Tag Archives: new creation

To Stand Before God

The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. (Psalm 5:5 ESV)

God is holy, righteous and just in all His dealings with those created in His image. It is the image of God in people that drives them toward Him, for He created all for intimate relationship with Him. Yet, sin drives people away from God and is the reason God judges harshly those who rebel against Him. “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”  (Genesis 6:5 ESV). God’s image is not corrupted. However, the vessel that contains His image is bent and broken beyond repair. God does not fix His creation that is broken. He recreates. Jesus calls this being “born again.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 ESV). Paul calls those who are His, a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). God does not recreate those who continue in their rebellion, and is grieved that those He created for relationship refuse His gift of recreation.

Those who are wicked have set themselves above God. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us’” (Psalm 2:2-3 ESV). God will not allow anyone or anything to take His rightful place. “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4 ESV). For the High Priest during Jesus’ time to allow the Temple of God to fill with those who cheated God’s people coming to worship Him, was the height of dishonoring God. Wickedness looks at personal accomplishments that are temporary and will fail, over the work of God, which is eternally permanent.

Boastful means to shine or flash a brief light, looking for praise and commendation from those immediately present. It is also the act of a madman and a fool. Those who are insane cannot think or feel in a clear, normal way. God gave His image to people so behavior would be naturally righteous. Sin entered the race and people cannot act in a godly manner without direct intervention. Rebelling against God is insane. Foolishness is a characteristic of a person who has lost reason or is unable to reason, having no understanding and acting in a way that brings hardship and suffering. In Scripture a fool is a wicked and depraved person, who rejects sound wisdom and pursues temporary, sinful pleasures. Those who turned the Temple into a marketplace showed they had no intimate understanding of God, nor valued Him and His house of worship.

God will not allow those who rebel against Him to claim His righteousness. He will judge them. “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5 ESV). Those who God identifies with His Son, who are blessed, will stand before Him, shielded by the righteousness of His Son. There are two different words for stand in these first few Psalms. In Psalm 1 the word stand means to rise up before, fixed, validated, proven and fulfilled. This person is covered with the blood of Christ, their sin forgiven and their place before God firmly established. Those who are wicked continue to sin, having rejected the sacrifice of the Son, thinking they are able to stand on their own merits. They cannot stand before God, their works are judged as unrighteous, and are driven from His eternal presence.

In the verse, “the boastful shall not stand before your eyes” (Psalm 5:5 ESV), the word stand means to station oneself, as in a place of authority, or to present oneself. Those who bought and sold animals, traded currency, positioned themselves in the Temple as a necessary part of the Temple worship. With the blessing of the High Priest and those priests who worked in the Temple during their rotation, people had to use these merchants if they wanted to worship God. Annas’ Bazaar was in the Court of the Gentiles, restricting those Gentiles who wanted to learn about God and worship Him in His house to a place filled with worldly activity and noise.Everything about the Temple worship at that time was corrupted and dishonoring to God.

God hates that people are driven away from Him. His Temple, during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, and at other times during the history of Israel, was turned into a place to worship idols. To hate means to detest, to have an aversion toward. They hate God through their iniquity, which means idolatry and refers to those who hunger and thirst after unrighteousness. Jesus is candid in His assessment of those who train and teach God’s children to sin and rebel. “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” (Matthew 18:5-6 ESV). Those who, after rejecting the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the command to repent of their sin are judged and sentenced and executed according to His righteous standard. They will perish.

Those who watched Jesus’ violent action against the merchants questioned His authority. They asked for a sign. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” (John 2:18 ESV). His answer to them was a prophecy of His ultimate purpose for coming. They would kill Him and He would not stay dead. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 ESV). Jesus was speaking about His own body, not about the physical structure of the Temple. John calls Jesus’ body the Temple. “But he was speaking about the Temple of his body” (John 2:21 ESV). These same people would use His words against Him at the kangaroo trial, where they condemned Him, an innocent man, to death. “At last two came forward and said, ‘This man said,“I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days”’” (Matthew 26:60-61 ESV). They do not want to understand God. The collusion of the priests to use the Temple for their own pleasure and profit brings God’s ultimate wrath upon them. They hated Him. He hates their behavior of rebellion against Him and will hold them accountable.

Motivation and Intent

Our thoughts, words and actions germinate and grow in the soil of our motivations watered and fed by intent. By intent I mean that which drives a person toward an object of desire or perceived need. Intent is the active agent between our motivations and what actually happens, what we actually do. Intent and motivation are so closely related one may easily be lost in the other. Motive is deeper, abiding, while intent can change direction dependent upon circumstances, maybe the appearance of something more desirable. Intent is fickle. Motive is revealing.

Discover that which motivates you and you will discover identity. Focus upon intent, the evidence of what you do, and you will show others who you are. Jesus hits hard the intent of the thinking of the heart. “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” [Matthew 5:22 ESV]. Here, anger means to provoke to rage or to become exasperated with the object of your wrath. It is unjustified anger toward someone who is not meeting your personal expectations in a timely manner. Your expectations are your standards arbitrarily placed upon another. No one will ever completely meet your expectations no matter how long or short a time you give them.

