Catacomb Resident Blog

Still More Heart Logic

24 January 2023

Okay, so the Old Testament saints didn't have the indwelling Holy Spirit. That doesn't mean He wasn't around, but that He didn't dwell in them. Rather, He hung around to influence them externally when they were open to it. The old metaphor suggesting that Old Testament saints had a holy wind in their sails, while New Testament saints have internal steam power is okay, but it might leave us with some wrong impressions. You and I can still grieve the Holy Spirit in us and cause Him to be silent. We can still feel like He has left us, as He literally did some of the Old Testament saints.

How is it possible that Saul could at one point speak prophecies, and then later we learn that the Spirit of God left him? We simply don't have words or thoughts capable of dealing with the truth about how the Holy Spirit works. We have some statements that help us get at some of the effects of His Presence, but nothing to actually pin down the nature of things. This is why the Bible prefers parables over clinical discussion. You should not suppose that Saul died and went to Hell, but he certainly blew away his chance to die at peace with God.

You cannot academically settle the question of where Jesus used symbolism and when He was speaking literally in some of His teachings. The story of Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham? It was at least partly symbolic, but if you try to nail it down, you are missing the point. You would be chasing the answers to false questions. Jesus avoided literalism quite often, explaining that His parables were designed to polarize those who followed Him around. It was meant to deny spiritual truth to those who were spiritually dead, and make them feel unwelcome. He wanted to purify the body of those who actually did follow Him.

Churches should not be afraid for running off people who don't belong. This is something that really has caused great sorrow over the centuries. Back when Christian religion was a matter of political jurisdiction, the assumption was that everyone you might encounter had darned well better be a Christian. Thus, all sorts of things that you were supposed to reserve for fellow believers were mandated for everyone. When Jesus said to "love your neighbor as yourself" it was a reference to fellow covenant family, not just random strangers or enemies.

And it should have been obvious from the context that "love your enemies" was not the same as "love your neighbors". You were supposed to remember in the back of your mind that Covenant boundaries still had a meaning in this teaching. You don't treat strangers the same as covenant family.* You don't offer strangers a share in family opportunities and options. The issue is not the person's identity, but what role they play in the moment. If they act like a Hellion, treat them accordingly. It has nothing to do with affection; it has everything to do with covenant privileges.

We operate in grace with family; we operate under the law code with strangers. If someone is acting "strange" (like a stranger) then we revert to law code out of caution until the moment itself clarifies things. This is what "come out from among them" refers to; we seek to avoid the defiling presence of idolaters. What does the Bible say about a woman who allows random men the same access to her body as her husband? It's a blessed serendipity for the words "adultery" and "idolatry" to sound so very similar in English.

Thus, a great many New Testament commands do not apply the same to insiders and to outsiders. Yet the false presumption of Christianity as a national or legal identity has brought into our society a corruption of the Scripture. Now that our nation has most assertively become secular/pagan, we still have this legacy of fake morals hanging around. You should never accept false guilt about how you deal with sinners. Never allow sinners to lecture you about Christian "ethics". They don't have a clue. Sadly, most church folks don't either.

Thus, the issue is to study and learn where the Covenant boundaries are. It's not a matter of precise law code, but includes it. You are supposed to learn how to read boundaries with your heart, not your head. It's rather similar to seeing something that is otherwise invisible to others. It's not unlike a gossamer, ghostly overlay on concrete physical images. Some things glow, and other things are cloudy and smoky. That's a parable for how we learn to see the Covenant boundaries with the eyes of our hearts or convictions.

We don't measure things solely by human need. We include needs in our awareness, but the calculus starts with whether or not it glorifies the Lord. We then inventory what He has placed in our hands, and recognize what is holy and not to be given to dogs (outsiders). Whatever is left is not important enough to worry about, and can be offered to anyone.

This is what's behind our experience with the Holy Spirit. He will not tread on defiled ground. It's like a sign that says he is not welcome. He might push someone around for reasons often obscure to us, but He won't dwell in places where He isn't wanted. At some point, you'll begin to sense the difference between having Him fill your inner spaces versus when He's just pushing from outside. How you sense communion on a human level could hinder your sense of oneness with Him. Thus, if you believe you never hear His voice, then you may need some therapeutic assistance. It's a major problem among American believers, and I sense that it stems in part from the influence of Germanic mythology in our culture.

* [Someone has asked: The choice to capitalize "Covenant" depends on how it's used. As a proper noun (title), it's capitalized. As an adjective, it is not. There are times when as a noun I am referring to "covenant" as a generic concept, and it's not capitalized. I am being consistent, so try to recognize the difference.]

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