The Whole Armor

To resist the devil, to succeed in spiritual warfare, we need spiritual equipment, so God has provided His very own armor for us: the armor of God, and He tells us to put it on — all of it. (Ep 6:11)

This is necessary because our enemies are mightier than we are, more insidious and clever, more committed and experienced than we are; we’re fighting against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (12) So we’re to take up all of God’s armor, not neglecting a single piece of it, so we can survive the battle and be standing when the dust clears. (13)

There are seven pieces in this suit of armor: a belt of truth and a breastplate of righteousness (14), the shin-plates and shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace (15), the shield of faith (16), the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (17) and prayer (18) – that constant communion with God which empowers the armor and helps it all work together.

Taking this armor, wearing and using it, is more than imagining that we’re putting on physical equipment and calling each piece by name, or fantasizing ourselves in virtual reality overcoming the dragon — much more than this.

The first piece, the belt of truth, is the foundation anchoring the breastplate and sword. We gird ourselves with truth, enveloping the core of our being, never tolerating any lying way within. We buy the truth and sell it not (Pr 23:23), not for any price, not ever. Without the love of truth we have no armor at all (2Th 2:10); walking in the lie we’re prisoners of war. (2Ti 2:25-26)

The breastplate of righteousness is our primary defensive armor, covering the vital organs; it’s the life pattern of obedience to Torah and springs from walking in light, obeying the truth. It comprises not merely positional righteousness; it’s faith in action, practical righteousness, loving in deed as well as in word. (1Jn 3:18) This is life-saving protection when the enemy strikes past our sword and shield; the good conscience of living in truth helps us abound in hope, glorying in trial (Ro 5:3), counting it all joy (Ja 1:2), not withering in shame. (1Jn 2:28)

The preparation of the gospel of peace is a second defensive covering; being rooted and grounded in the basics of the gospel, equipped to continually remind ourselves as well as share with others, this orients us properly in the world. This protects our feet and legs, for this is how we stand, how we journey. There is no standing outside of Christ, so we carefully defend our dependence on Christ: He is our peace (Ep 2:14), made to be sin on our behalf (1Co 5:21), reconciling us to God. (2Co 5:18) We glory only in Jesus Christ. (1Co 1:31)

The shield of faith, supernatural confidence in God, is the mobile defensive piece –  the rest of the armor is fixed in place. We maneuver and position this shield to intercept the lies projected into us, moving us to fear, bitterness, strife and envy. We hold faith strategically, anticipating the lies, applying the promises of God in context to address each one.

The helmet of salvation is assurance of eternal salvation and security in Christ. (2Co 13:5) Failing to keep and maintain assurance of salvation destabilizes and incapacitates our souls, leaving us vulnerable to attack. (2Pe 1:10) We cannot joyfully serve Christ while we’re unsure if we even belong to Him. (9)

The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, our only offensive weapon. Without this we aren’t really in the fight at all, just a target waiting to be taken down. Taking up this sword requires hiding it in our hearts and meditating on it regularly, training ourselves so the Spirit can wield it as we quote when presented with any lie or temptation. This is the example of Christ (Mt 4:4, 7, 10); we follow His steps. (1Pe 2:21) There’s no other way to win.

The final piece is prayer, a weapon empowering all the other components to work together in the might of God. (2Co 10:4) In asking anything according to His will, He hears us (1Jn 5:14), engaging omnipotence in overcoming evil. (Ep 1:19)

We’re to take the whole armor of God, every single piece, because none of the individual pieces work properly without all the others working together. We might think of God’s armor as a single piece with many interconnected parts which all stand or fall together, a single living organism, energized by the life of God and infusing us with divine power. Take away one piece, and you’ve nothing worth having.

