The Law and the Lion of the tribe of Judah
Every disciple of His was born again with the same blood flowing through their new heart and mind and body. They receive power to become sons of God, and despite their languid past, now through the powerful grace of God they are unstoppable.
As was seen in the baby Jesus and throughout His younger years and adolescence, in whom, “the powers of mind and body developed gradually, in keeping with the laws of childhood,” (Desire of Ages, p. 68) those who are born from above will also need growth and development; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
God, in His wisdom and providence, gave us human examples of what He desires to do in everyone who comes to Him. Last night at the prayer meeting we studied one example, the blind man recorded in John 9. Of him Jesus said, “The works of God should be made manifest in him.” (vs. 3). The Savior, surrendered and submitting to the providence of His Father, designed the healing that day to give a revelation of how God works in us.
Paul, declared a similar purpose in his own ministry. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” (1Tim. 1:15,16). Speaking to king Agrippa, Paul repeated Christ’s words to him at his conversion, “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.” (Acts 26:16-18).
Here we see that the Master Teacher uses living examples in His powerful teaching techniques. These two men, along with a great cloud of witnesses since the very beginning, acted out the lessons He sought to teach us in His divine-human text book, the Holy Scriptures. Let’s look at these two human object lessons to learn about our Creator’s work of grace in the fallen human heart and mind.
The blind man experienced a transformation that he could never have accomplished by himself. Through the use of clay poultices on his eyes, Jesus acted out a spiritual lesson like Ezekiel had done for his generation. Their Messiah longed to open their eyes, and He used the ancient method, which they could not miss recognizing. On the worst spectacle of humanity He dispensed His richest blessing, as a testimony to what He wanted to do for those who had already been blessed in earthly things.
Although Satan moved upon them to reject this invitation to their hearts, the blind man, who had been seeking God but was trampled upon by the self-righteous religious people, now became the recipient of great blessing. Not only did he receive sight, but he became a world-class debater for truth. A boldness suddenly took control of him. When faith comes, so does the voice of authority. All who place their confidence in Christ, will like Him, “rule all nations with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 12:5). They will not be timid and confused and useless to represent the Almighty King; they will speak “as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mat. 7:29). “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:10).
Similarly, Paul was a hot fire brand for God’s glory. And in Romans chapter 7 he opens up for our benefit the phases he passed through to get there. When we read that chapter, we see three stages in his progression toward Jesus.
1) “I was alive without the law once.” (vs. 9);
2) “The commandment came, sin revived, and I died;” “held,” “being dead.” (vs. 9,6);
3) “Dead to the law by the body of Christ;” “married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead.” (vs. 4).
First, Paul had been a blatant sinner, a natural man only, uncaring about anything spiritual. But the convicting influence of the Spirit of God must have moved upon him and led him to see the emptiness of that kind of a life.
But before coming to Christ, he must pass through an intermediate phase, that of a powerful religionist. A Pharisee of Pharisee, after the strictest sense, he could say, “Beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” (Gal. 1:13,14).
Finally, he met Jesus face to face and His law in a much higher revelation than ever before. Then the apostle’s testimony became, “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me…;” “who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (Gall. 1:15,16; 1Tim. 1:13,14).
When Ananias said, “‘Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost,’ immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” (Acts 9:17,18). New sight accompanied a new heart and mind, a new conscience, and a new will. The condemnation of God was past; His grace appeared to Paul in all its glory.
Like Elisha told the prophet messenger to Jehu, “Take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not;” so once Paul was anointed of the Lord, he turned the world upside down. (2Ki. 9:3). He was a sample of what God purposes for everyone who comes to Him.
His relation to the Law reflected his relation to Christ. Whereas before his focus was only on the Law, turning him into a dangerous foe of God, now being “delivered from the law, that being dead wherein [he was] held,” he would “serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
His attachment to a Person made all the difference in the outworking of his life. To just live by the commandments wasn’t enough. He needed the nuclear power of God’s love and grace. Because of his “own works” he had become destructive dynamite. When he “ceased from his own works,” his zeal became regulated with the mercy he saw in Jesus toward himself. (Heb. 4:10).
This clearer revelation of the steps to Christ was what He desired to teach when He personally healed the blind man. That healing was part of an unfolding of knowledge of the mystery of godliness, the science of salvation which He unveiled in His star apostle, Paul; not by the law, “wherein we were held,” but by the tortured and limp body of a crucified Master who loved us and gave Himself for us, can we be saved from sin and the fruits of disobedience. Let us make a deep study of the true righteousness, “the righteousness of faith” which manifests itself in likeness to Christ, who “will magnify the Law and make it honorable” in us. (Rom. 4:13;Is. 42:21).
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Lk. 4:18,19).