Tag Archives: Adam

Man

What is man that you are mindful of him, 
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)

Compared to the vastness of the universe, humanity is puny. Looking up into the night sky forces the writer of the Psalm to see himself as small and God as unimaginably huge. From a purely human point of view, Man does not even register on the scale when compared to the presence of God. But humanity does register on God’s scale, for God created Man in His image, giving people the natural ability to have a personal relationship with Him, the God of the universe. 

There are two words for man used in Psalm 8:4. The first word, man (enosh) means mortal, the individual person as well as the group as a whole. Man is collective and may refer to all of humanity. This word is first used in Genesis 6. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown” (Genesis 6:4 ESV). The second word man is the word adam, the name for the first man in Genesis 1. Adam means ruddy, and implies health and vitality. “What is man (enosh) that you are mindful of him, and the son of man (adam) that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)

In Genesis 6:4, the sons of God and the daughters of man are the progeny of Adam and Eve, and all their descendants. The mighty men are the strong, powerful, brave men who were ruling the world. The sons of God are those mighty men, who sired mighty men. These men of renown are described as an individual or as a group. Why would God have any regard for those who are great in their own eyes and the eyes of the world but are puny and insignificant in the scheme of God’s universal design? They are created in the image of God which does give them stature in God’s design but does not make them as significant as their Creator.

There are few cultures that do not revere strong men. Such reverence enhances the strong persons conceit and self-importance. Strong men are proud of their accomplishments and superiority. Societies delight in those who are mighty. Lesser men are looked upon with disdain. Manly characteristics are defined by pride and strength and ability. Strength becomes more important than anything considered weak or meek. God is forgotten in the pride of a person’s strength, as are others created in the image of God who do not exhibit the same forceful character and traits. 

From Adam to Noah, as people wandered away from God, they saw themselves as mighty men and men of renown. Mighty men are warriors leaning toward tyranny, and giants, unafraid of anything. Men of renown are individuals who are remembered for their superhuman deeds, those whose reputations followed them, who became larger than life and were then mythologized. Perhaps they were viewed as bigger than any god. They were certainly viewed as blessed by a god.

Such people are not blessed by God, but are under His judgment. God describes such larger than life people as wicked in everything they do and are. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6 ESV). Those who revere strength over the knowledge of God ultimately sink into wickedness. The thinking of their hearts, their whole person, mind, emotions and will, are corrupted by sin, unable to do anything for God. They cannot save themselves from God’s wrath with their own strength. They are evil and God grieved that He made them and allowed them to prosper and populate His world. 

All they need to do is look at the heavens, the work of God’s “fingers” and all of the things God has put in place to understand their puniness and insignificance. 

Pride

Reposted

In the Hebrew Scripture several words are translated “pride” which means to exalt (see Job 41:34), to have majesty or excellence (see Isa. 28:1), coupled with arrogance (see Prov. 8:13). In the New Testament there are several words translated “pride” and used only a few times. 

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16). John uses a word which means “empty words,” “empty assurances” or “empty trust.” Everything the person says implies an empty belief and misplaced trust in an object which cannot deliver what is promised. 

“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up (proud) with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). Paul uses a word which means “smoke” or “mist,” having the outward appearance of substance but with nothing inside. Pride blows hot air into a person until they are so big they can see nothing but themselves. Pride is essentially a self-righteous, self-absorbed excuse to view self as not sinful or beyond sin. Pride expresses itself in self-righteousness.

Those who are poor in spirit recognize sin has separated them from the riches of a personal relationship with God. Pride hides truth and inflates self, shutting off every personal relationship. Once one begins working with God there is a continual trial to not place self ahead of Him. It is easy to begin viewing all which has been done, or said, to see the successes and failures, and to attribute them to personal effort. While we live in this world God does not erase the corrupted self inherited through Adam. We must continually fight the tugs and pulls of the world, continually acknowledge sin in ourselves and continually relinquish control. Even John, at the end of his life when he saw Jesus, fell on his face because he recognized his sinfulness. 