This spiritual armor is the very life of Christ in us, overcoming the evil one, each piece a way of portraying Christ Himself, the Word of Life (1Jn 1:1), the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6), our righteousness (1Co 1:30), our peace (Ep 2:14), our life (Col 3:4), standing with us and in us to overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)

Taking up the whole armor of God is, in a very real sense, bringing God Himself into the battle to fight within us, through us, and for us. (De 20:4) For without Him, we can do nothing. (Jn 15:5)

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Faith Toward God

Faith toward God is foundational in spiritual life, along with it’s twin and counterpart: repentance from dead works. (He 6:1) Faith is belief and trust, what we rely upon; it reflects our basic understanding of the universe, what’s trustworthy and what isn’t, and orients our thoughts and actions on every level.

As a child, we start out trusting; it’s instinctive because we must at first – utterly dependent. As we grow up observing our environment, our expanding experience begins to show us what we can truly count on, what’s stable, consistent, reliable and trustworthy.

As life unfolds and our trust is consistently violated, we become skeptical — what seems reliable on the surface generally isn’t in the long run. People are selfish, fickle and weak, sometimes even malicious and evil. Personal strength and intelligence fail us, our stuff breaks and our wealth bleeds away.

Finding what’s ultimately and perfectly reliable, if anything at all, becomes a journey in itself, one few undertake. Yet we remain vulnerable and dependent, controlling so very little, so we become cynical, anxious and depressed, acting out a belief that nothing and no one is ultimately trustworthy — violating our basic design — our instinct to trust.

To find rest, we must look beyond the physical, beyond personal relationships, beyond health, wealth and power. (Ps 62:10) God Himself is our only possible option here: if He isn’t both utterly sovereign, and also completely trustworthy, reliable, faithful and good, then there’s nowhere else to turn. (11) Our journey ends here, either way. (De 4:39)

The first step is coming to understand God’s utter sovereignty: all things work out according to His own perfect timing and will (Ep 1:11), everything in both Heaven and Earth. (Da 4:35) Yet the fact that His will permits evil and suffering moves us to question His goodness, and we fall short of faith toward God.

We may place our trust in powerful people (Ps 20:7), or turn to our wealth (1Ti 6:17), but it’s empty in a world where God’s ultimately in charge. (Ps 62:9)

Faith toward God is turning to face Him honestly as He is, and as we are; it’s taking that final step: submitting to Him, getting off the throne of the universe, humbling ourselves and admitting we don’t have either the right or the ability to ever doubt the goodness of God. (Ps 62:8) He permits evil and suffering according to a glorious, eternal purpose (Ro 8:28), which we may well not understand for a very long time. (De 29:29)

It’s OK, to not understand; but we can still trust Him, obey Him, love Him, and we should — we must. To come to God, to find peace and rest in Him, we must believe and act out the fact that He’s both sovereign, and also perfectly good: a rewarder of all who diligently seek Him. (He 11:6) This faith itself is the gift of God (Ep 2:8), enabling us to quench the fiery lies of the evil one. (Ep 6:16)

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By His Blood

The Old Testament lays the foundation of justification by substitutionary atonement: blood must be shed to atone for our souls. (Le 17:11) There’s never been any other way to take care of our sin problem: something or someone must take our place.

Yet it’s clear that animals are an insufficient sacrifice for human sin (He 10:4); a sacrifice of sufficient worth must be presented for our souls. Jesus Christ is that perfect sacrifice (Jn 1:29); God makes Christ to be sin for us that we might be made perfectly righteous in Him (2Co 5:21); His blood is what eternally justifies us before God, makes us perfectly righteous in His sight. (Ro 5:9) Nothing else even gets close, but God is perfectly satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. (Is 53:11) Jesus Christ: He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1Jn 2:2)

So, being now justified by Christ’s blood, we are saved from wrath through Him. (Ro 5:9). This positions us to overcome the enemy (Re 12:11a), delivering us from the penalty of sin: death. (Ro 6:23)

