The Closed Door
Gateway to Spiritual Fullness
His Precious Word
Gleanings From Deut. 8
There is perhaps not another book in the entire Bible that places so much emphasis on
God’s word as Deuteronomy. In 8 chapters there has been a deliberate and repeated
exhortation to heed, listen, obey and hearken to God’s command, precepts and
judgments. Why is Deuteronomy so adamant about heeding His Word?
Chapter 8 begins with “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall
be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the
Lord swore to give to your forefathers.” There is a real danger for us to discard the Old
Testament commandments as “laws” and “old covenant” thereby throwing out the baby
with the bath water.
Letters aside, the spirit of the Old Testament is to reveal Christ just as much as the New
Testament. What we have been delivered from is our ever-failing and utterly
untrustworthy natural ability to keep God’s laws and commandments, but we have not
been, and will never be, set free from the spirit of the Old Testament which is to reveal
Christ -- even through laws and commandments.
The “all the commandments” mentioned in verse one, in a spiritual sense, are not meant
as laws to be kept, but rather relate to the completeness of the different aspects, facets
and details of the all-inclusive Christ. When related to the truth, the entire Bible is a
detailed commandment about
God’s Son because of the truth’s uncompromising and unalterable nature. When related
to God’s love for men, the entire Bible is a love story pouring forth from God’s heart.
When related to the salvation of men, the entire Bible is an unfolding drama of
Since Christ is so inexhaustibly rich and full, and God wants us to know and possess His
Son in fuller measures, the Word meticulously describes and reveals every aspect, facet
and detail about Christ so that we would not have a distorted view of Him. Paul told the
Ephesian elders in The Book of Acts that he did not shrink back from declaring to them
“the whole counsel of God.” The Bible as “the whole counsel” contains a complete
revelation of Christ. It repeatedly warns us not to “add to it” nor “take away from it.”
I remember when I was a young boy, my brother and I loved going to the county fair with
our parents because there were lots of fun things to do. One of the fun things was to
pass in front of a set of funny mirrors. In front of one, I was a round-faced clown; in front
of another, I became an elongated stick figure. Sad to say, many Christians’ view of
Christ is greatly distorted very much similar to passing before those funny mirrors.
Watchman Nee once said the number one reason Christians live in spiritual poverty was
because they did not know the Word. A woeful lack of the knowledge of the Word
coupled with a complacent attitude plunge God’s people into spiritual poverty and invite
the Enemy to wreak havoc.
Today, a casual surfing of many Christian Internet forums will expose a lack of the stature
of Christ. It is not hard to see that the distorted views of Christ stem from a serious lack
of the full knowledge of the “whole counsel of God.” On the other hand, spiritual
blessings and prosperity come from heeding and keeping all His commandments.
Deut. 7: 12-13 says, “Then it shall come about because you listen to these judgments
and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His
lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. And He will love you and bless you
and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground,
your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of
your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you.”
In the same way, as Deut. 8:1 suggests, the pre-requisite for possessing the good land
is to keep God’s commandments in full. But, for us New Testament believers, keeping
or “doing all the commandments” firstly refers to our urgent need to embrace not a select
or partial truth, but ALL the truths about Christ in the whole Bible. Any addition to or
deletion from the whole bible will result in our greatly distorted and diminished
understanding and possession of Christ.
Secondly, we have to realize that no matter how much we desire to heed His Word and
embrace all the truths in the whole Bible, we are utterly incapable of keeping His Word.
The truth of the matter is, we can’t even keep our own word, much less God’s Word.
Here we face an apparent dilemma, on the one hand, we are charged to “keep and do”
all the commandments in full, on the other hand, we are utterly incapable of keeping
them, much less doing them.
So what are we to do? Enter the Beloved Son. The Son is the only One qualified and
capable of keeping and doing His Word.
It is no coincidence that chapter 8 brings out sonship: “Thus you are to know in your heart
that the Lord your God was disciplining you as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you
shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear
Him” (8:5-6). As a Son, Christ had to learn obedience through the things which He
suffered (Heb. 5:8). In Christ, we have received sonship to become God’s “many sons.”
And as His many sons, we are being chastened and conformed to His image in order
that the Son in us may “keep the commandment of the Lord…to walk in His ways and to
So, what do we do to keep His Word? We have to learn to yield ourselves as sons in
the Father’s disciplining hands. The more we learn to yield to His dealings and
chastening, the more a keeper of the Word we will become; for in His chastening, the
character of Christ is constituted into our inner being, and His Word is inscribed into the
tablet of our hearts. It is no longer a matter of us trying to keep His Word, but altogether
a matter of becoming sons who possess the
Son’s character and are inwardly constituted by His Word.
Thirdly, humility is required to keep His commandments. “And you shall remember all
the way which the Lord your God has led you these 40 years in the wilderness, that He
might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep
His commandments or not” (Deut. 8:2). The only way we can be made humble is
through His dealings and chastening. It took the children of Israel 40 years to perish in
the wilderness; likewise, it will take the dying to our natural man before any real humility
comes forth and before the keeping of His commandments becomes a remote
possibility. Unless we have been humbled through the dealings and chastening of the
cross, there will be no way of embracing all the truths concerning Christ, and no way of
entering into all the fullness of Christ.
Related to the Word of God, there has always been a fascination among the students of
the Word to find ways of interpreting the Word. Volumes have been written and courses
are offered in churches and seminaries about how to interpret the various prophesies,
symbolisms, typologies, parables, mysteries and signs in the Word.
Zealous Christians are un-bashful about offering their methods of interpretation, and
adamant about their interpretations as divinely inspired. Every now and then someone
comes along and offers a brand new interpretation and claims inspiration and authority.
While each method and each interpretation does carry some merits, the single most
important element is largely missed.
The most overlooked fact is that human beings are incapable of interpreting the Word of
God. The Son is the Word incarnate, therefore for us to properly understand and
interpret His Word, the greatest need is to be rooted and grounded in Him and for Him
to be constituted in us.
The seven sons of Scevas in the Book of Acts offer us a window. They zealously went
around the country attempting to cast out evil spirits. But the evil spirit replied, “Jesus I
know and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:14-15).
Without a doubt, the message preached was correct: “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul
preaches.” All doctrinal bases were covered. But the messengers were wrong –
constitutionally. Our messages, or interpretations for that matter, simply must match the
Christ that has been constituted and formed in our inward being. For this inward
constitution of Christ to take place, the interpreter has to have gone through certain
amount of dealings and chastening. Our interpretations have to match our inward
constitution and be an overflow of Christ formed from deep within.
The Lord does grant us inspirations to peer into His Word and come up with precious
revelations. Many Christians have had this wonderful experience. But it is never meant
to bypass our urgent need to mature and possess greater measure of Christ.
Paul says, “When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a
child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (I Cor. 13:11). Clearly, our
maturity in the life of Christ has much to do with our speaking. Hence our greater need
is not so much the ability to interpret the Word, but to allow the Lord to inscribe His Word
in our inner being so that maturity starts to take place.
There is nothing like a matured Christian sharing the Word of God. As he speaks,
Christ comes forth. Find a mature Christian, try it next time and just watch and listen.
May the Lord grant us mercy to love His Truth. May the Lord inscribe His commandment
deep in the tablet of our hearts so that we might become a people constituted with His