. However, how did they become such people of faith? One day, they broke free from the condition of believing in their own thoughts. When the Word of God was different from their thoughts, they did not simply ignore it and proceed, but they accepted it. “God, I am one hundred years old, and Sarah is ninety. How can we have a child? I would that Ishmael may live before you.” “No. Your wife shall surely bear you a son. You will call his name Isaac.” Right then, Abraham’s heart changed. “That’s right! If God allows me a son, what is there I cannot do? Then I will have a son!” In his eyes, it was clear that he could not have a son. But when he erased his thoughts and accepted the heart of God, a strong conviction that he would have a son took place in Abraham’s heart. That is faith. When he had that faith, Sarah gained the strength to conceive. God’s heart and our heart need to be connected through a channel, and our hearts need to become one. If God says that you will have a son and you say that you cannot have one, then that is a heart that is different from God’s. The heart of God cannot flow into yours, and you will collide with God. But if you break your heart and say, “Yes, I believe I will have a son,” God’s heart and your heart become one and the heart of God flows in you. Power flows together in that heart and the strength to conceive and have a son springs forth. Loving folks, believing in God is throwing your thoughts away and believing. It is not merely accepting the parts that fit your thoughts. Although you appear dirty, evil, lustful, and deceitful, if God has called you righteous, you are righteous. Throw all your thoughts away and say, “God has called me righteous. Then all my sins are washed away, and I am righteous!” and simply accept that by faith. That is how all the men of faith became men of faith. I hope that you will throw your thoughts away and become people of faith who believe in God.