TruthInvestigate

“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Christianity—an honest union with Christ

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:17-23).
 
This was not about letting everyone do whatever he wanted to do. That attitude was condemned by Christ 1200 years before. “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Jdg. 21:25). What Paul is teaching was about the other extreme to antinomianism (lawlessness). It had to do with legalism—causing undue offense to others in the church, even if my offense looked Law abiding. “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Rom. 14:21).

Paul was trying to communicate that some principles of ordering our daily life must need discretion so as not to unnecessarily overwhelm our brother or sister in the church and cause a separation between them and Jesus. If I am a vegan, and others are not, I should not go around pushing on them what took me many years of striving to have victory over it. Then, I am acting as God to be the convincer of sin. I can keep my veganism, because no doubt it is the better lifestyle. But I should do it quietly, and strive to help my neighbor keep his focus on Jesus, instead of on his acts of righteousness. Jesus will teach him. Jesus can teach him (see 1 John 2:27). And I can cooperate with Jesus’ still small voice with a hint or encouragement at the proper time. Cooperating with Jesus’ still small voice requires a union with Him.

It follows the similar principle of, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” (1Cor. 10:23,24). Not everything that I could say or do to bear witness to the truth that I’ve learned is profitable at this point in time. Timing has a lot to do with edifying others. This especially holds true for those who have stopped being rebellious to God and are seeking to become like Jesus. We should honor their new heart and mind by not overwhelming them with an encyclopedia of information that we’ve taken decades to learn, or have received it by growing up into it since childhood or have it by some “inherited spiritual predisposition”, “we who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles.” (Gal. 2:15). We should not force them into a rush to learn God’s will, when we had the luxury and the divinely awarded privilege of taking a long time to learn. This could cause them to be shaken away from Jesus. But, neither should we teach them to let self-indulgence have free reign.

Proverbs 4:18. “The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” We need to remember that the path of the just doesn’t start with the perfect day. It grows out of dimness and darkness. Yet the beauty of God’s forgiveness and justification is that all who remain tightly bound to his Justifier remains just from the first day. And he remains just before God while he grows out of the darkness and dimness. Thus, he grows up in more than just a knowledge of God’s expectations, but also in the knowledge of God’s love for him personally. The gospel is a message of mercy from God that allows for the natural process of learning. That natural learning necessarily includes shortcomings and spiritual mishaps, hiccups, bumps and bruises, and that also teaches him side lessons of God’s patience and forbearance and love. But, his justification keeps shedding light upon him all along the way, until he ends in perfect daylight. He is just/righteous before God in the perfect day; but, he was also just and righteous in the dimness all the while on the way to the perfect day.

On the other hand, God doesn’t stop loving righteousness because He loves and wants to be merciful to a new child. Therefore, along the path to perfection He calls His new child just and righteous only if His child continues to remain open to conviction of his sins that cause his darkness. God does this for His child’s sake. My salvation must be a concerted effort between me and my Redeemer. I need to know where I stand, because I want to have Him forever, and I want certainty of that. Plus, I don’t want to presume upon His grace. That would hurt the God I love. And He sees presumption/obedience the same way. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Tim. 2:19).

So, if His growing child ceases to “walk in the light, as [God] is in the light,” then he has walked away from the glory of God and walks in darkness. God will not walk in sinful paths, just to keep His glory shining on His children. Jesus walks only in the paths of righteousness. Jesus cleanses us from all sin only if we are in the paths of righteousness. And in righteousness is where He wants to lead us for our happiness and health. Therefore, if His child does not walk under His cloud of glory, then he ceases to “have fellowship” with those who are growing in grace, “and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son” ceases to “[cleanse him] from all sin” (1Jn. 1:7).

What causes one to stop walking in the light? “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (Jas. 1:14). Satan has filled this world with many habits and practices and things which cannot lead to the cleansing from sin. Especially in the cities. But even the countryside isn’t exempt, as the land of Canaan demonstrated. The evils of the city can be brought into the natural world and pollute the messages of the Creator that He painted across the sky and landscape.

All is not hopeless with respect to a dimishing natural world and a growing city life that spreads out to the uttermost bounds of civilization. But it makes it incumbent upon everyone who God has brought to hate his sinfulness that he must strive with every ounce of his being to stay with Jesus and abide under the safe shadow of His comforting wing.

The faithful disciple will heed the admonition of Jesus,“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in [some day when they decide to], and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24). He must always follow Jesus’ admonition and His example. “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). He will also follow Paul’s example, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14).

But, sadly this is not the habit of many who begin the path to have God for a Father. The fellowship of His Spirit dwindles that was once so good, and they do not strive to get it back.“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14).

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Heb. 2:1-4).

The unpardonable sin comes to those who received the power of God unto salvation, and let it all slip away. How would they escape the compounded darkness and distraught sense of loneliness after knowing the great power of God’s wonderful communion and then losing it? The darkness in their soul would be inescapable. That is something to fear!

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Heb. 6:4-6). That is a lot to lose! And yet it is possible. Let it not be us!

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28,29).

