Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

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Evil Opposition in Scripture: A Series…

May 25, 2012

Part 1. Introduction…

From the moment of the Fall there has been a tension present in history.  Adam and Eve felt it and hid themselves in response to it.  God described it in the curse of the serpent and the promise of the Seed.  Cain displayed it with the murder of his brother.  From Cain on, there were a long line of those who embodied it and fell victim to its effects.  The “tension” in question is presence of evil opposition to God’s anointed.  The tension of messianic opposition is rooted in Genesis 3, and branches out through scripture.  Present along with the proto-euangelion in Genesis 3 is also a proto-opposition that bears witness to the type and fate of those who will seek to oppose the seed of the woman.

Where the allusion to the messiah is present, so too is the specter of His opposition.  The presence of these two forces together creates a palpable tension that pulses through the narrative of the Bible.  Each side is marked by characteristics that point forward to their ultimate fulfillment.  Messianic characteristics found in individuals within the text point us to Christ as judge, lawgiver, king, and Immanuel.  Likewise the characteristics of the opposition point us to their ultimate fulfillment in Satan as adversary, deceiver, self-exalting murderer, and defeated one.

This evil opposition and its characteristics can be seen in individuals throughout the text as they seek to oppose the will of God, often as they oppose His chosen people Israel.  As the types for Christ become more pronounced and specific within the text so does the type for Satan.  Our purpose here is to examine this character of evil opposition, its source, its mean and its in end the text.  We shall attempt to prove that there is a link between three passages of scripture that inform our understanding of the presence of evil opposition to anointed of God.

First we will examine the story of Absalom and his rebellion against his King in II Samuel.

Second we shall center on the figure represented in Israel’s taunt of Isaiah 14, “the son of the dawn” and I will argue that Isaiah has Absalom in view in this passage.

Third we will see how both of these Old Testament texts point forward to Judas’ opposition to the Messiah King in the gospels.

Finally we shall draw these texts together and try to make sense of their common characteristics.  By looking at these texts we desire to increase our understanding of both the opposition; Satan, and the One being opposed; Christ.  To that end, as we peer into the darkness may the marvelous light of God may be more pronounced; that we might gain hope by seeing the futility of those who oppose God.

In the Next Post, Part 2, we will discuss the characteristics of evil in Scripture.

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On Defining Depression…

May 16, 2012

Webster’s defines depression as: “an act of depressing or a state of being depressed: as a (1) : a state of feeling sad (2) : a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide.”

Fundamentally though, depression is the emotional experience of the perceived absence of God’s love and affection; that stems from guilt, sadness, fear, or isolation; resulting in prolonged sorrow and inward anger.This affliction affects both Christians and non-Christians alike.

We must remember why we were created. Human beings were not created to exist in isolation, human beings were not created to live for themselves; rather, Mankind was created by God, in His image, to exercise dominion over creation and share communion with God, enjoying Him forever. Sin however, corrupts this plan, sin comes between us and our emotional experience of being in and enjoying God’s presence. Consider Adam and Eve in the garden; once sin occurs they scurry and flee from God, covering themselves in shame and hiding from the One who calls to them in love.

For those without God: Apart from God man feels fear, confusion of purpose, and discouragement, this is the experience of every one of us apart from Christ. This fear and discouragement lead us to seek comfort in every quarter of the world, and when we have exhausted all the world has to offer in terms of comfort, depression begins to set in.

For the Christian: Depression sets in when we no longer perceive the presence of God’s love. This does not mean that His love is absent or that our hope is invalid, we simply cannot feel the warmth of His hope emotionally. Sin obscures this hope, guilt clouds our view of God, disappointment in others and in ourselves binds our hope and afflicts our souls.

Depression may arise out of spiritual angst, physical deformity or perhaps biological imbalance. Concerning biology it is important to remember that the Fall affected not only our standing with God but the very fabric of our human physical existence. The fractures of creation spread across human spirituality, human physiology, human biology and human interaction, like a shattered windshield, until every inch of the surface is obscured. Man in his wisdom and by God’s grace, has developed ways, medically, to address perceived diagnosed biological causes for depression. And just like taking aspirin for headaches many may be able to find some portion of relief through medical means. That having been said, too often Christians and non-Christians resort to medical solutions without ever turning to the Bible, their local church, or to God to address their depression.

