David Brandt Berg
How do people become “alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:18)? It’s the Word of God. When they neglect the Word, they neglect the Lord. How can you become alienated from the life of God? How can you become separated from the Lord? It’s when you become separated from the Word, because He is the Word. You become separated from the Word, and you become separated from the Lord.
Then you become “darkened in your understanding” because you have become separated from the Word. Then finally you get so hard, terribly hard, that you’re just absolutely past feeling. “He that hardeneth his neck after being often reproved shall suddenly be destroyed” (Proverbs 29:1).
So really it has to do with the Word—whether you live in the Word or not. This is what’s wrong with many Christians. They never really read their Bibles daily. They might have pulled a verse from the promise box or might have had a little devotion. They depended altogether on Sunday church services to give them all the Word they needed for the week. It certainly wasn’t enough to last them, like expecting one meal to last you all week.
Many Christians neglect the Word. They’re starved for the Word. They get a few little crumbs on Sunday and starve the rest of the week. They have neglected the life, the light, the strength, the power, the only hope of victory, and that’s God’s Word!
It’s when people get separated from the Word that they depart from the faith. When they lose faith in the Word or get separated from it, that’s when they become alienated from the life of God. What is the life of God? He said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). That’s the life of God. It’s His Word that gives us life and food and nourishment and strength and spiritual health.
When people get cut off from the Word, it’s like cutting off their food, stopping the flow of nourishment. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God”—the life of God (John 1:1). What does it mean by “the life of God”? What is the life of God? What is the life-giving flow that gives life from God? It’s the Word! When they neglect the Word, they neglect the life of God, because that is the life. “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). In other words, it brings forth life. The seed, the Word, brings forth life. And if they become alienated from the Word they become alienated from life, spiritual life, from the Lord, because He is the Word. They become alienated from His life and His spiritual spark, that which gives life. The Word is life.
That scripture always impressed me: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Think of that! They are Spirit and they are life! They’re real things. These are things you can’t see, you can’t touch, but without them everything would be totally dead. And without the Word, people become dead, without life.
Science still doesn’t understand life. Five minutes after you’re dead, you’re still all there physically, materially, everything’s there—but something’s gone that they can’t see or feel and which has no weight. They’ve weighed bodies right after they died to see if there was a difference in weight, and it makes no difference. There’s just some spark, some electricity, some life, some spirit gone which gave that body life. And without the Word, which is the Spirit and the life of Jesus, they’re without Him, without His fellowship, without the Word.
Jesus is the Word. He is the Spirit and the life, and you have to have a dose of Him every day, a good feeding and feasting and drinking. Just as you have to eat in order to have physical strength, you have to eat of the Word, drink of the Word to have spiritual strength.
How do people get out of fellowship with the Lord? How do they become separated from His life? It doesn’t mean they’re not saved; they still believe in Jesus. They neglect the Word, they get away from the Word. I think that’s how people get so alienated from the life of God. “Without Me, ye are nothing” (John 15:5). They get away from the Lord. They don’t lose their salvation but they “follow afar off” like Peter (Matthew 26:58), to the point where they could even deny Him, like Peter did.
I think that’s the secret that causes people to cool off. “The love of many waxes cold” (Matthew 24:12), the flame dies down, the fire dies. They cool off; they turn cold. What feeds the fire? What feeds the flame? It’s the fuel. And what’s the fuel? It’s the Word that feeds the candle, that feeds the fire! It’s the fuel, the life that’s in that fuel, whether it be candle wax or gasoline or oil or whatever, even electricity. It’s that fuel that fires the flame.
When they run out of fuel, like the five foolish virgins ran out of oil (Matthew 25:1–10), the fire goes out, the light goes out, and they wind up in darkness, alienated from the life of God, the fuel, the Word, the Spirit. “Alienated from the life of God.” What is the life of God? The Word, the Spirit, the life. Alienated from it, they become dark—darkened in their understanding. The fuel runs out because they haven’t fed the fire with the Word, which is Jesus, Spirit, life.
The Word is all of these things: the Word is Jesus, the Word is God, the Word is Spirit, the Word is life! Without Jesus you’re without Spirit, you’re without life, you’re dead! The flame goes out, just like when it runs out of oil or fuel. The fire goes out. There’s no heat, and the person grows cold, past feeling.
They become like an alien to the kingdom of God. They’re a foreigner, a stranger. They’re still a member of the kingdom, a child of God, a son of God, but they’re a prodigal son in a very far country and a stranger to their own family, their own home, their own country, the kingdom of God.—Like Israel of old when Saul got killed and Israel seemed to be defeated completely, which God had to do to get Saul and his crowd out of the way. They all went home, they all turned back (1 Samuel 31:7). They didn’t fight anymore, there was no more army. The kingdom disintegrated and the enemy won.
