Renewing the Mind

(Romans 12:1-2 NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

In verse one of this passage the Apostle Paul is admonishing the believer to live a sacrificial life of worship unto God, through the ongoing presentation of our bodies to God’s will. Then in verse two, he describes how this life of worship and living  a sacrificial life is made possible through the renewing of our minds.

(NLT)  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…

Verse two gives us three words that are key to understanding, and applying this teaching to our lives.

Do Not Be Conformed

The word conformed is from the Greek word Suschematizo (soos-khay-mat-id’-zo), and ‘to conform one’s self (i.e. one’s mind and character) to another’s pattern, (fashion one’s self according to)’

God does not want the believer to pattern their thinking, behavior, or lives after the customs and practices of the ungodly culture they may live in. This is how we use to live before we were born again by the Spirit of God, and our nature was changed. Now we are to live by the dictates of the new creation realities of the new life within our spirit, and not according to the ways of this corrupt age.

The world used for world here represents a period of time, or age. Don’t pattern your life after the beliefs, practices, or customs of this present age, or culture.

  • Don’t think like this culture.
  • Don’t believe like this culture.
  • Don’t look like this culture.
  • Don’t act like this culture.

Paul elaborates further upon this in his letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians 2:1-7 (NLT) Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

Earlier in his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul describes some of the common practices of the ungodly. (Romans 1:29-32 NLT) Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. {30} They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. {31} They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving. {32} They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway. And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

In their writings to the local churches the apostles addressed the issues of marriage, sexual purity, sobriety, idolatry, justice, work ethic, friendship, just to name a few. These writings were given as instruction in helping God’s people understand the contrast between how a disciple of Christ is to live, as opposed to the customs and the practices of this evil world. The ways of the wicked are estranged from God. (Isaiah 55:7-9 GWT)  Let wicked people abandon their ways. Let evil people abandon their thoughts. Let them return to the LORD, and he will show compassion to them. Let them return to our God, because he will freely forgive them. {8} “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways,” declares the LORD. {9} “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

Be Transformed

The life of the believer is one of ongoing change. Going back to Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…

The Greek word translated Transformed is Metamorphoo, (met-am-or-fo-o) ‘to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. Christ’s appearance was changed (transformed) and was resplendent with divine brightness on the mount of transfiguration’ (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV)  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

(GWT)…we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

From the moment we are born of God we begin to be changed into the image of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 GWT)  Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. {18} God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships.

The Renewing of Your Mind

The renewing of the mind is the key to transformation. Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

The Greek word translated Renewing here is Anakainosis, (an-ak-ah’-ee-no-sis) a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better.

Our minds must undergo a complete renovation, leaving the old worldly way of thinking behind. (Ephesians 4:22-24 NKJV) that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, {23} and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, {24} and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Amplified Bible… (verse 23)…but let your minds be remade, and your whole nature thus transformed…

New Wine Skins

The renovation of a house, or piece of furniture must begin with the stripping off of the old, to make room for the new. We cannot be transformed by applying our old way of thinking to our new life in Christ. They are completely incompatible with one another. (Matthew 9:16-17 GWT)  “No one patches an old coat with a new piece of cloth that will shrink. When the patch shrinks, it will rip away from the coat, and the tear will become worse. {17} Nor do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, people pour new wine into fresh skins, and both are saved.”

We must strip off anything, and everything that would keep our minds from undergoing spiritual renovation. (Hebrews 12:1 NLT)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

As we feed upon God’s Word, His life and nature begins to permeate our mind, transforming our thoughts into His thoughts. His desires begin to become our desires, and His will becomes our will. In essence, He begins to increase, as we begin to decrease, until we can say, “not my will be done, but Your’s oh Lord!”

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nature of Man

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Man is a spirit, who lives in a body, and possesses a soul.