Certainly this is a fearful thing. The letter to the Hebrews had much to say about this, not just to terrify them, but because God’s salvation is not to be trifled with. Satan is declaring an all out war to keep us in his grip, or to get us back and to destroy every good effect God has ever had on us in His rescue of us from Satan’s abduction. A roaring lion is on the prowl wanting to devour any unwary soul. The many destructions of biblical characters is well documented for our sakes. Fear is good and healthy if we understand the bigger picture of it, and see the love behind the fearful warning and threat. God cannot go beyond our choice to serve our flesh, which is really serving His enemy, Satan. If we want to serve the deceiver and destroyer, then we cannot hold a place in God’s eternal kingdom. The great controversy has affected the perfect security of the eternal kingdom of God, and therefore, for the sake of the hosts of heaven who never fell into sin, God will be choosy about who He allows to be reinstated. Salvation is not just about us. Sin cannot ransack the kingdom again. Sin was too costly the first and only time. The great controversy has cause too much pain to the King and His crown Prince to ever have it repeated. He will not let that happen.

His means of getting us to Him is through His still small voice, which is only small because we are so deafened to it. Sin has caused our deafness; self-indulgence has made us deaf to righteousness; and righteousness is all that God and His eternal kingdom is about. His kingdom has nothing to do with self; it is all about focus on the great King of selflessness, and on service to others.

He calls us out of this world of self-serving, self-pleasing, self-exaltation, self-justification, etc. Everything to satisfy our fallen nature is that from which God must extricate us. He has much forbearance as He slowly teaches us how this and that and the other practice is only for self and must be discarded. But, all along the way, we have His perfectly peaceful acceptance. Acceptance is the great incentive to leave the life of self-focus, which gives no peace. Satan offers no acceptance because he has no love to offer; and he intends that no one ever gets any love because they would automatically become prospective disciples of God. Love naturally leads to the desire to be righteous. Acceptance leads to the desire to be increasingly acceptable to the Just one. Satan can’t allow that.

Yet, we will always have the pull of sin and self calling to us, even while seeking an ever closer walk with the God of acceptance and righteousness. Not until we are redeemed and “changed” (1Cor. 15:51) will we cease to “groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:23).

Sadly, the call to please our flesh (self) has been satisfied on what seems innumerable occasions, which the Lord faithfully recorded for our benefit. The following is not to be condemnatory, but instructive lest we follow their same choice.

“Then said He unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.” (Eze. 9:9).
“Then said He unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
And He said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
Then said He unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.” (Eze. 8:8-12).

Those men cut themselves off from God, not only by the indulgence of physical vice, but by spiritual vice—spiritualism. They thought that by secretly doing what they knew was wrong, that it would go unnoticed by God. Of course it didn’t go unnoticed because God sees every secret thing. Yet, though in their minds God wouldn’t see them and cut them off, the separation from God still occurred.

Separation from God is sin, and we may not recognize when we separate from Jesus, but we can examine our fruits. Then the Spirit of God will highlight the health of our standing before Him. Do we still have the burning in our heart for Jesus that we once had? Is everything prospering, as David promised to those who genuinely meditate on the Law of God? Is my fellowship growing a larger group of beloved friends, or a shrinking group? Can people implicitly trust me because they see and hear the loveliness and strength of Jesus in me? Am I becoming exacting and forceful, instead of patient and kind? Is my prayer life experiencing any “groaning for redemption”, or have I again become dead in my sins? Does the word of God remain a source of my conversion and sanctification? Am I being sanctified by the gospel I preach, or am I a castaway, and reprobate silver? Is it love that is causing me to mortify my flesh, or my own willpower? Is my obedience driven by expectancy of eternal life and walking in perfect forgetfulness of self? “God, am I really saved? or lost like King Saul?” The Lord loves the honest self-examination, especially here at the tail end of the investigative judgment when anyone not afflicting his soul will be cut off from Jesus.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Secret sins

“He that doubtethG1252 is damned if he eat...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23).
 
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (Jas.4:17).
 
G1252 diakrino From G1223 and G2919; to separate thoroughly, that is, (literally or reflexively) to withdraw from, or (by implication) oppose; figuratively or discriminate (by implication decide), or (reflexively hesitate: - contend, make (to) differ (-ence), discern, doubt, judge, be partial, stagger, waver.
 
Diakrino in the context of Romans 14:23 says a lot about secret sins. “To withdraw from” “be partial, stagger, waver”. The secret is sinful even if it has to do with something as innocuous as food.
 
The King James Version uses the verb “doubt” in opposition to being or acting “of faith”. This is a truism; doubt is one opposite of faith. But, the deeper meaning is thorough separation and withdrawal, etc. This means that food or a drink or anything, which causes us to separate or withdraw from God and waver in fidelity to God, is sin. What is the reason for separating? Because we are enticed by a practice that is wrong, and we know it is wrong. Either we have read or heard the truth of God’s character with regard to it, or we instinctively know that it is wrong. Then, to do that practice makes us desire secrecy away from God. The secret sin means that I don’t want God around while I please myself, my body, my mind, or my soul. I want God to go away; at least long enough for me to do my sin. I can’t do my sin and have Him around to disturb me with His condemnation of that sin. I don’t want him to remind me that He doesn’t do that act, or love that thing or that person. So I mentally block Him out “in the chambers of [my] imagery” (Eze. 8:12), or I go somewhere that is dark and has no windows. Of course God doesn’t need windows to see what I do, as Ezekiel experienced in vision.  
 
“Then said He unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
And He said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
Then said He unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.” (Eze. 8:8-12).

“Then said He unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.” (Eze. 9:9).
 
They thought that by secretly doing what they knew was wrong, that it would go unnoticed by God. Of course it didn’t go unnoticed because God sees everything. Yet, though in their minds God wouldn’t see them and cut them off, the separation from God still occurred.


