Tag Archives: spiritual life

Righteous Judge

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. [Matthew 5:25 ESV]

Your adversary is the one who has collected and examined the evidence against you and is ready to present this evidence to the judge for determination of guilt or innocence. In many places throughout Scripture our adversary is Satan, the accuser. Here, our adversary is the prosecuting attorney who is God and all of the evidence of our sin shows guilt. What is the evidence the Judge will examine? This Judge peers into the heart, knows the thoughts of all and sees everything whether done, possible, probable, hidden or blatant. He sees and knows the absolute corruption of sin.

Sin has bent away from righteousness the thinking of the hearts of those made in His image. Just as God wants to have a relationship with the complete person so too, Satan, the world and sin wants to corrupt the whole person. We associate the world with sin though sin is internal, coming from within the person, and not external. Eve was tempted by the Serpent when she “saw that the tree was good for food” and that the food “was a delight to the eyes” [Genesis 3:6 ESV]. Her adversary used the pleasures and attractions of the things of the world to tempt her internal self to rebel against God.

God made nothing which wasn’t good, declaring all He made “very good” [Genesis 1:31 ESV]. This includes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and its fruit. As part of the world this tree, like every other tree and its fruit, was good. It was not sinful. There was nothing in and of itself which made the fruit of this tree poisonous or bad. It was made delicious. And it looked delicious. But the fruit of the tree was forbidden to them as food. Adam was told to not eat the fruit from this tree.

When we cling to the world we become vulnerable to the temptations of the world. Not everything in the world is wrong or sinful. It is our desires, when attached to the things of the world as having more personal value than they should rightfully have which develops sin in the thinking of our hearts. Rebellion is a condition of the thinking of the heart, not just the “thinking” which is the intelligence and not just the “heart,” or the moral emotional self. Living in the presence of the forbidden demands we obediently trust the Object of faith. That which is forbidden by God, whether a thing or person, may not of itself be sinful. It is desire which uses the thing or the person as a catalyst to bend us away from obedience to God’s command which is sinful. Desire unencumbered by discipline, responsibility and obedience twists our motivations, encouraging disobedience, which causes distrust, which kills faith.

Is desire wrong? Are we not created with desires? Desire to love, be loved, have meaningful relationships? Desire for anything forbidden by God is not automatically sinful. Yet, desire moved to action gives birth to sin which grows and takes over life and is stopped only by death. Eve’s desire was to have what God forbade. She had everything else. Sin and rebellion destroys relationships between God and others.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. [Genesis 3:1-6 ESV]

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1John 2:15-17 ESV]

God is the eternal Judge with authority to render sentence against all who rebel against Him. He sees the evidence of disobedience and has published the sentence for sinful rebellion. He then placed that sentence upon His Son and executed sentence fulfilling His eternal just and righteous requirements.

Now His command is all eat from the tree of Life and live. God’s will is all receive the grace given through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Rejection of His grace is rebellion, sinful, and brings judgment and sentence.

Advertisements

Spiritual Nourishment

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [Matthew 5:6 ESV]

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” [John 6:53-58 ESV]

To hunger and thirst suggests a basic need is missing to the point of endangering life. God fixed the universe with certain physical laws which cannot be violated. There may be a force applied to those laws to overcome them but the laws themselves cannot be changed or negated. One of these laws states life is sustained by taking in specific nourishment designed to maintain life.

In the physical world people need food, water and air to continue living. Take away one of these elements for a period of time and the person dies. Once dead the person cannot be brought back to life. These physical laws of the universe are brutal and unforgiving. How long can a person live without food? Over a month, generally, dependent upon how much food stores they carry in their bodies. How long can a person life without water? Generally, four to seven days, again, dependent upon how much water stores they have in their bodies. At about day three or four the person’s brain is so deprived of water they go insane. How long can a person live without air? Again, it depends upon the circumstance. Generally, four minutes is the maximum. Submerged in frigid water, the body begins to shut down and go into a type of hibernation the person will continue to live and may be resuscitated after an hour or so.

How long can a person live without God?

They cannot.

Part of the image of God in man is spiritual. People are spiritual and physical beings. Just as God fixed the world to sustain physical life in specific way so He also set the spiritual realm to operated within a set of specific laws. This means at physical death people continue to exist spiritually. God created man to have a relationship with Him. Breaking that relationship does not mean people, when they die in this physical universe or world, cease to exist if they are not connected to Him. God created people to exist for eternity. Either they exist within His life sustaining presence or they exist outside of His life sustaining presence. Either way, people continue to exist after physical death.

Separation from that which sustains physical life concludes in physical death. Separation from that which sustains spiritual life concludes in spiritual death. Just as dying of thirst or hunger or lack of air causes physical agony so dying from a lack of spiritual nourishment causes spiritual agony. Can you imagine existing for eternity separated from any source of nourishment? This is called hell, spiritual separation from God, the absolute source of spiritual life.

Since man is a spiritual  as well as physical being he needs both spiritual and physical nourishment. Yet, sin has separated man from God, the Creator and Sustainer of life. God continues to provide for man’s physical needs through common grace. Thus, man lives taking in only physical nourishment, never spiritual. Many have recognized this and begun seeking spiritual nourishment from sources other than God. They receive the equivalent of empty calories, stuff that fills but does not nourish. Filling oneself up on such empty spiritual calories may give a feeling of fullness and a level of satisfaction but leaves the person even hungrier, more desperate for that feeling of fullness. There is no benefit. In fact, doing this is detrimental and harmful. The spiritual person starves, becoming accustomed and desensitized to the need for spiritual nourishment. This may actually be beneficial for those destined for hell. If they do not realize the lack of spiritual nourishment now, they may not later.

God’s call includes the awakening of the spiritual desire for spiritual nourishment which is had only in God. Our relationship with Him is determined by Him, not by ourselves. The clay does not say to the potter, why did you make me such?

You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? [Isaiah 29:16 ESV]

Does not the One who created all have absolute rights over what is created? Does not the Creator determine how the creation will work and exist? For any to say, I do not need God condemns that person to existence away from God.

I have heard a sermon where the point was made that no one in hell will want to be in heaven and no one in heaven will want to be in hell. We are not sent anywhere against our will. Ultimately, rebellion against God has absolute consequences. Obedience to God must be just as absolute. There is no merit in obedience. Obedience is expected.