Wherein Is Blemish

In JEHOVAH’s sacrificial system, He’s very clear about what’s acceptable: whatever is presented to Him must be perfect; asking Him to accept a blemish or defect of any kind is an abomination. (De 17:1)

It’s not that God dislikes physical defects in themselves; He cares for every living thing. (Ps 145:16) His concern evidently lies in what a sacrifice represents: He accepts an animal sacrifice as a substitute, representing an atonement for our sin. (He 9:7) It doesn’t actually take away our sin (He 10:11), it’s a picture of a metaphysical state, a place of reconciliation with Him, which we must with all diligence find. (He 4:1)

Our sin is entirely unacceptable to God (Ro 3:23); it moves Him to anger and indignation towards us. (Ro 2:8) God designed the sacrificial system to help us recognize this problem, and how He offers to resolve it: we either need Someone Who’s perfect to take our place, to accept our punishment and bear God’s wrath for us, or we must face God ourselves, alone, and be destroyed.

On the Day of judgement, every soul will face Almighty God to answer for their sin. (Ro 14:12) On that fateful Day, His face will be so dreadful Earth and Heaven will try to hide. (Re 20:11). We will all endure the indignation of JEHOVAH, one at a time, one way or another.

It’s only in finding a perfect, willing Substitute that we have any hope of surviving that Day. Our selfishness and pride is an abomination to God (Pr 16:5); asking Him to accept us as we are will be no different than offering a blemished animal on His altar here. It can’t end well.

Many, thinking they’ve found a fire escape in Christ, will hear Him say, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, for I never knew you” (Mt 7:22), and will face the court of Heaven on their own.

To find shelter in that stormy Day, we must enter into His rest by faith. God is, in fact, offering Himself to be our sacrifice (2Co 5:21); there can be no excuse for neglecting His offer. (Ac 17:31)

The door to the kingdom is open, and it always will be: it will never, ever close (Re 22:17), but Christ warns us to strive to enter, for only those few who love the truth will find Him. (2Th 2:10)

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Goodness and Severity

God is awesome in every respect; He’s extreme, infinite in every facet of His being. Everything He is and does should move us to worship.

If we prefer to focus on some particular part of God, rather than taking the whole of Him, we find imbalance, a false god. He is love, most certainly (1Jn 4:8), but He’s also light (1Jn 1:5), even a consuming fire (He 12:29), a terror to all who live in sin, to be feared by us all. (Php 2:12)

God calls us to behold His goodness and severity together (Ro 11:22), to be awed in both Heaven and Hell at once. (Re 15:3) We’re to glory in His kindness (Lk 6:35) as well as His justice, vengeance and fury. (Re 18:20)

It’s only in seeking God in all His attributes at once, where they converge in fullness and glory, that we discover Him. As we take in all of God honestly, delighting in all His ways, drinking in everything about Him without bias, preference or reservation, we’re sanctified, changed, transformed more and more into His likeness by His Spirit. (2Co 3:18)

Behold the beauty in God’s grace (Ep 1:6) and mercy as He redeems sinful Man and makes us His own (1Jn 3:1), yet also feed in the majesty of His wrath as He tramples His enemies underfoot. (Is 63:3)

Rejoicing in all the attributes of God, glorying in everything about Him (2Co 10:17), is seeing Him as He is (1Jn 3:2), and not as we wish for Him to be. (Ro 1:23) This, and nothing less, is receiving Him, which is in itself the work of God. (Jn 1:12-13)

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God So Loved

I was taught, and I’ve believed for a long time now, that truth is more important than people, that principle is more important than relationship. But as think a bit more critically, I’m seeing a very basic problem here for the very first time.

Certainly, any sense that people are in some way unimportant is an error: God so loves us that He’s willing to become our sin (2Co 5:21) and die for us, suffer on our behalf, in our place, and take upon Himself our eternal punishment! (Jn 3:16)

What can be more important than the very life of God? If He so values us that He would give Himself for us (Tit 2:14), how can we possibly conceive of anything being valued more? So we’re each infinitely valuable to God, implying our relationships are also infinitely important. (1Jn 4:11)

Yet this cannot mean that people and relationships are more important than truth, for we’re to buy the truth and sell it not, not for any price, ever. (Pr 23:23) Wisdom, instruction, understanding … this is all priceless (Pr 4:7); there’s never a good time to sacrifice principle for convenience, or to build relationships, or even to alleviate suffering.