They didn’t wait for the Word. They didn’t wait for the prophet of God and receive the Word of God to go out and fight. They tried to fight in their own strength without the Lord, without the prophet, and without the Word of God.—Without His blessings and His approval.
Saul went ahead in his own strength. He was a king and he was big and strong, head and shoulders above his brethren. He thought he could fight without God, without the Word, without the blessing of God. He tried to get the blessing of God. He went ahead and sacrificed and made the offering himself on the altar and asked God to bless. He went through the motions, but it was lifeless; there was nothing there. (See 1 Samuel 13:8–11.)
Without the prophet of God there was no Word, there was no life, there was no fire, there was nothing. They went out and tried to fight the battle against the enemy and fell flat on their faces! And because of this, Saul and all of his sons were eventually killed and decapitated and humiliated, and the army was defeated and every man went home to his tent.
He was doomed to defeat! He couldn’t have done anything else; he was programmed for defeat. Because the minute you neglect the Lord and His Word, you are programmed to self-destruct. You’re geared for it, keyed to it, wired for it; it becomes automatic. Doomsday was bound to come, and it came.
The only way God could revive the nation was to raise up David, the little lad who became a warrior and a strong leader in the kingdom, rival to the king himself. But the difference was that David had the Word; he really loved the Lord. He stuck close to the Spirit of God and the love of the Spirit and the Word of God. He was a prophet of God. David was first and foremost a prophet of God who received beautiful prophecies from the Lord. The book of Psalms is virtually all prophecy.
The nation was virtually dead when David came along. Saul had killed it by separating it from the Word, from the prophet of God. Saul cut off all his possible avenues of escape, all of his possible helpers who could have possibly revived him, so finally God just had to cut him off.
David collected his army from the outcasts of Saul, the people that Saul kicked out because they loved David or were loyal to David. Saul got rid of all the good people, all the spiritual people, the followers of David. He threw them out as traitors and subversives. So they collected out in the wilderness in the Cave of Adullam and became outcasts.
The only ones who survived were outcasts out in the wilderness in the Cave of Adullam with David, and God knows they were few and far between in those days. When Samuel the prophet was gone, the army was defeated, the nation fell apart, and some of the only ones who survived were David and his little band.
They had years of work ahead to try to make a comeback and get the country together again and reestablish the true leadership and king, under David. The Lord had to cut off Saul and his sons and his followers, and purge the nation of all those who wouldn’t follow David. And David had to actually go into the land of their enemies for a couple of years before he finally came back and tried to pick up the pieces.
It’s dangerous to neglect the Word! The minute you start crowding the Word out of your lives, you are getting too busy. Some people just worship the effects of the Word. But you can’t even put the fruit of the Word above the Word itself. Without the seed, there never would have been new life, fruit. Without the sap, the tree dies.
“Without Me, ye are nothing,” Jesus said, and He was the Word (John 15:5). Without the Word, there’s nothing. Without the Word there is no Spirit, no life, no power, no light, no heat, no warmth, no fruit.
So that’s the secret: the Word.—The secret of power and victory and overcoming and fruitfulness and fire and life and warmth and light and leadership, everything, is the Word. And the lack of it is the secret of failure and coldness and darkness and weakness and dying spiritually.
There’s nothing wrong with worshipping the Word. The Word is Jesus! The Word is God! The Word is life! The Word is the Lord, the Lord is the Word, so there’s nothing wrong with worshipping the Word or loving the Word and living in the Word, because Jesus is the Word.
He said, “The Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). “I am the way, the truth”—there’s the Word again—“and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is the Word, and the Word is Jesus, and if you don’t keep feeding on it and absorbing His life—“Eat of Me,” as He said, “drink of My blood and eat of My flesh” (John 6:53–58)—you’ll never survive spiritually.
So that’s the secret of why people depart from the faith. They get away from the Word first of all, and when they got away from the Word they became darkened in their understanding, and then they became alienated from the life of God, which is the Word.
And they finally just grew so cold they became past feeling; they didn’t even feel it anymore! Their consciences are hardened and their hearts are hardened. Oh, it’s a dangerous place to be! Because “he that being often reproved and hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).
So that’s the secret. It’s the secret of victory or defeat; it’s the secret of success or failure. It all depends on how people treat the Word and how they live in it and live on it, or try to go without it.
Copyright © The Family International.