The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 26 : LEVITICUS

[26-10] (Leviticus 11:1-12) How to Ruminate on the Word of God in Our Lives

(Leviticus 11:1-12)
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, “These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you. These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.’””
 
 
Today, I would like us to examine the life led by the Christians who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Through the clean and unclean animals distinguished here in Leviticus chapter 1, God is through them teaching us important spiritual lessons. It’s written, “Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, “These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you’” (Leviticus 11:1-4). In this passage, God is telling us the true Christians how we ought to live. Spoken specifically to us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit today, this Word teaches us an absolutely indispensable spiritual truth for every walk of our lives.
 
 
The Spiritual Meaning of the Clean Animals
 
What were the clean animals that the people of Israel allowed to eat? God said here first of all, “Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat.” While this was applicable to the people of Israel in actual practice, spiritually speaking, it is also applicable to us. In the Bible, we can find more animals that were defined as clean other than cattle or sheep. But, as we know very well, cattle and the sheep were used for bringing sin offerings to God. God was telling His people to eat such cattle or sheep that chewed the cud, and, had cloven hooves. Spiritually speaking, the animals that chew the cud here refer to spiritual food, while the cloven hooves imply that the saints ought to lead their lives of faith apart from the world.
As we know, a cow has four compartments in its stomach. The largest chamber is where the food is initially softened, separated into layers of solids and liquids, and the solids are regurgitated and chewed again, a process known as rumination. This is why the Lord said that we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are ruminants. In today’s Scripture passage, in other words, God is telling us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to ruminate on His Word always and at all times.
Who is leading such a ruminant life of faith in the age of the New Testament? These people are none other than those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and who ruminate on this gospel Word all the time. It’s very important for us to grasp here that in this age, God is pleased to accept the faith of those who believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, and who ruminate upon it by faith. In other words, the people of faith accepted by God are those who know how to ruminate on the Word of the righteousness of God by faith.
It’s absolutely indispensable for us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to ruminate on the Word of God. As the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our lives of faith do not end with our salvation from sin, but rather, we are going forwards by always ruminating on the Word of God by faith. The Word that we ought to ruminate on continually is the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that has blotted out our sins once and for all. This gospel Word of the water and the Spirit is the Truth that every sinner must know and believe. When our Lord came to this earth, He bore all the iniquities of the human race through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, and because of this, He had be condemned for the sins of the world on the Cross while shouldering them. Having thus received baptism from John the Baptist and died on the Cross, our Lord then rose from the dead in three days, and is now forever sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father. As we carry on with our lives on this earth, whenever our hearts and bodies fall into weaknesses, we can renew our lives thanks to this faith in the God-given gospel Word of the water and the Spirit the Lord.
Therefore, we must trust in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit our Lord has given to us, and live by always ruminating on this Word by faith, for the Lord has enabled us to renew our souls by ruminating on the Word of God whenever we fall into the weaknesses of the flesh. Having made us receive the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit wholeheartedly, the Lord is renewing us at all times by making us ruminate on the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in our lives. This is because this Word of salvation cleanses us whenever our blemishes are exposed. It’s because our Lord has blotted out all our sins by being baptized and shedding His blood on the Cross. That is why the Lord is telling us to ruminate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And that is how the Lord is renewing our souls so that we can find new strength. In short, we the righteous must lead such a life of faith.
There were many more animals in Israel other than the ones that were allowed to be eaten. But God did say to the people of Israel that they could eat all such animals indiscriminately. The edible animals were set aside for them. Such animals had to chew the cud first of all, and secondly, they had to have cloven hooves. However, God also said that even if an animal had cloven hooves, it should not be eaten if it did not chew the cud. It’s very important for all of us to remember this.
 
 
What Animals Chewed the Cud but Did Not Have Cloven Hooves?
 
