A Circumcised Heart

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all males must be circumcised. Circumcision was a hot topic in the early church with regard to expectations placed upon Gentile believers.

Exodus 12:48.  And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

Paul resolved the issue:    

Romans 2:28 & 29.  For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.     

Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to “in the spirit and not in the letter”.  But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul: 

Galatians 1:10.  For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

 1 Thessalonians 2:4.  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts.” Granted, He certainly does try us, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question: am I pleasing men or God.  This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.”  The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, he is paraphrasing a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is attempting to remind them of instructions he gave while he was with them. 

Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts 18.  He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…then he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.   v.11.   

So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.  Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord which exercises loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.                     

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29.  for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text?   Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Jeremiah 9:25&26.  Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all of them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.   

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word.  Even as Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

Corinthians 3:15-17.  For unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.         

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel. This is an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God revealed in Christ that Paul speaks of:

1 Corinthians 4:1&2.  Let a man so account of us as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

In order to be a faithful steward, a saint must know what these mysteries are of which Paul speaks.

Romans 11:25.  For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.   

Compare to this verse, and consider the time: 

Luke 21:24.  And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Krypto People

Psalm 83:3. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,                                         and consulted together against Your hidden ones.

The saints of God are not a voting block, a religious  denomination, or a box you check on a census. They are hidden, found only in the secret place of the heart. Psalm 83:3 is correctly translated in the KJV as ‘hidden ones’, from the Hebrew ‘tsaphan’ meaning hidden or secret.

Romans 2:28, 29.  For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but a Jew is one inwardly; and circumcision of the heart, in the Spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Being a Jew ‘inwardly’, uses the Greek word kryptos, from which we obtain the English word cryptic, and is translated literally as ‘hidden’, or ‘secret’.  The rabbis translating Psalm 83:3 to Greek in the Septuagint used hagios(holy ones) rather than kryptos, and in translating thus interpret the people to be ‘the saints’, rather than the literal ‘hidden ones’.

Abiding in the Secret Place

Thus the true saints are of the ‘inner man’, in the spirit, not the flesh. This is beautifully expressed by Peter:

1 Peter 3:3, 4. Do not let your adornment be outward, the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel, rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

How is this spiritual Jew recognized? Paul states that their praise comes not from men, but from God.   Jesus said:

John 5:44  How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?

Galatians 1:10. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:4.  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which tries our hearts.

A Secret Life of Devotion

Our personal devotions must be to the Lord, from the heart.

Matthew 6:3,4. When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

Matthew 6:6. When you pray, go into your room, and when you shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Matthew 6:18.  When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

When you are ‘rewarded openly’, the fruit of the Spirit manifests from the sons and daughters of God.

John 15:7, 8. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Matthew 7:15.  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

When the children of God are made manifest by the Spirit, they become like ‘a city on a hill’.

Romans 8:19.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

Matthew 5:14.  You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden (kryptos).

John 15:16.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

1 Timothy 5:24, 25.   Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding to judgment, but those of some follow later. Likewise, the good works are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

The judgment of God for every soul shall become evident.

Luke 8:17For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known and come to light. 

Luke 12:3. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

1 Corinthians 4:5. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

The fruit of the Spiritual Gifts

2 Corinthians 4:1. We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, not handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

1 Timothy 4:14-16. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elders. Practice these things—be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be clear to all. Give attention to yourself and your teaching. Persevere in these things, for in doing so you will save yourself and those who hear you. 

Colossians 3:1-4. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Through the hidden life,  the saints experience the faithfulness of the Lord.

Psalm 27:5.  For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Psalm 31:20.  You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Job 10:12, 13. You have granted me life and favour, and your visitation has preserved my spirit. And these things you have hidden in your heart: I know that this is with You.

The Spirit of the World

Psalm 24:1.  The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

The earth (Hebrew  ‘erets) is the ‘dry land’ of creation when God gathered together the waters after establishing a firmament, or atmosphere above the waters. This earth is most important for mankind as God’s Providence for all creation that ‘has breath’. 

The world (Hebrew tebel) is derived from the word yabal, to bring forth, or flow out. The world consists of all that man has brought forth from his ‘imagination’, and the influence of angelic beings and other spiritual powers.

