Beholding Vanity

With our eyes wide open, paying attention, observing the world around us, we notice and interpret the people, events, objects and places from the perspective of our world view. We instinctively assign value to what we see based on our belief system, according to our understanding of our purpose, and our perception of what will serve this purpose. Those who pursue the temporal see a certain kind of value, and those who pursue eternity see another.

As the Psalmist views this world, he asks the Father to turn away his eyes from beholding vanity, and to quicken him in the divine way. (Ps 119:37) He doesn’t want to stop looking, to be blinded to the world, to not be aware of life; he knows vigilance is godly. (1Pe 5:8) He’s asking to be energized in his world view, to be realigned along God’s eternal perspective. He wants to see the emptiness of the temporal realm for what it is: vanity. (Ec 1:14)

Our belief system governs how we focus our vision, and actually influences what we perceive. If our focus is on the short term, we’ll only recognize the natural, assigning value to what serves our own broken, temporary convenience and pleasure. Sowing to the flesh, we’ll be blinded by the corruption of lust and indulgence. (Ep 4:17-19) God isn’t mocked (Ga 6:7); our only reward will be short-lived, shallow, carnal pleasure. (Mt 6:5) It never satisfies (Ec 1:8), because it isn’t designed to.

In how many ways do we behold vanity? Distracted by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life? Loving the trappings of this evil world? Attaching ourselves to incidentals, taken up with things of no eternal import? (Php 3:18) How often are we, like the disciples of old, out of focus, expecting Christ to enjoy trinkets with us? (Mk 13:1-2)  This is not of the Father, but is of the world. The world passes away, and all its lust, but he who does God’s will abides forever. (1Jn 2:16-17)

As Christ bare His cross, brutally beaten and scourged, He saw across eternity; those weeping for Him, should rather have been weeping for themselves and for their children. (Lk 23:28) Seeing from God’s perspective changes everything.

As we assign value to what we see, as we let our hearts focus, let’s think eternal: what will it be worth in a million years? That’s its true value now. Everything’s either priceless or worthless (Php 3:8); there’s nothing in between. (Mt 6:19-20)

Let’s ask God to quicken our spirits so that we can see things as they really are, either planted of God (Mt 15:13), or doomed to eternal fire. (Jud 1:7) Godly conversation, holy focus and engagement, is in Heaven (Php 3:20); believers are already seated there in Christ. (Ep 2:6) Let’s live like it.

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God Is Not Mocked

We’re constantly making choices, moment by moment, in a continuous flow of sowing and reaping. A universal law governs this: whatever we sow, we reap. (Ga 6:7b) If we invest primarily in our physical, temporal nature, in our own comfort and pleasure, we reap corruption and death (Php 3:18-19); if we choose life and walk in the light as a manner of life, we reap everlasting life. (Ro 2:6)

The law of sowing and reaping: we reap what we sow, we reap more than we sow, and we reap later than we sow. It’s a universal truth; no one escapes it, not even through the Gospel. So, the apostle Paul warns us: “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Ga 6:7-8)

So, how does this work in Christ? When God forgives us, does He deliver us from the consequences of our choices? No; even those in Christ are subject to this law: no one is exempt. (Col 3:23 -25) Why must this be?

God chastens and scourges every child He receives (He 12:6) to break the pattern of selfishness and disobedience, and work righteousness in us. (He 12:10) God’s law is for our good (Ro 7:12), and when we break it, or sin, this is bad for us. God is intent on delivering us from the power of sin as well as from its penalty; so, if we’re sowing in the wrong place, God will often use this law of sowing and reaping to help straighten us out. The natural consequences of our choices are often our best teachers.

Certainly, God is merciful to all of us (La 3:39): we never reap the full consequences of our sin in this life. (Ps 103:10) For those who fear Him, His mercy is infinite. (Ps 103:11)

But those who commit themselves to a life of sin, sin of any kind, show themselves to be alienated from God, subject to His wrath and indignation (Ro 2:8); it reveals that they’re not God’s children. (1Jn 3:9) God transforms His elect such that they live to please Him. (Ep 2:10)

Thinking anyone can sin without consequence is to deny the justice of God, making a mockery of His dignity and His eternal Word. It makes Him out to be a liar. For anyone who tries this, it will not end well. God does not tolerate being mocked like this; His fiery indignation will silence every rebellious tongue, terrify every arrogant heart, and devour every adversary. (He 10:27)

Let’s serve the Almighty with fear, and rejoice with trembling (Ps 2:11), working out our deliverance from sin by sowing in truth unto obedience.  (Php 2:12)

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Choose Life

God frequently tells us to be careful in our choices (De_30:19) because they have consequences. (Ga_6:7) He asserts that we have a will, that we are conscious, and that have a responsibility to choose the good and refuse the evil. (Is_7:15) There is a moral law, and we violate it at our peril.

To all of us, each and every one of us, this is self-evident, that we have the ability to make choices: that we are conscious and aware of the options of both good and evil choices before us, and that we have an obligation to make good choices.

Atheism, however, asserts that only matter and energy exist, and that matter and energy are not conscious. This implies there is no consciousness, thus no free choice. This implies that our perception of free will is merely an illusion in our brains, implying that we are no more than mechanical robots, programmed by evolution to act as we do. Atheists assert this because it is implied by atheism, not because there is any actual evidence for it.

Even Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle does not provide for conscious choice; it only provides for the possibility of random, unconscious behavior.

When accepting proposition A implies conclusion B, and B is false, we know from the logical contrapositive that A is also false. This is called proof by contradiction. In other words, the fact that atheism implies we are not conscious, and that we make no voluntary choices, proves atheism is false.

It is true that while we are alive in our body we are intimately linked with our brains, which operate with chemicals and electricity, but we are not merely our brains: we are more than bodies. We live through our bodies and think through our brains, but our thoughts are not merely in our brains any more than we are merely within our bodies. In other words, we are intimately connected with Nature, but we are not merely of Nature: we are eternal, made in God’s image.

Our ability to think and to choose, to understand Nature, proves that we are above Nature, that we exist outside of and apart from Nature, such that we can look at Nature as an outside observer. This is the foundation of epistemology, the science of knowledge, that enables us to perceive, understand and know the living God, and the universe He created.

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