Truth

Reposted

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. (1 John 5:10)

Each citizen of the kingdom of heaven lives on the eternal foundation of the person of Jesus Christ. Not only created by God in His image but recreated by God in the likeness of Christ, the citizen lives the truth of eternity. Perhaps the most critical aspect of being poor in spirit is the devotion to truth and the hatred of any lie. You will see the evidence of a person’s life by how they handle the evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Anyone who says or acts like they do not need God are as far away from being poor in spirit as possible. They are self-righteous in spirit and are not being honest with themselves or the world.

One of the characteristics of someone who is poor in spirit is the brutal, intellectual honesty they have toward themselves and those around. This honesty begins with the intellectual knowledge of the reality of sin and the discovery of God’s absolute authority over creation. Ultimately, God will not allow any to ignore Him. He will allow those rebelling against Him to continue in their rebellion. He will confront them with their need of Him throughout their life. But, when a person begins to lie to themselves and refuses to recognize the lie, their minds become set and impenetrable. God can do anything but will not do everything. He will not reach into a person’s mind and change it for them. Man, made in the image of God and, even with a corrupted image, has the ability to think reasonably through his experiences and know the God who is tugging at him.

Poverty of spirit is a combination of recognizing sin, recognizing God, and recognizing the truth of rebellion against God.  All are intellectual activities.

Look for a moment at how corrupted intelligence works. Everything touched by sin will turn the truth around, on its head, backward, reversed, in-side-out. Those who do not want to say there is a God or sin will not believe in God even if someone is raised from the dead (see Luke 16:31, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus). Others, who want to believe something, change the truth to fit their own imaginations bringing a counterfeit peace where there is no true peace with God. 

Peace manufactured from a lie is easily shaken, stolen and destroyed. Trust built on a lie and not on the Object who created everything offers only empty promises of peace. “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:13; see also Jer. 8:11). Jeremiah spoke to an obstinate people told falsely they were not sinning, the invaders were not coming as a judgment from God because of their idolatry, that they need not worry or show concern for their place, things and future. Ezekial is even more blunt about those who accept the lie as truth.

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD. Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace.’” (Ezek. 13:8-10)

Still others want to believe but are tugged and pulled away, finding reasoned excuses to change their thinking, because their thinking is more immediately attractive than the alternative. All want to control through imagination, all want to believe the lie because it is easier to control than truth.  Even the lie has a kernel of truth, just as mythology has a kernel of true history. You will begin to understand Jesus’ parable of the soils in Matthew 13 when you see how those around you, even yourself, falsely think of the truth.  If someone thinks they know the truth, but do not, then it is impossible to show them the truth without first destroying their imagined reality. 

Jesus’ main point at this stage is to not dwell upon the consequences of sin but its reality. It is not to beat one’s self up over sin but to just admit sin exists. “Addicts” cannot be “cured” until they first honestly recognize the problem triggering their “addiction.” This problem is not that something controls them but that they control it to the point of being unwilling to give up the substance. They want to use the substance and have lied to themselves about the substance controlling them. Few are forced to abuse substances. They consciously decide to smoke, drink, abuse drugs and people and things until their “habit” is so ingrained they have to want to stop more than they wanted to start.

We are bent by sin and judged for sins. When Adam fell, rebelling against God, sin corrupted the nature given by God for all who would follow. We have a sin nature, a bent away from God toward self. We also sin and are held responsible for sin by God. Both the sin nature and the actual sins of the thinking of our hearts make intimacy with God impossible. He acts to reconnect intimately with everyone through the sacrifice of His Son. Those who are poor in spirit recognize the sin nature in themselves and the fact they sin and are responsible for the thinking of their hearts which inspire their sin. Recognizing sin and the absolute inability to change is the first step to being recreated by God and fit for eternity. We must believe God is true and speaks the truth always and in all circumstances and experiences.

Death — The Evidence of Sin

One unconditional piece of evidence for the reality of sin is the absolute certainty of death. Death is the separation from that which sustains life. Physical death occurs when the body is no longer sustained in the physical world through the natural laws, which are standards put into place by the Standard Giver. So, spiritual death is separation from the absolute One who sustains spiritual life, as well as physical life. Separation from the Life-Giver happens when there is known and deliberate rebellion against the Standard Giver. 