“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13).
 
“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,
Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down,
    and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue,
    but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before,
    and laid Thine hand upon me.” (Ps. 139:2-5).
 
If I have left God, then I am no longer just. And being unjust, I do not desire God; I want to be alone. I don’t like it that He is inescapable and His knowledge of me leaves me under His scrutiny all the time. All that I desire is to please my flesh, so I switch off my faith and go into unbelief. I want to do what I want to do. I cannot love God and remain in communion with Him at the same time that I am loving myself. I am unconverted; I am not in the kingdom; I am lost unless I haven’t cut God off so much that He can’t retrieve me from my sin.

Once saved, not always saved. But, if I haven’t gone too far, God will work overtime to save me again. In King Saul’s case, that wasn’t possible. Neither with Judas’ case. But, He could save wicked King Manasseh. I don’t understand all the factors that deal with successful, divine rescues from sin. All I know is, I need to keep as close to Jesus as possible. It seems that no one knows when he is lost. Satan and sin are that deceptive. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.” (Jer. 18:9). That should give us something to think about.

It is the communion of faith that makes us pleasing to God. God calls them sinners who do not seek after God, and them righteous who have faith in Him. David sang, “My soul followeth hard after Thee.” (Ps. 63:8). They love to be with Him who is righteous; and His righteousness rubs off on them. The just (all of whom love to be with Jesus) have a totally different disposition to God’s ability to read our minds. The surrendered and converted heart wants God’s all-knowing presence to be near because the converted heart has come to believe in His loving presence. To the converted one, His love is worth the disturbed conscience He causes everyone who He occupies.
 
“O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” (Ps. 139:1-6).
 
“Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” (Ps. 139:7-10).

The converted heart doesn’t want to be far from God’s Spirit. His presence represents love and protection, which translates to learning His principles of righteousness, and which prevents the troubles and pains that ruin his happiness. The new, humbled heart in the new Christian wants retraining and changing from his old ways. The new heart is OK with the humbling that comes with admitting another failure and shortcoming. Pride doesn’t want to repent; but the new heart and spirit will do anything to keep its new Friend who never disappoints, but who is a faithful Friend to the very end. “Jesus…having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1).
 
Will I keep my sins and do them in secret? Will I ask God to leave so that I can do evils that I have rationalized to be all right? Will I close my faith and shut down my communion with Him so that I can have that thing or that practice that I know He doesn’t approve of? Will I indulge in idolatry? Will I pretend my best Friend doesn’t exist? Will I turn Him off until I am done pleasing myself; and then turn Him back on again like He is my toy?
 
Will I have another god alongside my new God? Will the one true God allow me to flip-flop between Him and the other god? Will I risk asking Him to leave for a while, not knowing if He will come back? Do I care if the Spirit of God may not be able to come back because Satan has manipulated his familiar temptation to be more deeply rooted than in the past when I could successfully return to the Lord after serving the exact same temptation as before?
 
Will I rationalize and say that the temptation is no big thing, because everyone does it? It is socially acceptable! If it were really that bad, the government would make it illegal! And how can billions of people be wrong?! Will I conveniently get amnesia and forget what I’ve  learned, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:19, 20).
 
But, really, what kind of relationship would I have with you, if I ever have to ask you to leave? For whatever reason it is, if I ask you to leave, do I have a good relationship with you? No.

Sure, there are proprieties that should afford privacy. But, before we ever ask our loved one to excuse himself/herself, his/her love for us should seek our happiness and do what we would like him/her to do. They should want to please us by doing our will before we even ask. That is the way love works out the Law of God. And as a result, everyone is very happy. Then, after the necessary privacy, the loved ones are anxious to be together again. This is what heaven is like. It is also what God wants to have with every child of Adam. That kind of love would spread around the globe if Satan didn’t put his billions of landmines to prevent its spread.
 
No more secret sins; no more separating from Jesus anymore. Let’s prepare for an eternity with the holy God and His transparent kingdom. There no closed city of God. No temple. No barriers of any kind. No more secrets. No more fears. No more tears.
 
“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” (Rev. 21:10, 11).
 
 “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:24-27).
 
“And they shall see His face; and Hs name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true.” (Rev. 22:4-6).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

God, the Commander in Chief, Supreme Admiral, and Jesus second in command

“The head of the woman is the man” (1Cor. 11:3), “the head of every man is Christ; …and the head of Christ is God.” (1Cor. 11:3).
  
“And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” (1Cor. 12:5,6).
 
“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.” (Gen. 18:19).
 
Commanding, in one instance, is something that Adam failed to do. He had been a good leader. But, at the big test, he gave loose rein to his wife. He became a respecter of persons. Adam was made in God’s image, and was a miniature of God. His work was to represent God in a way not done on any other world. Adam was to command his world after him.
 
All the animals were under his rod of iron. Gallantly, princely, Adam ruled over his domain. His manliness did not destroy the Law of love, because he demanded more of himself than of any other creature. He was accountable to Michael the Lord God of the government of heaven, therefore his methods of governing never overstepped the line of abuse. He never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul of the animal kingdom. He never censured the intellectual weakness of any beast of the field or cattle. Adam was sealed in perfection. He thought exactly like his Master.
 
“Should not I spare…much cattle?” (Jon. 4:11).
 
As a type of Michael, Adam taught the animal kingdom to communicate with him, although he didn’t have the ability like his Creator could give them communication skills.
 
