“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
In the last two contributions to this department we used this answer of Jesus to the devil to expose the evil of membership in a worldly labor organization. Such membership, we saw, demands of us that we go contrary to the words of the law which proceeded from the mouth of God. And going contrary to God’s law is opposing Him. Those who do this can only expect the awful opposition of the living God. And who can survive, when He comes up against us in His holy wrath?
It is worthy of our attention at this time to note that in His answer to the devil Jesus speaks of “every” word that comes forth from the mouth of God. And thanks be unto God, there is another word from His mouth besides the word of His law. There is the word of grace as well as the word of the law. There is the gospel as it is in Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh. ‘There is the word of life in the midst of all of our death.
If, therefore, we have fallen into sin, unequally yoked ourselves with unbelievers, vowed to go contrary to God’s law with them, and have been convicted by the word of the law of our evil, there is forgiveness and life for us. Whether our guilt now is that of belonging to the camp of God’s enemies as they are found in the worldly labour unions, or whether we have in some other way opposed God in the word of His law, there is a word of peace and comfort for the penitent sinner who turns from his evil way.
The law still stands. Words that have proceeded from God’s mouth are never revoked. We are not under the condemnation of the law but under grace. Nevertheless we are still under the obligation of the law inescapably and everlastingly. Consider that Jesus, Who taught us that we shall live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God, also taught us that the whole law is summed up in one word, namely, that we love God and the neighbor for His sake. If that is the inner principle of the law—and it is—then every word of that law still stands for us today, because the word that proceeded from God’s mouth in the writings of the apostles still continues to admonish us to love God and to love one another. God’s word is never destroyed, recalled or nullified. Jesus can say “every” word in the sense of every word that ever came from Him from the moment of creation. The Perfect Legislator makes laws that the Righteous Judge will recognize to the letter and punish according to every infraction of that law. The Medes and the Persians boasted of laws that were not altered. And yet Daniel came out of the lion’s den and the rule was changed. But God’s laws are never foolish, never outdated, never lacking in relevancy but are as new every day as God is “new.” For He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
How marvelous, then, that He saw fit to speak a word of grace also to the fallen human race. And not one, you understand, that somehow now does recall that law, ignore it or take words away from it, but one that presents to us the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world. A word it is that shows a people chosen eternally in Christ, and a Christ Who suffers all their endless agony and brings to God a full measure of those works of love demanded by the word of the law, so that now we do live by those words that proceed from God’s mouth. For in Christ we have kept every single one of those words, and kept them fully. We live by the obedience of Christ. What a sweet word from God’s mouth whereby we may taste and see that God is good! What good news this is that shows us that our sinful attempts to live by bread alone are all forgiven and blotted out of God’s book. Now we can understand the words of the psalmist, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:9, 10.
It is well to remember, however, that this word of grace, this gospel as it is in Jesus Christ contains words that say unequivocally, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not He will whet His sword; He hath bent His bow, and made it ready.” Psalm 7:11, 12. It also says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. That word of grace is not for every man. God does not speak a general, universal, broad word of grace to all those who have violated the word of His law. John the Baptist who prepared the way before Christ did not in God’s name speak words of cheer and comfort to all the sinners even in Israel. To that which was considered to be the elite in Israel he thundered, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits of repentance.” Matthew 3:7, 8. The word of the gospel declares that the sins of those who hate them and flee from them have been blotted out by the blood of the cross.
Let us not be so foolish, while we continue to walk in our sins, to point to Lot who had unequally yoked himself and become one with the Sodomites. It is perfectly true that the angel took hold of him and brought him to safety when he lingered. Read Genesis 19:16 carefully. Take note of the fact that the angel also took hold of the hand of Lot’s wife and upon the hands of the two daughters. Lot had his flesh wherewith to contend, but we have the word of God for it that he vexed his righteous soul. His wife had no righteous soul and did not vex such a soul. She was heart, soul and mind in with all that vile generation in these wicked cities. There was no repentance, no grief about all the evil around her or in her. The angel not only let go her hand after bringing her out of the city for Lot’s sake, but he also let her trail behind and be consumed, for He had never taken hold of her heart. Had He done so, she would have had a righteous soul and would have vexed it, as Lot did.
