Tag Archive: Glory



“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed us to the message of reconciliation.” -Romans 5:17-19

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The Holy Bible should not be considered some mere book, that one reads once through, or even a few times, and that is all that is required. It is the Word of God and it may speak to us through a single verse in many different ways. This being the case, there is no such thing as too much repetition within the Holy Writ. We must consistently read and study, letting the Lord speak to us all the while, in order that through and by it, we may overcome the burdens or challenges that my arise within our lives. In addition, the memorization of Scripture, assists us to overcome the temptation of sin, which so easily entangles.

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When we look at the temptation of Christ as he wandered through the wilderness, we find that our Lord answered the temptations from Satan with Scripture. Whenever Satan attempted other tactics, they were shot down in a similar fashion. This should be a lesson unto us. Often times the Lord guides us to Scripture, prior to, or preceding, a particular temptation in our lives.

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Though I have wrote on this particular verse before, I do not question where the Lord is leading me in His word, and with every verse I ponder over it, and more importantly, I pray that it would remain in remembrance. In addition, I pray that the Lord would illuminate the Scripture for me, that it may be yielded as a weapon against darkness if and when the time should come.

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When a person comes to Christ, it is easier to believe that our past sins are forgiven, rather than those which are committed under grace. However, the glorious message of reconciliation shows us that even our current and future sins can be covered under this same grace. Concerning this truth, being a new creation, we are renewed day by day. Though we may have backslid yesterday, today is a new day in which our sins, by Christ, may not be counted against us, in the sight of the Almighty. Christ, along with the Spirit that dwells within us, shows that God is committed to His promise of reconciliation for all those covered in Christ blood. Given this, we should be committed to this message that others may be reconciled unto God.

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If we confess with our mouth that, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we become born again and are created anew. We are given a new Spirit by Christ, and our old selves pass away. This is only possible through Christ, who paid our debt when He took our sins upon Himself at Calvary, justifying us from our trespasses. Therefore, when we die in body, we will be given a new one, clean and free of decay, as Christ has. This is all due to the glory manifest at the cross, that in our faith in the Son, it may be credited to us as righteousness.

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“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” -Romans 6:14-15

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Once a subject comes to the Lord, and evil’s grasp over a person begins to weaken, the enemy reaches into his well worn bag of tricks to pullout a biggie. Those who come to the cross know that they are forgiven for their sins, and the newly created, not yet having moved onto solid food (Hebrews 5:11-14), may be approached with the temptation that Christ’s blood, which grants righteousness through faith, gives one freedom in sin. God’s perfect word addresses this very thing. Yet, even as I mentioned , that this is a common temptation when first coming to the Lord and knowing only the elementary truths, it can, in fact, afflict even those who have moved onto a more mature diet.

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As Romans 6:15 urges us not to sin while we are covered with grace, The Book of Hebrews reiterates the danger of using Christ’s blood as an excuse for iniquity:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” -Hebrews 10:26-27

In Exodus 34:7, there are three kinds of sin that are mentioned. There are those sins, which result from the habitual acts and thoughts of the human nature, more or less, because of our “natural” faulty faculties, by which we fall short of the Glory of God. For instance, catching ourselves cursing at someone in traffic. I will refer to these sins as a “breach.” Though I may give these kinds of sin different terms, this is strictly for the purposes of differentiation, and by no means necessarily reflect how the Lord may judge these sins, which is not for me to say. These are just general categories that seem to be implicit in Scripture.

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The second category, and addressed throughout this entry, is iniquity. Iniquity is willful sin in the sight of God. The willful sins are of greater consequence. We know this, not only because of the dangers represented through God’s word, but as those who have engaged in willful sin under grace (as I have) should be able to testify, the conviction by the Spirit concerning such sin weighs more heavily than does the conviction of a breach.

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Thirdly, and yet first in terms of severity, is “transgression,” or willful rebellion. To rebel against the ways of God, is to rebel against the nature of God, and in such sin there is no forgiveness, for there is no repentance. True repentance is not merely the asking for the forgiveness of sin, but turning and walking away from it.

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The similarities of the last two examples reside in the fact that they are both willful. Yet, in the case of transgression, it is a willful rebellion against God. Between iniquity and rebellion there is a subtle difference, in which the degree of the rebellion is emphasized. In iniquity, while one does certainly rebel in the very act of the willful sin, and in fact all sin is disobedience, the rebellion in the heart may not be to the degree of transgression. The latter is often strove for in a permanent sense, that the transgressor is not willing to give all to God, or even allow God to work in that area of sin.