For all those who experience depression, the greatest resource we possess is God revelation of His love for us through His word. This revelation speaks to His eternal purpose for our lives; His love and grace which overcomes our sin; His promise seen in the future return of His son, in which we place all our hope. (1 Peter 1:13) Often when going through depression, we find little comfort in these truths, but the Word gives us an anchor that is eternal, imperishable, unbreakable, powerful, and sure to moor our lives to and ground our unstable emotions. If one does not know Christ, the first step is to repent believe and be baptized, confess Christ and experience the joy of God’s love found in His grace through Christ. For those of us who do know Christ, we must continually confront our downcast souls with the command repeated over and over again to “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Ps. 42)

Read on and take comfort in the death of depression through our HOPE in God.

Depressions Death through HOPE…

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How to Love our Enemies…

February 7, 2012

Matthew 5:44, “pray for those who persecute you…”

Jesus models for us the actions we must take to display love to those who are our enemies.  The love here in this passage is the Greek word Agapaw or “Agapa’oh”.  This love is a self-sacrificing love; love that goes beyond feeling, but moves to action.  This is the same word we find in John 3:16.  The world was hostile to God, denying Him and choosing their own way (Romans 1) and yet he “loved” them so much that he sent His only Son. That is the love for “enemies” that is displayed before us.

How do we show enemies we love them?  Love for our enemies begins in our heart.  Jesus has already told us that we are to consider ourselves blessed when “others insult you and persecute you… because of me.”  Jesus makes clear that outward actions have their genesis in the heart, whether its murder, lust, adultery, anger, it begins with the condition of our heart.  Here He instructs us concerning love.  We are to display our love to our enemies through prayer.  We are to pray for them.  When we are reviled we don’t curse in kind, we pray.  When we are taunted we don’t take the bait, we pray.  When we are teased we don’t respond in anger, we pray.  It is difficult to pray for anyone you hate, and that is kind of the point.  Prayer softens our heart, orients it toward God, and focuses on Him and His love for us and others.  We are rarely more like Christ than when we pray for those who seek our harm.  “praying for an enemy and loving him proves mutually reinforcing, the more love, the more prayer, the more prayer the more love.”[1]

“When you pray for someone while they are persecuting you, you are assaulting the throne of God on their behalf: “God, help this person.” That is supernatural! If you do that, you are walking in the heavenlies with Jesus. One of the benefits of praying for our enemies is that it changes us. It is impossible to go on praying for another without loving him or her. Those for whom we truly pray will become objects of our conscious love.”[2]


[1] Carson, DA. The Gospel of Matthew. The Expositors Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1984. 158

[2] Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Crossway Books

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The Legalities of Lust… In the Sermon on the Mount

January 26, 2012

In Matthew 5:27-30…

Does this passage primarily function as an indictment against legalism (the Pharisees), or is it addressed toward everyone?

It does both. It condemns legalism and the “cover” that legalism affords.  Legalists maintain a sinful lifestyle but offset their sin by acts of righteousness in order to take shelter under those acts and feel forgiven.  To those who would draw the line and attempt to box God in and say, “well I’m not really being adulterous, I haven’t slept with that woman, I’ve just looked at her and thought about it…” Jesus says “ah but I am concerned with the desire of your heart.  If you claim to know me, and claim to want the blessing of my Father then listen to what I have said, mourn over your sin and you will be comforted; hunger for my righteousness and you will be satisfied; be pure in your heart and you will see Me for who I really am,  And that vision of me will outshine any earthly temptation you face.”

The message of Jesus is that the key to sexual purity is to seek “a circumcised heart (Duet 10:16), a heart on which God’s Holy Law is writtenJer 31:31-34), a new heart (Ezek 36:24-27), a heart that is pure (Matt 5:8).  Only God may grant such a heart in fulfillment of his new convenant promise, the promise that forms the theological foundation for the radical demands of the sermon on the mount.”[1]

 What does it mean to look at a woman to lust for her?  Is there to be no admiration for a woman’s body?