The world is at odds with the Will of God in countless ways, especially in regard to the impact it has on the earth and its ability to provide for all creation. For the children of God to understand the need to ‘overcome the world’, they must also understand the world as the habitation for multitudes of spirits that are contrary to the Spirit of Truth.

Ephesians 6:12.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

John 14:15-17.  If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he abides with you, and will be in you.

Only by abiding in the promise of the Father can a child of God hope to overcome the world. In the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, Jesus delivers seven messages to seven elect churches in Asia Minor. Each of these messages concludes with promises from the Holy Spirit for those who hear in the churches, and overcome the world. This must be emphasized!

The promises are not given to those who simply believe, but are for those who overcome. 

God’s Spiritual Provision 

The Holy Spirit is God’s Provision for our spirit, to overcome the spirit of the world. 

1 Corinthians 2:12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (meaning examined).

We cannot rightly discern good and evil by the knowledge of good and evil. We must discern the spirit, and the commendation of the Holy Spirit. It is not just the deed that establishes the good, but the spirit in which it was done. The intentions of man’s desires corrupts virtue.

2 Peter 1:3, 4. According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by selfish desire.

We are born from above and receive from the Spirit that we may live not only by good deeds, but under the direction of God’s Will, with pure intent.

1 Peter 4:1, 2. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the desires of men, but to the will of God.

John 7:17. Anyone whose will is to do His will, shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God.

Hebrews 5:11-15.  We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

The spirit of the world dwells in every source of knowledge and information. Contemporary religious doctrine is contaminated by academic beliefs and traditions of men, even as in the time of Christ in “the fullness of time”.

Colossians 2:8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

1 John 4:1-4.  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby we know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

The Spirit brings Deliverance

Romans 8:27.  Now He who searches the heart knows the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Ephesians 2:1-5. (The Message translation.) It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing whatever we feel like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. 

The Spirit provides correction in righteousness, to avoid the ways of the world that are an offence to God.

Romans 12:2 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.

Matthew 18:6, 7. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes!

Isaiah 26:9.   With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

1 Corinthians 11:32. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

You must be born from above by the Spirit of Truth

John 8:23.   Jesus said unto them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.

1 John 5:4, 5.  For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The power to overcome begins with this true confession of faith, and continues as we walk in the Spirit, the light of Life.

Revelation 12:11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 21:7.   Those who overcome shall inherit all things; and I will be their God, and they shall be my offspring.  

John 16:33. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The Book of Life

1 Peter 3:13-17.  Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not be afraid or worry about their threats. Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you,  yet with humility and reverence—keeping a clear conscience so that, whatever you are accused of, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Messiah may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good (if it is God’s will) than for doing evil.                          

We are instructed in this passage to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you”.  This verse gives an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Greek: logos. Over 65% of the time , logos is simply and banally translated ‘word’,  giving us the vaguest notion of the meaning that is being conveyed.

We have an expression in English to convey the point of getting to the heart of the matter for clarity in conveying the truth. We say that for “all intents and purposes”, something to be true. The Logos of God conveys in a very pure sense His intent and purpose behind His creation. This is why the Son of God is described by John as “The Word”, The Logos. Because of this fact, Jesus can say of Himself:

Revelation 22:13.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 

The Truth that the Son of God is His Logos is fully expressed for “all intents and purposes” in this one verse:

Revelation 4:11.  You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.

Consider now another example where logos is used, but simply translating as “word” failed to convey enough information, so another choice of words is utilized.

Acts 1:1&2.   The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.

Here Luke opens his second book by referring to his first book, which we call the Gospel of Luke, as the former account(logos). He refers to his first book as a logos, in which he describes his “intents and purposes” in the opening verses.

Luke 1:1-4.    Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus(lover and beloved of God), that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.               

So we see Luke describe his logos as a narrative “set in order” from first to last to convey a “perfect understanding”. This “orderly account” is to insure the certainty of the things that we are instructed and hold fast to in faith.

Now returning to our primary text, if we are to give “our logos for the hope that is in us”, we must establish ourselves firmly in the context of an orderly account based on a perfect (mature) understanding of the word and work of God in our life.

