Tag Archives: Deceiver

Praise to the Most High God

I will give to the LORD 
the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD,
the Most High. (Psalm 7:17 ESV)

For the first time in the Psalms, beginning with Psalm 1, God is given thanks for whom He is, and is praised, honored and worshipped. Thanks means to laud and praise. David gives thanks to the LORD for His righteousnessPraise means to sing, make music. David sings devotions to the name, the reputation, of the LORD. Then he calls Him Most High, a name of God which means as high up in the ranks as any can attain. God is the only god and there is no other as high as He. He controls all created things, which is everything in the heavens and in eternity.

God’s name, the Most High, is first used in Genesis to describe the position held by Melchizedek, the king of Salem, before God. “He was priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18 ESV). David calls God Most High here and then again in Psalm 9:2. “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2 ESV). These two verses thank God and offer Him praise, honor and worship. In between Psalm 7:17 and 9:2 is Psalm 8, considered a Messianic Psalm, devoted to declaring the works and wonders of God and His favor toward Jesus Christ, His Son. This progression in the Psalms suggests the order in which they are delivered is vital to our understanding of who Jesus is, what He did and how He felt while living in a sinful world as a Man.

God alone can claim true righteousness. He alone can state those He has created are righteous. Those who intimately know Him understand that He is the source and foundation for their righteousness, even when they are surrounded and attacked by enemies who would harm them because of their relationship with God. “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” (Psalm 4:1 ESV). Jesus is both true God and true Man. As God He is the source of all righteousness. As a Man He recognized that in God alone would any person be declared righteous and be directed in the way of righteousness, as they live in the midst of those who are enemies of God. “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8 ESV). Those who follow Christ face the wrath of the world and the Deceiver. Following Christ brings God’s love and compassion. Christ gives His righteousness to those who are His, covering them so that God sees the righteousness of Christ and not the blackness of their sin. “The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psalm 7:8 ESV). His righteousness is given to those who are His and should bring shouts of thanksgiving and the joyful music. Those found in Christ, who take refuge in God, cannot be harmed by the Deceiver, those of the world and even their own sinful flesh. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you” (Psalm 5:11 ESV).

Who is the Most High? He is God and His Son is Jesus Christ. Gabriel came to Mary and told her God was blessing her and the world through her. She would give birth to the Son of 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 1:31-35 ESV)

Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is fully God and fully Man. Scripture is filled with the evidence of His divinity. The most substantial evidence is His miracles and especially His resurrection from death. There are spiritual beings, fallen angels, who are demons, who recognized Jesus as God. “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’” (Luke 8:28 ESV; see also Matthew 8:9; Mark 1:24-27; Mark 5:6-8; Luke 4:33-36; Acts 16:16-18).  These demons do not submit with joy and worship but cringe in fear and loathing. Those who belong to God worship God with joy and thanksgiving because of all He has done and is doing.

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Appointed Judgment

Awake for me; 
you have appointed a judgment.
(Psalm 7:6 ESV)

In the beginning, after Adam and Eve violated God’s one command, they hid themselves from Him. They who were created for intimacy with God could not face Him because of their sin. God pronounced judgment on the Deceiver and those deceived. 

God walked in His “garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 ESV). Adam and Eve did not want to face God, fearing Him and the judgment they knew awaited. Perhaps they imagined God did not know what they had done. God knows everything. This does not mean He predetermines everything. God is able to know what might have happened as well as what actually did happen. God judged the participants of the rebellion, giving the harshest judgment to the serpent, the Deceiver who inhabited a snake.

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 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 3:14-15 ESV)

Knowing the future, God appoints a time of judgment, telling of actions and circumstances that would happen. From the body of the woman would come one of her distant sons, one of her offspring, who would crush the head of the serpent. Though the serpent would strike out and bruise His heal, he, the Deceiver, would ultimately be defeated. The prophecy is not explicit. Only after its fulfillment is it known. Jesus died on a cross, He was raised, and in His resurrection is the defeat of the enemies of God, of sin and the Deceiver and those who continue to rebel and disobey Him.