The blood of Christ not only secures our justification, redeeming us — buying us back to God after we sold ourselves into the slavery of sin — through Christ’s sacrificial atonement for us on the altar of God, forgiving all our sins (Ep 1:7), it’s also sprinkled upon us (1Pe 1:2), as animal blood was sprinkled upon Israel (He 9:19-21), to sanctify us (He 10:29) and set us apart from this world so we can safely draw near to Him. (He 10:22) His blood purges our consciences of dead works so we may serve God. (He 9:14) Christ thereby effects and secures our sanctification (1Co 1:30), which results in us having a practical testimony, a righteous message or word emanating from our lives, which proves out our justification. (Re 12:11b)

Christ shed His blood to atone for our souls, securing our justification and sanctification. Yet some would take it upon themselves to try and apply His blood upon their houses, pets, furniture and cars, or upon an atmosphere, or setting — as if this would deter evil spirits from being able to access material things or invade our living spaces. This treats the blood of Jesus as an amulet or a charm, like an incantation or a magic spell in reverse. Is this an appropriate application of the precious blood of the Son of God?

I see no instance in scripture of anyone using the blood of atonement and sanctification in this manner, and no indication that evil spirits might be afraid to come near the blood of Christ. The entire nature of spiritual warfare is based upon entirely different principles, which are totally unrelated to such techniques.

God never tells us to resist and overcome the devil by pleading the blood of Christ; He teaches us to resist and overcome the enemy by believing and acting in truth. (2Ti 2:25-26) To the degree that lies have a home in our minds and hearts we’re in bondage (Jn 8:32); lies lead to sin, and sin enslaves. (34)

Inevitably, one will claim that pleading the blood works in their experience: it produces the results they want. This may be true on occasion, but this doesn’t justify the technique. Witchcraft works. (Ac 8:11) Why wouldn’t the enemy entice with superficial results if he can deceive us into demeaning and abusing the blood of Christ?

Trust in such devices may indeed be just one more way the enemy gains ground to steal, kill and destroy. We must be very careful, staying true to scripture and walking in truth. In spiritual things, the ends do not justify the means.

The precious blood of Christ has secured our redemption (1Pe 1:18-19) and brought us near to God. (Ep 2:13) Let’s be exceedingly thankful for this priceless gift, and reverent and sober in how we treat it.

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Minister Grace

Our speech is unbelievably powerful; words carry the force of life and death (Pr 18:21); our lips can be a vehicle for good and also for evil. (Mt 12:35) We choose eternally every time we open our mouths.

We shouldn’t let impure words come out of our mouths (Ep 4:29a), lies or false accusation, or any malicious words (1Pe 2:1), intended to harm or afflict others (Pr 12:18), only edifying words which minister grace to others. (Ep 4:29b) We’re to speak truth in love. (Ep 4:15)

The fact that God intends to — and actually does — minister grace through our words is remarkable. Grace is God’s power enabling us to become more like Christ; God ministers grace through our words by speaking in and through us, converting souls through His truth, equipping others through the concepts we convey as well as in our tone and manner. As we abide in Christ He lives and loves and works in us, through our very wills and words, to transform others into His own precious likeness. (Ep 4:15) This godliness is indeed a mystery (1Ti 3:16), how God can work in us both to will and to do (Php 2:13), yet it’s reality.

Similarly, when we aren’t careful, Hell itself can set lives ablaze with evil through our words. (Ja 3:6) Every time we open our mouths we create new reality from the void before us, bringing into eternal being what has never existed before, and which will never be forgotten; not only when we’re speaking with great forethought and deliberation, but every idle word is captured and weighed. (Mt 12:36)

Our words fashion reality according to our wills and hearts, something reflecting our inmost being, and will ultimately prove out whether we belong to God. (37) We should speak with this in mind, in prayerful, sober restraint (Ja 1:19); we’ll be judged according to how our words, as well as our deeds, align with Torah. (Ja 2:2)

How powerful is the spoken word? What’s its potential? Christ promises words of faith can move mountains, that nothing’s impossible. (Mt 17:20) Christ’s promises are true, yet not everything we confidently proclaim comes to pass; the reality we create may not be what we expect. The problem isn’t in the promise, but in our understanding of faith: godly power isn’t found in selfish presumption (Ja 4:3), but in supernatural knowledge of God’s will.