God who is Spirit stepped out of eternity and created the natural material world by the creative power of His living word. (Genesis 1, John 1) God created Adam, the first man from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:45)

When Adam rebelled against God, and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the paradise of God, sin entered his being and he was cut off from the life giving nature of God. Man became estranged from his creator, and all of creation was plunged into spiritual darkness as the result of sin that entered the creation. Romans 5:12 (NKJV) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

God provided the perfect sacrifice through Jesus, the Christ (the anointed one) to pay the penalty for man’s sin, and remove the judgment that was against all of humanity because of the sin nature that was inherited through Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:21-32 (NKJV) For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

In order to partake of this new life that is made available through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ man’s nature must be transformed through the new birth, or should we say the rebirth of his spirit. (John 3) You see man is by nature sinful, while God is holy. In order for man to come back into perfect relationship with God his nature must be transformed. For this reason when anyone calls upon the Lord Jesus Christ, surrenders to His will, and fully trusts His sacrifice to save them, God’s Spirit enters their being and recreates their spirit. In an instant they are transformed from a hell bound sinner into a child of the Most High God. We are not simply forgiven sinners; we are actually transformed within our spirits. Our human spirit is recreated in the image and nature of God. We literally are made partakers of the very life and nature of God Himself. 2 Peter 1:4 (NKJV)…by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust., 1 Corinthians 6:17 (NKJV) But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

When we are born of God by His Spirit our human spirit is recreated. From that moment the Holy Spirit literally comes to reside in us and we become the living temples of God. His Spirit leads us into all truth (John 16:13), bears witness with our spirit to confirm that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16), and equips us with His power and ability to live by God’s will, and carry out His Kingdom’s desires in the earth. (Acts 1:8, 1 John 4:4)

More Than Forgiven Sinners Many refer to the Believer as simply forgiven sinners. I have often heard people make the statement that “we are all sinners, saved by grace.” This statement is actually not biblical. You see we are not merely forgiven sinners. The nature of a sinner is sin, while the nature of the Believer is righteousness. Paul makes this distinction in one of his letters to the church at Corinth.  1 Corinthians 6:15-17 (NLT) What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. You will notice that the apostle Paul by the Spirit of God draws a clear distinction between those who are born of God, and those who are not. The Christian was a sinner, he/she was saved by the grace of God, and now they are the righteousness through their union with Christ.

You see the sinner is a sinner because of his/her nature. They sin because they are attracted to sin just as a fly is attracted to manure. This is where we all have come from. Before I came to surrender my life to Christ in 1982 I lived a sin filled life. I enjoyed the sin I was involved in because there is pleasure in sin for a season. (Hebrews 11:25) If sin had no pleasure people would try to avoid it, but because of the fleshly appetite that came through the fall man is attracted to every sort of ungodly vice. (Romans 1, Ephesians 4, Galatians 5) A sinner sins because sin is their nature, just as a cow moos, a horse whinnies, and a pig grunts. In order to transform a sinner his/her nature must be changed, or they will ultimately go back to what their nature dictates. 2 Peter 2:22 (NKJV) But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

When we are born of God, He takes out of us the sinful nature, and replaces our sinful spirit with a new regenerate heart that is born of His Spirit, and thus able to carry out his will. We are filled with His righteousness and joined to His life by His Spirit. This is the great exchange that is only available through the work of the blood of Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 5: 17 & 21 (Amplified Bible) Therefore if any person is [engrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous\ moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come… 21For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].

World religions attempt to reform man from the exterior but this will never work. The spirit of man must be transformed or he is simply a whitewashed grave. He looks good on the outside, but is dead on the inside, just like our cemeteries. Until man’s nature is changed he may look good on the outside, but is ultimately spiritually dead, and estranged to God. Through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ we can be transformed, and assured of the life and nature of God within our spirits.

A New Heart

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Man Is First and Foremost a Spirit. Genesis 2:7 (NKJV) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Even after God formed man’s body from the dust of the ground, Adam had no life within him until God imparted the spirit, or breath or spirit into his body. It is the spirit of man that animates the body. We could say that our spirit gives life to our bodies as we give life to the clothes that we wear. The body cannot live apart from the spirit within it. James 2:26 (NKJV) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. John 6:63 (NKJV) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

God is a spiritual being, and God a Spirit created all matter by the creative power of His word. (Genesis 1, John 1) Because God is a Spiritual being, when He created man in His likeness, after His image, He breathed into him the spirit in order that man could commune with His Creator. John 4:24 (NKJV) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the inner depths of his heart.

When man was created he lived in perfect harmony spirit, soul, and body. He was at peace with himself, peace with his surroundings, and at peace with God. It was not until sin entered the spirit of man that he was cut off from the life of God that flowed from his inner most being. As soon as sin entered Adam he was filled with fear and guilt, and rebellion. His nature was suddenly changed, as sin began to work corruption within his spirit, mind, will and emotions.

