In the first covenant, they repeatedly offered the same sacrifices, which could never take away sins. (Hebrews 10:11). In other words, there was neither growth nor progress in the first covenant; yet in the new covenant it is entirely different.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, “You are God’s temple!” 1 Corinthians 3:16. And Peter writes, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house …” 1 Peter 2:4-5.
Do God’s will
Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation stone. It was by doing God’s will that He was formed and molded to be the cornerstone. When He came into the world He said, “Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God.” Hebrews 10:7. We enter into the new covenant in precisely the same way. Now it is also by doing God’s will that we are molded into His image. In the volume of the book it is written about us. We are hewn by the word of God. Jesus was the Word revealed in flesh. Previously they had heard the word of God; now they could see it revealed by the body of Jesus. This is the work of the Spirit with each one of us who has entered into the new covenant.
“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
Sanctification means being transformed from being human to becoming “divine.” We can no more accomplish this by ourselves than a rock can transform itself into a statue. However, in the hands of a sculptor a block of stone can be hewn into a statue. So it is with us. We read that we are to be sanctified by the Spirit. By faith in Christ we have received the Spirit who was promised. Now all these slabs of rock that struggled in vain to transform themselves into statues, can be transformed in the Sculptor’s hands. Now they have a better hope.
Be conformed to the Word – into Jesus’ image
Jesus is the original pattern; and by the Spirit we are being transformed into His image—into living stones. The Spirit works with us according to God’s Word so that we are conformed to such scriptures as: “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good;” “Bless, and curse not;” “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor;” or, “He that is greatest among you shall be the servant and slave of all,” etc.
We are God’s building; therefore, if we are going to be formed into the right shape we must come to Jesus, who is the original pattern. We must not let ourselves be formed by father or mother, brother, sister, or worldly magazines. Neither must we be influenced by the spirit of the times. Come to Him, the living stone, who was rejected by men but is chosen and precious in God’s sight.
There are many builders today who are forming people to fit into their own political party or religious denomination. All of them are striving to be great and gain acceptance by contemporary society.
However, we cannot fit both into heaven and on earth. We who have entered the new covenant to be formed into living stones in God’s building must accept the fact that we are going to be rejected by men when we do God’s will.
Keep the commandment without spot, and blameless
Notice how seriously Paul regarded this: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing.” 1 Timothy 6:12-14.
What does it mean to keep the commandment without spot, and blameless? It means that we do not tailor the commandment to fit the circumstances; that my understanding of the commandment must not be defiled by the latest trends in psychology. We are to be fashioned according to the commandments—the commandments Jesus gave His disciples prior to His ascension. (Acts 1:2)
Stones for God’s building have been hewn throughout all ages, and they will all be joined together to be a temple when Jesus returns. Today, each one of us is being hewn—each in his own circumstances, by doing God’s will. However, the day will come when we will be joined together without the sound of a hammer, just like Solomon’s temple when it was built. The sound of an iron tool will not be heard. (1 Kings 6:7)
If God’s co-workers had tried to adapt the commandment to the prevailing trends of their day, how do you think all the stones formed throughout these nearly 2,000 years would fit together? Jesus has not changed, and the Spirit has remained the same these 2,000 years; if the commandment has been kept without spot, the stones will fit together perfectly.
Now we can understand why Paul admonishes Timothy so strongly to keep the commandment without spot until Jesus returns. He urges him in the sight of God, who gives life to all things, and before Jesus Christ, who had made the good confession. This confession was that His kingdom was not of this world. Timothy was to come to Him, the living stone; enter the covenant, and be sanctified by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul reminds him that he had also made the good confession before many witnesses, that he had been baptized to seek the things that are above where Jesus is, and not the things on earth. And now he exhorts Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.”
Be not defiled by this present age; keep the commandment pure. Do God’s will. Then you will be a stone that fits in God’s building when Jesus returns.
This article is an excerpt from a chapter titled “God’s Building” in the book “The New Covenant and the Mystery of Lawlessness,” published by “Skjulte Skatters Forlag” in June 1952. It has been translated from Norwegian.
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