Wednesday, March 13, 2013

John 15:21-22 Love and Deception

John 15:21 (KJV)  But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
That’s where we left off, last time.  Much of mankind being in a pickle because they didn’t know or understand God.  And, when we think about the next verse, we can understand why.

John 15:22 (KJV)  If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
That’s one of those verses that, at first sight, seems to clobber any thoughts of love, grace, and mercy.  Jesus came to condemn?  That’s a tough one to swallow.  Tough enough that you almost want to skip this verse and move on to the next one.  But I’m glad writing about this chapter in a “line upon line, precept upon precept” fashion didn’t allow that.
When we start to look at the original language and the tenses, a different picture comes out than what the King James English says.  I can look up words and tenses, but it’s an effort on my part.  I have to use the various tools available.  And I have to trust the Biblical linguists and the commentary writers to make sure I properly understand what’s being said.  In this case they all, including John Calvin, were in complete agreement on this verse.  So, here’s the synopsis.
Jesus wasn’t saying that people would be without sin if He hadn’t told them they were sinning.  What Jesus is telling them is that people were so deceived that they couldn’t even recognize they were in sin.  The Ten Commandments and Pharisees are great examples.  Remember that Israel wanted laws to live by to show their obedience to God.  God knew very well that, in their flesh, total obedience was impossible.  He gave them ten very simple and very straight forward rules to follow, so they’d see that their own efforts at obedience were bound to fail.  Instead, it got worse.
As I’ve mentioned before, Israel thought they were doing so well that they expanded those ten commandments to over six hundred.  There were variations upon variations to cover every miniscule option of behavior and circumstances.  Wow!  Then there were the Scribes and Pharisees who thought they had the law so down pat that they were proud they were super holy.  And along comes Jesus, who didn’t mince words about their sinfulness.
That all sounds like a recipe for pure condemnation.  Tried, convicted, sent to Hell, then throw away the key.  But it’s not.  Jesus’ tough love was truly love.  The world had become so jaded and so deceived that, by themselves, people were never going to recognize the sorry state they were in.  When Jesus spoke Truth and railed against sin and sinfulness, He wasn’t condemning people.  He was giving them a contrast so they could see the difference and begin to choose wisely.  Even if the ultimate contrast was the evil that sent Jesus to the Cross.

God loves His creation so much that the Father was willing to let Jesus go through His torment and crucifixion to be our substitute.  His love gave us the grace of His sacrifice in our place, and the mercy of avoiding eternal separation from God.  And all He requires is that we choose Him instead.  It’s not perform certain rituals at specified times, there’s no don’t do some things on certain days, and no watch out for alcohol or sex or drugs or money.  Some of that, under the wrong circumstances, certainly isn’t good. 

Think about the spiritual reality.  It’s not acts or things, but the attitudes and thinking that put those at a level of importance that they take precedence over our relationship with God.  When we realize that marriage is a picture of the relationship between God and His people, then we realize that premarital or extramarital sex isn’t the ultimate wrong.  It’s what we say about what we think of our relationship with our Lord.  It’s not money that’s at issue, but our focus on it and the pride it creates that separates us from Him.

Man screwed up royally in thinking more of himself than we should and less of God than we should, giving ourselves a greater place of importance and power than was really true.  We considered that we could do without God.  Despite that, God didn’t toss us away as defective.  He preplanned a way that we could still be restored to full fellowship with Him.  And that’s to accept the gift of what Jesus did going through His torment, and on the Cross.

There are some that would suggest that nothing we do has any importance in gaining our salvation.  But all the way back to Adam before Eve, there were choices.  Not all of them were a reason for separation from God.  And it wasn’t an apple or whatever that symbolized that was the problem.  It was Eve’s choice to believe the serpent instead of God and, then, Adam to choose Eve’s choice over God.  It’s like spending months or years together with a friend, learning from them, learning about them, till we were almost one.  Then a stranger comes to us and whispers something negative to us about our friend.  And we choose to change our whole relationship with them because of what the stranger said.  That’s what God gave us a solution to.  He still wants us to be one with Him.

There’s a lot to think about.  And more to come.  We really only moved one verse farther forward.  But it’s a huge verse.  We can be one with God.  We don’t lose things by doing that, we gain back the immense riches of being in unity with God.  Have you made that choice?  If not, why wait?  And what’s stopping you?

No comments:

Post a Comment