True principles are eternal, part of the nature of God Himself. (De 32:4) Christ, Himself the Truth (Jn 14:6), could never sacrifice truth or principle for anything or anyone, and neither should we. (1Pe 2:21-22) So, what’s more important?

There’s evidently a problem inherent in the thought itself: it presumes one of two choices is more important than the other, that we ought to be comparing them, willing to choose between the two. But is this itself aligned with truth? Should we be comparing the importance of truth, part of the nature of God, with the importance of people, for whom Christ died?

Evidently not. This is a prime example of the false dilemma logical fallacy; it’s a false way, a vain thought, a pattern of false reasoning that’s easy to fall into.

Whenever the enemy presents our choices, as he often does via situational ethics, we can bet he’s not dealing us a full hand. Be on the alert for his way, his game, and don’t let him dictate the rules. That isn’t his place.

If our principles don’t place infinite value on people, we don’t have the right principles (1Co 13:2-3); and sacrificing truth or principle is tolerating darkness within, alienating ourselves from God and others such that we can’t be in authentic, wholesome, godly relationships. (1Jn 1:6)

There’s always a right way (1Co 10:13), one that honors truth in God and supremely values people: God is Light (1Jn 1:5) and God is love (1Jn 4:16); we need never choose between the two.

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Honor and Glory

God is honorable, worthy of great respect and esteem. (Re 4:11). All in heaven honor Him (Re 19:7); how might we do so here on Earth?

A primary way we honor God is by believing Him, taking Him at His word, acting as if everything He says is true, trusting Him. We call it faith. Anything else is calling Him a liar (1Jn 5:10); certainly not honoring to Him.

Obeying God honors Him by acknowledging His right to order our lives, to require right behavior of us, which is itself honorable. (Ro 2:10) Disobeying Him flaunts His authority and majesty, rejects His lordship and moves Him to wrath and indignation towards us. (Rom 2:8)

Treating our own selves with dignity, honoring all as God’s children, also honors Him, for we’re made in His image. (1Th 4:4-5) Purging all dishonorable activity and influences from our lives suits us for His service. (2Ti 2:21)

It is also honoring to God to suffer in hope (Ro 5:3), knowing He’s working all things for our good (Ro 8:28), and that He will be glorified in the end. (1Pe 1:7)

A more subtle way in which we might honor our God is by acknowledging His goodness, giving Him the benefit of the doubt, as we’re laying the practical foundations of spiritual life. For example, the Bible says God inspired scripture (2Ti 3:16); in accepting this we know the autographs, the original Greek or Hebrew manuscripts, were inspired by God.

Yet the Bible doesn’t explicitly tell us whether any copies or translations of the autographs also contain this inspired property, so we must make an assumption about that: either God did preserve His Word for us in an inspired form, so that we can access a modern version of the scriptures today, in a common language, one that’s equivalent to the originals for all practical purposes, or He didn’t.

Which assumption honors Him? Gives Him the benefit of the doubt? Shall we assume God inspired His word for no practical reason, such that no one has ever actually benefited from this special quality? Shall we act as if no one has ever held a perfectly trustworthy Bible in their hands, one they could call the authentic word of God? Or shall we assume that God inspired His word for a purpose (2Ti 3:17), and that He is fulfilling that purpose, and act accordingly?

Most of us assume He didn’t, and assume inspiration is confined to the autographs, in a perfectly useless place. We’re encouraged to depend on pastors, teachers and theologians to reveal scripture to us. We don’t think we have access to the Word of God today, so we don’t tend to hide scripture in our hearts and meditate on it day and night, like God tells us to. (De 6:6) It’s hard enough to do this with a text we trust, so most of us have given up before we even start. But is this honoring to God?

Wouldn’t it honor God more if we expected Him to act with integrity, with intention? Being Who He is, faithful and true (Re 19:11), wouldn’t He enable our journey with an inspired version of His word in a modern language, a book we can read and understand for ourselves, to feed and guide us safely home, seeing that’s why He gave us the scripture in the first place? If we acted like He did, would we expect this to please Him, or disappoint Him?

