Married to Another

Being married is being joined for life, two souls knitted together into a single living organism ’till death do us part. (Ge 2:24) Most of us, I think, are designed for this in earthly life, yet it’s a picture of God’s ultimate ideal for everyone: to be married to Christ. (Ro 7:4)

However, we all start out with a big problem here: any claim to marriage with Christ is illegitimate so long as justice has a claim on us through the Law. It’s like we’re born into life married to a man who doesn’t care for us, and the law of marriage means we’re stuck in that broken relationship with no way out. (Ro 7:2) If we act like we’re married to anyone else while this first marriage is still valid, then we’re committing adultery. (Ro 7:3a)

It’s an illustration of the fact that we’ve all broken God’s Law, so we’re not free to be married to God, to be joined to Him and in fellowship with Him, until that first relationship with sin is dealt with — justice must first be served. (Ro 7:3b)

Many think God solves our problem by putting the Law to death, as if the old husband we’ve been married to is the Law, keeping us in bondage while we’re trying to keep God’s rules in order to be accepted by Him. Since we can’t keep God’s Law well enough to please Him, they presume Christ’s work frees us from our obligation to obey it. They’re thinking God forgives us of all of our sins no matter what kind of life we are living, that no repentance or change of heart is necessary, so long as we’re willing to be forgiven and accepted by God. It’s a partial truth, the most dangerous kind of lie. (2Ti 3:5)

The full picture is that, in our natural state, inclined to and joined to our sinful ways, we aren’t at all fit to be married to God. It’s not that we’re married to the Law; we’re still hooked up with our carnal nature, our old man. (Ro 7:5) The law of sin, that relentless tendency toward disobedience and rebellion within us, has dominion over us as long as we serve it (Ro 6:16); we must die, become dead to the law, dead as far as the law is concerned, having satisfied its just demands, before we’re free to marry God. (Ro 7:4)

So, it isn’t the Law that God must deal with, it’s us. Our sin nature must be dealt with for good; our alignment with it and our commitment to it must end, before we can walk with God. Though we are required to break off this relationship with sin, this isn’t something we’re willing to do. (Ro 3:11) We need God to intervene; we need a new heart.

Christ solves the problem by crucifying our old nature in and with Himself (Ro 6:6), applying the death penalty to that part of us through His innocent death on our behalf. (1Pe 3:18) Through His resurrection (1Pe 1:3) He actually gives us a new kind of divine life (Ro 8:2), and begins to destroy our sin nature (Ro  6:14), creating a new nature within us that is aligned with Him. (2Co 5:17) It’s a work in progress, to be sure, but in those that belong to God, the life pattern of sin gets progressively weaker, less influential, less potent, less dominant over time. It’s a supernatural work, a transformation from within by the Spirit of God.

In being our sin (2Co 5:21), our propitiation with God (1Jn 2:2), Christ serves justice for us, submitting Himself to endure the death penalty on our behalf, and taking our sinful tendencies to the grave with Himself. This frees us from the dominion of our old nature; we no longer have to obey it or act as if we’re married to it – because we aren’t: it’s dead. (Ro 7:4) We’re free to obey God and be intimate with Him without violating the demands of justice (Ro 8:12), as Christ creates us anew in Himself unto good works. (Ep 2:10)

There’s no assurance of salvation for those who aren’t experiencing this supernatural transformation into a life of holiness (He 12:14); Christ not only saves His own from the penalty of sin, He also saves us from it’s power (1Jn 2:4), purifying a Bride for Himself in us. (Ep 5:25-27)

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Man of Sorrows

Our Lord is a man of sorrows (Is 53:3); grief is His companion. He weeps over our sin and stubbornness (Lk 19:41-42) and He’s looking for us to be afflictedManOfSorrow with Him. (Ez 9:4)

Does human brokenness move us to grief, sorrow and weeping? (Ps 119:158136) Or does a certain smugness, contempt or disdain pollute us? When we sense someone’s in error, is our first instinct to triple-check ourselves, hoping we’re missing something? Or do we jump too quickly to find fault? When we must discuss another’s brokenness, is it reluctantly … with tears? (Php 3:18-19)

ManOfSorrowsLoving our neighbors as ourselves means being as grieved in others’ failings as we are in our own. In seeking holiness and truth we often find ourselves confronting and exposing brokenness, but enjoying and feeding off of this is ugliness, enmity and pride. (Php 2:3) As C.S Lewis so elegantly observes, we must not wish black was a little blacker, for soon we’ll be wishing grey was black … and in the end inherit darkness.

The high calling of God is perfection (Mt 5:48), so through Christ we strive after it by faith. (Col 1:29) Christ’s love shines through holy sorrow (Ec 7:3); without it we’re nothing. (1Co 13:1-3) Let’s fellowship with Him in His suffering (Php 3:10), giving all diligence to add this virtue to our faith. (2Pe 1:5-7) It may not seem possible to get there from here, but God is willing and able to help us. (Ep 3:20)

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Right In Our Own Eyes

When we feel strongly that something’s right or wrong, how do we know we’re right? Do we just presume so, based on how strongly we feel?