“And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.” (Num. 22:28-30).
 
Yet, the animals understood Adam, and he them. Adam kept a taught leash, but the leash was made of invisible cords of love. With great tenderness he fulfilled the work of his Creator in every respect.
 
“I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” (Hos. 11:4).
“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” (Deut. 25:4).
“The seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou…nor thy cattle.” (Ex. 20:10).
 
But, Eve was a step above the animals, a big step, a leap. Like Adam, she was made a little lower than the angels in every respect, except for love. In love she far exceeded the society that Adam enjoyed with the angels. In Adam’s image her gentle warmth exceeded his. He loved her as himself. But, his big challenge was to not love her more than his Father in heaven. He must love the Lord his God with all his heart, mind, strength, and soul, and his wife as himself.
 
Adam’s command over his planet must be firm and perpetually consistent. Everyone was governed such that they had perfect freedom to order their life, because love and respect was commanded and earned. The animal kingdom bowed with supreme reverence to Adam, as if he were the Lord God Himself. Adam was their father, as fathers are to children. Fathers are God and mothers are Christ to their little ones until the children can develop in faith and conscience enough to hear the voice of the Spirit.
 
Adam was not the ultimate sovereign of Earth. He was subordinate to the Lord God. Being under Lord Michael, Adam’s administration was subject to his Lord. He must faithfully discharge his duty as Commander of his station, but he was also obligated to fulfill the orders of his commander, the Lord God Son of God. Adam must do as the Son, who was also subject to the Supreme Admiral, Him who was “all in all” (1Cor. 15:28), Him who was Ancient of days, “Him that liveth for ever and ever” (Rev. 4:10).
 
But, Adam made a choice to go lenient on Eve’s insubordination to God’s Law. Now the kingdom was at risk of eternal security. Vigilance against all enemies, foreign and domestic, was compromised. So Adam was court marshaled and he lost his place in the divine chain of command. Now, as a means of discipline, he must remain at his post, but directly under the micro-management and training of his Commander, the Prince.
 
It would mean much shame and humiliation, if he desired to keep his existence. He could rebel and accept the fate that he had been spared—eternal death. But, if he accepted the new form of glorifying his Supreme Admiral, he could live. The decision would always be his, and he must reconcile himself to it. Or die. There could be no other option. His disobedience and insubordination in the high privilege and great responsibility of leadership demanded such harsh measures. Perfection of beauty in the whole kingdom must demand strong leadership, strong warnings and constant training. And it demanded constant readiness to unsheathe the weapons of war, if necessary. Peace by deterrence must hold the worlds together, to the most distant outpost world in the kingdom. And Adam knew this.
 
Because Adam failed in his leadership to keep a tight command he lost his command. Now he became just another member of the ship’s chain of command and had a taught leash put around his neck. Life in his part of the kingdom would immediately cease to be as easy as it had been prior to his failure. He must learn that the responsibility originally devolved upon him from the Son was a not a temporary job, but eternal. Into perpetuity was his highly honored assignment of maintaining lawful order under justice and mercy. Mercy without justice would utterly destroy the order that must forever be. But, having chosen mercy without justice, now he would be placed hardly higher than the animal kingdom. He would even eat grass like all the animals did (see Genesis 1:30). “Thou shalt eat the herb of the field.” (Gen. 3:18).
 
“Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” (Ps. 49:20).
 
Yet, this divine measure from above that may look overly punishing is exactly what Adam needed. His mind and body were very strong. Now his will contaminated with unbridled pride, would be very rebellious. Like a wild mustang, the entrance of rebellion into Adam’s soul especially as it was now so easily influenced by the powerful enemy of the state, would require the indomitable will of his Commander, the Son. Only the Son had the Supreme Admiral’s Spirit without measure. The will of Prince Michael was stone, period. A beautiful stone, but infinitely unmovable. An anchor that would never shift away from the will of the Supreme Admiral, the Chief of Operations. Adam would not be able to withstand the power of Prince Michael, but must submit to his retraining. His gigantic pride must be held down under his love for the Prince. Before his family he must walk as a defrocked failure, a servant of all, a living example of what never to do. Even against their complaints and accusations that he was the cause of their misery, greatly agonizing in the plight he caused them, Adam must warn them all away from repeating his offense. He was a walking lesson from Prince Michael that further insubordination by any of Adam’s family would receive like punishment. That made Adam an apostle, and a walking criminal record for all to take notice and conviction. But, his acceptance by faith of the sacrificial animal redemption made all the shame doable. He knew his Commander’s future was revealed in it.
 
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2Cor. 3:2,3).
 
As patriarch, Adam would continue to lead, but in a much more limited way and with a very diminished status. His glory was faded. All glory would now go to Prince Michael, who must bear the shame of His underling, knowing every pain in His object of restoration to leadership; and His underling would get no glory of his own self. All of Adam’s glory and any success stories of his progeny would only be a reflection of his Senior’s in command. And all the glory and successes of the Lord God Michael would be seen mostly in His difficult, constant, but unyielding work as disciplinarian. “Because of their unfaithfulness, God’s purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation.” Desire of Ages, p. 28. Satan now claimed Earth as his jurisdiction, and he would continually work to break down good order and discipline. Succeeding to remove self-discipline, he would work quickly to establish his own regime over all the earth. Unlike life in Eden, outside the Garden few victories would decorate the Prince’s heart during the next 6,000 years and great grief must darken His office, until He would be crowned with thorns, enthroned on a cross, and bear the scepter of self-sacrificing death for Adam and his whole family. Everything that He demanded of Adam He Himself would suffer, as well for the whole Adamic race. Like Adam before his fall, the Lord God Prince of the host would require more of Himself than He ever required from any one individual under His command.
 