Because sin entered the spirit of man it became necessary for God to transform man’s spirit to bring us back into right relationship with Himself. As a result of sin working in the human spirit, man’s entire being became corrupted, and utterly bankrupt. Romans 3:23 (NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

God’s plan has always been to change the corruption of man’s heart, not simply his outer appearance. God’s intention was that He would remove the source of corruption from man by changing his inner most being. This change of heart would make it possible for us to walk in the life of God just as Adam, and Eve had done before sin entered the human race.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 (NKJV) Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them,and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

In the Gospel of John, chapter three, Jesus as he always does, goes right to the heart of the matter. John 3: 1-3 (NKJV) There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

This new birth that Jesus was referring to was a spiritual birth, not physical. He was simply elaborating on what had been revealed to the prophet Ezekiel.  Verse 4-8: Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The only way to enter into the physical world is to be born into it. However physical birth cannot bring forth spiritual reality. Therefore Jesus was telling us that to enter God’s Kingdom we must experience a spiritual rebirth. We must be born of the Spirit of God, or the breath of God. When we call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and surrender to His saving work of the cross, God by His Holy Spirit takes out of us the stony heart of sin, and replaces it with a new spirit recreated in the image of God, with His very life and nature. We become a brand new person inside. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

 

 

The Triune Nature of Man – Part 1

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the greatest hindrances which keeps people from living free from the destructive forces of the world, whether it be sin, sickness and disease, or addictive behavior; is a lack of understanding of who they are. I don’t mean who they are as far as their name, rather who they are in relation to their nature.

Most of the world views the human person as simply an intellectual and physical being. We have gone to great lengths to develop our intellect. Universities, technical and trade schools have all served to develop the intellect of man. We have also made great strides in developing the physical nature of man. Thanks to physical training and development, today’s athlete can run faster, jump higher, and perform greater physical feats than perhaps any time in recorded history.

However, when it comes to spiritual development, very little if any attention has been given to the development of the spirit of man. Even within the church as a whole, there is a great lack of teaching and understanding concerning the spirit, soul & body of man, and how each part relates to the other. Most of the church has dealt with the human person on the basis of mind and body. Yet the Bible has a great deal to say concerning the spirit of man, and its development.

The Triune Nature of God. God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, “a Trinity.”

Not three Gods, or a pluralistic God, consisting of three Godheads, or three different deities. But rather One God, who is manifest in three distinct personalities or persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As a simple example, we don’t look at an egg and say we have three eggs. We have one egg with three distinct parts. Although it is one, each part carries a distinct role in the existence and function of the egg.

Deut 6:4 (NKJV) 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

The Triune Nature of Creation.

The biblical number which represents God is the number three. Numbers have significance in Scripture. The following are just a few examples of the symbolism of numbers in Scripture.

3 is the number for God, and represents completion.

7 is the number represents fulfillment. God rested or reflected upon His creation on the seventh day. The millennial reign of Christ will take place in the seventh millennial from Adam & Eve etc.

8 is the number for new beginnings.

6 is the number that represents man.

40 is the number for testing.

All of Creation is stamped with God’s Nature.

(Psalm 19:1-6 NLT)  The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. {2} Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

God is a triune being, and therefore all of creation bears His divine mark. Here are a few examples.

Time:  God who dwells in eternity created time. The fullness of time is measured as past, present & future.

Space: The total calculation of space is three, Longitude (length), Latitude (breadth) Altitude (height).

Water: Water can be found in three forms. H20 = Liquid, Solid (gas), & Vapor (steam).

The Atom:  All matter is comprised of atoms, which are made up of three basic parts. The Proton (positive charge), Electron (negative charge) and Neutral (uncommitted).

The Three Parts of Man.

We can easily see that man’s nature consisting of three parts bears the mark of God our creator.

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV) Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Tripartite: “Having three corresponding parts, or divided into three parts.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In my next post I will go into greater depth about the function concerning the spirit, soul and body of man, and how each part makes up our being.

 

Loving God With All Your Soul

(Matthew 22:34-40 NKJV) But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. {35} Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, {36} “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” {37} Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ {38} “This is the first and great commandment. {39} “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ {40} “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Love God with All Your Soul

(Deuteronomy 6:5 NKJV) You shall love the LORD your God with all…with all your soul…

Our soul represents our identity, or who we are as individuals. Our identity is to be drawn from our relationship with God rather than our accomplishments, or by the values of society and others.