As with some breaches, iniquity too can be habitual by nature. This is usually due to our indulgences in that sin, either prior to coming to Christ, or those times when people fall away and rebel willingly, as I too am guilty of. So for such people like myself, where is the hope? Does it exist for those like me who, by my own admission, have rebelled and fallen away (more than once) having both iniquity and transgression represented in my life? It is somewhat distressing personally to read verses like the one contained in Hebrews. Is there any hope if one is guilty of iniquity?

By the grace of God, I am here to tell you, absolutely! There is still hope, for as I stated earlier, in regards to the convictions of the Spirit, which are manifest when those sins that reside in the scope of iniquity are committed, the conviction is a lot, “heavier.” By the mere conviction alone, we see the Holy Spirit still communicating with us and weighing a burden of conviction upon our hearts. Taking this into account, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is, “a guarantee of what is to come,” (2 Corinthians 1:22) we know by the Word itself we may still be under grace.

Yet, let us not undermine the danger in such intentional sin and disobedience. As with Samson, the Lord eventually left him, and as the Scriptures tell us, he was not even aware that this was the case, which is the biggest tragedy. Thus, when iniquity becomes so prevalent in our lives, we may not know when we have moved from under grace to under wrath. To which point this occurs is not for me to say, nor would I, lest by doing so I may cause a stumbling block for others, for man has a tendency to push the limits of what is right, edging as close as he can before crossing the ethical boundaries he perceives, or that which have been set by the Lord. This kind of knowledge is reserved for the Lord and is between the Lord and the trespasser. The fact is, with a willful progression and steadfastness in iniquity, Hebrews suggest that by engaging in this with abandon, there is no sacrifice to cover the sin!

However, even to those who have at one time in their life, “trampled on the blood of Christ,” or fallen away, you have hope abounding! This is because of our gracious, merciful God, to whom belongs all the glory! Even Samson, though the Lord left him, at his end called on the Lord, and by doing so, God gave him the strength to destroy the temple. In addition, as the parable of the prodigal son testifies, there is much rejoicing in heaven when a former son, or daughter, returns to the Lord. In fact, more so than that of the righteous.

Our Lord is gracious and loving, but He warns us sternly not to take advantage of the grace He has offered us. It has been wrought with the blood, pain, suffering and humiliation experienced by His one and only Son, our savior, Jesus Christ. Shall we choose to hammer the nails deeper into Christ by continuing to sin, knowing full well what Christ endured on our behalf?

The three types of sin brought up earlier can be recovered by grace with a repentant humble heart. Yet, man in his imperfection still continues to sin, but Christ’s blood has both covered the sins of the past, and of the future. The warning is powerful, as it should be, for as some will testify, including myself, with the indulgence of iniquity you by your own accord have departed from under the cleansing blood of Christ. If this is the case, and I pray it isn’t, then you may find yourself much like Samson, with the Lord leaving you and you being unaware. Woe to the man or woman who in such a state is perishing.


“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

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In a previous entry (see my entry concerning Romans 1:12, “On The Correlation Between Faith and Love”), I had discussed some of the like attributes between both love and faith. Yet, when we consider our faith in the Lord, we find love to be a necessary condition for our faith in Jesus Christ. Without this love, our relationship with the Lord cannot develop and will eventually be negated by the doubt that we as believers are sometimes confronted and assaulted with, for our faith cannot be steadfast without loves inclusion in the relationship. We can obviously see this when it comes to loving our brethren, how much more should it be applicable to our relationship with the Lord, who is love? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how love and faith are the prerequisites to developing a deeper friendship with the Lord (see my entry concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). 1 John 4:19 states (see my entry, “On Love’s First Cause”):

