A Jealous God

God illustrates how He feels about us in terms of marriage, the covenant relationship between husband and wife, holy lovers. When we’re away from Him it’s like we’re committing adultery, grieving Him and angering Him like a bride who’s sleeping around with other men. (Ja 4:4)

This tells us that God’s not in favor of us being separated from Him, not even a little bit; He wants us close to Him, at home with Him, in intimate fellowship with Himself, and He wants this all the time. To tolerate any distance at all between ourselves and God, to be OK with it, to tolerate it for even a moment, or to seek comfort, acceptance and pleasure outside of God, is a betrayal of this divine marriage relationship.

In other words, God is a jealous God (Ex 20:5); He loves each and every one of us passionately and He finds our lack of love for Him, our tendency to wander away from Him and cast our eyes and hearts upon other lovers, entirely unacceptable. It’s whoredom, prostitution, and God will destroy all who live this way, who make a life pattern of whoring from Him. (Ps 72:27)

God isn’t being selfish in loving us all like this; He is absolutely the only One Who can fully and completely satisfy us and fulfill our deepest needs; He has designed us to be satisfied in Him and no other relationship can take His place. It’s a mystery that so few are seeking Him, looking elsewhere for love.

As a bit of perspective, this Jesus Christ Who loves us (Re 1:5) is the most beautiful and perfect Being in existence (Ps 45:2); His magnificence is so powerful we have nothing to compare with it just yet. The beauty of God, of Jesus Christ, will take our breath away; it will overcome us and overwhelm us. If we aren’t prepared for it, if He should come upon us suddenly, His beauty, majesty and power would paralyze us to the point of fear and dread. (Re 1:17) We’ll actually need new bodies to fully enjoy Him as He is. (1Jn 3:2)

To gaze eternally on His beauty and perfection, feeding on the majesty and continually delighting in Him, this is what we were all made for. (Ps 27:4) We can never tire of Him, never get used to Him. Anything less than God will ultimately disappoint and ruin us, and God is not OK with that.

The take-away from this is that any tendency to think otherwise, to feel that God is disinterested in us, to sense that He’s irrationally angry with us or displeased with us, to conclude that He is boring or unappealing in any way, or that He isn’t perfectly faithful and good, loving and just … anything at all that would tempt us and draw us away from Him, it’s all lies and we should have none of it, not for a moment. (Ps 119:29)

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Do Not Condemn Me

Job accused God of hunting him down like a lion, of chasing him down for reasons that were hidden, mysterious, entirely incomprehensible to Job. (Job 10:16b) He believed God was very angry with him (17), though Job had no idea why. He asked God to not condemn him without first helping Job see his own sin. (2)

Can we relate to Job here? Do we sometimes feel God is out to get us? that He’s disappointed or angry with us for no apparent reason? or even unjust and cruel? This is the way of lying, and we should acknowledge it as such, unwilling to live in it. God simply isn’t this way: He is good, yet Satan is always denying this fundamental fact. (Jn 8:44)

If Job failed anywhere, he seems to have failed here: he experienced a spiritual oppression that claimed to be God but failed to detect the satanic impersonation and call it what it was.

God is angered by willful sin (He 10:26-27), yet slow to anger and merciful as we turn back to Him (Ps 103:8-10), but He’s never angry when we’re clueless (Ro 4:15); He’s merciful when we’re ignorant, incapable of understanding. (1Ti 1:13) If we’re trying our best and we’re still missing the mark (which is always the case), He patiently shows us where we aren’t likeminded with Him (Php 3:15) and helps us (He 4:15-16), one step at a time. (Ps 119:133)

As we struggle, our hearts may condemn us with a feeling we can never measure up no matter how hard we try, but God is greater than our heart and knows all things. (1Jn 3:20) He gave Himself for us, to redeem us and set us free. (Tit 2:14)

Satan lies to us about God to disarm us, to cripple us, to break our communion with God and steal our joy; when we don’t feel condemned before God, we have confidence and joy in Him and can serve Him mightily. (1Jn 3:21-22) This is war; if Satan can’t get us to sin willfully, then he tries to get us to believe God’s displeased with us anyway, which has a similar affect. Don’t fall for it. (Ja 4:7)

Identify any sensation that God is displeased or angry as deception unless it’s directly tied to persistent, willful, unrepentant sin: deliberate transgression of His Law, or purposeful neglect of the known will of God. (Ja 4:17) As God points out specifics, repent and seek healing from Him (Ja 5:16), continuing in the life of worship, fellowship, communion and joy in God. (Php 3:3)

God misses us every second we’re apart from Him, distanced from Him at all (2Co 13:14); there’s no good reason to ever be away. (De 13:4)

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This Is the Love of God

In the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, as God introduced Adam to his new home, God gave Adam a single command, a Law; it was a dietary command: Of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it. (Ge 2:16-17) It was very direct, simple and clear, placing a boundary on Adam’s behavior.