To awake means to be roused, to stir up, be excited and triumphant. Awake is the third word of the risen trilogy. 

Arise: Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. (Psalm 3:7)

Lift up: There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” (Psalm 4:6)

Awake: Awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. (Psalm 7:6 ESV)

Jesus asks God to do that which God has already determined. God fixes Himself immovably against the assaults of His enemies. He bears a shield of protection against His enemies. He is triumphant against His enemies. God appointed a judgment, which means He has commanded and charged, given orders which cannot be circumvented or ignored. He will do that which He has determined to do. Judgment is the act of deciding a court case and includes bringing charges, presenting evidence, rendering a decision based upon the law, justly sentencing and finally, the execution of the sentence. God sits in the seat of a divine Judge and will uphold His laws and ordinances and decrees allowing none to circumvent His decisions and will.

God spoke to Abraham a number of times throughout his life. He promised him, and by extension, promised us, to make him a great nation and bless all people through him. “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing’” (Genesis 12:1-2 ESV). God gave a promise to Abraham and to those who are His. “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3 ESV). This promise extends to the nation of Israel with a condition. Their continual loving obedience toward God will guarantee His love and protection. He guarantees their protection by sending the Angel of the LORD, the pre-incarnate Christ.

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Exodus 23:20-22 ESV)

In His discourse on the end times, giving a parable on the final judgment, the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus explains what happens to those who obey and those who rebel. To those who obey He will say “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 ESV). To those who rebel, even those who think they are obeying but are not, He will say “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:421 ESV). God will judge all according to their belief or lack of belief in Him, the evidence of their intentions and the consequent actions of their wills.  Judgment is inevitable. 

Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:10-11 ESV)

Consequences of Sin

let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, 
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.
Selah.(Psalm 7:5 ESV)

Only the righteous can stand before God. “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers” (Psalm 5:5 ESV). 

We see in the Hebrew Scripture instances where an adversary stands before God and challenges Him in how He treated people. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6 ESV; see also Job 2:1) Satan is a proper noun, not a name, and means adversary, one who withstands or stands against. Twice in the book of Job, a spiritual being who was an adversary contests God’s dealings with Job, whom God calls a righteous man. Twice, God gives the adversary permission to deal with Job in a harsh manner, to test Job’s resolve to serve God. 

In another instance Jesus tells Peter that an adversary has asked for him.“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31-32 ESV). If this adversary is the devil, he will finally be driven away from God and imprisoned for eternity. “[A]nd the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10 ESV).

Only God is righteous. He gives His righteousness to those who are His. He embeds His righteousness in those He creates and then in those who believe the Gospel. Those who rebel against God cannot compromise His righteous character. The moment they rebel and sin they cease being righteous before Him. For God’s enemies to find any evidence of sin in God they can use to accuse God of unrighteousness gives them control over Him. Jesus, in this Psalm, makes a statement that gives His adversaries control if they find such evidence of sin in Him. “[I]f there is wrong in my hand,” (Psalm 7:4 ESV) then let the enemy be victorious. 

The Deceiver looks for anything in God and those who are His to use against Him, and them, to claim victory. There is nothing. If there were, then Jesus tells us God cannot be God. If there is sin in God, in His Son, the King of kings, then let it pursue and overtake, trample His life and lay His glory in the dust. “Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.”

Pursue means to persecute and is the same word used in verse 1. “O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me” (Psalm 7:1 ESV). Overtake means to reach out and secure, to attain. To tramplemeans to tread upon, to step on and stand on and laymeans to settle upon, dwell upon. These three words show absolute victory over an enemy. 

