Sunday, February 15, 2009

SIN Word Study Devotional

"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." - 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Greek word for sin is an interesting one; it is pronounced, hamartia, giving the -negative prefix (S#1) a rough breathing mark, which makes it sound as ha. Add to it, meros (the base of martia: S#3313), which means “a section, a piece, a portion, a share, an allotment, a part, (in) respect (to),” etc. Add the negative a, and it says: “no section, no piece, no portion, no share,” etc.

It was God’s intention to share (meros) the earth and His glory with Man. Man was to multiply and manage the earth, allowing God to enjoy the shares—the fellowship—of creation with him. Man, in turn, would also enjoy the shared fellowship of God and His creation. To gauge Man’s eternal devotion to Him, God placed one restriction on Man: he was not to eat of one fruit-bearing tree, “…the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” (Gen. 2:17). This tree was the only thing that Man must be banned from, for in its fruit bore a seed of disobedience and rebellion that would produce an eternal a-negative: the sin nature.

You know the story and you know the outcome: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); or, paraphrased: “For Man has lost his share and has fallen beneath the level of walking in fellowship with God.” (“fall short” = hustereo S#5302 = under or beneath; inferior) God declared that anything and anyone not living on His level, in His fellowship, would die. Since Man was given dominion over God’s creation, when he sinned, all the earth was cursed with death; the earth fell beneath God’s level.

Anything and everything with the a-negative reflects the outcome of Man’s sin: disease, hatred, rebellion, natural disasters, wildlife, weeds, etc.—the list is endless. God gave Man two hopes of starting all over: once with Noah, and another time with Moses. But, alas, even these two had the nature of sin in them. Noah got drunk and one of his sons used this incident to prove the sin nature was still in Man (Gen. 9:20-25); and Moses lost his temper and disobeyed God (Num. 20:7-12); and another time, he didn’t have the guts to circumcise his firstborn…well, you think he forgot? I doubt it. (Cf. Ex. 4:24-26) Therefore, “all have sinned.”

To show man the price of disobedience, God provided a series of covenants to bring Man back into fellowship with Him. His covenants were established with His law (His commands) and a sacrificial system. But Man, at his best, could only have temporal fellowship with God. Man could not have eternal fellowship because, although the law was perfect, the sacrificial system could only be temporal until something/someone perfect—untouched by Man’s sin nature—could be found and presented to God as an eternal sacrifice. Both the law and the sacrificial system had to fulfill the perfect, sinless, eternal standard of God.

To restore fellowship with God—to live in the presence of His glory—Man had to be perfect. Yet Man continued to sin through the a-negatives in the world. For example, when someone lies, or reacts with unrighteous anger, or lusts after someone else’s spouse (adultery, pornography, etc.), or shows greed, or cheats, etc., any or all of these show Man beneath the level of God’s standard for fellowship with Him. There is no place where Man can avoid the reminder of sin. Man, apart from God, has no good thing—no eternal thing—to restore his level with God.

Sin pierces the heart—the nature—of God. He cannot have fellowship with the crown of His creation, Man. When He sees Man, He sees His image marred by sin and is grieved over the sight. That’s because He created Man to love him, to have intimate fellowship with him, and to enjoy the sharing of His creation. Man, for the most part, seems driven to achieve a level of acceptance with his fellow man and with his created source, whether he acknowledges God or not; he seeks acceptance or fellowship. That is why, for millenniums, we have an ongoing record of God dealing with sinful Man, offering him a way to relate to Him. In the end, God would have to make an eternal, perfect, sinless sacrifice that would provide an eternal covering for the eternal sin of Man.

(The answer to this dilemma will be discussed in a separate devotional, entitled, SALVATION; or you may go to: John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-10, 13)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

GOD as SPIRIT Word Study Devotional

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” –John 14:15-18, 23 (NKJV; emphasis added)

The Greek verb construction of “love,” “abide,” and “loves” is present tense, subjunctive mood, and active voice (psa). It is defined as continuous (or repeated) action that is contingent upon the subject. “Continuous” defines the action of the verb as linear rather than punctiliar. Its focus is on the kind of action, not the time of action. “Contingent,” in the subjunctive mood, means that the action of the verb is dependent upon the subject acting. Thus Jesus is saying to His disciples that God-like love (agapao – the psa verb; S#25) is expressed in their doing something: keeping His commandments—His directives—NOT in how they felt. They felt deep emotions over Jesus saying He was leaving them (John 14:1; 16:20, 22), but He is telling them here to get over it because Someone was coming to assist them with “greater works” (v.12). Their focus, in order to continue His work, must be to repeatedly hear, understand, and obey His commandments—His goals for man on earth. (This is the psa of agapao.)