We may be accustomed to asking The Big Why, trying to understand the purpose of God’s Law. If we think we understand the purpose, are we more inclined to obey a divine law if we think it’s good for us? Otherwise, do we tend to give it less importance, perhaps even ignore it as irrelevant or unnecessary?

We might do the same with this first command, asking what God’s intent was in giving it to Adam.

Was it to protect Adam? Does a good father leave poison candy out on the counter and tell his son not to eat it? I think not; we keep poison out of reach of children, under lock and key.

Was it to give Adam understanding and instruction in how to live? Again, do we teach young children about guns by leaving them unsupervised, playing around with loaded weapons? No, we carefully show them how to use guns safely, and supervise them until they’ve have earned our trust.

Then was God simply giving Adam a very clear choice? Love and honor Me by submitting to Me as God, or don’t: you’re free to reject Me, to go your own way and suffer the consequences. Adam had Free Will; and God was giving him the opportunity to express it. If there’s any other possible motive in giving such a law as God first gave Adam, I’ve not seen it.

Perhaps there’s a hint in the very name of this forbidden tree: the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s an appealing name, as if to call Adam to trust that God knows best, to continually deny himself this forbidden knowledge in order to commune with God. It’s as if God doesn’t want a relationship where He’s not respected, valued above all. And why not? Would Perfect Love allow anything less?

If this actually is God’s purpose and intent in His very first law, which seems likely, could this be so with the rest of His Laws? Giving us the opportunity to show Him we love Him? Again, Why not? Does God ever tell us this is the primary purpose of the Law?

God does, in fact, define what it means to love Him in these very terms: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1Jn 5:3aAnd He describes those who do love Him similarly: If a man love me, he will keep my words … He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings. (Jn 14:23) God has given us His Law so we might show Him we love Him; if we don’t obey Him, we don’t love Him. (24) Thinking otherwise is self-deception. (Lk 6:46)

We reveal who we are by our response to God’s Law: we’re either children of disobedience (Ep 5:6), deliberately breaking His laws as we like, or we’re children of light (8), doing our best to obey Him as well as we can.

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The Light of the Body

Our ability to visualize, to imagine, is grounded in a library of images stored in our brains, sourced originally from our eyes. From these images, and others we derive from them, we create dreams, what-if scenarios in which avatars of ourselves act out our fantasies in panorama. We’re able live in an alternate world, exploring ideas and theories to see how they play out without any real consequence. It is a fascinating capability with unlimited potential.

We might call this the mind’s eye; equipping us to navigate a complex metaphysical world much like our physical eyes enable us to navigate the material world. It is a gift from God helping us to order our steps and avoid catastrophe, both physical and metaphysical.

We should find it intriguing then when Christ describes the eye as the light of the body (Mt 6:22a), for the inside of the physical body is not typically illuminated with light; the eye translates light into electrical impulses which form images in our brains stored as memories; the light itself doesn’t go past the back of the eye.

Yet Christ speaks of our eye as a lamp illuminating every part of our whole body (22b), as if our bodies were complex labyrinths, the eye helping us explore and see what’s inside. He must then be speaking of the mind’s eye and the metaphysical body, the heart (Mk 7:21-23), that collection of memories, values, concepts, knowledge, emotions and attitudes stored in the circuitry of our brains and bodies, and also fully imprinted within our spirits and souls (Lk 16:25), uniquely defining who and what we are. (Mt 7:16-20)

As our physical eyes work by focusing, and effectively blind us when they don’t, so it is with our mind’s eye: in order to function as God designed, we must have a singular focus or objective in our imaginative process (23a), else we’re double-minded, unstable in all of our ways. (Ja 1:8) The rules we use to evaluate memories and the outcomes of our mental scenarios are the rules we’re using to navigate life. If the rules are inconsistent, our thoughts and actions will be erratic and incoherent.

As in the physical, metaphysical focus distinguishes between light and dark, and identifies, discerns and evaluates moral choices to understand how they have or will impact ourselves and others. This requires us to have a framework of moral experience and a moral standard by which to evaluate what we remember and perceive.

