Tag Archives: sin

Truth

You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.(Psalm 5:6 ESV)

Why does God hate lies? When He spoke to the Israelites after He brought them out of Egypt He told them “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 ESV; see also Deuteronomy 5:20). To bear false witness is to speak deceptively about anything to your neighbor or before a group, such as a court of law. God hates lies because His essential, eternal character is truth. He created Man in His image, which means for anyone to speak something that is not true goes against His will in creation. Lying is first against God and then against others. It is one more way for people to reject God and His perfect design for them. In the Garden, the Deceiver lied to Eve, who believed the lie and acted in rebellion against God. Lying is an act of rebellion against the eternal nature of God.

Those who speak lies are anyone who tells a falsehood or deceptive thing about anything, including libel and defamation, slurs and slanders, making statements fabricated to lead another to an untrue conclusion. Deceitful  means treachery, and involves betrayal, treason, disloyalty and sedition.

There are two other words used to describe God’s justice toward those who lie. God will destroy those who lie, which means to perish, vanish and make go away, blot them out, sentence to eternal death, which is separation from Him, the source of life. God abhors them, which means to detest, loathe, to make an abomination, all ritually and ethically. God does not tolerate lies. He then equates lying to those who are bloodthirsty, or those who seek to put others to death for no reason. God equates lying to murder.

When Jesus violently drove the vendors and moneychangers from the Temple courts He was challenged by the religious leaders. They asked Him for a sign, a testimony, to establish His authority to clear the Temple. It was their Temple, in their minds, and not His. It had taken many years to complete and was still not finished. They were in charge of what occurred on the Temple grounds. Jesus’ actions were a direct challenge to their traditional authority. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”  (John 2:18 ESV).

Jesus’ response made no sense to them. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 ESV). They thought He was speaking about the physical Temple, the structure rising around them. But He was speaking about His body. “But he was speaking about the Temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:21-22 ESV). He did not say He would destroy the Temple. He implied they would destroy the Temple, which is His body. He prophesied their actions in murdering Him and His accomplishment in rising from the dead.

How did they manage to condemn Jesus to death and destroy the Temple that was His body? They lied. Their lies revealed the thinking of their hearts and the bloodthirsty nature of their actions. They believed false witnesses.

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. 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 26:59-61 ESV; see Mark 14:55-56)

When Stephen was executed for his witness about Jesus and the gospel, those who condemned him used almost the same lies they spoke against Jesus.

Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:11-14 ESV)

Their lies led to the murders of both Jesus and Stephen. They did not violate only one of the statements of God in Exodus 20, but many. By lying and murdering they dishonored God, heaping derision upon His name. Jesus was resurrected and Stephen will be resurrected. Those who lied will stand before God and then be driven from His presence, unless before they die they repent, admitting their sin and embracing the grace of God given through the Man they murdered.

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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.

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.

God’s Election of the Saints

To those who are elect exiles (alien immigrants) of the Dispersion (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

People will infuse current meanings into translated words from an an ancient or historical text. A word translated from an ancient language into a modern English equivalent may not carry its true meaning to the readers. The word electis such a word.

Peter uses elect, one of the most misunderstood words in the New Testament, to describe the position of the Christian before God. In modern usage, elect means to select someone for a public office through the process of voting, choosing from multiple candidates. None of the New Testament writers who use the word suggest God has a multiple choice, selecting one over another based upon the individual’s qualifications or popularity. If God’s choice is dependent upon anything done by the person, then none would be chosen. Election is not a political word. The placement of the word is important in the understanding of what it means. In the ESV, the translators have placed the word electjust before the word exiles (alien-immigrant). Other translations have the word elect before the phrase “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Peter is describing the position of those chosen by God.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (1Pe 1:1-2 ESV)

Elect means to be picked out or chosen according to God’s eternal criteria, through Jesus Christ. When used about Jesus, it means Messiah, as appointed by God to the highest possible office or position in eternity and over the physical universe. “‘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). In the same way, those who are chosen are preeminent among all because of their position in Christ, not because of who they are or what they might have done.

Jesus calls those who are His, the elect. They have a special place before God and are protected from the eternal consequences of sin by Him. God cuts short the trauma of the end times because of those He has chosen for Himself. “And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:22 ESV; see Mark 13:20). They are the ones who, when confronted by the beguilement of the world, are not led astray. “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24 ESV; see Mark 13:22). Those who are in the world, who stand firm for God and are not led astray, are gathered together by God when He determines His creation is to come to an end. “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31 ESV, see Mark 13:27). God hears and responds to the righteous prayers of the elect. “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”(Luke 18:7 ESV).

In the English translations of the Greek, the word elect is also the word chosen. One of the best-known sayings of Jesus is “for many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14 ESV; see also Matthew 20:16). The word chosen is the word elect. Jesus speaks about those who have been summoned by God. Those who refuse to obey the summons are cast away from Him, while those who responsibly and obediently act upon the summons, are chosen by Him. Though the sinful person is required to obey God, the actions of the sinful person in no way carry merit. People were created for relationship with God. Obedience to His commands is a natural action of their being.