“The man whom Jesus here condemns (in Mt 5:27, 28) is the man who deliberately uses his eyes to stimulate his desires; the man who finds a strange delight in things which waken the desire for the forbidden thing.”  The verb here is a present participle, which is to say that it has the sense of on-going action.  To look and keep on looking, the lustful look “locks eyes on another person and uses him or her to fuel one’s sexual imagination.”[2]

“The “look” that Jesus mentioned was not a casual glance, but a constant stare with the purpose of lusting. It is possible for a man to glance at a beautiful woman and know that she is beautiful, but not lust (Job 31:1) after her. The man Jesus described looked at the woman for the purpose of feeding his inner sensual appetites as a substitute for the act (James 1:14, 15). It was not accidental; it was planned.[3]

The “lust” in view here is the word epiqumhsai or (epi-thu-meysai)  which means literally to fix the desire upon (object could be good Mt 13:17, Lk 22:15 used of Jesus; or bad 1Co 10:6). It means to have a strong desire to do or secure something. To desire greatly.

Mankind, both male and female were created in the image of God.  In the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. (Gen 2:27)  This includes their physical person as well as their spiritual nature and soul.  Whether one lusts and sins when one looks at the human body is not reliant on the ‘body’ viewed but in the heart of the viewer.  “To the pure all things are pure. But the man whose heart is defiled can look at any scene and find something in it titillate and excite the wrong desire.”[4]

To appreciate a human body properly, within the context of God’s good creation, one must see beyond the physical and see that this is someone created in God’s own image made to know Him and glorify Him.  The problem with today’s pornography culture is that individuals are not seen as the image of God but rather as a means to excite the eyes for sexual gratification.  They are a means to an end.  Anytime we look at the opposite sex as a means to some end we are not glorifying God but denigrating his creation, and ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Quarles, 124.

[2] Ibid. 117.

[3] Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

[4] Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press.

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The Costly Consequences of Sin… Christ’s Solution

January 25, 2012

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

-Matthew 5:29-30

Is there any Old Testament precedent for Jesus’ teaching on removing stumbling blocks for oneself (in this passage the right eye and the right hand).

There is no specific example of this (mutilation) being done; but its absence is key in and of itself.  Would that Israel had that mindset; that the Jews would have chosen to flee sin and idolatry instead of indulging it.  “Several Old Testament prophets used adultery as a metaphor to describe unfaithfulness to God. Idolatry (Ezekiel 23:27) and other pagan religious practices (Jeremiah 3:6-10) were viewed as adulterous unfaithfulness to the exclusive covenant that God established with His people. To engage in such was to play the harlot (Hosea 4:11-14).”[1]  Jesus is reminding and re-emphasizing the seriousness of adultery; whether physical adultery, mental adultery or spiritual adultery.  Israel, as a people, had been unfaithful to God, and as a result many had found judgment and condemnation.  Better to incur loss and stay in God’s blessing than remain whole and stand outside his presence.

The point of this hyperbole is to communicate the willingness of the individual to flee sin even at great personal and perhaps even physical cost.  There are two examples in Scripture that bear witness to this in principle; a positive example and a negative one.

The positive example is that of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Gen 39:10-20).  Joseph, though single, viewed sexual relations with the wife of another man as a heinous act.  He fled and did so at a great cost to himself and his well being.  In this case it was not his hand that was causing him to sin, nor his eye but his proximity to Potiphar’s wife.  So he fled and eliminated that proximity.  As a result he lost his position, his job, and was cast into prison, but maintained his character and was ultimately restored.

The negative example would be that of David.  He gazed out over the rooftops of Jerusalem and saw Bathsheba. (2 Sam 11)  Instead of fleeing, he indulged the look, lusted and finally acted.  As a result of his sin; she became pregnant, David killed her husband, their child died at birth and David’s kingdom was greatly troubled.  If David had known the consequences that would come and could have chosen, one might assume that he would have been willing to loose an eye or a hand to prevent such evil from occurring.