God can and will speak through the godly as we abide in Him (Jn 15:7); Christ lives in us … grace is poured into His lips (Ps 45:2); He is full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14) What’s He saying in us? Let’s be saying this, and only this. He can move mountains and hearts for His kingdom through us. Let the cry of our hearts therefore be: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Ps 19:14)

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Lusteth to Envy

James asks if we think the scripture speaks in vain when it claims our spirits lust to the point of envy. (Ja 4:5) The claim stumps scholars: there isn’t a quote quite like this anywhere in the Tenach (Old Testament). Mystery calls; there must be treasure here. (1Co 2:7)

If we look prayerfully at the context, James is addressing the difficulty we all face, particularly in times of suffering, as we observe the prosperity of those around us, wanting to have what they have and be more like them. (1) To the degree we fall into lusting after the comforts of this world (2) we align with and imitate the world, alienating ourselves from God. (4) Even our prayers may become warped (3), until we’re totally out of step with God.

There’s only one way out: grace – God enabling us to see more from His perspective (6a), a gift He bestows on the humble. (6b) As He realigns our desires in holy vision we resubmit to God (7) and draw near to Him again. (8a)

So, to overcome our lust and envy James exhorts us through this claim of scripture to repent, to cleanse our hands and hearts (8b), to grieve over our wayward affections (9); it’s the path of deliverance. (10)

James’ quote of scripture then, supporting his prescription for healing, would likely be found in a description of this conflict in the godly, where this gracious remedy, this heavenly perspective, is revealed and applied. Where might this be?

Perhaps Psalm 73.

The Psalmist, evidently a godly soul, finds himself struggling with envy as he observes the wicked prospering. (Ps 73:3) Some folk seem to have it so easy, skating through life, doing as they please, everything going their way, with no thought of serving God.

Who among the godly can’t relate to this, especially as we’re suffering through no obvious fault of our own? The wicked prospering alongside us just makes it all the more painful. (12)

Who doesn’t want to prosper and be in health? We certainly wish this on those we love (3Jn 2), so we tend to expect the same from God. Yet when God chastens and corrects us as we pursue Him (Ps 73:14) we may fall into doubting and resentment, hesitating and turning back from the very things James calls us to: cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts. (13)

But even as we notice our hearts straying, we know speaking aloud in such frustration is going to offend others in pursuit of God; so few have the wisdom to navigate this one. (15) Yet, as we contemplate these things and try to hold it all in, we may find the pain unbearable. (16)

The scripture’s saying here that the spirit within most all of us struggles with unholy desire at some point, particularly as we’re being scourged by God (He 12:6), and this inevitably leads to envy, wishing others didn’t have it so good since we can’t seem to get there ourselves. Consider it a universal problem, for all practical purposes; James evidently sees the scripture proclaiming it here, as well as the remedy.

In his unbearable pain, the Psalmist is driven into God’s presence for answers, and promptly finds deliverance in a new perspective. (Ps 73:17) He observes the end of the wicked, that they’re suddenly destroyed, without warning or remedy. (18-20) Their very prosperity blinds them to the urgency of their need, and effectively destroys them. (Pr 1:32)

This insight moves the Psalmist to repent, to realign his beliefs with God once more. He’s initially grieved at his foolishness (Ps 73:21-22), repenting and appreciating once again the precious hand of God in his life. (23-24) He is then able to refocus on the treasure he has in God (25) and is delivered from his trouble. (26)

Though James’ quote isn’t verbatim from scripture, it’s faithful to what scripture indeed proclaims. He hasn’t added to God’s Word as much as he’s distilled and summarized it for us, as those prayerfully filled with the Word may wisely do. (Mt 13:52)

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The Death of the Righteous

Balaam was a wicked man (2Pe 2:15) who had a unique relationship with God; it was well known that he could direct the blessings and curses of God as he wished. (Nu 22:6) Such holy, spiritual power in the wicked is hard to fathom. More mysterious still is God’s willingness to bestow it upon them.