It’s written in Leviticus 11:4, “Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you.” Spiritually speaking, the animals that do not have cloven hooves here refer to the lives of those who lead an improper life. It’s absolutely important for us to realize this, which ought to be the motto in our lives: When God prohibited the people of Israel from eating any animal that chewed the cud but did not have cloven hooves, He was warning us about those who do not serve the righteousness of God despite having receiving the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Put differently, God is telling us to not only have faith in His Word but also live for His righteousness.
Despite this clear teaching, we will find some believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit who are not serving the righteousness of God by faith in their lives. Today’s Scripture passage is warning us about such people who are living amongst us in the world rather than living by faith in the righteousness of God, and, being united with His Church. These people must therefore be awakened and begin to serve the righteousness of God in their lives even now. God is saying to us that even amongst the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we should not be in fellowship with anyone who does not ruminate on this gospel. We must remember that God told us to not only believe in His Word of righteousness but also to continue to lead our lives of faith apart from the world. God wants the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to live out their faith in His righteousness alone. With today’s Scripture reading from the Old Testament, the Lord is showing His will to us who are living in the age of the New Testament.
 
 
The Righteous Should Not Live a Fleshly Life
 
When we turn to Leviticus 11:7-8, we see God saying, “The swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.” Everyone knows about the swine, right? Like cattle, pigs also have cloven hooves. Unlike cattle, however, pigs do not have multiple chambers in their stomach to chew the cud. A cow can chew the cud because it has several compartments in its stomach. A pig, in contrast, does not have a stomach that allows it to chew the cud, although it has cloven hooves.
The pig here refers to those who are not leading a life of faith, and these are the ones who still do not know the God-given gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit that constitutes the righteousness of God. In other words, God is speaking about those whose souls have not been born again here. Those who still do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit cannot ruminate on the Word of God even if they want to. One can ruminate on the Word of God only if he has the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in his heart. This is made possible only by the Holy Spirit. However, it is possible for people to lead a life of faith that pretends to ruminate on the Word of God. Even such people can go to church, pray and worship God piously. They can also give donations, tithes, pray to God daily, and serve Him in their everyday life.
In some ways, in their outside appearances it may even look as though they are leading a more pious life of faith than those who know and believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. This is because the foot of a pig is clearly divided with cloven hooves. The outside appearance of the feet of a cow and those of a pig look the same. However, this does not mean that the cow and the pig are the same. Likewise, just because people believe in Jesus, does not mean that they have the true faith. On the contrary, the Lord disapproves the life of faith led by such people who neither know nor believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
 
 
The Righteous Living in the Age of the New Testament Must Ruminate on the Word of God Always
 
God loves us human beings so much that He has blotted out all the sins of this world once and for all with the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. However, as we carry on with our lives in this world, we cannot help but continue to sin out of our weaknesses. It is therefore extremely important for us the righteous to ruminate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit in our lives. How do we do this then? The righteous admit their transgression to God whenever their weaknesses are exposed, and they ruminate in the God-given gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit by faith. Only when we do so can we continue on with our lives of faith. We must therefore ruminate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God’s Word of salvation, every day by faith. It is by doing this that we can be healed from our wounds of iniquities and get the nourishment necessary to our new lives.
However, those who have not been born again out of their ignorance of the gospel of the water and the Spirit cannot ruminate on this Word of salvation by faith. Sinners who do not know the righteousness of God cannot ruminate on His Word because there is no knowledge of the righteousness of God in their hearts, they cannot ruminate on this righteousness of God even if they want to. How can such people who have not been born again ruminate on the Word of God? They cannot do this unless they repent and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Yet, because these people think mistakenly that God has failed to blot out all their sins, they are incapable of ruminating on the gospel of the water and the Spirit by faith, the God-given Truth of salvation.
They think that although God has blotted out their original sin, He is yet to blot out the personal sins they are committing now, and as a result, they are beholden by their own fleshly notion that offering prayers of repentance is absolutely indispensable. This is all because their hearts lack the Word of God to ruminate on in the first place. That is why they are living as sinners every day even though they believe in Jesus as their Savior. Like this, because those who are ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit do not have the Word of God in their hearts, and because their faith is corrupted and has become a mere religion, they cannot ruminate on God’s Word even if they wanted to. Their faith is therefore all in vain even as they keep on saying to God, “Lord, although You have saved me, I have sinned again now. Since I have sinned, I am once again a sinner. Even though You have blotted out my sins up to yesterday, today, I am a sinner once again.”
For this reason, all those who have not been born again must be washed from their sins once and for all by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Otherwise, they will turn themselves into pigs spiritually. To keep its life, a pig must eat constantly nearly every waking moment, day in and day out. Like such pigs, those who do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit even as they profess to believe in Jesus as their Savior have no choice but to feed on the food of death rather than the food of life. In contrast, the righteous can ruminate on the Word of God properly, and their faith is fundamentally different from the rest. The righteous always feed on the gospel of the water and the Spirit by faith, regurgitating the Word of God that’s in their hearts and ruminating on it by faith every moment.
Our Lord told us that He has blotted out all the sins of mankind once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The gospel of the water and the Spirit is the Truth of salvation, and having accepted this gospel into our hearts by believing in the God-given Word, we must ruminate on it always. As we the righteous believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit carry on with our lives on this earth, whenever our weaknesses are exposed, and whenever we are in need, we regurgitate from our hearts and ruminate on the Word that the Lord has blotted out all our sins once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is how we receive God’s blessings. As those who have become righteous in the Lord’s sight, when we ruminate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit once again and mediate over its profound meaning, we come to thank God for His grace once more. This is the faith of those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and the distinct life of faith led by them. Such a faith, and such a ruminant life, are what the life of faith is all about for the righteous.
God said here to Moses and Aaron, as well as all the people of Israel, “Of the animals on these animals, you shall eat only those who chew the cud and have cloven hooves. You shall not eat any other animal.” God also said that no animal should be eaten if it does not meet either of the two criteria. Although this Word of God teaches us about the life of the righteous, at the same time, it also teaches sinners about the true faith.
 
