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Sunday, October 2, 2011

One Extreme To The Other

The way we see ourselves has a lot to do with even beginning to understand what Salvation is, much less being able to fully receive the gift of Grace.  I'm not just talking  about before we approach the Throne of Grace, or only about looking back from a Redeemed position before GOD.  Before we claim the SAVIOR's blood as atonement for our sin, and are declared Righteous in the FATHER's eyes, we have to realize just how bad our position was.  This has to go way beyond simply mouthing the words of what some call 'The Sinner's Prayer' in which a person acknowledges that they are lost in sin and under the condemnation of that same sin, of which the sentence, or punishment, is [Spiritual] death.  I'm not saying that the facts in this prayer aren't correct, but I am saying that they're only effectual if they are spoken from the 'innermost' parts of a person.  How many of us realized just how filthy and disgusting we were in GOD's eyes while we were clothed in the garments of sin?  In one of my earlier posts, I made reference to the fact that JESUS HIMSELF made the decision to accept the FATHER's Will, and by making that choice, HE effectively separated HIMSELF from the FATHER for just a moment.  That was the moment HE, for the first time in HIS life, felt the absence of HIS FATHER's eyes on HIM, and HE cried out.

'And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”'  (Mark 15:34    NKJV)

The point I'm after here is that GOD, who had and still has, a deep abiding love for HIS SON, turned HIS eyes from HIM for the moment in time that CHRIST was covered with the stench and slime of mankind's sin.  That is what we have to understand about our status before the blood of CHRIST washes us clean, just how dirty we were.  If we don't have an appreciation for just how repulsive our sin was to GOD, then we can't appreciate just how much HE loves us.  These two issues have got to be viewed as so important to one another that one cannot exist without the other.  GOD's love and man's sin are both necessary for the shed blood of CHRIST to have any meaning or value at all.  They are polar opposites of each other, and only when Grace has been given and received do they reflect the extremes man has started from and then ended up at. 

All of this brings us full circle, back to the point of us having to be fully aware the revulsion man's sin holds for GOD.  Note that I've made clear that it's man's sin that is unbearable for GOD.  It was man's sin that caused the FATHER to turn HIS eyes from HIS beloved SON.  It was, and is, man's sin that separates man from GOD.  It's man's sin that is the opposite of GOD's love.

'But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.' (Isaiah 59:2 NKJV)

To emphasise just how extreme GOD's position is towards sin, let's look again at the first Scripture we referenced, then at the documented words of one of the handpicked followers of GOD's SON.  Here we have the words of  GOD, who couldn't bear to look at HIS SON while HE was covered in [mankinds] sin, voicing the fact that JESUS was HIS beloved SON, and that HE was well pleased with HIS SON.  We have to reconcile that one of the reasons that GOD was well pleased had to have been because CHRIST had accepted, and was fulfilling, the FATHER's Will.  The other part of GOD being pleased that HIS SON was following HIS Will involved the FATHER knowing that a very important part of HIS Will would include being covered with mankinds slimy and disgusting sin, if only for a moment. 

'And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is MY Beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased." '   (Matthew 3:17    NKJV)


'While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is MY beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased.  Hear HIM!"'  (Matthew 17:5   NKJV)

The first of these two instances in which GOD declared JESUS to be HIS SON, 'in whom I [HE] am [is] well pleased'  was at the baptism of CHRIST by John the Baptist.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler among the Jews, came to HIM, and acknowledged that only a person sent from GOD could do the things HE'd already done.

'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.”   3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most ssuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 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."'  (John 3:2-6    NKJV)

In order for this discourse to Nicodemus to have the meaning it should have, we have to keep in mind that this conversation took place after CHRIST had been baptized by John the Baptist.  Also, remember that it was after JESUS came up from the baptismal waters that the Spirit descended like a dove and alighted on HIM.  Where we're at here is that JESUS taught by example, first HE did something, then told us that we're to do the same thing.  HE proved to us that it could be done before requiring us to do it, and have no doubt, we are required to follow HIS examples.

The second instance we've already looked at was when JESUS was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John [the brother of James] up on a high mountain.  Some key things here is the location up on a high mountain.  In my mind, this is setting the stage for things to come, which is what a lot of the teachings and parables of CHRIST did.  A key point here, to tie this setting in with Old Testament history is that more often than not, when GOD spoke to Moses and other prophets, HE did so in a similar setting, that being up on a mountain someplace.  This gives the connotation that HE is to be reverred in a position much higher than we can attain for now, and that while HE has done the heavy lifting, so to speak, we do have to come to HIM.  To take this just a little bit farther, to illustrate this scenario, we need to take a quick look at the admonishments of the apostle Paul to those members of the church there in Rome.

'1I 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. 2And 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.'  (Romans 12:2    NKJV)

A key word here, renewed, ties this instruction of Pauls to the whole concept of how man separated himself from GOD by the sin of disobedience.  Before man, in specific Adam and Eve, sinned by an act of disobedience, man was not separated from GOD.  Man had a daily walk and conversation with HIM.  Paul is very clear here that we shouldn't be conformed to the ways and wiles of this world, and that everything about our everyday lives should be in service to the FATHER, and that in itself is not an unreasonable thing. 

We've established that GOD's love and man's sin are extremes on what called be called, quite correctly, the scale of life. We've also made it clear that GOD, whose love cannot be questioned, loves us so much more than HE hates sin that HE wasn't only willing to, but in fact did call upon HIS SON to separate HIMSELF from HIS FATHER as a part of keeping HIS FATHER's Will.  I don't know about you, but in my eyes, the love my heavenly FATHER has for me is a love far beyond anything I've ever even imagined.  It all comes down to whether or not we can see ourselves through the FATHER's eyes.  If you've ever been a parent, and had a child do something that upset you so much that you didn't even want to be in that child's presence right then, then you've taken a tiny tiny step in HIS shoes.  Very tiny though, and very far from seeing your child as HE sees HIS.  But in spite of how upset you were with your child, to the point of having to walk away from them for just a moment, you still loved them with all your heart.  Now you've taken another tiny tiny step in HIS shoes.  Then, when the realization came that even though you will always love your children, regardless of how bad they may act at times, there are times that you don't like them very much, you've taken a third tiny tiny step in your FATHER's shoes.   I sometimes wonder how GOD can love me at all, considering all that I've done that only HE knows about, and that right there is why I believe that we'll never be able to see ourselves through HIS eyes as completely as HE does.  We couldn't handle it, we can't even begin to conceive of both HIS complete enmity of sin and HIS unconditional love of us, but we need to be constant in our strivings to develop an understanding of both.  I promise you that with each new bit of understanding will come greater peace in HIM and a deeper humility before HIM. 

HE went from one extreme to the other for each one of us, have you?

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