Saturday, July 29, 2017


Humanity has as many moving parts as an automobile, but is far more difficult to understand, predict, and to service. And to complicate our discussion of humanity, there is the question of how humanity has changed through Christ. Let me offer the example of King Saul of Israel, who represents the typical man.

Saul was jealous of David and repeatedly sought to kill him. Therefore, David and his band fled from Saul and his troops. However, during his pursuit, Saul entered a cave where David and his men were hiding in order to sleep. Instead of killing Saul while he slept, David cut off a corner of the King's robe. 

When Saul was a distance away from the cave, David called to him, showed Saul the corner of his robe to demonstrate that he could have killed Saul if he had wanted. Saul was melted by David's integrity and his show of loyalty:

  • And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, "Is this thy voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. And he said to David, "Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rendered unto me good, whereas I have rendered unto thee evil. And thou hast declared this day how that thou hast dealt well with me, forasmuch as when Jehovah had delivered me up into thy hand, thou killedst me not. For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore Jehovah reward thee good for that which thou hast done unto me this day. And now, behold, I know that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thy hand.” (1 Samuel 24:16-20; ASV. Also see 1 Samuel 26 where David had spared Saul's life a second time.)

Saul's response was a model of confession and contrition. God's light had clearly penetrated to the core of Saul's being. However, shortly after this moment of truth, Saul had returned to his former mindset and was once again in pursuit of David's head.

How do we understand Saul's return to the darkness of jealousy and rage? Why had he forgotten the lesson he had learned?

We might simply conclude that feelings are more powerful than lessons, but I think that this conclusion overlooks the fact that we often do learn and make appropriate adjustments. Many have given up smoking because what they have learned about the costs of smoking.

However, Saul's lesson failed to exert a lasting influence upon him. Why? Jesus had explained that there is a difference between learning physical and spiritual lessons:

  • “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved.” (John 3:19-20)

Normally, we hate the light. But hadn't Saul embraced the light of truth? He had, but It seems that the light can only temporarily penetrate into our lives, where it is quickly suppressed:

  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder (or "suppress" in the NIV) the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:” (Romans 1:18-20)

Saul had been showered with the truth but quickly suppressed it. Why? His was the typical life devoted to the darkness of his evil agenda. Saul didn't want the truth of God.

Are we, who have committed ourselves to the light, any different? We too are contaminated with evil, struggling against its horrid ugliness and power (Galatians 5:17). We too return to our sins, against which we struggle for the rest of our earthly lives. 

However, Saul had succumbed. His struggle against sin was no more than a passing and unwanted flicker. Evil had become his traveling companion and friend. Consequently, it could be said about Saul and the rest of humanity:

  • “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one:” (Romans 3:10-12)

But are we in Christ any different from Saul? Prophetically, Jesus declared us the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). John claimed that we cannot continue to practice sin because His seed lives within us (1 John 3:6, 9; 5:18). Paul declared that we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and children of the light, as opposed to the darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).

In light of our many failings, how can we presume to be children of the light? Isn't this arrogance? No! We do the very thing that the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14) does not do. We come to the light. Jesus claimed that His sheep know His voice and come to His light (John 10:4):

  • “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” (John 10:27)

John likewise claimed that those who are of God listen to Him through His Apostles (1 John 4:6). 

How is it that we have been enabled to endure the painful light, which is as blinding as looking into the sun? Are we like moths that come to the light? Yes! We have been enabled by Christ's forgiveness to endure the penetrating scrutiny of the light:

  • “But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.” (John 3:21)

Spiritual refinement is a matter of coming into the presence of God and enduring His examination. The Prophet Malachi explained that when our Savior comes, we will be able to tolerate His presence only because He enables us (Malachi 3:2-3) - a common theme in Scripture:

  • Iniquities prevail against me: As for our transgressions, thou wilt forgive them. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, That he may dwell in thy courts: We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, Thy holy temple. (Psalms 65:3-4)

We cannot approach our righteous God and His light without His forgiveness and purification from sins:

  • Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

It is only through Jesus that we can enter boldly into the presence of God. However, this raises a difficult question. Weren't Abraham, Moses, and David able to enter into the presence of God and to endure His light? It seems that they were, but only partially. Even Moses trembled in fear at the presence of God (Hebrews 12:18-24).

This was symbolized by the fact that only the High Priest could enter into the Most Holy Place, and he could do so only once a year and only after performing the most elaborate preparations. When Christ died for our sins on the Cross, the separating veil was rent in two, signifying that the way into God's presence was now an open door.

But why are we unable to boldly come? As the Book of Hebrews declares, it must be "with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience." A "fulness of faith" is also a fulness of understanding. When we fail to understand what we have been given in Christ, we are like a billionaire who is fearful about spending money because he is convinced that he is poor. Instead, we need to learn just how rich we are (Colossians 2:9-10).

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