Jesus does not exclude all anger. God gave us the emotion of anger as part of His image. He knows anger. His anger is justifiable. Unless we conform to the likeness of His Son our anger is unreasonable, an excuse to gain control over what He has created and owns.

We do not determine our own motivation. We discover the motivations God has given to each unique person. He created us individually to serve him. His image in us powers our motivation to love and serve Him by loving and serving those around us, with whom we come in contact. Sin did not destroy the image of God in us but corrupted it, bending us and our motivations away from God. As we honestly see ourselves before Him and discover the corruption of our deepest self we come to recognize our motivations are opposite His, bent away from Him. That which motivates us is rebellion against Him.

We cannot determine our innate motivation. We can and do determine the intent of the thinking of our hearts.  How we put action to our motivations, what we focus on and strive for, is something we do control. Our words and actions reveal the intent of the thinking of our hearts to God and others.

But God changes those who belong to Him, recreates them and gives them a new heart with new motivations. Anything we focus upon, which does not come from our new, recreated, eternal relationship with Him springs from, not God, but the sin which still seeks to own us. Relinquishing control of our self to the sinless God changes everything. Theoretically, we cease to foist our expectations upon others because we no longer have personal expectations. We have only God’s eternal standards against which we measure ourselves and others. When our anger arises it is because God’s standard and law has been violated not because our expectations have not been met. Our anger is a flag which tells us either we are doing something wrong, rebelling against Him, or someone around us is rebelling against Him. Those who are His are motivated to by truth, justice and righteousness, goodness and holiness, the intent of their hearts striving to know God both intellectually and intimately.

What self-righteous audacity we have when we are angry with others and with God based upon our own unrighteous and therefore unreasonable expectations. His statement in Matthew 5:22 is not hyperbole. Our unjustified anger brings His judgment. No one has the right to judge any action or word against any other standard than God’s. Such an action wrestles control away from Him. How can anyone who says they belong to Him then turn and impose their personal standard upon Him and those He has created.

Those who are His do have the responsibility, even the deep motivation, to expose sin. Our place in this world, why God has left us here, is  a witness for Him and against the world. Our presence exposes sin and shines truth, justice and righteousness, goodness and holiness, the character of God to a godless world.

But that is not the way you learned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. [Ephesians 4:20-27 ESV]

Broken Made Whole

No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light. [Luke 11:33-36 ESV]

God created the first humans, Adam and Eve, perfect, with the ability to grow and learn and create. They were created in His image, with the light of His being shining from them, not just through them. His light not just a reflection. They, themselves, were the source of illumination. Yet, the light was God’s light as much as it was their own. Their light was more than a mirror or a fire or a lamp. Imagine a mirror which does more than reflect, God’s a glass from which light comes as naturally as from the sun.  When you saw them you saw God but you still knew them as individuals.

Sin attacked and tried to extinguish the light by destroying them. Sin broke their mirror, the glass of which they are made, shattering them, splintering them and scattering them across the ground. Still, each shard continued to glow with the light of its essence for each shard contained the image of God, which cannot be destroyed. But the scattered pieces were useless and now dangerous. Each piece, sharp and deadly, could cause injury. A careless footfall and there was a cut or puncture, or they become a  weapon, using the sharp, ragged edges of the incomplete glass to cause serious injury or even death.

Children know intuitively how to sin and hurt each other. They have to be taught more sophisticated ways to sin. Small children also instinctively know God and have to be taught to believe lies about Him. God’s light shines brilliantly through the pieces of a child. Slowly, over time, each of the pieces will begin to lose their luminescence until finally they are darkened and even more lethal.

Such is the state of fallen man. Created to have a relationship with God and others, the broken person instead tries to destroy God by injuring and maiming others. There is in each enough of God’s light and image recognizable to be used against Him. God created the whole person, not pieces. It is the whole person who accurately shows God in their person. Pieces show broken and incomplete bits of God from the world’s perspective and the world, looking at God through the eyes of sin, cannot see God correctly, misinterpreting Him, making Him into something in their minds and hearts He is not.

God does not reassemble a broken mirror or glass. He recreates it. So God does not take the person shattered and deadly, marching onward to death, and patch them, or reassemble them. He sweeps them away and recreates them whole so their light, His light, will begin to shine, and grow in strength and intensity throughout life. He adds to the image the likeness of His Son, whose Body was wounded and murdered by the shards of all.

Once God recreates us He leaves us, His new lights in the world, to draw those in the world toward Him. But Jesus gives us a curious saying, suggesting light in one who says they are God’s and are not, can be darkness. It is the same point He made with salt losing its saltiness. God’s light is there but if there is no relationship then even His light in the person is slowly extinguished until there is only darkness. God recreates the person whole and grows the whole person, reigniting His light, their light, in them.

His intent is obvious from the words of Jesus. It is their light but their light points to God. He does not leave those who are His in the world so they may attract people to themselves but to Him. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” [Matthew 5:16 ESV]. Where the light attracts to self it soon becomes darkness, a shard of dead glass capable of destroying.

Are those around us attracted to God because of who we are?  Are we allowing God to form us into the image of His Son, or are we angry with Him because of our circumstances and refuse to submit? For those who are His He will not stop until He has finished His work. Perhaps we cannot see our own light and need to listen to those around to discover what God is doing in us. How tenuous and sure is our place before God in this world.