23 January 2023
So, if we can get the philosophical orientation that God is merciful, we should not have to worry about an emotional distance from God. Our western culture teaches us that our mistakes alienate us from His affection; that's not how it works. His commitment to us never fails. The problem is that we have pulled away. We have allowed a barrier to arise inside of us, wherein the flesh dominates instead of the Spirit.
We know how our parents act. While it varies considerably, in the background is this hideous cultural lie we carry around from the old Germanic tribes in which fathers are supposed to get angry and violently abuse us whenever we disappoint them. The quintessential tribal Germanic dad is actually rather shallow, childish and emotional, taking our failures as a personal insult. He reacts as if we really meant to piss him off. In return, it inculcates the kind of fear and anger in children wherein they take revenge on their father. Affection becomes conditional. That's what we've come to expect.
This is not a healthy picture of the God of the Bible. Nice words like "unconditional love" have no meaning in our culture; it's just a mental doctrine that we cannot actually feel. It works better to draw the picture of God being disappointed, but unlike our earthly fathers, He actually knows what's inside of us and cares. Our mistakes do not break the bonds of affection, but defile us. That's the same as weakening ourselves so that we cannot reach out to Him. We are blinded and cannot find our way to His lap.
His anger and wrath are not tumultuous and capricious, though it surely seems that way to us at times. Rather, His correcting hand is actually quite gentle. He is no drill sergeant or scowling coach; He appeals to us as His beloved children. That's not meant to depict excessive indulgence. The separation from Him is very real, but it's no our side. All culpability is ours; He's waiting for us to call out to Him for rescue. And sometimes He doesn't wait; He's that concerned about us.
The problem is that our mistakes give room for Satan to get involved. This is why I keep trying to paint the picture of the holy camp of God's Covenant and Satan outside the camp. If you transgress the covenant boundaries, you are outside the camp. That puts you in Satan's territory, and he can get inside your head. You no longer see clearly. This is why we have the image in the Eden narrative of God coming into the Garden seeking Adam and Eve, but they are hiding. The flaw is in their changed perception of God, not that God is actually alienated from them.
The focus of holiness is learning the boundaries. Not everything is obvious to our conscious awareness. Our convictions know them all too well, but it takes time to condition our consciences (a part of the flesh) to hear from the convictions. Your conscience is the interface to your convictions, and it's upon us to make the connection clear, and to teach the conscience how to read the signal. We are burdened with consciences that have been highly conditioned by the pagan Greco-Roman Civilization mixed with the pagan culture of Germanic Tribes that invaded the collapsing Roman Empire. The Church leaders decided to cultivate the favor of the invaders by recasting their already badly corrupted understanding of the gospel into something familiar to the German Tribes. We are very deeply alienated from the ancient Hebrew outlook of the Apostles.
Here's the thing that is so very hard to get across: Your heart is capable of turning to the Lord as your feudal Master without the indwelling Holy Spirit. How do you suppose the few good Israeli kings were able to remain faithful back before the Holy Spirit was given? How do you imagine Jesus could talk about spiritual birth under the Covenant of Moses, without His Holy Spirit coming inside of us? A heart-bound commitment of faith and spiritual birth were part of the Old Testament. The divine Presence invading our souls came after the Cross, but Old Testament saints were born-again. The two are not the same thing. Spiritual birth is not something you gain; it's something you become aware of. You were marked for election before you were born as a precondition for the Holy Spirit to enter. The gift of divine Presence is something that happens in time and space.
The New Testament makes clear things never stated in the Old. The ancient Hebrews knew about spiritual birth, but were too reverent to talk about it. It's not as if they lacked the language to state things clearly, but that they had a knee-jerk reaction of reverence for things beyond this fleshly realm. It's not the Hebrew language itself, but how it was used. Greek in the New Testament wasn't used that way. It wasn't better; it was different. The Hebrews understood spiritual issues instinctively because they assumed the heart was a higher faculty with it's own logic. Greeks never thought like that; they had to learn to use their hearts.
Thus, because our western world, being highly influenced by the Greek outlook, has never been in contact with the Hebrew outlook, we have to go back and learn the latter. A lot of the New Testament is Hebrew thinking expressed in Greek language. If we fail to catch onto that, we will assume a Greek mental approach and miss the whole point -- as most western Christians do. We have to realize that Peter learned Greek by absorbing it through his business contacts, whereas John learned it like a schoolboy. Paul grew up with it and learned it all too well at a high academic level, abusing it in trying to say things it could scarcely express.
Election means you cannot lose your eternal nature. Defilement means you can become internally alienated from that nature. This is why we must reorient our thinking about how to do church. The theological debate over "security of the believer" is laden with a lot of false assumptions from our western heritage. Those false assumptions teach us to fuss bout "getting saved" as if it were a matter of spiritual birth. That's the wrong idea. The salvation referred to is God rescuing us from a defiled orientation while we are still here in this fallen world. The emphasis is on saving your life, not your eternal nature.
That salvation is to enable you to claim your divine heritage, the part of it that belongs to this life. That's all those Covenant promises we keep talking about. A major problem is that what is often translated into English as "soul" is far more ambiguous than it is in English usage. In most cases, it refers to your life in this world, but with the implication that you are an eternal being. To "save your soul" means claiming your divine heritage while in this world, redeeming your human existence from Satan's hands.
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