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Throughout my life, many times have I heard the phrase, “God is love.” From this verse in 1 John, it is more than apparent that this is truth, for it links our love with His. Though God has many attributes, including discipline, these all have their basis in love. Even concerning His wrath, He takes no pleasure in the punishment of the ungodly, but God cannot co-inhabit with evil. As Psalms 5:4 tells us, “With you the wicked cannot dwell.” In the same way two forms of matter cannot occupy the space, so too, the wicked cannot dwell with perfect holiness. This, is in fact, a contradiction, and thereby we need the justification that was manifest and offered upon Calvary. What God does take pleasure in, however, is the justification of the wicked by His Son! This is not only backed up in Scripture, but if it wasn’t true, Christ would not have came and died upon such a cruel instrument of death in the first place. Yet, the cross became His glory! If this did not appease God’s justice and have the ability to, not only change a sinners being, but also clothe the depraved with a garment of righteousness, then the Trinity would have never been separated. Yet, since it has alleviated God’s justice, we are granted the opportunity to come to the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in faith. By this very thing, which should be evident in our hearts, and through which springs all godly obedience, we are saved. Thereby, we next find ourselves in The Book of John, at one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, Chapter 3, Verses 16 and 17:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

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Regarding God’s discipline, it is also based in love. Hebrews 12:7-13 likens God to a loving worldly father (indeed when looking at family proper, or rather, a proper family, we find much in the family structure symbolizes God’s nature):

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

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Notice that Verse 8 clearly expresses John 3:16, for if everyone, by love, undergoes discipline, then it follows, “that God so loved the world,” is indeed true. God’s love is absolutely perfect and in complete accordance with His nature. Before our existence in the world came to pass, He already loved us and had our justification planned out in Christ. We can come to the Lord in the first place, as sinners, due to this preexisting love. If it exists prior, on a temporal plain where we didn’t even exist yet, how much more important is this mutual love when we do exist and come to the Lord by faith? Our faith, among other things, is a recognition of that love, and by it we love God reciprocally as the Book of Deuteronomy commands:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-6

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It is this same faith and love in His Son, by which we are granted the Holy Spirit. To those who have eyes, let them understand, for due to the corruption of this world, the following may be hard to contemplate, or uncomfortable to focus on. However, it is important. As man and women become one flesh in love, likewise do we become one with the Lord by His love and sacrifice. He dwells within us, as the Spirit of Holiness, and if we are in the Spirit as well, love is perfectly manifest and we, by the Spirit, cannot do anything apart from love. If our actions are ones that don’t speak to the love of God in either word or example, it is of the self. As 1 Corinthians says:

“Therefore I tell you that no one is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:3

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Though this love was manifest in perfection by the Son, in both His death and resurrection, it existed prior to Christ’s first coming and was in the Law, which according to the Gospels can be summed up with just two commandments:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40

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The Law, revealed by God unto Moses, shows explicitly the attributes and nature of God. Hence, we can only conclude the Law is good, just as our Lord is good. In the same way, because God is love, the Law, by necessity, follows suit. Therefore, since we know love to be such an intrinsic part of God, our faith too should resonate with love for our Lord. In addition, the love of God is boundless and this being the case, our love can always become manifest greater in our lives. Though we can love too little, we cannot love enough. This week, let us pray that the Lord may extend the boundaries of love we have set by the desires of the self and our own comfort, that we may better serve both the Lord and man. Let us pray that we may glorify Him even further than we have, through not just words, but rather by example. Amen.

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“For to be sure, He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s Power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.” -2 Corinthians 13:4

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When we read the Scriptures, we cannot help but be impressed with the lengths Christ had to descend in His humility to accomplish the goal. Though Paul offers a great compare/contrast here, there is one major difference between the weakness of Christ and the weakness of mere man. The weakness of Christ was manifest due to His perfect obedience, while the weakness of man, is often made apparent by our disobedience. The weakness of Christ, and His humility, even to the point of death, is infinitely stronger than the greatest of man’s strength! He was perfectly obedient, for Christ was well aware of His mission on earth, and that it must be completed, lest none of us become saved.
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Yet, as we realize that Christ was man, as well as a vital part of the Trinity, we see that Christ had His struggles. Not to the point of sin and disobedience, for if this were the case our faith would be meaningless, but rather, as a man, He dealt with temptation and even fear. We do not have a Lord who sits up on high, making commands from afar, with no personal understanding of the difficulty man has in overcoming sin. Instead, we have a Lord who became man, faced the very same challenges we face, and more, was crucified, and rose again victorious.