We are to be judged by what is found of us in “the Lambs Book of Life”. Will there be a full account found there, or will we be just a footnote in someone else’s logos. This is exactly what we are being called to do with our life as a narrative of the Work of His Spirit.

This is the correct understanding of the statement: “we overcome by the word(logos) of our testimony.

Revelation 12:11.   They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word(logos) of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.

The Apostle

Malachi 2:6, 7.  The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity.   For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

The apostolic message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; is played out as a living parable through the narrative of Israel, the covenant people of God. Jesus taught that many are called, but few are chosen.

In Israel, a nation of priests became a tribe chosen to the service of the sanctuary. A particular family  within that tribe, beginning with Aaron, the brother of Moses,  would minister in the Holy Place. This is further refined by a chosen son of Aaron receiving a covenant of friendship with God for his faithfulness.

Numbers 25:10-13.  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 

Therefore say, Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.

Zealous with the zeal of God is echoed in the teaching of the apostle Paul, along with the injunction from Malachi 2, that the “priest’s lips should keep knowledge”.

1 Corinthians 14:12.  Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. And ‘it is good to be zealous in good things always’ (Ga. 4:18).

When we are encouraged to ‘come boldly before the throne of Grace’, it is on behalf of the church that should be our primary purpose. This is where we obtain words of ‘edification, exhortation and comfort’ that we may ‘receive from the Lord that which we present unto others’ for the building up of the body of Christ.

To recognize and receive from the messengers of God is the basis for an active faith working in the body of Christ.

John 6:29. Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.

The Holy Spirit, sent by the full authority of Jesus Christ, enables mature men and women of the church to do the work of God as His ‘dwelling place’.

Ephesians 2:20-22.  Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

You will know them by their fruit…

Friend or Foe?

James 4:4b.   Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Man must accept responsibility for the fact that his nature has corrupted the world.

Genesis 6:11, 12. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all mankind had corrupted his way upon the earth.

The spirit of the world is common and familiar to the human spirit. We must be sanctified to serve the Lord in newness of life by the Spirit of Truth.

1 John 2:15-17.  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing  away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.

All creation groans under the burden of man’s fall from grace.

Romans 8:19-21.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

Jesus Christ restores our relationship with God, that was severed by sin.

Isaiah 59:1, 2.  Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Man’s nature is hostile to the divine nature, which must be received as a gift of God.

2 Peter 1:4. Thereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

To be delivered from that nature, man must be separated from the world into the Kingdom of God; to experience deliverance from corruption.

Romans 5:10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The divine nature is not obtained by genetics, personal improvement or education.

John 1:12, 13. As many as received Him, He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Life in Christ by the Will of God separates us to be useful to His purpose. Many have placed their hope in the Grace of God, but grace without purpose leads into error.

2 Timothy 1:8, 9.  Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

We must be born from above by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit to truly love God, and one another.

The Message: God Is Love.

1 John 4. 

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.  My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

Set Free from sin, set free to Love

 

With A Strong Hand

Exodus 12:14.  So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.    

The first memorial found in the Law of Moses is to perpetuate the memory of the night The Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, while ‘passing over’ the houses of Israel having the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintel.                          The intent and purpose of this memorial feast is given as an answer to a question anticipated from the children of the household.

Exodus 12:26&27.  And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 

In passing over the firstborn of man and beast among the people of Israel, a special relationship was established between the Lord and the firstborn, and the consideration of this fact carries over to the feast of unleavened bread.

Exodus 13:1, 12,13.  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.  And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s.              

Thus, the firstborn males who open the womb became the purchased possession of the Lord. This also was established as a memorial for every generation.  The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are linked for this purpose, to perpetuate this memory. 

Exodus 13:8-10.  And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.  It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.  You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year. 

Many consider that the observance of the Passover is to commemorate the deliverance of the children of Israel  from the bondage of slavery. This is actually given as the basis for keeping the Sabbath.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15.  Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.  And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.   

The feasts include special Sabbath Days for this observance. This makes the following exchange between Jesus Christ and the Jewish citizens of Jerusalem all the more fascinating.

The Truth Shall Make You Free

John 8:31-36. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free?  Jesus answered them,  Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but the son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. 

The intended memory to perpetuate in the keeping of the Sabbath failed to produce the desired remembrance!