“Above the firmament that was over their [the cherubim] heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.” (Eze. 1:26). For 4,000 years while sitting silently, solemnly upon His heavenly throne, vigilant upon the matters of Earth and keeping an extra taught leash, “Michael the great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people” (Dan. 12:1), “the Prince of the host” (Dan. 8:11), “the Prince of princes” (Dan. 8:25), “the Prince of the covenant” (Dan. 11:22), “Messiah the Prince” (Dan. 9:25), was a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Worship Me, Obey Me

“Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
 
Much today in Protestantism is all about worship. We have a new thirst for worship. This is new. Yes, Protestants have worshiped during the past 500 years, but, not with the new fervor we see today. True, the three angels’ messages say “worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Rev. 14:7). But, it also begins with, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His Judgment is come.”
 
So, worship must be very important in the last days; but, especially in light of Judgment. We should want to please the Judge, which is the reinstated position God has in the end. In the end, God is freed from the accusations of the adversary’s great controversy. And at that time, He will straighten out the distorted, twisted misunderstandings created by Satan’s character assassination of Him.
 
But that Judgment is yet to come. In the meantime, the character of God still suffers from misconceptions, even by His holy people. According to this prelude to the first angel’s message, worship and giving God glory are synonymous. And that may sound like what we see happening in the denominations’ worshipfests today. But, I must ask, What does giving God glory mean? Does it mean singing about how much we love Him? “I love You, I love You, I love You”, like some Beatles song? Is giving God glory only singing about how great He is? How gracious He is? How much love He has to go around?
 
What about the rest of the first angel’s message prelude? “Fear God.” Oh, you mean respect God like a father! Oh, you mean reverence God like a big, soft, wizened grandfather! No, I think the angel meant to fear God because He will be your sentencing Judge. Judgment time having come, or the warning that it is soon to come, is the context of Fear God. And the angels are heaven’s policemen and therefore God’s bailiffs, who excel in strength and bear not their sword in vain.
 
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the Judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.” (Dan. 7:9-11). Judgment means serious business.

(If anyone wants to see more about that executive Judgment, go to Revelation 19:20, and see that the beast and the false prophet go into the burning flame when Jesus returns in destructive power to lay the earth low. Later, after a millennium in heaven with the saved of all nations and all ages, Jesus will come back again the third time to give Satan to the burning flame.)
 
But, some say, What about: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1Jn. 4:18)???? They say, That kind of fear does not sound alarming.
 
True. But what about, “Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them who are under the Law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19)? “Then how shall God judge the world?” (Rom. 3:6). Paul saw that there must be a need for fear and guilt and shame. Read 1 Corinthians 7:27-31 and you get the sense of last day urgency with the apostolic church. They had love and joy in the Holy Ghost. But, true love can also fear before God.
 
The question of Judgment time should cause us to ask ourselves, “Do I really love God like I think I do?” Judgment day should make us examine ourselves to know for sure whether or not we are walking by faith, not after the flesh but after the Spirit. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2Cor. 13:5). With every judge’s decision comes an examination, and trepidation—fear. Will I end up in punishment or justified? Is my defense as sound as I thought? Is my record clear? Is my love perfectly selfless? Will it pass His perfect inspection? Any thinking person will tremble in the court room. And every human being should tremble during the investigative judgment, and the soon coming final decisions of that 170 year investigation.
 
“Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people….
It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” (Lev. 23:27-30,32).
 
While the heavenly sanctuary is being cleansed and the cases of God’s people are being decided upon, we are to be afflicting our souls. Why? Because the Day of Atonement is very serious business. To not afflict the soul is to be cut off from God. That doesn’t mean that we should be looking for our faults and mistakes, and castigating and flagellating our mind. But it does mean that we should all be actively studying the scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy, which will reveal to us our flaws and mistakes. We should read them for information and communication from Jesus. But, fear not if you hear a lot of correction and instruction. You will find that no one measures up to the high standard. But, that is good; or, as Paul would say call it, “holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12). That means that God is infinitely better than we. And, convicted of sin, we will have something for which to beg God for His help and forgiveness. He must give us repentance. Then all own self-manufactured repentance will be repented of with disgust and thrown out.
 
[On that note, “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” (Rom. 2:4). But, how do we consider His goodness outside of what we see in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy? Is He good to me if He does me good and life is nice to me all the time, or I will grumble and doubt His love? (I have heard people talk like that, have you ever heard it?) Is that the goodness that leads a proud, self-centered sinner to repentance?  Or, is His goodness the troubles that we should get, but our continuous seeking Him allows Him to stave off the worst of the troubles? We get some trouble, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. That’s goodness isn’t it? We deserve some trouble! The full bad treatment we should get because we deserve it, Jesus doesn’t give to us because He already took it upon Himself. “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. With His stripes we are healed.’” Desire of Ages, p. 25. And also, isn’t His goodness that leads us to repentance the blessings that come to us round the clock that we take for granted so much of the time, none of which our good behavior is entitled to or warrants; but He loves to bless us with them anyway? Our reasons for worship need some reform. Our conceptions of His grace need some working on. Then will our light break forth as the morning, and our health will spring forth speedily. Worshiping God will be different than it is now.]

