May 19, 2010

God Does Heart Surgery

This post is sort of a continuation of my "Examining the Scripture #3: Why Has Your Countenance Fallen?" When I say continuation I mean in terms of God being concerned about the condition of our hearts because it reflects on our ability to pursue holiness or be holy.

What is really important to God? Ritual transactions that are only for outward appearances or the heart condition? Why did He make the Laws? The ordinances and the statutes? Why did he want people to obey them. Why did He punish them and why does he still divinely punish those that disobey? Why does man create laws? Man does it for the same reason God did. To stop and undesired action.

What is more interesting about God's law in the Pentateuch/Torah is that they deal very little with commercial issues and the more secular issues like explicit rules for business, individual cases of infraction or incidences by individuals. Instead the Pentateuch deals with all kinds of religious laws, ethical and moral at their "heart". And therein lies the crux of the issue. The heart. Making a human stop undesired actions by passing a law and physically enforcing it through imprisonment or in the case of the Old Testament, physical or corporal punishment, well, that's the easier part. Correcting the heart condition is a much harder propostion. If it was easy we would not have prisons, repeat offenders and chronic sin running rampant in the world. Its about rehabilitation. Its about renewal. We are told we are to become new creations.

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

When you hear that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, He is more than just a Good Shephard of our lives and actions, what He really is is the Good Shepherd of our hearts and minds because it is here that the impetus of actions lie. Without actions we are essentialy dead. Our life is made up of actions. Some good and righteous in the eyes of God after our salvation in Christ and some are bad and sinful before AND after our salvation. The trick is to lower the ratios of good to bad. Make good more and make bad less. God understands that this takes time becasue after all, we are human and quite fallen (and often times really dumb). The change is often times very gradual and so miniscule in its movement towards the positive side that it is inperceptable to a human eye. But we're not doing this based on human eyes are we? We are not being judged by human standards. Our standards. This is why the Bible tells us to gauge our actions and movements on the Bible and God's word. We vasilate, God and his word does not. When we rely on "us" and our perceptions of what we think is right or wrong it can lead to frurstration and backsliding because from our vantage point it looks like we are spinning our wheels.

The Laws and Israelites in the Old Testament at the time of the Pentateuch show a set of laws necessary for the Israelites a the time of the Pentateuch. The Laws were layed down and stayed the same never changing because God knew what they Israelites would need long before they would and God inevitablely added to them as the Israelites were capable and able to handle them. Once laid down they did not change, they were only added to. Why? Becuase the Israelites relationship with God matured. Jsut as we give stricter and stricter rules with more and more complexity to our children as they grow older and mature in their relationship with us (I could go off on a tangent about how God layed out the authority structure for the family for this exact reason...but that's a different post for another time).

Enter ===> Sanctification

Sanctification comes from the verb sanctify. Sanctify originates from the Greek word [hagiazo: to be "separate" or to be "set apart]. In the Bible, sanctification generally relates to a sovereign act of God whereby He "sets apart" a person, place, or thing in order that His purposes may be accomplished. In the book of Exodus, God sanctifies a place of worship.

"And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory," says Exodus 29:43

Even a day can be sanctified as seen in Genesis 2:3 where the seventh day is "set apart" as a holy day of rest. "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made."

Similarly, when a person is sanctified he or she is being set apart by God for a specific divine purpose. What God is setting us apart for is to make us holy or more holy. God was initially using the Law to try and sanctify His fallen creation. Did he know that no man other than Christ would be able to fulfill and obey the Law? Of course He did...but man didn't. God need to show man through example over and over and over and over and over (ad nauseum) in the Old Testament that it is nothing that man does but the work of God that saves man. A man dead to sin cannot make choices. Deadmen are deaf and blind. How can they respond to a beckoning or call if they cannot see or hear and are dead in their sin? Enter===>Jesus Christ to do this and save us from our sin.

What were the rules and laws for that were laid down that Jesus Christ eventually fulfilled? To make us more holy and allow a relationship with God that had been destroyed or at least warped and twisted in the Fall in Genesis 3. So that we could approach God any time we wanted with Jesus as an intermediary on our behalf acting as the High Priest just as the High Priests had done in the Old Testament. We no longer had to wait until the Day of Atonement once a year to approach God. So now you understand how and why Christ needs to play into the overall plan.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." ~Romans 8:28-30

Not only did we need Him to fulfill the Law because no one else could, we also needed Him to justify us in God's eyes and then move us forward in holiness. Saving us or justifying us in the eyes of God only gets us back to ground zero. We then need to sanctify ourselves with Christ/Holy Spirit assistance to move us off of the baseline at ground zero and move us forward because the evidences that you are saved is that you continue to move forward in Christ.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:4-7

Synopsis: God wants a heart change. Obedience is a manifestation of that heart change. Obedience to laws laid down by God help make us more holy and acceptable to God. This acceptance allows us to approach Him. Since we couldn't fulfill the laws fully, Christ did it for us, and died for our sins or disobedience's that we couldn't fulfill on our own. When we accept what Jesus has done for us we are justified and expunged of past sins. We can have a close relationship with God becasue we are holy. Why is this of paramount importance? Where do you think you'll be spending eternity marveling and worshipping God's limitlessness and greatness?

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