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After Their Kind

In 1859 Charles Darwin published his claim that life evolved from a single original life form, without the aid of intelligence. Evolution in itself was not a novel idea, but Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection explained how species might have arisen by random chance, without a god. Since that time, atheists have managed to redefine science itself, asserting that intelligence may not be considered in any scientific explanation, no matter what the data implies.

But the actual scientific evidence available to Darwin troubled him; he never could explain the Cambrian Explosion: the sudden appearance of all known life forms (phyla), all at once in the fossil record, with no evidence of evolutionary history.

Darwin hoped subsequent discoveries would vindicate him, but after 150 years of intense research, they haven’t; the problem is worse than Darwin suspected. His theory is therefore presently in crisis. In other words, hardened atheists are finally being forced to concede that Darwin’s theory is inconsistent with the fossil record, and they’ve nothing to replace it with.

Scientifically speaking, trying to explain the origins of life without intelligence is a dead end: life does not come from non-life, and it’s inconceivable that any part of the complex biological mechanism comprising the building blocks of life formed by chance: it’s much easier to randomly select, on our very first attempt, a single marked atom from among all the atoms in our galaxy.

When it comes to spiritual things, expecting anyone to concede a position based merely on reason and evidence is also a dead end; unless God mercifully intervenes, we continue to hope in the hopeless, even in the face of such mathematical improbability. This is scientific evidence that Man is desperately wicked, driven by a freely chosen disdain for God, and that atheism itself is especially foolish. (Ro 1:21)

God says He created all living things to reproduce after their kind(Ge 1:25) This is exactly what the scientific record reveals, and we now know this conclusively.

We ought not to be intimidated by irrational, unscientific claims, even when very smart people make them: there can be no real contradiction between science and metaphysical reality. (1Ti 6:20)

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Choose the Fear

As an instinct, fear can be a good thing, keeping us out of harm’s way. It helps us avoid things like, well, provoking gangsters and thugs – fearing what they might do to us encourages a basic kind of wisdom.

Christ reasons, by way of contrast, that there’s only one to be afraid of: God. (Lk 12:4-5) God is capable of inflicting so much damage and harm, truly an infinite amount of pain and suffering, that all other fears should pale in comparison; the very thought of offending Him should move us to trembling (Php 2:12), even as we’re rejoicing in Him. (Ps 2:11)

Many prefer to focus on respect or reverence rather than fear, perhaps to encourage us to be more comfortable with God. But that’s like telling us to relax when our clothes might be catching fire.

The potential danger we’re all in with God is incredibly real, and there’s no point in playing it down: He’s a consuming fire (He 12:29), and most of us are chaff. (Mt 3:12) Even for the best of us, it’s a fearful thing to fall into His hands (He 10:31), and all of us will: evading Him isn’t an option. The slightest uncertainty here should terrify us. (2Co 5:11)

Firstly, a healthy fear of God keeps us from presumptuous sin, from carelessly offending Him (Pr 16:6), and that’s just plain smart – like not poking a gorilla in the eye, even if he seems friendly.

Godly fear also motivates us to ensure our election (2Pe 1:10)striving to enter the narrow gate (Lk 13:24) and pass fully into His rest. (He 4:11) In light of the second death, living for even a moment without absolute assurance of eternal life is unthinkable. (2Co 13:5)

Fear in itself, rational fear of any kind, would never encourage us to run or hide from God: thinking we can avoid omnipresence is like trying to escape from space and time itself; the thought is unintelligent at best. Only an insane dislike, a relentless distaste for the divine, would seek to escape from One who inhabits eternity.

Perhaps this is partly why “the fear of JEHOVAH is the beginning of wisdom.” (Pr 9:10) Try to fathom a soul with any sense of propriety or understanding that willfully chooses to neglect or offend omnipotence. How can anyone with a grain of sense not “kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way when His wrath is kindled but a little?” (Ps 2:12)

A lack of reverence for God, any willingness to sin against Him deliberately, on purpose, not choosing to fear Him in every healthy sense of the word (Pr 1:29), is essentially a failure to grasp the fundamental nature of God; it’s either rank unbelief in who God says He is, or exceedingly irrational.

The fear of God is our friend (Ps 19:9a): choose it and be wise. Learn to fear Him rightly (Ps 34:11)God’s children don’t take Him lightly, casually; we fear Him unto joy. All else is unbelief, enmity, no matter how we slice it.

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