Paul often uses the term electreferring to Christians. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33 ESV). Those who are elect are those chosen people who have obeyed the summons of God and not continued in their rebellion against Him. Being chosen is being given those characteristics that God deems valuable in both the temporary world and in eternity. Being chosen is emulating the character and personality of Jesus Christ.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

“They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”(Rev 17:14 ESV

Morning Prayer

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:3 ESV)

God wants us to listen to Him and talk to Him. Praying to God upon first awakening from sleep is evidence of a person’s devotion to Him and desire to intimately know Him.

Morning is not the only time to pray. Morning is a good time to pray. We should pray always, at all times of the day. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 6:16-18 ESV). There is something about morning and prayer that has captured the discipline of many of the greatest spiritual leaders, beginning with Jesus. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed”(Mark 1:35 ESV; see also Luke 4:42). Throughout His ministry Jesus prayed often at all times of the day.

Sleeping in the Psalms may mean resting with eyes closed and moving into the physiological state where one dreams. But it may also mean death. Jesus raised people from the dead and was, Himself, resurrected from death. Sleep is not death but the word is often used for someone who has died. Death is an enemy for the living in this world because it symbolizes God judgment. But sleep is a time of peace and rest that shows God’s pleasure and protection. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8 ESV). Jesus was not afraid of His enemies during His ministry, nor of death and dying, for He controls death, it does not control Him.

Morning is used twice in this verse. Morning is the time to direct special attention to God. The ESV adds the word “sacrifice” to this verse, and sacrifice may be implied. Prepare means to direct, to arrange, order, furnish, as in to prepare a sacrifice or a meal or some other special experience. Watch means to keep close look out, to spy, observe or watch closely. The Psalmist suggests he has an anticipation of something important happening during his morning prayer. Praying in the morning prepares him for the meeting with God, insuring all is in order and ready for him to receive what God is giving. Our morning sacrifice is ourselves to His purpose and will.

Dreams and visions are times when God speaks to people about themselves and their relationship with Him. God spoke to Joseph about Mary, his future wife, in a dream (see Matthew 1:18-25) telling him to marry her even though she was pregnant with Jesus. After Jesus’ birth, God spoke to Joseph again in a dream, telling him to take his family to Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of Herod the Great (see Matthew 2:13-15). In Scripture dreams have special meanings. However, outside of Scripture, dreams are often misinterpreted, giving the dreamer an excuse to act on a superstitious belief. Nostradamus dreamed and led many people astray. Other times dreams will frighten and keep a person from acting. Sometimes God speaks to people in their dreams. Most often dreams reveal the innermost thinking of our hearts, often suppressed because of pain and discomfort. That which we long for may be revealed in dreams. Often, we dream and immediately forget our dreams upon waking.

Praying in the morning becomes a way to prepare for the day after a night of rest and dreaming deeply. Intimacy with God begins from the moment we awake. Or, a lack of intimacy is shown by removing thoughts of God from our hearts and minds from the moment we awake because of the “great” things we must face or accomplish. Praying in the morning becomes a discipline of obedience and love for God.

Jesus charges those who are His to stand ready for His return at a moment, driving home His instructions with several parables about those who lost because they were not prepared and ready for the return of their Master. He is speaking about His second coming “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44 ESV) and “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13 ESV). Jesus characterizes His coming as a thief in the night. “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” (Revelation 16:15 ESV).

Discipline involves every thought and action. We are at war with sin, our own flesh and Satan and the world. Each of these enemies would storm our lives and enslave us, dragging us away from God. God’s Spirit in us, and the Word of God, gives us the tools we need to fight this war. It is a war fought in the heavens while the battlefield is within each person. “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). Jesus does not fix the old heart, the dead person. He makes a new person with a new heart that hungers and thirsts for Him and His righteousness, driving the recreated person to intimacy with Him. We are left in this world for two reasons. First, we are witnesses to the grace and truth of God before the world. Secondly, God is preparing us for eternity with Him. Our preparation begins at the moment of salvation and continues in eternity.

True Peace

Meditations on the Psalms

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8 ESV)

People want peace. Most every person who has ever lived has wanted to live in peace. There are some, a handful of disturbed people, who thrive on conflict and war. As they inflict as much pain as possible, they are quickly stopped so the remainder of the people can have a peaceful existence. There is no peace without God. Having peace with Him guarantees eternal peace but also guarantees temporal persecution. The world cannot offer or guarantee peace, only danger and conflict and turmoil. Any longing for peace comes from the inherent image of God found in each person. Any actual peace comes only with an intimate relationship with God. All of the turbulence and instability of the world is a direct result of sin. Where there is sin, there is no peace. Sin causes turmoil with all relationships.

