Tag Archive: Pain



“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” -Romans 6:18

image

Who or what is your master? Like it or not, we all chase after or focus on something, and it is this same something which dictates or determines our actions, thoughts, goals or desires. Man tends to think he is the master over his own life, but this isn’t the case. Man can choose what has dominion over him, this much is true, but once it is decided, it is sealed, and that individual becomes a slave to that very thing.

Relative recent history gives the term, “slave,” a certain infamy and therefore power, in a very negative sense. Does Paul mean “slave” with the same sort of negative connotation that it has today? I argue not, but let us first understand that slavery in the Scripture, is very different from those, “recent,” examples that blot our history, particularly that of the western tradition. Indeed, much slavery included in the Bible concerns the repayment of debts. Yet, now, Christ has paid our debt in full, that by our faith in Him, it may be credited to us as righteousness. Furthermore, Christ doesn’t refer to us as slaves, but rather, sons, daughters, and even, friends.

Paul indicates repeatedly in his letters, that we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. Yet, if we are slaves to righteousness, aren’t we then slaves to God? Furthermore, if this is the case, then can’t it be said that God has no more morality than any of those southern plantation owners, who “employed,” slaves in early American history?

In actuality, the answer is a resounding no! For although Paul uses the word, he does so to put it in, “human terms.” When we examine the slavery mentioned by Paul and juxtapose it with the slavery of history, we find a key difference, and, in fact, it is Christ Himself who is the key that unlocks the shackles that bind our hands and feet, setting us free!

When we look at the contemporary conception of the institution of slavery, we find it not only terrible, but completely self-serving. Though slavery is for the benefit of one, the land owner, Christ came for the benefit of many. In Christ we do serve God, but we too are rewarded in and by our efforts, We find that we benefit in being slaves to righteousness, which negates slavery altogether. In addition, we find others benefit in our being “slaves” to this righteousness, and we are given eternal life and glorify God with our very lives.

Sin is the true slavery, and more in tune with the current view of slavery then the antithesis. For though man’s carnal desires may be satisfied in short term, there is no true benefit, only pacification. What is true is what is eternal. Live for righteousness that you may be a slave no longer, live for Christ. Through sin came pain, death, and misery, but through Christ, we gain contentment, life, and joy. Glory be to God who through His Son broke us out of the bonds and freed us from sin and the wage that comes from it, death.


“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

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.


“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him.” -1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Photobucket

"The Transfiguration", by Lodovico Carracci. oil on canvas, c. 1594

I find that my inquisitive nature is both a blessing and a curse, as will become apparent in my commentary concerning this passage of Scripture. The mind is a astonishing thing, though it can also serve evil, but it was gifted by God that we may seek out the wonderful mysteries of Him. Yet, our faith must surpass our own understanding, for God is beyond the reason of man. Rather than use this as an excuse, the inability to reason God and His ways, is perfectly reasonable. If we were able to reason God, we would need to be Him, which is impossible. Much like you can know a person, you can’t really know them to a full degree unless you are actually one in the same, which trespasses against the law of identity. Thus, we see only as a poor reflection and though we can approach God using the mind, the fullness is unattainable.

Photobucket
We can stretch our minds to have great understanding of the Lord, and such wisdom is provided by Him, but there is a line past which man cannot reason, where thought becomes defused, a chaos of reason, if you will. This is an important thing to realize, if one who is as inquisitive as I am begins to get tripped up from unanswered questions, as it used to do with me. A couple other things to realize are:

  • Just because you don’t have an answer, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
  • Answers can be hard to come by, but most often they come not from teachers or pastors, but from the Lord Himself.
  • If the mind of man is corrupt and evil, how can we possibly fully comprehend that which is perfect and good? Perfect goodness cannot be fully comprehended.
  • If you have pondered it, chances are someone else has as well, therefore a answer, or rather partial answer, is bound to be available somewhere.
  • If you feel your questions eating at your faith, this is really a manifestation of pride. Wait on the Lord to provide an answer, if the question is that important to you, remain in prayer.

In this verse, it tells us Christ was the Firstfruit. What is meant by this? Christ at the time of His resurrection, arose with a new glorified body. One that is free of decay and will never pass away. He was the first to receive such a body, but won’t be the last. While Christ justly received His new body, we, those who belong to Him, will receive it according to His grace. If death came through the disobedience of one man, as 1 Corinthians tells us, how much more can the perfect obedience of Christ negate the disobedient act of he who cursed all man?
Photobucket
Again, His body is the first of the new bodies which we will be granted at the time of our passing from death into life. Christians will be raised again, with the blood of Christ covering us and we will be seen as righteous, through grace, and we will acquire our new bodies through the Son of Man. Our bodies will be unperishable and not be bound to the physical world and it’s laws as we now know it.