God as Spirit would be that Someone of whom Jesus spoke. Verse 16 says that Jesus “will pray [petition] (future tense: ft) the Father, and He will give (ft) you another Helper, that He may abide (psa) with you forever.” “…another Helper” is allos (S#243) parakletos; that is, “another”—an alias—of the same Person, separate, yet same. The King James uses the word “Comforter” for “Helper” (S#3875 = intercessor, consoler, advocate), because He does console believers, as needed; but the subjunctive mood of this present active structure drives the definition more to that as the Spirit who will advocate—that is, assist them in His directives, His goals: “—the Spirit of truth…” (v.17). The drive of the Spirit here is to advocate for “truth.” This passage of Scripture gives, perhaps, the best description of the mission of God as Spirit. Jesus is patiently working His disciples through the transition period of when He, as Son of Man, would have to die so that He, as the Spirit of God, “…may abide with [them] forever,” as their Advocate (cf. 1 Jn. 2:1). As disciples who “love” Him (psa), they would have continual access to God as Spirit. This access—this abiding presence—of God as Spirit would be contingent (subjunctive mood) to their living in obedience to the truth (“keep My commandments.”). Jesus was teaching His first disciples that what He taught and did in their presence, God as Spirit would continue to do through all God-loving, obedient (agapeo – psa vb.) believers from then on. Jesus called the results of this love, “greater works” (v.12) because of the passing of time and the expansion of His presence through God as Spirit.

Unless you have managed to redefine the word “forever,” the above passage tells you that a believer has access to a continual, abiding presence of the Spirit of God and Jesus. “Access” does not mean a complete takeover, nor “appearance,” such as the coming and going of God’s Spirit in and out of the believer, as in the Old Covenant; rather it means the believer can tap into His resources at any given time, provided he is fulfilling the above subjunctive mood condition of verse 15: “If you have Christ-like characteristics, meaning: if you possess the nature of My love, then maintain My directives.” (“Maintain,” instead of “keep” clarifies the aorist imperative active verb, because “keep” is sometimes understood as possessive: “to store up,” which is not the verb meaning here. For the strength of the words “abide” and “Our home,” see ABIDE Word Study, previously written.)

Jesus also demonstrated levels of His presence and power with His disciples by having more interaction with some of the disciples. There was an inner circle of three (Peter, James, and John) among the twelve. This does not mean He loved them more than the others, or that the three deserved or had more access to Him (except when they were alone with Him); rather, it reveals the call of God on these three to have a deeper trust (faith) in Him for future specific tasks. So it remains today that some believers walk in a more faithful—more serviceable—manner than other, equally loved, believers. It has nothing to do with favoritism; it has all to do with living in obedience to His truths by faith.

Some treat God as Spirit like they treat a kiosk or an ATM: when you need something from Him, and you need it fast, you go find Him or you ask Him to come help you; plus, others think you get back from God what you put into Him—neither is correct. First of all, “He dwells with you and will be in you” (v. 17, above); and, second, “We [God & Jesus] will come to him [the believer] and make Our home with him” (v. 23, above). This means God and Jesus are present with you always as the Holy Spirit—the “Spirit of truth.” Plus, in His presence, He gives all attention to you and to your needs in an unselfish and enduring way. All that He is and has are available to you to see you through whatever circumstance you are in, as long as you are maintaining His directives in your life. The Greek verb tenses do not allow Him to run away from you nor to hide from you. The ONLY stoppage of your access to Him is your lack of obedience to his truths, or lack of FAITH to believe His words. He will not come and go as if you were in an orphanage; He will be with you at all times to help you fulfill His words (v.18).

Do not allow your traditional theology or your emotions to cause you to miss out on this very precious truth of God as Spirit. He is the “Holy” Spirit, full of glory, majesty, and power of the Almighty God. He is worthy of all your attention and the time necessary for you to grasp and display His God-likeness in and through you, and to fulfill those directives given to you by Jesus. Concentrate on Who’s you are and all other things needed will be given you to display His truth.