God is pleased to work in and through whom He wills, however He wills (Da 4:35); having spiritual power does not imply holiness or righteousness or any favor at all with God. God is not limited or constrained in the way one might presuppose. Seeking spiritual power for its own sake is evidently then a vain pursuit. We should be seeking God Himself, not merely to wield His power.

Balaam was greedy (Jud 11), using his spiritual influence to benefit himself, willing to irreparably harm God’s precious people to get his way. (Re 2:14) How odd that a man with such a connection to God did not care to serve Him, and was even willing to become His enemy! Perhaps here, as with Lucifer, familiarity bred contempt.

Even so, when the Spirit of God came upon Balaam (Nu 24:2), he could pray the most amazing prayers! One such prayer was: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Nu 23:10b)

Dying the death of the righteous, passing from this vale of tears into the brightness of eternal glory, into the arms of our eternal Father, such a beautiful thing! (Ps 116:15) Who would not desire this?

And what contrast! the dreadful end of the wicked! (Ps 73:18-19) How do we even begin to compare the two: eternal death with the homecoming of a child of God! (Php 1:23) Yet we are, even now, comparing, weighing the two: our lives are revealing how we intend to die. (Pr 20:11)

Being on our deathbed, what shall we glory in? (2Co 10:17) What sacrifice made for Him shall we regret? What shall be our desire? (Ps 73:25) Will it be any different for us then than it is now? Not if we’re alive in Christ, walking in the light. (Ga 5:25) To the believer, living is Christ, and dying is gain. (Php 1:21) Only those who live the righteous life may die the death of the righteous. (He 12:14)

Balaam, for all his spiritual power, didn’t die a righteous death (Jos 13:22); he died a friend of the world, an enemy of God. (Ja 4:4) In his divinely inspired praying he did himself no eternal good. Perhaps these were just beautiful words to him, something to impress others.

When spiritual activity is rooted in self-interest, when we use religion to benefit ourselves, to exalt ourselves, how are we any different from Balaam? In such false religion we have our reward, and it’s truly nothing. There’s no excuse for this.

God looks on the heart, and renders to every man according to his work. (Ps 62:12) The heart that sees God, who knows God, will love God and live for Him. (Jn 14:23)

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The Way of Lying

Lying, speaking that which is untrue with intent to mislead and/or deceive, is forbidden. (Ep 4:25) Truth and honesty are the basis of any functional relationship, key to any thriving civilization. It’s so basic and so simple; where’s the debate?

The challenge comes when speaking truth appears to violate the law of love. (Ro 13:10)

Wielding truth to cause harm certainly is evil (Pr 12:18): just because it’s true doesn’t mean we should say it. We’re only to speak truth in love (Ep 4:15), seeking what’s ultimately beneficial for all. (Ep 4:29)

Holding our tongues, or choosing words carefully to avoid strife (Ja 1:19), this is wisdom (Ja 3:17) – and it’s quite different from intentionally speaking falsehood. Can it ever be right to tell an outright lie? even if we perceive the alternative to be harmful?

Another way to explore this: Would God ever be displeased by us speaking the truth in love when pressed to do so? when silence or evasion would be self-incriminating and/or dangerous? Would He be more pleased if we lied instead?

For example, should the Hebrew midwives have lied to Pharaoh about sparing the Israeli baby boys? (Ex 1:18-19) God blessed these brave women for their actions (20), yet He didn’t actually commend their deceit; He may well have blessed them in spite of it. Would telling the truth have been even more glorifying to God?