 
What Is and Who Are Acceptable to God?
 
The animals accepted by God are those that chew the cud and have cloven hooves. It’s such animals that God accepts, and these are the animals that His people eat. Those who have not been born again say, “Although I have been remitted from all my past sins, when it comes to the sins that I commit now in the present, I must obtain their remission every day.” This, however, is something that is said only by those who cannot ruminate. The very fact that one cannot ruminate indicates that one is a sinner. Therefore, the notion that one must receive the remission of sins on a daily basis is a completely flawed belief before God. It’s a belief that makes no sense either when reflected upon the Old Testament.
Our Lord said in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What does this verse really mean? It means that because the Lord already bore all ours sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, we should confess our sins by believing in this Truth. In other words, God has already blotted out all the sins of the world once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, eradicating all the sins ever committed by each and every one of us. Indeed, God has made you and me His very own people who can ruminate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Despite this, however, in their ignorance of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, some people still try to receive the remission of their sins by repenting over and over again. Just because we beg for the Lord’s forgiveness on our own, can God forgive our sins every day without the gospel of the water and the Spirit? No, this is not possible.
If it’s true that we have to obtain the forgiveness of our daily sins every day, then the Lord would have to say to us day in and day out, “Ok, I am forgiving your sins.” If this were the case then He would have no time other than doing this. And the Truth that the Lord has blotted out our sins once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit would be the untruth. The Lord is now seated and resting in the Kingdom of Heaven. He has completed His work by blotted out all our sins perfectly once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
How are those who have not been born again leading their lives? They are unable to ruminate on the Word of God in their lives. They flip-flop constantly between being the righteous one moment and sinners the next as easily as they change clothes, thinking that they are made righteous the moment they repent, but turn into sinners the moment they sin again. But has God really blotted out our sins through such ignominious prayers of repentance? Would the Lord save us just from our original sin and then say to us, “Since you’ve made a mistake again, you are a sinner again”? No, of course not. When we believe in His Word, God seals our hearts with the Holy Spirit right away. This means that once we receive the remission of sins by faith, it is forever.
Yet despite this, countless Christians are engaged in various spiritual movements all in vain. There are so many movements nowadays, from the “Mizpah repentance movement” to the “awareness movement,” the “discipleship movement,” and so on. But is anyone made God’s child just by taking part in any of these movements? Are one’s sins blotted out in this way? Do people become God’s children by participating in such religious movements? Is anyone made God’s child just by taking part in these repentance movements? If this were the case, then we would all have to repent every day. However, there is no record in the Scripture that says, “You will become one of God’s own people if you participate in the repentance movement.”
The Word of the remission of sins is God’s clear promise, and the notion that the remission of sins must be received every day makes absolutely no sense at all. Because the Lord has already blotted out all our sins perfectly, because He has eradicated each and every sin once and for all, whenever we fall short of His glory, we are to ruminate on this Word of God, reaffirm that God has indeed blotted out all our sins, and thank Him for it once again. This is the everyday life led by the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
We the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must ruminate on the Word of God by faith. We must regurgitate the gospel of the water and the Spirit that’s in our hearts and chew on it again. The Scripture says that no animal that does not chew the cud should ever be eaten. Do this then apply to only the people of Israel? No, that is not the case. Every Word in the Old Testament is also spoken to us living in the age of the New Testament. All this Word is God’s Word of promise for mankind.
God promised that He would blot out all the sins of mankind by sending His Son, the Messiah, saying, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). And when the time came, God sent Jesus Christ to this earth, transferred all the sins of the entire human race to His Son, and thereby blotted out all our sins. Furthermore, God also said that He would accept only those who receive the remission of sins into their hearts by believing in this Word of God, and who ruminate on it. The opposite side of this coin is that God will never accept anyone who does not believe in His Word and cannot ruminate on it.
The Word of God written in the Pentateuch is all about the remission of sins. If this is the case, then we can say that now in this present age of the New Testament, all the Christian sinners who do not believe in the Word of God according to the gospel of the water and the Spirit have not been born again yet. Even though countless Christians claim to be leading a life of faith and say that they have been born again, in reality, they are not the born-again, for they are incapable of ruminating on the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God. Although they have cloven hooves, they cannot chew the cud as they do not have such a ruminant stomach.
Those who have not been born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit are like a pig in their flesh. They are satisfied if believing in Jesus would make them rich. Material prosperity at the present is all that matters to them even as they profess to believe in Jesus. If they are healthy and prosperous, they say everything is just fine. Even if they end up in hell down the road, they are satisfied as long as their businesses thrive and they become rich now. But what will happen to them when they die after living like this? Unless they are born again as someone who can ruminate on the Word of God, they will all end up in hell. It’s very important for us to realize the will of God hidden in His Word.
This Word of God is not something that is relevant just for us. Rather, it applies to each and every human being. God said that He will never accept any animal that does not chew the cud. What about you and me then? Are we ruminating on the Word of God? It’s absolutely important for us ruminate on God’s Word. This means regurgitating the Word whenever we need it and ruminating on it so that it would become our flesh and blood. We have been saved by realizing with our minds that our Lord has blotted out all our sins once and for all with the water and the Spirit, and by believing in this with our hearts. Although we have been saved from all our sins, the shortcomings of the flesh still remain in our everyday lives. It’s precisely such times when we must ruminate on the Word that the Lord has blotted out our everyday transgressions also. In other words, we must ruminate by faith on the Truth that the Lord has blotted out once and for all each and every sin that we commit out of our weaknesses in our everyday lives.
Even though you and I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, do we still not have many shortcomings, and do we still not commit transgressions on a daily basis despite having received the remission of sins? Indeed, all of us sin every day. It’s precisely because we sin like this that we must once again pull out the gospel of the water and the Spirit and reaffirm the fact that the Lord has blotted out all our sins once and for all. That is how we can enjoy freedom in our hearts and escape from the condemnation of sins. Like this, the righteous must ruminate on the Word of God every day. It is by our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we can lead a new life. God has turned us the righteous into such people who ruminate on His Word, and for this, I give all my thanks to God. Even though we the righteous are weak, by ruminating on the Word of God, we have become the saints fit for God’s acceptable.
 