Photobucket
This certainly is a glorious truth that we eagerly await. When the Lord comes in glory we will be free of the struggle, the pain, the anguish, and the disgusting nature of sin which stains us all. What a glorious day it will be! However, here my inquisitive mind interjects and asks a question, I almost can’t help but ask, and as of now I have no answer. The question is this:

If Christ is the Firstfruit, and I have faith He is, then how could He talk with both Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-9)? Were they not resurrected?

One answer seems rather obvious. Elijah never died, but was whisked off to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire and horses. For this reason I believe the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:1-14 will be Enoch and Elijah, for both in the scriptures did not experience physical death, but were taken straight up into heaven in bodily form. Thus, both have yet to die, which the two witnesses will be subject to before being raised up again to life.

Photobucket

The famous Hank Hanegraaff, who is well renowned for providing biblical answers, said on his blog concerning this question:

“There is no reason to think that they (Moses and Elijah) had yet received permanent resurrected bodies.”

Truly, the Bible doesn’t say that at all. Both were beloved by God and may have been called from Abraham’s Bosom to speak to the Lord. Also, the fact that the transfiguration occurred at this very time, might indicate, that in this miraculous event, Christ was transcending the world prior, of course, to His crucifixion. However, this is all speculative, and exactly what form Moses, whom the Law was given, and Elijah, whom was the restorer of the Law, took might be a mute point when juxtaposed with the “pre-incarnate” glory manifest in Christ. Whatever the answer is, perhaps it lies in the chaos of reason and I would not even be able to grasp a full answer, and thereby the inquisitive nature is overshadowed by that of faith. My faith in the Scripture, which I have no reason to disbelieve, tells me that Christ was indeed the Firstfruit, and Moses and Elijah were in form of something different than the glorified body, for Christ had not yet became glorified, so the opportunity for the two men to receive their new bodies had not yet come to pass.

We must be wary not to include those things in the Bible that it does not say. In this case it does not say that they, Moses and Elijah, were in bodily form, so there is no reason, truly, to conclude that they are. Though, again, at least one, Elijah, could have been. Another form is possible, for we know people after their earthly death go into Hades, or Abraham’s bosom. Therefore, it follows that they still exist in some form and perhaps it was this form that, at least Moses took, on the Mount of Transfiguration. Finally, the mountain itself is unknown, but three suggestions have been made concerning its identification, though admittedly this is somewhat irrelevant. The three candidates offered by scholars and tradition are, Mount Tabor, Mount Hermon, and even Mount Sinai, the latter being the most unlikely of the three due to its location.

Photobucket

Thanks again to Terie for her insight, a true Princess of The Lord and The Queen of Grammar. 🙂


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8

"Christ on the Sea of Galilee," by Tintoretto. oil on canvas, c. 1575-1580

As I have mentioned before, and indeed will probably mention again, Hebrews remains one of my favorite Books in the Bible. Chapter 12 especially was instrumental at leading me to the Lord. This particular verse I didn’t stumble upon until later, after the initial encounter, but it certainly added to my realization that God was real and not some made up thing, though I honestly thought for a while if I was putting it all in my head myself and I struggled with this, but when resolution came it pushed all doubts out of my mind. This verse is beautiful in form, in simplicity, and in meaning. I will tell briefly about some of my testimony and why this verse is so important to me.

For a time, during a particularly dark period in my life, I cried out to God for deliverance. He answered me not in just resolving my troubles, but He also spoke to me. As much as I would like to hear from Him again in like manner, to this day He hasn’t spoke to me the way He did in those dark days. I don’t know why, though I am sure He still does, but not in the same “hearing” sense.

Let me explain a little what I mean by “hearing.” When the Lord speaks to you in words its usually not a booming voice that comes out of the sky. It is a booming voice in your heart, mind a spirit. In fact, looking back I am not so sure that it wasn’t audible, but it was powerful. At the risk of sounding like I am some esoteric mystic, its really hard to describe unless it has happened to you. At any rate, in one word spoken from God I felt that I would be delivered, and I truly was by His grace. What was spoken and in what context I will save for another time, but I will say it was directly linked with Hebrews chapter 12.

The second time the Lord spoke to me was a time when I finally understood what Christ has done. It humbles one to a Godly sorrow, and it was in the midst of this sorrow, and me asking why, stating that I wasn’t worth the torture He suffered and it should have been me  instead, something only a Christian can understand (it is commonplace within the faith), that He answered: “I would do it yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

"Christ on The Cross," detail from the center panel of the Isenheim Alterpeice, by Matthias Grunewald. oil on panel, c. 1512-1515

At this time I was far from being a biblical scholar, and still am, but the Word was absolutely foreign to me, which is my shame because I did go to a Christian school, but my conversion was long after. When I eventually did come across this verse sometime later, I almost fell out of my chair, for the Scripture and what God spoke to me (I made sure to write it down) are in essence, identical. As far as I knew then and know now, I had no previous knowledge of this verse, I was never the sort to engage in any sort of memorization except the best places to go party.