Or what of Jacob, lying to Isaac about being firstborn in order to secure his father’s blessing? (Ge 27:19) He succeeded, but was this the best way? Couldn’t God have blessed Jacob, as was His intent, without deceit? Perhaps such unholy grasping at God’s gifts is what made Jacob’s life so difficult and painful. (Ge 47:9)

And what of Rahab the harlot, when she lied to protect the Israeli spies? (Jos 2:4-6) James tells us her actions prove her justification by faith. (Ja 2:25) God doesn’t formally approve of her lying, yet she isn’t reprimanded either: she’s honored as a hero. Was her deceit appropriate? Would God have given her over to abuse and suffering had she told the truth?

As perhaps an indication of God’s heart here, one dear woman did choose the truth in dire straits: Abigail, Nabal’s wife. (1Sa 25:37) God intervened supernaturally and protected her, rather than letting her foolish husband retaliate and abuse her (38), and made her the bride of the king of Israel. (39)

And what of Christ’s example? Did He ever lie or deceive anyone? At times, He spoke things He knew would be misunderstood (Jn 2:18-21), but this isn’t quite the same as speaking what’s untrue. Based on His example, we evidently aren’t responsible to clarify the ambiguous for those who aren’t seeking truth. But to testify falsely – to put our name on outright, deliberate deception, to profess it and stand behind it, this is altogether different. We don’t learn this in Christ. (Ep 4:20)

Christ is the Truth (Jn 14:6): God cannot lie. (Tit 1:2), so it’s inconceivable that He’d ever utter any blatant falsehood, or encourage anyone to do so.

The consequences of telling the truth may be unpleasant, but the consequences of lying are arguably worse, at least in the long run. Lying isn’t love (Pr 26:28a); it victimizes, disrespects and dishonors, and tempts further into darkness on the merit of our character.

The way of lying is choosing the lie as a manner of life, to set our hearts on it with intention; it’s committing to lying under some condition, being premeditated about it, rather than simply lying in the moment under stress or caught off guard, almost instinctively to protect one’s self.

Choosing the lie under any circumstance may corrupt our own ability to walk in the light, obscuring our way (Pr 4:19), blinding us and hindering our growth in holiness. (Ep 4:17-18) Since Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8:44), when we commit to a lie of any kind it’s hard to understand how we’re not aligning with Satan, agreeing with him, inviting him into our hearts and participating with him, giving him space to work his way within us. (Ep 4:27)

If it’s ever appropriate to lie, to be aligned with Satan in the slightest way, then where are the boundaries … exactly? Once we voluntarily give him ground, a foothold, how do we contain him and manage him? how do we keep him from taking over our lives?

The very basis of spiritual warfare is dealing with the lie: every sin springs from a lie, from being deceived about reality. (Jn 8:32) Voluntarily engaging the lie to achieve any end at all is thus to play with Hell fire; this is a dangerous, slippery slope into spiritual bondage if there ever was one.

Once a captive of Satan through the lie, there’s only one way to escape: God must give us repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. (2Ti 2:25-26) However, if godly behavior embraces the lie, choosing the way of lying, then the ungodly behavior is to embrace the way of truth. How then do we repent of this ungodly behavior — of embracing the way of truth? Repentance requires acknowledging and aligning with the lie and rejecting the way of truth, yet this can’t be the gift of God; we’re children of light, and this is darkness. (1Th 5:5)

God hates the lying tongue (Pr 6:17), and His life in us does the same. (Ps 119:163) It’s our love of truth that marks us as His children (2Th 2:10); anyone who loves and lives in lies is not a child of God. (Re 22:15) We’re not only to believe the truth (2Th 2:13), we’re to walk in it (Ps 86:11) and cling to it as priceless. (Pr 23:23)

Though circumstances may be tempting, and the devil lure us into believing that deliberately deceiving others will be for the best, the Spirit of Truth (Jn 16:13) calls us to higher ground, if we’re willing to trust Him, away from lying, to choose the way of truth. (Ps 119:29-30)

The days may soon be upon us when speaking the truth may cost us and/or our loved ones dearly. Let us believe that lying will dishonor our Heavenly Father, and eventually cost us more. May God have mercy on us, as He evidently did with the Hebrew midwives, Jacob and Rahab. May He give us wisdom and grace, and help us withstand in the evil day (Ep 6:13), girded with the armor of truth. (14a)

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Ye Are Gods

Each and every person, being made in God’s image, is an eternal being; we’ll all transcend physical creation and endure forever. The salient question isn’t how long we’ll exist, but what we’re becoming. Since existence itself isn’t an option, we ought to soberly consider the consequences of an eternal, limitless transformation.