The three angels’ messages about Judgment Day begin with “Fear God.” (Rev. 14:7). If we love Him, we won’t mind to fear Him. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” (Ps. 103:13). Children love their fathers. Let us fear God in love; and if our fear toward Him is genuine, so will be our love for Him. Fear God in worship. Worship Him in fear. “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps. 2:11). Fear and worship Him in the context of His Judgment. Is Judgment Day getting closer? Don’t the shootings and wars and other impending troubles make us wake up and feel “the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:8)?
 
We have a precedent to a Judgment Day that came without fearing God. It happened three months after the deliverance from Egypt. God coming down to visit His newly freed people would only happen once in human history. So, Moses publically sanctified the people and required them to afflict their souls by washing their clothes. They were also to put a pause on the sexuality, even though the people were legally married. Nothing must keep them from having a clean heart and an undistracted mind when God arrived to betroth them to Himself.
 
“And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.” (Ex. 19:18-20).
 
After God spoke with powerful overtures and appeals in thunder, the children of Israel rightly feared God with all their heart. “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” (Ex. 20:18-20).
 
The Lord had to prove them—show them what He expected of them. He delivered them from their oppressor so that He could be their new Master—their new Husband. And as any jealous husband would be, He expected fidelity. They were to serve no other gods except their Master who created heaven and earth and who redeemed them from the spiritualism and debauchery of the world’s greatest kingdom.
 
“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” 

The measured, unwavering, solemn tones rolled through the earth.  
 
“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”
 
Again, the same power and solemnity rolled through the earth.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”

More rolling echoes...

“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me”

And again...

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20:2-6).
 
Christ had to be clear on the terms of the relationship because the unholy adversary was always near to steal their hearts away from their holy God. And sure enough, 40 days later they were worshiping Jesus, but the wrong Jesus. The Jesus they were serving was the wily master from Egypt whispering them back into his arms, not the new Master who saved them from bondage.
 
“And when Aaron saw it [the golden calf he had just fashioned], he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD [Heb. Yehôvâh]” (Ex. 32:5). Aaron called everyone together to worship Jehovah! Wonderful! But, what kind of worship was it? Pagan worship to Jehovah!
 
Do we see why every exhortation to worship, and every proclamation of a worshipfest, even if we are singing, “God I love You”, doesn’t assume that the worship is to the one true God? As we just noted, there are many false Gods, even named Jehovah. And Paul clearly wrote that there are also many Lords (1 Cor. 8:5), i.e. many who are worshiped in the name of Jesus. He also wrote that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14). Aaron calling for worship in Jehovah’s name didn’t make it worship to Jehovah. Singing His holy name and praying to His holy name didn’t change the Lord’s disposition one iota toward their atheistic prayers and heathen games and debauched nakedness.

They were breaking the Lord’s relationship covenant by breaking His commandments, which is why Moses came down and threw down and broke the brand new Ten Commandments, ground down the golden calf, and rounded up the rebels by the edge of the sword. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov. 28:9). Worse than simply breaking Jehovah’s commandments; they were doing it in Jehovah’s name. They were breaking the covenant with Jesus, which they had just agreed to; and they were doing it in the name of Jesus. They took His name in vain.

“All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 366. It was Jesus who came down upon Sinai and with whom the children of Israel made the covenant.
 
We need to examine ourselves and our worship, whether we be in the faith. What kind of worship does the Lord really want? He wants our obedience to His prescribed will, during Sabbath and all week long. He desires worship by obedience, first; then our Sabbath worship will be genuine, a sweet savour to the Lord. He wants no other god before the one true God. “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God.” “Shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments” (Ex. 20:6); but, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me.” (Ex. 20:5).
 
Jesus told His disciples, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). And later He said, “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14).
 
This is true worship. Worship is love, but a love that never seeks to trample upon the holy will of Christ. He wants us to be friends, as Abraham and the other Old Testament servants. But, they never, never presumed upon His friendliness. Satan loves to draw us into presumptuous worship to a God who is unduly friendly. With Satan you can have grace, grace, only grace! But, that worship is to a familiar spirit.

True worship wants to respectfully serve Christ, which means seeking to make life easier for Him. It wants to comfort Him from all the troubles that we and other sinners have given Him. Would we want to cause discomfort to or upset a girlfriend or boyfriend, our mother or father? Jesus isn’t asking for anything more than what our earthly relationships ask of us. It’s not asking too much to prove our love by doing the will of our loved ones. Would Jesus ever be whimsical in anything that He commands us? Would He make selfish and egotistical requests in order for us to grovel at His feet and submit to His control of us? No, His commandments are for our good and for those we deal with. Thus, ultimately His commandments do Him good and ease His heart, because His children’s obedience to Him cause love for each other, and love covers a mountain of sins.
 
Not only that, but obedience has a special bonus. Every other worship which doesn’t keep His commandments also doesn’t receive His promised Spirit. But, we receive a special reward for holding His holy doctrine close. We get two-way communication service through the written word of God! As Jesus promised,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7).
 
“He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21).
 
“If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23).
 
No more faking true worship. No more practicing the presence of Christ. We have the real thing instead of imaginary. Those who know His word have the real bonafide presence of our Lord and God.
 
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11).
“I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Ps. 16:8,9).
 