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Thereby, it gives us hope to realize our Lord did wage war against sin, temptation, and looked upon His crucifixion with trepidation. This is, of course, to put it mildly. We are told in Luke 22:44, that during His praying within the garden of Gethsemane that He sweat as blood. This, and His prayer, in which He prayed God would take the cup from Him if it was His will, are some heavy indications of the turmoil and fear Christ must have felt in that part of His nature that was man. Yet, could He have sweat blood?

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This rare medical condition is known as hematidrosis, or, hematohidrosis. Rather than some kind of obscure condition, though it’s rare, history, apart from the account of Christ, is full of examples of this occurring. In fact, Leonardo da Vinci, wrote the account of a solider who sweat blood before battle. I also recall hearing an account of a young girl who living in or near London during the blitz sweat blood out of fear. The blood vessels around the sweat glands rupture, the blood seeping into the glands, and it pushes the blood and sweat to the surface. The experience is said to be rather painful, for the skin becomes extremely tender.

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Even to the point of shedding His blood in such a fashion, Christ was obedient to the Fathers will, and though He could have stopped the crucifixion, and indeed destroyed all of Rome, He did not. To be obedient to God,  He appeared as weak, though in reality, He was strong, so that by what occurred at Calvary, we may all be saved by His strength and obedience, and that we may be clothed in it, even in our weakness, to serve God and others as Christ did. As the Father raised Christ, so too will we be raised, for like our sin was put upon Christ at Golgotha, His righteousness will be put upon even the weakest of those who come to Him in faith and persevere. To Him be all the praise and glory. Amen.
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“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” -Revelation 1:18

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The Book of Revelation is a proclamation of things to come, given unto the apostle John, a disclosure and edict given directly from our Lord Jesus Christ. In Chapter one, the Son of Man appears to John in glory and surrounded by seven brilliant lamp stands, the brilliance of Christ trumping them all, as suggested by John’s description. Christ tells John in verse 17 to not be afraid, following it up with the transcribed verse above.

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"The Revelation of St. John: St John's Vision of Christ and the Seven Candlesticks," by Albrecht Durer. woodcut, c. 1497-1498

What John saw was He who is truly alive, in His glorified body, given unto Him by the Father, because of Christ’s perfect obedience and righteousness. Frequently in the scriptures, when a heavenly being, or the Lord appears to a mere man, the encounter is so awesome and sublime, that those who are blessed with such visitations, can only respond in reverence and fear, which John indeed does, collapsing at the feet of the Son. This reaction is so common in scripture I would be willing to say that such manifestations and visitations would require the heavenly beings blessing or affirmation that the person upon who the honor was bestowed, would be calmed to receive the message being offered.

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The resurrection of Christ is such an amazing truth, I myself had a hard time grasping it. I understood it in terms of an abstract concept, but it wasn’t until I traveled further in my walk that it really hit home, so to speak. Christ not only died, as He indeed affirms in Revelation, but He rose again, being brought back to life by the Father, and in glorious victory! His victory was so great that even Hades couldn’t hold His glory, nor now can it hold our sins, or us, for by His victory we are saved and we perish to the flesh. Thus, we will perish to the world also, and on the appointed day, we will rise again to join our victor and Savior. To be victorious over His own death would be enough, how much more amazing is it then, that He was victorious over ours?

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Though a lot of people equate hell with Hades, the two are not interchangeable. Simply, Hades is a place reserved for departed spirits and it is often compared with, or likened to, a state of sleep. Most will enter this realm and be awoken by the Lord in His appointed time. Hell, on the other hand, is a place of eternal damnation, where those who are apart from the Lord will eventually descend. This terrible place, in the temporal sense, doesn’t yet exist, in that man cannot descend into it, until the final judgement.

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"Heaven-Earth-Hell", Located in Vank Cathedral, Iran. fresco.

Christ holds the key to both death and Hades, for he entered both, and exited them, being glorified and rising again alive! Furthermore, because He is alive, He doesn’t need to be born again through natural birth. He is already living. This more than adequately refutes those false Christ’s in the world today that profess to be our Lord. Christ not only died for our sins, but defeated them by His resurrection, so that whomever comes to the cross and bows down before it will be saved. Since Christ is victorious, let us be as well through Him, and battle against the evil that surrounds us. I pray that all those in Christ would arise strong and steadfast, adorned in the armor of God, ready to do battle with the enemy, and fight the good fight on Christ’s behalf and through Him. Amen.

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I would like to acknowledge and thank Terie, who prior to my posting, gave me her input concerning this entry.