From our temporal experience, becoming is a matter of trajectory, a journey, a vector with force and direction. In an eternal trajectory then, once we’ve established a general direction of travel, we’re headed for one of two extremes. We’re either becoming the equivalent of gods and goddesses (Jn 10:34-36), at least in the mythic sense, or demons and devils. (Jn 6:70) There’s no middle, neutral ground in this eternal centrifuge of becoming.

Christ will ultimately divide us into two distinct groups: sheep and goats. (Mt 25:32) But in this eternal division there won’t be any close calls, we’ll have cleanly divided ourselves into good and evil, benevolent and malevolent, beauty or horror, well before God begins to sift through us. By then it will be mere formality.

These two paths we tread are vast in scope; the destinations are infinitely disparate: there’s no upper (Php 1:6) or lower bound to what we can become. (2Ti 3:13) As the distance between two divergent lines, no matter how slight the angle, eventually becomes infinite, every step we take, every move we make, has an eternal, limitless, unfathomable consequence.

So as we interact with one another in this apparently finite, temporal space below, we’re dealing with eternal beings, beloved children of God (Ac 17:29), those infinitely loved by the Almighty. (Jn 3:16) God reveals how we value Him in how we treat one another. (40) Do we honor all as bearers of the divine image? (1Pe 2:17) Do we esteem others better? Or set ourselves up as judges? (Mt 7:1)

How do we call forth from within ourselves, and from those we meet, the best we each have to offer? (Php 4:9) Knowing the depravity of Man, how do we, in wisdom, beckon to fellow pilgrims in this eternal journey to walk in the light with us? (1Jn 1:5-7)

In fear and trembling (Php 2:12), knowing the terror of God (2Co 5:11), we prayerfully aim our lives at God, seeking Him with our whole heart (Ps 119:10), pressing toward the mark (Php 3:14)joyfully pointing the eternal trajectory of every thought and action toward Him the best we know how.

And we trust in God as we extend the welcome, benevolent hand of brotherhood to every soul we encounter, loving our neighbors as ourselves, praying for everyone (1Ti 2:1), listening and looking for how we might nudge each and every soul more into the Way of righteousness. (Da 12:3)

We don’t do this naively, in weakness or passivity, foolishly presuming others are good; we wait only upon God, knowing He only is our Rock and our Defense (Ps 62:2), our Light and our Salvation (Ps 27:1), that He works all things together for good to those who love Him (Ro 8:28), and that all He calls will come to Him. (Jn 6:44)

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Thou Art Fairer

Beauty is a mysterious, instinctive, metaphysical thing; impossible to explain or quantify, and quite outside our will. The very fact we perceive beauty is evidence of purpose in our design: we’re made to enjoy something outside ourselves.

Satan may have been, at least for a season, the most beautiful being in the universe, so beautiful that his magnificence became his downfall — as others observed and responded to him he exalted himself as a god. (Ez 28:17) Evidently, the heavenly hosts esteemed Satan even more beautiful than God, which may have been partly the cause of their fall; they’re certainly attracted to beauty. (Ge 6:4) What a powerful thing! to draw even the angels from their place. (Jud 1:6)

Yet how can the creature possibly be more beautiful, more glorious, more majestic than the Creator? How can the Creator of beauty itself be outdone by His own creation?

Of course, this would be so if God wills; He certainly might create a creature exceeding Himself in beauty, or choose to appear in a diminished form for a season, and let the creature exceed His personal appearance for a purpose. (Is 53:2) But why?

Consider how we’re influenced by spectacularly beautiful people, drawn to them, favoring them, catering to them. (Ps 45:12) Beautiful women certainly do have an advantage; it’s often an honor and pleasure just to be around them. (Job 42:15)

But like a rich man hiding his wealth to reveal his true and faithful friends, identifying those who love him for himself and aren’t after his money, God arranges to hide His glory and majesty to reveal and expose His enemies. We should choose God because it’s right, not because He’s handsome. This, the wicked will not do.

Yet a day will come when the most beautiful Being in the universe will be Jesus Christ, more gorgeous than any woman ever born (Ps 45:2), shining forth in perfect beauty. (Ps 50:2) Once we see Him as He is, we’ll desire nothing else (Ps 73:25); to simply behold His beauty will be more than enough. (Ps 27:4)

What will it be like to be in intimate fellowship with the most beautiful Person in existence? (So 1:4) To have Him say, “Come on in and enjoy Me! (Mt 25:23) To enjoy His favor and feel His pleasure in us (Ps 45:11), it will be joy unspeakable. (1Pe 1:8)

In that day, no one who’s forsaken any pleasure for Christ will regret it, for they will enjoy deeper intimacy with Him. (Php 3:8) As it will be then, even so it is now; there’s no reason to wait, every joy in Christ is ours. (Ps 37:4) Every lust (Pr 6:25), every wrongful passion, every wonton discontent … it is answered here, in the perfection of beauty: Jesus Christ.

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To Be Content

Contentment is finding rest and peace in my present circumstance, viewing it as appropriate and satisfactory, so long as my very basic needs are met. (1Ti 6:8) The secret to getting ahead is realizing I’m already there: right now, there’s no better place for me to be than where I am. (1Ti 6:6)

Discontent is my alternative: chaffing against and resisting my condition because I believe I deserve better. It’s a state of turbulent unthankfulness, disappointment, covetousness and lust (Is 57:20); as long as I’m exalting myself above my circumstances I’ll never be satisfied. (Pr 27:20)

The key to contentment must then be humility, fully aligning with God as to what I deserve so my expectations are appropriate. It’s all about perspective.

What do I deserve then?

Reality is, no matter what condition I find myself in, God’s being incredibly merciful to me (La 3:22-23): He’s not giving me what I deserve. He’s never fully dealt with any living soul according to their true sinfulness. (Ps 103:10) Even as I fear Him and serve Him the best I know how, His mercy toward me is infinite. (11) Until I’m burning in the deepest infernos of Hell, I’m under mercy (Ps 23:6); I deserve infinite punishment. (La 3:39)

So when I’m complaining, ungrateful, unthankful and restless because I don’t have whatever, I’m despising the tender, infinite mercy of God, walking in the primal lie that God’s not good. (Ge 3:5)

Wisdom learns contentment through experience (Php 4:11); finding security and comfort in God’s faithful provision rather than in having physical/mental health or material wealth. (He 13:5-6) It learns in every circumstance to live from a perception of fullness and sufficiency rather than lack (Php 4:12), because God’s provision is not only merciful, it’s perfect for His purposes. (Ro 8:28)

Clearly, contentment ought not to breed laziness or complacency; we ought to be industrious (Pr 13:23), innovative and disciplined (Pr 6:10-11) in bettering our lives and those of others. (Ep 4:28) It’s hard for anyone to seek God and glorify Him when struggling to merely survive; we’re to remember the destitute and do what we can to help. (Ga 2:10)

Yet in pursuing the forbidden to satiate our cravings we self-deceive (Pr 5:20); even when we manage to succeed, it’s ultimately pointless and empty. (Ec 2:11)

By design, only God Himself can satisfy. (Ep 3:19) Everything else I could ever desire is merely a shadow reminding me of Him. (Ps 72:25) When my soul is discontent, the cure is seeking God Himself, to feed in His majesty. (Mi 5:4)

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