(Colossians 2:10 Amplified Bible) And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–and reach full spiritual stature].

When we draw our identity from our relationship with Christ then we are secure in who we are in God’s eyes, rather than falling prey to pleasing man.

(Galatians 1:10 NKJV) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

 

Why Moral Relativism Doesn’t Work

One of the most concise definitions of moral relativism that I have found comes from the Free Dictionary, by Farlex, and reads as follows.

The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation. It can be used positively to effect change in the law (e.g., promoting tolerance for other customs or lifestyles) or negatively as a means to attempt justification for wrongdoing or lawbreaking. The opposite of moral relativism is moral absolutism, which espouses a fundamental, Natural Law of constant values and rules, and which judges all persons equally, irrespective of individual circumstances or cultural differences.

Moral relativists claim that morals are not absolute. That society and individuals simply construct those morals that are best suited for a particular situation. Those who embrace the modernist or naturalist worldview believe that our morals are simply the product of DNA programming and that we have absolutely no choice in the morals that we have been given. In their opinion, one’s morals are simply instinctive, and serve to ensure their reproduction and survival.

The moral relativist imagines that we can simply choose the morals that best suit us at any given moment. They believe that there are no ultimate governing standards such as God’s laws, which serve as the compass for all moral actions.

The problem with this theory is that it simply does not work in the real world. For instance, when a person says “there are no moral absolutes,” they have already contradicted their belief, because they are making an absolute statement.

We use objective rational in a court of law, science, and other disciplines of life. However when it comes to morals people imagine that they can simply claim that all things are relative.

Let me give you an example of the erroneous idea of this belief in the real world. If I were to steal your cell phone you would claim that you had been wronged wouldn’t you? In doing so you are making a moral judgment that stealing is wrong. In order to make this judgment you must believe that it is wrong to take something from someone else without their permission wouldn’t you?

But what if I said that I had every right to take your phone, because all things are relative? What if I claimed that to me it was perfectly fine to take anything I wanted from you, because it served my personal interest to do so?

Truth and morals must correspond with the real world, and are not merely the making of our own personal preference. The moral relativist is deluded into believing that he or she can simply choose whatever morals they imagine that best serves them at any given moment apart from any universal standard of right and wrong. While this may sound good in theory it simply does not work in the real world.

Love God With All Our Heart

(Deuteronomy 6:5 NKJV) You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

God has given us His nature through the new birth, thus empowering us to walk in His love.

(Romans 5:5 NKJV)…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Spirit who was given to us.

As believers we are born of God, thus we are born of love. The Spirit of God within us has recreated us with the divine nature of God within us; therefore we can love as God loves.

(1 John 4:7-8 NKJV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

To love God with our heart requires that our affections and emotions be upon God. Our emotions will naturally follow what we set our heart upon. For instance, when we say, “I really have my heart set upon this,” It really means that my emotions are engaged in the pursuit of it.

Our emotions are a powerful part of our lives, and therefore we must guard our hearts to assure that our emotions or affections are not misplaced. This is perhaps one of the greatest snares that we can fall prey to.

(Proverbs 4:23 NKJV) Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

Our obedience to God demands that He be kept as the central focus of our hearts. Anything or anyone that takes that spot becomes an idol in our lives. The rich young ruler serves as an illustration of the snare of misplaced affections.

(Matthew 19:16-24 NKJV)…21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

God called David a man after His own heart, because David made a willful decision to make God the focal point of His affections.

(Psalm 18:1 NKJV) I will love You, O LORD, my strength.

(Psalm 91:14 NKJV) Because he has set his love [heart] upon Me, therefore I will deliver him…

Love, the Governing Characteristic of God’s Kingdom

(1 John 4:16 NKJV) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The primary characteristic of God’s nature is love. All that God is, and all that He does is the result of His love. Yet this love is far superior to any mere human understanding of love. Human love is often predicated upon the behavior of others towards us. As long as others treat us well, or reciprocate with the appropriate emotions or behaviors then we in turn give them our affirmation and affections in return.

