Friday, October 25, 2013

Are You REALLY Sure?

2013-10-12 Sunrise - John Vincent
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (KJV)  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

That picture and verse were part of Monday’s post.  We talked quite a bit about tongues.  As an example of our main subject.  We could as easily have spoken of baptismal regeneration or one of the other doctrines that creates some controversy.  But the varying views of the doctrine of tongues seem to get more focus than any of the others.

Doctrines are important, They’re a way to describe our understanding of God.  But the issue is less a matter of doctrine than how we arrive at those conclusions.  Take a look with me.

Yes, God wants us to be doctrinally sound.  But how we reach our conclusions can be equally as important as what the conclusions are.  This week, my midweek look back at one of our older posts was actually a doubleheader.  We highlighted a two part series from the summer of 2011 that dealt with an important aspect of this topic.  The two were Why Would You Say That? Part 1 and Why Would You Say That? Part 2.  In that series, we pointed out that whatever we decided was our foundational premise, that foundation had to, in some degree, determine the conclusions we could come to.  I’ve linked to those posts by their titles, but that’s partly a basis of what we’ll talk about, today.

John 8:44 (KJV)  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
 
We’re all familiar with Jesus’ diatribe against the Pharisees.  But we don’t often really dig into it.  How often do we hear that He was angry because they had sinned against God.  But, if that were the sole point, Jesus would have been angry with just about everyone.  Yet, we usually see His tenderness and a willingness to guide people out of sin and into a solid relationship with God.  The Greek word hamartia is what we translate as sin.  The Hebrew is Chatta'ah.  There are a number of related words in both languages.  They all boil down to the definition of hamartia, with a specific emphasis.  Sin is “missing the mark”, being in error, heading in the wrong direction.  And the mark is God Himself.

With most of His creation, that missing the mark is unintentional.  It’s actually an archery term.  And, if we picture an archer aiming at a target, we can picture the arrow being shot and passing so close to the target that the tail feathers graze the edge.  That’s really close!  But the arrow didn’t hit the target.  It missed the mark.  That’s most of us in our relationship with God.  Even those who don’t believe there’s a God.  We have the right intentions, even if the results are wrong.  We miss the mark.  Jesus went to the Cross to improve our aim.  The closer we are to the target, the less likely our shots will miss it.

Then, there’s John 8:44.  Satan, according to the Bible, was there when the Trinity discussed the plan for our salvation.  He knew that there would be a Hell and that it was intended for Satan and the fallen angels that aligned themselves with Him.  Satan didn’t like the idea of eternal damnation or that it was intended for him.  Never considering that some alternative to his prideful attitude and rebellious behavior could even have changed that.  The result had him thinking he was equal to God, maybe better.  And he was in a “get even” mode against God, for His kindness to men, and against us as the beneficiaries of God’s kindness.  How Satan gets even with man is twofold – making people miserable in the extreme and separating them from God and to himself, with greater zest if he can do both.  That would bring man into Hell, as well.  The epitome of misery loves company.

When Christ says that the Pharisees have the devil as their spiritual parent, it has layers of meaning.  The Pharisees took their pastoral function and subverted it.  They took God’s Ten Commandments, expanded them to over 600 regulations, many unattainable, and all designed to make their followers dependent on the Pharisees.  Often adding complexity with double standards.  If there was a political ally that could ensure some level of power for the Pharisees, you could be sure they’d cultivate that ally.  Pride and power lust were  their normal qualities.  The thing that allied them with Satan was that all of their efforts separated them and their followers from God and to themselves.

If we look closer at what the Pharisees did with The Law, we see something very interesting.  In its most basic form, God’s law isn’t egregious or painful.  In fact, Jesus simplifies it further.

Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
 
Christ quotes the first commandment and Leviticus 19:18 and says they summarize all of God’s law.  How Jesus concludes what He does is a huge lesson in itself.  We’ll get to that next time.  But, for now, let’s meditate further on today’s insights.  How does what the Pharisees did set an incorrect standard for today?  What does that teach you, today?

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