There are a couple other times God spoke to me, but the last time He did, it was a little less positive. He indicated that due to a situation I was willingly walking into that, if I continued, I would, “suffer.” Indeed I did, and backslid heavily. Yet, the Lord by His grace has called me to Him once more. Looking back, its seems so amazing that I am tempted to think perhaps I was nuts, or somehow arranging past circumstances, either consciously or subconsciously in a way to make it appear I was in touch with some hard to reach mystical realm. However, my volumes of journals testify to the reality of the occurrences, the words given to me, and there are even witnesses that can testify to it as well. In full disclosure to the reader, I am actually quite hesitant about sharing all of that and posting it to complete strangers. In fact, I feel a little sick to my stomach due to the influence of my old friend cowardice.

With that foreknowledge, let’s turn to the verse. In life everything can at times feel like it is out to get us. The trust we place on people and possessions is so powerful that when we are let down, when we find our bank accounts lacking, and when people we thought would be there aren’t, our hearts get hardened, so that the resulting pain may never be felt again. We feel in essence that a hardened heart will act like a giant Tylenol that will elevate the pain in our lives and spirit. It doesn’t, for out of that only comes self-destruction and despair.

Christ went through the most ghastly experience, by being tortured and mercilessly put to death on the cross, but even in His suffering He did not harden His heart against man, nor does He even regret what He went through! In fact, He would do it tomorrow if it were required, but as He said, “it is finished.”


Christ is a truth we can rely on when others fail us. This doesn’t mean that we will always get what we want or that we will be spared pain, rather realize that because of what Christ has done pain isn’t eternal for those who believe upon Him and we will someday receive a gift that is beyond description and beyond what we could even dream to want, salvation in eternity with our Lord and all those who we know in Jesus Christ.

The banks may fail, but we can always bank on Christ. His blood is still flowing over us, cleansing us of the tarnish of sin and iniquity, just as it was decreed at the beginning and as it will last forever. We won’t have absolute happiness until we get there friends and cross the finish line, but in our silly “little” suffering, we can take heart that the Lord is there to comfort and guide us. We have a God that cares for us, is interested in the little things we go through day after day, and is eager to hear from us. Such a Lord no other can boast, but we can boast in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, and who would do it all over again yesterday, today and tomorrow.

"Christ on The Cross," by Albrecht Altdorfer. c. 1520


“That is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” -Romans 1:12

Titling this note as I did, I think I bit off a little more then I could chew, for this is a profound topic.

However, briefly (hopefully), there is with faith and love a correlating outcome when two of faith, or in love, are brought together, and that is a mutual benefit of each party. In Catholicism they have what are called, “The Seven Virtues.” These include, chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. In the Christian world view, faith and love, as well as hope, are mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians 13:13) as being of great importance in the Christian walk, the greatest being love. Indeed, many of God’s commandments and Christ’s teachings, as well as the Seven Virtues, can be put in any of these three categories. Christians are to strive after these things that they may become evident in our day to day lives.

Paul states that people can be mutually encouraged by each others faith, which in and of itself is an amazing thing that surpasses progress. It’s always astonishing to me when conversing with a person new to the faith and learning something from them I have never even considered. The world doesn’t work this way. A mathmatetian is probably scarcely amazed at someone who just learned basic algebra. Yet, when two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, nobody is left behind, and nobody seems out of place in regards to the progress of their walk. Each, in faith, is mutually edified by the other.

Now we come to love. What are some of the manifest traits of true love, especially concerning a counterpart? Love is when you are willing to sacrifice all, even your life, for another (John 15:13). It’s when one parties happiness equally and mutually compliments your own. The amazing thing is, this love relationship, though most people put it in the context of a relationship with their desired counterpart, is also manifest with friends and even the Lord Himself, who loved us so much, he came to earth, became subservient to physicality, and died upon the cross for us, that through Him we may have eternal life.

Love is where you are willing to give all and it’s not mutually exclusive, but shared between the parties. Yet, love is not dependent on another party, you can love someone without them returning it, but again, the context I am discussing is a love between two or more people. If, in a pure way, making someone happy in turn makes you happy, that is a sign of love. Likewise, if edifying someone’s faith edifies yours, then that is a sign of true faith. Yet, with both faith and love, the foundation rests in the Lord and without Him pure faith and pure love are impossible and you are merely settling for something that is less than pure. If one wishes to settle on something impure, or be unevenly yolked with someone who doesn’t have similar biblical views, or faith and love in the Lord, then only hardship, frustration and pain can be the result (2 Corinthians 6:14).

%d bloggers like this: