Whilst, as believers, we are pressing on the journey of faith, there will always be two messages in our ears. One message is from the adversary, whose object is to make us stumble or to draw us out of the path. ‘Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us’, Isa. 30. 11. Can a believer wish that God would cease from before him? Sadly, yes! As Satan tries to entangle the believer in sin, he wishes to get that individual to turn away from the presence of the Holy God, seemingly to bring rest to his conscience. More subtly, the adversary will try to convince us that we need to wait until we are cleansed, but can we really find more comfort by taking our eyes off the Lord Jesus?
The wonderful promise that follows reads, ‘And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left’, v. 21. This is the second message, and it is from the Holy Spirit. It is the tender voice of grace.
In Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1, we have a clear picture of a believer who is running the race and who is surrounded by ‘witnesses’. But they are also encircled by sin that besets them easily, like another competitor distracting the runner. So, how can we ‘run with patience the race that is set before us’? The answer is given us, ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who … is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’, v. 2. We need to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus who is the true ‘Forerunner’ who ‘entered within the veil’ in heaven, ‘which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast’, 6. 19.
The scriptures tell us of Demas who laboured with the Apostle Paul but, later on, forsook him, ‘having loved this present world’. Demas harkened to the message that urged him to look at what the world was ready to offer and leave the true gold to explore what he would eventually discover to be the false lustre of vanity, 2 Tim. 4. 10. Peter was in a ship in the midst of a fierce storm but he stepped out, and, literally, walked on water; when the Lord bid him to come, ‘he walked on the water, to go to Jesus’. But, when Peter turned his eyes to the raging waves, ‘he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him’, Matt. 14. 30, 31.
When I started my career as a young and very enthusiastic engineer, I thought I could do everything. When asked to inspect some equipment at one of the work sites, I was not very pleased to know that I would need to climb a very high extension ladder, leaning on the building, to get to the equipment. The mechanic supported the ladder properly and I had no choice but to start climbing. It was soon quite obvious that I was shaky and probably shaking the whole ladder. Finally, came the timely advice from below, ‘Sir, look up!’
In Psalm 73 we read of Asaph who turned his eyes ‘at the foolish’ and ‘was envious’ when he saw ‘the prosperity of the wicked’. He harkened to the message of the adversary and so we hear him saying, ‘But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped’. In the end, he ‘went into the sanctuary of God’ and, as a consequence, could declare, ‘So foolish was I, and ignorant … thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee’, Ps. 73. 22-25.
Satan can use even the closest of believers to distract us from listening and observing what the Lord is saying. In John chapter 21, the Lord Jesus revealed to Peter valuable future events in regards to his ministry and his life. However, the scriptures tell us that, ‘Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following’. Peter was distracted, and his mind wandered away to John and would ask, ‘Lord, and what shall this man do?’ Jesus answered, ‘what is that to thee? Follow thou me’, John 21. 22.
May we heed the words of the psalmist, ‘I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved’, Ps. 16. 8.