“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” -1 Corinthians 15:17

"Resurrection of Christ," by Noel Coypel. oil on canvas, c. 1700

Due to our sin and the guilt that remained a stain upon us, Christ had to die if we had any hope of being saved at all, but not just that. We find, even in His death, we are not saved, but rather it offered us the door into salvation (see my note concerning Romans 5:10, “On Holy Boot Camp and a Conversation With The Dark Messenger”). Yet, it is His resurrection that the gospel comes to a full fruition and we are saved. It is by His sacrifice, in which He endured great suffering and died that in His righteousness, He would rise again, the firstfruit of this same righteousness. When we come to the Lord, our sin, iniquities, and old selves die upon the cross, but in His life we began to truly live. Thus, because of Christ’s perfect obedience, in its time and season, we too will rise again with a new body, free from decay, a like kind of what Christ was awarded.

Romans Chapter 4, Verse 25, tells us:

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

May we praise and bless His eternal name, for His death provided the needed justification and His resurrection the righteousness, that we may be seen as clean and free from blemish in the sight of God. In and by Christ, both God’s justice and grace (see note on Romans 6:23, “On The Justice and The Gift”) were manifest to completion, in order that we may drink from the river of life, and to Him we return the glory. Amen.
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“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.” -Romans 5:18

Photobucket The compare/contrast stated in Romans is truly an amazing one to behold, yet it presents a question at the same time. The amazing aspect of it concerns the almighty power that came to fruition by Christ’s death and resurrection. One man, Adam, was responsible for bringing sin into the world, and by our worldly birth we are born into this curse. However, how much more can that sin, which afflicted all mankind, be negated by the perfect obedience of one who descended from heaven? If Christ was mere mortal we would still be in our sins, but because He rose again, the Firstfruit of righteousness, we can partake in the glory offered, not by any deed, but mere acceptance of the gift and belief upon Him. It is of this fruit we should eat, the one that leads to life, and not of the one offered by Adam, which leads only to death.

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Why did sin come through one man as opposed to through one woman? Isn’t it the scriptures that tell us that Eve first sinned? There are many plausible commentaries I have read, as well as the outlandish, but I find it more simplistic and satisfactory to say that the original sin was first made possible through Eve, meaning her action opened the gateway unto sin, and Adam’s action led man through that gateway. In the same way Christ’s death opens the gateway to righteousness, and by His resurrection, which pays the toll, we can walk through the narrow doorway that we may receive it.

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Sin was a partnership between Adam and Eve that led to their expulsion. Sin wouldn’t have the foothold it does without Adam’s disobedience. If Eve had just sinned, and Adam remained righteous, the curse would not have entered the world. Thus, the responsibility rested on Adam. Furthermore, the biological union between them passed the curse along to their offspring, until Christ, who was in perfect obedience with the Lord, and thus partook of the first fruits of righteousness. Now, in Christ, we partake of the full fruit of righteousness, offered by our Lord, rather than the spoiled fruit offered by Adam. Thereby, let us come into eternal life and grace rather than into death and wrath.

In addition, may we see Adam and Eve as a warning and example, to not to take the sin of others, encourage it and indulge in it, thereby forming it into a “greater,” more ensnaring sin. Rather, let us convict with encouragement and help bring those, whom the Lord has set in our path, away from their iniquity and out of the darkness into the radiant light of God.

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“‘He Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed.'” -1 Peter 2:24

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"Christ on The Cross With Three Angels," by Albrecht Durer. sketch, c. 1525

Though I try not to look at Scripture in a purely aesthetic context, I am a nerd and there are times, or rather verses, where I feel almost overcome by its beauty. This verse is no different. Eons before the arrival of Shakespeare, the apostle Peter recounts something worthy of the “Hamlet” author, by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:5). As Shakespeare liked to utilize compare/contrast and antithesis in his poems and plays, Peter and Isaiah do similarly with the phrases, “die to sins and live for righteousness,” and, “by His wounds you have been healed.”