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17)

God uses the word death twice in this restriction. On the day Adam ate from the tree dying he would die The verse actually says Adam, when he ate the fruit would “die die.” Adam did not immediately die but the process of physical death begin. He would die. This suggests two things. First, God created those in His image for physical and spiritual life. People will physically die. People are not supposed to spiritually die. Second, He told Adam what death was. We know death as separation from that which gives life. So for Adam death separates from God since God created him and breathed life into him. But, he would not be separated immediately in physical death. We do see God separating Adam from the garden immediately. Death is a consequence of sin but it is also the definitive evidence for the reality of sin.

We can no more ignore the truth of death than we can ignore the truth of sin than we can ignore the truth of God. 

God, Trinity

To those who are elect exiles … according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.(1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

God is a mystery. Even though people are given the image of God so they might have an intimate relationship with Him, people are created and have limitations. God is not created and has no limitations. God has revealed Himself to people in both general and special creation. Peter refers to God as three persons in his opening statement. He speaks about the knowledge of God the Father, the work of the Holy Spirit and the government of God the Son, Jesus Christ. Scripture does not implicitly state God is a Trinity but does imply that God is Three in One.

In the beginning God created all things. We are told that His Spirit hovered over His creation. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2 ESV). Later, when God created Man in His image, He states “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). God speaks of Himself in the plural. This is not the royal “we” but the eternal reality of God’s person. After Adam’s rebellion corrupted Man with sin, God gives the reason for removing those created in His image from the Garden and access to the tree of life. “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:22 ESV). Again, when people work together to build the tower of Babel, God watches what they are doing and makes a decision to confuse their speech. “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:7 ESV). In all cases God is speaking of Himself in a plural form, suggesting He is more than One person.

Scripture is filled with references to God the Father as the only God. Why is our understanding the Trinity important? Throughout Scripture, God declares He is the only god, that there are no others, and that none should declare any other god.

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:20-22 ESV)

Many people who declare themselves Christians treat God like He is three or more gods and not a single divine person. They say He is three but do not truly believe what they declare. They will treat God the Father, as the Old Testament god, and Jesus as the New Testament god, ignoring completely the Holy Spirit. They will declare Jesus as the Son of God but not believe He is God, the Son. Jesus is a man and thus cannot be completely God while the Holy Spirit is intangible and thus cannot be God.

God is not like people. People are like God. Perhaps the often-used illustration of water is the best way of comprehending what God’s being. Water has three forms: gas, liquid and solid, depending upon the temperature in which water is found. At high temperatures, water is a gas, but is still water. At normal temperatures, water is a liquid, but still water. At freezing temperatures, water is a solid, but still water. The molecule water remains the same while the density of the molecules varies because of temperature. God does not vary because of any physical or spiritual circumstance. God, the Father, is God, as is God, the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They are all a single God yet have three distinct persons. This is a mystery. Our spiritual selves comprehend God more and more as our relationship with Him grows in intimacy.

God has revealed Himself in the Scripture. All Three Persons of the Trinity are at work throughout Scripture. In the Hebrew Scripture, we see God the Father at work in the history of mankind. In the Gospels of the New Testament we see Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to live as a man among sinful people to draw all to Himself. In the epistles and history of the Church we see the work of the Holy Spirit drawing those who are God’s toward Him and into eternity. In our lives we see the evidence of the Trinity working in our relationship with Him, drawing us into an eternal intimacy that begins at the moment of our redemption and salvation from sin.

Peter’s Reaction

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Luke 5:1-11

Peter witnessed a miracle. Jesus told Peter to fish in a place and at a time Peter knew there would be no fish. Some have suggested Jesus saw a shoal of fish just out in deep water. He saw the fish but the trained eyes of the fishermen standing with Him could not see them because of their exhaustion. Yet, the phenomena of actually catching fish, so many their nets were breaking, suggests not quick observance but a control over nature. One of the characteristics of the image of God in man is dominion. God gave Adam, and Adam’s progeny, dominion over the earth. God’s image in the people He created is not degraded and perverted. The vessel which carries the image is corrupted. Jesus, fully Man and fully God, exercised His dominion over the earth and the animals of the earth and the fish of the sea.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 ESV).

A miracle is an extraordinary action of God showing His control over the laws of nature. God developed and put the laws of nature in place. He suspends the laws of nature, for a moment, at His discretion, which to us is a miracle. It was not ordinary for the fish caught by Peter and his fellows to be where they were at that time in in that place. They were brought there by the will of God and His dominion over creation. Jesus, by exercising His control over nature for the benefit of those He wishes to bless, gives evidence that He is God in the flesh.