Being God’s enemy means God is viewed as an enemy. Those at war do not stop until they have utterly defeated their enemy. His pursuers and adversaries torment Jesus’ soul, that which is His very being, that which make Him who He is, His breath and substance, passions and desires, His moral character. Jesus’ enemy will examine on His life, that which is growing, active and fresh, the eternal energy which animates God. Jesus’ enemy, if there is found in Him any unrighteousness, will succeed in destroying God by overshadowing His glory, His splendor and honor, the eternal abundance of the riches, dignity and reverence due God because He is God. Should it find anything unrighteous in God, in His Son, then it has the upper hand and will defeat God.

This will never happen. The enemies of God cannot succeed in fining sin in God because there is no sin in God. There is no sin in His Son. Though Jesus walked the earth in the flesh and suffered the temptations of His enemies, He did not sin. He was God and Man the way God originally intended, a sinless servant.“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV). He alone, because He is sinless, is able to offer the sacrifice which covers our sin before God’s eyes. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV). If there is sin in Jesus he could never accomplish His eternal purpose. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).

Jesus stood before kings and rulers and was condemned by them to death, though He was innocent of any crime against man or against God. They, led by the Deceiver, wanted Him dead because they want God dead. For some reason, the Deceiver thought they could kill Jesus. God cannot die. God cannot sin. None will take His place.

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right. (Isaiah 45:18-19 ESV)

Introduction to Psalm 7

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD 
concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite. (Psalm 7:1 ESV)

Who is Cush, the Benjaminite? What did he say? Why was David concerned about the words of this man? What are the circumstances of the confrontation between Cush and David? When did this happen? There are many unanswered questions about Cush in Scripture. 

In the Hebrew Scripture Cush means one of three things. First, Cush is the country of Ethiopia, a land south of Israel. “The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush” (Genesis 2:13 ESV). Secondly, Cush is a name, first used for a grandson of Noah, the son of Ham (see Genesis 10:6). Finally, cush means black and may refer to skin color. The tenor of this Psalm suggests the person David is speaking about has an unrighteous character. However, there easily could have been a person, a Benjaminite, named Cush who opposed and challenged David. If he is a person then he is mentioned in Scripture only here.

Cush spoke against David. His words, and even his business and occupation, were against David. He was a vocal, active opponent of David. David was the enemy of Cush. Very possibly, Cush may have been a servant of king Saul, who continued his loyalty and allegiance for Saul after his death and David’s coronation. Saul was a Benjaminite and Cush may have been a close relative. In any case, it appears that Cush violently accused, criticized and blamed David for something and David responded with a song to God.

We do not have every circumstance of David’s life recorded in Scripture. Nor do we have every circumstance of the life of Christ recorded in the Gospels. Neither the annals of the kings of Israel or the Gospels are designed as a biography of the people mentioned. We are given information about these people so we might know God and recognize how He works. David sinned, reaping the consequences of his sin. Jesus never sinned, yet, felt He the brunt of the eternal consequences of sin.

We know that the Deceiver (from Genesis 3) is also an accuser, who brings charges of wrongdoing against those who belong to God “day and night.” “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10 ESV). We know that he (the Deceiver) lies and tempts people to walk away from the God who created them. He is a murderer and cannot speak the truth. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 ESV). From the beginning, when the serpent tempted Eve and Adam to rebel against God, the Deceiver has done everything he can to defeat God and destroy those created in God’s image.

David is speaking the words of Jesus in this Psalm. We know Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. Speaking to Mary about the child she would bear, Gabriel called Jesus the Son of God. “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 1:35 ESV). Jesus called Himself the Son of Man and had authority to forgive sin. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic— ‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home” (Matthew 9:6 ESV). God, in the Psalms, calls Jesus His Son and makes Him King over the rebels who would throw off His authority.“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:6-7 ESV). God’s decree includes giving Jesus, His Son, dominion over all creation (Psalm 2:8-9; Psalm 8:6-8). Yet, even though He is the Son if God with God’s full authority, people will still attack Him and those who identify with Him. 