Jesus is our stumbling Stone who is set for the fall and rising again of many, wherever they are, in or out of the church, Christian or heathen, atheistic, hedonistic, gay, or criminal. If you will fall on His Law, His words, His statutes, His Testimonies, and be broken, you will throw your sins into the depths of the bottomless pit. And He will lock the lid shut.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Alive without a conscience, and really alive with a conscience

“For I was aliveG2198 without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I diedG599.” (Rom. 7:9).
 
G2198 zaō “lively”, “quick”. G599 apothnēskō “die”, “be slain”.
 
Paul is describing his emotional strength, his gusto of his personality, the pizzazz of his natural-born premier ethics and morality. Before the Law’s conviction, his conscience was undisturbed and feeling pretty good.
 
But, we humans have a problem with our conscience. Overriding the conscience is pride, and pride doesn’t like to be told what to do. It doesn’t like to be corrected and rebuked. The conscience likes to be free from any disturbance. If our conscience is not upset, then we have what we call peace of mind.
 
But, as is often the case, ignorance of the conscience and customs creates dangerous situations. If it doesn’t bother my conscience to hit your arm, but hitting your arm hurts you, than you will have a problem with my conscience, and with me in general. And once my hitting your arm affects your performance in the family or at the workplace or in the community, then a parent/supervisor/community leader/justice department must step in and resolve my mistaken conscience.
 
The Law comes into play against my conscience. Correction, reproof, instruction, training, must take place. But, I don’t like to be corrected. I don’t like anyone telling me what to do, even if its the Law telling me. I don’t care whose Law it is, I don’t want to be told I’ve been wrong. About anything! I don’t want any restrictions. I don’t want any bondage. I’m right and the whole world is wrong. I say so, and that settles it.

I was alive before the correction/reproof/instruction came into play. I was alive in lawlessness. I could do as I pleased. No restrictions, no inhibitions, no guilt, no shame, no stress. Ahhh, anti-nomianism! Ahhh, the good life! When I get to do anything and everything that pleases Moi, then I believe that I have a freedom that nothing can compete with.
 
But, the lawless life has its downside.
 
“Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known.” (Rom. 3:13-17).
 
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21).
 
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Cor. 6:9,10).
 
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Rom. 1:28-32).
 
The worst side-effect of lawlessness is its natural end of self-destruction.
 
“And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.” (2Chron. 20:22-24).
 
“Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” (Prov. 11:21).
“Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” (Prov. 16:5).
 
When God judges an act or an immoral condition worthy of death, He doesn’t judge arbitrarily. The wicked need to die. But in inexplicable mercy to the wicked, God lets them live on in their destructive ways, in case they turn and see the destruction they have caused, in case they repent and become renowned champions for righteousness and apostles for His Law. (And, since we are all sinners, His mercy toward us all is inexplicable and to be praised.) The whole time that He forbears His justice He is seeking ways to remove the scales from their eyes and to let conviction enter their conscience.
 
He pleads with them, “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” (Eze. 33:11).
 
But, Paul wasn’t wicked as most outlaws and criminals are deemed. His conscience wasn’t seared. But, it was still dead. With the conscience dead, his sinful nature felt alive and uninhibited. Interesting contradiction. But, once conviction came, and his conscience was quickened, his sinful nature was threatened with death. In other words, the two great powers—Christ and Satan—contending for supremacy over every soul were battling to get full control of Paul. Satan believed that he owned this energetic, educated, talented, young man whose morality thought it was right to “[breath] out threatenings and slaughter,” (Acts 9:1) to enter homes with a big “Hello brothers and sister!” and then round them up for prison, flogging, or death (Acts 8:3; 1 Tim. 1:13). Even though his rage was “against the disciples of the Lord”, it wouldn’t have mattered who his rage was against. “Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife” (Gal. 5:20), “feet…swift to shed blood” (Rom. 3:15), “maliciousness; full of envy, murder,…deceit, malignity” (Rom. 1:29), is all devil inspired no matter who it is aimed at.
 
When we hate the sinner instead of the sin, and seek to destroy a person, it is sure evidence that we have the spirit of Satan and not the Spirit of God.
 
Yet, Saul of Tarsus didn’t think he was all that bad. But, that’s because he had accepted falsehood—religious falsehood—hook, line, and sinker. He had drunk deeply of the philosophy of “Babylon”, “the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (Rev. 14:8). “For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.” (Deut. 32:32,33).
 
Whenever the conscience indulges its sinful nature, whether it is facilitated by a chemical substance or a philosophy, once the “peace” wears off, the emptiness and bitter satanic possession drives the mind to fanatically avenge every misinterpretations of offences. The corrupted, self-centered reasoning powers are altered and incapable of sound judgment. Emotion rules the intellect, an intellect that is infected with self-indulgence. Self-indulgence by a chemical or philosophy has become the great love of the soul, an idol of worship that the person will protect at all cost. Every voice speaking out against that idol must be silenced. And if the philosophy permits a person to murder anyone endangering his idol of self-indulgence, then the deluded worshiper becomes an assassin in defense of his idol, under the direction of demons and the blessing of their philosophy.
 
Paul was alive, but he needed to be dead. And the Law put him to death, in a merciful way. It strongly condemned him for his lawlessness. Concepts that he never realized existed, he discovered were the most ancient, true realities. Inspite of his age and maturity level, he was an immature juvenile deliquent; he was a ruffian, a despicable excuse for a son of Adam. He didn’t deserve to live.