Peter did not know the depth or all of the implications of what occurred. He did know he was in the presence of a Man who just did something supernatural. Jesus was different. He was in the presence of holiness. His reaction was appropriate for the circumstance. Aware of his sinfulness, Peter wanted only for Jesus to go away. People, Peter included, are too comfortable with their sin. They want to sin and ignore the consequences. Jesus does not allow any to ignore sin. Having assuaged his guilt with ignorance, Peter is confronted with the living God and can no longer ignore either his sin or guilt.

But, Peter really didn’t want Jesus to leave. Every person, including Peter, faces a dichotomy when they suddenly realize they are in the presence of Christ. Peter fell before Jesus and declared his own sinfulness. “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’” (Luke 5:8 ESV). The visual implication of the passage is Peter is on his knees before Jesus, holding on to Him in worship, afraid for his life, asking Him to leave while giving himself to the Man.

In Scripture there are many examples of people who became fully aware of being in God’s presence. When Isaiah suddenly found himself in God’s presence his reaction, like Peter, was a declaration of his sinfulness. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV). Ezekiel, when he realized he was in God presence, fell on his face so he would not have to look at God. “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28 ESV). John, Peter’s fishing partner, at the end of his life, saw Jesus and fell at His feet as though dead. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17 ESV). Peter reacted to Jesus like He was God.

Before a person can repent they must acknowledge the truth of sin in themselves and in the world in which they live. Then they must accept their guilt before a righteous God. Peter declared himself sinful, which means wicked, stained with specific crimes and personal vices. Peter declared he was devoted to sin and not worthy to be in God’s presence. He knew he could not stand before God because of his rebellious nature. Like Job, who found himself speaking to God, he despised himself. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6 ESV).

All in the group were astonished at what occurred. All heard Jesus’ words. All followed His command. “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon” (Luke 5:9-10 ESV). Only Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, worshipping Him. Only Peter declared himself sinful and wanted Jesus to leave, afraid for his life. The others were astonished at their catch, but only Peter acted appropriately awestruck, like Isaiah and Ezekiel, and finally John toward the end of his life.

Peter’s individual reaction to Jesus’ dominion over nature is only the first of many. He becomes a leader of the disciples because of his actions and reaction toward Jesus.

You Are My Son

Meditations on the Psalms

The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. (Psalm 2:7 ESV)

Who is the King God is sets over all, on His holiest hill, over those who rebel and war against Him? It is His Son, who is God the Creator.

Begotten means to give birth, to cause or assist in giving birth, to declare a birth. God is eternal, with neither beginning or ending. He began time and history when He created the heavens and the earth. He is omniscient, knowing all things from the beginning to the end of time, because He stands outside of and transcends time. He chose a means of embedding Himself into time by becoming a fetus and growing as any other person would grow, being born, with a childhood, maturing into adulthood. God chose to become one of those who rebelled against Him.

In Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, the first act of rebellion, God promised a Son who would come from her womb and would crush the Deceiver after It tried to kill Him. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15 ESV). God does not make promises He has no intention of keeping or cannot fulfill.

700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Isaiah prophesied His coming. Nothing is too hard for God to accomplish. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 ESV). Immanuel means God with us. Jesus would be completely God and completely man the way God originally intended. He would have no sin and would never rebel.

Luke tells us about Gabriel, an angel of God, visiting Mary and telling her what would take place. She found favor with God and He chose her to carry the Son of God in her womb. At first, she questioned how this was possible, since she was a virgin. All things are possible with God.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. (Luke 1:30-35 ESV)

While Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch, preaching the Gospel, they told the people about God’s prophecy of the coming Messiah. Speaking to the Jews of the city, Paul quotes Psalm 2:7. “And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’” (Acts 13:32-33 ESV).

The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 2:7 in describing Jesus Christ as God the Creator and Messiah.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? (Hebrews 1:3-5 ESV; see Hebrews 5:5; see reference 2 Samuel 7:14)

We shall see, as we continue these meditations on the Psalms, a theme regarding Messiah, God the Son. Here, God is declaring His eternal authority over creation and over those who think they can rebel against Him and succeed. They cannot succeed against God’s eternal will.