 
It Is Not by Not Sinning That We Are Made Righteous
 
It is not because we have not sinned that we have become righteous. Rather, we have become completely clean animals, that is, saints—in God’s sight even though we still sin because we believe in the Word that the Lord has already blotted out all our sins, and we ruminate on this faith whenever we succumb to our weaknesses. That the righteous ruminate on the Word of God is so important for us the Christians that it cannot be emphasized enough. If the righteous were to beg God to forgive them everytime they sin while living out their lives on the earth, then they would be no different from a pig. They would be the same as the swine that cannot chew the cud despite having cloven hooves. God commanded the people of Israel not eat any pigs meat. God did not accept any swine for a burnt offering either. God said clearly that the swine is unclean. So, even now, the people of Israel do not eat any pork. It’s an insult to invite Jewish people and serve pork to them. Although they eat lamb, goat meat, and beef, they never eat pork even to this day.
Although the swine has cloven hooves, because it cannot chew the cud, it could not be offered to God. It’s absolutely important for us to realize that no matter how zealously one might lead his life of faith and follow the will of God, if this person has not been born again, then such a life is deemed invalid. It’s a completely useless life. The Scripture addresses this point so clearly and unambiguously that it is completely unbiblical to claim that one can be remitted from his daily sins by repenting every day without being born again. Can we even repent from all the sins that we ever commit? No, this is not possible. We struggle with sin even after being born again, so how can anyone who has not even been born again think their own prayers of repentance would take care of all their sins?
Is there a day when a pig is ever clean? Can it stay clean even for a single day? Of course, there are times when the pig pen is cleaned, shoveling out the filthy excrements and washing the pen with detergents. But what happens in just half a day when the pig is put back into the pen? It gets all filthy in its own excrement in no time. So there is not a day when a pig pen is clean. The same is true for those who have not been born again. No matter how hard they try to lead their lives with cloven hooves, that is, try to live in holiness—there is not a day when they are clean. A cattle pen is as dirty as a pig pen, but a cow is fundamentally different from a pig. The cow also produces excrements. But unlike the swine, the cow chews the cud. That’s why God accepted the cow but not the swine.
We the righteous also commit wrongdoings before God. However, because we the righteous know how to ruminate on the Word of God, God still accepts us wholly as His clean saints. It’s because we ruminate on the Word of God that we are clean. Without ruminating like this, the righteous can never become clean. But, what do those who have not been born again say? Despite the fact that they have not even been born again and cannot ruminate on the Word of God properly, they say that they can receive the remission of sins by repenting every day. This is a completely preposterous claim that makes absolutely no sense at all.
The Christian life is all about ruminating on the Word of God. The righteous have been freed from all their sins by ruminating on the Word of God, and it is also by ruminating on every Word of God that they get new nourishments for their lives. This is why God’s Church speaks so often about this rumination. Although this issue is addressed on a daily basis, it is refreshing to hear it every day. The born-again also follow the will of God clearly, just as the hoof is divided. Dividing the hoof here means taking a clear, unequivocal position of faith. Although the righteous still have many shortcomings, they still unite with the born-again Church, listen to the Word of God, and seek the will of God that’s pleasing to Him. Like this, the born-again live apart from the world in a clear separation. In contrast, those who have not been born again cannot follow the will of God. Because they feel insecure when they are brought to the born-again Church, they are incapable of following the will of God wholly.
Although the righteous still have inadequacies, they know what the will of God is, and they also have the heartfelt desire to live according to this will that’s pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit dwelling in their hearts then is joyful. The Holy Spirit in the hearts of the born-again wants them to live a life that’s pleasing to God. No matter how full of shortcomings our outside appearances may be, we have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts. When Abel and Cain brought an offering to God, the Bible writes that Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat. When the burnt offering of the Old Testament was made, the flesh of the sacrificial animal had to be cut into pieces without fail. With its whole body cut, unclean parts such as entrails were removed and thrown out, while the kidneys and the fat covering the liver, that is, the fat covering the entrails—were removed without fail. This fat was not thrown out, but instead was burnt on the altar invariably.
The fat here refers to none other than the Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit is inside us the born-again righteous. Even though our flesh has many shortcomings, because of this Holy Spirit, we have the desire to live a life that’s pleasing to God. It is because we have the Holy Spirit that we are leading the life of cloven hooves. In other words, we are leading a distinctly holy life and following God in our everyday lives. Only the righteous live such a life. Of course, sinners can also try to live a godly life. But they do so only to fill their own personal ambitions, to establish their own righteousness. The righteous are different. The righteous deny themselves and follow only the will of God even if it does not match their preferences, not because they want to establish their own righteousness, but because it is what God wants from them, and because it is pleasing to God. This is the everyday life led by the born-again.
 