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The antithesis represented by the words, “die,” “live,” “wounds,” and, “healed,” emphasize what Christ endured on our behalf, and for what cause. Christ was mocked, flogged, crowned with thorns, and crucified, in order that, by Him, we may be crowned by His glory and receive the gift of eternal life, returning the glory to its rightful place. In our salvation, we praise and glorify our savior, who bore incredible suffering for the likes of sinful, grotesque and undeserving man, that by His love, we may dwell with Him inside eternity. No praise seems worthy, for His glory far outweighs what we can offer. Yet, we strive to perfect our praise, love, and adoration in our hearts, spirits, minds and actions, for this is what God desires, commands and more than deserves. May our praises upon the alter of humility be a pleasant aroma unto our Lord and God whose glory and grace far outweigh what we could ever hope to offer.

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"Deposition," by Albrecht Durer. engraving, c. 1512


“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased 16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.” -Galatians 1:15-16

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This has personal significance for me, and many others to be sure, for God has first called us to accept the grace being offered by His Right Hand, our Savior. It pleases God to have His Son revealed within sinners, for the greater the sinner, the more profoundly the Lord shines through. This, of course, is not to say that sin is some sort of blessing, for if this was true we wouldnt need to be cleansed of it. Rather, it testifies to the awesomeness of God, that nothing can negate His glory, and He can indeed use all things for good, even as His word tells us.

Paul, himself persecuted those in Christ by sending many to their death before His conversion on the road to Damascus. This powerful contradiction between the natures of Saul, and then of Paul, stood as a great testimony before man, in the reality of the gospel and the great love and grace offered by Jesus Christ. It was further represented in Paul, due to the fact He consulted no man, but received the Gospel due to direct revelation from Christ (see my note concerning Galatians 1:11-12, “On Paul’s Source and The Shifting of Name”).

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“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” -2 Corinthians 12:7

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"The Conversion of Saul," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

Let us not compare our Christian walk or spiritual gifts with anyone else in the Body of Christ. Romans 12:6-8 makes it abundantly clear that we differ in gifts and those godly manifestations expressed in the body. These are from God and are granted to us by His grace. This is important to realize, for even these blessed gifts by the Lord can be used by our sinful nature to feed our pride.

The enemy loves to turn our work for the Lord into something sinful. It’s not to say the work of the Lord in and of itself is sinful, of course not, but rather that we ourselves may sin in our efforts to be in complete obedience with our Lord. We may have the gift of prophecy and we may serve, teach, encourage, give, lead, or show mercy. Yet, a hidden danger might lie in wait, for instead of acknowledging the source, we may use these gifts to feed our pride. This verse suggests that Paul himself was tempted with this as he followed obediently to complete God’s great works.

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"Apostle Paul," by Rembrandt. oil on canvas, c. 1657

Yet, God in His wisdom knew that this would hinder the great work He was doing through and with Paul. This partnership would have been spoiled if the apostle would have become conceited. So, there was given to Paul a thorn in his flesh, “a messenger of Satan,” to torment him. What this “thorn” actually was has been debated for some time. These range from a physical malformation or defect of some sort, to a sin that tormented Paul. Regardless of what it was, we know that this “thorn” kept Paul grounded with the Lord, and he eventually found that “thorn” to be a blessing, for without it Christ’s power wouldn’t be able to “rest on him” to the degree it did.

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Outside Christ, who was perfect, even the most amazing men of God in the scriptures had grievous faults, which should give us some hope. It certainly does me. Moses for example was a murderer, had anger issues, was a stutterer, and was disobedient to the Lord. Though Moses was disciplined for this by not being able to enter the promised land, God used this faulty man to do an amazing work, as He can use us, as faulty as we are, to do great works as well.

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"Moses Striking The Egyptian (detail)," Amsterdam Hagadah, c. 1695

When we come to the Lord in faith, He is not beyond bringing hardship, weakness, persecutions, “thorns,” and difficulties in our lives so that we may not loose sight of Him. If we are too prideful in our walk with the Lord and in the gifts He bestows in us, we should not be too shocked when, in His sovereignty, brings about a hardship to “ground” us.

Although I don’t like speaking for God, I do feel comfortable saying that God doesn’t want to encourage sin in your life. So if you haven’t been granted gifts to a fullness yet, perhaps if they were given unto you, the glory would go to the self and not God.

Let us pray for the understanding at only comes from the Spirit, that we may be instructed on how to avoid becoming to proud in our obedience and the gifts God pours into us. Let us pray that we will give credit where it’s due, that is, to the source of the gifts we are presented and indeed all things. Let us forever strive not to pervert that which is Holy or shift the glory of God onto the self. May He be forever praised. Amen.

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