HelixNebula
Helix “God’s Eye” Nebula

If we’re not consciously referencing God’s standard of right and wrong as we make moral judgments … aren’t we just making up our own? (Pr 21:2)

But isn’t God the only One Who has the right to do this? Aren’t we constantly usurping that right? Trying to put ourselves on the throne instead of God? But isn’t this Satan’s way? (Is 14:13-14)

God’s definition of sin is Torah. (1Jn 3:4) Are we hiding it in our hearts and asking Him to conform us to it? If not, what are we doing?

When God judges the world, I expect He’s going to use His own definition of sin, not ours. Wouldn’t it be tragic to face the God of Heaven and be so completely wrong about absolutely everything? (Pr 30:12) When He’s made His laws so accessible to us? What will be our defense? (Ro 3:19)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.(Mt 7:7-8)

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Let Us Draw Near

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)

Mt Ararat, Turkey

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)

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Seek My Face

God commands us to seek His face. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” (Ps 27:8) What does this mean, and how do we do it?

Phoenix Nebula

Seeking God’s face is the seeking of God Himself: it is laying down our self to seek Another, the heart of a greater Self. It’s connecting relationally with God, abiding in Him, heart to heart, abandoning at our core all that’s not of God. (Ps 73:25)

When we look into another’s face, when eyes meet eyes, two souls meet in a way that’s not physical. There is a relational connecting, a vulnerability, a seeing that is deeply intimate.

As we behold God’s face He transforms us (2Co 3:18), to deliver us from the shame of Eden, that shrinking, that hiding that springs from the shame of sin. (Ge 3:10) God frees us of the dominion of sin, and thus from shame (Ps 119:6), so that we may look into each other, and into Him, with confidence and joy. (1Jn 2:28) This is our destiny. (1Co 13:12)

Are we content with anything besides God Himself? (Ps 42:2) Have we abandoned self-love in order to seek His face? (Jn 12:25) Are we, with every fiber of our being, distilling every place to this one? (Ps 42:1)

Are we willing to live anywhere else? Pursue anything else? (Ga 5:24) Be anything else? Not if we’re children of God. (Php 3:18-20)

With all our finding then let’s find the face of God; let’s continually behold Him (Ps 27:4), that we may both know Him (Jn 17:3) and be known by Him. (Mt 7:23) And in that great and final Day when God’s face is finally unveiled (Re 20:11), destroying all that can be destroyed (He 12:27), we will be at home. (Da 12:2-3)

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Keep My Commandments

Every heart responds to the Creator in one of two basic ways: thankfulness and joyful obedience — or distrust and disobedience. (Ro 1:21)

We all start out in sin, as rebels hating God (Ep 2:3), but God transforms some of us so that we begin loving Him, trusting Him, thanking Him and obeying Him from the heart; He quickens our spirits to love Him, to delight in His Law, and starts writing His laws into our minds and hearts. (He 8:10) We then begin to enjoy obeying Him: a transformed nature, a new creature, is evidence of our redemption. (2Co 5:17)ButterfliesFlower

Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments;” (Jn 14:15) we love Him by keeping His Laws (1Jn 5:3), Torah, which are good. (Ro 7:12) So Jesus didn’t abolish Torah (Mt 5:17-19); it’s still God’s definition of sin. (1Jn 3:4) Though we aren’t justified by obeying God’s Law, we’re deceived in thinking we’re in a right relationship with God if we’re still willfully disobeying Him. (1Jn 2:4) We can’t worship in truth until we’ve learned His commandments(Ps 119:7)

As we seek to make our election sure, here’s an easy litmus test: if there are parts of Torah we still don’t like, that we disdain and deliberately refuse to obey, then we’re deceived, carnal, out of step with God (Ro 8:6-7); the stubborn, willfully disobedient soul has yet to be redeemed. (Ro 2:7-9) In other words, What’s the point in pretending to be transformed … if we aren’t acting like it? (1Jn 3:7)

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Lest Any Man Fail

Having my heart established with grace is a goal in which I am making progress daily, looking to ensure that my heart is stabilized only in and by grace, the enabling power of God. I am no longer content to live unsettled and uneasy, nor in smug self-confidence; perfect peace in God is my daily objective.WoundedSoldier2

Yet even as I grow here, a related command in Hebrews intrigues me: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” (He 12:15-6)

What does it mean to establish grace in community? How does this form, and how does it relate to the foundation of the church? Am I to discern if another is failing in the enabling power of God? And if I do, what is a godly response? What is a root of bitterness? And help me understand … profane person. And how are these symptomatic of failing of grace? What is God calling us to here? How do we go about it?

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