 
“These You May Eat of All That Are in the Water”
 
Let’s turn to the Word of God again, “These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you” (Leviticus 11:9-12). God said here, any fish that does not have scales must not be eaten. He was saying in effect, “Of all that are on the earth, eat only those that chew the cud and have cloven hooves. Next, of all that swim in the water, eat only those that have scales.”
Why did God say here to eat the fish that have scales while prohibiting the fish that do not have scales? Whatever fish that does not have scales, such as eels and mudfish, hide itself in the ground with its head stuck in the mud. Here, the fish that have scales refer to those who are leading a proper life of faith. God also spoke about what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten of all the birds in the sky. This also teaches us the righteous believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to live by faith. God is saying here that He does not approve anyone who does not live by faith. When it comes to the lives of the born-again saints, whom does God approve? God approves those who live by faith. God is saying here that not all have faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2), and this it is something that only the righteous possess.
Indeed, only the righteous live out their faith in this way. They alone live on this earth by trusting in God. Even among the righteous, God does not approve just anyone who does not live by faith. This means God does not approve the life of anyone who just pretends to follow and obey Him. God accepts only those who chew the cud, have cloven hooves, and have scales. What does this all mean? It means God approves only those who live out their faith. Even if you chew the cud and have cloven hooves, that is, even if you have been born again—if you do not live out your faith like this, then it is all in vain. You are approved by God and used for His work only if you live out your faith. It’s absolutely important for us the righteous to use our faith. The fish that do not have scales go anywhere and hole themselves behind rocks and in the mud. In contrast, the fish that have scales cannot bury themselves away like this. Why is this so? It’s because their scales move whenever they swim. If the scaled fish bury themselves away in the mud, the mud will lodge between the scales and they will not be able to breathe through their gills. Any fish that has scales cannot survive buried in the mud.
We must live by faith. Even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, we the born-again must still live by this faith. We the Christians must realize that it is only right for us to live by faith, and indeed live by this faith. We must rise to every challenge by faith. Even if it looks formidable, we must still rise to the challenge by trusting in God with all our hearts. Only then can we achieve our goals. And it is then that God approves us for the life of faith we are now leading. He will give us an even greater faith and bless us to live by this faith. However, there are many people who are not living by faith despite having been born again. Thinking that they can take care of themselves with what they now have without asking for God’s help, they refuse to exercise their faith at all, saying to God, “Lord, I am so thankful that You have remitted away all my sins and blotted them out. So what more could I possibly ask from You? I will take care of myself like I always have.” Thinking like this, they do not exercise their faith before the Lord. Whenever they face a problem, they just rely on their own resources to address it. So they have no reason to live by faith.
God told us the born-again to eat only of the fish that have scales. But, even if a fish has scales, how many scales would it really have. Most fish have tiny scales. Fish like goldfish have such small sales that if you were to descale them with a knife, the scales will come out like fine white particles. The scaled fish are tasty. I know a few things about fish because I lived by the ocean for a long time. Some of you might know a few fish species that are strong and have sturdy scales. These fish taste the best. Some fish, like snapper, have scales that are very sharp. I’ve caught a few snappers while fishing. After descaling them and filleting them, I’ve had them as sashimi. They taste unlike any other fish. Another fish called spotty belly greenling is also easy to catch, and this fish has scales also. But its scales are very fragile, so much so that it would slip if you grab it with your hand. The snapper, in contrast, has such sturdy fins that they can cut your hand. But, snapper / sashimi tastes the best. Its taste is totally different from any other fish.