God’s love on the other hand has absolutely nothing to do with the actions of others, because God does not seek man’s approval, or depend upon the affirmation of man for anything. While God desires that we respond to His love, and willfully return His affections through our obedience, worship, and kindness to others, His love for us does not change in the least if we refuse to do so.

From this we can conclude that God’s love is an expression of His eternal consistency. He is from day to day the same, and in this we can have confidence that His love for us will never fail, nor can it be exhausted.

Love Is the Greatest of All.

Love is the fulfillment of all the commandments of God. There are 613 commandments (laws) of God in all, and these can all be summed up within the ten commandments given by God through Moses.

These ten commandments can be divided into two categories. The first four are an expression of our love for God, while the last six deal with our love for our fellow man.

Jesus gave us the essence of all the commandments.

(Matthew 22:35-40 NKJV) Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, {36} “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” {37} Jesus said to him, “‘you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ {38} “This is the first and great commandment. {39} “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ {40} “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

(NLT)  All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

The first four of these commandments emphasize our love for God.

1. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.

            2. ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image.

            3.  ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not

                 hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

            4. ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

We cannot love God if we do not obey His Commandments.

(John 14:15 NKJV)  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

(1 John 2:4 NKJV)  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

(John 13:34 NKJV)  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

The last six of the commandments emphasize our love for others. It should be noted that we cannot fulfill the first four apart from keeping the last six.

5. ‘Honor your father and your mother…

            6. ‘You shall not murder. (Hating someone is the same as murder in God’s eyes)

            7. ‘You shall not commit adultery. (Looking with lust is the same as committing

                adultery)

            8. ‘You shall not steal.

            9. ‘You shall not lie.

            10. ‘You shall not covet.

Thus we can clearly see that the conclusion of all of the commandments is love. God is love, and therefore it only stand to reason that that the governing principle of His kingdom would be love.

Jesus gave us a detailed description of the practical application of how we are to live out our love for God, and others in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6-7). Latter, the apostle Paul gave us further description of the characteristics of love (1 Corinthians 13). Finally, the apostle John reiterated that we cannot love God if we refuse to keep His commandments, nor can we love God if we do not love others (1 John).

 

 

 

God in the Image of Man

“In every condition of life, and in forming your opinions on every subject, let it be an established principle regulating your conduct, that nothing can be honorable which is morally wrong. Men who disregard or disbelieve revelation often err from the true standard of honor, by substituting public opinion of false maxims for divine laws. The character of God, his holy attributes, perfect law constitute the only models and rules of excellence and true honor. Whatever deviates from these rules must be wrong, and dishonorable…all the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” Noah Webster

For more than fifty years our country has witnessed an escalating abandonment of the   absolute moral commandments of the Bible, in favor of moral relativism. Proponents of this view constantly tell us that our founding fathers were deists, and atheists, who intended our nation to be governed as a secular country, sighting radical Muslim nations to illustrate the oppressive nature of religion.

While I can’t deny that much evil has been perpetrated in the name of religion. To suggest that government and society as a whole is better off if left solely to man’s own choosing, is not only the pinnacle of human arrogance, but the denial of many of the evils that have come about in the last century because of a lack of moral absolutes.

We must deny the evidence of history, to draw the erroneous conclusion that religion is responsible for all of man’s woes. The worst atrocities in history have not been carried out by a religious people, but by those who imagined themselves to be answerable to no higher power than themselves. Rulers such as Lennon, and Mao Tse-tung butchered millions because they believed that man was the highest moral authority.

Human pride has led many to reject the moral absolutes of the Bible, and create a god of their own making. A god they can manipulate to agree with whatever they want to justify, no matter how twisted or perverse. To invoke this god, followers merely recite the sacred words, “To me god is…” And presto, their god is ready and willing to conform to whatever they want him,her or it to become at that moment. Sadly, this god only exists in their imagination.

“We see everyday that our imaginations are so strong and our reason so weak, the charms of wealth and power are so enchanting, and the belief of future punishments so faint that men find ways to persuade themselves to believe any absurdity, to submit to any prostitution, rather than forego their wishes and desires. Their reason becomes at last an eloquent advocate on the side of their passions, and [they] bring themselves to believe that black is white, that vice is virtue, that folly is wisdom and eternity a moment…” John Adams, 1772, our second U.S. President.

May this nation humble itself and turn back to the God of the Bible, to whom we owe our liberty, and very lives.

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