It Truly Can’t Get Any Better

Such an important truth revealed, just in time for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday…..Enjoy

Have you ever been afraid of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone that says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.”,  I sure have!!!!  We will get to that soon but first we must clarify some things……

What is the law for?  I have been taught many different things i.e. : It is there to keep us safe.  It is there so we know how to “act” as Christians.  It is there to point out how Holy God is and how unholy we are.  It is there to give us a framework for our behavior.  It is what we have to do to secure our salvation….what a minute…..WHAT?!?!  This in so many ways is what is taught to the church (ekklésia the body of Christ).  Behavior is what keeps you going to heaven.  Here are some examples, DO NOT: lie, cheat, talk bad about people, listen to certain music, read certain books, be around certain people (because they are doing “wrong things”), don’t drink wine or any alcohol, don’t gamble, don’t dance, don’t wear pants….I mean the list could go on.  The Law in the Old Testament was given to Moses, not Abraham.  Abraham believed God and that is where he received his righteousness, a gift from God.  The Mesopotamian’s had their own law known as the Code of Hammurabi which predates the Law given to Moses by around 300 years or more.  The Code of Hammurabi has many similarities to the Law given at Mt. Sinai.  Why?

Paul also talks about the law in Romans 2 and here from a biblical scholar we have a huge answer about the law. Let’s read from the Message version:

“If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you’re from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended. But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up. Being a Jew won’t give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.

If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.

When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.” Romans‬ ‭2:9-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬

And to save on space….(so I encourage you to go and read all of Romans)…..Here is a little more:

“Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God’s law. But if you don’t, it’s worse than not being circumcised. The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God’s ways are as good as the circumcised—in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law uncircumcised than break it circumcised. Don’t you see: It’s not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It’s the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.” ‭ ‭Romans 2:25-29‬ ‭

And:

“So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it: There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides. Every word they speak is tinged with poison. They open their mouths and pollute the air. They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin, Don’t know the first thing about living with others. They never give God the time of day. This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:9-20‬ ‭MSG‬‬

It sounds like there were Jews judging non-Jews saying that they are all fine and good because they were given the Law and are circumcised; not realizing that they also need a propitiation for themselves just as much as the non-Jew.  But why?  They followed the law and yet still sinned.  Remember the rich man who followed the law complicity until he was asked to give all he had to the poor and follow Jesus.  He couldn’t do it.  We all have our places where we fail to follow the law. Paul was making it very clear the law nor their personal behavior could ever make them righteous; because there would always be an area of failure in every single person’s life no matter if they are Jewish or not. Circumcised or not. Taught the commandments or not.  We all fall short of the glory of God. The law is put in our conscience from the beginning of conception.  It is written in the fabric of our being because of Adam and Eve.  When they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil it was implanted in them and as we are born from the seed of Adam we also have the understanding of good and evil in each of us. The Law comes from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Pure and simple.  Otherwise how could Hammurabi come up with some of the same laws 300+ years before Moses wrote them down for the Israelites?

Paul makes it clear that we all have a conscience that has been written on what is right and what is wrong.  That is why you would see the uncircumcised following the law without ever hearing of the law. The Law just makes known that we know what is right and wrong and we, in and of our own selves, can NEVER do what is right and avoid what is wrong 100% of the time.  Nor has God EVER BELIEVED we COULD!!!!  That is why He had to set things right.  Here is the scripture:

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:21-24

Okay, the question I have today to some of the church leadership around the world is the same question Paul asked the Galatians in chapter 3 of his letter to them:

You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

Selah (Hebrew for lift up,exalt or pause) Please pause and think about the above statement Paul made.

The Galatians, like many Christians today, were trying to perfect what God had already IMG_2795done.  They were “working their heads off to please God?”  Remember the list above I had made of the do’s and don’ts?  Those things are common sense things.  Some are just rules that are said to “keep us safe”.  But, in the end all of these “things” will not cause God to be pleased or not pleased with us.  What we need to understand is that God was pleased to give His only Son on our behalf, to set things right for us.  He pleased Himself with what He did for us.  The Galatians were so caught up with themselves and pleasing God with their behavior they forgot what Jesus said to the crowd at the sermon on the Mount:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NASB

I don’t know about you, but for me this verse has scared the daylights out of me.  I was so scared that I would do something wrong and then when I am ready to enter the kingdom of heaven Jesus would look at me and say, “I knew you not, depart from Me.”.  I believed this was based on behavior.  I could think of the lawless deeds I have done since becoming a Christian and what if I missed one that I didn’t say sorry for….WHAT THEN!?!?!?!???!!!!  I AM DOOMED!!!! AND MIGHT AS WELL STOP TRYING…..because I could never fully live up to the law.  Until, I understood I am righteous in CHRIST JESUS and I will never negate what He FULLY FINISHED at the Cross for me.  And this Scripture above proves that.  Let’s look at the Greek meanings from the above scripture in Matthew:

  • will=theléma= properly, a desire (wish), often referring to God’s “preferred-will”, i.e.: His “best offer” to people which can be accepted or rejected.
  • do=poieó=With nouns which denote to carry out, to execute; as, in Classical Greek to make a law of legislators; but in Biblical Greek to do the law to meet its demands-the things which the law commands.
  • lawlessness=anomia=NOT law; properly without law i.e. : (“lawlessness”) includes the end-impact of law breaking– i.e. its negative influence on a person’s soul (status before God).