It’s true that all of us the righteous have been born again equally. Although we all have shortcomings and cannot live by faith 100%, if we rise to our challenge by trusting in the Word of God, and walk and live by faith, God will approve us for living out our faith like this. And God will entrust His work to such saints and fulfill His will through them. In contrast, the will of God cannot be entrusted to any sinner who is not living by faith. Why is this so? It’s because such people do everything on their own by relying on their own human means and efforts, because they have buried their heads in the mud and have no scales; and so are incapable of fulfilling the will of God properly.
The Scripture clearly says that only the fish with scales should be eaten. It’s said that the Seventh-Day Adventists never eat any fish that has no scales. Many people here like squid, but the Adventists would never touch it. I’ll be more than happy to take and eat all the squid they don’t want. Jokes aside, God is not saying here in today’s Scripture passage that we should literally not eat any fish without scales. Rather, God is telling us to soar by faith before Him, and to live by faith in His sight. In other words, God is teaching us the righteous how we ought to live spiritually through these verses of Scripture.
Although the righteous may not exercise their faith that much at the beginning, the more faith grows in them, the more they listen to the Word of God, and the more hardship they face, they more they will come to rely on their faith, saying to God, “Lord, please do this for me. What is pleasing to You? What is Your will?” Like this, the righteous whose hooves have been divided exercise their faith and walk in the direction that is pleasing to God. They walk in this direction even if it looks like it’s leading them to ruins. But, needless to say, they will never be ruined actually, as long as they live by faith. The lives of the righteous saints are all about ruminating on the Word of God, following His will, and living by faith. Only the righteous, our God’s own people, can live such a life. God will then approve such lives of the righteous in joy. However, there are many animals that God prohibited us from eating. He spoke of these things all in reference to sinners. Those who are slimy and without scales like the mudfish do not live by faith. What is happening to the churches around us nowadays? The competition for church membership is so fierce that they are trying their best to poach the congregation from one another.
You’ve all seen tiny little churches in your neighborhood. There are many churches that have only a handful of adult members and many children. It’s said that in Korea, over 10,000 new churches are opened up in just a year. Of these 10,000 newly opened churches, 7,000 churches usually throw the towel in and close down. Why are so many new churches closing down so soon? It’s because they are not financially viable. Nowadays, you need a lot of money to keep a church open. For instance, you have to pay the rent and other utilities, and in these days the rent is not cheap even for a church.
So, when someone opens a new church, he makes a budget for the next two, three years, and invests tens of thousands of dollars thinking that he will come out ahead if he can attract enough members over this time period. However, if the newly opened church fails to attract enough members within this window period, the church has to close down as it cannot sustain these financial losses. As mentioned already, out of 10,000 new churches that open up every year, 7,000 churches end up shutting down. Even among the surviving 7,000 churches, only about ten of them are sustainable while the rest of them have a bleak long-term prospect. Churches are closed down when they run out of money and cannot raise any more financial resources. This is not what faith is all about. Yet, this is the reality faced by today’s Christianity.
That’s why so many spiritual movements have been launched across Christian communities, calling for a godly life or pleading for some other cause. Of course, such movements are not bad in of themselves. However, before taking part in such a movement, one must first receive the remission of all his sins. Before even opening a church, one must first of all obtain the complete remission of all his sins from God.
 