Both the Psalmist and Jesus demonstrated their reliance upon God by declaring their trust in Him to protect them when they sleep. Peace is the word shalom and means completeness, safety, soundness, welfare, prosperity, quiet, tranquility, contentment, friendship. To lay down and sleep are the same words used in Psalm 3 and can mean to take rest over a long time or, euphemistically, to die. “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me” (Psalm 3:5 ESV). David was not afraid to die because of his trust in God. Jesus was not afraid to die, knowing the purpose of His ministry was to die. He anticipated being tortured to death but walked to His death with confidence and peace with God.

It is God only who gives anyone peace, allowing them to dwell,or abide, remain, to have one’s home and inhabit, in safety or security. Our peace and security is God, not just in God. One of God’s many promises to the nation of Israel, as He led them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, was peace and security, provided His people continued to follow and obey Him.

 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20 ESV)

As the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land they were given orders by God. They were to obey the commands, decrees and directions of God. They were to not adopt or practice anything done by the people of the land they are entering. The people of the land worshipped idols, not God, and practiced evil. God strictly warned His people to devote the inhabitants of the land they were possessing to destruction, to kill them all, otherwise they would lead His people away from God. “You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you” (Exodus 23:32-33 ESV). God commanded His people to not sin, nor to follow the world or a people who taught and practiced sin.

Peace with God, and living in peace before Him, comes from and through a righteous and obedient relationship. Though we face death, though Jesus faced a horrible death, yet those who are God’s have eternal peace with Him. Out peace is had through Jesus Christ and out identity with Him is in His life, death and resurrection. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit for those who are His. With the Holy Spirit comes guaranteed peace with God.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Peace is not circumstantial but wholly dependent upon a vital relationship with God, the Son.

Relentless Joy

Meditations on the Psalms

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.(Psalm 4:7 ESV)

Our expectations, because of the image of God in us, are to naturally do that for which we were created. God created us for relationship with Him. Sin brought rebellion, making the world a dangerous place. Our expectations of God are He must bless us, and when He doesn’t according to our arbitrary standard, we curse Him. We cease to rely upon God, not realizing all we have, our very lives, are given us by His grace and sustained by His decision.

Jesus tells us God gave Him more delight and contentment, because of Their relationship, than any person could have, even when all their perceived needs and wants are met. God put joy in His heart.

Joy means mirth, gladness, gaiety and pleasure, and can mean happiness. Spiritual joy is more than happiness. Spiritual joy is the relentless pleasure of intimately knowing God. Abound means to increase or become many, great, or long. We measure our riches with physical belongings, pleasurable and sensual activity, or manipulative control like power, grasp that which will last only a short time. If our measure does not last for eternity then we settle for failure.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)

Mary, the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from death, demonstrated her joy in intimately knowing Jesus. John tells us she was the one who anointed Jesus. “It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill” (John 11:2 ESV). John tells us this fact before it happened in the sequence of the story because her devotion is important to Jesus, bringing Him great pleasure and joy. What she did for Jesus is given prominence in the declaration of the gospel. “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13 ESV; see Mark 14:9). God is not selfish in accepting the worship of those He created for relationship with Him.

Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with an expensive perfume, pure nard, or spike nard. “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3 ESV). Spike nard perfume was expensive because the plant from which it is derived, Nardostachys jatamansi, also called Indian spike, grows only in the Himalayas. Nard also means having the power of persuasion, skillful in producing belief, trustful, relied upon. Mary used a perfume to anoint Jesus which symbolically described His character and personality. Mary showed her devotion to Jesus by cleaning His feet with the perfume and drying His feet with her hair. She would, if necessary, die for Him.

But there was one present who thought more like the world than like one abandoned to God. Judas, who would betray Jesus, who was charged as the Disciple’s treasurer, who stole money from the moneybag for himself, was displeased with Mary’s devotion.“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12:5 ESV; see Matthew 26:9, Mark 14:5). His focus was upon what God should do for him, not what he was obligated to do for God. He who walked with Jesus, saw His miracles, heard His words and teachings, spent enough time with the Son of Man to intimately know Him, hated Him. Judas betrayed Jesus to the authorities that wanted to kill Him, for a handful of money. Perhaps his hatred grew over time as he saw missed opportunities to increase his own wealth and standing in the world. He wanted an abundance of grain and wine, measuring his riches with a temporary, transient standard, refusing to see those riches would be destroyed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52 ESV)

Jesus tells us to find our joy in Him, in eternity and in knowing God, which is the natural product of having the image of God. Our eternal joy cannot be found in the world or in anything of the world. Our worship of Him brings God great joy. He looks to eternity, where those who are His will no longer rebel against Him. They will have a righteous and healthy relationship with their Creator and will enjoy Him as He enjoys them. There is no sin in eternity in God’s presence.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. (Isaiah 65:17-19 ESV)

Jesus looked toward His death with anxiety and anticipation. “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 ESV). Before His crucifixion He raised Lazarus from the dead knowing He, though He would soon die on a cross, would not stay dead. We who believe His resurrection, who find ourselves in Him for eternity, give God the greatest joy. In turn, He fills us with His Spirit who gives an abundance of joy, with peace and rest, to we who are God’s.