If we get our moral standard wrong, mixing up light and darkness, calling evil good and good evil (Is 5:20), this fills us with darkness which we perceive as light. This then is a kind of darkness, a body of lies which deceive, blind and ensnare us (Mt 23:b), aligning us with the prince of darkness (Ep 2:2), the father of lies (Jn 8:44), who then takes us captive. (2Ti 2:26)

Even when we want to obey the truth, the challenge is we don’t always know what our own rules are (Ro 7:21-23), the principles and beliefs operating within us, what’s driving our own behavior. (14-15) We all start out as darkness (Ep 5:8), making up our own moral standard as we go (Ge 3:22); we need to be continually retraining our minds, both the conscious and subconscious (Ro 12:2), to expose this darkness within ourselves (Ep 4:17-18), searching our inward parts with God (Pr 20:27), asking Him to expose (Ps 19:12), cleanse (Ps 119:9) and heal every facet of our mind and heart which is not yet aligned with His Way. (Ps 139:23-24)

Christ warns us to be very careful about what we call light, that it’s not darkness. (Lk 11:35) As we decide for ourselves what’s right and wrong, as our decisions differ from God’s as revealed in Torah (Ro 7:7), we’re choosing darkness. The more we do this the more our mind’s eye will play out our definitions and train us in darkness, filling us with lies about God, ourselves and others, producing bondage (Pr 5:22) and framing us as enemies of God. (Ro 8:7-8)

The more we align our moral compass with God’s (Ja 1:25), the more we’re walking in the light (Ep 5:8), into the freedom to which He’s called us. (Jn 8:31-32) Christ has given Himself for us that He might redeem us from our darkness and purify us unto Himself. (Tit 2:14) He is more than willing to do so. (Ga 1:4)

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The Law of Christ

There are many references to “the law” in Scripture; most of these are references to Torah, the Law of Moses. But Scripture also speaks of the law of Christ. (Ga 6:2) What is this law of Christ? How is it different from Torah?

The Chosen

It seems reasonable to define the law of Christ as the set of commands Christ gave throughout His ministry, yet most all of these don’t appear to be new or unique, merely inferences from Torah, what we should understand from meditating on God’s Law and fleshing out what it means to obey it. In this sense, Christ’s Law would be identical to Torah, unless He added something which can’t be found in Torah. Did He?

Yes. Christ did, in fact, at the end of His earthly ministry, introduce a command He explicitly identified as new, a law which isn’t found in Torah: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (Jn 13:34)

Now, the command to love each other certainly isn’t new; it’s embedded in the very foundation of Torah. (Mt 22:40-41) What is evidently new here is: as I have loved you; Christ has given us the perfect, timeless example of what it means to love one another, which we didn’t have before.

Christ is evidently not so much telling us to love here, but how to love; He is modeling what real agape love looks like. He loved us all during His earthly life, and His example is certainly new and unique, different from all who came before … or after. (Jn 15:24) Christ Himself has Personally demonstrated what He is commanding us to do, and He is telling us to follow His example. (1Pe 2:21)

So, is this command new or not? Well, when John comments on this, he first says it isn’t new at all, but an old commandment we’ve always had. (1Jn 2:7), However, he then in the same breath admits it evidently is new. (8-9) So, in one sense, we have always had the law of love, so it isn’t new; yet in another sense we’ve not understood the implications of this command in light of Christ’s perfect example, which essentially enlightens us to it’s true meaning, which isn’t actually a new meaning, just new to most of us.

In fact, before Christ, it was common for Torah teachers to actually encourage us to hate our enemies (Mt 5:43), but Christ dismisses this as darkness: it flatly contradicts the obvious nature of God. (44-45) Darkness claims malicious hatred is consistent with love, but the Light, which makes this lie obsolete (Jn 8:12), is even now shining. (1Jn 4:8b)

So, in light of Christ’s new command, if someone thinks they’re in the light, united with Christ, yet they still hate someone else, anyone else, we know they’re deceived, still in the dark: this isn’t Christ. (1Jn 4:9,11) If we claim to love God and hate another, Christ’s new command exposes us as liars (4:20); we can’t love God while failing to love who He loves, in the same way He loves.

And as we carefully ponder Christ’s new command, we find there’s nothing in it which actually contradicts or dismisses any part of Torah. This is to be expected, for Torah itself is the perfect Law of Liberty (Ja 1:25), the definition of love (Ro 13:10), just as Christ is. One can’t add to or take away from perfection and make it any better.

In fact, the Law of Christ itself commands us all to not think He has abolished Torah (Mt 5:17); we should be both keeping it, and also teaching others to do so. (19)

It appears then that the Law of Christ actually is Torah itself, understood and applied in light of God’s heart … nothing more, and nothing less.

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