 
The Lives of the Righteous Are All about Faith
 
Those who lead their lives of faith properly carry out God’s work by faith even if they have nothing of their own. They live their everyday lives by trusting in God, and they rise to the challenge of His work by believing that God Himself will save souls. God will then indeed save them ultimately. As long as we preach the Word of God by faith, the souls that hear us will be saved without fail. This is possible because we are the righteous. Even if the whole world says that the Church of the righteous is wrong, the righteous stand upright by their faith and live without any shame. It’s all because they have faith. It’s all because God is making them live like this. And it’s because they trust in God. But, what would happen if we had no faith? We would tremble in fear the moment someone says anything bad about us. We tremble only because we lack faith.
However, if we believe that this is the path God has set for us, follow His will and live by this faith, and trust that God will fulfill everything for us, then what is there for us to fear? God said, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). The Scripture should not be changed according to one’s own interpretation. Nowhere in the Bible is it written that sinners shall live by faith. It says clearly that “the just shall live by faith.” Indeed, only the righteous live by faith. Only the righteous can exercise their faith and only they can live out their faith. No sinner can ever live by faith. Are we then going to change this passage into saying, “Sinners shall live by faith”? Sinners may change it like this, but the Scripture can never be altered no matter how hard they try. Whoever the Scripture says is righteous is righteous, whoever the Scripture says is a sinner is a sinner, and this can never change.
What kind of life are we the righteous leading? It is a life that’s led with conviction and boldness, ruminating on the Truth that even though we have many shortcomings while living on this earth, the Lord has remitted away all our sins once and for all. Secondly, we follow the will of God despite our shortcomings. The will of God is clear to us, and we follow this will steadfastly even though we all are inadequate in ourselves. Thirdly, although we might have great faith, or our faith may instead be as small as a mustard seed, we must still live by faith, trusting that God will do everything for us and meet all our needs. None other than this is the life led by the righteous. This is the life led by the true saints. And it is also your life and mine.
In contrast, how is the life of faith led by those who have not been born again yet, who are like the eels? Their lives are as smooth as butter. Those who have not been again, that is, those who do not know Jesus—live a life that’s slippery like an oily eel on wet grass. Even though the faith of the righteous may be as small as a mustard seed, they still look toward God and live by this faith. And God said clearly that He approves only those who live by faith like this.
Therefore, all of us the righteous must live by faith. No matter who, anyone who does not live by faith will perish. Such people will all be rejected by God. We must not only learn to have faith, but we must also exercise this faith. Every chick has a pair of wings, but it cannot use them yet. It hops around on its two feet. It walks like this because it does not know that it has wings. However, when a chick jumps from a place that’s too high for it, it opens up its wings without even realizing it. It can’t fly, of course, but it still opens its wings. It will fall even after flapping its wings, but it still uses the wings it has. By flapping its wings, the likelihood of injury is reduced. When in danger, even a chick uses its wings. The same principle applies to us also. We exercise our faith when we encounter something dangerous. We are like the chick flapping its wings.
Do you now understand what kind of life we are meant to live? No one who has not been born again can ever live by faith. Nothing will change this, not even if they are given artificial wings. But the righteous are different. Because they have faith, they must live by this faith. Only then can they escape destruction. This evening’s sermon is all about the life led by the righteous.
