The questions we ask reveal our hearts. Are we asking, “Which of God’s law mustI obey?” Or are we asking, “Which of God’s laws am I allowed/permitted to obey?”
As God writes Torah into the minds and hearts of His own (He 8:10), He’s revealing that Torah is holy and just and good(Ro 7:12), such that we “delight in the law of God after the inward man.” (Ro 7:22) As He transforms us we’ll be obeying every law that we’re able to obey as well as we can, and continually asking Him to help us obey Torah better, more perfectly. (Ps 119:35)
But if we don’t delight in Torah, we’ll be looking for excuses and explanations that relieve us of any sense of duty (Ec 12:13), and most any deception will do. (2Ti 4:3) This is the posture of the carnal mind(Ro 8:7), enmity against Torah, and ultimately against the heart of God. (Ps 119:136)
So, ask yourself the question: “What kinds of questions am I asking? What does this reveal about my heart?” Examine yourself (2Co 13:5): does your life reflect the things that accompany salvation? (He 6:9) If our questions don’t reveal a delight in Torah, then something’s wrong with our inward man.
One of the first principles of spiritual life is repentance from dead works. (He 6:1) What are deadworks? How do we repent of them?
Dead things are missing that life force from God, the energy and vitality He gives to all living things (Ac 17:25), making them sentient, conscious, aware of their surroundings, causing them to change and grow and function according to His design.
To repentis to start believing the truth about something, and to start acting differently as a result. (2Ti 2:25-26)
So, repentance from dead works must be to start thinking truthfully about our lives, understanding whywe’re living as we are, identifying what sort of works we’re doing (1Co 3:13), and to stop doing things which are not energized by God, activities that are apart from and outside of Him, rooted in a carnal mind. (Ro 8:6)
Christ says that unless we’re abiding in Him, we can do nothing that’s worth doing (Jn 15:5); unless we’re aligned with Him, seeking to honor and obey Him, we’re working against Him. (Mt 12:30) In other words, if we’re willing to continue living our lives apart from Him, out of fellowship with Him, for our own pleasure, then we’re the walking dead (1Ti 5:6), having only the outward appearance of life (Re 3:1): we’ve yet to begin the spiritual life. (Ep 2:1)
The difference between a living work and a dead work lies in the motive, and there’s only one proper motive: God is doing it. (Jn 5:19)Christ in us(Col 1:27) is living in our life (Col 3:4), breathing in our breath, willing through our wills, and doing through our doing (Php 2:13), as we actively seek to please and honor God with everything we have. (Col 3:17) When we’re living to please Him as deliberately as we know how, actively seeking His will and pleasure every moment, He is living through us and we’re abiding in Him. (Jn 17:21)
Everything we do, we chooseto do; to repent of dead works is to start making different choices in every choice we make. It’s a fundamental life change, a transformation, living for a different reason than we’ve been living, living for God instead of for ourselves.
If there’s something we’re thinking that Christ can’t be thinking, that He would find distasteful or repugnant, let’s stop thinking that; if we’re going where Christ wouldn’t go, let’s stop going there; if we’re speaking words He wouldn’t speak, let’s stop speaking them. Let’s be thinking what Christ in us is thinking, doing what He’s doing, and going where He’s going. If Christ dwells in us, let’s let Him live as He will in us, incarnating Himself again in this evil world through us. Everything we do, let’s do it in Christ’s name with thanksgiving(Col 3:17) for God’s glory. (1Co 10:31)
Repentance is central to spiritual life (Ac_20:21), but exactly what is repentance?
Repentance is God’s gift causing us to change our minds, to become convinced of truth (2Ti 2:25), or to be persuaded(Lk 16:30-31) such that our behavior changes from within. It’s different from confessing sin, admitting guilt, being sorry and trying to obey. (2Co 7:10) It’s a renewing in our heart, a new way of thinking, and only God can do it. (Ps 51:10,19:13)
Repentance is what sets us free from the stranglehold of sin in our lives, delivering us from Satan’s power to hold us captive (2Ti 2:26), so we should immediately seek this gift whenever we find ourselves not acting, feeling, thinking or believing as we should (Is 55:6); any other response is loving our darkness instead of His light. (Jn 3:19) God never tells us to set aside time to repent … that’s like setting aside time to take antidotes; the longer we hold on to the poison of sin within us the more damage it does. Thinking any other way about repentance reveals we’re missing God in a big way.
Jehovah, being central in all things (Ro 11:36), calls us to Himself. But most of us don’t seek after God as He is (Ps 53:2-3); we’re content with shallow sentiment and ritual when our hearts are far away. (Mt 15:8)
It’s tempting to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re close to Him (Ja 1:26), imagining a god we can be fond of (Ro 1:21), as if He were a doting grandpa or a cute puppy … when in reality He’s a consuming fire (He 12:28-29); it’s an awesome thing to fall into His hands. (He 10:31)
Being close to God is not about feeling fond of Him; it’s not in sentimentality. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Ps 24:3-4) If we are not pursuing holiness as a manner of life, we’re nowhere near God. (1Jn 3:10)
Let’s draw near to God! (He 10:22) Value what He values; love what He loves and hate what He hates. (Mt 16:23) Pursue truth (2Th 2:10); seek His face(Ps 27:8) and keep His commandments. (Jn 14:21) Serve Him with fear … and rejoicewith trembling (Ps 2:11), humbly thanking Him for everything. (Ep 5:20)
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (Ja 4:8-10)
In all His public teaching Jesus never once mentions God’s love*, yet He speaks of Hell often and without apology. (Mt 18:9) He warns of God’s justice and wrath, and exhorts us all to fear Him (Lk 12:4-5); He’s a consuming fire. (He 12:29) The terror of the Lord is the divine default in appealing to souls (2Co 5:11), not love and compassion (Jud 1:22-23), yet we’ve lost our holy trembling. (Php 2:12)
Why is God so angry with unbelievers? (Jn 3:36) He treats them like hardened criminals rather than victims. Is God unjust, or are we missing His perspective? (Is 55:8-9)
God’s anger implies the lost are without excuse (Ro 1:20-21); in our free will we’d rather rebel against God than submit to Him. (Re 16:9-11) Men glady submit to gods of their own making, but not to the God of Heaven.
I think we forget that sin harms God; it grieves Him … He hates it. (Gen 6:6) If Hell is no more than God disarming His enemies in order to end His own suffering, how can we complain against it? And if God’s heart has always been open-armed (Ro 10:21), offering His oppressors relief if they’ll just humble themselves and repent (Eze 33:11), why wouldn’t He keep doing so throughout eternity? He doesn’t change. (Ja 1:17)
From all appearances, Hell is a prison defended from within — by depraved souls and spirits who lunge at any opportunity to resist and damage a merciful, benevolent, loving God … no matter what the cost to themselves or others. If there are no victims in Hell, only deliberate fiends and devils, how is God being unjust? (Ez 33:11)
Those who know Jehovah worship Him as He is, in all His works and ways. (Re 15:3) I think it’s high time we stop apologizing for God’s anger, downplaying His indignation, vengeance, hatred and wrath. (Ps 50:21-22)He’s not being unfair; Man is. Let’s encourage joyful trembling(Ps 2:11), and as ol’ John Baptist, tearfully warn the disobedient to flee the wrath to come. (Mt 3:7-8)