Not all who walk in sin will be snatched out of that sin. Walking in sin we can have no assurance of escaping the awful wrath of God. You simply cannot find a single verse in the Bible, nor even a part of a text, that gives assurance to the man who continues in his sin that all is well, and that he has nothing about which to worry. You may be walking in sin today and in the day of your death enter into the blessedness of the kingdom of Christ. You may be an enemy of the cause of Christ and be yoked with other enemies of Christ, as was the apostle Paul, and still enjoy all the love of God in the new Jerusalem. However, then God some time in your life is going to turn you away from that evil way, as He did with the apostle Paul. But the point we make is that as long as you are unequally yoked in an agreement to walk in sin with the unbelievers, you have absolutely nothing to point to that will assure you that you are going to escape the wrath of God which He will surely heap upon those with whom you are yoked!
You may, instead, recall the example of Elimelech, His plans, you will remember, were to come back to Israel. It was to be only a temporary joining with the unbelievers (and this was in a land of which God said that the Moabites might never enter into the congregation, according to Deuteronomy 23:3) to be terminated after obtaining the bread by which he sought to live. But he never got back into the Promised Land. And his sons make even closer affiliation with the unbelievers by marrying their daughters. Even though God was pleased to give a rebirth to Ruth, there is nothing in the whole incident to give assurance or promise to us that he will do the same thing in our case. Instead we have that testimony of God’s word, “If he turn not, He will whet His sword; He hath bent His bow, and made it ready.” Let us not try to hide behind transparent glass. We cannot hide from God even in the depth of the earth with tons of rock over us. How shall we hide behind such a transparent substance as a distorted presentation of the Word of God?
The word of the gospel is for those who love the word of the law. Does not the psalmist in Psalm 119:18 exactly pray, “Open thou my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” Here you have a man who in verse 63 declares, “I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts.” He has no room in his life for being unequally yoked with those that do not fear God and. that go on record to break His precepts in order to get a little bread, and who refuse to live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. And He is also the man who later in verse 136 cries, “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not Thy law.” For such is the word of the gospel. Such can and do find comfort concerning their own sins. And the reason is very plain.
By nature we are part of this wicked world. Our only concern is for bread for this life. God’s word in any form we loathe and despise with our whole being. But when, lo and behold!, we suddenly or gradually find that we begin to have the experiences of the psalmist, we know that God has done something wonderful within us. We become aware of a new life. And that makes us confident that Christ, on the basis of His cross, has already blessed us with the essence of salvation. We know then that all the benefits of salvation are ours and that our sins, which we hate, are certainly forgiven us. By the gift of that different outlook upon our sins we know that God loves us. And knowing that God loves us, we know that the entire word of the gospel has been written and spoken for us. We know that all the good news in that word of grace will be fulfilled in us.
By every word that proceeds from God’s mouth we shall be blessed. Men may, and men will, deny us bread so that we cannot live anymore in the physical sense. But the word of the gospel still contains for us promises of endless blessings in a realm where no men can ever take any joy away from us. It is all in that word of the gospel. Recall again the other verse which we used as a basis for these lines, II Corinthians 6:14-18. Paul gives us that word of the gospel in connection with the words of the law, when, having admonished us not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, he adds God’s promise, “And I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God.”
If He receives us, what difference does it make if the world rejects us? If He receives us, how can it harm us, if the world takes all away from us? If He receives us, we really live, while the bread-eaters who killed us, starved us to death or made life hard and miserable for us, are in the everlasting death of hell. If He receives us, we are received into the everlasting blessedness of that word of the gospel.