What is this life of the righteous all about? Firstly, it is all about ruminating on the Word of God. Secondly, it is all about following the will of God. And lastly, it is all about living by faith. Those who ruminate on the Word of God spring forth the redemption of the Lord. As they believe in the Lord who has come by the water, the blood, and the Spirit, they give rise to the gospel proclaiming that the Lord has blotted out all their sins. This true Word of the Lord and faith springs forth from them. So they ruminate on the Lord, saying to Him, “Lord, even though I am full of shortcomings, You have made me whole. Though I am inadequate, You are prefect. That’s why I have been made righteous, by believing in You, Lord.” The life that we are leading as the righteous is all about such ruminations. As you ruminate on the Word of God, I ask you to also ask those who have not been again yet if they are able to ruminate as you do. If anyone criticizes you for not repenting from your sins, then say to such a person, “Do you ruminate on the Word of God? Are you even able to ruminate?”
It’s very important for us to speak about this issue to those around us. As I look at you and ponder, I am absolutely convinced that you are here in this place because you have all ruminated on the Word of God. None of you could have come here unless you have ruminated. Think about it. Could you be sitting here if your heart was still sinful? Although you may still have many shortcomings, because you ruminate on the Word of God, that is, you remind yourself that the Lord has blotted out all your sins despite your shortcomings—you can still come here, praise God, pray to Him, and be one with Him. If you are incapable of ruminating on the Word of God, then you could not be sitting here.
The same is true for me also. It’s only because I have ruminated on the Word of God that I have been able to live to this day. I would have perished a long time ago if I couldn’t ruminate. What about you then? Is this not also true for you? If you had not ruminated on the Word of God, then you would have also fallen into despair and perished already. It is because our rumination that we the righteous have carried on with our lives to this day. And we will continue to ruminate on the Word of God. Why? It’s because in God’s sight, the righteous are His cattle, His sheep, His own people, and His saints that are acceptable to Him. That is why we must continue to ruminate on God’s Word. Moreover, although we the righteous are inadequate on our own, because we have clearly cloven hooves, we continue to follow the will of God.
Those who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit never seek the interest of their own flesh. The more their faith matures and grows, the more they seek the interest of God alone. They do not care about themselves no matter what hardship they face. Knowing that the glory of God is far more important, they follow the Lord completely. They lower themselves to the bottom while exalting God to the highest. Like this, the born-again live by faith alone. All of us are God’s people. We are the saints who ruminate on the Word of God. We are the people who follow the will of God. God has given us the righteous such faith, so that we may carry on with our lives in this world by faith and lead a godly life in both body and soul. Therefore, it’s absolutely indispensable for us to exercise this faith.
We the righteous must acknowledge God in all things, and we must also live by trusting in God always. God has saved you and me perfectly, so that we would be able to get all our wishes and needs answered by God for the rest of our lives. God accepts the faith of the righteous and answers all their prayers, and God has given such wonderful blessings to none other than you and me, His very own people. It is therefore imperative for you to exercise your faith. Even if you have not been able to live by faith until now, it is never too late. From now on, you must use your faith. You must exercise your faith and see for yourself how God’s blessings will start flowing your way, for the everyday life of the born-again is all about faith, one that stands clearly set apart from the world.