First, what is His BEST OFFER?  Of course that is Jesus, Who He is and what He has done for the whole world.  That is God’s “best offer”….remember Paul said the crucified Jesus is where God set things right for us.

Second, do the things the law commands.  What are the commands of the New Covenant? According to 1 John 3:23, it is: This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another*, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (*loving one another is the Law of Liberty talked about in James chapter 2, which I will discuss in another blog.)

Third, lawlessness here in scripture is pointing to a person’s soul and it’s status before God.  When we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be delivered, made righteous in Him and be justified before God. (Romans 10:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:1 and many others).  This means your soul’s status is clear before God because of what Jesus did for us (propitiation).

It is time for the true Message to go forth once again.  Full circle to what was originally taught by the apostles.  The Message of exactly what Jesus Christ did on the Cross and in His Resurrection.  ALL of what He accomplished at the Cross when He said, “It is Finished!”  For our faith to be in Him not in our behavior.  It is time for the church to let go of teaching behavior and simply teach JESUS. It is simple trust that sets you right with God not your behavior. Keep the faith in what He did for you which FULLY assures your soul that it’s status before God is pure…not because of what you did but ONLY because of what He did for you.

It is all about: Knowing Whose you are and who you are.

Walk Confidently-It All Begins and Ends With Trust (Faith) (Part 2)

I left off last post, It All Begins and Ends With Trust, with a teaser to read Numbers 5:18-27.  If you haven’t read it here it is:

“The cohen will place the woman before ADONAI, unbind the woman’s hair and put the grain offering for remembering in her hands, the grain offering for jealousy; while the cohen has in his hand the water of embitterment and cursing. The cohen will make her swear by saying to her, “If no man has gone to bed with you, if you have not gone astray to make yourself unclean while under your husband’s authority, then be free from this water of embitterment and cursing. But if you have in fact gone astray while under your husband’s authority and become unclean, because some man other than your husband has gone to bed with you…” then the cohen is to make the woman swear with an oath that includes a curse; the cohen will say to the woman, “…may ADONAI make you an object of cursing and condemnation among your people by making your private parts shrivel and your abdomen swell up! May this water that causes the curse go into your inner parts and make your abdomen swell and your private parts shrivel up!” — and the woman is to respond, “ Amen! Amen!” “The cohen is to write these curses on a scroll, wash them off into the water of embitterment” and make the woman drink the water of embitterment and cursing — the water of cursing will enter her and become bitter. Then the cohen is to remove the grain offering for jealousy from the woman’s hand, wave the grain offering before ADONAI and bring it to the altar. The cohen is to take a handful of the grain offering as its reminder portion and make it go up in smoke on the altar; afterwards, he is to make the woman drink the water. When he has made her drink the water, then, if she is unclean and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that causes the curse will enter her and become bitter, so that her abdomen swells and her private parts shrivel up; and the woman will become an object of cursing among her people.” ‭‭B’midbar (Num)‬ ‭5:18-27‬ ‭CJB‬‬

(If you want to read the whole of this directive in Numbers 18 start with verse 11.)

What got me to this verse was actually studying why Jesus didn’t drink the first drink He was offered before the Cross and why He drank the second offer of bitter drink.  There is always purpose in everything He did.  So as I studied the two words for the two drinks offered to Him at the Cross there was a distinction in the words and the origin.  I have talked about looking at the Greek and Hebrew and meanings and also when they are used: first time word is used etc. So, let’s dig in to the words!

