August 17, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Therefore, since we have these promises [of the full presence of God with those who sincerely believe in Him so as to be different from the world], dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates the body and spirit; in so doing we perfect our holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Corinthians 7.1)
So, it is all well and good that I can say “we are to step up, step in and step forward” to parenthetically “take the bull by the horns” in our spiritual presentation of faith, hope and love before all the world. We can see where Jesus implores those who believe in God and in Him to “go and do” because they have accepted the call to “go and be.” The presence of God and God’s word has been directive since the very inception of creation. Look at the genesis of Genesis, the beginning of the beginning. As Moses relates the whole experience given to Him by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it says “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth. The earth was void and without purpose. Darkness covered the skin of the deep. The Spirit of God was sent to hover over the waters. And God said….” Nothing happened without the direction given by God. While all things were in perfect harmony with the creator, the status quo was righteousness and goodness, fruitful and bountiful. If only Adam and Eve had left well enough alone!
But, they went and did it. They went where no human had gone before. Instead of staying within the place where God had put them for their good and for the rest of their lives, they crossed the line of spiritual decorum. It is then that they began the journey of “being sent into the world.” It started with an encounter of one who had been sent out of Heaven by God’s command. Satan, the fallen Lucifer, was God’s anti-thesis. The word Satan was adopted into the Hebrew story from the Phoenician law court system (that is why it wasn’t a name used in the Pentateuch because there was no Phonecia when Moses wrote down the books of the Law.) The term Satan represented the “prosecuting attorney.” You might say, Satan acted as God’s “quality control expert” only because he tested the integrity and mettle of God’s creation. He looked for the weak points as a means of tearing down the whole of God’s “argument of defense.” And God is our Defender. We can read that descriptor in such places as Exodus 15 and Psalm 28 among others. He is our Rock and our Shield. He is a strong tower and a sure defense. He is a protector even of the guilty until they plead with Him for the restoration of their innocence; and then He is the protector of their new life in Him. Until Satan entered the story of Creation, Adam and Eve were innocent. We can say “innocent” to mean they didn’t know better, they were inexperienced, they were untouched by an evilness, they were uncorrupted, but it mostly means “they had done no wrong.” And they had done no wrong until they did. And when they did look what happened. They sent themselves into hiding because of their shame and guilt. And while God “covered” them, they no longer could abide in Eden and were “sent out” into the world to find their way back into obedience with the benefit of His grace. Let’s consider what the real problem was apart from straight up disobeying God’s inspired word. It was the lack of ownership to the problem. Instead of claiming disobedience, they blamed obedience. Adam was obedient to Eve. Eve was obedient to the Serpent. The serpent was obedient to himself. And that is the problem all the while. Being obedient to “self” before being obedient to God, is the genesis of sin and sinfulness. Sin is always about self first. And the pursuit of one’s self, self-knowledge, self-will, self-identity without being ground in the pursuit of God first leads us out into the world where we can most easily become one of the world to live in the world. I don’t know what would have happened if Adam said, “It’s all on me, God. I didn’t stop Eve from taking a bite of the apple. I didn’t stop Eve from listening to the Serpent instead of consulting You about the matter. I didn’t stop myself from giving in to the temptation wrought by fear- the fear of aloneness which You resolved by making Eve for me and me for her. If anyone deserves to be punished, it’s me. Eve is innocent and I am irresponsible.” Most likely, the end result would have been the same and they would be expelled from the Garden. But, it would have been with a good understanding of restoration instead of penalization.
But, then comes Jesus. He is our defense as well. In fact, He executes justice personally for our sake. He who is without sin became sin for us and took on the penalty of death on our behalf. He claimed that the righteousness of God was far superior to the guilt of unrighteousness. The verdict of expulsion and separation could be overturned. Humanity did not have to be lost, misguided and mistaken. It could all be reconciled, restored and renewed. And still, we find ourselves being “sent out.” Maybe we can consider our being sent out as clothed in the righteousness of God with His Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that hovers over the waters of our lives and the face of our deep,. We are “sent out of the world of sin” and a “sent into the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.” We are those who are commissioned to go into all the world and commanded to love others with the claim of God on their lives instead of the blame of Satan the accuser of our lives. We have two choices: claim responsibility and be restored or blame others and be expelled from the abundance of mercy and grace which God desires to give to us. Satan refuses the offering of repentance and reconciliation. He will never be let back in. But, we still have the opportunity to walk by faith into all the world and not by sight seeing only of the world what we want to see. Oh, to have the eyes of Jesus and see God wherever He went and goes! We are called to “step up, step in and step forward” and be accountable for our thoughts and actions and our decision to be saved and restored to wholeness. But, we cannot do it alone. I think we have proven that. But, when we prove we know where to go and what to do to gain the opportunity for restoration, reconciliation and renewal by returning to God, then we have taken the needed personal responsibility for doing as Paul suggested “to purify one’s self from all unrighteousness.”
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
O God who hears and listens to the cries of Your people, we call upon You in this moment with recognition. We are not yet fully surrendered to Your Word, Your Will and Your Spirit. We still have places of imperfection yet to be dealt with. In Jesus, we know these do not disqualify us from Your mercy and grace. In Jesus, we know that we are still charged with seeking to be perfected as You are perfect and to help one another do the same. By Your Spirit, Your will in and through our lives be done. This we pray in Jesus’ name, our Shield and Defender, our Rock and our Stay. AMEN.