What did Jesus mean when he said ‘tear out the right eye and cut off the right hand’?

Most scholars today take this statement is hyperbole, or extreme speech that was not intended to be taken literally.  Jesus mentions the ‘right’ hand and the ‘right’ eye, the right hand “typically had greater strength, dexterity, and purity.  The right hand was used to greet others, bestow blessings, and establish legal agreements.”[2]  Thus the right hand was seen as more valuable and useful, its loss would be greater than the left.  The point being that the Christian should be willing, not only to make sacrifices, but genuine even costly sacrifices to avoid sin.  For a life that does not avoid sin is a life lived in sin, a life bent for judgment.

“Avoiding spiritual downfall is worthy of any sacrifice, no matter how great!”

So if we think about this in modern terms; if your job is causing you to sin i.e. coworkers tempting you to steal or cheat etc. better to quit your job and maintain your integrity than to stay and engage in sin.  If your friends are tempting you to sin i.e. drink, have sex, do drugs, look at pornography etc.  better to remove those friendships and follow Christ than place those friendships above your relationship with Jesus.  If you are tempted by pornography or internet gambling etc. to the point that you can not sit at a computer without engaging in it, better to get rid of your computer and enter heaven; than to keep your computer and continue to live a life of sin.  Either way your actions reflect the orientation of your heart.  A pure heart endeavors to be pure in action; an impure heart is careless and inspires sinful action.


[1]  Butler, Trent C. Editor.. “Entry for ‘ADULTERY'”. “Holman Bible Dictionary”.
<http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T140&gt;. 1991.

[2] The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), dexioV 2:37-40.

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From Whence Comes Our Confidence?…

April 4, 2011

From whence does our confidence in ministry come?

God in His infinite wisdom has made us mortal.  We will seek, serve, secure, and be saved, only to die.  The greatest priests, preachers, evangelists and prophets are made to serve but a while; then the bloom fades, the flower withers and the ground on which they preached remembers them no more.

It is tempting to place your hope in that long chain of witness, whose humble starts were in upper rooms and arid wilderness.  The priests of Israel and the Apostles of Christ were, after-all, commissioned by God; the priests to practice atonement and the apostles to proclaim that atonement perfected.  When we take pride in those testimonies and works, in the faithful service of such men, and the glory of our own obedience, God reminds us that we were predated in plan, purpose and providence.  Before the Apostles there were the priests; before the priests there was Aaron; before Aaron there was Abram (Abraham); but before Abram there was Melchizedek.  (The “king of righteousness, ” the lord of Salem (peace) who worshiped and served the Lord Most High.)  If Abram had been tempted to think that the God of his calling was in his head, or his own creation; he arrives in Canaan to find a priest of his God.  A priest of an order, pre-Jewish, Pre- Christian, serving the pre-existent God.  The writer of Hebrews gives the most encouraging word for those disenchanted and dismayed with the weakness of human priestly service.  “For the Law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” (Heb 7:28)

The Law does what it does, it illumines the weakness of man, and guides him in his service to God. (Rom 7:7)  But thanks be to God that the object in which we place our trust is not the service of the weak, but the saving of the Son, who “always lives to make intercession for us.”  This guarantor of this new covenant, is not limited by time, not constrained by old covenants but has been, is and will be our  perfect sacrifice and savior.  So we go forth with confidence to enter the Holy places, albeit briefly, with confidence, rooted in “the blood of Christ, the new and living way.” (Heb 10:19)

 

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 8, 2008

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This season is incredibly rich, both in beauty and in joy.  Go out one evening and enjoy the silence; cold winter nights are as peaceful as they come.  We recall the joy of the first quiet Christmas when, aside from the angels singing, the cold hills around Bethlehem were silent.  As the final king of all Israel, the Christ Savior of mankind entered the world, not with pomp and dancing but with labor, crying, and stillness.  While His life and call to mission should be our focus this and every season, we should always bear in mind that the King will return. 

Though we know not when He will return, we should live our lives in anticipation with our ears inclined to hear the trumpet peel, for the second coming will be anything but quiet.  The kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.  Then the only sounds to be heard will be praises to our King.