The story is found in Matthew 27,  Mark 15, Luke 23, and partly in John 19. Let’s look at Matthew 27:34 and 48-50; and John 19:28-30 to get a full picture:

“they gave him wine mixed with bitter gall to drink; but after tasting it, he would not drink it.” Matthew27:34‬ ‭CJB‬‬

“Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, soaked it in vinegar, put it on a stick and gave it to him to drink. The rest said, “Wait! Let’s see if Eliyahu comes and rescues him.” But Yeshua, again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit.” Matthew 27:48-50‬ ‭CJB‬‬

“After this, knowing that all things had accomplished their purpose, Yeshua, in order to fulfill the words of the Tanakh, said, “I’m thirsty.” A jar full of cheap sour wine was there; so they soaked a sponge in the wine, coated it with oregano leaves and held it up to his mouth. After Yeshua had taken the wine, he said, “It is accomplished!” And, letting his head droop, he delivered up his spirit.” John ‭19:28-30‬ ‭CJB‬‬

In verse 34 wine is made from grapes and the gall is bitter herbs. You can check here Verse 34 at biblehub for yourself or here is the definition from biblehub.com:

1. bile, gall: Matthew 27:34 (cf. the Sept. Psalm 68:22 ()) (cf. B. D., under the word Gall); Acts 8:23 (on which see πικρία); for מְרֵרָה, Job 16:13.

Then we can get to the Old Testament word from Job 16:13 in which we learn the root word for this is marar (4843) which is found in our opening scripture with the woman drinking the bitter water.  He tasted the bitter waters we have had to drink because of our transgressions: “These bitter herbs, called maror (ma-ror), are symbolic of the bitterness of slavery and the miserable existence in Egypt. To us as Christians, the eating of bitter herbs reminds us of our lives before we knew the Savior. The maror also symbolizes the bitter cup our Lord tasted on our behalf. The horseradish brings tears to our eyes as we taste it and remember”(Celebrating Biblical Feasts, Zimmerman, pg. 67). img_1384This means, He knew what it was like to be us.  Yet, He was still sin free.  Remember, He had been fully tested in the 40 days in the desert (see Matthew 4).  Thus, when Jesus tasted this drink yet chose not to drink He was stating He is like us in that He understands the bitterness and that He is the one and only pure Passover Lamb (fully man and fully God) that would choose to be sacrificed for the whole world (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Now that we are sure He is THE PASSOVER LAMB of all Passover lambs let’s see why He drank the last vinegar offered to Him?  This is the last act He does before yielding up His Spirit. And it is a critical move on His part. This is the only time this word is used in the New Testament scripture.  The Greek word for vinegar here is:

3690 óksos – Definition: vinegar, sour wine mixed with water, a common drink of Roman soldiers.

Just before His last statement, after He had taken all of the worlds transgressions, iniquities, pain, diseases, wounded for our crimes, punished for our sins, disciplined for our wholeness (Isaiah 53), Jesus cries out My God, My God why have You forsaken Me!  Jesus says this because His Father allowed Jesus to become each of us on the Cross.  Jesus became every person that has ever been born and all of our wrong doing, all of our disease was put on Him the perfect sacrifice.

Before Jesus gives up His Spirit he does one last thing He drinks the sour wine, vinegar or vinegar wine.  I believe I am only scratching the surface here.  I believe Jesus drinking this sour wine/vinegar symbolizes a few things and I want to point out two of them.  First, this word vinegar is associated with Number 6:3 chomats (2558) and is something a Nazarite could not drink when making a vow to God to separate him or herself from the world and live only for God. I believe His drinking this chomats Jesus was making it known that through Him you would now be separated from the world (John 15:19). That only through Him is access to a relationship with God.  We no longer had to make a vow and work for the relationship with God. A relationship was provided by the work Jesus accomplished on the Cross.

Second, we needed to understand that the full cup of God’s wrath had been finished on the Cross within Jesus Himself.  There are many scriptures that state cup of wrath but the one I want to look at is in Isaiah 51:22

“this is what your Lord ADONAI says, your God, who defends his people: “Here, I have removed from your hand the cup of drunkenness, the goblet of my fury. You will never drink it again.” CJB‬‬

Isaiah 51-54 tells of the hope that is coming in and through Jesus Christ.  It tells of ALL that will be accomplished through Him.  It tells of God’s plan for ALL the people of the world through His Son’s sacrifice.  When Jesus took that drink after He had asked why have You forsaken me, it was that He had fully drank the cup of fury or anger and we as believers in Him NEVER HAVE TO DRINK IT AGAIN because He physically removed it.  He kept His promise.  He proclaimed, “IT IS FINISHED!”  ALL OF IT!

Let me make this as clear as day.  The curse has been removed from us.  We as believers DO NOT, CAN NOT EVER live under a curse, EVER.  Once you understand and truly know this truth you stand in the power and authority Jesus Christ suffered, drank, died and resurrected for us to have.  Read Isaiah above again actually go and read Isaiah 51-54 for yourself and understand or see ALL of what God did for us through His Beloved Son and remember Who lives in you through His Holy Spirit.  Many times I have known Christians have believed we can be cursed but that is not TRUTH.  We can not be cursed….now if you believe you can then I believe that causes the ability for the curse to alight (Proverbs 26:2).  Since Jesus swallowed God’s fury that should have been our due, I stand fully aware in what Jesus did for me.  I simply trust, believe in what Jesus did for me. So can you!