Thankfully, he wasn’t beyond hope. He hadn’t drunken so deeply at the fountain of the pride-indulging doctrine of  the abrogation of all Law that the Spirit of truth couldn’t get through to him. But, conviction would be painful for Paul. The withdrawals from accepted human philosophy and self-absorbing idolatry would need Paul’s powerful desire for God’s acceptance, and a lengthy rehabilitation that would take patience and faith. His rescue from self would take exposure to and reception of truth and grace. This is what Paul later could admonish the churches. “God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Rom. 6:17).
 
When he wrote, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14) and, “Now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6), Paul wasn’t inviting the churches into a worshipfest of lawlessness. Lawlessness never removes sin; lawlessness only and forever encourages sin. Lawlessness is sin, see 1 John 3:4. His message was to free the new Christians from the evil practices that were plaguing the Roman Empire, “for the wrath is come upon [the Gentiles] to the uttermost.” (1 Thess. 2:16).

“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
...for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:18-23).
 
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. 3:31).
 
There were people who were accusing Paul of lawlessness. “…(as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come... whose damnation is just.” (Rom. 3:8). Doing evil never comes to anything good. A supposed “good” end never justifies an evil means, because any evil method can only lead to an evil result. Did the disobedience of Eve justify any good end? No, nothing good came out of it to justify, no matter how well the serpent sugar-coated the means. That the end can justify wicked methods if it brings greater glory to any religious organization, is completely unbiblical, defies common sense, and is unconscionable religion-imposed damnation upon the whole organization.
 
If we want to bring greater glory to God, we need His Law. We need exposure to truth; then we will know how to give God glory because we will know how God defines worship. We need the Spirit of truth, as painful as that is to our conscience. The Spirit of truth makes us feel like the living dead. The power of truth always leads us to feel hopelessly lost. We feel like we’ve committed the unpardonable sin. We feel worthless because we are merit-less, we are naked of self-esteem and all societal prestige; we can’t even stand before God. Fear of rejection, therefore, causes us to resist God’s judgment against us.

Our “comeliness [is] turned into corruption.” (Dan. 10:8). That was true of Daniel, a holy man moved by the Holy Ghost, who had fainted under the condemnation. Why should we think we would remain unashamed and unguilty before the Holy One? So, let’s accept the degradation and dishonor from the divine One. The hopeless, unpardonable feeling from God is necessary in order to humble and cleanse our heart and mind. We need to be humbled. Our belief system needs to be challenged. Not once, but always.  We must lose hope in our natural wickedness. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). When overwhelmed by the conviction of your shameful past, keep in mind this blessed thought: that the all-powerful God has drawn near. He is giving us His loving attention. The King of the universe! What are we that we should be remembered by the great Sovereign and His Heir? He must believe in our feeble faith and our need for His eternal love! We must be worthy of His efforts to clean us up! Oh, blessed thought!
 
Though in the confusion that we experience, the Law was starting to grow on Paul. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” (Rom. 7:22). He was accepting the authority of God to correct his misconceptions of sin and freedom. “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Rom. 7:11,12). Paul was seeing justice in the Law’s painful whippings! Good for you, Paul! Wow! Nevertheless, Paul’s “carnal mind” was still at “enmity against God”, for his fallen nature was not yet “subject to the law of God” (Rom. 8:7), and neither indeed could be. Consciously, he was attracted to the Law; but subconsciously, he was still antagonistic to it. Therefore, the good that he wanted to do, he couldn’t do; and the evil that he tried hard not to do, sneaked out at the most unexpected moments. What was going wrong?
 
Finally, the real break-through came to Paul when he could surrender to the offense of the truth. But, this he could only do with divine help. When he saw the excellence of Jesus, he was enabled to surrender up all resistance in his conscience. His heart opened to trust Jesus and His righteousness as revealed in the Law of His life and on the cross in His death. Trusting Jesus made all the difference for heeding reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Paul was finally free from lawlessness; he was converted.
 
He was born again with a new heart. He had the power of God unto salvation, which he preached from that day onward. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:22).
 
Being free from sin is a whole different freedom than narcissistic lawlessness offers. Freedom from sin ends up in service to Someone who will continually open up new ways for bringing happiness and strength to all those around; it doesn’t end in out-of-control self-destruct mode, crashing and burning; and it doesn’t end up in the destruction of the people surrounding the slave of sin. The new creature in Christ brings life and health to everyone around, both physically and mentally. And, freedom from sin gives life to the new creature himself.
 
“If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Rom. 8:10). “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:2). “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Rom. 6:6,7). Our fallen human nature is exterminated; and the divine nature from above gives us a new spirit. We are righteous which brings us life; and we love to do righteousness.
 
Righteousness and Law-keeping equal constant life. Unrighteousness and lawlessness equal constant death. But, the Law and righteousness only give life when Jesus is putting it in us through faith in His loving righteousness. Only when we behold the loving, Holy One of Israel, who we pierced through with many sorrows, slain from the beginning of our sin problem, can our naturally resistant conscience lower its guard, its barriers of prejudice and self-defense, so that conviction of truth can enter. Resting in the love of God in Christ we purify ourselves, desiring to be as He is pure. Without Jesus, all our law-abiding and righteousness can only be defiled and filthy.

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:24,25).
 
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve [the Law of God] in newness of spirit [to Christ], and not in the oldness of the letter [of the Law without knowing Christ].” (Rom. 7:4-6).
 
“In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jer. 23:6).