Peace in the Face of Death

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.  (Psalm 6:2 ESV)

Is there a burden God cannot lift because it is too heavy? God created the heavens and the earth and all in the universe. He is not created but always exists. If there is anything heavy, it was He who created it for His purpose. There is nothing He cannot lift or carry, but there are many things He will not carry or lift. He cannot abide sin in His presence. “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV). No one who sins against Him, who dies in their rebellion, will stand in His presence. Christ took upon Himself the burden of the sin of everyone who has ever lived or will live. This weight is unimaginably heavy because it is eternal, not just temporal. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV). That which Christ bore for all was the sacrifice required by Himself to atone for the criminal activity of all created in His image. His sacrificial act brought peace where there was only wrath.

Having peace with God brings security and rest. Our own sinful flesh, the tugs and pulls of the world, and the Deceiver, fight to interrupt and frustrate our peace with Him. When the war against our peace with God engages, the sabotage of the world and the Deceiver insinuates we never had God’s peace. Even our own flesh may work and fight against our reckoning of peace with God. There appears to be no peace because of the assaults.

What does it mean to languish? Languishing means weak and feeble, as when all strength is expended and the muscles no longer respond to the commands of the persons will. This happens when a burden becomes so heavy it can no longer be carried. Bones means essence and substance as well as, body, limbs, physical members. Troubled means dismayed, terrified, and to hasten or quicken, vexed. David, when he wrote these words, had come to the end of his abilities and strength. His being was quickened with fear, his heart racing with terror, his body battered into submission. His soul distressed, facing a danger over which he could not control, which wanted to destroy him.

Hezekiah sang to the LORD after his deathly illness, when God promised him another 15 years of life. He praised God and remembered how he felt upon knowing his death was imminent. “Like a lion he breaks all my bones; from day to night you bring me to an end” (Isaiah 38:13 ESV). Hezekiah faced death and it exhausted him. So, too, throughout David’s life, there were many times when he was surrounded by those who wanted him dead. He found himself in places where he could do nothing to save himself. Both David and Hezekiah faced the ultimate consequence of sin. They faced death. Hezekiah languished in his bed as he lay dying. His innermost self was disjointed, torn apart with grief. Both these men reflect the feelings of Jesus as He faced an excruciating death. 

Hezekiah was given another 15 years of life after God answered his prayer. Hezekiah then slept with his fathers and died peacefully. David was rescued from those who wanted to kill him, reigned as king and finally died peacefully.

Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. The time that he reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. Then he died at a good age, full of days, riches, and honor. (1 Chronicles 29:26-28)

COVERED

For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12 ESV)

God blesses the righteous. In Psalm 1, God blesses a righteous man. “Blessed is the man who walks not …”  (Psalm 1:1 ESV). This opening statement of the Psalms points to the One Man who has never done anything wicked or sinful. There is only One. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If anyone else is righteous before God it is because they are found in Christ. They take refuge in Him. God blesses those in Christ because He blessed Christ and what happens to the Son of God happens to those in Him. “Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV).

How does God bless the Righteous One and those found righteous in Him? He will cover Him, which means to surround and to give a crown. Not only does God protect Him, spreading His “protection over them” (Psalm 5:11), those in Christ, but He gives Him a crown, seating Him in Zion. “As for men, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill”  (Psalm 2:6 ESV).Where God’s King is, so are His citizens.

Favor  is goodwill, acceptance, delight and pleasure. A shield  is a buckler and can also mean something piercing, a hook or barb. A shield is a defensive weapon designed to stop any attack without qualification. God does not even allow an attack to occur but hooks those who hate Him and leads them away from His presence.

God will allow nothing into eternity that conflicts with His ultimate will and purpose. His presence is enough to keep all protected from sin, from the Deceiver, and the world that draws people away from Him. There is no danger in His presence. There is peace and rest given to all whom he draws to Himself. Those found in Christ are protected and secure in their being and place before Him.

Throughout Jesus’ last week, after He entered the Temple and violently drove out those who desecrated His Father’s house, He challenged and was challenged by the religious leaders. They questioned Him, His authority, and His reason for acting violently against them. He challenged them, telling them parables meant to convict and draw out their sin so they might see their sin and repent. Just before launching into a long, multi-pronged accusation of them, Jesus asks them a simple question. Whose son is the Christ? “Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?  They said to him, ‘The son of David’” (Matthew 22:41-42 ESV). They rightly answered. Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God, known as Christ, is a descendant from the lineage of King David. He is a Man, as God originally created Man, without sin and with the character and personality of a servant, as Adam was created. 

Jesus then asks them other questions. “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him, Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45; see Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13). How can Messiah be a son of a sinful man? How can Messiah be a man at all?

They were confounded. “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions”(Matthew 22:46 ESV). They challenged God to debate. They sought to impose their traditions and will upon Him whom they are designed to serve. They refused to accept the words and works of the Man standing before them aware of the miracles He had performed, doing that which only God could do. Messiah was standing before them and they rejected Him.

David wrote the Psalms as prophecies of Messiah, of Christ. David’s heart reflected the thinking of the heart of Jesus. Though they hated Him and put Him to death, He fulfilled God’s ultimate, eternal purpose, and lives, reigning in eternity over His kingdom. His citizens are with Him. God’s blessings are on them because of Jesus. His blood covers them with His righteousness, protecting them. Christ’s blood is the only defense against sin, stronger than any fortress, impenetrable, a shield of God’s favor and protection.

Punishment

Meditations on the Psalms

You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:9 ESV)

Those who rebel against God face His judgment. Those who teach others to rebel, and lead them in their rebellion, face total annihilation. There is no wiggle-room in God’s courtroom.

Both to break and to dash them in pieces means to shatter to a point of destruction. That which is broken cannot be fixed and becomes useless. This statement is a direct answer to Psalm 2:3. “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” There is no hand strong enough to burst the bond, nor arm great enough to cast away God’s cords. God created people a particular way, giving them a nature and placing them within a universe of laws and boundaries which they cannot breach. Seeking to break the laws of nature has deadly consequences. Breaking the moral laws of God implanted within human nature as the image of God, has eternal, damning consequences.

Jesus is adamant about the effect of sin on people. Knowing temptation to sin comes naturally, because of the rebellion of the Deceiver and the corrupted nature of people, He still singles out special condemnation for those through whom the temptation is delivered.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:5-9 ESV)

Jesus’ disciples discussed among themselves who the greatest was in the kingdom. Such a question is arrogant and ignorant. They were speaking to Jesus, the Son of God. They had seen His works and heard His words. He is the King and the greatest in the kingdom. What earthly king would allow one of his counselors to ask such a question without quick and sure discipline and retribution. But Jesus did not come to hold Himself up. He came as a Servant, because that is His nature. Instead of pointing to Himself, He placed a small child in front of His disciples and told them “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4 ESV).

In Psalm 2, Jesus uses a parallel illustration to thrust home His point. Sin is judged harshly. God rains down His wrath upon those who cause sin and teach others, especially children, to sin. It would be better for the person who taught and led a child into sin to commit suicide than to finish instructing their student to the place the student becomes a teacher. It would be better to perform radical, maiming surgery than allow oneself to become enslaved by sin. Cut off your hand or pluck out your eye if either leads you to sin.

The implications of His teaching about sin is startling. Jesus is saying nothing in the world, nothing we do or want or desire is more important than God. To allow something which has no eternal value to control our lives and dictate our relationship with God is to rebel against Him. It is better to live a short life in extreme poverty with no hope of worldly success or continued physical survival, and know God, than to live in abundance and not know God intimately.

Either the person who follows God and His Son discipline themselves or God will discipline them. Either we give up the world and gain eternity or we give up eternity with God and watch the world fade away to non-existence when we face God at judgment.

This statement is a warning for those who teach and lead people to sin. You face total annihilation, your life and works become worthless, and your existence is consigned to a place away from the absolute source of life, which is God. Beware.